Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a new experience to many of our patients. We welcome your questions. Below are answers to the common ones. We are more than happy to go into greater detail at your first visit. We welcome the opportunity to help you feel comfortable with the concepts and techniques of Chinese Medicine. if we haven’t answered your questions below- go ahead, ask away! We’ve got answers.


What is Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

Acupuncture originated in China over 2,500 years ago and is used as a primary and complimentary health care modality throughout the world. TCM views disease as the result of an imbalance or blockage in the body's natural energy flow. It is a method of balancing and building the body's energy, known as "qi" (pronounced "chee"). Acupuncturists insert sterile needles into special points that lay on particular pathways called channels, or meridians, which acts as a conduit for energy circulation. The list of conditions that acupuncture may help is essentially limitless. The most common conditions are allergies/asthma, headaches, anxiety/depression, fertility, neurological conditions, and pain anywhere in the body. 
Chinese Medicine treats the whole person by viewing the body, mind and spirit as being on a continuum. Such imbalances can manifest as physical, emotional and psychosomatic stress-related disorders. Patients feel relief from their symptoms along with a feeling of vitality and peace. Acupuncture is only one a part of a larger health care system. Chinese Medicine also includes herbs, exercise, and diet and lifestyle changes.

What is an Acupuncturist?

An Acupuncturist is a person who has graduated from a nationally accredited Acupuncture School. At Six Fishes, our practitioners have varying credentials based on their training, as well as the state, where they received their education. Acupuncturists must pass written and practical state and/or national board exams in order to become licensed. Currently, most states require a 4-year Master's degree in Acupuncture (MSAC) or Traditional Oriental Medicine (MSTOM) from an accredited acupuncture school for licensure. Training includes all aspects of biomedicine as well as Traditional Oriental Medicine. With the exception of Lynnae Schwartz, M.D. who received her degree in Medical Acupuncture, Six Fishes practitioners are nationally board certified in acupuncture, Chinese herbology and biomedicine.

Do I have to choose between acupuncture and other types of health care?

Absolutely not. Chinese medicine and Western medicine are distinct systems and each has important strengths. Neither medical tradition offers all the answers. While we champion the use of Chinese Medicine as a pragmatic and effective health care modality, we also believe that both systems can be integrated harmoniously to achieve the greatest health benefits based on our values of safety, efficacy and the pursuit of health and happiness. Six Fishes welcomes a collaborative relationship with your health care providers.

Does it hurt?

The Acupuncture needles that we use are 38-40 gauge surgical steel and are as slender as a hair. They are pre-sterilized and disposable. Most people feel little or no discomfort.

What can I expect during my treatment?

Most people feel extremely relaxed. Many nap during their acupuncture treatment.

Can you treat more than one condition at a time?

The short answer is yes. Chinese Medicine does not treat actually treat “conditions." It treats "patterns.” These "patterns" can include any number of western medical conditions. Chinese diagnosis and treatment is paradigmatically different than Western medicine. We have a saying: “Different diseases, same treatment; same disease, different treatment." For example, we might treat three patients for headaches; each will receive a different acupuncture treatment and a different herb formula. That’s because the first person had a sinus headache, the second a tension headache, the third had neck pain. Each headache presents uniquely: it reflects a different pattern, a different diagnosis and a different treatment. On the other hand, one patient may be treated for headaches, and the next patient, who is being treated for reflux may present with the same pattern, and thus be treated with similar points and herbal formulas. Furthermore, Chinese medicine views the body, mind and spirit as part of these patterns, making it a truly holistic system.

Can acupuncture needles spread disease?

We use only sterile, disposable needles. They are used once, and then discarded into a biohazard waste container.

What is expected of me after treatment?

Ideally, you should have a relaxed and easy day, avoiding strenuous exercise for at least 6 hours after your treatment.

How many treatments are needed?

This depends on the nature of your complaint. Most patients see results (but may not yet be cured) within 4-8 treatments. Many acute problems are resolved within 1-2 treatments. Some chronic problems can only be maintained with ongoing treatment. This can be discussed during your first visit. After the symptoms are resolved, we encourage people to come for regular wellness visits to manage stress and maintain their good health.

Will treatments be covered by my insurance?

Some insurance is covering acupuncture at this time. Check with your insurance company. Currently we are able to bill for a small number of insurance companies. Generally, auto insurance and workman’s compensation cover acupuncture treatment. For the others, we are happy to provide you with a receipt that you can submit to your insurance or flexible spending account.

How much does Acupuncture cost?

We offer a range of acupuncture and massage services designed to fit every budget. We invite you to speak with our office to find the treatment approach and practitioner that is best for you.

Herbal Consultations:

What are Chinese herbs?

Chinese herbs often come in a large bag of exotic looking twigs, leaves and roots. The herbal formula will have been written especially for you and your complaints only. You will receive instructions for cooking them. These instructions are also available on the website. Chinese Herbs do not taste like anything you are familiar with. They are generally bitter. Don’t be dissuaded by the taste! Bitter herbs are detoxifying. As you become more familiar with them, the more subtle flavors will become apparent and the herbs will intuitively feel appropriate. Most importantly, you will begin to feel better.

What if I can't cook herbs?

We often use concentrated liquids and granular concentrates as an alternative to bulk herbs. This allows us to write custom herb formulas, while providing our patients with the convenience of a prepared formula. We also use herbal formulas manufactured into tablets and capsules.

How are Chinese herbs different from Western herbs?

One of the biggest differences is that in traditional Western herbology, single herbs are often used. Chinese herbology primarily uses formulas. Formulas are combinations of herbs that can address a variety of complex complaints. Formulas are designed to maximize the effects of the primary herbs, while minimizing any possible side effects. At Six Fishes, we specialize in writing custom herbal formulas. Classical formulas are modified to address your individual complaints.

Can herbs have side effects?

The most common side effect of herbs is gas, bloating or other minor digestive disorders. This reaction can be easily corrected by modifying the herb formula. Be sure to inform your practitioner immediately if you notice any adverse reactions.

Are herbs safe?

We take herb safety very seriously at Six Fishes. Our herbs are tested for bacteria, heavy metals, molds, fungus and pesticides. We use herbs and formulas that are manufactured in cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) certified facilities. For custom raw herb formulas, we keep an in-house batch tracking system so we know which herbs went into which formula and when it was used. All custom formulas are labeled with the date, the invoice number and the ingredients to insure safety and accuracy.

Fertility & Women's Health:

Who would the treatments benefit?

Anyone who wishes to become pregnant can benefit from acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Chinese medicine promotes the concept of wellness and prevention. Therefore, a couple does not need to be dealing with infertility to pursue treatment. However, when couples are having difficulty conceiving or there are recurrent miscarriages, we feel strongly about the value of treatment with Chinese medicine in correcting these problems. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas can treat hormonal imbalances, menstrual problems, endometriosis, PCOS, low sperm count and other impediments to conception.

Can both men and women be treated for fertility issues?

Absolutely. For the most part, it is the woman who seeks treatment. We feel strongly that both partners should be treated. Studies show that even if sperm counts are normal, there are other factors that can affect sperm quality. In men, the quality and quantity of sperm, and sperm motility can be increased with Chinese Medicine. Our perspective is, why not do everything possible to improve your chances for conception?

When is a good time to start treatment?

Acupuncture treatments can begin as soon as a couple decides to get pregnant. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatments can be effective before, during, and after pregnancy, supporting overall wellness. Whenever possible, we prefer to treat people for 2-3 months prior to pursuing assisted reproductive technologies because we feel that we can achieve better outcomes. That having been said; we are often called at the last minute for treatment with IVF and are happy to jump in to improve the chances of implantation.

What is Basal Body Temperature?

Tracking a woman’s Basal Body Temperature, or BBT, is a valuable tool for managing and treating infertility. The BBT is a person’s temperature upon awakening, and is recorded starting from the first day of the cycle. The temperatures are charted on graph paper or by using a mobile app. The pattern of the BBT is important and helps us pinpoint the imbalances and create a more accurate treatment strategy. We have a BBT chart here to help you keep track of your temperatures. Many women record their BBT’s on one of the many apps that are available. We have a downloadable BBT chart on the Instructions/Forms page.

How long does it take to get results?

This depends on the cause of the infertility. If a couple has difficulty conceiving, success is usually being achieved within a matter of months. In men, it takes 70 days for new sperm to be generated. In women, effects of acupuncture treatment often occur after three complete cycles. If recurrent miscarriage is the case, results can be immediate. Ovulation has been known to be stimulated in women with PCOS with the very first treatment. However, there are always a variety of factors that contribute to a couple’s infertility, therefore treatments and their duration are individualized and varied.

How can Chinese medicine work in accordance with Western methods?

Many couples will choose to use acupuncture and herbs in addition to Western techniques. Studies have shown that women undergoing In-Vitro Fertilization in addition to Acupuncture had increased chances of becoming pregnant. “Clinical pregnancies were documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group. Conclusion: Acupuncture seems to be a useful tool for improving pregnancy rate after assisted reproduction therapy.”

What if I am using donor sperm?

For a variety of reasons, some women pursue conception with donor sperm. We are highly experienced in supporting this fertility approach. We use acupuncture and herbs to boost hormones and improve the condition of the endometrium to support conception and implantation.

Diet and Fertility

At Six Fishes, we feel strongly that fertility can be improved and often cured by eating a diet filled with nutrient dense, unprocessed, organic food. We support women and men in improving their diet to balance hormones, improve ovarian reserve, and more. The Weston A. Price Foundation published an insightful online article discussing diet and cycle regulation. To read further click here.

Pediatrics & Youth Acupuncture:

What kinds of children’s problems can be treated with Chinese medicine?

At specialists in Pediatric Acupuncture, we treat simple, routine complaints and well as complex disorders. Among the most common complaints are cough, allergies, runny and stuffy noses, fevers, asthma, eczema, constipation, digestive disorders, ADD and ADHD, neurological disorders, poor appetite, failure to thrive and growth delay, anxiety, depression, emotional instability and hormone disorders.

How young can a child be to receive acupuncture and herbs? Do you treat babies?

The practitioners at Six Fishes welcome babies and children, including newborn infants. In Chinese Medical theory, as soon as an infant is born, with the very first breath, postnatal energy (Qi) is created and combines with the Prenatal Qi that is received from the parents to nourish the infant’s health for the rest of their life. Newborn infants can be massaged as soon as the umbilical cord is cut.

Do children have to be needled to receive treatment?

Infants and young children have very delicate energy that circulates just below skin. Because of this, needle insertion is not necessary to achieve a desired effect. In fact, in some cases it may be too strong an approach. Tui-na and other massage techniques, along with Japanese Shoni-shin treatment are ways to treat children without needles.

What is Shoni-Shin?

Shoni-shin is a Japanese, mostly non-invasive needless treatment for children. Sho means little, Ni means children and shin means needle. Small tools are brushed along acupuncture pathways, to stimulate the flow of energy in the body. Shonishin is so gentle that most children find it comfortable and even pleasurable. Results are frequently obtained even with very light treatment.

Is treating children the same as treating adults?

In a word: no. Children are not “little adults”. Children have their own special energetic concerns that need to be considered and honored. In general, the treatment of infants and children should be based on an appreciation that their Qi is more delicate and may be harmed by overly vigorous treatment. We use light stimulation for babies, sometimes just taping a needle on the surface of the skin with no insertion at all! We save strong needle stimulation for the treatment of adults. In Chinese pediatric theory, because their qi is not fully developed they tend to produce more phlegm, they spike fevers more easily, and they become upset more easily. The heart of all TCM treatment for children lies in strengthening their digestion. When children’s digestion is robust, good health follows

Can children take herbs?

They absolutely can. We treat children of all ages with herbs, we have even treat infants. Just as treating children with acupuncture has its own set of guidelines, so does herbal treatment. First, the dose is titrated to the weight of the child, and then the formula is carefully constructed to protect the child’s digestion. If the child is old enough, herbal formulas in pill form may be given.

How do I get my kid to take herbs if they taste bitter?

There are 2 keys to giving herb successfully: the first key is to hide the herbs in a new juice. Don’t use a familiar juice. We generally don’t recommend that children drink any juice as it is caloric and without nutritional value, however it does make a convenient herbal delivery system. The second key to success lies in the parent/caregiver: The parent must be congruent with the herbs. Founder Cara Frank’s children have both taken herbs since they were babies. How? By having an easy-breezy attitude about the bad taste. Actually, this method works for adults too! Just say, yes, they taste yucky, but you’ll feel better soon. No big deal! The more congruent the parent/caregiver is about taking herbs, the more the child will comply with little or no fuss. Take your herbs with your child in a show of solidarity!

When I’m in Philly visiting family and friends, I always make time in my schedule to head on over to Six Fishes Healing Arts! This group of compassionate, helpful healers is top notch, the best in town! This week I had fantastic and energizing Acupuncture (Cara) and a completely incredible and soothing multi-modality massage (Rachel) that chased all of my stress and pain away! Just walking in to the entry makes me feel less anxious and I know I’m in the hands of the most educated, capable, caring and talented practitioners in Philadelphia. They do their research and know their herbs and topicals. They’ve made great suggestions that traditional medical practitioners don’t mention. Don’t hesitate to make your first awesome appointment today! You’ll be really glad you did!