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Is there anything I should know for my first appointment?

For your first appointment, be sure to wear loose comfortable clothing and eat something at least one hour beforehand.  Your first appointment will last up to an hour and a half, with all other appointments lasting 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The first half of the appointment will be a thorough interview process as we discuss the main reasons for your visit and all things relating to your health, past and present.  We will then take your pulse and look at your tongue, two tools we use for diagnostic purposes.  We will end the session with an acupuncture treatment, in which the needles are retained for about 25 minutes.  There’s a heat lamp, music, and dim lighting.  It’s very relaxing and most patients fall asleep for a restorative power nap.

The benefits of acupuncture start immediately.  After your first treatment you could experience an excellent night of sleep, higher energy, more focus, less stress and a reduction in pain.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture helps restore one’s natural balance so organs and bodily systems can work together in harmony.  This sets the stage for the body to repair itself and maintain its own optimal health. From a Western medicine perspective, research has shown that acupuncture treatment triggers different physiological responses, such as:

  • Stimulating the immune system and increasing white blood cells, which defend the body against infection.
  • Regulating blood sugar metabolism, which helps the body use energy more efficiently.
  • Increasing blood circulation and producing beneficial changes in blood pressure; Decreasing cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Increasing stomach peristaltic activity and regulating digestive fluids, thereby improving digestion.
  • Regulating and stimulating serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is directly related to sleep, appetite, and moods.
  • Increasing the availability of receptors in the brain that process and weaken pain signals.
  • Affecting both the brain’s short- and long-term ability to reduce pain sensation.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Fear of needles is not uncommon and it’s normal to be a little unsure at first!  Most of us have only experienced hypodermic needles through blood draws and injections – which are uncomfortable experiences.  The sensation you feel from an acupuncture needle is nothing like the feeling you get with a shot.  Our acupuncturists are skilled at using gentle techniques – listening to any concerns you may have and working within your comfort zone.  Our office is a great place to try acupuncture for the first time!

  • Acupuncture needles are sterile and single use
  • Acupuncture needles are extremely fine – about the width of a human hair.
  • Most people report either not feeling the needles at all, or noticing them briefly as they are inserted.  Some points may have more sensation than others, a deep dull heavy sensation or a quick little pinch may be noticeable.

How often do I need to come in for treatment?
  • Most people experience improvement after their first visit.  Acupuncture treatments build upon themselves, so your progress will be more marked with consistent treatments, much like exercise or physical therapy. For example, going to the gym every once in awhile does not get you into shape. It is the consistency and frequency of your training that yields good results. Acupuncture works in a similar fashion – the frequency and consistency of treatment is vital to the improvement of your condition.
  • The exact duration of treatment varies case by case but generally depends on the condition, your basic level of health, and how well you respond to acupuncture.  We will recommend a treatment plan for you specifically.  
  • Typically acupuncture treatments are given 1-3 times per week. Usually frequent treatments are done for the first few weeks; after that, the frequency of treatment may be reduced as wellness is restored.  Average cases take around 6 treatments to see marked improvement; many acute cases are resolved in this timeline, while more challenging and chronic cases can take 10+ treatments.
  • Most of our patients choose to continue to come in once to a few times a month for maintenance/wellness care even after their main complaint has resolved; they choose to continue enjoying the benefits of stress-relief, better sleep, improved mental focus, and increased energy levels that acupuncture provides.

Do you have to be certified to practice acupuncture?

Absolutely! People are often surprised to find out just how extensive the training is that their acupuncturist has undergone.  A Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) has obtained a graduate-level education from an ACAOM-accredited college and has passed rigorous national certification exams administered by the NCCAOM. Masters programs in Chinese Medicine consist of 3-4 years of intensive training in acupuncture, herbal medicine, Asian bodywork (e.g. acupressure, tui na, shiatsu), nutrition, and qi gong. This training amounts to over 3,500 credit hours of both academic and clinical training, including hundreds of hours of direct patient care and a minimum of 250 patient treatments before licensure.  Additionally, licensed acupuncturists are required to do regular continuing education to maintain national certification and state licensure.  Licensed Acupuncturists are trained to treat a broad range of health issues, including chronic disease, pain, internal medicine, rehabilitation, and preventative care.

How much does it cost & Do you accept insurance?

Rates vary depending on what treatment is being administered. At Four Gates Acupuncture we bill insurance, so give us a call and we will find out what your acupuncture benefits are.  We also recommend that you call your insurance to inquire of your benefits. We are in network with Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, and Harvard Pilgrim.  We also bill Anthem Blue Cross as an out of network provider, and due to Maine state mandates, treatments are generally covered at in-network benefit levels.

How do I best support myself after an acupuncture treatment?

Following your treatment it is best to drink plenty of water.  Occasionally you may feel sleepy following a treatment & if this is the case make sure to take it easy.  Try not to do any heavy exercise in the few hours following treatment.

Should I keep my visit even if I am sick?

Yes, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are most effective in the initial stages of an acute condition. Colds, flus, stomach upsets, and headaches are some of the conditions that are best caught early before they get worse. Patients report immediate improvements in symptoms after an acupuncture treatment or beginning an herbal prescription. In Eastern Medicine, the initial stage is the best moment to address these issues that may become problematic to treat later.