Frequently Asked Questions
What is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic medicine is a form of healthcare that focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just the symptoms of a specific condition. It recognizes that all aspects of a person’s life, including physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental factors, can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being.
Holistic medicine doctors often use a variety of therapies and approaches to care for their patients, including natural remedies, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, as well as conventional medical treatments. They may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, to help improve overall health and well-being. A doctor practicing holistic medicine will perform a thorough analysis to provide a medical diagnosis and treatment strategy.
The goal of holistic medicine is to help people proactively achieve optimal health and well-being, rather than simply managing or treating specific symptoms or conditions. It is a proactive approach to healthcare that emphasizes prevention, self-care, and individual responsibility for one’s own health.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine modality that involves inserting thin filiform needles into specific points on the body. While the exact mechanisms of how acupuncture works are not fully understood, several theories exist regarding its effects on the nervous system. Here are some ways acupuncture may influence the nervous system:
- Acupuncture is believed to stimulate nerves in the body, including sensory receptors under the skin and in muscles. This stimulation can send signals to the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, potentially influencing various physiological processes.
- Acupuncture has been shown to affect the release and balance of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers in the nervous system. For example, it may increase the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving substances, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation.
- Acupuncture may impact blood flow in the body. Studies suggest that it can dilate blood vessels and improve circulation, which can enhance the delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and immune cells to various tissues, including the nervous system.
- Acupuncture can activate specific areas of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. This activation can trigger a cascade of biochemical and physiological responses, potentially influencing pain perception, immune function, hormone production, and other processes.
- Acupuncture has been found to influence the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. It may help rebalance the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) branches of the autonomic system.
What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?
The sensation experienced during acupuncture varies among our patients and may depend on factors such as the specific acupuncture technique used, the location of the needles, and your personal sensitivity. Overall, our patients find our treatments to be deeply relaxing and many fall asleep into a restorative nap.
Here are some common sensations associated with acupuncture:
- When the acupuncture needles are inserted, you may feel a slight prick or tingling sensation. The needles used in acupuncture are very thin and flexible, much finer than hypodermic needles used for injections. Most people, including kids, find the needle insertion to be relatively painless.
- Once the acupuncture needles are placed, many patients experience heaviness, warmth, or a tingling sensation around the needle insertion site or along the pathway of the acupuncture channel. Some people may also feel a sensation of warmth or energy spreading or radiating in different areas of the body.
- The majority of our patients report feeling deeply relaxed and calm during acupuncture sessions. Some even describe experiencing a sense of tranquility or a state of heightened well-being. This relaxation response can be attributed to the overall therapeutic environment, the release of endorphins, and the stimulation of the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.
- Occasionally, our patients may experience temporary sensations such as a mild muscle twitch or trigger point reaction. These sensations are typically fleeting and not cause for concern.
- Acupuncture treatments can sometimes trigger emotional responses. It’s not uncommon for our patients to experience a sense of emotional release, such as crying or feeling a surge of emotions during or after an acupuncture session. This can be a natural part of the healing process as the body releases pent-up emotions or stress.
What Medical Training Does An Acupuncturist Have?
In Texas, licensed acupuncturists are governed by the Texas Medical Board.
All acupuncturists in Texas are required to have a Masters degree in Chinese Medicine/Oriental Medicine/East Asian Medicine based on a curriculum of graduate-level courses in medical theory, acupuncture techniques, anatomy, pharmacology, Chinese herbal medicine, biomedicine, ethics, and safety. The Masters degree program typically takes three to four years full-time. A small percentage of Licensed Acupuncturists return to graduate school to obtain Doctoral degrees which adds another one to two years of rigorous study and training.
Before licensure, all acupuncturists in Texas must pass four national board exams administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM):
- Foundations of Oriental Medicine (FOM): This exam assesses the candidate’s knowledge of fundamental theories and principles of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. It covers topics such as Yin-Yang theory, Five Elements theory, Qi and Blood, channels and collaterals, and diagnosis according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) principles.
- Acupuncture Point Location (ACPL): The ACPL exam evaluates the candidate’s ability to identify and locate acupuncture points on the body. It tests knowledge of the precise location, function, and clinical application of commonly used acupuncture points according to TCM principles.
- Biomedicine (BIO): The BIO exam focuses on the candidate’s understanding of basic biomedical sciences relevant to acupuncture and Oriental medicine. It covers anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and other biomedical subjects to ensure a solid foundation in Western medical knowledge.
- Chinese Herbology (CH): The CH exam assesses the candidate’s knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine. It includes topics such as herb categories, properties, functions, herbal formulas, herb-drug interactions, and safety considerations.
Licensed Acupuncturists must also complete training in Clean Needle Technique to ensure safe and sterile practices when inserting and handling acupuncture needles.
It is always a good idea to look up the license of any healthcare practitioner you encounter or trust with your personal health information.
Why Would My Medical Doctor (MD) Recommend Acupuncture?
While we often receive patient referrals from local MDs, including Primary Care Physicians, Orthopedic Surgeons, Neurologists, and Pediatricians, many of our new patients are curious why their doctor would recommend acupuncture instead of physical therapy or pharmaceutical interventions. Here are a few reasons doctors entrust us with your care:
- Pain Management: Acupuncture has been found to be effective in relieving pain in various conditions, such as chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis, migraines, and postoperative pain. It can be recommended when other conventional pain management approaches, such as medication or physical therapy, have not provided satisfactory results or when there is a desire to minimize the use of medications.
- Holistic Approach: Acupuncture is rooted in a holistic approach to medicine, considering the interconnectedness of the body and mind. A primary care physician may recognize the value of incorporating complementary therapies like acupuncture to address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a patient’s health.
- Limited Conventional Treatment Options: In some cases, certain medical conditions or individual circumstances may limit the available treatment options. Acupuncture can be considered as a viable alternative or adjunctive therapy for patients who cannot tolerate specific medications, procedures, or surgeries due to allergies, intolerances, contraindications, or high-risk factors.
- Patient Preferences: Some patients may express a preference for non-pharmacological and non-invasive treatment options. As a patient-centered approach, a primary care physician may respect the patient’s preferences and values, and if appropriate, recommend acupuncture as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
- Well-being and Stress Management: Acupuncture is known to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. Primary care physicians may recommend acupuncture to help manage stress-related conditions, insomnia, anxiety, or to support patients in achieving a better work-life balance.
It is important to note that Medical Doctors (MDs) typically consider the evidence base, individual patient needs, and the availability of qualified acupuncture practitioners in their recommendations. They often collaborate with our team of licensed acupuncturists to provide truly integrative medicine.
What Are Your Clinic Hours? Can I Receive Treatment If I Work Full-Time or Travel Frequently?
Absolutely, we make it easy to receive care with us by offering appointments Monday through Friday:
We treat all ages (yes, even kids love acupuncture!) and all walks of life. We treat students, professionals, retirees, travel enthusiasts, stay-at-home parents, celebrities, Grammy-winning musicians, professional athletes, and humans who need help optimizing their health.
How Should I Prepare for My First Acupuncture Treatment?
The first part is finding us! Our clinic is located at 14141 Hwy 290, Suite 510, Austin, TX 78737 in the Center Canyon Business Park. We are located within the Dripping Springs area, so don’t let the Austin part of our official address throw you off! You’ll find us on Hwy. 290 between Whirlaway Drive and Sawyer Ranch Road. Our building is freestanding and has a reddish-orange stucco exterior. There are signs and plenty of parking directly in front!
What Should I Do Before My Appointment? Eat a snack or light meal about 60 minutes before your appointment. Do not consume alcohol or take recreational drugs in the 12 hours before your appointment. Doing so will impair your body’s response to the treatment and may result in rescheduling the appointment.
What Should I Wear? Loose, comfortable clothing is always best for treatments, as it provides easy access to your knees and elbows, and it provides you an even greater opportunity for complete relaxation. Feel free to wear pajamas to your treatment, if those are what you feel comfortable in. If you are unable to wear loose clothing, shorts, sheets and blankets are always available to use as needed. We will ask you to remove your socks, shoes, and wristwatch for treatment.
How Long Will The Treatment Be? Acupuncture treatments generally take less than an hour. Because much of the healing happens when the acupuncturist leaves the room, you will be provided with a call button for peace-of-mind while you relax or take a nap.
How Do I Become A Patient? How Much Will It Cost? Will Insurance Cover My Treatments?
The first step to becoming a new acupuncture patient is a private consultation to determine if you are a qualified candidate for our medical services. We do not offer one-time treatments to new patients (as that’s not how acupuncture works).
A non-refundable consultation fee of $49 is required in advance to secure your first appointment, which is a medical case review evaluation/consultation. If you begin a treatment plan, your consultation fee will be applied as a credit. If the consultation reveals that you are not a good candidate for our services and we don’t present a treatment plan for your case, we will refund your consultation fee or (if you choose) donate it to a local charity.
“How Much Will It Cost?”
Your actual acupuncture treatment cost is determined at the consultation based on your specific medical condition and recommended treatments. In compliance with the No Surprises Act (effective January 1, 2022), we can provide you with a Good Faith Estimate indicating the cost(s) of the service(s) scheduled.
All consultation fees that are not applied to treatments are donated to non-profit organizations benefiting the Dripping Springs Community. Visit our Giving Back page to learn more!
“Will Insurance Cover My Acupuncture Treatments?”
Every insurance plan is unique, just like you. We are considered an out-of-network provider for all insurance and your plan may or may not cover your diagnosed condition and/or treatment. We are not providers for Medicare or Medicaid. Upon request, we provide detailed billing statements you may submit to your insurance company for direct reimbursement of each service rendered. Your out-of-pocket cost for our services will be discussed at your private consultation.