Annapolis Doctors of Acupuncture & Integrative Healing
115 Annapolis Street, Annapolis, MD  21401
(410) 263-2228 office

Frequently Asked Questions

How did I (Dr. Kim) get into Acupuncture?

It was an interesting journey!  Back in 1993 I had been working in medical research (you can find my research on Pubmed) and thought acupuncture was a type of voodoo medicine (thinking it wasn’t real) with a placebo effect.  However, I had been riding horses and a huge farm, where they had very expensive show horses.  When the horses would go lame the farm manager would call in an acupuncturist.  I thought they were crazy but also was curious wondering why.  I’d observe the practitioner put needles in the horses and after she removed them the horse would get up and run off as if there was no more pain!  It occurred to me that the horse doesn’t makeup stories.

A few years later I knew a paramedic.  When he would throw out his back he would see an acupuncturist since he believed that surgery would cause him to lose his abilities to do his job.  He would leave our house with so much pain and come home and show me he could touch his toes without bending his knees.  It was amazing.  I was becoming a strong believer!

Years later, I discovered an ad for an acupuncture school called Tai Sophia Institute and decided to investigate.  When I went there I observed treatments and was extremely impressed how it was totally different than doctor’s appointment and felt the patients were totally held (even though it was a group observing).  It occurred to me that I really felt that was where I belonged and this was what I really wanted to do with my life.

I was so very right to listen to my internal voice and now I love what I do for a living!

Is Acupuncture Placebo Effect?

Placebo is an interesting question.  It attempts to explain if what is really happening is just in the mind.  This concept has been used for approximately a century in medical research.  Not until recently, however, has medical research attempted the concept of Placebo effect alone since they are beginning to notice Placebo alone is a treatment in itself.  An example of this type of research follows; if a group of patients is given a ‘sugar’ pill and the second group is given an aspirin.  Then each of those groups is divided in half.  Half of each group is told they were given a ‘sugar pill’ and others half was told they got an aspirin (this is 4 groups total).  The researchers are finding that the patients who were told they had an aspirin, even though ½ got a ‘sugar pill’, felt better.  However, the ½ that was told they got a ‘sugar pill’, even though ½ got an aspirin, didn’t feel much improvement.1 This is a simplified explanation of the results, but you can read the whole research article if you are interested.  The research explains that Placebo happens in ALL aspects of medicine.  Meaning, we can convince ourselves about the efficacy/in-efficacy of ANY type of treatment. 

On a personal note; It took me a while to notice the effects of acupuncture treatments and by then I was attending acupuncture school.  I would estimate I had about 10 treatments until I noticed the effect and experienced the qi (rivers of energy) in my body.  We all makeup stories about what works or doesn’t, and I was extremely hard-headed as a former medical researcher.  I’ve learned to let go of the stories in my head (though it is a constant practice), and take each moment as it comes (living in the present).

Also, read my above article (‘How did I get into acupuncture?’), as my first exposure to acupuncture was with horses, who don’t make up stories and only know when they feel better.

The short answer:  Yes, acupuncture has a placebo effect, like all aspects of any type of medicine.

Reference:  Colagiuri B., Schenk L.A., Kessler M.D., et al.  (2015) The placebo effect: from concepts to genes.  Journal of Neuroscience 2015, Oct 29; 307: 171-190.  Published online 2015 Aug 10.  Doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.08.017.  PMID: 26272535

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

This is a very common question as there is a fear of needles.  However, that fear is based on hypodermic needles which are commonly used in western medicine.  Hypodermic needles are completely different as they are hollow with a blade at the tip.  Hypodermic needles are meant to extract something (like blood) or inject something (like a shot).  Though people often complain about the fear of needles, they still allow medical practitioners to draw blood and give shots as they feel strongly that those practitioners are helping them stay healthy.  

An acupuncture needle is solid and blunt.  They don't have a blade as they don't cut through tissue, rather they slip between cells to get to the "Qi" (the rivers of energy which run through the body, called "meridians"), at a specific point (we call acupuncture point).  The width of the acupuncture needle is similar to a cat's whisker.  They are so thin that 20 acupuncture needles could fit into the smallest hypodermic needle.

There is also a misconception that acupuncture works by putting needles into nerves.  This is absolutely untrue.  In fact, if that was the case, NO ONE would want to get an acupuncture treatment!  The TRUTH is, we are accessing the "Qi" (rivers of energy which runs through the body) and the feeling can at times feel electric, as we are working with energy.  Each point has a specific purpose, so it may even be surprising that you come to get treatment on your head (as an example), but the practitioner may put a needle in your foot).  This all depends on your practitioner's treatment strategy.

There are also certain points which may be more intense than others.  However, the pain will dissipate quickly and the overall feeling is relaxing and calm.  Many times patients will sleep through their treatment and that is perfectly fine.

How much does Acupuncture Cost?

This is a challenging question, as it depends on your situation.  First, if you have medical insurance with companies that I am a provider (Carefirst/Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Aetna or United Healthcare) you may be covered or not (depending on your specific plan).  Therefore, it is best for you to contact me so I can help you figure this out.  However, if you are not covered, I do have packages which help you afford.  Also, if you are in a financial disability situation, contact me too, as I can help with different options. 

Also, be aware that it is possible but very rare for insurance to cover Chinese Herbal treatments, and each formula I prescribe is very specific for each patient (as it is a separate cost from your treatment).  The herbs also come in many different forms, and we can discuss your needs specifically.

What can Acupuncture/Chinese Herbal Therapy Treat?

Perhaps you have heard the phrase, "Body Mind and Spirit" or some form.  Cigna is actually using, "Body and Mind" in their commercials.  Unfortunately, it is becoming such a 'catchphrase' that most people gloss over and don't understand what that means.  Simply, the main thing I treat is PAIN, in any form.  Anything from FIBROMYALGIA (full body pain), to something more specific like; migraine, headache, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, sciatic pain, ankle pain, knee pain, or anywhere else in the body.

I also treat specific issues such as; GI Symptoms (IBS, Crohn's, Gerd, etc), Infertility (male or female), women's issues (infertility, menopause, adrenal fatigue), Weight Loss, Addiction (drugs-legal/illegal, alcohol, food, smoking, etc.), Sinus issues (colds, allergies), Emotional issues (stress, depression, anxiety, sleep issues) and much, much more!!

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture helps to relieve symptoms and signs.  It can also uncover the underlying root cause(s) of what may have created the initial problem. 

The goal of this dynamic and integrated health care system is to activate the natural, self-healing abilities of the body.  It can also strengthen and support the body to prevent future illness and disease (which is why regular follow up is also important).  

Acupuncture is safe, natural, drug-free and effective.  The perfect way to get well and stay healthy.

Acupuncture has helped billions of people over the past 5,000 years.

Inside of you, there is an intelligent, energetic system that maintains health and balance.  Einstein showed us that everything is made of and radiates energy.  This subtle spark of energy supports, shapes, activates and enlivens our physical body.

For the past 5000 years, practitioners of acupuncture have called this intelligent energy, Qi (pronounced, chee). 

Numerous cultures have described this energy and called it by many names: prana, baraka, pneuma, spirit, wakan, vital force, orgone, ether and ruach.

Qi is the vital energy in all living things, from the tallest tree to the smallest cell.  Qi flows as an invisible current throughout the body.  Qi provides the power to accomplish everyday activities.  it is necessary for growth, development movement maintenance of body temperature, protection against illness and disease and overall regulation of the body.  health is influenced by the quality, quantity, and balance of Qi.

ancient practitioners said, "When Qi gathers, the physical body is formed; when Qi disperses the body is passed on."

Meridians are like rivers inside the body.  Wherever the river flows it carries water which nourishes and sustains life on our planet.  Similarly, meridians are the rivers where Qi flows inside of us, energizing, nourishing, and supporting every cell, tissue, muscle, organ, and gland in the body.  Each meridian is connected to specific organs and gland in the body (Lungs, Large Intestine, Heart, Small Intestine, Spleen, Stomach, Liver, Gall Bladder, Kidneys and Bladder).

Health is wholeness and balance.  Health is an inner resiliency that allows you to meet the demands of life.  Being in a state of health helps you thrive in the face of environmental, physical, emotional and mental stress.  When Qi is balanced and flowing freely, internal stability and harmony occur.  The body flourishes and the full expression of health and vitality are expressed.

The stresses of daily life (stress, pollution, accidents, trauma, poor diet, strain, bad habits, surgery, pharmaceuticals, etc.) affect the quality and flow of Qi.  Different stresses affect meridians and organs in different ways, disrupting or diminishing Qi flow.  for example, a blockage or kink in a hose will not provide an adequate supply of water to a plant.  Eventually, the plant will become unable to thrive, grow and blossom.  Likewise, a blockage in the meridians will restrict the supply of Qi required to nourish and support the cells, tissues muscles, organs, and glands.  This blockage can manifest in various signs and symptoms.  Over time the body as a whole becomes weakened and susceptible to illness, pain, and disease.

An Acupuncturist develops keen diagnostic skills to effectively evaluate the quality, quantity, and balance of Qi flowing within the body.  Diagnosis involves four main techniques:

  • An acupuncturist develops keen diagnostic skills to effectively evaluate the quality, quantity, and balance of Qi flowing within the body.  Diagnosis involves four main techniques:
  • Pulse Diagnosis - Over 26 subtle variations in the quality of the pulse are felt at six different positions on each wrist.
  • Looking - Appearance, demeanor, tone of voice, as well as the color, shape, and size of the tongue, provide an acupuncturist with vital information out internal health.
  • Asking - By asking questions, information is gathered about past medical history, the present state of health, lifestyle and emotional state.
  • Physical Examination - Palpation to specific areas and points reveal further imbalances.

*Pulse Diagnosis - Over 26 subtle variations in the quality of the pulse is felt at six different positions on each wrist.

*Looking - Appearance, demeanor, tone of voice as well as, color, shape, and size of the tongue provide an acupuncturist with vital information about internal health.

*Asking - By asking questions, information is gathered about past medical history, the present state of health, lifestyle and emotional state.

*Physical examination - Palpation to specific areas and points reveal further imbalances.

An acupuncturist uses various treatment methods to restore and maintain health.  The common ones that facilitate Qi flow are (but are not limited to):

*Acupuncture - Tiny disposable, sterile needles placed in specific acupuncture points.

*Chinese Herbs - Chinese herbal medicine draws from a pharmacopeia of thousands of herbs (clean, and FDA approved) for specific conditions.

*Moxibustion - The dried leaf of Mugwort in rolled into sticks or placed on the neds of needles, then burned as a warming therapy during treatment.

*Oriental nutrition - Specific foods used to strengthen, rebuild and balance the body.

*Qi Gong - Specific movements and breathing exercises used to improve health and vitality.

*Electro-Acupuncture - Acupuncture points are stimulated using a safe, gentle electrical current.

*Tuina - A massage technique which stimulates the meridians, facilitating the flow of Qi.

*Gua Sha - A gental scraping of the skin surface using a Gwa Sha tool to increase circulation of Qi and blood.

*Cupping - Using glass or plastic cups to create a vacuum in order to increase warmth and circulation.

Reference:  (2004) Acupuncture Media Works, LLC.  

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115 Annapolis Street
Annapolis, MD  21401
(410) 263-2228 office

 

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