Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is acupuncture and how does it work?
A: Acupuncture is one of the main modalities, or treatment methods, of East Asian Medicine. East Asian Medicine includes what is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Japanese Meridian Therapy, Korean Hand Acupuncture, Kampo Herbal Medicine, and the collected classical medical works of China, Tibet, Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. These medical systems utilize a different paradigm -- or way of viewing reality -- than the Biomedical model that has traditionally been used in America and Europe. East Asian Medicine comes from a holistic viewpoint; the entirety of the person is considered during diagnosis of a particular "pattern of disharmony". Diagnosis involves asking questions about the patient's condition, observation and/or palpation, the taking of pulses, and the examination of the tongue. Treatment is geared towards assisting the body's natural energies (Qi) to regain their harmonious balance. To accomplish this, the practitioner uses needles inserted in specific acupuncture points to encourage the body's energies (Qi) to correct themselves.
Q: What is Medical Qigong and how does it work?
A: Medical Qigong is one of the traditional modalities of Chinese Medicine. It utilizes therapeutic techniques to adjust the body's energy fields (Qi) to enhance health and healing. Medical Qigong treatments are typically very relaxing and may involve a small amount of non-obtrusive touch by the practitioner. Unlike acupuncture, no needles are inserted during Medical Qigong sessions. Patients may leave with a simple, low impact meditation or gentle exercise prescription to further their healing process.
Q: What is Facial Rejuvenation and how does is work?
A: In addition to treating the patients' pattern of disharmony as a regular acupuncture session would, Facial Rejuvenation utilizes small, hair-thin needles placed in the neck, face, and scalp to lift skin and restore muscle tone. Very small needles are placed directly in wrinkles to stimulate re-growth of collagen, reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Astonishing results have been documented by patients, nicknaming this treatment the "acupuncture facelift".
Q: What is East Asian Medicine good at treating?
A: The list of conditions treatable by East Asian Medicine is quite long, particularly given that many studies separate acupuncture from herbal medicine during controlled trials. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture has been proved through controlled trials to be effective in the treatment of many conditions.
Q: Does acupuncture hurt?
A: Sensation during acupuncture is common and sometimes desired by the practitioner. Pain, however, is neither common or desired. Though a brief "pricking" sensation is sometimes felt, sensations described are more commonly associated with the arrival of Qi to the location. This can exhibit as a warm/cool, tingling, heavy, or expanding sensation.
Q: How big are the needles?
Comparison of needle sizesA: Acupuncture needles (center) are quite small, the largest of which are comparable to a piece of thread (bottom), and the thinnest of which are no wider than a human hair. Unlike hypodermic needles (top) used for injections, etc., acupuncture needles are not hollow. This makes them significantly less painful and damaging to the patient than hypodermic needles.
Q: Do you use sterile needles? Are the needles used more than once?
A: In accordance with California Clean Needle Technique laws, we utilize sterile, single-use, disposable needles. All used needles are placed in biohazard marked sharps containers and properly disposed of via medical waste incineration.
Q: I'm afraid of needles. Should I even bother with making an appointment?
A: Yes! Medical Qigong treatments and/or Chinese Herbal Consultations are great ideas for needle sensitive patients! Medical Qigong sessions regulate and balance the body's Qi, without the use of needles. A Chinese Herbal Consultation provides individual prescriptions to each patient, enabling an avenue for treatment for a wide variety of complaints. Both Medical Qigong sessions and Chinese Herbal Consultations include a full diagnostic evaluation, just as an acupuncture session would.
Q: Are you insured?
A: Yes. We carry malpractice and slip-and-fall insurance.
Q: Do you accept insurance?
A: Due to the vast amount of overhead which processing insurance billing costs, we regrettably cannot accept insurance and still keep our treatment costs reasonable. We will happily provide you with a super bill, which you can send in to your insurance provider to receive reimbursement for covered acupuncture services. For more information, please contact your individual insurance provider.
Q: How much does treatment cost?
A: Our prices are listed on our main page, if you scroll down. For a full list of services and fees, you can also visit our Genbook scheduling page. To put this cost into perspective: For an acupuncture treatment that last an hour, with a practitioner's undivided attention, you pay $60. To see an MD general practitioner for about 10 minutes, you will spend upwards of $100. That's ten times as expensive, usually without any immediate benefit!
Q: What forms of payment are acceptable?
A: We accept cash, check, and credit/debit card. HSA cards that can be run as credit/debit are also acceptable.
Q: Are the herbs safe? Will they interact with my other supplements/medications?
A: East Asian herbal medicine is safe, if used correctly. Trained herbalists, like those at Laughing Buddha Acupuncture, have years of study and experience behind their prescriptions, as well as thousands of years worth of recorded medical knowledge to draw from. Given proper dosing and administration, side effects from herbal medicine are minimally, if at all, present. Laughing Buddha Acupuncture recommends only the very best herbs for our patient's use; herbs are selected that are tested for contaminants, processed in facilities that are GMP approved, and are held to rigorous quality control standards. Like any health care provider, Laughing Buddha Acupuncture is only capable of responding to information that we are given. With a current and accurate list of all supplements and medications that you take, we will be able to ensure that no interactions between those supplements and medications occurs. We do not recommend taking East Asian herbal supplements without guidance from a licensed East Asian Medicine practitioner.
Q: My doctor/spouse/sibling/parent/friend/neighbor/etc. says that East Asian Medicine       is "just superstitious nonsense" and that there's "no scientific proof" that it works. I       don't know what to think. What do you have to say?
A: This is a complex and very frequently made statement. East Asian Medicine is based on medical traditions that have clear documentation dating back to the Zhou Dynasty in approximately 500 BCE, using conservative dating estimates. Archaeologic evidence of early "acupuncture needles", bian stones, which were probably used like the lancets of today, to drain infected areas of accumulated pus and blood. This is a technique utilized even today -- though with much more precise, sterile equipment -- by both East Asian Medicine and Biomedicine. Metal acupuncture needles have been found in archaeologic sites dating back to 113 BCE, during the Western Han Dynasty. The earliest extant written texts describing acupuncture meridians and needling methods date back to this time period. Much like the works of early Greek scholars, these works are clearly those of dedicated scientists and philosophers who observed and recorded the world around them, and not "superstitious nonsense". There are numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals around the world in which East Asian medical research is published. The studies in these journals are held to the same standards that all other scientific studies are held. For more information, you can refer to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) website. It is important to note that due to the necessarily physically interactive nature of acupuncture, the "gold standard", double-blinded, randomized study, which involves both the patient and the practitioner being unaware as to who is receiving the study treatment and who is receiving placebo treatment, is not truly possible. Instead, acupuncture studies are typically single-blinded, which means the patients are unaware, but the practitioners are aware. There is debate within the East Asian Medical community, and, in fact, the medical and scientific communities at large, as to the reasonability, efficacy, and ethicality of holding all forms of medicine to a style of research originally designed for chemical-interactive studies of pharmaceuticals.

Laughing Buddha Acupuncture
Alysia Condon, LAc
Valerie Razutis, MS, LAc
411 30th St., Suite 308, Oakland, CA 94609
Phone: (510) 451-2577

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