Questions

And our answers

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting ultra fine needles into specific points of energy that are located along defined Meridians or Channels that cover the entire body. Acupuncture needles are used to access points in order to regulate the balance of energy in the body, to bring about relief from complaints. Trained acupuncturists use a variety of diagnostic techniques including pulse taking, tongue diagnosis, palpation and interviewing.
Dry needling is the insertion of ultra fine needles into specific muscles, tendons or body locations. Dry needling can be considered a subset of acupuncture, as it only deals with the musculoskeletal aspects of the body and does not incorporate the theoretical underpinnings of Chinese medicine.

The training and licensing requirements for other medical practitioners performing dry needling varies widely. In Colorado, physicians and osteopaths can practice 'acupuncture' with no additional training of any kind. Chiropractors must undergo 100 hours of training in theory and must document 25 patient visits. Physical therapists are only required to engage in 46 hours of training with no clinical supervision. In contrast, acupuncturists in the state of Colorado must under go over 1900 hours of training with an additional 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice.

Many states, such as Washington and New York, have determined that dry needling is an invasive procedure that is outside of the scope of practice of physical therapists. In the states where dry needling has not specifically been added to the scope of practice for physical therapists, there are lawsuits to address whether or not this belongs with the scope of practice for physical therapists.

Acupuncture needles are extremely fine, so fine that 40 needles can fit inside of a standard 18 gauge hypodermic needle (the kind found in your doctor's office). Due in part to their fineness and also to the fact that these needles are solid and not hollow, generally the insertion of acupuncture needles is not painful, although sometimes there are exceptions. While pain is not common during acupuncture treatments, a variety of other sensations often do occur, including a heavy feeling, a dull ache, tingling sensations or even sensations that are in other parts of the body from where the needles are inserted.
In the hands of skilled practitioner, acupuncture is extremely safe. People are often concerned about the cleanliness of the needles, to address this concern, we only use sterile needles and needles are never reused. The most common complication of acupuncture is bruising, although more serious complications are possible. Every practitioner is highly trained to use great caution when needling the face or near internal organs, so as to prevent adverse outcomes.
The list of diseases and conditions that acupuncture can treat is extensive. Acupuncture is a complete medical system and has been used in China for thousands of years. It can treat the complete spectrum of conditions and there are thousands of years of records in China documenting its efficacy. More recently, acupuncture has been researched extensively in Western studies and has been shown to be effective for a variety of complaints. There are many conditions that respond better to acupuncture than to Western medicine, however there are also many conditions that respond better to Western medicine. Like any system of medicine, acupuncture is not capable of curing all conditions or all patients. If you have a specific complaint that you are curious about, feel free to contact us and we will be glad to discuss your case and provide you with an honest assessment as to whether or not we think Chinese medicine can help provide relief.

In general, the answer to this is no. Practitioners should take into account the medications that you are currently taking and devise treatments that will not interfere. This is especially true when prescribing herbal formulas or when patients are taking medications that affect blood coagulation such as heparin.

It is possible that as a result of treatment by Chinese medicine, medication doses may need to be adjusted. Many patients report changes in their lab values and a need to reduce medications that they are taking after receiving treatment from a Chinese medical practitioner. Patients should always consult their physician when adjusting the dosage of medications or when considering whether to continue taking pharmaceuticals.

Chinese herbs, like acupuncture treat the full range of diseases and conditions. They can be indicated for a wide variety of patients. At Two Tiger Acupuncture, we tend to restrict the prescription of herbs to those cases in which herbal medicine is more effective than other treatment modalities. The most frequent conditions that suggest the use of Chinese herbs in addition to other modalities are internal medicine conditions, such as digestive disorders, irregularity of the bowels, diseases of the lung such as asthma or seasonal allergies and skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis.
The requirements for training, certification and practice of Chinese herbs vary from state to state. In New York state, no training or certification is required to practice Chinese herbs. At Two Tiger Acupuncture, we have both completed a Master's degree in the use of Chinese herbal medicine which consisted of 3 years and over 1000 clinical hours of training. We both continue to study the use of herbs in our clinical assistant positions.

This is a complex issue that has two main issues that need to be addressed. There are two main categories of herbs that require consideration. The first are herbs that have inherent toxicity. The second are herbs that acquire toxicity through poor agricultural practices such as pesticides or heavy metal infiltration due to improper processing.

Some herbs (like some Western pharmaceuticals) have a natural inherent toxicity. Some herbs can be toxic if prepared incorrectly or if combined with the wrong substances. We have extensive training in the use of herbs that have toxicity and understand how to prescribe them safely, as well as how to instruct patients about what negative side effects to watch out for.

As for herbs that have acquired toxicity, we strive to avoid these herbs at all cost. In order to prevent this issue, we obtain our herbs from companies that do rigorous testing on the herbs that they import and certify that those herbs do not have toxicity issues. We also seek out sources of organically farmed herbs whenever possible. Even though this may increase the cost of some of our herbs, we feel it is important to use the highest quality herbs whenever possible to protect the health of our patients.