Frequently Asked Questions

What is acupuncture?


Acupuncture is a medical practice that aids the body in reaching and maintaining homeostasis.  To accomplish this, it uses access points and channels throughout the body, needles, bodywork, external and internal herbal applications, scraping, cupping and moxibustion. To help the practitioner determine which points and techniques to use, a differential diagnosis is made which informs the practitioner’s treatment plan.  Although the use of needles is one of the primary techniques used to help the body, it is by no means the only mode of treatment.


Does acupuncture hurt?


Acupuncture needles are very thin, as thin as a hair, are not hollow, and are unlike hypodermic needles in every way.  They are carefully inserted into the body at points that are skillfully chosen by the practitioner.  The insertion of the needle is relatively pain-free and any sensation that is felt goes away as quickly as it came.  Often the practitioner will advance the needle further to stimulate the point. While it isn’t painful, it can illicit sensations that are unusual for most people in the United States. These sensations are called “De Qi” in Chinese, and can be described as a “warm releasing” or “spreading” sensation running away from the point, a slight zing that comes and goes, a “heaviness” that dissipates, a “strong releasing” sensation, or a “dull aching” feeling.  These are quite normal and considered beneficial for the patient and helpful for the success of the treatment. 


How does it work?


There are many explanations as to how acupuncture stimulates the body to heal itself.  It has been the source of much research for decades, but with recent advances in technology scientists are able to view in real time the changes taking place within the body.  Stimulation of acupuncture points helps the body reach homeostasis by causing vasodilation, mediating immune system response, modulating the neuro-endocrine system, stimulating new tissue growth, and enhancing nervous system conduction while helping to modulate the signal. Acupuncture treatment also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the most beneficial state for encouraging healing. This is especially true for moderating systemic or local inflammation and generating new tissue. 


How often should I get treated?


This is a complex question to answer because the presentation is different for every patient. Acute cases generally take fewer treatments. The longer the patient has experienced the condition, the longer the treatment plan will be.  Similarly, the prescribed frequency of treatments will depend on whether the condition is chronic or acute in nature.

This can also be moderated by treatments such as taking or applying Chinese herbs, bodywork, guasha, cupping, or moxibustion.  What is consistent for everyone in our clinic is that we will make a treatment plan, share that plan with you up front, and work with you to develop a timeline that includes the frequency of visits necessary.


Why do you needle my hand/arm/leg/foot vs where it hurts…?


The acupuncturist accesses channels that run throughout the body, for example, from the head to the ends of our four limbs. These channels, or meridians, are areas that transport important resources and signals to all parts of the body. That being the case, it is not necessary and often less beneficial to needle directly into the painful area. We thus use both local and distal points to influence the body into homeostasis. The goal, no matter where the needle is inserted, is to encourage relief from your symptoms. 


How long does it take to work?


Acupuncture is a very personalized medicine.  Two people coming in for the same Western diagnosed condition will not always be treated for the same pattern in any acupuncture office.  Their bodies may not respond to a treatment in the same way either.  Typically, it takes a few consistent and frequent treatments to determine the length of time it will take to treat your condition.  We recommend 4 to 6 visits initially.

Once we have finished the initial treatment phase we determine how fast your body is responding and moving towards homeostasis.  Two people being treated for similar conditions may have completely different treatment schedules depending how quickly their bodies respond.  The response time typically runs on a bell curve.  A few people respond rapidly and require very little time to be treated after the initial introductory treatment phase.  Most, require regular treatments for a set number of weeks to reach their health goals. Some patients will not respond strongly or at all to the treatments.  That is why an initial treatment phase is so important in determining how many will be necessary for you.


How long will the results last?


This depends on the goals of the patient and the condition being treated. For most acute conditions, a patient is treated over a relatively short period of time and with careful and consistent lifestyle changes their health goals are met and sustained with few to no recurring symptoms.

For chronic pain and systemic inflammation, the goal of the practitioner is to eliminate the condition, however this is not always a practical goal.  Sometimes for systemic pain and inflammation the goal must be to reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration during “flared” up or active phases.  The additional goal is to reduce the amount of time the patient feels any symptoms. 


Is acupuncture right for me?


Acupuncture is right for most people.  There is a small percentage of patients who might not respond to this type of treatment and that is what the initial phase treatments (4 to 6 treatments) help to determine. For most, acupuncture is right for them because they respond well to it and notice either rapid or gradual changes.  Our goal at White Center Wellness Clinic is to help you to feel better as soon as possible.

We treat patients with pain, injuries, upper respiratory conditions (cough, asthma, bronchitis, etc), colds, flus, infertility, digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea), menstrual irregularity (painful period, cramping, heavy bleeding, light or no period, cysts, heavy clotting, pms, menopause, etc), urological conditions (frequent, painful, infrequent, difficult starting, incomplete urination, etc).

We also treat patients who are diagnosed with and being treated for cancer, auto-immune conditions, neurological conditions, endocrine system difficulties, or immune system conditions.

Feel free to ask us if you are curious about a particular condition and whether or not acupuncture would be a good treatment option. Let’s work together to make you feel better!

Jie Qi  of Xia Zhi

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!  I don’t know about you but the summer equinox always posed a problem while growing up.  On the one hand it was the official start of summer and always a welcome one as school had usually only barely gotten out.  On the other hand it also meant that the long slow progression of lighter days was now going to begin to reverse itself.  The official start of summer is a double signal, one to promise the hottest days have yet to come and secondly, long days become shorter from this point forward.

Of course it is all part of nature, and the further north (or even south of the Equator) one lives the more dramatic the changes in the seasons.  As we have learned in earlier blog posts East Asian Medicine follows the Jie Qi of the year. You may remember this important relationship to our own life and health cycles and that the twenty-fourJie Qi (in a year) correspond and reflect not only to what is going on in the natural world but in our own bodies as Ancient Chinese qi “scientists” observed these processes not only reflected in an annual cycle but in the lifecycle of every living thing.  (To review the concept of Jie Qi please follow this link: Well-being in the New Year)

Xia Zhi (Summer Equinox) is the dominant Jie Qi right now.  For the next 15 days the natural reflection of the energetics of nature and life are unfolding before us.  This is not meant to be a mystical observation or even a religious belief but merely an observation by the qi “scientists” of Ancient China observing what was going on around them and within themselves.  Xia Zhi is the time of year where light is penultimate.

So what does it mean for our bodies and health when the Sun is at its zenith and summer gets it’s beginning?  Heat in non-desert climates (like ours) has a tendency to be more damp and therefore oppressive in a different nature than the dryer desert-like climates.  They are not without their own health challenges, but injecting warmth into a damp zone no matter which part of the US you live in adds a level of health challenges that are unique to each climate zone. 

Xia Zhi signals the start of the heavy and hot season with mixed heat and damp which can make you in turn feel heavy, lose your appetite and ultimately feel less able to digest large heavy meals.  Emotions, patience and tempers can all be tested and the sensibility and susceptibility to the mishandling of food adds to the already increased irritability of the GI tract leading to some rather inconvenient symptoms.  


What you can do to help your body be more in balance with Xia Zhi

Eat light meals more often in order to avoid feeling too full.  This gives your digestion time to break down and absorb the food. Also, limit the frequency and amount of hot foods in your diet.  This will help your body, already beginning to feel the stress of the warmer days, self regulate more easily.  Remember there is less dense caloric need in the summer as your body no longer needs help keeping your internal body temperature warm to make up the deficit from loss to colder weather.  But there is usually more activity and so ready access to energy is best.  But above all fluid loss is the greater culprit to causing stress on the body so remember to drink plenty of fluids.  

To make up for dietary challenges eating more bitter foods like dark leafy greens or spring mixes will help support digestion.  There is also a need to reduce sour foods this time of year.  In general, foods that are easier to digest should be the larger portion on your plate and those harder to digest or are heavier on the stomach should be the smallest amount or even removed.  From a Chinese medicine perspective adding foods like lotus leaves, light green or white teas and bitter melon are beneficial this time of year.  Steeped citrus (peels or fruit) can aid digestion.  

A nice alternative that is not a Chinese dietary medical tradition is Orange Blossom Water, a Middle-eastern refreshment enjoyed after a meal, aids in digestion and is a nice light and refreshing treat.  Lotus soup and toasted barely tea are beneficial especially during wetter than usual summers.  As with all things, individual conditions may require the above advice be adjusted for your own specific health need but your acupuncturist, especially those here at White Center Wellness Clinic, can help you find the right balance for your specific health needs.

Other cautions in summer are drinking too many iced drinks.  Sure they are refreshing and make some things taste better but Chinese medicine tends to prefer that we avoid too much iced beverages, preferring patients to drink them closer to room temperature.  This is for a few reasons, one it helps the body maintain key internal body temperatures that aid in metabolic processes, digestion, circulation and healthy active immune systems.  

For women it can be especially important as combined damp climates with cold drinks, long-term, can cause a lot of reproductive tract conditions or exacerbate those that are already present.  

The same can be said for cold raw foods, we are often more likely to counsel patients who enjoy raw food like vegetables, to let them sit out for a short while, to let them warm up to at least to room temperature and then eat them, rather than right out of the refrigerator cold for the same reasons listed above.

Lastly, finding a good herbal or tea shop in your local area to buy white chrysanthemum tea is a great self-care and personal indulgence you can easily include in your daily routine.  Add a little honey to set it to your preferred taste and sip on it throughout the day.  It is both cooling for the body and relaxing for the mind.  


Exercise, dress, and rest

Summertime is a great time to exercise because we can get out of the home or local group gym and be outside to do our favorite activities.  The combination of fresh air and sun can do wonders for our immune system and metabolism but it doesn’t come without it’s challenges.  The best times to exercise is in the morning or evening, when temperatures are comfortably moderate and don’t cause excess sweating.  The best thing one can do is avoid showering right away. Let the body cool itself down, by letting the sweat evaporate and the pores to close back up. Waiting to take that shower lets your body cool itself and the immune system to reset itself prevents you from making yourself susceptible to the elements.  

In Chinese medicine as well as Western natural medicine traditions, not keeping oneself protected from sudden temperature changes, or wind or cold drafts can make you susceptible to succumbing to certain opportunistic conditionsEvery year at this time, as people get used to learning how to layer and dress while temperatures vacillate, summer flus or colds increase in frequency as people fail to protect themselves from the elements.  Staying out of the direct path of fans and AC output will also help keep you healthy.  

Naps are beneficial too. There is a reason siestas are common in tropical countries.  It is easier for the body to stay cooler when metabolic processes are slowed down from a lack of activity and also gives the body time to catch up on the constant draw on the body’s resources.  


Happiness and health

More Western science studies are corroborating what Eastern medicines have been saying for thousands of years, a happy heart (and mind) means a healthy body.  Doing what you enjoy reduces stress, ameliorates the effects of our busy lifestyle and allows the body to take a rest from the constant “fight or flight” stimulation of our modern lives.  

Hobbies, time-off, rest, meditation, being in nature all help to contribute to a healthier you. These same studies are proving over and over again that it is integral to our longterm health.  In our medicine, Joy is the emotion governed by the Heart.  It is believed, and sadly shown everyday in the clinic, to be critical for a healthy body and mind. The single most important piece of advice we can give someone who lives a stressful lifestyle, is to take more time for themselves.  Balance in our lives is key.  Doing something we enjoy is restorative.  We see more and more Western doctors paying attention to what the research is saying and so are also counseling their patients in the same way. It leads patients down a path of heart, mind, intra and interpersonal health.  


How can White Center Wellness Clinic help you during the Jie Qi of Xia Zhi?

Sometimes self-care can be a little late in coming or the summer months exacerbate a condition already present.  We at White Center Wellness Clinic can help with a host of health issues whether they be aches and pains, summer time colds or flus, internal medicine conditions like GI discomfort, irregular women’s cycles or annoying seasonal allergies. We use acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, Guasha, cupping and other techniques to help bring your body back into balance.  Don’t put up with the discomfort any more, feel better today and let us work with you to help you reach your healthiest self yet.  


Book your appointment todayfollow this link!

White Center Wellness at the Walk to Cure Arthritis!

As acupuncturists, we're always excited to participate in community health events and connect with people while advocating for health and wellness.

That's why we were thrilled to be invited to participate in the Arthritis Foundation fundraising event in Renton on May 20th! It was a glorious day and we enjoyed meeting supporters of the Arthritis Foundation, practitioners in the treatment field, and many folks affected by arthritis along with thier families and friends. It was gratifying to connect with them one on one, hear their stories and learn more about their experiences with arthritis. We were glad to share information about acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbal medicine and how these methods help patients find relief from the daily discomfort of arthritis. 

At White Center Wellness Clinic our treatments work to help manage the pain and reduce the inflammation caused by arthritis. For those with Rheumatoid or Psoriatic arthritis, regular treatments can help reduce the intensity and length of the active inflammatory phase, while increasing the length of time of the non-active phase.

Thanks again to the Arthritis Foundation for including us!


Ellaina Lewis and Lee Mahoney

Licensed Acupuncturists and Owners of White Center Wellness Clinic LLP

Proud SIOM Alumni, Class of 2016

Contact us at to find out how we can help you! We offer online booking at and for those unable to visit the clinic, in-home care is available.

Call us at (206) 693-2499 to scheudule an acupuncture appointment in the comfort of your own home for yourself or a loved one.