Answers to questions you might have about Acupuncture, from cost to training to efficacy.
Even if you’ve been curious for a while, actually making the move to visit an acupuncturist for
the first time can take some courage. If you are unfamiliar with acupuncture, the time and
financial commitment to experiment with such a different approach from what you are used to
can be daunting. Here are points to consider as you make your decision. 
Needles and energy? Why?
Generally speaking, mainstream (aka allopathic) medicine manages the mechanics and chemistry of a body, while the acupuncturist sees the body as just one aspect of your whole self which also includes current circumstances, past trauma, emotions, memories, thoughts, beliefs, and other possible influences. She uses her focus and instruments (fine-point needles) to unblock and reroute energy that is affecting her client’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Acupuncture is considered by many to be a form of energy healing, though it tends to stick to the realm of physical health.
Acupuncture’s meridians of chi – freeways of energy – are somewhat familiar to Westerners, with a detailed map showing how energy moves throughout the body.
Cost and insurance coverage
Like conventional Western medical doctors, charges for treatment can vary greatly. Visit a few websites (or call their offices) for a sense of how much it may cost for a session (or a few). Just as significant health concerns involve multiple visits to a conventional doctor, your health concern may require multiple visits to the acupuncturist. Fortunately, some will offer package deals.
It is entirely possible that your insurance plan covers acupuncture. Medicare covers a limited number of acupuncture sessions for certain health problems. Some insurance policies will require a doctor’s referral for acupuncture, and some states require a doctor’s prescription to book an acupuncture appointment. Contact your insurance provider to see what is included in your policy.
Licensing and certification
The highest level of acupuncture training is for a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM) degree and they are often referred to as “medical acupuncturists.” A DOM will be able to treat the widest range of issues. 
A Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) is likely easier for you to find and will be very capable in treating most of your health and wellness concerns.
When considering an acupuncturist for treatment, ask about their training, certification and professional affiliations.
You might feel something, you might not
You do not need to feel anything during the treatment for it to work. With a highly-skilled acupuncturist, you may not even feel the needles as they are being inserted.
Your real results are likely to show up over time as your body adjusts to the treatment overnight.
How long will it take?
The acupuncturist should give you an idea of how many treatments she feels would begin to address the issue. In my personal experience, it took about 12 acupuncture treatments before I was able to stop taking thyroid medication. Chronic patterns took time to develop and they will take time to remedy.
Physical touch and disrobing
Depending on the treatment needed for your needs, you may be required to remove your clothes.
Combining with Western treatment
Especially for the big diagnoses such as cancer, acupuncturists may advise you to inform your doctor that you are also doing this type of treatment.  In a hospital or hospice setting. the practitioner might require a note from the patient’s doctor saying it is okay to work there.  
They’ll have things to buy
If you are very new to the world of non-mainstream healing, you might not be used to therapists having items for sale on display. I was taken aback the first time I encountered it, but many perfectly competent professionals do it, even a neuropsychiatrist I visited a few times to have my brain mapped.
Watch a YouTube group session
If you’re still on the fence, search on YouTube to find a sample session that you can view. Here is a good intro video from the NCCIH channel:
Drink more water!
Almost every time, acupuncturists and other healers will advise you to drink lots of water after your session. Just do it and you will be better off in more ways than one.
Marjorie Rhea
Find a reference-checked acupuncturist by clicking here.
Marjorie Rhea is the Editor at, a website focusing
on self-experimenting with non-prescription health solutions.
Camille Leon is the Director of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce
and the Holistic Education Foundation. To support future articles,
you are invited make a tax-deductible donation here.