Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect during my first visit?

During your initial visit, we will use your completed health questionnaire to focus in on your main reasons for seeking acupuncture and to understand your health history.  We will do a head-to-toe systems check to make sure we have all the details needed to uncover the root cause of your illness.  Systems include digestion, respiration, circulation, reproduction, etc.  Using the information gathered, we will get started on your acupuncture treatment.  The initial visit lasts an hour and a half with 30 minutes devoted to treatment.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is completely safe when conducted by a licensed practitioner. In Maine, acupuncturists are required to attend a rigorous four-year Masters Degree program and pass three state and national board exams prior to practicing.  The state of Maine also requires the highest level of continuing education for Acupuncturists.  At Camden Acupuncture, we promote the highest standards of safety by complying with OSHA regulations, practicing universal precautions, and using only stainless steel, sterile, disposable needles.  Each needle is used only one time and disposed of in an approved Sharps Disposal System.

Why does my acupuncturist look at my tongue, take my pulses, or palpate my abdomen?

For practitioners of Chinese Medicine, pulse, tongue and abdominal diagnosis are very important aspects of diagnosis. By taking your pulses, your practitioner is checking the 12 organ system and assessing their state of health. The tongue is an amazing map of the organ systems as well. The color, texture and coating reveal a lot about your health and the nature of any imbalances. Palpating the abdomen is a third tool to check in with the organ systems. It also is a map of the different body functions and allows the practitioner to verify the pulse and tongue discovery.

How does acupuncture work?

Chinese Medicine works according to the idea that health is maintained when all the organs are provided the proper conditions to do their jobs. Our lifestyle today does not always support us, with many of us living with unusual stress, insufficient rest, and improper diet and exercise. Acupuncture works by balancing and harmonizing the vital life force energy (Qi) to give the systems what they need to do their work. The most effective treatment uses a combination of acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and life style modifications to help you on your path to health.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are very thin—barely the size of two human hairs—and are not used to inject anything. Generally, patients feel the minor sensation of the needle on the skin and then a deeper sensation of the energy (Qi) starting to move. The sensation varies from point to point and once the needles are in place, they are no longer felt. In fact, the experience can be so relaxing that people often fall asleep during their acupuncture treatment.

How many acupuncture treatments will I need?

The number of treatments required depends on the severity of the complaint, how long you have had it, and your underlying constitution. Generally, one treatment a week for the first 4-6 weeks is recommended. In acute situations, it may be more helpful to come in more often. Treatment has a cumulative effect and will build week to week as you progress in the healing process. Many people choose to continue treatment as a health maintenance strategy, coming in once or twice per month. 

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese Herbal Medicine is an ancient system of healing using plants, animal products and minerals to help restore health. Herbal medicine has been continuously practiced and developed over several thousand years to become a highly specific and systematic form of health care. It is used to treat all manner of health concerns from pain, to insomnia, to gynecological issues, to internal medical conditions. It is generally used in conjunction with acupuncture, ultimately making treatment longer-lasting and more effective.

What is an herbal prescription?

Chinese Herbal Medicine is a system that uses blends of different herbs, or formulas, to address health problems. The ability to modify the traditional formulas based on your unique health needs is one of the benefits of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Herbs can come in various forms, but at Camden Acupuncture they are generally a powder that is mixed with warm water and drunk twice a day. 

What are the herbs used in Chinese Medicine?

Chinese Medicine’s Materia Medica contains thousands of medicinals derived from plants, minerals and animals. Camden Acupuncture’s Herbal Pharmacy contains about 300 different herbs that are combined into formulas for our patients. The vast majority of the herbs are from the different plant parts. Some are ground rock, shells or bone. And some, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, tangerine peel, ginger and scallion, are found in your kitchen.

Is it safe to take herbs with prescription drugs?

Yes, in most cases it is fine to take both prescription drugs and Chinese Herbs. Each case is scrutinized and drug/herbal safety standards are followed. We are very conservative when prescribing herbs and sometimes we will recommend that a patient forgo herbal treatment while using certain prescriptions.