Who practices Chinese Medicine (or oriental medicine)?

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) offers Diplomates in acupuncture, Chinese herbology, and oriental medicine (acupuncture and Chinese herbology). As a Diplomate, or diplomats of NCCAOM, you have met nationally recognized standards of competence and safety.


“Diplomate in Acupuncture (NCCAOM)”  or  “Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)”

Chinese Herbology

“Diplomate in Chinese Herbology (NCCAOM)” or “Dipl. C.H. (NCCAOM)”

Oriental Medicine

“Diplomate in Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)” or “Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)”

How can I find a qualified Chinese medicine doctor?

To locate a qualified practitioner in your area, contact:

What is Chinese Medicine?

Chinese Medicine, also called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or oriental medicine in US, is a complete medical system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses for more than 2,000 years. Chinese Medicine considers health as a balance of yin and yang (negative force-positive force) and qi modulates this balance. When yin and yang are balanced, they work together with the natural flow of qi to help the body achieve and maintain health. When yin and yang are misbalanced or qiis blocked, you feel sick.

All the procedures of Chinese medicine are intended to improve the flow of qi and the balance of yin and yang. To reach the goal, Chinese medicine uses different therapeutic approaches, such as natural methods (herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, Tui Na, and reflexology) and mind-spiritual methods (such as Qigong and Taiji). These therapeutic methods are characterized by fewer side effects since they are natural.

What is the main difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine?

There are three main differences between Chinese medicine and Western medicine. First, Chinese medicine takes a patient as a whole and focuses on enhancing human body’s own resistance to diseases and improving the inter-connections among self-controlled systems. Second, Chinese medicine treats the patient individually. For example, two people may have the same symptoms of eczema, but the cause of the illness may be completely different: one patient may have an imbalance of his or her liver, the other an imbalance of his or her spleen. Third, Chinese medicine uses natural methods (such as herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, Tui Na, and reflexology) and mind-spiritual methods (such as qigong and taiji), which are characterized by fewer side effects since they are natural.

How Chinese medicine doctor diagnose the diseases?

Before providing the treatment, Chinese Medicine practioner must take an assessment of your body by using diagnostic techniques, a system that includes observations (facial complexion and expression, gait, skin color, tongue and etc.), smelling and listening (abnormal smell, speech, cough voice, breath sounds and etc.), questioning (such as chill and fever, perspiration, medical history, life-style and etc.), and pulse-taking. Chinese medicine practioner will summarize, analyze, and differentiate all the information he or she gets in order to determine the condition of patient’s yin-yang and qi (diagnosis). Among those mentioned above, tongue-observing and pulse-taking are the most difficult parts. There are 28 major categories of pulse, under which there are numerous subcategories, while there are 6 major categories of tongue appearance and numerous subcategories.

What should I expect on my first visit?

For the first visit, Chinese medicine practioner will do the diagnosis of your condition using a system that includes observations, smelling and listening, questioning, and pulse-taking (mentioned above).  According to the diagnosis of your condition, Chinese medicine practioner will make the treatment plan for you, either using a single manipulation or a combination of the therapies. Then Chinese medicine practioner will start first treatment. So, the first visit often takes longer time than subsequent sessions do.

How widely is acupuncture used in the United States?

For last 20 years, acupuncture has grown in popularity in the United States. The report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being “widely” practiced –by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners–for relief, prevention of pain, or various other health conditions. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had ever used acupuncture and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.

What conditions does acupuncture treat? WHO Review and NIH Statement

Over the centuries, acupuncture has been used to treat countless conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes over 250 illnesses that can be treated by acupuncture and the list continues to grow. The following are some of them:

  • Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Alcohol dependence and detoxification
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Biliary colic
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Cancer pain
  • Cardiac neurosis
  • Cholecystitis
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Competition stress syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Craniocerebral injury
  • Depression
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Epistaxis
  • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Facial Palsy
  • Facial spasm
  • Female infertility
  • Female urethral syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  • Gastrokinetic disturbance
  • Gouty arthritis
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Headache and Migraine
  • Hypertension
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labour
  • Insomnia
  • Knee pain
  • Labour pain
  • Lactation,
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Neuralgia
  • Nocturnal Enuresis
  • Obesity
  • Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain in dentistry
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Peripheral Neuropathies
  • Postoperative pain
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
  • Renal colic
  • Retention of urine
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica Sprain
  • Sore throat (including tonsillitis),
  • Spine pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow
  • Tobacco dependence
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia

Source: Acupuncture: review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials by WHO, 1999, p 23-26.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Statement on Acupuncture:

“Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. While there have been many studies of its potential usefulness, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebos and sham acupuncture groups. However, promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult post-operative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in post-operative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofacial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma where acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.” This NIH Consensus statement was prepared by a non-advocate, non-Federal panel of experts, based on presentations by investigators working in areas relevant to the consensus on November 5, 1997

Is acupuncture needle safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that pre-sterilized, nontoxic, metallic and disposable needles be used. This eliminates the risk of any transmission of disease.  Manufacturers must provide information about needle material, sterility and compatibility and must label “for single use only”. The needles must also bear a prescription label restricting use to qualified practitioners as determined by individual states.

Is acupuncture safe?

The statement is made by the World Health Organization (WHO): “ Generally speaking,  acupuncture treatment is safe if it is performed properly by a well-trained practitioner. Unlike many drugs, it is non-toxic and adverse reactions are minimal.” “advantages of acupuncture are that it is simple and convenient, and has few contraindications”.

How do I feel during acupuncture?

Acupuncture needles are very fine (about the diameter of a human hair) and flexible. Common feelings during acupuncture are local distension, heaviness, numbness, soreness or a sensation like a tiny electric current. All of these feelings are mild and normal.

How long does a treatment take?

The first appointment takes longer. Subsequent visits take about one hour.

How long will I need treatment?

This completely depends on the individual specific situation: acute or chronic illness, the severity and the nature of the disease. After your Chinese medicine doctor makes the diagnosis of your situation, he or she will let you know.

How often will I need treatment?

It depends on your specific situation. Regularly, there is twice a week or one a week.

I’m afraid of needles. Is it possible to undergo treatment without needles?

For people who are not comfortable with the needles, there are various alternative techniques based on the principles of Chinese medicine, such as acupressure, cupping, moxibusion, tui Na, herbal medicine, and reflexology and so on.

Is acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine safe if I am on medication?

Acupuncture and herbal treatment can be given along with medication prescribed by your doctor. However, please inform your Chinese medicine doctor about any current medications you are taking.

In what form do Chinese Herbs come?

Prescribed raw formulas: Prescribed formulas are made by Chinese medicine doctor according to an individual patient’s symptoms and diagnoses. In general speaking, prescribed formulas are considered most effective way to take Chinese medicine since they are made according to the individual’s specific state of yin and yang. These formulas are best boiled in a ceramic herb pot that assists in even cooking and the preservation of the medicinal properties of herbs. There are different cooking instructions for different formulas and your doctor will instruct you how to cook your herb formula.

Pre-formulated, pre-made, patent Chinese Medicine: There are numerous famous formulas used for generations for common illnesses. They are pre-made in several forms such as fine power, capsule, pellet, and tablet, as well as tinctures that are concentrated liquid extracts of herbs. They are similar to over-counter drugs. Taking herbs in those forms is more practical and convenient. However, they are pre-formulated based on the common problems. If your problem does not fit the specific indication, your doctor should choose to give you a prescribed raw formula.

Topical Liquids and Creams:There are many kinds of topical creams and liquids for different medical uses such as athlete’s foot, burns, hemorrhoids, bleeding, and bone problems. These are very effective when used under the appropriate circumstances.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance?

A growing number of insurance companies reimburse for acupuncture treatments. Check with your insurance company to find out its specific policies and requirements. Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Clinic does not participate any health insurance company but we will assist you by filling out your forms upon request. Medicare does not currently cover acupuncture (however, there is a bill pending in Congress to remedy this). Payment is due when services are rendered.

Is there anything I should not do before my appointment?

The following may influence your pulse: eat a heavy meal and engage in sexual activity just before your appointment.

The following may influence the color and appearance of your tongue: drink the colored beverages (such as coffee, soda or juice), eat spicy food, and brush or scrape you tongue coating before your appointment.

Therefore, those situations should try to be avoided.

Can acupuncture be used as preventative medicine?

Yes. Research has now verified that acupuncture stimulates immune functioning, which can increase your resistance to bacterial and viral infection. Acupuncture increases overall energy and vitality and helps the body properly respond to injury and stress. Regular, monthly treatments can help you maintain good health.