The purpose of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to stimulate the body to heal itself.  Acupuncture is a TCM tool used to access the body's natural healing capabilities by activating points along pathways called meridians that contain the energy of the body.  Over thousands of years of trial, acu points have been determined to have specific uses.  Both lie over nerves of the body which may account for the sensations & effects experienced. 


Eastern Medicine focuses on correcting functional issues of the body.  Acupuncture cannot fix structural anatomical issues.  If Western Medicine can only prescribe medication or surgery, TCM may provide natural pain relief, reduce inflammation, & promote healing.  


Exhausted by visits to multiple doctors with  no relief from your symptoms?  When treatment by conventional medicine is unable to help, Traditional Chinese Medicine may be able to relieve or resolve your issues. 



A comprehensive intake is used to form a complete picture of overall health.  The goal is to identify the root cause(s) of a patient's symptoms to resolve the condition.   

The number of treatments needed will depend upon:

  • Complexity of condition
  • Duration of issue
  • Response to treatment
  • TCM tools utilized 
  • Addressing aggravating factors 



The needles used are hair thin, disposable (inserted one time), & usually only inserted into the top layers of skin/fat/muscle tissues.  Depth of placement depends on the patient's condition, sensitivity, & thickness of those top layers.  

Most people do not feel the needle insertion.  The sensations felt are not associated with the needle itself but the needle's connection with the energy of the point & meridians.  While resting with the needles inserted, patients may feel a dull ache, heaviness, distention, a lightness or floating, & deep relaxation.  Sensations vary from person to person, may differ from treatment to treatment as well as point to point.  

Acupuncture is one of multiple tools used in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine/Oriental Medicine.  These tools are used to stimulate the body to heal itself.  If a patient doesn't feel comfortable being treated with acupuncture needles, other options are available. 

Clean needle technique & proper placement is used to ensure safety.  The practitioner complies with the guidelines to practice Acupuncture, as it is regulated by the Iowa Board of Medicine.   




A flame is inserted into a glass cup to create a negative pressure vacuum.  Body tissues are suctioned into the cup which separates tissue layers, relaxes muscles, & draws stagnant blood & lymph to the skin's surface.  

Used for:  tight tendons, muscular pain, excess heat conditions, & more.



After needles are inserted, small clips are attached to the needle.  The clip wires run to a battery powered unit that provides electrical stimulation to the points & muscles where the needles are inserted.  

Used to:  increase stimulation to points, relax muscles (similar to TENS units), supplement scalp acupuncture for neurological conditions, chronic or acute pain, & more.

Tui Na


Musculoskeletal Acupuncture that is done over the clothes.  Specific massage techniques & protocols are applied to the areas effected to treat injuries to bone articulations & soft tissues.  

Conditions treated include:  Injuries.  Stiff Neck, TMJD, Sciatica, Achilles Tendon, Heel Spurs.

Gua Sha


Used to regulate muscle & tendon:  tension, relaxation, & adhesions.  Release the exterior for early stages of colds & flus.

Used to:  promote blood circulation & releases the exterior in early stages of colds & flus. 

Plum Blossom


A tool with a cluster of needles on one end is gently tapped onto the skin's surface.  

Treats:  sty, shingles, acne, balding, vitiligo, releases exterior & heat.


Internal Herbal Medicine


Healing from the inside out.  Herbal formulas in pill or capsule form are prescribed to treat symptoms & their root cause. 

Topical Herbal Medicine


Healing from the outside in.  The same herbs taken internally can be applied to the body's surface.  For ailments of the skin, muscles, & joints.

Auricular Therapy


Application of seeds or stainless-steel beads to ear points.  Worn between appointments for continued treatment or as an alternative to needling. 

Food Therapy


Food recommendations based on:  TCM principles, your own health, & treatment goals.  Utilized to resolve symptoms & prevent illness.



A Chinese herb commonly known as Mugwort is burned near the skin to stimulate & heat points.  Useful for certain digestive issues, lung conditions, painful muscles, joint pain, & women's issues. 


What is the Difference?

Many people ask me, "What is the difference between Acupuncture performed by an Acupuncturist, a Chiropractor, & a Physical Therapist?"  It does not matter who inserts the acupuncture needles!  It works if points are used by correct function, location, & insertion depth. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture

Acupuncturist training is based on the principles of treatment according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The Masters Degree includes 3000+ hours of training, both classroom & hands on clinic hours.  It's believed every symptom a person experiences fits in to an underlying pattern(s) that is the cause of their main complaint as well as other health concerns.  The root & symptom are then treated at the same time.  It is key that the root cause be treated to completely address the main complaint otherwise it will return.  

Chiropractic Acupuncture

Chiropractors are offered a 100 - 200 hour certification course in acupuncture.  They already have the anatomy background to properly locate points.  Popular point function & points with musculoskeletal significance are emphasized during certification.  Many times, chiropractors achieve desired results especially for common conditions that are rooted in the musculoskeletal system.  Some chiropractors continue to study Traditional Chinese Medicine to expand the range of conditions they can treat.  

Physical Therapy Dry Needling

The primary goal of dry needling is to desensitize super-sensitive structures, to restore motion, function, & to induce a healing response in the tissue.  It is a technique to treat the neuromusculoskeletal systems based on  pain patterns, muscular dysfunction, & other orthopedic signs & symptoms which depends upon physical examination & assessment to guide the treatment.



Main Complaint/Health History

TCM examines both current symptoms & health history.  Patterns, changes, & genetic influences are all important aspects for treatment.

The 10 Questions

All systems of the body are reviewed.  Determining the root cause to your symptom(s) is vital for resolution.  The whole body is treated.

Pulse Diagnosis


The pulse is taken at 3 positions along the radial artery & 3 different levels of pressure.  Each position & level corresponds to organ health & function. 

Tongue Diagnosis


The tongue is divided according to which organ(s) it correlates.  The appearance changes based on what is happening inside the body.  

Abdominal Diagnosis


Visual inspection includes looking at the flesh itself, veins, moles, & any additional marking.  Touch is used to examine temperature, tension, & tenderness. 

Visual Inspection


Complexion, eyes, stature, gait, skin, & muscle tone are examined while interviewing the patient.  Subtle differences in color, vessels, posture, & flesh is noted.


Flame & Tissue Manipulation


A flame is inserted into a glass cup to heat the air inside creating a negative pressure vacuum when the cup is placed on the body.  No fire is retained in the cup/ during application.  Tissues are suctioned into the cup.  The manipulation is like deep tissue massage but in reverse.  Flesh is suctioned upward instead of being pressed down. 

Muscle Tension & Suction


Suction separates tissue layers:  skin, fat, fascia, muscle.  Muscles are forced to relax.  Trapped blood & lymph in these tissues are brought to the surface.  The amount of suction used depends on the condition, location, & tolerance of the patient.  Equal suction doesn’t mean the marks produced will be the same color. 



Suction of stagnant blood & lymph to the skin's surface creates marks.  These are not bruises caused by newly broken capillaries.  The tissues may feel sore due to manipulation.



Coloring reflects the amount of stagnant blood & trapped fluid brought to the surface from within muscles, joints, & other tissues.  Bringing this stagnation to the surface allows it to be accessed & removed by the lymph system.  This removal & tissue manipulation can relieve pain & increase blood & lymph flow.


Electro-acupuncture is similar to traditional acupuncture in that the same points are stimulated during a treatment.  As with traditional acupuncture, needles are inserted at specific points along the body.

The needles are then attached via small clips to a device used to adjust the frequency & intensity of the impulse being delivered.  The current follows a pattern set by the machine, with each pattern dependent on the condition being treated.

Electroacupuncture uses two needles at time so that the impulses can pass from one needle to the other.  Several pairs of needles can be stimulated simultaneously, usually for no more than 30 minutes at a time.

Due to the electrical current, patients may experience a tingling sensation while being treated.  Electro-acupuncture can be especially useful in the treatment of both chronic or acute pain. 




Pulse Diagnosis is used by TCM practitioners to evaluate patient health.  Like the tongue, the pulse can provide a more accurate impression of a person's health than subjective symptoms. 

The rate, depth, strength, width, & quality is examined.  There are 3 positions on each radial artery.  These positions are felt at 3 levels from superficial to deep & reflect the function of the associated organs.

Avoid caffeine before your appointment because it can influence the rate & quality of the pulse.



The tongue is a true reflection of the body's health.  Changes are noted to track progress.

Avoid consuming any staining foods or drinks before your appointment:  coffee, teas, berries, etc. because it will stain the tongue coat.

Do not brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper before your appointment as it may effect the appearance of the tongue coat.


The ear is a micro-system for the entire body like the hands & feet are used in Reflexology.  Auricular protocols exist for many conditions that can be used alone or with body points indicated for the patient's condition.  The more tender or sensitive the points are, the more effective the treatment will be.  Only the points that need to be stimulated will be pressure sensitive. 

Auricular points can be stimulated with:  needles, beads or seeds, ASP needles that can be retained for multiple days, or electro-stimulation.  For best results, the points should be stimulated with needles.  Ear needles are retained for 30 minutes for complete & effective treatment. 

Auricular Protocols:  There are ear acupuncture protocols for nearly all conditions treated.  The most popular are addiction protocols for alcohol, smoking, & weight control. 


Battlefield Acupuncture is an Auricular Therapy (Ear acupuncture) protocol that was invented by Dr. Richard Niemtzow MD.  The name Battlefield Acupuncture was created because it could be used on the battlefield when it was not advisable to use pain medications.  These points/zones when used in a pattern can not only relieve pain but improve other conditions as well.  The patient will be asked to move the part of the body in pain between needling each set of points to track the progress of pain relief.  


NADA was founded in 1985 by Dr. Smith & others who were interested in promoting the integration of the protocol in the treatment of addiction.  Today it is used for behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, disaster & emotional trauma.  In a typical session, both ears of the patient are needled at the same time & retained for 30 - 45 minutes.  Those treated with the NADA protocol often report an improved sense of well-being.  Clients often state that they feel “energized,” “lighter,” & “more relaxed” after undergoing a session. 



Eating Healthy

Do you think certain foods are always healthy to eat?  They aren't necessarily healthy foods for you based on your constitution (overall health), the season, temperature, & taste.  For example: overeating salad & raw vegetables can cause abdominal pain, indigestion, & loose stools.

Dietary Therapy deals with the properties of foods, their effects on health, & the therapeutic use of foods in the preservation of health & in the prevention & treatment of illnesses. 

Five Flavors

Each taste can strengthen or damage bodily functions depending on how they are consumed.

  • Bitter:  Cools & Drains.
  • Salty:  Softens & Breaks Up.
  • Sweet:  Tonifies, Harmonizes, Moderates.
  • Acrid:  Moves & Disperses.
  • Sour:  Stabilizes & Binds.

Seasonal & Local

Eat foods in season that are locally grown.

  • Winter:  Eat warming & heavier foods.
  • Spring:  Transition from heavy & warming foods to lighter freshly grown foods. 
  • Summer:  Lighter cooling foods, meals, & drinks.
  • Fall:  Eat moistening foods.  The early fall dry heat can produce a dry nose & throat.


Herbal Therapy includes the prescription of safe & established herbal medicines that are tailored specifically for the patient’s complaints, symptoms, & overall condition.  There are a variety of different forms of herbal medicines used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of which has specific uses, benefits, & qualities that are chosen based on the condition of the individual patient.

The types & amounts of herbs are based on formulas consisting of two or more that are used for specific problems & complaints.  Raw herbal formula teas are used as the basis for most forms of Chinese Herbal Medicines.  

No matter the form of the herbal medicine, these products are used to give a person continual treatment.  The addition of herbal medicines means that every time the patient takes their dose of herbs, they are in effect receiving a treatment.  Often lasting results are obtained quicker & conditions are resolved longer or eliminated when acupuncture & herbal medicines are combined rather than being utilized alone.

The only products used are those of Current Good Manufacturing Practices regulated by the FDA.  They are free of any pesticides, contaminants, harmful chemicals or substances, produced in clean facilities, & are accurately labeled with the correct information & contain only the correct herbal medicines.

Learn More

CGMP Product Regulations.




  • Raw Herbs are dried parts of plant & minerals that have a long-established usage & history of safety.  The herbs are boiled to make a tea that is taken several times a day.  
  • Raw herbs are customized for a patient's specific needs.  They're very powerful & effective compared to some other forms of herbal medicine.  
  • Raw herbal medicines are often the most fast acting & effective form of the medication.  They require a large amount of work on the part of the patient to diligently cook their medicine daily. 



  • Powdered Herbs are the result of a raw herbal tea that has the water evaporated.  It leaves behind just the medicinal substances which are ground into a powder & then bottled.  
  • Powdered herbs can be found in either single herb forms or as whole formulas.  They're able to be customized for the individual patient.
  • Powdered herbs are not as fast acting or as effective as raw herbs.  They are very convenient & easy to take, making them a very popular form of Chinese Herbal Medicine.   



  • Patent Medicines are powdered formulas that have been combined with a binding agent, often honey or wax.  Then they are pressed into small round pills (called tea pills) herbal tablets & coated tablets that allow ease of swallowing.  
  • Patent medicines are very easy & convenient to take.  They often have a low cost compared to other forms of Chinese herbal medicines.  
  • Patent medicines are not customizable for the individual patient & are often slower acting when compared with raw & powdered forms of herbs.  They are still effective, powerful, & widely used medicines.



  • Topical Herbal Medicines are found in a variety of forms:  washes, oils, liniments, pastes, plasters, & others.  Topical herbal medicines can be very effective for a variety of skin disorders, burns,  muscle aches, pains, & much more. 
  • They are prepared in much the same way as a raw herbal formula but they will often use a different substance to allow them to be applied directly to the skin of the patient.