The Lotus Center of Ann Arbor - Acupuncture & Integrative Healthcare

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Acupuncture?
  2. How does acupuncture work?
  3. What is Qi?
  4. Is Acupuncture safe?
  5. What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
  6. What conditions can Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs treat?
  7. What should I expect during an office visit?
  8. How soon will I see improvement?
  9. Session cost and insurance?
  10. What if I’m afraid of needles?
  11. What should I look for in an Acupuncturist?

1. What is Acupuncture?

“There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine.”

-National Institute of Health, 1997, Consensus of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, continually-practiced healing techniques in the world.  In Chinese Medicine it’s understood that there is a vital energy which fills our body called Qi (pronounced “Chee”). Qi is said to flow along pathways known as meridians. This Qi is what acupuncture accesses and stimulates, thus facilitating the body’s ability to heal itself.

In Oriental Medicine, disease is considered to be the result of imbalance in the energy, and therefore, function of the internal organs. Pain is considered to be a disruption of the proper flow of Qi and blood in local areas of the body.  Acupuncture uses  fine needles, the size of a hair, painlessly inserted at key points along the meridians to relieve pain and to correct disease and dysfunction. Acupuncture accomplishes this by encouraging the return of optimal balance and harmony to the body, and invigorating the circulation of Qi and blood.  Acupuncture, in the hands of a skilled therapist, is used to help the body to heal itself more effectively.

Benefits of Acupuncture

  • Drug-free, natural pain relief
  • Strengthens the body to aid in elimination and prevention of disease
  • Treats the cause as well as the symptoms
  • Holistic approach to health, connecting body, mind and emotions
  • Safely and effectively treats many common ailments

2. How does acupuncture work?

Many people who have experienced the therapeutic effects of acupuncture will vow that it is truly effective. The common yet difficult question that follows from this is, “How does Acupuncture work?”  There are two primary explanations to this question. One is the traditional Chinese theory and the other offers a Western scientific hypothesis.

Eastern Perspective

The Traditional Chinese understanding of how acupuncture works is poetically described as the balancing of Qi, or energy, in the body through the stimulation of specific points along energy pathways known as meridians, which flow throughout the body.  When the energy is stuck in certain areas, we feel that as pain.  When there is too much or too little energy in certain organs, creating disharmony, we experience this as various symptoms of disease or discomfort.  Acupuncture is seen to open up blockages and restore the correct circulation in an area where the Qi and blood are stagnant.  It also releases energy in organs where there is too much and helps bring energy into areas and organs which don’t have enough.  It therefore restores balance and harmony to the organs which allows the natural healing powers of the body to get the support they need to bring you back to health.

Western Perspective

From a Western scientific standpoint there is no one single theory that explains all of the physiological mechanisms underlying the effects of acupuncture. This is because acupuncture has a wide variety of therapeutic effects on the body, so the action which seems to be the mechanism of effect will vary depending on the type of pathology. For instance, if you are looking for changes in the chemicals of the body during an acupuncture treatment, you will find a lot happening. However, if you are looking for electromagnetic effects in the body from an acupuncture treatment, you will find those as well. This makes it difficult to say just what the active underlying mechanism of acupuncture is from a scientific standpoint. Commonly, it is proposed that acupuncture primarily produces its effects through regulating the nervous system. Regulation of the nervous system aids the activity of pain-killing bio-chemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones. These effect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature. The effects of an acupuncture treatment are actually too diverse to easily catagorize and tend to defy reduction into specific mechanisms, needless to say this irritates the scientific community to no end.

3. What is Qi?

It has been scientifically proven that the human body is in fact a unique bio-energetic system. There exist chemical and electromagnetic processes continually keeping the body functioning. These processes all together are viewed in the East as a vital life force known as “Qi” (pronounced chee)

Qi can be simply referred to in the West as “energy”. This energy is said to flow throughout the body along pathways known as “meridians” or “channels” which are related to and connect the organs and the myofacial-muscular system.   Western science has real challenges in identifying Qi because it wants to isolate some special type of extra energy in the same way that it breaks down all the processes of the body down into discrete components like the various chemicals in our blood or the electrical impulses in our nerves. The confusion arises because it does not recognize that all these process together form an integrated system of information and energy exchange which combine to create the dynamic energy known as Qi.

4. Is Acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is considered a very safe procedure and is well known for its efficacy and lack of side-effects when administered by a board certified practitioner.

  • In our clinic we use pre-sterilized, disposable FDA approved needles for all treatments.
  • All of our practitioners are highly trained – board certified – trained in Clean Needle Technique, and observe proper safety protocols for administering acupuncture treatments

5. What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?_DJW5140

Chinese Herbal Medicine has a rich 4,000+ year history and tradition. It is a living art and science, which has continued to evolve and refine through time.   Herbs are prescribed according to your specific needs and the exact nature of the imbalances underlying your complaints. It is for this reason that a detailed health assessment is necessary. Our practitioners are trained to carefully create each formula, using the specific herbs needed in just the right proportions. Formulas can contain anywhere from 3 to as many as 15 or more individual herbs, combined to strengthen some aspects of the formula and downplay others.


The are may advantages to using custom Chinese Herbal Forumlas. If two of patients come to us with insomnia for example, one may be experiences high levels of stress in the workplace and the other may be transitioning through menopause. In Western medicine they both may be prescribed the same drug, to help them sleep. While the medicine works to sedate, it does not necessarily address the underlying reasons for the insomnia.

“Our Herbal formulas include specific combinations of herbs designed to address the underlying imbalances which are a unique part of individual circumstances.”


After a thorough evaluation and consultation, your practitioner may recommend an herbal formula as part of your course of treatment. All three of our Acupuncturists have had extensive training and experience using Chinese Herbal medicine to successfully treat their patient’s discomforts. Custom formulas are created using The Lotus Center’s onsite Chinese Herbal Pharmacy containing nearly 250 individual herbs…one of the largest in Michigan.  During the course of your treatment program, your formula can be subtly adjusted as your condition or circumstances change.


_DJW5034desatWhen crafted by a trained professional, Chinese herbal formulas are safe and can be quite effective. Side effects are extremely rare when taken as prescribed. In fact, the most commonly used formulas have been used successfully for thousands of years. We only work with the highest quality Chinese herbs that have been tested to be free of contaminants and heavy metals.  Our supplier- Spring Wind Herbs is known to have the most rigorous pesticide testing program in the industry. We recommend herbs to many of our patients because they can increase the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments and decrease required treatment time.

6. What conditions can Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs treat?

Both the National Institutes for Health and The World Health Organization recognize Traditional Chinese Medicine’s ability to treat over 43 commonly encountered clinical disorders. In our practice we have found Chinese Medicine to be excellent for treating:

  • Pain and Injuries: Most form of pain including: lower back, neck, joint pain, arthritis, sciatica, sports/auto injuries, tennis elbow, tendonitis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, pre and post surgical support and recovery, sensory distortions like tingling and numbness, etc.
  • Headache and migraines
  • Metabolism Disorders: Overweight, underweight, diabetes, thyroid issues, chronic fatigue
  • Mental Health: Stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia
  • Addiction: Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs
  • Women’s Health: PMS, irregular periods, painful periods, heavy bleeding, menopause, hot flashes, night sweats, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibroids, postpartum depression, morning sickness
  • Fertility care: Supporting natural fertility, Support to IVF/IUI, chronic miscarriage, high FSH, tube blockage, impotence, low sperm count, low motility
  • Digestive Problems: Acid reflux, heartburn, GURD, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, chronic stomach pain, nausea, Crones disease, constipation, diarrhea
  • Respiratory Conditions: Allergies, asthma, sinusitis, colds, chronic cough, bronchitis, shortness of breath, COPD
  • Cancer Support: Side effects of Chemo/Radio therapy, immunodeficiency, postsurgury care
  • Skin Conditions: Hives, eczema, acne
  • Cardiovascular Health: Hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke
  • MISC.: MS, paralysis, stroke, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), eye diseases, Detoxification, peripheral neuropathy- tingling or numbness.

7. What should I expect during an office visit?

Your first appointment begins with a comprehensive health assessment interview, followed by an acupuncture treatment.acu close up 2

Your practitioner will get to know you, and begin to understand the root of your health concerns.  (This first treatment typically takes 60-90 minutes)

During this time you are encouraged to sip some warm tea and get comfortable in one of our relaxing treatment rooms. During the acupuncture treatment, extremely fine, hair thin, flexible needles are placed at specific points on energetic pathways known as meridians. When the needles are inserted you may experience a sensation of tingling or warmth, maybe a dull ache. This is chi.  After the needles are inserted, it is quite common not to feel them at all. The needles stay in for 20-40 minutes depending on the condition.  Most often patients find their treatments extremely relaxing, and frequently drift off to sleep.

8. How soon will I see improvement?

This is one of the most common questions we are asked. To provide you with realistic expectations, many factors affecting your recovery time must be taken into consideration.

The following factors as well as your individual health goals combine to structure the frequency and duration of your care:

  • acute vs. chronic pain
  • first episode or recurrent problem
  • history of previous injuries
  • general health
  • general fitness level (includes strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health)
  • lifestyle (work, diet, sleep)
  • compliance with recommendations
  • kept appointments
  • stress (physical/mental/chemical)
  • family history

9. Session cost and insurance?

  • The Initial Office Visit is $175.00 and lasts 90 minutes. This appointment will include an in depth look at your health history and treatment of your condition.
  • Follow up appointments cost $90.00 and last 60 minutes. This includes a brief consultation and an acupuncture treatment.
  • Custom crafted herbal formulas are an additional $50.00.

* Our office accepts Visa and Mastercard personal checks and cash as payment.

Currently our office does not bill insurance companies. Many of our patients get reimbursement through medical flex accounts. We are happy to provide you with receipts to submit.

10. What if I’m afraid of needles?

  • Acupuncture needles are much thinner than standard hypodermic needles.  At .2mm in diameter, they are as thin as a hair.
  • These needles are FDA approved, sterile, single-use disposable needles that are tapped very quickly into the superficial layer of skin.
  • Many clients barely feel the needle insertion and even those who dislike needles commonly find it to be a painless and stress free experience.
  • We recognize that patients have different levels of sensitivity. Through good communication, we are able to tailor our treatments for each individual’s comfort level – while still achieving desired therapeutic effects. Your practitioner will check in throughout your treatment, and monitor your comfort level.   It is important to communicate all concerns & questions to your practitioner.

11. What should I look for in an Acupuncturist?

  • A minimum of a Masters Degree in Oriental Medicine from an accredited school.
    • MTOM – Masters Traditional Oriental Medicine
    • MSTCM – Masters Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Diplomate  -National Certification for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (Dipl. Ac)
    • *NCCAOM Certification indicates the practitioner has met national standards for the safe and competent practice of acupuncture as defined by the profession. National board certification in acupuncture has been the mark of excellence in acupuncture since the inception of the Commission.
  • Experience – It takes time to develop skill in treating a wide variety of disorders.
  • A Good Fit – Find someone with whom you feel comfortable talking. Good communication is a vital part of your healing process

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