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  • Writer's pictureErin Heidrich L.Ac

Acupuncture 101: The How, What, When, Where and Why.

Acupuncture, an over 2,000 year old Chinese medicine practice, is gaining in popularity in the Western world and word is starting to spread.

Your friend may be using it to treat his back pain; your neighbor may swear by it for her sleep issues; your sister may be loving it for her anxiety…and the stories go on.

But is it right for you?

Although you’ve heard of it, you may still have questions about how it really works, what it’s best for, and what to expect.  This is why Koa Clinic’s resident acupuncturist, Erin Heidrich, L.Ac, is sharing answers to these common questions. 

You’re not alone in wondering if acupuncture is a good option for your health and we’re here to help make you enlightened and comfortable with your choice!

How does acupuncture work?

Erin: There is much empirical evidence gathered over centuries of the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, but from a Western standpoint, the best way I can describe the use of needles creating efficacious change is that it helps move blood and other fluid accumulations.

This movement brings in more oxygenated blood which can relieve pain, heal the mind and body, and promote overall better health.

In describing it further, there are a variety of acupuncture points which blood and energy (also called qi, pronounced “chi”) flow.  These points are connected through acupuncture channels, but they may also pass through the network of fascia and other tissues of the body as well, hence why it can be beneficial for pain.

Also, certain points help us move from the sympathetic “fight and flight” of the day to the parasympathetic “rest and digest” to help our body recover faster, helpful for stress and anxiety.

What are common types of conditions/ailments that are treated with acupuncture?

Erin:  Most commonly, I treat low back and neck pain, but there is a wide spectrum of conditions that it can help such as:

General Chronic or Acute Pain - arthritis, headaches, migraines, muscle pain

Menstrual Disorders - dysmenorrhea (painful periods), heavy bleeding, amenorrhea (no period), PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), and irregular cycles

Stress and Mental Health - anxiety, grief, trauma, sleep, fatigue, mood

Digestive Disorders - heartburn, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 Sinus Conditions - allergies, sinusitis, asthma

“I was diagnosed with horrific nerve pain in my hand, and I was referred to Erin Heidrich for acupuncture.  She did a very thorough evaluation and I found her to be an excellent listener. 

We worked together to plan how acupuncture could help my pain.  I have been attending community acupuncture every 2 weeks and the treatments have helped to keep my pain much more tolerable.  I would highly recommend that you talk to Erin about your issues to see if acupuncture could be an essential part of your treatment to help you achieve wellness.”

                                                                                                            - Karen K. Kailua Kona

If you are suffering from an issue not listed, we encourage you to contact our office at (808) 638-3343 to learn if acupuncture may help your specific condition.

How long before it works and how long can the effects last?

Erin:  Acupuncture can be amazing!  It occasionally causes immediate relief - for example with nasal congestion (there is a point that can open up the sinuses instantly) - but most often it takes a few treatments.

These treatments build on each other to be effective and longer lasting. If the complaint has been chronic (you have had it for many years), this can takes some time (weeks to months) to initiate change. 

We find that those who are committed to sticking with an acupuncture regimen regularly until the condition is supported and/or healed can do well with long term relief.

How come acupuncture works when modern medicine sometimes doesn’t?

Erin: That is a good question!

I like to say that there are many theories on how the body works and traditional Chinese medicine is one of those theories, just like modern Western medicine is.

At the Koa Clinic, we treat each person as an individual, striving to find the root cause of an issue and treating that versus only prescribing medication or surgery as a quick fix of symptoms. 

For example, we know that the treatment for migraines in one person will be different than the treatment for another.  Factors such as, but not limited to, comorbidties (two diseases or conditions in one person), age, gender, diet, and lifestyle play a unique role in each individual’s health.

This is why it is so important that we integrate Western and Eastern medicine. One may work better than the other depending on the person. Or they may work in unison together - like using acupuncture to help with side-effects of birth control.  Each person is unique. By integrating allopathic (Western) medicine and Chinese medicine we can have a chance at the best outcome for the patient. How amazing is that?!

Do you have additional questions about acupuncture?  Erin would love to help answer them!

If you live in the Kailua-Kona area and would like to learn more about Eastern medicine or are ready to continue your holistic acupuncture regimen, please call us at (808) 638-3343 or email us at to schedule your appointment or receive a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation to discuss your questions.

Is it time to expand your health journey with acupuncture?

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