frequently asked questions

What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

Traditional Chinese medicine originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use various aspects of natural and energetic (or qi based medicine) such as acupuncture, tai chi, qi gong, tui na (Chinese medical massage), and traditional Chinese herbal medicine to treat or prevent health problems.  TCM also incorporates using medicinal herbs in food and cooking also known as “food therapy” or “food as medicine.”   

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a healing art that involves the gentle insertion of very fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body that have been determined over thousands of years of research and study to have varying positive effects on the body.  The use of acupuncture points involves the application of theories about the human body and the circulation of vital energy that have been established, recorded, studied and tested first in China and then all over the world. The medical theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow, qi energy (pronounced “chee”) through the body that are essential for health. Qi is said to flow through the body’s energy pathways, known as meridians. Meridians match certain organs or groups of organs. Unlike Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine holds that disease is caused by an imbalance or disruption of this energy’s flow through the meridians.  Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin. Acupuncture comprises of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. There are a variety of approaches to diagnosis and treatment in American acupuncture that incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. Acupuncture is done by putting very thin needles into your skin at certain points on your body which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. This is done to influence the energy flow. Acupuncture takes a whole-body approach to healing vs. focusing on curing one symptom (i.e., headache).   

What Is Dry-Needling?

First of all, dry-needling is ILLEGAL in the state of California and many other U.S. states and soon to be in many more. Second, dry-needling is not related to traditional Chinese acupuncture in ANY way and doesn’t even come close. Dry-needling doesn’t include any of the traditional concepts of acupuncture and yet practitioners who dry-needle call it acupuncture.    To an untrained eye, acupuncture and dry-needling techniques may appear very similar. However, their rationale and clinical use are very different. Dry-needling ignores almost all the ancient rules of traditional acupuncture. Dry-needling is ONLY designed to treat pain and nothing else. Whereas acupuncture can treat a very wide array of conditions in the body. Dry-needling does not have a system of meridians and actual points on the body. In fact, there are no actual points or developed system of measuring exactly where to insert the needles. Traditional acupuncture is also a qi (energy) based medicine and dry-needling is not. There are also no specific depths and angle of insertion guidelines with dry-needling – only very general and often vague guidelines. Ask any licensed acupuncturist anywhere in the U.S. and they’ll tell you that there are very detailed and very precise questions on the license board exams on depth and angle of insertion. There is also no licensure for dry-needling anywhere in the United States - only certification!  Licensure requires lengthy training and education culminating in applying for and passing either state or national level licensing board exams. Certification on the other hand only requires participation in practical education setting, often less than one week and doesn’t require any state or national level exam. Most acupuncture programs in the U.S. are 4 to 5 years Master’s or higher-level education.    Anyone that claims to perform acupuncture without an actual state or national acupuncture license, is really only performing dry-needling – NOT acupuncture. Some practitioners still claim to have an “acupuncture certification” (usually associated with chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, and even pet acupuncture), which is still NOT the same thing as acupuncture licensure and shouldn’t even be called acupuncture. The vast majority of pictures I’ve seen of patients and even pets receiving “acupuncture” (usually shown to me by my patients) from a practitioner with an acupuncture certification as opposed to an actual acupuncture LICENSE were clearly dry-needling, not acupuncture. So, what’s the big deal if they only have a dry-needling certification as opposed to being an actual licensed acupuncturist you ask? Serious complications for one thing. The vast majority of all serious complications I’ve seen from needling were a result of dry- needling – not acupuncture. Complications such as a punctured artery, punctured organs, severe lingering pain from needling a nerve, and even a punctured lung or pneumothorax.   Many of the dry-needling certification courses I’ve seen are only 2 to 3 days long. A few are even up to a couple weeks long but still nowhere near 4 to 5 years master’s level or higher education. Imagine for a minute that your psychologist took a week-long course on reading EKGs and then began saying that they were a cardiologist practicing cardiology. Now, how is that any different than a chiropractor, physical therapist, or even a veterinarian taking a crash course on needling and calling it acupuncture?  Maybe also imagine for a minute that your acupuncturist could take a 2 or 3 day or even a one-week crash course on chiropractic medicine and then legally be able to do chiropractic adjustments on any part of the body. Even if that were really possible and legal, I certainly wouldn’t want to be adjusted by anyone with that little training. Would you?     As I’ve already stated, the minimum requirement in the state of California to become a licensed acupuncturist is a 4 to 5-year masters or higher-level education. Additionally, it costs several thousand dollars to take the licensing exams and then become a licensed acupuncturist. If it’s acupuncture you’re looking for, get it from a licensed professional acupuncturist.          

What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?

Taylor Made Acupuncture wants you to have the highest results possible from each treatment. Taylor strives to give you a truly zen-like experience. Our rooms are clean and our comfortably padded tables are covered with professionally laundered linens. No noisy butcher paper that sticks to your skin here! You may feel some discomfort – usually no more than a slight pinch or pressure when a needle goes in.  This is completely normal. Most people find that it doesn't hurt.  Many first-time patients are actually surprised by how relaxed they feel during a session and how virtually painless the treatment is.  Regular patients often even fall asleep during treatment.  This is because the acupuncture needles used are extremely hair-thin and flexible for precise insertion. After the needles are all inserted, mild electrical or manual stimulation may be applied to a few of them. This process is also very tolerable.  The area of needle insertion may tingle, feel numb, itch, or have a dull ache.  These are positive signs that the needles are having their intended effect. This is a sign that the qi, or energetic flow, has been accessed.     

Is Acupuncture Safe?

When performed by a LICENSED acupuncture practitioner (as opposed to certified practitioner) it is VERY safe. See question about dry-needling for more information about the difference between acupuncture license and certification. State and national licensure ensures that the provider has a much higher level of training and follows very specific safe-needling guidelines. Unfortunately, there are still a few states in the U.S. where acupuncture is not licensed. ***In the state of California, it is illegal to practice acupuncture without California state acupuncture license.*** All the needles used at Taylor Made Acupuncture are single-use high-grade surgical steel sterile needles that are placed in a Sharps container and later incinerated after use.  A new pack of sterile needles is opened for each patient, and any needles not used in the pack are properly disposed of as if they were used needles.

What Can I Expect During My Initial Visit?

Taylor will have you complete an initial health intake form and sign consent forms on your first visit. Therefore we ask that you arrive 10 minutes early for your first visit. All appointments are 60 minutes in duration unless otherwise requested. Taylor will review your intake forms and evaluate your primary reason for seeking treatment. This may include a Chinese tongue and pulse diagnosis as well. He will then discuss any other concerns you may have.    Treatment may consist of the use of acupuncture, fire-cupping, topical oils or liniments, tui na (Chinese medical massage), stretching, moxibustion (the burning of a medicinal herb either directly on the body or indirectly from an inch or so away), or other techniques Taylor deems best for your particular ailment. Please note that Taylor prides himself on getting you the best results in the shortest amount of time possible. Be prepared to receive some homework!   

Is There Anything I Should Know That Will Help Prepare Me For My Appointment?

Please wear easy-access or easily removed clothing for best time efficiency. Don't arrive starving or just after eating a large meal.  For best results, limit caffeine intake and arrive well-rested.  Refrain from overexertion and alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit. One glass of wine that evening is usually ok though;-) 

How Long Do Treatments Take?

All treatment sessions are 60 minutes.  The needles, once inserted, will usually be left in place from 15 to 45 minutes depending on other modalities being used. Ultimately, the session length depends on the technique and desired results.  

How Many Treatments Are Needed And How Often?

Although some people will respond well to only one treatment, more are often necessary. The frequency of treatment and number of treatments needed is related to the patient's condition. Generally, the longer the patient has had the condition the longer the course of treatment will be before showing substantial and lasting results. Acupuncture can be scheduled as often as five times a week or as little as once a month. It is common practice throughout Asia for patients to receive multiple treatments per week for more severe conditions and even as often as twice per day.  That being said, you really can’t ask for a more results-driven acupuncturist than what you’ll find at Taylor Made Acupuncture!  

Do You Take Insurance?

For the time being, we only take TriWest insurance along with FSAs and HSAs.  This is mainly because our treatments are premium acupuncture treatments.  You get more one-on-one time and more actual hands-on treatment than most standard acupuncture treatments offered throughout San Diego.  Most acupuncturists in San Diego treat 2 to 3 patients per hour (more in community acupuncture settings).  Here, that treatment time is dedicated entirely to YOU!   You also get fresh clean linens in a private room.  No tacky noisy butcher paper that sticks to your skin here.  No crowded room without privacy and no “drive-through” acupuncture either;-)  Sometimes you’ll find yourself needing more than one treatment.  Therefore we offer discounted package pricing as well as other discounts from time to time.  You ultimately get an exceptional value for the services offered at Taylor Made Acupuncture.