Long answer: For millennia the Chinese have understood the significance of the eight directions in orienting ourselves in space, using the different qualities of these directions to achieve balance, and to find our center. The eight-sided symbol of the Octagon thus carries a deep historical significance in Eastern Asia. Each of the 8 sides of the figure is more than a direction in space. It is also a representation of one of the possible states of Yin and Yang, and a symbol for the “Qi,” or energetic flavor, of an aspect of the natural world. We find the sky and the earth, fire and water, the mountain and the lake, the wind and thunder, all depicted symbolically around the figure of the octagon. Recognizing our intimate connection with the natural world, the Chinese understood that health is a dynamic balance between all these energies. Each of us naturally finds ourselves in the center of all the directions, at the crossroads of where the Qi of all the elements meet and comingle. Health is not some static ideal state, reached by taking a pill or undergoing a procedure, but rather an ability to be fully present to the many connections we participate in: our diet, our environment, our personal relationships, our daily habits of movement and rest, and our unique health history. As healthcare providers, it is our job to assist our patients in achieving balance, recognizing that the center is only found in our connections to the greater world, and to the people around us. At Octagon Community Acupuncture we use the tools of acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary and lifestyle recommendations, and the healing power of community to help you find dynamic health. Short Answer: our first clinic in Fruitvale had space for 8 recliners!
The main differences are affordability, and the fact that you are treated in a common room with other people. The community acupuncture model is rooted in how acupuncture has been practiced for centuries in China. Our intakes are shorter than many acupuncture practices in the US, leaving time to see more people. We also treat everyone in one big room, in comfortable recliners, instead of in private rooms. Everyone stays more or less fully-clothed, and we primarily use points on the extremities. There is a power in the silence of a room full of people healing together which is really palpable. Community acupuncture is based on the clinical observation that many acupuncture treatments fail to succeed because patients are unable to afford treatments frequently enough to make a permanent changes to their condition. By streamlining the intake process and reducing our overhead (seeing everyone in one room, not dealing with insurance companies), we are able to offer treatment plans that are within reach for most people. If you have had the experience of a long intake process with another acupuncturist, you will not find that at a community acupuncture clinic! We get most of the information we need from reading your intake forms, asking a few key questions, and by taking your pulse and looking at your tongue. With this information we can select an effective treatment protocol for you, and you can afford to come in often enough to see a real change in your health.
First visits: about 1.5 hours. Returning visits: about an hour. For your first visit, you will need to fill out some paperwork. This generally takes from 5-15 minutes. Paperwork can be downloaded before your visit if you want to get a jump on this. This is followed by an intake and discussion of your current health, which generally lasts 10 to 20 minutes, followed by your first acupuncture treatment. We like to leave people to relax in the recliners for 30 - 60 minutes, to allow the treatment to have maximum effect. For return visits, the intake process is streamlined, and you will generally be done in 40 minutes to an hour. If you have specific time demands, please let your acupuncturist know!
The needles used in acupuncture treatment are much finer than the needles most of us know from the doctor's office. Because they are not hollow, they slide smoothly through the surface of the skin without much pain. Most patients feel a little pinch upon initial insertion. During the treatment, a sensation of tingling, electricity, warmth, or a dull ache is often felt in the area of the needle. This doesn't keep most patients from slipping into a state of deep relaxation. Some points are more sensitive than others (and this can change, day by day). Some problems can require stronger needling technique. And some practitioners use more vigorous stimulation than others. Communicate with your acupuncturist about your experience and your concerns! We have lots of experience dealing with patients that have bad associations with needles, and our compassionate and skilled staff will do their best to make sure your treatment is as comfortable as possible. If you decide that you absolutely can't stand the idea of needles, we have massage, herbal medicine, and qi gong classes to help you reach your health goals.
Acupuncture has been used continually for centuries, and is a unique form of medicine in that the side effects are truly minimal. Occasionally there is tenderness or light bruising around the area of the needle insertion. This normally goes away in a day or so, and is perfectly normal. In very rare instances there is a feeling of more persistent discomfort or tingling pain. If you are experiencing this, please contact us so we can assess if further attention is necessary. The most frequently occurring side effects are unexpected positive improvements in a health problem that you were not being treated for, especially stress reduction, pain relief, sleep improvement, and better digestion.
Yes! Acupuncture can reduce inflammation and speed the natural recovery process. We can treat both acute and chronic injuries - that strained shoulder you got from rock-climbing last weekend AND that dull ache you've felt for years every time you go jogging. Often we will recommend using an herbal liniment or a plaster to facilitate the removal of stagnation and reduction of pain in the affected area. Chinese medicine is a practical art, which was developed over thousands of years in a country that saw a lot of warfare and martial arts injuries. We have inherited quit a toolbox, devised over these centuries of empirical experimentation.
Although we love these therapies, they are time-intensive, and generally not offered at Octagon. However, we will occasionally make exceptions for cupping if a patient can coordinate with a practitioner to come in at a time that is very slow. Please understand that this is a treatment that is only provided under specific circumstances for specific conditions. We do not offer moxa treatments, but we do have moxa sticks available for purchase for $1 each. We often send patients home with one to help in their recovery.
Generally, yes! The initial stages of a cold or flu are a great time to bolster your defenses against something trying to work its way into your system. That being said, if you have a very heavy, spasmodic cough or heavy sneezing, it is probably best to come in for a quick herbal prescription, rather than staying for an acupuncture treatment. This is best for both your own comfort (tough to get needled if you have to wipe your nose every 2 minutes) and for the safety of the other people in the treatment space. If you are feeling something coming on, please let your Acupuncturist know, so they can take appropriate precautions.
One of the ways that we keep our costs down is by not dealing with the bureaucracy of insurance companies. We are happy to provide you with an itemized receipt, complete with the ICD-9 and CPT codes used by insurance companies, which you can then submit yourself for remuneration. Keep in mind that our sliding scale fees are about equal to most co-payments, so don't let this keep you from visiting us!
Although we STRONGLY encourage you to make an appointment, we are happy to see you on a drop-in basis (and the Fruitvale location accepts drop-ins only). Making an appointment helps us organize patient flow, and see you in a more timely manner. If you do choose to drop-in, please understand that there may be a wait while we attend to patients that have appointments, or have dropped in before you. Take this time to relax with a in our comfortable waiting room, or get a massage from one of our skilled massage therapists.
Just book an acupuncture appointment. If it is your first time here, book a "First Visit", otherwise book a "Return Treatment." We'll take a look at your health history and your current complaint, and send you home with an appropriate herbal formula. If it is your first visit, you will pay the one-time Initial Intake fee of $10, plus around $10-$15 for herbs. For return visits, it will only be the cost of the medicine.
During your first visit we will take a health history and give you a treatment plan. How often and for how long we will need to see you depends on the seriousness of your condition, how long you have had it, and how quickly you respond to treatment. One reason that we love the community acupuncture model is that it is affordable to come back often enough to see real results quickly. For longer term issues that have resisted other treatments, we may need to see you several times a week for several months. For short-term problems that haven't had time to lodge deeply in your body, one or two treatments often does the trick. Keep in mind that lifestyle is a major factor in your recovery, so regulating sleep, diet, stress, and exercise will facilitate your healing and reduce the number of visits you will need.
Herbal medicine has been used safely and effectively for many centuries in the East. Like all effective medicines, there is the potential for misuse if taken improperly. All of our practitioners are highly skilled in diagnosing your condition, and prescribing the appropriate herbs at the appropriate dosages. Side effects are generally absent, although we do see occasional digestive complaints (gas, loose stools). if you are experiencing any kind of discomfort after taking herbs, stop taking them and contact your practitioner immediately.
We have no designated off-street parking, but finding spots in the immediate area is not a problem. Generally you get 2 hours, but check signs to make sure it isn't a street-sweeping day. There is bicycle parking down the street by the Kingfish Pub (we've requested our own from the City of Oakland, but these things take time).
No. All Acupuncturists at Octagon are fully qualified to continue your treatment. Different practitioners will have slightly different approaches, but all will understand your health situation and apply effective treatment.
Yes! Acupuncture is great preventative medicine. By gently regulating and balancing your metabolism, periodic acupuncture treatments can relieve stress, boost immunity, and help prevent the onset of more serious issues. We recommend "tune-up" treatments around the solstices and equinoxes to keep yourself in harmony with the changing seasons. Some patients prefer weekly acupuncture to rest and re-balance. If you haven't ever had an acupuncture treatment before and you are just curious what it feels like, make an appointment today! Our skilled practitioners will make sure your first treatment is safe and comfortable.
Acupuncture has been proven to be effective in treating many of the issues women experience during pregnancy. It is particularly good for dealing with the nausea associated with "morning sickness," but can also help with back pain, restless leg syndrome, sciatic pain, depression and anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, heartburn, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, breech presentation, and delayed labor. PLEASE INFORM YOUR ACUPUNCTURIST if you are pregnant, or trying to conceive. This will inform which points and herbs we will use in your treatment.
Prop 65 was created to protect consumers from exposure to toxic chemicals. Some herbal remedies come with a Prop 65 warning label on them, indicating that there might be some level of these chemicals in the formula. This does not necessarily mean that the formula is unsafe to take, as the levels dictated by Prop 65 are incredibly stringent, such that if you were exposed to that level of chemical every day for 70 years, it would increase your chance of disease by .001%. All the herb companies that Octagon works with have incredibly high standards of purity, but they still often label their formulas to protect themselves from litigation, as compliance to this degree is actually not feasible. For more information, please read http://www.mayway.com/news-archive/september-2001/