Basic Balance, PLLC
Acupuncture & Asian Healing Arts
Keene, NH. Allison Millar, L.Ac.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does acupuncture work?
Although medical research has proven that acupuncture works, the mechanism via which it works is still unknown. It has been shown to improve circulation, increase endorphins, regulate neurotransmitters, release anti-inflammatory compounds, activate key brain regulatory centers, and block pain sensation via the ‘Gate Control’ mechanism of our nervous system. As far as how it does these things, interesting research is being conducted to try to get to the bottom of it. One interesting theory is that the fascia, a complex web of lining of organs and muscles within the body, conducts an electrical charge by way of the crystalline structure of connective tissue.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of micro-fine needles into the skin to elicit a physiological response within the body. It is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which dates back at least 2000 years.
What does acupuncture do?
While western medicine stimulates healing from the outside-in, Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine stimulate healing from the inside-out. Our bodies know how to heal themselves and they naturally produce anti-inflammatories, enkephalins, immune compounds, hormones etc. In fact, many effective pharmaceutical drugs just mimic these compounds. Acupuncture stimulates our body’s own internal resources to increase this self-healing potential.
Can acupuncture help my condition?
There are many factors that need to be considered. Based on your condition, medical history, and what other treatments you are receiving, I can estimate how well and how quickly you may respond. Generally, if your treatment according to a Western diagnosis isn’t resolving the problem, is expensive, or has side effects, then acupuncture is worth a try. Book a consultation for a personalized assessment.
How many treatments will I need?
This question depends on a few factors, as well. When a symptom or
condition is experienced some of the time, as opposed to all of the
time, or when it varies greatly in intensity, it tends to resolve more
quickly. Acupuncture works cumulatively; one treatment builds upon
the next. Although, just one treatment can improve your health,
decrease pain and reduce stress, a series of treatments is needed to
make significant lasting change. Generally speaking, 6-7 treatments are
needed for acute issues, while 10-12 treatments may be needed for more
complicated, long-standing conditions. The closer the treatments are space in the beginning process of the treatment plan, the better the results. It is recommended to book your first sessions at 2-3x/week, or no less than 1x/week, consecutively.
Is it painless?
Acupuncture needles are extremely thin. The ones I use are as thin as a piece of hair and 6-7 of these can fit on the head of a hypodermic needle. Acupuncture needles are solid, not hollow, so unlike hypodermic needles, they do not pierce the skin when inserted; they slide between skin cells. Insertion of the needles is rarely felt and when felt, it is a mild prick that subsides quickly. Patients feel very relaxed during and after a treatment and often, fall asleep.
Is it safe?
If received by a properly trained acupuncturist, yes. All the needles I use are sterile and disposable, so they are only used once and there is no risk for cross-contamination. I attended school for 4 years, so I am well trained in terms of contraindications, point depths, and locations. I am certified by CCAOM (Council of Colleges of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine) in Clean Needle Technique.
Do I need to believe in it? Tell me about the placebo effect.
I’ve treated many patients over the years who were certain that acupuncture would not work for them and I have seen those treatments work just as effectively as others. Placebo means that there is an improvement in the condition of a patient that occurs in response to treatment, and that improvement cannot be considered due to the specific treatment used. Since, the mechanism of acupuncture is unknown, it is cannot be proven that the effects are do to the acupuncture treatment. But, thats no reason to doubt it's efficacy.
What training is required to practice acupuncture?
In order to obtain a license for acupuncture in the state of New Hampshire, one must attend and graduate from an NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine) - certified school. The program is a 3-4 year commitment and requires 750 hours training in Oriental Medicine/Acupuncture Theory, 660 hours of practice in a clinic setting, 450 hours of training in Biomedicine, and 90 hours training in counseling, communications, & ethics. Upon graduation, one must pass 3 board exams to become nationally certified and then, must apply and be chosen to receive a license to practice.
Can I be treated for multiple things at the same time?
In Chinese Medicine, we diagnose by patterns, not symptoms. Often times, symptoms co-exist that are part of the same pattern. For example, fatigue, low back pain, and urinary difficulties belong to one pattern while digestive discomfort, anxiety, and trouble sleeping, belong to another. When this is the case, different symptoms of the pattern generally respond to each treatment targeted for the pattern. Depending on the severity of a symptom or the desired results, I may believe it best to focus on one symptom at a time. Book a consultation to discuss how we can effeciently address your differing ailments.
Can I come for acupuncture even if I don’t have symptoms?
Yes! These are my favorite types of treatments to give. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses diagnostic techniques that detect imbalances in the body before they manifest as symptoms. This is why Chinese Medicine is revered in the preventative health field. In fact, a long time ago in China, acupuncturists were paid consistently when their patients were healthy and when they were sick, they didn't receive pay at all. Many patients come to see me for mood improvement, seasonal allergies, immune enhancement, and injury prevention.
What can I expect from a treatment?
Before or during a treatment, I may look at your tongue, take your pulse, and ask (sometimes, seemingly unrelated) questions about your body. This gives me information to form the proper diagnosis or to see how well you responded to the previous treatment. After the intake, you receive acupuncture, which entails relaxing for a while. Many people drift off to sleep. I may take some needles out/put others in, perform moxibustion (see below) or another modality of Chinese Medicine. I always explain a technique/modality and obtain permission from a person before performing it. Once the treatment is finished, I will remove the needles and may review nutritional/lifestyle suggestions, vitamin/herb recommendations, or stretches/movement therapies. A treatment typically lasts 1 hour but may be longer or shorter depending on what is needed.
Why does a Facial Rejuvenation Session cost more than a regular Acupuncture session?
In Facial Rejuvenation sessions, I use various essential oils, special cosmetic needles, and other tools that I don't otherwise utilize. The extra cost of the Facial Rejuvenation sessions reflects the cost of these supplies.
What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a form of therapy which uses the herb, Mugwort, to stimulate acupuncture points with heat, as opposed to needles. It is very effective for bringing down swelling and inflammation.
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
TCM is a 5-branch system of medicine that originated in China over 2000 years ago. The 5 branches are Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Nutrition, Massage, and Exercise.
How is TCM nutrition different than other types of nutrition/diets I am familiar with?
TCM is a holistic approach to medicine which means that the acupuncturist looks at the entire individual, not just the symptom. Diagnostic techniques allow the practitioner to create a beneficial diet for each individual. Energetic properties of food are taken into consideration (cinnamon, for example, is warming; watermelon is cooling). I like to recommend certain foods be added to the diet, rather than eliminated and, I like to address eating habits and cooking techniques since, the body must be digesting optimally, to absorb the correct nutrition. I offer suggestions that are easily implemented.
Tell me about Chinese Herbs.
There are a few key points regarding Chinese herbal formulas. Firstly, a formula never contains just 1 herb. Multiple herbs in a formula work synergistically together to achieve the desired effect. This allows a formula to work on a person as a whole (treating the “root” cause) as opposed to only treating the symptom (“the branch”). Secondly, herbs are in whole-food form vs. pharmaceutical drugs, where an active compound has been isolated and synthetically duplicated in a laboratory. This means that Chinese Herbs, when administered by a licensed practitioner who can recommend the correct formula, are safe. Herbs grown in nature develop in correct proportions and constituencies so they are easily assimilated by the body. For example, a sweet potato has a lot sugar in it, but it naturally occurs with minerals that allow for the sugar to be digested in the body in a healthy way. Eating a sweet potato is very different than consuming a spoonful of refined white table sugar. The third important point about Chinese herbs is that you must only consume high quality herbs. Many Chinese Herbal Formulas being sold online or over-the-counter do not meet this criteria. Chinese Herbs include roots, bark, sticks, spices, and flowers. Cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric, are commonly known Chinese Herbs.
Why are massage and exercise important branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
Massage performed by a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing TCM is called Tui Na. Tui Na uses vibration as a therapy with techniques such as light tapping or stroking of the skin. Exercise therapy can be simple stretching or movement recommendations. All branches of TCM do the same thing in different ways. They put the body in the best possible position it can be in to heal itself. The more ways you can do this, the quicker the results and the better the outcome.
What are you looking for on my tongue?
Many times, I will ask to look at your tongue as, this aids my
diagnosis. The tongue is the only external muscle of the body and it
tells us what is going on inside the body. I look at many things
including, the tongue shape, the presence/lack of cracks, the color
of the tongue body, and the presence/lack/color/distribution of
What can you tell from my pulse?
There are 3 organ systems on 2 depths on each wrist; 12 organ systems, total. The depth, rate, and quality of each pulse position give me information about each. Keep in mind, that Chinese Medicine is a different language than Western Medicine, meaning that if I find an imbalance in the “liver organ system" through the pulse, it does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your liver.