Frequently Asked Questions

Image of Dr Hyeryun E. Chung
  • Does Dr. Chung accept insurance? 

Only if you insurance carrier covers acupuncture.

  • What can Oriental Medicine treat?

Many Americans have been learning about Oriental Medicine from magazine articles and television programs. They are now curious as to whether their health or condition can benefit from Oriental Medicine. The World Health Organization has determined that acupuncture is an effective therapy for over 200 clinical conditions, including:

back pain
neck and shoulder pain
repetitive stress syndrome (including carpal tunnel syndrome)
migraines and headaches
alcohol, food, and tobacco addiction
accidental injuries (promotes healing)
rheumatoid arthritis
respiratory problems
digestive problems
gynecological disorders
circulatory disorders
nervous system disorders

Acupuncture also reduces stress and anxiety, and helps patients enter a deep state of relaxation, which enhances the healing process. Herbal medicine can increase the effectiveness of your acupuncture treatment and is often the primary treatment for chronic internal medical disorders.

  • How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture works with the body’s life-energy or bioelectric energy,”qi” (chee). Qi flows in well-defined pathways throughout the body. Some scientists believe these are the paths of least resistance in the body. Acupuncture points are places where this energy flow tends to get stuck, and is easily accessible. Pain, illness and discomfort are symptoms of blocked or disrupted energy flow. After the causes and origins of the blockage are identified, the qi is accessed through particular acupuncture points, and smooth balanced flow is carefully encouraged. As harmonious flow is restored, the entire body benefits, and symptoms tend to disappear.

  • What does the examination and consultation involve?

An exam/consultation includes what you tell the practitioner about your medical history and what your body says: The appearance of the face and body build, the shape and color of the tongue, the quality of the pulses, the feel of diagnostic areas such as the abdomen and back. An acupuncturist may test for weaknesses along the “meridians” and weaknesses in the muscles. Sometimes devices that measure electrical activity of acupoints may be used.

  • How long is the visit?

Usually the first visit is the longest in order to allow for a complete history taking and exam – typically an hour. Follow-up visits are shorter, usually 15 to 45 minutes, depending on practitioner and patient needs. Sometimes other therapies, such as moxabustion, acupressure/massage and exercises are incorporated with the acupuncture treatment.

  • How do I choose an acupuncturist?

For over 12 years, the Medical Board of California has been licensing acupuncturists. At present, one is allowed to practice only after successfully completing four years of training at an approved college of Oriental Medicine, and passing a rigorous written and practical exam given by the California Acupuncture Committee. The title “Licensed Acupuncturist” or “L.Ac.” means that these criteria have been met. Always look for a copy of the license, which should be clearly displayed in the practitioner’s office.

  • Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. Acupuncture has no unpleasant side effects and does not interfere with any medical treatment you may already be receiving. Occasionally patients may get a small local bruise or feel light-headed for a few moments. The acupuncture itself is as gentle or strong as the patient needs. Highly sensitive patients only require a very light touch in order to get results. In China, we often witnessed a ‘no pain no gain’ approach to acupuncture. Generally, practitioners in the west are gentler. When anxious patients feel their first acupuncture needle, they usually respond: “Oh, is that all?” There should be no discomfort to the patient, except as new feelings often described as ‘weird’, ‘pulling’, ‘warm’ or ‘achy’. There is usually an overall sense of deep relaxation.The practitioner is well aware of the concern over infectious diseases, and takes every measure to insure cleanliness as all health care professional do. Our needles are sterile and only used one time. Bleeding rarely occurs, unless done so on purpose in specific situations. Even then the amount is minimal and in no way dangerous.

  • Do the needles hurt?

Some patients do not feel ready for needles (“healing filaments”) on their first visit. Tea, flannel sheets, eye pillows and music can add to the patients’ comfort. Needles used for acupuncture are almost as thin as a human hair. Often, when patients first feel the sensation of needles, their fears dissolve. We use very gentle technique. Each session is tailored to meet the specific needs and sensitivities of the patient. In addition to the acupuncture, patients are often treated with moxibustion (an herbal warming method), acupressure, and cupping. Customized herbal formulations are often recommended as well. Patients are given suggestions for self-care between appointments.

  • What is acupressure?

Acupressure consists of pressing the acupuncture points in an attempt to help the free flow of qi energy in the channel. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but the practitioner uses their fingers instead of needles to work the point.

  • What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion is the burning on the skin of the herb moxa. The Chinese character ‘Chiu’ is used to describe the art of moxibustion, and literally means ‘to scar with a burning object’. Moxibustion does not now involve scarring, but moxa is still used to provide local heat over acupuncture points. It is made from the dried leaves of Artemisia vulgaris and the Chinese believe that the older the moxa, the better its therapeutic properties.

  • What is cupping?

Cupping is a therapy in which a jar is attached to the skin surface to cause local congestion through the negative pressure created by introducing heat in the form of an ignited material.

  • How is Oriental Medicine compatible with Western medicine?

Both Western and Oriental Medicine have their respective strengths and weaknesses. That is why in modern China, the two systems are used together. When appropriately combined, the patient is well served. Oriental Medicine can work to compliment the benefits of western medicine.In addition, Oriental Medicine can often reduce unpleasant side effects associated with prescription medicines. Licensed acupuncturists are also trained to recognize symptoms that indicate a need for a medical doctor or a specialist. A patient’s road to health is vastly shortened to the extent that she or he participates in their recovery.

We give our patients as much knowledge as we can about their condition in terms of Chinese medical philosophy. Individual herbal remedies are often prescribed as an important part of the treatment. We discuss the contribution of diet and other lifestyle choices to the patient’s condition, and support efforts towards gradual changes that will improve the patient’s health. The patient may get additional “homework”, such as home moxibustion, acupressure, stretches, or simple qi gong exercises.