What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is classified as an alternative healing method, but licensed naturopathic doctors share some of the same academic background as conventional medical doctors and can often prescribe some medications. According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), naturopathic medicine is holistic care that addresses a wide range of problems including (but not limited to) allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Naturopathic medicine aims to strengthen and empower the body and its organs to heal itself through low-force interventions. Here are some examples of the type of medical services often provided by naturopathic doctors, as cited by the AANP:
- Clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing
- Nutritional medicine
- Botanical medicine
- Naturopathic physical medicine (including naturopathic manipulative therapy)
- Minor surgery
- Intravenous and injection therapy
- Naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth)
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
There are many proven health benefits of acupuncture, whether you’re seeking short-term relief or need help with a chronic health condition. This alternative healing is likely why millions of adults nationwide get acupuncture treatments each year. Acupuncture provides pain relief, can help speed the body’s natural healing process, and has also been proved to have positive outcomes on mental health concerns such as depression. Acupuncture can also help relieve discomfort associated with chronic and terminal illnesses. For example, acupuncture has been proved to be effective in helping cancer patients manage pain, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hot flashes, xerostomia (dry mouth), neuropathy (nervous system problems), anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances, according to Cancer.gov. Acupuncture is a safe and effective alternative to opioids and other pain medications, which not only are hard on the body but also present the risk of addiction. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services found that people had less pain or were better able to manage pain when they received acupuncture as part of their health treatment.
What is Reiki and how does it work?
Reiki is a type of wellness bodywork, often referred to as energy work, that originated in Japan. Reiki practitioners offer this traditional healing technique with the intent of manipulating the flow of energy through the client’s body. Unlike massage, Reiki uses minimal — if any — pressure, focusing on stimulating energy flow rather than working the soft tissue and muscles. This movement of energy is done to improve mental, emotional and physical health. Reiki is touted for its stress relief and ability to ease tension. It can also improve mental clarity, release stress and tension, manage pain, or help with spiritual growth. It is said that Reiki practitioners act as a channel for a universal life force to help support a client’s natural ability to heal. Reiki sessions often last 30 to 90 minutes, with prices varying based on session length, background and experience of the provider, and where you live. Nationally, the average price range for a Reiki session is $60-$80.
What can be treated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be helpful for treating a wide variety of conditions ranging from cancer to headaches to sciatic nerve pain. It may also be useful for:
- Back pain, neck pain, knee pain, hand and foot pain, wrist and ankle pain, sciatic pain, nerve pain, arthritis, sports injuries, work-related injuries, TMJ, and carpal tunnel
- Whiplash and injuries from automobile accidents
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Menstrual cramping
- Herniated discs
- Emotional issues: Anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia
- Women’s health: Prenatal and postpartum care, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, symptoms of menopause and infertility
- Pediatric problems such as bedwetting, digestive upset, ear infection, allergies, hyperactivity and injury treatment
- Digestive disorders such as heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and constipation
- Respiratory problems such as asthma, acute and chronic cough, allergies, and chronic sinus problems
- Men’s health problems such as erectile dysfunction, impotence, male infertility, urination difficulties and prostate problems
- Miscellaneous conditions such as fatigue, adrenal fatigue, vertigo and dizziness, eye and vision problems, and tooth, jaw and dental issues
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture works by restoring the body’s natural healing powers. Acupuncture involves placing very thin needles into specific points on the body to influence the body’s energy flow and help the body heal itself in a natural way. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is linked to the belief that disease is caused by disruptions to the flow of energy (called qi in Chinese) in the body. The acupuncturist places whisper-thin needles into the arms, back, neck and other areas where the chi (or energy flow) has been blocked. The acupuncture needles stimulate points on or under the skin called acupuncture points or acupressure points, releasing this qi. These pathways — called “meridians” — become re-stimulated by the needles to bring blood and healing to the body. In Western medicine, acupuncture has been proved to relieve pain and help provide healing and relief from painful symptoms associated with everything from headaches to asthma to cancer. Western medicine sees the use of the needles as a way to stimulate the body’s nervous system, thereby prompting healing.
What is an acupuncture treatment?
An acupuncture treatment is a type of integrative health care session that uses needles (and sometimes heat and/or electrical stimulation) to stimulate the body’s nervous system to begin a healing process. Long practiced in traditional Chinese medicine and other Eastern cultures, acupuncture has gained widespread acceptance and use as a complementary and integrative part of healing in Western medicine. During an acupuncture treatment, the patient lies in a relaxed position on a table that is very similar to a massage table. The acupuncturist, having done a diagnosis of health concerns and determined a course of treatment, will insert thin stainless steel needles into the prescribed acupuncture points. These points are determined by the patient’s health needs. The practitioner may gently manipulate the needles to trigger a healing response in the body. Typically there is no pain associated with the treatment. A session may use anywhere from 6-30 needles or more, depending on what illness is being treated. The needles can remain in place for 5-30 minutes, with 15 minutes being a common time. Acupuncture treatments are often prescribed in a series, based on patient need.
How often do you need to get acupuncture?
How often you need acupuncture really depends on the health condition that is being treated. Acute issues such as a pulled groin or short-term digestion problems will likely require fewer treatments than a chronic disease such as some types of cancer. Dr. Lee Hullender Rubin, speaking with the Acupuncture Now Foundation, likens acupuncture sessions to a “dose” of medication prescribed by a doctor. If you have a condition like high blood pressure and are prescribed a medication to treat it, you wouldn’t take one dosage and be done. Likewise, for ongoing health conditions, Dr. Hullender Rubin explains that more than one session of acupuncture is likely in order. “For pain-related diseases, it seems 12 to 20 sessions is a reasonable intervention to achieve stable results,” says Dr. Hullender Rubin. For more acute (short-term) conditions, Dr. Tony Chon says that treatment might consist of two to six acupuncture sessions.
How long is a session of acupuncture?
Acupuncture sessions average from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the treatment needed and your overall health. Typically, your first visit will be longer than your subsequent visits due to the intake questions and examination used to determine your health history and current health needs. The first acupuncture visit is often more expensive than subsequent visits. A typical course of treatments may be anywhere from two to six sessions, with chronic health conditions requiring longer-term plans. Acupuncture cost can vary, and often providers offer discounted rates per session when you purchase multiple sessions at one time. You may experience temporary relief after the first session or two. Once you’re an established patient, acupuncture sessions average 30-45 minutes. Acupuncture needles are usually in place for approximately 15 minutes of the session, although each practitioner will have their own recommendation for your health needs. Most acupuncture practitioners suggest patients get treatment at least once a week during a course of treatment, though some people benefit from going more often.
Is acupuncture covered by health insurance?
Acupuncture cost may be paid out of pocket by the individual, may be partially covered by an insurance plan, or in some cases may be entirely covered by a health insurance provider. Depending on the health concern you are having treated, the policies of your insurance provider, and whether you have received referrals from a physician, you may receive coverage for your acupuncture costs. If you currently have health insurance, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends that you ask these questions to confirm who will cover the acupuncture cost:
- Is acupuncture covered for my health condition?
- Does acupuncture need to be:
- Pre-authorized or pre-approved? If so, by whom?
- Ordered by prescription?
- Does acupuncture require a referral?
- Do I need to see an in-network practitioner to have acupuncture costs covered?
- Do I have any coverage if I choose an out-of-network provider?
- What, if any, are the limits and requirements of acupuncture cost coverage?
- How much do I have to pay out-of-pocket?
HHS recommends that you keep copies of all communications you have with your insurance company, as well as keeping copies of letters, bills and claims. If you’re in the process of selecting a new health insurance provider, HHS suggests you ask about coverage of complementary or integrative health approaches, and whether the provider offers any discount programs for acupuncture and other integrative health modalities.
How long do the effects of acupuncture last?
The positive effects of acupuncture may vary in length. Relief may be permanent, effects may be immediate but require regular sessions to maintain, or effects can occur cumulatively over a number of treatments. The health issue you’re having treated, your overall health, and the measures you take to care for yourself after treatment can all have an effect on the duration of the effects. If you’re in a lot of pain, healing from an injury or suffering from a chronic health condition, you may need more visits to see lasting results. For acute conditions you may need from one to three treatments to experience results, while chronic health issues may take six sessions or more.
You don’t need to be sick or have something wrong to get acupuncture. Acupuncture also helps with stress management, relaxation and keeping your body in good working order. Acupuncture cost will be affected by the number of sessions needed. Sometimes people will feel a little tired after a session, and sometimes the main symptom can be slightly aggravated for a temporary period — but that’s the body’s natural healing response and you’ll see improvement after that. An additional advantage is that acupuncture does not cause adverse effects as prescription drugs can.