How does acupuncture work?

There are two explanations to answer this question:

Western Medicine:  According to conventional scientific research, acupuncture acts directly on the nervous system. Stimulation of acupuncture points sends messages to the brain, which can be thought of as your “bio-computer” or the “motherboard” of the human life system. The brain then stimulates the release of substances that help the system to heal itself. You can learn more about this under Research and Efficacy.

Chinese Medicine:  Qi (life force or bio-energy) flows through the body via fourteen main channels (known as meridians or “jing luo”). Each meridian connects to a corresponding internal organ. Qi regulates all of the physiological, mental and emotional processes, and stimulation of the acupuncture points along these meridians will affect the qi of its associated organ. An acupuncturist prevents and treats disease by regulating the flow of qi.

Are there any side effects?

Acupuncture may cause minor discomfort and occasionally may leave a bruise. Minor bleeding upon removal of the needles is also not uncommon. Existing symptoms may sometimes temporarily increase after treatment. Positive side effects can and do often develop; for example, improved digestion, reduced anxiety and better sleep.

What kind of education is required for acupuncturists?

“Licensed acupuncturists”, given the privilege to use that title when they are licensed by the New Hampshire Board of Acupuncture Licensing, have the most extensive training in acupuncture. The professional designation “L.Ac. or “Lic.Ac.” indicates that the individual holds professional licensure by the state of New Hampshire as a licensed acupuncturist and that they have attained the highest level of training available. Ask your provider if they graduated from an accredited degree program. This is the gold standard for education.

In New Hampshire, in order to claim the title of “licensed acupuncturist” the provider must first possess a baccalaureate, registered nurse, or physician’s assistant degree from an accredited institution and then have completed acupuncture education from an ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) accredited US school. Minimum requirements for accreditation of a master’s level acupuncture program state that the program must be a three year program consisting of 1905 hours of study. For Asian medicine a four year program totaling 2625 hours is required, and pre-med courses are a requirement for both.

The New Hampshire state statute specifies in RSA 328-G:9 which other licensed health care professionals may legally practice acupuncture in New Hampshire; namely, those licensed as physicians and surgeons under RSA 329 and those specially qualified naturopathic doctors certified under RSA 328-E:12. Many practitioners including physicians, naturopathic doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors are now adding needling therapy as an adjunct to their practice with minimal additional training of 100-500 hours; it is often called “dry needling” or “trigger point needling”. These are common techniques used by acupuncturists, who receive a minimum of 1905 hours of study.

Chiropractors and physical therapists can use needles as an adjunctive procedure only, but are not to be considered practicing acupuncture and cannot claim to do so. MD’s (medical doctors) and DO’s (doctors of osteopathy) may use acupuncture after successful completion of a brief certification program, and ND’s (naturopathic doctors) who have met the requirements of the Naturopathic Board can add acupuncture to their practice, as well.

What if I’m healthy? Can acupuncture still help me?

Yes. Here in the United States, we tend to seek treatment only when problems arise. In Asia, acupuncture has traditionally been used as preventative medicine. Maintaining your health is the most important aspect of preventing illness!

Can acupuncture be used with infants, children and pregnant women?

Yes. Many childhood diseases can be prevented and treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture is safe and widely used with pregnant women. It is important for you to inform your acupuncturist if you are pregnant or if you intend to become pregnant.

What do all of those letters after L. Cindy Theroux-Jette’s name mean?

The letters indicate the academic degrees that have been earned and professional designations. “Ph.D.” stands for Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated for the Latin philosophiæ doctor, meaning “teacher of philosophy”. It is a degree that designates the title “doctor” based on research and differs from M.D. which stands for Medical Doctor. “OT/L” stands for Licensed Occupational Therapist, and “L.Ac.” stands for Licensed Acupuncturist.

Research and Efficacy

For more information please visit our Research and Efficacy page.

Conditions Treated with Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine

You can learn more about this under our Conditions Treated page.

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