Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of sterile, hair-thin, needles into acupuncture points on the body. Acupuncture points are places where nerves and blood vessels are densely packed and the stimulation of these points regulates the function of the brain, nervous system, and internal organs to stop pain, increase circulation and restore normal functioning of the body. Hormones, neurotransmitters, natural pain-relieving substances and natural anti-inflammatory mediators are also released during acupuncture and help to stop pain and restore optimal functioning. Effects of acupuncture include pain relief, increased circulation, improved organ, nervous, and immune system functioning, reduction of muscle spasms, increased range of motion in joints, stress relief, relaxation, and overall well being. Acupuncture has been used as part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to safely, effectively and naturally treat pain and disease. Only the most effective and time tested therapies have survived for our use today. Acupuncture is not metaphysical or based on mystical invisible energy or meridians; rather it is founded on the principles of human physiology and works through the action of the nerves, blood vessels, brain and nervous system. The ancient Chinese doctors did extensive scientific studies and dissections and had a thorough understanding of human anatomy and physiology thousands of years before the western world did. Unfortunately because of a 19th century mistranslation of Chinese medical texts the scientific history of Chinese medicine was dismissed by the western world as mythology. The Chinese considered blood circulation in blood vessels, or “Mai”, and the quality of vital air (oxygen), or “Qi”, in tissues as the primary factors vital to maintaining health. Thus acupuncture treatments were focused on restoring blood circulation and getting oxygen in tissues. In the unfortunate translation, blood vessel was mistranslated as meridian and Qi became energy. Thus began the metaphysical misunderstanding of Chinese medicine and the entire medical system was dismissed. Fortunately for us Chinese medicine has survived and actually flourished, and today, Chinese medicine is the most commonly used medical system in the world.
2. Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture uses very small solid sterile needles which are many times smaller than the hypodermic needles you may be used to. In fact you could fit several acupuncture needles into the bore hole of a hypodermic needle. While there is momentary discomfort with needle insertion, acupuncture needles are so small that most patients do not mind it at all. A small percentage of patients may find acupuncture painful but most patients fall asleep immediately after because it is very relaxing. We always tailor treatments to your needs and have had many once needle-phobic people become lovers of acupuncture. If you are particularly needle phobic or sensitive to pain we can work with you; remember our goal is to eliminate your pain.
3. Is acupuncture covered by my health insurance?
Yes. More and more health insurance plans are covering acupuncture. If you are covered, we will handle all of the insurance billing details for you. Unfortunately, we usually cannot accept HMOs, Medical, or Medicare. Please read this insurance page and contact your health care insurance company or plan administrator for specifics on your plan and benefits.
4. How much does acupuncture treatment cost?
Please see our pricing page for details.
5. What are my payment options?
We accept Cash, Check and all major Credit Cards. If you have insurance coverage we will handle all of the billing and paperwork – you will be responsible for the office co-pay and any amount of the office fees not covered by your the insurance plan.
6. What can I expect on my first visit?
Your first visit will include a thorough review of your medical history, physical exam, diagnosis and acupuncture treatment. At your first visit other modalities, such as cupping or herbal medicine may be prescribed for you. A complete treatment plan and expected outcomes will be explained. The needles are generally retained for 20 to 45 minutes during the acupuncture treatment.
7. What is a typical course of treatment?
A typical course of treatment is 4-6 treatments. Because everyone responds differently to acupuncture you may need more or less than the average number of treatments. The severity, duration and other complicating diseases or factors will change your rate of response to acupuncture. We generally recommend a trial of 2-4 acupuncture treatments so that we can evaluate you rate of response and can then give you a more accurate estimate after the trial.
8. Can acupuncture help me?
It depends. Before undergoing treatment we will perform a full intake and physical exam to determine if acupuncture is an appropriate treatment for your condition. Acupuncture is often used to stop pain, but also regulates the function of the immune system and internal organs, thereby treating a wide variety of health conditions. The acupuncture effect is cumulative and provides lasting pain relief. Acupuncture is particularly effective where western medicine fails and for chronic pain and disease. Eric Schmidt, L.Ac is happy to answer your specific questions and will provide a thorough explanation during you initial consultation.
9. Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, acupuncture is extremely safe. Major side effects are almost unheard of and the most common side-effect, which is uncommon, is minor bruising. Acupuncture, when preformed by a licensed and experienced practitioner is incredibly safe and effective.
10. What are acupuncture and Chinese medicine used for?
Acupuncture is used for pain relief and to treat a wide variety of diseases. Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years as a complete medical system. Chinese medicine is capable of treating all diseases and should be a first line treatment for our most common health ailments because it is safe and effective, without side effects. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are increasingly used as an integrative treatment with western medicine. For many conditions, the combination of eastern and western medicine has a much better outcome than either one on its own.
11. What kinds of conditions and diseases can acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat?
Acupuncture is most commonly used for pain, such as back, neck and spine pain, herniated discs, nerve irritation, sciatica, headache, facial pain, jaw pain (TMJ), menstrual pain, arthritis, sprains, muscle strain, repetitive strain injuries, tendonitis, sports or auto injury. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are also very effective for viral infections such as colds/flu’s and hepatitis. Other problems commonly and effectively treated are stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, allergies and sinus problems, skin disorders, asthma, digestive problems, and fertility and reproductive enhancement for men and women.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has determined that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of common health problems listed below. While it is best to start acupuncture treatment early in the course of an injury or disease, Chinese medicine is particularly effective for chronic health conditions.
Musculoskeletal: back & neck pain, CTS, tendonitis, injuries, arthritis, knee and shoulder pain
Respiratory: COPD, allergies, asthma, infections, colds, flu
Gynecological: menstrual cramps, menopausal symptoms, infertility
Dermatological: acne, psoriasis, eczema Gastrointestinal: irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, hepatitis
Psych-neuorological: headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia, auto-immune diseases
Cardiovascular: hypertension, stroke, angina, heart disease
Endocrine: diabetes, reproduction, fertility, thyroid disease
Chronic disease: HIV, hepatitis, addiction, chronic liver disease
12. Can acupuncture and Chinese medicine be used to prevent illness?
Yes. Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years to prevent disease. Preventing disease and illness is one of the highest tenets of Chinese medicine.
13. What kinds of herbs do you use?
We use the highest quality herbs available. We carry herbs in concentrated powders form which allows for maximum effect in addition to ease of use.
14. Are herbs expensive and will the herbs taste bad?
Herbs are not expensive. Typically, a one week supply of herbal powder costs $20 – $30. Herbal medicine, when taken in tea form may taste unpleasant, however the benefits far outweigh a momentary bitter taste.
15. How long does herbal treatment last?
Herbs can be taken for days or months depending on your condition. Unlike western pharmaceutical drugs, you do not have to take herbal medicine forever. Once your condition has stabilized you no longer have to take herbal medicine.
16. What are your credentials?
Eric Schmidt is licensed both Nationally (Dipl. O.M.) and in the State of California (L.Ac.) as an acupuncturist. Eric has trained at hospitals in China and at clinics around the world. Please see my Curriculum Vitae for more information.
17. Where can I get more information?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Medline, and the internet are good places to start. Please see our links page for a full list.
18. How can I contact you?
Meridian Health Clinic – Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
Clinical Director: Eric Schmidt, L.Ac.
2020 Broadway St, Suite A
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Office: (310) 699-4533
Contact Us Page
Get started with a consultation today: