Q: Is acupuncture safe?

Yes! It has been used for well over 5,000 years to help millions of people to get well and stay healthy without drugs and surgery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that acupuncturists follow strict safety guidelines and use only sterile, nontoxic needles that are labeled for single use only.


Q: Do acupuncture needles hurt?

Naturally, people associate needle pain with their past experience with hypodermic needles. You can fit close to 10 acupuncture needles inside the tip of one hypodermic needle. Acupuncture needles are tiny, thin, and flexible; about the size of a cat’s whisker. Once the needles are inserted, some patients may experience mild tingling or a sensation of fullness, along with an increased sense of relaxation. These are all quite normal and suggest that the treatment is working.

Sensitivity levels vary, and your practitioner will adjust your treatment to fit your comfort levels. If needles are not for you, non-needle techniques are available. 


Q: How many treatments will I need?

Each patient is different. The initial phase of the treatment plan is usually between 3-12 visits. The length of treatment depends on the severity of the condition, how long you’ve had it (acute versus chronic), and your unique constitutional factors or ability to heal. In China, they treat every day until the problem goes away. This is challenging in the west due to numerous factors; however, it is ideal to initially keep treatments closer together then spread them out as the body heals. 


Q: What education does an acupuncturist get?

Most acupuncture colleges require 2-4 years of undergraduate education before eligible to apply. Acupuncture colleges are 3-4 years long and typically intensive. A Master's degree is the minimum educational level obtained upon graduation. Doctoral programs may extend the amount of time required and are becoming more and more common in the west. Once a Masters and/or Doctorate diploma is received, the requirements continue. Depending on the state in which they are practicing, a graduate will need to pass their boards through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and obtain a license in the state they wish to practice in.


For North Carolina, it is the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board (NCALB) who administers licences to practice. NCALB requires NCCAOM and diplomas for application. Continuing education is required to maintain both the National Board certification and State Board licensing.