The better alternative

Acupuncture for Family, P.C.


Acupuncture (from Lat. acus, "needle" (noun), and pungere, "prick" (verb)) or in Standard Mandarin, zhēn jiǔ (針灸 lit: needle - moxibustion) is a technique of inserting and manipulating needles into "acupuncture points" on the body to restore health and well-being, and is particularly good at treating pain. The definition and characterization of these points is standardized by the World Health Organization. Acupuncture originated in China and is most commonly associated with Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). However, acupuncture has also evolved into different schools such as the Japanese school, with which Tatiana is also aware.

Traditional Theory

Chinese medicine is based on a different paradigm than scientific biomedicine. Its theory holds the following explanation of acupuncture:

Acupuncture treats the human body as a whole that involves several "systems of function" that are in some cases loosely associated with (but not identified on a one-to-one basis with) physical organs. Some systems of function, such as the "triple heater" (San Jiao, also called the "triple burner") have no corresponding physical organ. Disease is understood as a loss of homeostasis among the several systems of function, and treatment of disease is attempted by modifying the activity of one or more systems of function through the activity of needles, pressure, heat, etc. on sensitive parts of the body of small volume traditionally called "acupuncture points" in English, or "xue" (, cavities) in Chinese. This is referred to as treating "patterns of disharmony".

Treatment of acupuncture points may be performed along the twelve main or eight extra meridians, located throughout the body, or on tender points, called "ashi" (signifying "that's it", "ouch", or "oh yes"). Of the eight extra meridians, only two have acupuncture points of their own. The other six meridians are "activated" by using a master and couple point technique which involves needling the acupuncture points located on the twelve main meridians that correspond to the particular extra meridian. Ten of the main meridians are named after organs of the body (Heart, Liver, etc.), and the other two are named after so called body functions (Heart Protector or Pericardium, and San Jiao). The meridians are capitalized to avoid confusion with a physical organ (for example, we write the "Heart meridian" as opposed to the "heart meridian"). The two most important of the eight "extra" meridians are situated on the midline of the anterior and posterior aspects of the trunk and head. The twelve primary meridians run vertically, bilaterally, and symmetrically and every channel corresponds to and connects internally with one of the twelve Zang Fu ("organs"). This means that there are six yin and six yang channels. There are three yin and three yang channels on each arm, and three yin and three yang on each leg.

The three yin channels of the hand (Lung, Pericardium, and Heart) begin on the chest and travel along the inner surface (mostly the anterior portion) of the arm to the hand.

The three yang channels of the hand (Large intestine, San Jiao, and Small intestine) begin on the hand and travel along the outer surface (mostly the posterior portion) of the arm to the head.

The three yang channels of the foot (Stomach, Gallbladder, and Bladder) begin on the face, in the region of the eye, and travel down the body and along the outer surface (mostly the anterior and lateral portion) of the leg to the foot.

The three yin channels of the foot (Spleen, Liver, and Kidney) begin on the foot and travel along the inner surface (mostly posterior and medial portion) of the leg to the chest or flank.


The acupuncturist decides which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient in order to make a diagnosis according to the tradition which he or she utilizes. In TCM, there are four diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation (Cheng, 1987, ch. 12). Inspection focuses on the face and particularly on the tongue, including analysis of the tongue size, shape, tension, color and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge. Auscultation and olfaction refer, respectively, to listening for particular sounds (such as wheezing) and attending to unusual body odor. Inquiring focuses on the "seven inquiries", which are: chills and fever; perspiration; appetite, thirst and taste; defecation and urination; pain; sleep; and menses and leukorrhea. Palpation includes feeling the body for tender "ashi" points, and palpation of the left and right radial pulses at two levels of pressure (superficial and deep) and three positions (immediately proximal to the wrist crease, and one and two fingers' breadth proximally, usually palpated with the index, middle and ring fingers). Other forms of acupuncture employ additional diagnosic techniques. In many forms of classical Chinese acupuncture, as well as Japanese acupuncture, palpation of the muscles and the hara (abdomen) are central to diagnosis.


According to the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (2004), acupuncture may be considered as a complementary therapy for these conditions:

 Acute and chronic pain control*

 Posttraumatic and postoperative ileus *

 Muscle spasms, tremors, tics, contractures*

 Paresthesias *

 Anxiety, fright, panic*

 Drug detoxification *

 Neuralgias (trigeminal, herpes zoster, postherpetic pain, other)

 Seventh nerve palsy

 Sequelae of stroke syndrome (aphasia, hemiplegia) *

 Certain functional gastrointestinal disorders (nausea and vomiting, esophageal spasm, hyperacidity, irritable bowel) *

 Headache, vertigo (Meniere disease), tinnitus *

 Phantom pain

 Frozen shoulder *

 Cervical and lumbar spine syndromes*

 Plantar fasciitis*

 Arthritis/arthrosis *

 Bursitis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome*

 Sprains and contusions

 In fractures, assisting in pain control, edema, and enhancing healing process

 Temporo-mandibular joint derangement, bruxism *

 Dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain *


 Atypical chest pain (negative workup)

 Idiopathic palpitations, sinus tachycardia

 Allergic sinusitis *

 Persistent hiccups*

 Selected dermatoses (urticaria, pruritus, eczema, psoriasis)

 Constipation, diarrhea *

 Urinary incontinence, retention (neurogenic, spastic, adverse drug effect) *

 Abdominal distention/flatulence*

 Severe hyperthermia

 Cough with contraindications for narcotics

 Anesthesia for high-risk patients or patients with previous adverse responses to anesthetics


* Also included in the World Health Organization list of acupuncture indications.

Safety Compared to Other Treatments

Commenting on the relative safety of acupuncture compared to other treatments, a consensus panel of the National Institute of Health stated that "adverse side effects of acupuncture are extremely low and often lower than conventional treatments." They also stated:

"the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same condition. For example, musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, and tennis elbow... are conditions for which acupuncture may be beneficial. These painful conditions are often treated with, among other things, anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) or with steroid injections. Both medical interventions have a potential for deleterious side effects but are still widely used and are considered acceptable treatments."

In a Japanese survey of 55,291 acupuncture treatments given over five years by 73 acupuncturists, 99.8% of them were performed with no significant minor adverse effects and zero major adverse incidents (Hitoshi Yamashita, Bac, Hiroshi Tsukayama, BA, Yasuo Tanno, MD, PhD. Kazushi Nishijo, PhD, JAMA). Two combined studies in the UK of 66,229 acupuncture treatments yielded only 134 minor adverse events. (British Medical Journal 2001 Sep 1). The total of 121,520 treatments with acupuncture therapy were given with no major adverse incidents (for comparison, a single such event would have indicated a 0.002% incidence).

This is in comparison to 2,216,000 serious adverse drug reactions that occurred in hospitals 1994. (Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN., JAMA. 1998 Apr 15;279(15):1200-5.) So to compare directly, Acupuncture has a 0.02% chance of causing a minor adverse effect compared to prescription medications (Conventional medicine's treatment of choice) having a 6.7% chance of causing a serious adverse event in a hospital setting.

Acupuncture needles come in individual, sterile packages. At Acupuncture for Family, we only use the thinnest, most painless needles that are still effective for the particular condition.

The most publicized modality in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is especially effective in the realm of pain relief.