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Initial Assessment

An initial 30-60 minute intake by phone will allow you to discusss your conditions with the practitioner, to see what a potential treatment strategy and course of treatment would be. Should commencement of treatment be agreed upon, your first visit will begin with an in-depth assessment of your condition and an initial treatment. The intake and treatment may take up to two hours, depending on your condition. Typical follow-up treatments last approximately 30-45 minutes.


During the assessment, you may be asked about things that you might not think are connected to your chief complaint, such as your emotions, sleeping patterns, and eating habits. Chinese medicine considers the whole person, not just one isolated symptom. When put together, the myriad of symptoms and signs you are experiencing reveal patterns of disharmony. Although treatment will focus on your chief complaint, your whole being must be considered in order to develop the most appropriate course of treatment. Chinese medicine is unique in that it appreciates that illnesses may be identical, but the persons suffering from them are individuals.



Needles are typically retained for about 30 minutes. Soothing music will be played to help you relax during this time - many people often fall asleep during treatment. In addition to acupuncture, treatments may also include heat therapy, herbal prescriptions, nutritional supplements, and diet and lifestyle advice. Your relief may be immediate, delayed for a few hours, or even develop after one to three days. The relief may last for a few hours on the first visit and then last longer with each successive treatment, or relief may last from the first treatment until your next visit. Individual response to treatment varies.


Course of Treatment

As part of your first visit, you will receive a customized treatment plan detailing an appropriate course of treatment for your specific condition. In general, acute conditions of recent onset may only require two or three treatments. Chronic conditions usually require more treatments to achieve sustained results. Treatment for Hepatitis C and fertility follow specific protocols, which will be discussed with you at your first visit.


The ideal approach to illness is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help, the easier it is to treat. For longstanding illnesses, weekly treatments may be required for several months in order to have a curative effect. For patients planning on undergoing Western treatment for Hepatitis C or fertility, it is recommended that acupuncture and/or herbal treatments be started approximately three months in advance of Western treatment. However, many patients don't learn of the benefits of Chinese medicine until they are already undergoing Western treatment. In that case, it is best to start acupuncture and/or herbs as soon as possible.


Once you initiate a healing process, it is important to follow through on treatments. The more consistent you are, the better the likelihood of results. The effects of acupuncture tend to be cumulative. After you are feeling better, a few additional treatments may be recommended. In Chinese medicine, this is referred to as "solidifying the constitution." The goal is to further strengthen your body to prevent recurrence of the illness. Your body is most vulnerable following recovery from illness because it has expended much of its energy and internal resources in order to get better. It is therefore important to have a few treatments in order to prevent repeated or new illness. In general, when an illness recurs it is often more difficult to treat.

We want you to commit to your health and well-being. Studies have shown that regular and consistent treatments are more likely to not only produce desirable results but to produce these results in shorter amounts of time (i.e. coming in a few times per week) then those who only seek acupuncture treatment every few weeks or so. 

In addition to acupuncture, other modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine may be recommended: cupping, gua sha, e-stim, Chinese herbal supplements or foot soaks. Each of these modalities is offered at the clinic and may be a part of your treatment while here. 

Treating Children


The needles used are totally safe for both adults and children (i.e. single-use, sterile filiform needles). The sizes of the needles vary according to the specific treatment and are often said to resemble a sliver of hair. Children are usually very comfortable and do not resist treatments.

Specific Theories on How Acupuncture Works

There are a number of different theories on how acupuncture works, or the mechanism by which acupuncture is effective. What the theories all have in common is that the insertion of acupuncture needles causes a cascade of multiple biological responses, in which neurotransmitters and hormones responsible for activating the parasympathetic nervous system (i.e. serotonin, enkephalins, and opioid neuropeptides, etc.) are released and secreted into the body. These chemicals activate and normalize the body's immune and repair systems.


More specifically, there are five main theories on the mechanism of acupuncture:  Neurotransmitter Theory emphasizes acupuncture's affect on higher brain areas (i.e. stimulating secretion of neurohormones like endorphins and enkephalins); the Automatic Nervous System Theory discusses the role needles play in releasing chemicals needed for balancing the automatic nervous system (i.e. acetylcholine), which can help alleviate pain; the Gate Control Theory focuses on acupuncture activating non-nociceptive receptors that essentially block painful stimuli; the Vascular-Interstitial Theory believes that acupuncture works by manipulating the electrical system of the body; and the Blood Chemistry Theory believes that acupuncture affects the blood chemistry of our bodies (i.e. cholesterol, phospholipids) so as to create homeostasis (Acupuncture Media Works, 2008). 


Does Acupuncture Hurt?

In most cases, acupuncture is completely painless. Occasionally, a needle may be sensed more than others, but the feeling passes very quickly. Once the needle are inserted there is no residual discomfort. For more information, follow this link to an article about the acupuncture experience:


Sacred Lotus Acupuncture accepts many insurances, with this depending on whether you particular plan covers acupuncture. For payment, we work with FSA/HSA as well as debit and credit card payments. We can verify your benefits for you prior to your consultation or initial visit. Please contact our office: 703.639.0900 ahead of your appointment so that we may have the time to verify any acupuncture benefits you may have. For more information on insurance and acupuncture coverage, please see our Blog Post on insurance coverage.

Our years of combined experience have taught us the best ways to provide safe, effective treatments to care for our patients. Contact us today to book your appointment and check out what else we’ve got to offer you. Please call for a free consultation to discuss your health concerns and any questions you may have.


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