by Arwen Careaga, L.Ac.
“Harriet never minded admitting she didn’t know something, ‘So what,’ she thought, ‘I could always learn.’”
-Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy
I have been answering the phones for Blue Lotus since the beginning. During that time, I have heard a lot of questions. Some of them are predictable, some of them are intriguing, none of them are bad! One of the very best ways of learning is to ask! With that in mind, I am compiling some commonly asked questions and responses. For this round, I’ll start with a common subject: the needles.
Q. Do you have to use needles during treatment?
A. Nope. We have many options available to us, from acupressure techniques to cupping and more.
Q. What is in the needles?
A. Absolutely nothing. Acupuncture needles, inserted into points on the body appropriate to your diagnosis, help regulate your body’s own energy. It is an extremely natural approach to helping the body heal. We inject nothing, and leave nothing behind (unless you are receiving press tacs, which is a different treatment than I am talking about here).
Q. What are the pins made of?
A. Stainless steel. Occasionally, acupuncturists may use needles made of silver or gold, but this is usually for specific tonification or sedation purposes and not a matter of broad use.
Q. Are they re-used?
A. No. Our needles are pre-packaged and sterile. After removal they are placed in a red bio-hazard “sharps container” and sent away for processing (incineration), never to be used again.
Q. Does it hurt?
A. The short answer is “not usually”. In some cases you won’t feel anything, in others you may feel a ‘pinch’ of the insertion, usually less uncomfortable than a bee sting. The most important thing is that you communicate with your Licensed Acupuncturist*. If anything is uncomfortable, we can fix it. (Pain relief is one of our specialties!) Acupuncture needles may be more appropriately termed “pins” based on their size – a quick internet search will yield many pictures comparing the size of an acupuncture needle to a hypodermic needle which is much larger (and therefore much more uncomfortable) than the tools we use.
*Please remember that acupuncture is a treatment modality within TCM or OM (Traditional Chinese Medicine or Oriental Medicine). In Kentucky, practitioners are licensed by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure based on education, hours of experience, and the successful completion of NCCAOM National Exams. Practitioners who have been trained specifically in TCM/OM earn the title of Licensed Acupuncturist or “L.Ac.” If you are receiving acupuncture from someone who is not an L.Ac, you are likely not receiving the breadth and depth of the medicine. Knowing how and where to “put needles in the body” is only a piece of the beginning.
If you have questions in line with these or any thing else, we’ll be happy to talk with you. You can find us on facebook, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone: 859.533.0914!