Frequently Asked Questions

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
What treatment therapies are used?
What conditions are treated with Chinese Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture?
What is Acupuncture?
How does Acupuncture work?
Is Acupuncture safe?
Does Acupuncture hurt?
How deep are the acupuncture needles inserted?
How long will the needles be in place?
What should I expect during an initial appointment?
How should I prepare for my appointment? Is there anything I should or should not do before my appointment?
How many treatments does it take?
What can I expect?
When will I feel better?
I’m afraid of needles. Is it possible to undergo treatment without needles?
Can Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine be used as preventative medicine?
Do you accept health insurance?

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a comprehensive system of health care with a continuous clinical tradition of over 3,000 years of diagnosing and treating illness, preventing disease and improving well-being. Chinese Medicine includes not only acupuncture, but also herbal therapy, diet therapy, massage, meditation, qi gong and exercise. These therapies work with the natural vital energies inherent within all living things to promote the body’s ability to heal itself. These therapies utilize minimally invasive treatments that work with your natural healing capacity to effectively promote natural wellness and health.
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What Treatment Therapies are Used?

Your treatment program is a unique prescription based on your individual diagnosis utilizing those therapies that will benefit you most at the time of treatment. These include:

  • Traditional Chinese & Japanese Acupuncture: insertion of hair-fine sterilized single use needles in the skin to stimulate specific acupuncture points
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine: Custom herbal prescriptions or Ready made prescriptions
  • Diet Therapy
  • Massage also known as Tuina
  • Cupping: a technique in which cups made of glass are placed on the skin using a vacuum method
  • Moxa or Heat Therapy
  • Adjuvant Therapies: Meditation & Qi Gong
  • Lifestyle & Behavior Recommendations

See the links on the Clinic page for more information about these treatment modalities and see the photos below.

Herbal Treatment
Herbs
Tui na Treatment
Tui na treatment
Tui na Treatment
Tui na Treatment
Moxa treatment of the wrist
Moxa treatment of the wrist
Cupping Cupping Cupping Cupping
Progression of cupping treatment

What conditions are treated with Chinese Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture?

The World Health Organization recognizes the effectiveness of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture in treating many disorders.

  • Stress Related Conditions: Anxiety, Depression, Irritability, Fatigue, Insomnia, Eating Disorders, Poor Concentration/Focus/ Memory
  • Digestion: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation, Diarrhea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Nausea, Colitis, Gallstones, Hemorrhoids, Ulcers
  • Neurological: Headaches, Migraines, Pain, Numbness, Neuralgia, Shingles, Post-Stroke Symptoms
  • Gynecological/Genitourinary: Infertility in men and woman, PMS, Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation, Amenorrhea, Hot Flashes, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Low Libido, Sexual Dysfunction, Incontinence, Urinary Tract Infections
  • Respiratory: Colds and Flu, Sinusitis, Allergy, Asthma, Bronchitis, Emphysema, Chronic Cough
  • Cardiovascular: Poor Circulation, Angina, High Blood Pressure, Palpitations, Anemia
  • Musculoskeletal: Arthritis, Back Pain, Neck & Shoulder Pain, Joint Pain, Chronic Knee Pain, Carpal Tunnel, Sciatica, Sports Injuries
  • Dermatological: Acne, Atopic Eczema, Psoriasis, Stasis Eczema
  • Immune System: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Managing Side Effects of Chemo/Radiation Therapies, HIV/AIDS Support
  • Cancer Complementary Care & Treatment
  • Substance Abuse/Withdrawal
  • Weight Loss
  • Anti-Aging/Vitality
  • Chronic Pain
  • Wellness and Prevention

Click here for a comprehensive list of conditions treated by Acupuncture.

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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a catalyst for healing the body. Embracing Daoist principles, this very ancient system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been in practice for more than 2000 years.

Acupuncture practitioners insert extremely fine, disposable needles with rounded tips just below the surface of the skin. This stimulates qi, the body’s cyclic energy flow (pronounced “chee” or “chi”). By balancing and redirecting qi, an acupuncture practitioner encourages the body’s natural capacity for self-healing. In turn, this improves the way the body functions.
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Acupuncture model

How does Acupuncture work?

Western Medicine attributes several mechanisms to why acupuncture is so effective. These mechanisms include nervous, endocrine, biochemical and metabolic pathways. Acupuncture is rooted in ancient eastern theories relating to the flow of Qi energy through distinct meridians or pathways that course the body similar to blood in blood vessels. Acupuncture regulates Qi energy in order to restore balance. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on an energetic model rather than a biomedical model of understanding the body. Disease is usually viewed as a disorder or disharmony, and treatment is directed toward balancing and harmonizing. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture promote innate healing capabilities and positively influence the health of the entire person.

Qi flows through the body along channels known as meridians. The body contains nearly 500 different acupuncture points located along these meridians. Modern science has actually shown that the body gives off slight electrical charges at these points. An imbalance or blockage in the flow of qi at these points can cause many ailments. Imbalances in qi flow can be caused by stress, anxiety, anger, fear, poor nutrition, and even changes in the weather. Acupuncturists concentrate on stimulating the body’s energy flow by unblocking these meridians. By restoring qi balance and flow, acupuncture allows the body to heal itself naturally, rather than through the more invasive use of synthetic drugs and injections via the bloodstream. This image depicts many of the body's energy meridians.

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Is Acupuncture Safe?

Absolutely. In addition to being a low-risk medical option, acupuncture physicians adhere to strict safety procedures established by state and federal agencies. Florida law requires that only pre-sterilized, disposable single use needles are to be used.

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Does acupuncture hurt?

Most patients find acupuncture painless and soothing. Some even fall asleep during treatment! Acupuncture needles are hair fine filiform needles that are inserted just underneath the skin. Melissa strives to minimize any discomfort through her gentle and painless technique.
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How deep do the needles go?

Needles may be inserted from one quarter of an inch to one inch below the skin's surface, depending on the location of the acupuncture point on the body and the condition being treated. The patient's size, age and constitution are all taken into account when determining how deeply the needles will penetrate the skin.
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How long will the needles be in place?

This varies with each patient. Typically needles are inserted for 20-30 minutes at a time. In some instances the treatment may last 45-60 minutes.

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What happens during an initial visit?

During the initial session, we will do a detailed health history interview focusing on your main complaint, also addressing general health history such as, sleep, digestion, energy level, family medical history, etc. It is important to assess your overall health in addition to focusing on your main complaint. Melissa will take your pulses on each wrist in three different places to determine how well certain organ systems are functioning. She also examines your tongue. The tongue’s color and coating can reveal a lot about a person’s overall health. She will also perform any other relevant physical assessment or observation. We will discuss together her thoughts on treatment plan and recommendations for treatment. After that time typically we will make a decision together as far as how you would like to proceed and what feels like a good fit for your healing plan in that moment. We may also do a treatment that day.

Melissa inserts tiny disposable needles into certain acupuncture points on the body, depending on the patient’s condition. The acupuncture needles are each placed in a specific location in order to optimize qi flow and bring balance back to the body. After 20-30 minutes, the needles are removed. Most patients find the process very relaxing, and many fall asleep during treatment.
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Is there anything I should or should not do before my appointment?

There are a few Dos and Don’ts I would suggest before your acupuncture treatment:

  • Don’t eat a heavy meal right before your appointment. However, Do make sure you have eaten a meal earlier in the day.
  • Don't brush or scrape your tongue coating when you brush your teeth before your appointment, as Melissa may want to examine your tongue.
  • Don’t drink anything that may color your tongue coating before your appointment, such as coffee, soda, candy, gum or juice. Spicy foods will also change the tongue's color. However, Do stay hydrated by drinking water or tea, as neither of these affect the color of the tongue.
  • Do try to come to the appointment in a relaxed state of mind so as to help your body accept the treatment to its fullest.

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How many treatments does it take?

Depending on the condition being treated, acupuncture treatments can last from one week to several months, or longer. Typically, acupuncture patients begin by receiving treatments one to two times a week at the clinic. As a patient’s condition improves, treatments become less frequent until the patient is cured of their illness or balance is restored. While some illnesses remain incurable, acupuncture can go a long way toward alleviating discomfort. Some patients return to the clinic for a “tune up” a few times every year in order to maintain an optimum level of health and keep illnesses at bay.
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What can I Expect?

You can expect to feel better following your consultation, evaluation and treatment on the initial visit. Appropriate treatment begins with identifying and addressing barriers to health, followed by a series of sessions that focus on addressing your main complaints. You will be an active participant in your healing process. You will be given the time it takes to answer questions and become knowledgeable in how the treatment will be most benefitial for you.
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When will I feel better?

Depending on a patient’s condition and how their body responds to acupuncture, it can take up to six treatments before the patient notices a marked change in the way they feel. Some patients feel better after one treatment. Other patients need five or six treatments before they feel better.
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I'm afraid of needles. Is it possible to undergo treatment without needles?

There are techniques used that do not involve needles. They are Herbal Medicine, Cupping, Moxibustion, T.D.P. Lamp, Acupressure, Tui na (massage), and Dermal Friction Technique (Gua Sha). However, often times the best results are obtained by using needles. In the experience of most acupuncture practitioners, regular acupuncture needles work best. Melissa also specializes in herbal treatments that can be used without acupuncture.
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Can acupuncture be used as preventative medicine?

Yes. Research has now verified that acupuncture stimulates immune functioning, which can increase your resistance to bacterial and viral infection. Acupuncture increases overall energy and vitality, and it helps the body respond to injury and stress. Regular, monthly treatments can help you maintain good health and a sense of well-being.

Click here for a comprehensive list of conditions treated by Acupuncture.
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Do you accept Health Insurance?

I do not bill insurance. I do provide a receipt that you may be submit to your insurance company for possible reimbursement or save for end of the year tax time. Please save your receipts after your visit. Payment is due when services are rendered. I accept cash, check, Visa or Mastercard. Call or email Melissa for rates.
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Patient confidentiality is honored and maintained in all aspects of Melissa's practice.

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Melissa B. Smith, A.P.

1609 Thacker Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32207
(Near the San Marco Branch Library)
Appointments & Information: 904-477-2825
Melissa@MelissaBSmithAP.com
Medical Records can be faxed to Melissa B. Smith, AP at 904-396-9215