Complementary Therapy Program Program does not offer acupuncture services, or classes, but recognizes the benefits of it. Therefore, the following information is provided. This service may be offered in the future.

The modern scientific explanation for why acupuncture works is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating system. The roots of acupuncture lie in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Chinese tradition, the goal of acupuncture is to encourage the movement of qi (life energy). The constant flow of qi is essential for a person to keep their health. If the energy flow is blocked the body cannot keep the balance that is needed to maintain high energy and deal with health issues.

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A National Institutes of Health (NIH) report (April, 2000)* states that acupuncture is helpful and effective for post-operative and chemo-induced nausea and vomiting. It has been found to help with pain, depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

* The NIH report on Acupuncture is available from the NCI by calling 1-800-4-CANCER.


What's Involved?

Acupuncture is practiced by inserting needles, applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points. Each acupuncture point will have a specific energy angle and a certain penetration depth. Sessions can last 20 to 60 minutes. The number of treatments depends on the severity of the problem, 6 -10 sessions is average.


Choosing a Practitioner

The practitioner should have a degree from an accredited acupuncture school and be certified by the school. Some states have licensed acupuncture practitioners. The National Acupuncture Commission certifies practitioners who pass written and practical exams.

You should ask if the acupuncturist sterilizes his needles or uses disposable needles. You should always see your physician before choosing acupuncture. Avoid practitioners that are not willing to work with your primary physician.

Call the following organizations for more information: American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (919) 787-5181 for names and locations of acupuncturists meeting acceptable standards of competency. National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists (202) 232-1404 offers a test to verify basic competency in acupuncture.


Cost and Coverage

Costs vary from $50 - $100. Some insurance companies may include this benefit. Always verify cost and reimbursement prior to initiating any therapy.

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