Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of training and credentials does my acupuncturist have?
Acupuncturists in California are Licensed Primary Care Providers. They take a rigorous test to be State Board certified after graduating from a four year master's program in Traditional Chinese Medicine where they learn both Western and Chinese medicine. They practice acupuncture under supervision for thousands of hours in various clinics and institutions before graduating. Some go on for additional years and clinical hours with a focus on functional medicine and integrative care to receive their doctorate (DAOM- Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). Tara Spalty LAc of Slow Poke is currently a doctoral candidate at ACTCM in San Francisco and has worked in several local hospitals and primary care clinics.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Sometimes you may feel a slight pinch when the needles are inserted. While the needles are in, some people experience a pleasant electrical sensation or tingling throughout the body. Sometimes you don't feel anything at all - most of the time people fall asleep soon after the needles are in.
Is there anything in the acupuncture needle?
Nope! There is nothing in the acupuncture needle. Acupuncture is not done with hollow needles like the doctor uses; they are solid.
What if I don't have any pain?
Acupuncture is useful for a range of issues including depression, anxiety, insomnia, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, digestive, skin, respiratory issues...pretty much anything! Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as the primary medical treatment in China and it is extremely versatile for both acute and chronic conditions.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture has an excellent safety profile. It is a gentle, low-intervention treatment modality with to minimal to no side effects. It's important to fill out your initial intake form completely so that we know what medications if any that you are on, and if you are pregnant, wear a pacemaker, as well as any ongoing chronic issues. Since the needles are single-use, the risk of any kind of infection or blood-borne pathogen is extremely small - less risk than getting a flu shot from the doctor.
Do you just stick 'em in where the pain is?
Sometimes! But actually not usually. The most powerful acupuncture points are located at the ends of the body - hands, feet, head, and ears. The channels that connect the acupuncture points traverse the entire body like an intricate roadmap, and it can be very useful to stimulate points farther away from the pain. Also acupuncture looks at the entire person, and the pain could be the symptom of a deeper rooted imbalance, which we treat as well. So really the needles can potentially go anywhere.
Talk to me a little bit more about all these needles...
Acupuncture needles are specially made, single use, disposable sterilized needles specifically for acupuncture. They are about the width of a human hair. There are varying lengths to fit the different parts of the body.
Are you really going to poke me slowly?
No, the needles go in quickly. We just couldn't resist the opportunity for a pun and we think baby sloths are the cutest. What could be slow is the process of healing, of becoming "well." We work with harm reduction principles and strategies, recognizing that healing happens in fits and starts and states of flux and that everyone moves in their own time. We have seen that sustainable changes can take time and work, and we think that's just fine.