ABOUT TREATMENT MODALITIES
Acupuncture is the main treatment modality that Kate uses to promote healing. Other modalities such as cupping and gua sha can be performed in conjunction with -or entirely separate, if requested- from an acupuncture session. Each session, no matter which or how many modalities are used during the session, is booked through the scheduler the same way and priced equally.
Q: What exactly happens when I get acupuncture? What is qi?
A: At the most basic level, acupuncture points are chosen to manipulate qi ("chi"). Qi is present everywhere there is living matter. One definition of qi is tiny vibrations that create and influence form and matter. It is often helpful to understand qi by imaging the wind or the air. We can't see it, but we can measure, feel, and observe its effects. The goal of treatment is to create qi that is balanced and flowing, because movement/change is the essence of life and wellness.
Acupuncture points are found along channels that run throughout the body. Each channel governs particular types of qi, a specific organ, and various functions in the body. Furthermore, each point on a channel has its own functions and qualities. Acupuncturists determine which points to use by observing and listening to a patient, as well as using other diagnostic tools such as pulse and tongue reading.
Q: Does acupuncture work by hitting nerves?
A: No. Acupuncturists try very hard not to hit nerves. That hurts.
Q: Do the needles hurt? I hate needles.
A: Almost everyone hates needles. Hypodermic needles, that is. We're familiar with hollow hypodermic needles used for drawing blood and injecting medications. They're not pleasant. Fortunately, acupuncture needles are tiny in comparison. They're solid, extremely flexible, and a bit thicker than a human hair. Depending on the gauge, 10-40 acupuncture needles fit inside an hypodermic needle. It's normal to feel a prick immediately upon insertion, occasionally followed by a dull ache, if anything at all. Every acupuncture needle is sterile and used once before being disposed of in a sharps container.
Q: I feel some needles, and others are painless. Does it mean it's still working?
A: Sometimes a difference in sensation is simply due to the fleshiness of a body part. Sometimes one side of our body is more sensitive than the other. It's prudent to observe and question, but usually we don't know why certain points feel a particular way and others do not. Sometimes we can intuitively know if a needle created a change in our body, or if the point was missed. It happens! Overall, however, sensation doesn't indicate the effectiveness of the treatment.
Q: Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
A: No. Just like receiving Western medical care or pharmaceuticals, treatments are going to work or not based on your current condition and whether the diagnosis and treatment is aligned with what your body needs in the moment. However, having a positive attitude and curiosity is helpful, especially because it helps us to rest and relax during the session.
Q: Why are my pulses and tongue read during a treatment?
A: Pulses and the tongue are useful diagnostic tools to help an acupucturist determine what is happening internally in your body. The main channels of qi are accessible at the wrist. Instead of calculating your heart rate, pulse reading measures the strength, rate, and qualities of the channels and how they present in comparison to each other. Similarly, the tongue's size, coating, color, and qualities indicate what may need attention beyond what someone reports verbally.
Q: What does cupping do? Will I bruise?
A: When used to treat pain, cupping provides suction to lengthen fascia and muscles. Suction expands the fascia and reminds the body how to lengthen what has become chronically contracted and painful. Cupping for pain can be done on the neck, back, shoulders, arms, and legs. It is not usually done on the chest or abdomen.
When used to treat respiratory infections, cupping draws pathologic "damp" and "heat" out through the surface of the skin on one's back. Cupping on the back can also be useful to dispel qi and blood stagnation, which is sometimes a cause of menstrual disorders, disturbing dreams, and anxiety.
In areas of much contraction and stagnation of qi and blood, cupping will leave dark, circular marks that can last for a number of days or up to a week or more. It depends on the severity of the case, one's skin tone, and one's propensity to bruise. It is absolutely normal to have dark marks after a session.
Q: What does gua sha do? Will it leave marks?
A: Gua sha helps to release the fascia, which is the connective tissue beneath our skin that attaches to our muscles. Gua sha is performed by using a small handheld tool to gently scrape the skin. Areas of the body experiencing muscle tension, pain, limited mobility, or inflammation can be greatly relieved through this simple modality. Petechiae will occur in areas of stagnated blood circulation and qi flow. Petechiae look like a rash of tiny red and purple dots on the skin. They're caused by bleeding under the skin, and they're painless and disappear within a week. Just like cupping, the severity of the stagnation in the fascia, one's skin tone, and one's propensity to bruise all affect the appearance of the petechiae and the length of time they will remain visible.
Q: What is Reiki? Does Kate do Reiki during treatments?
A: Reiki is a wonderfully simple and relaxing healing modality. It works by way of energy flow through a practitioner's hands. In various ages and cultures, one would recognize Reiki as "laying on of hands" healing. Kate is certified in Reiki Level 2. She rarely combines Reiki and acupuncture treatments, and if so, it is brief and spontaneous. She books separate Reiki sessions that can be scheduled through email or phone/text.
ABOUT DIET and LIFESTYLE
Eating and living well are key components to living with ease in general, and Kate enjoys giving diet and lifestyle advice from the perspective of Chinese Medicine. Following habits that are beneficial to our bodies is the best supplement to acupuncture treatment that we can give ourselves.
One of the best ways to prepare for treatment is to make sure we are well hydrated -with room temperature or warm water- every day. Our bodies often use symptoms as a way to alert us that they need proper nourishment and liquids, and likewise, symptoms often resolve themselves through simple changes. Dehydration is the most common dis-ease that Kate sees in her practice, and its symptoms some of the most simple to heal.
Diet is especially important because our daily habits profoundly influence the body's accumulation of "damp" and pathologic internal heat or internal cold, which cause a range of common symptoms. Dampness can show up symptomatically as phlegm, a feeling of heaviness or sluggishness, foggy thinking, and excess weight. When we eat foods that create an inflammatory response in the body, we can create an unbalanced amount of heat, which can show up as pain, skin conditions, and gastrointestinal issues. Conversely, ingesting cold and raw food and drinks, which are difficult to digest, can deplete our overall qi and harm our digestive systems.