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Acupuncture is extremely safe when performed by a qualified and licensed practitioner. Modern-day acupuncturist are thoroughly trained and only use tiny, sterile, single use disposable needles.
In order to receive a safe and effective treatment, it is important to see a licensed practitioner (L.Ac.). A licensed acupuncturist must complete a graduate program in Traditional Chinese Medicine (approx. 3000 hrs.) and pass the NCCAOM national board exams in Acupuncture and TCM diagnosis. In the state of Iowa, some other medical practitioners may practice acupuncture with as little as 0 to 200 hours of training, which is clearly not a sufficient amount to ensure a proper diagnosis and safe treatment. It is also very important not to receive any herbal remedies from anyone who is not formally trained and licensed in herbology.
Acupuncture is virtually painless. When receiving an acupuncture treatment you may experience a sensation of tingling or warmth. Most patients experience a state of deep relaxation or even fall asleep.
TCM practitioners use a variety of techniques to arrive at their diagnosis which include acquiring a complete patient medical history, palpating the abdomen and tender points along the body, feeling the pulse and looking at the tongue. This information enables a practitioner to diagnose the imbalances causing your symptoms. During a typical treatment four to twenty tiny needles are inserted into specific points that may be dispersed throughout the body. These tiny needles remain in place for approximately 30 to 50 minutes.
The number of treatments varies from person to person. Some people experience immediate relief after the first treatment, while others with more chronic and stubborn conditions may take several months to see results. While chronic conditions generally take longer than acute problems, you should plan on a minimum of a month to see significant changes.
Not all medical doctors understand or are educated in the history, theory, or benefits of acupuncture. In fact, acupuncture works very well for horses, dogs, cows, and cats, most of whom probably don't "believe" in acupuncture. It is always beneficial to have confidence in your physician, but faith in a particular technique is not required to obtain results.