FAQ

Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine Questions

How does acupuncture work?

This is the million-dollar question.

From a Chinese point of view, acupuncture works by regulating the flow of energy (‘qi’) in the body. A smooth flow of qi is synonymous with good health. Disease arises when qi flow becomes slow, stuck, or deficient to any part of the body. This disease can manifest as a physical problem, like joint pain or GI distress, or it can be a mental problem, like constant anxiety or chronic depression. In East Asian medicine, there is no boundary between physical and mental health.

Some people can live with this answer, others can’t.

From a Western point of view, the research is still ongoing and points to many different causes. We know that acupuncture releases pain-killing chemicals and that it alters activity in the brain where the perception of pain occurs. We know that inserting a needle promotes a local immune system response and a change in blood circulation. We know that the manipulation of a needle alters the tension in the body’s network of fascia. And we know that inserting needles in specific locations can have different effects on the brain depending on where the needle is placed. Putting these effects together allows us to treat a wide range of conditions.

We talk more about acupuncture and what it can treat in this blog post.

Does acupuncture hurt? What do the needles feel like?


Patients sometimes feel a small pinch when a needle is inserted, but even if this is felt it goes away within seconds. During treatment it is common to feel a dull, achy, or heavy sensation around the needles or radiating to different places of the body. This is normal. Any prolonged sharp or burning pain is not normal, and you should inform us so we can alter or remove needles as needed.

How long before I see results?

The answer to this question depends on what you are getting treatment for, and how long you have had that particular problem. Patients with acute issues often see lasting results within 2-3 treatments. More chronic conditions can take longer before sustained progress is noted. Age, lifestyle, and general health conditions play a role in this too.

In terms of treatment planning, we’ve written about this a bit more here.

Can I get acupuncture or take herbs while I’m on other medications?

Yes – acupuncture & herbal medicine often work better when used along with other therapies. Acupuncture does not interfere with any chiropractic or physical therapy work. It is also not a problem for patients on bloodthinning medications (ie coumadin or warfarin) as it is uncommon for patients to bleed when needles are removed.

Herbal formulas are prescribed to work with a patient’s existing medications. Even still, it is recommended to take any herbal formula either 2 hours before or after any Western medication to prevent any unforeseen complications. Furthermore, herbs should not be considered a substitute for any prescription medication without extensive discussion between the patient and the different prescribing parties.

Can acupuncture help with X?

This is our most common question, and we answer it in some detail here.

Do you take my insurance?

Amherst Wellness Center accepts Cigna and Harvard Pilgrim. Please call your provider to determine if you have any acupuncture coverage as part of your benefits.

If you have a different insurance provider that covers acupuncture, or if you have a flexible spending account or health savings account, we will be happy to provide you with an itemized receipt to send in for reimbursement.

What kind of training does an acupuncturist have?

An acupuncturist requires extensive training & licensing to practice medicine. You can read more about our credentials here.

Massage Questions

What should I expect at the first massage therapy visit?

There will be an intake form for you to fill out. When you are done the therapist will go over it with you to ensure that there are no problems with receiving a massage and to find out what you are looking for from your massage. Afterward the therapist will leave the room while you get on the table, and will knock on the door before reentering the room to begin the massage.

Are there any medical conditions that would make massage inadvisable?

There are. Part of the intake process is to make sure that you have no conditions that contraindicate massage. Massage is safe for most conditions, though they may change the type of massage that can be done.

Must I be completely undressed?

No. You can remove as much clothing as you are comfortable with and you will remain covered during the entire massage.

Will the therapist be present when I disrobe?

After the intake in the first visit (or the follow-up at each next visit) the therapist will leave the room while you get on the table and get under a sheet and blanket.

Will I be covered during the session?

You will remain covered throughout the entire session. The only area that will be uncovered is the part of your body that is being worked on at that time.

Hypnosis Questions

How does hypnosis work?

Hypnosis works by addressing the subconscious mind. We talk about this in our about page.

Will I lose control over myself in hypnosis?

Hypnosis used in clinical practice is very different than what is portrayed in movies or TV shows. Common perceptions are that a hypnotist takes complete control over a person, making them say and do whatever they want. In reality this is entirely false. Under hypnosis, patients still have full control over their bodies and minds, and cannot be made to do anything they would not do under their own will. They are aware of what goes on around them and remember what happened during the treatment once it’s over.

What kinds of conditions does hypnosis treat?

Hypnosis can be used for any problem where behavioral change is needed. It is limited only when a patient decides, consciously or otherwise, that they do not want to change. Most commonly it is used for the following problems:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Controlling pain and sadness
  • Fears
  • Dealing with stress

What is being in hypnosis like?

Hypnosis is actually a state of mind we are in everyday. Anytime you are engaged in an activity to the point where you are totally immersed in it, but less responsive to other things going on around you – this is hypnosis. It commonly happens when we watch a movie, read a good book, or are driving down the highway.

In the clinic, hypnosis is a state of profound relaxation where clients are aware of themselves and their actions.

Health Coaching Questions

What is a health coach?

A health coach is a person with knowledge of nutrition & healthy life habits. What they do is help you to reach your health goals. These goals can be anything, but are typically things like losing weight, increasing athletic performance, or gaining energy through your day.

How much time does it take?

Our health coaching process is a 6 month program, involving 1 hour meetings every other week.

Why a 6 month program?

Simply, our lives constantly change! They have ups and downs & different trials. So, to make good habits and ensure they last, it’s important to have good support through a few of those cycles of change. Choosing a period of six months balances between making sure your habits stick while creating a good end point for coaching.

Is health coaching right for me?

Health coaching will help just about anyone. In particular, if you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions then you can benefit from a health coach:

  • Have you ever fallen victim to fad diets?
  • Do you lose weight and put it back on regularly?
  • Do you have food sensitivities, gluten, lactose or soy intolerance and don’t know what you can eat?
  • Do you feel tired and sluggish and want to improve your energy?
  • Are you an athlete looking to improve your performance?

How do I get started?

Getting started is easy! Just schedule your free health history now.