Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to your questions, and links to more resources to assist you.

Can Acupuncture and Herbs help my condition?

There are a wide array of conditions that may be treated entirely or asisted by acupuncture and herbs. Please read more about it on our Conditions Treated area.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Most people are afraid of acupuncture because of the needles... but the needles used in acupuncture are nothing like the needles used in Western medicine. Acupuncture needles are very thin, the width of a few hairs, and after a fairly gentle prick on insertion there should be little to no pain. Most people enter a state of deep relaxation during an acupuncture treatment.

Are Chinese Herbs safe?

John Golden Acupuncture uses only herbal products and supplements manufactured according to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards, which require very thorough testing and documentation. Unlike pharmaceutical medications, Chinese herbs have no side effects when correctly administered. Remember, too, that most Chinese herbal formulas have been compiled, studied, tested, and handed down for well over three thousand years!

Should I keep seeing my Western doctor if I’m getting acupuncture/herbs?

While Chinese Medicine is perfectly capable of standing on its own in many cases, you are strongly encouraged to continue to work closely with your Western medical professionals when needed; this helps to provide you with more safety, more control, and more comprehensive managment of your healthcare. John Golden Acupuncture can be your healthcare "home base," and help guide you in knowing when it is appropriate to seek consultation with other healthcare specialists.

How many treatments will I need to see results?

This depends on a number of factors; every person is different! Generally, acute conditions tend to resolve more quickly and chronic conditions take longer to address. The most effective approach is to do treatments close together at the beginning, and then space treatments out as the condition improves. Also, many people come in for "tune-ups" or maintenance treatments; after all, the greatest advantage of Chinese Medicine is in its power as preventative medicine! Another important factor is how engaged you are in your healing process; the more actively you participate in your own path to wellness, the better results you'll see.

What should I expect from an acupuncture treatment?

People who have never had acupuncture before often wonder what they should expect to feel. Everyone feels the Qi in their own way; some people report gentle sensations of warmth, tingling, pressure, or even the feeling of a soft breeze blowing over their skin, which can travel along the meridian where Qi flows through the body. Some people experience pain relief immediately. Some people don't feel much during the treatment itself but report dramatic results later (sometimes even days later!). And almost everyone finds acupuncture treatments to be deeply relaxing and restorative.

What should I do before/after a treatment?

Please wear comfortable, loose clothing. Use of alcohol, tobacco, or street drugs is not recommended before or just after a treatment. It will be helpful to avoid beverages and foods that change the color of the tongue (coffee, black tea, candies, etc.), because tongue color is a very important aspect of making a diagnosis.  Please also avoid the use of perfumes, colognes, or strongly scented cosmetics, as some of our patients are chemically sensitive.

The best thing to do following a treatment is to just take it easy and listen to your body. Large meals, strong exercise or stress, and alcohol or other street drugs will undo all the work you've just done and should be avoided.

I’m taking medications; can I still take herbs?

When pharmaceuticals are involved things can be a little more complex, but herbal therapy is still possible and very helpful in many cases. It is important to work closely with your prescribing physician to ensure safe and effective therapy.

Do you take insurance?

We are able to bill insurance if your insurance company covers out-of-network providers; we’d be happy to help you determine what your policy covers.

Are there any studies showing acupuncture works?

It seems like every week there is another headline claiming a study that "proves" this or "disproves" that. The bottom line is that it takes time, effort, and education to know what to believe. The internet is a great time-saving tool, but it's also a source of easily-spread misinformation. This is why it pays to consult a professional who is educated in the subject in question, because chances are they have taken the time to evaluate the quality of research related to their subject... and a truly valuable practitioner will be willing to say, "I don't know right now... but I'll get back to you!"

Anyone who says there is no research supporting the effectiveness of Chinese Medicine hasn't done their research! There is a large (and rapidly growing) body of studies supporting this ancient and time-tested form of medicine; a sample of these can be found in the Research section of this site.

I heard that acupuncture and herbs are all just "Placebo Effect."

The "Placebo Effect" is a term popularized in the 1950's for the phenomenon where a patient's belief that a treatment will change his or her condition actually changes the patient's condition. This effect occurs in every form of medicine, including Western medicine! It plays a role in anything you do in an attempt to improve your condition, whether it's getting surgery, taking a pill, or getting an acupuncture treatment. Western MDs have known of and used the placebo effect clinically for many, many years. The point is, the placebo effect is not unique to "alternative medicine," nor is it necessarily even a negative thing; it's just one small aspect of something Chinese Medicine practitioners have known for thousands of years: The significant relationship between the mind and our state of health.

It's common sense that the mind plays a huge role in health; everyone knows stress can bring about illness, just as everyone knows that a positive attitude can affect our ability to recover from injury and disease. The relationship between mind and health is a "new frontier" here in the West because it doesn't lend itself to the Western way of looking at the world through measurement with a machine or study with the scientific method. The brain is still not clearly understood by Western science, despite attempts to regulate it with pharmaceuticals, but emotions and the mind play significant roles in Chinese medical theory, especially in the Five Element acupuncture system. In embracing these connections between body, mind, and spirit, acupuncture and herbs become powerful tools for promoting wellness.

Speaking of herbs, the pharmaceutical industry is proof that there's more than just placebo effect to herbal medicine. A vast number of drugs have been derived from substances found in nature, including aspirin (willow bark), statins (red yeast rice), penicillin (fungus), and the chemotherapy agent paclitaxel (yew bark) to name just a few.

In any case, Traditional Chinese Medicine is valid enough to be embraced by the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as an increasing number of Western MDs who are also embracing TCM as a truly complementary medicine with a rightful place in the modern healthcare system.

Are there other sources of information you recommend consulting?

The California Department of Consumer Affairs provides a 16-page consumer guide on behalf of the Acupuncture Board. The Consumer's Guide to Acupuncture and Asian Medicine is a downloadable PDF available free of charge. This PDF is 4 MB in size, which may require a fast Internet connection to load in a reasonable amount of time.