Integrative Medicine FAQs

How much training is involved?

Doctors of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncturist Physicians are considered in the state of Florida, as Primary Care Physicians. They are trained in accredited graduate schools for 3-4 years. The NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) maintains a directory of certified practitioners on their web site, www.NCCAOM.org.

In addition, you might read the Acupuncture Information and Resource Package from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

Does my insurance plan cover acupuncture?

Some policies are beginning to include acupuncture because of its cost effectiveness as a treatment and because consumers have shown a willingness to pay for it out of pocket. In some cases, injuries sustained while on the job or in a motor vehicle accident may be covered for acupuncture treatments under either workers compensation or automobile insurance policies (PIP). The web site www.acupuncture.com includes a list of insurers that cover acupuncture, many of which are on the west coast. Call your insurance company and ask if your current plan covers it or not. If the answer is no, give your money to a company that will provide you with what you want and need. You are the customer. It is your money and your health that we are talking about.

Is acupuncture safe?

It is virtually impossible to contract any type of disease when only sterile and disposable needles are used. This means that the needles are being used one time only and immediately disposed of after the treatment in a biohazard container. The most common side effects reported after an acupuncture treatment are sleepiness and occasional bruising at the site of insertion.

How does it work?

Although there is current research in acupuncture, we still can rarely answer questions based on a Western scientific-evidence-based model. Western allopathic Medicine treats diagnoses that are often established by fairly objective impersonal standards. Oriental Medicine’s approach, on the other hand, treats the individual as a whole, not a diagnosis.

In November of 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a conference on acupuncture to determine what answers we do have from a rigorous scientific standpoint (The Consensus Statement on Acupuncture). So far, modern research has described various physiological shifts following acupuncture, such as beneficial changes in the body’s own natural painkillers, anti-inflammatory agents, immune system functions and hormonal activity. Acupuncture is definitely one of the best and safest types of treatment you can have. The focus is to stimulate your body’s own healing power. In the human body there are twelve primary meridians (natural energies flow in the body) along which, messages are sent from the acupuncture points to various parts of the body. The meridians are stimulated by needles or other instruments, to create an even flow of energy throughout the body. It is believed that all the various parts of the body are interdependent and must all work together harmoniously if good health is to be maintained.

How many treatments will I need?

Each individual is different, depending on your present health condition, age and how long you may have suffered from your present ailment, whether you are presently taking pharmaceutical drugs or have had radical surgery. Generally speaking, an individual’s body doesn’t become ill overnight, consequently cannot expect an immediate cure. Acupuncture usually requires a series of 10 treatments to correct a problem maybe more in chronic cases. In milder cases it is possible that 1-7 treatments may be all that is needed to recover. Dr. Perkins offers FREE consultations enabling potential patients to be able to discuss their particular situation giving them a more detailed description of what can be done and how long it would take to get there.

Does it hurt?

The sensation of pain is subjective from one person to the other. Acupuncture is NOT sensation-free but should be pain-free. Descriptions range from feeling nothing at all, to a heavy sensation, tingling, mosquito bite and the list goes on… At times, sensations can be felt only at the site of insertion or can travel throughout the body.

What about the herbs, are they safe?

Chinese Herbal Medicine was developed as an integral part of Chinese Medicine and therefore very safe when prescribed correctly by a properly trained practitioner. When misused, they can have devastating outcomes. Here are some dangerous misconceptions:

  • It has been used for centuries, therefore it must be safe: FALSE!
  • It worked on my friend’s conditions, it should work on mine: FALSE!
  • It is natural, therefore harmless and without side effects: FALSE!

Why pay doctors when I can buy it over-the-counter? It is crucial that one should not attempt to self-medicate. Chinese Herbs have different tastes, properties, nature, and temperatures. Once put together, they take a whole new entity.

Can I mix Chinese Herbs with prescription drugs?

You should make your healthcare provider aware of all pharmaceutical/ recreational drugs, vitamins and herbs you are taking. Combining any of these substances may or may not be a good idea. It is important to rely on the advice of your healthcare provider.

Is taking vitamins that contain Chinese Herbs, a good idea?

As we stated above, one herb or one group of herbs is never either good or bad. It varies for all people. For example, diet products containing the famous Chinese Herb, Ephedra (Ma Huang). This herb has been shown to stimulate the metabolism. However, in Chinese Medicine it is used as an acute anti-asthmatic on a short-term base only. If this herb is used on a long-term base or at a too high dose, it could stimulate the body too much and possibly induce a heart attack. This is a very clear example of a perfectly safe and essential herb that can potentially become deadly when used inappropriately. This is true of everything; Chinese Herbs, Western Herbs, OTC and prescriptions drugs. This is why it is critical that Chinese Herbal Medicines stay in the hands of the professionals who have been trained to use them. Another example is Ginseng. The problem is everyone THINKS they know what it is good for! The media describes it as good for the immune system and energy level. While this is true, Ginseng taken on a long-term base can actually produce extreme lethargy and fatigue! This is essential to know but unfortunately not transmitted to the public due to the lack of understanding regarding how herbs really work.

We hope these Acupuncture FAQs have helped, if more information is needed please contact our office to ask for your personalized FREE consultation.