Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a complete system of medicine that has been used for thousands of years in China and many parts of Asia. The goal is to prevent and treat disease by restoring and maintaining a harmony of yin and yang and maintain a strong and healthy flow of qi (energy) throughout the body. Eastern medicine not only focuses on the disease, but most importantly why the individual developed the disease to begin with. In order to effectively deliver eastern medicine to the patient, the practitioner or doctor evaluates all the symptoms the patient experiences, and treats them based on their specific disease "pattern". In TCM, no two treatments are alike. Many different modalities are utilized to treat patients, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine formulas, nutritional therapy, manual/massage therapy, cupping and moxibustion (burning herbs near the skin).

What is acupuncture?

 Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine that originated in China more than 2000 years ago as a method of treating and preventing illness. It involves inserting hair-thin needles into specific locations on the body known as acupuncture points. The general theory of acupuncture is that “Qi” or energy flows through the body in a series of channels or meridians, much like blood flowing through the blood vessels of the body. Qi is responsible for maintaining a normal body temperature, defending the body from foreign pathogens and controlling the functioning of the internal organs. When a person is healthy, qi flows through the body smoothly and strongly. When qi flow is blocked or not flowing properly, pain and illness can result. Qi flow can be disrupted by many things such as disease, trauma/injuries, medication (side effects), overwork, stress, lack of sleep, lack of physical activity, poor diet and emotions. By stimulating acupuncture points using needles, it encourages the smooth flow of qi throughout the body, thus helping to restore health and relieve pain and other symptoms. From a modern scientific standpoint, acupuncture has been shown to increase the body’s production of endorphins and enkephalins (natural pain-relievers). Microscopically, acupuncture points typically have more peripheral nerve endings than do other areas of the body.


What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?

The World Health Organization identified 28 conditions for which acupuncture has been proven through controlled trials to be an effective treatment. An additional 63 conditions were identified for which the therapeutic effect acupuncture has been shown but further proof is needed.

The following conditions are commonly treated by acupuncture:



arthritis/joint problems

back pain

bladder/kidney problems





drug/alcohol/smoking addiction


gastrointestinal disorders

gynecological disorders


heart problems/palpitations

high blood pressure

immune system deficiency

knee pain

menopausal complaints

musculoskeletal injuries

pre-menstrual syndrome




sexual dysfunction

side effects of chemotherapy

skin problems


stroke rehabilitation



When acupuncture and Chinese medicine is not the appropriate method of care for your case, Marissa will make the proper referral to another specialist.

What is a typical acupuncture treatment like?

Modern acupuncture needles are made of stainless-steel, are pre-sterilized, opened immediately before use, single-use and non-toxic. Alcohol is used to clean the skin prior to insertion. Needles are inserted into various acupuncture points and are left in place for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes electro-acupuncture is also used in which electrodes are attached to the needles and send a mild electric current through the needles. Other modalities used may include: moxibustion (burning herbs near acu-points), cupping (suction), tui na (asian massage), herbal formula prescription, nutritional or exercise recommendations.


How many treatments are needed?

How long the course of treatment lasts depends on the severity and nature of the condition. Generally, acute conditions may require 2-3 treatments, whereas more chronic ones may need 5-10 treatments. Some degenerative conditions may require ongoing treatments over a long period of time. After 2-3 visits, some relief should be experienced for most conditions. Marissa will try her best to estimate and inform you how long treatment may take depending to your condition. It is always her intention to get her patients better with as few treatments as possible.


What does acupuncture feel like?

While some people are more sensitive than others, acupuncture is generally painless. Most patients getting their first acupuncture treatment are surprised and relieved by how painless the treatment is. Most people will feel a mild "tap" of the needle being inserted, followed by feelings of heaviness or numbness around the area of insertion.


What are the potential risks of acupuncture?

The risks of acupuncture are generally low, especially compared to that of standard drug treatments. The most common side effects of acupuncture are mild soreness or bruising. These typically resolve within 3 days. Infections and punctured organs are among the most serious complications, but occur very rarely and in most cases, occur because the acupuncture was not delivered correctly. By taking a detailed history and exam and by following a strict regimen, Marissa makes every effort to avoid any complications. You can help by informing Marissa of your current medications, any medical conditions you have, if you’re pregnant/nursing, have a pacemaker or have any bleeding or immune system disorders.








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