COLORADO SERENITY - May 2005 Finding an Acupuncturist

Tracy Saraduke, RN, M.Ac. L.Ac.

3082 Evergreen Parkway, Suite 2

Evergreen, CO 80439

(303) 670-9181

East Meets West - How to Find an Acupuncturist
by Tracy Saraduke, RN, BSN, MS, M.Ac., L.Ac.

        If you are thinking about seeing an acupuncturist, let your doctor know.  Physicians will want to first rule out serious conditions.  After that, here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an acupuncturist.


Know what to expect in a visit before making calls. 

While many people experience dramatic results, don’t expect complete relief of all symptoms after one treatment.  Most practitioners see patients for four to six weeks – usually once a week, but two or three times if a condition is acute.  Most acupuncturists expect to see significant results in their patients within six to eight treatments.

        Not all acupuncture is painful.  Acupuncture needles are much thinner than needles used for injections.  If you have a problem with needles, look for someone who specializes in Japanese acupuncture, especially the non-insertion Toyo Hari style.

For additional information see my previous article “What Did I Expect?” January 2005  on what to expect with acupuncture.



        Ask around for candidates.  Who does your doctor recommend? Who do your friends, relatives, and other healthcare professionals suggest?

        Ask the practitioner about their education.  Find out if they got a degree in Oriental medicine or if they are a medical acupuncturist (chiropractor, MD, DO or naturopath).  You’ll either want someone who got a 3 or 4-year Master’s Degree and had to take the certification exam required by Colorado, or a medical acupuncturist who devotes all or most of their practice to Oriental medicine.

Ask the candidate about their post-graduate training.  This will tell you what they are interested in and if they regularly return to refine their skills.

You can check with the Acupuncture Association of Colorado to find out if a practitioner is a licensed acupuncturist.  If the acupuncturist also prescribes herbs, you can ask them if they have passed the Chinese Herbology National Exam as well. Dabbling in herbs can have serious results.  Herbs may be natural but they are still potent.


Your First Visit

In addition to taking a medical history, acupuncturists ask about lifestyle.  Questions may include: How is your appetite? How well are you sleeping? How much do you sweat? They observe your posture, listen to your voice, and assess your mood.  They will examine your injury or condition but also take your pulses at several locations on your wrists to assess your chi balance. Some may also check your abdomen or your tongue. 

A good acupuncturist is a detective, not just a person who puts needles into acupoints based on some manual that lists points for a symptom.  By carefully making a diagnosis, the practitioner can perform a simple yet effective treatment.