What happens in a treatment?

Acupuncture and moxibustion (heating the skin surface with a medicinal herb called Artemesia vulgaris , common name mugwort) work on the animating energy of the body. By adjusting the flow of this energy (ki) through the meridians we can promote health and well being and heal disease. The meridian system is a link between the energetic and the physical and between the conscious and the unconscious.

A treatment usually takes about an hour. It’s a whole body treatment, so patients remove outerwear but not underwear and are covered by a towel (1 for the lower body, 1 for the upper body) for warmth and privacy. The treatment usually starts with the patient lying face up, and I will check the pulses of the wrists and palpate the abdomen to assess the function of your various body systems.

I will also ask about your condition in more detail. Then I will insert some very fine gauge acupuncture needles into the skin surface and leave them in place for 5 or 10 minutes. After removing the needles I usually apply cones of moxa made from mugwort. The cones are lit with an incense stick and burn down about 2/3’s, at which point they begin to feel hot and are removed. The needling and moxa change the body’s energy flow in crucial areas allowing you to change and heal. It also feels very calming and grounding.

After this I will usually adjust the overall flow of energy through your body by treating acupuncture points on the arms or legs. This is called the root treatment because it addresses the underlying imbalance or deficiency that is causing problems.

In the second half of the treatment you turn over and lie face down, and I will use needles and moxa to treat the back of the body. Sometimes I will use moxa on the head of the needle to release tight or painful areas on the lower back. I also usually do some shiatsu style massage along the meridians. This is done over the towel, and your body is not exposed. I press in slowly with my thumbs and hands and then release.

To get your condition to change you generally need a set of weekly treatments (4-8). You should notice some change immediately, but most healing occurs gradually. You’ll find your balance and start moving in a positive direction. When you feel stuck, when things are not going well, acupuncture can take the edge off and allow you to see clearly.