Frequently asked questions
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How does acupuncture work?
Modern science is still catching up with Traditional Chinese Medicine. That is to say, with all our modern tools, we have yet to figure out the exact mechanisms of acupuncture. We do know from over 2,000 years of practice and empirical evidence that it does, indeed, work. Like western medicine, it's not a magic cure-all and is most effective when combined with proper nutrition, exercise, and rest. The primary theory in Chinese medicine is that there are pathways of energy, called meridians or channels, that travel throughout the body bringing energy (qi). Along these pathways are the acupuncture points that are stimulated with the needles to promote proper flow of qi and blood. If you would like to learn more about the theory behind acupuncture we recommend the following resources:
What are you feeling for when you feel my pulse/look at my tongue?
Examining pulses and tongues can give us a sense of your constitutional strength, the general health of your organs, meridians, and body fluids as viewed within Traditional Chinese Medicine. It can give us a sense of how to construct the best treatment for you. At BAP, we use this diagnositic technique in a very general way, and if you are being treated for ortho-sketelal issues, we may not need to do it at all since where your pain is informs us of which meridians we need to balance.
Do more needles/time/deeper insertion mean a stronger treatment?
No. The number of needles and depth of insertion that your acupuncturist uses is not random but part of the technique they have chosen to treat you with that day. Some people and/or conditions do better with fewer or greater needles. Different needle depths treat different conditions. As far as timing, for most people 30 minutes is plenty of time for the needles to take effect. Occasionally we may reccomend that you stay longer for your individual needs or specific conditions. Likewise - some people have found they do better with shorter treatment times (15 - 20 minutes.)
Is stronger better?
We get this question a lot and people mean different things when they say "stronger." A treatment that utilizes more needles, greater needle depth, or a needling technique that causes more sensation doesn't necessarily equate to a "stronger" or better treatment. If you know that you prefer a more gentle experience or a more intense qi sensation, be sure to let your practitioner know. Ultimately, a treatment that makes you feel better is what counts.
I've never heard of a sliding scale before. How much should I pay?
Our sliding scale is $20-$40 (plus a one-time, First Visit fee of $10). You decide how much you wish to pay within our sliding scale. We will never ask for income verification.
How do I cancel my appointment?
We have a 12-hour cancellation policy. If you know 12 hours in advance that you can't make your appointment, you can cancel through your online account or call us at 510-845-1100.
You’ll be late: call us to let us know when to expect you. You must arrive before the acupuncturist you are scheduled with ends their shift. Otherwise you'll accrue the $20 Late Cancel fee.
You can’t make it at all: you will accrue the $20 Late Cancel/No Show fee.
Do you take drop-ins?
We do our best to accomodate drop-ins but can't guarantee you'll be seen right away. There have been times when we can't accomodate drop-ins at all, so it's best to call first to get a sense of how busy the clinic is that day.
Someone gave me a ‘Lucky You’ card. How do I redeem it?
If you have a 'Lucky You' card and want to make an appointment please, see our "First Visit" page and follow the instructions there. If you book your appointment online please select "Lucky You gift card holder" under the "Select Service" option. If you call to book your appointment please let the receptionist know you have a Lucky You card. Remember to bring your card with you to your first appointment! NOTE: "Lucky You" appointments are for first time appointments only.
Do you accept insurance?
We do not bill insurance. Check with your provider to see if they will reimburse you. NOTE: We do not record amounts of payments for each visit you have. We do provide receipts at the front desk that you can fill out yourself at each visit and that most insurance companies accept. We can also provide you with a superbill if your insurance provider requires a diagnostic code.
I have a complaint. How should I handle it?
We take your feedback seriously. Please email our Clinic Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading "ATTN: Clinic Manager".
Why don’t you use the same points every time?
There are a few reasons for this. First, even if you've come in with the same health concern as your previous treatment, you are different every day. Your practitioner will treat you as your condition presents in the moment. Additionally, there are many ways to treat the same issue. 10 acupuncturists may use 10 different methods to treat the same condition. Having said that, if you experienced positive results after a particular treatment, please let us know!
How often should I come and for how long?
Why did you put that needle there?
This has a complex answer. Most acupuncturists have spent 4 or more years studying the theories and techniques of acupuncture, and it is difficult to sum up in a few sentences. Essentially we are using the pathways of energy in your body (also known as channels or meridians) to promote healthy circulation of energy (qi), blood, and body fluids in order to allow your systems to function normally and healthfully. If you would like to learn more about how we choose which points to use, we invite you to read the book: "Why Did You Put That Needle There?"
Why didn’t the needles go where my pain is?
Depending on your condition and how long you've experienced it, we may put needles near the location of your pain. We also use a technique called "distal" or "distant" needling. Because acupuncture uses pathways of energy (also called channels or meridians) we can treat pain "distally." For instance, we may needle your shoulder or elbow to treat knee pain or your hand or foot to treat back pain. We often use the example of light switches - the light is on the ceiling but the switch is on the wall - to turn on the light, you don't screw in the lightbulb directly, you flick the lightswitch. In this case your symptom is the light and the switch is the acupuncture point.
Can children and babies get treated at BAP?
Yes. For children, the age that they can start receiving acupuncture depends on their comfort level with the needles AND their ability to sit comfortably and quietly for at least 10-15 minutes (children require a shorter treatment times than adults). Typically, children can start receiving acupuncture with needles around 8-10 years old if as long as they are comfortable with the idea of needles. For babies and younger children, we use a method called "shoni shin" (Japanese acupressure for children and babies). Gentle brushing, holding, and pressing techniques are applied to the meridians and acu-points for around 5 minutes. Note: Because of the community setting, we are mindful of sounds and volume. As long as babies aren't crying and older children are able to rest quietly and calmly, we are happy to treat them.
Can pregnant people get acupuncture?
Yes. Acupuncture can be extremely helpful in alleviating discomfort from conditions occuring in pregnancy, such as morning sickness and back and hip pain. Acupuncture is also known to support general health during pregnancy. Please tell your acupuncturist if you are or suspect you might be pregnant.
Does it hurt?
At BAP, we practice gentle needling technique. When a needle is inserted, you may feel nothing or you may feel a slight pinch or mild pressure. After the needles are in, it's normal to feel some sensation such as a mild itchiness or warmth for a few minutes - though most people feel nothing at all. Any sensation you have should subside within a few minutes. If a needle is not settling down after this or if it is preventing you from relaxing, always let your practitioner know so we can help you get comfortable. If a needle is very painful right away, let us know so we can remove or adjust it.
Are the needles sterilized?
Yes. We only use sterilzed, one-time use needles. Once needles are used, we dispose of them in "Sharps" containers that are processed by a licensed medical waste disposal service.
Do I have to remove my clothing?
No. We use a method called "distal" or "distant" needling and generally only needle the lower legs and arms, head, neck, and ears. We can treat all the same conditions that the back, chest, and abdomen points do, including back pain and internal conditions such as digestive and resipiratory disorders without putting needles directly into areas where your pain or issue may be. Please wear loose clothing that can easily roll up above your knees and elbows.
Should I take herbs?
It depends. Your practitioner will let you know if they think you will benefit from the use of an herbal formula. A few herbs are contraindicated in pregnancy or with the use of blood thinners and other drugs. Please let your practitioner know if this applies to you.
I never sleep when I’m at BAP. Is my treatment still effective?
Yes. Many people fall asleep during their treatments but not everyone. You don't need to fall asleep for acupuncture to work. If you find that you are always awake during your treatment, we invite you to use earbuds or head phones to listen to your favorite podcast or music (remember to keep the volume low so your neighbors don't hear it too!). Some people like to read during their treatments, and we can keep one arm free of needles in this case.
I followed my treatment plan but I’m still not seeing the changes I’m looking for…
Just like Western medicine, acupuncture is not a cure all or magic bullet, and practitioners of either medicine can't predict exactly how an individual will respond to a treatment. If you are following the recomendations of your practitioners at BAP and still not feeling better, after a series of treatments, let us know and we will adjust your treatment plan.
Can acupuncture help me lose weight?
Weight loss is a complex issue, and there is no single method that will ensure that you will successfully lose weight. Acupuncture has been shown to improve sleep and energy, optimize digestion and metabolism, as well as alleviate food cravings - all of which will support you in a holistic approach to weight loss. It's still important to eat well, drink enough water, and get plenty of rest and exercise.
Is it safe to take herbal medicine while breastfeeding, on medications, etc?
Yes. However, some herbs are contraindicated in certain conditions, so you MUST tell your practitioner if you are or become pregnant, are breastfeeding, and any medications you are taking so we can find the right formula for you.
Where should I park/lock my bike?
There is a bike rack in front of our clinic. If you forget a lock we have one you can borrow. But we only have one, so try to remember your lock every time!
Can bring my service or emotional support animal?
Service animals are welcome in the clinic. We are not able to accommodate emotional support animals. If you are coming to the clinic for the first time please tell the receptionist or leave a note in the comments box if booking online that you will be coming with your service animal.
I feel like I’m catching a cold/am getting sick. Can I still come?
EFFECTIVE MARCH 2, 2020
Someone was coughing at my last treatment. Will I get sick too?
EFFECTIVE MARCH 2, 2020
Someone was snoring at my last treatment. Can you wake them up?
No. In a community setting you will likely hear the whispers of acupuncturists and other patients, people arriving and settling into their chairs, and sometimes snoring. We invite you to use ear plugs or your headphones during your treatment if sounds disturb you.
Are you wheelchair accessible?
Though we are not ADA approved (due to the age of the building), we have many patients who come to BAP in wheel chairs. Some of our patients are able to transfer themselves into a recliner or have a friend or caregiver assist them. BAP staff are not able to transfer people to our recliners but we can easily treat people in their wheelchairs as needed. If you are new to the clinic and use a wheelchair and think you'll need assistence opening our clinic doors, let our receptionist know when you book your appointment or leave us a message in the "Special Instructions" section if booking online. NOTE: We have one ADA compliant restroom.
What does this Prop 65 label mean on the herb bottle?
We know that reading the Prop 65 label on an herbal product can be alarming. It is a complex issue that is difficult to sum up in a short answer. It is important to note that the companies we purchase our herbal products from follow very strict GMP guidlines, and we have great trust in their quality control. All of our practitioners and our familes personally use the products we carry. Please see resources below regarding Prop 65 and the quality control of the companies we carry at BAP.
Can I get a refund?
Can I pay with my HSA card?
Yes. Check with your provider first to make sure your plan covers acupuncture. We do not record the amounts of individual payments, so ask the receptionist for a receipt at the time of your visit.
Why don't you feel my pulse or look at my tongue every time?
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses many different diagnosis methods including but not limited to asking questions, feeling the pulse, and looking at the tongue. Sometimes examining a pulse or tongue can give us a bit of extra information we may need to choose the best treatment for you. However, it is more often the case that your description of your condition and answers to our questions give us all the information we need.
Can I see different acupuncturists?
Yes. We work as a team. When you become a BAP patient, we create a confidential health record for you. Your acupuncturists will create detailed notes at every treatment so that we can keep track of your condition and progress, which points we used for each treatment, which herbal formula you might have been prescribed, etc. so that whoever you see the following time will be completely prepared.
What kind of training do acupuncturists get?
To obtain licensure in California, all acupuncturists must complete an accredited 3 - 4 year Masters in Oriental Medicine and pass rigorous state board exams. California acupuncturists are licensed by the California Acupuncture Board.
Are the practitioners at BAP students or professionals?
All BAP acupuncturists have completed their education, passed California acupuncture licensure exams, and are licensed to practice acupuncture by the California Acupuncture Board.
Do any of the acupuncturists specialize in certain types of medicine?
All BAP acupuncturists receive the same training and are able to treat the same conditions.
Do you offer disounts for veterans and active military?
Yes. Veterans and active military receive free first time appointments and pay only $15 for return visits.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes. However, we spend over $500 per month on credit card fees and appreciate payment by cash or check whenever possible.
Are you a fragrance-free space?
BAP strives to be a fragrance-free space. Many of our patients and some of our staff have sensitivities to fragrance that cause physical reactions, sometimes causing them to have to leave the clinic if they are exposed. Therefore we request all our patients, staff, and visitors to refrain from using any scented products, including essential oils and other "natural" scents, prior to coming to BAP. We use unscented laundry detergent to wash all our linens, and all of our soaps and cleaning products are unscented. However, we cannot gauruntee a completely fragrance free environment. If you smell fragrance in the clinic or on any linens please let us know.