Frequently Asked Questions
Can acupuncture help me?
Acupuncture has been used for over 3,000 years for the treatment of fertility issues. For fertility issues, many men and women use acupuncture & herbal medicine alone or in conjunction with their treatment at a San Diego fertility center.
Among many other health concerns, acupuncture can be effective for pain relief from back pain, headache, migraine headache, and fibromyalgia. See other conditions that can benefit from acupuncture.
What is acupuncture?
Chinese medicine is a complete medical system originating from China more than 3000 years ago. Acupuncture, a therapeutic specialty of Chinese medicine, applies traditional Chinese medical theory to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well-being by inserting acupuncture needles at specific points throughout the body.
How does acupuncture work?
According to Chinese medical theory, energy or Qi ("chee") runs through the body and along its surface in regular patterns called channels or meridians. These channels nourish and regulate the functions of the body. When the energy flows freely in these channels, health is maintained. When the energy is blocked or depleted, pain or illness results. Needling acupuncture points normalizes the flow of Qi to help correct internal imbalances in the body./p>
A more scientific explanation of acupuncture is that the stimulation of certain trigger points on the body by acupuncture needles affects the autonomic nervous system, the vascular and endocrine physiology, and the brain chemistry, as well as the body's production of endorphins.
Is acupuncture painful?
While most people express fear or anxiety of needles before their first treatment, they are surprised by the pleasantness of the acupuncture treatment. Unlike hypodermic needles used for injections, acupuncture needles are very fine - about the thickness of a human hair. There should be very little or no discomfort with needle insertion. For your safety, only sterile and disposable needles are used. There are certain transient sensations associated with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture which may include euphoria, warmth, tingling, heaviness, or numbness
How many treatments do I need?
Since each person is unique, the number of treatments will vary. Among the determining factors are the nature, severity, and history of each person's complaint, as well as the general health of the individual. Usually one or two treatments per week are necessary to begin with. Many conditions can be alleviated very rapidly with acupuncture and herbs. Chronic illnesses may require treatment for several weeks or longer. Acute problems generally respond much faster. As in any form of medical care, the patient's attitude, diet, determination, and lifestyle will affect the outcome and course of treatment.
Does medical insurance cover acupuncture treatment?
Some health insurance companies cover acupuncture treatment. You should contact your health insurance company to verify acupuncture coverage.
What can I expect on the first visit?
During your first office visit, your practitioner may take a detailed medical history, discuss your symptoms, examine your pulse and tongue, then apply appropriate treatment according to the diagnosis derived from the intake . After arriving at a specific diagnostic conclusion, one or several of the following techniques will be incorporated:
Needles: Thin, sterile, stainless steel needles are placed in specific acupuncture points. The needles are at least five times thinner than typical hypodermic needles and insertion is usually painless. You may feel a dull ache or tingling sensation when the needle is stimulated. Acupuncture is generally a very relaxing experience.
Electric Stimulation: Very low level electrical current may be applied to the needle or to the skin. This is often used for muscle spasms and acupuncture analgesia and to enhance point stimulation in general.
Moxibustion: Moxa is a Chinese herb (mugwort) which is rolled into sticks or cones and burned above the skin. This aromatic herb creates a sensation which is warming and pleasant and regulates the qi.
Massage: Massage and body work are often applied in coordination with needling to release muscle spasms.
Herbs: Herbology is an intrinsic aspect of Oriental medicine. Herbs may be prescribed to reduce acute conditions or as a dietary supplement which will build and strengthen the body.
Integrative Medicine Questions
What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine focuses on healing the whole person as well as treating disease and sees the physician-patinet relationship as central to the healing process. We use the least invasive, least toxic and least costly methods to help facilitate health by integrating both allopathic and complementary therapies. These are recommended based on an understanding of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of the individual.
Will insurance pay for my visit?
Every insurance company is different and we encourage you to check with yours prior to your appointment. We do not bill insurance directly and require payment at the time of your visit (by check, cash, debit card, Visa/Mastercard). After your visit, we will provide you with a “superbill” which you can submit to your insurance for reimbursement. The amount of reimbursement will depend on your particular insurance plan. For more information, see Payment and Insurance.
Dr. Abrams is currently a “non-preferred” provider for Blue Shield, Healthnet PPO, Pacificare PPO, United Healthcare, Aetna, First Health/CCN and Blue Cross. Dr. Abrams does not bill Medicare, but does offer a substantial discount to patients 65 and over in lieu of dealing with the difficulties of the Medicare billing system (See Payment and Insurance) She does not contract with HMO’s or accept MediCal.
Naturopathic Doctors, like Dr. Shunney, are not recognized as providers by most insurance companies in California at this time. We do encourage you to still submit a "superbill" as we expect this to change over time.
IF YOU ARE A PATIENT OF DR. ABRAMS, your visit with Dr. Shunney can be submitted to insurance as a visit with Dr. Abrams. This will allow those patients with medical insurance (except Medicare/Medical and HMOs) to get the same reimbursement rates for Dr. Shunney as they would with any non-preferred provider.
IF YOU ARE NOT A PATIENT OF DR. ABRAMS, your visits with Dr. Shunney are less likely to be covered by insurance. To take advantage of non-preferred provider reimbursement rates, Dr. Abrams is offering a special new patient visit rate of $125 to Dr. Shunney's patients.
Can Dr. Abrams or Dr. Shunney be my primary care physician?
Dr. Abrams and Shunney provide comprehensive care like primary care physicians, including annual exams, but unlike a primary care physician, they do not take call or do hospital admissions. They can treat you for the full range of child and adult health issues from an integrative medicine point of view. They recommend that you have another primary care physician to cover them in case of emergencies.
How do I reach someone at Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine with questions or concerns?
You can call us at 465-9088, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You can leave individual messages with practitioners on their voice mails or e-mail them at the e-mail addresses provided under the Practitioners section. In case of urgent issues, please call your primary care physician or go to a local urgent care or emergency room.
Naturopathic Medicine Questions
What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
A Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.) has completed a postgraduate medical education specializing in primary care natural medicine. Naturopathic doctors are distinct from acupuncturists, chiropractors, osteopaths, and medical doctors. They are uniquely trained to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to assist your body's innate healing processes. Naturopathic doctors are skilled in diagnosis and treatment of disease utilizing natural therapeutics including clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, and hydrotherapy. They tailor these approaches to the needs of each individual patient. Naturopathic medicine is effective in treating most health problems, whether acute or chronic. Naturopathic doctors cooperate with all other branches within the medical field, referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.
As with all physicians today, Naturopathic doctors are trained at accredited, four to five-year, post-graduate, medical institutions. The training consists of a comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, etc, as well as detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies. In their last two years of their intensive clinical training, they learn how to integrate the principles of naturopathic medicine into clinical practice.
What is the difference between a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and a Traditional Natropath?
In California, the term ‘Traditional Naturopath’ has been left in the public domain. This means that anyone, regardless of their education, can refer to themselves in this way. Anyone who calls themself a Naturopathic Doctor or who uses the term ‘ND’, must have completed their education at one of the accredited 4-5 year post-graduate residential medical schools. NDs are licensed in California as Primary Care Providers and are able to perform physical examinations, order and interpret laboratory tests and otherwise diagnose and treat disease. They are also able to prescribe certain medications, including hormones of all kinds.
What is the difference between a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and a Homeopath?
Homeopathic medicine is one of the many modalities that NDs are trained in. When practitioners identify themselves as homeopaths, it does not necessarily mean they have a medical background. Naturopathic medical education, as indicated above, is more comprehensive and includes the western medical sciences as well as healing modalities like therapeutic nutrition, herbal medicine and homeopathy.