Chinese medicine is holistic in nature: it treats the whole or entirety of the individual. In this way, Chinese medicine addresses all aspects of the human being: the physical, the emotional and the spiritual: all considered to be affected by the disease process and thus are included in the treatment. This all-inclusive approach leads to more comprehensive healing and a sense of wellbeing. It encourages the patient to become active in their healing process.

When should I see an acupuncturist?

There are four main reasons patients consider Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment:

  • Commonly, patients have a condition that does not respond to conventional care. They seek a treatment option to provide an effective solution to their health problem.
  •  Conventional treatment often requires drugs with undesirable side effects or an unwanted surgery to treat the condition; therefore they seek an alternative option.
  •  Patients take many expensive drugs with side effects or that interfere with one another. Often Chinese medicine can treat the conditions so patients can stop taking the drugs.
  •  Patients seek a natural, holistic approach to healthcare that fits their lifestyle choices and values.

Can acupuncture help me even if I feel healthy?

Yes, absolutely. Many patients come in for regular maintenance treatments to stay in ‘tip-top’ condition so they can fully enjoy life. Acupuncture is a powerful preventative measure to keep patients healthy throughout the year. Acupuncturists see subtle signs of disease processes at work before symptoms begin to interfere with daily life. Chinese medicine effectively addresses these issues, preventing future problems from occurring. Because acupuncture treatments are so deeply relaxing, many patients find regular, maintenance treatments beneficial for stress relief.

How does acupuncture work?

The channels communicate with the surface of the body at specific locations called acupuncture points. Needles inserted in these points influence the Qi that flows to internal organs. Acupuncture can also affect specific areas of pain associated with injury or trauma. A needle inserted near the area of overstrained muscle or tendon will adjust the flow of Qi and nutrients to that area, thereby reducing pain and accelerating the healing process.

The acupuncture points have various functions, like stopping pain, stimulating immune function, or resolving phlegm (for coughs or runny noses). There are even points with empirical functions, like treating rashes or constipation. Other points are chosen with regard to location; for example, using points on the shoulder, knee or back to treat pain. Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese Medical explanation

Using a system of pulse and tongue diagnosis, coupled with findings obtained by inquiring about related symptoms and physical exam, the acupuncturist determines the pathology affecting Qi (energy) flow to internal organs, muscles, skin and joints. The acupuncturist will then develop a treatment protocol to resolve the patient’s condition.

From western biomedical research, we understand that acupuncture influences a number of physiological functions such as release of endorphins (natural pain killing chemicals) by the brain, restoration of proper circulation in diseased areas, and stimulation of hormonal glands and immune system function. Research into the effects of acupuncture is still young. Scientists discover more information every year that helps us understand more fully how acupuncture works. Western science explains acupuncture

What is The Balance Method TM of acupuncture?

The Balance Method TM of acupuncture was developed by Dr. Richard Tan of San Diego. The Balance Method TM works with the sophisticated relationships of the acupuncture meridians. Acupuncture points distal to the affected area are used: points in the elbows are used to treat knee pain, ankle points treat the wrists. Fewer needles are used than the commonly taught methods and immediate results are seen, especially with pain treatment. Dr. Tan has developed sophisticated point combinations to treat all manner of internal conditions including: lung (allergies, sinusitis, colds/flu), cardio-vascular, stomach and bowels, gyn and emotional problems. Results are long lasting. Dr. Tan continually updates and refines the system, his life work.

How many treatments will I need?

In Chinese Medicine, we talk about courses of treatments. One course is considered ten to twelve acupuncture treatments or weeks of herbal therapy. As we all have different bodies everyone responds differently; however, acupuncturists do see general patterns in response time. Many notice improvements after a single treatment. In fact, Dr. Bartlett expects pain to improve on the first visit. Others take longer to respond as acupuncture requires a cumulative effect. Most patients begin noticing changes within one to three treatments. Within five to seven visits symptoms begin improving and patients feel better. At this point you likely will see resolution in acute conditions. Chronic conditions take longer. Excepting continual, longstanding problems (such as allergies) and chronic illnesses , most patients finish treatment within a course to fifteen visits.

How often should I come?

Patients usually come weekly for treatment in the beginning. With more severe or bothersome symptoms, such as pain, patients see faster results when they come twice a week for the first two to three weeks. As conditions improve you can come less frequently: 10 days, then biweekly, and later every three weeks or monthly. 

On average, patients come weekly for about eight visits, then reducing the frequency of visits as symptom decrease to intermittent and later stop occurring.
After the condition resolves, many patients like to continue treatment for maintenance and preventative care. These maintenance visits can be monthly,  quarterly, or semi-annually, depending on the patient’s goals.

Do I need to keep coming after my symptoms are gone?

Generally speaking, once symptoms no longer occur, a clinical cure is achieved. Depending on the nature and history of the disorder, future treatments are usually not necessary to prevent recurrence. Exceptions are for chronic conditions that tend to recur, such as back pain and allergic problems.

What are maintenance tune-ups?

Some patients like to come on a monthly or quarterly basis for preventative care. These types of treatments are nicknamed ‘tune-ups’. Just as we get regular maintenance on our cars, our bodies need regular maintenance to keep them healthy, too. Acupuncturists see subtle signs of disease processes and can address these issues in a few number of treatments, thus avoiding the development of more serious health problems that require a longer series to treat. These preventative care visits are especially important for patients with long-standing, chronic conditions that tend to recur, such as back pain or allergic problems . Because acupuncture treatments are so deeply relaxing, many patients find regular maintenance treatments beneficial for stress relief.

What if I can't come for regular acupuncture treatments?

Herbal therapy is an effective option for those who cannot come regularly for acupuncture visits. Some patients opt for Chinese herbal formulas instead of acupuncture treatment. Combining the modalities of herbs and acupuncture creates a synergist treatment pair, each increasing the power of the other. Herbal therapy can fill in for the interval between acupuncture treatments, allowing some patients to decrease the frequency of acupuncture treatment.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) herbalists use herbs instead of drug therapy to address problems internally. In fact, many conditions, such as gynecological problems, dermatology and immune system disorders require herbs for effective treatment. Pain conditions require regular acupuncture treatments for resolution of symptoms.

Does acupuncture hurt?

The vast majority of patients do not consider acupuncture a painful procedure. Some patients feel a slight ‘Qi’ sensation when the needle is inserted: most feel nothing at all. These ‘Qi sensations’ range from warmth or tingling, to a brief ache or heaviness in the area being needled. Qi sensations are generally only felt on one or two of the acupuncture points. They indicate favorable results from the acupuncture treatment, as Qi has been strongly contacted. By and large patients describe these sensations as fleeting and the treatment experience as deeply relaxing. In fact, many patients find acupuncture so relaxing that they fall asleep during treatment and go into a dreamy state induced by the endorphins released during treatments.

Are the needles safe?

Yes. Acupuncturists use sterile, disposable needles. They are used once and then disposed of in biohazard containers. These containers are sent to a medical waste management company for proper disposal according to federal laws and regulations.

Are there any side effects to acupuncture?

“For a medical procedure, you almost cannot get anything that is more benign,” says James Dowden, Executive Administrator of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. “About the worst thing that can happen is you won’t get better.”

In it’s landmark, 1997 Consensus Statement on Acupuncture, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) reported, “One of the advantages of acupuncture is the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.” (Acupuncture. NIH Consens Statement 1997 Nov 3-5; 15 (5): 9.)

In 2001, the British Medical Journal (vol. 323, no.7311) published the results of two large-scale studies showing the benefits of acupuncture far outweigh any negative side effects of treatment. The few minor and short-lived post-treatment complaints ranged from bruising to needle pain and lasted less than a week. The study’s authors noted no serious adverse events. In an accompanying editorial, the journal concluded that complications from acupuncture are “remarkably rare and transient” [ranging from 0.1 to 0.7 percent] especially when compared with the rate of adverse drug reactions or prescribing errors in primary care medicine, estimated at 0.5 to 6 percent.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance?

Some insurance companies offer acupuncture benefits. Use the green “Verify Insurance” button at the top of the home page of this website to enter your insurance information. We will let you know your acupuncture benefits within 2 business days. If you have benefits, we can bill your insurance company for your acupuncture treatments. Insurance companies do not pay for herbs. We can charge your flex or health savings account for herbs. 

Should I keep my appointment if I'm sick?

You will find acupuncture and Chinese herbs highly effective for treating acute conditions, such as colds, flu, stomach viruses and headaches. Patients report immediate improvement in symptoms after their acupuncture treatment or with Chinese herbal therapy. Happy patients frequently say, “As soon as I started taking the herbs I felt better!”

Due to transmission risk, of course you cannot come to the office for treatment when experiencing fever, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, headaches and body aches indicating a contagious disease. To avoid transmitting to others, change your acupuncture treatment to a  telehealth (phone or zoom) herbal consultation. These include healthcare practitioners who don’t want to get their patients sick, business professionals who are too busy for a sick day or two, and patients who are chronically ill and cannot risk serious illness nor prolonged recuperation time.

Dr. Bartlett will compound a custom herbal formula addressing your symptoms, along with appropriate diet and lifestyle modifications to speed recovery. Most patients notice symptoms pass through their system mildly and for shorter duration when taking Chinese herbal formulas, so severe illness fails to develop.

Are there different styles of acupuncture?

Chinese medicine is over 5,000 years old. During that time, many individual styles (off shoots or branches) have developed from the traditional, TCM style of diagnosis and treatment. These include Japanese style, Five Elements, Korean hand technique, French auricular (ear acupuncture), Daoist and Tibetan styles of acupuncture. The TCM style (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is the ‘granddaddy’ of them all: the source from which the other branches sprang forth. Dr. Kathleen Bartlett practices in the TCM style of Chinese herbal medicine. She normally gives Balance Method TM acupuncture treatments.