Monthly Archives: January 2014

What does it take to become an Acupuncturist?

What does it take to become an Acupuncturist? We wanted to answer this question for you because we’re sure it’s something you have probably wondered about at some point during your treatments here. Or in simpler terms, how competent is the person poking me with needles right now? The wait is over, read on for the answers!

The Nitty-Gritty

The state of California upholds rigid standards for licensure to practice acupuncture, including “a minimum of 3,000 hours of study in curriculum pertaining to the practice of an acupuncturist.” (Business and professions code 4939) You read that right, 3,000 HOURS!

It’s not as easy as you think…

▪ All acupuncturists at BCA are licensed by the State of California, having passed the challenging State Board exam (often a 50% pass rate).
▪ All of us at BCA earned a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine (MSTOM) from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. This is a four year program with more than 3,500 hours of academic and clinical training.
▪ For four years, we study bio-medicine, Chinese medicine theory, Chinese herbology, acupuncture theory and needle techniques, counseling, and much more.

The acupuncturists (we like to call them “punks”) of BCA are all fully-trained professionals who have your best interests in mind. We want to help you get better no matter the ailment. Apart from hours of required schooling, clinic hours and tuition fees, the BCA punks bring their varied life experiences to their practice making your experience here richer and more beneficial.

Interested in becoming a Community Acupuncturist? POCAtech and beyond

If you are interested in a career in Acupuncture, specifically Community-style Acupuncture, check out POCA Tech (a 501c-3 non-profit located in Portland, OR. It is an affordable alternative to acupuncture [...]

Acupuncture and Menstrual Pain (Dysmenorrhea)

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems at BCA.

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems here at BCA, but by far the most common (and one that almost every woman has experienced at some time in her life) is due to pain occurring before or during the period (otherwise known as dysmenorrhea). Pain severity ranges from mild to debilitating, and while it most often manifests as cramps affecting the lower abdomen, it can also present as pain or pressure in the lower back or hips, groin, and inner thighs. This pain can be dull, aching, sharp, and/or radiating, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In a study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a randomized controlled trial that included 201 women with dysmenorrhea showed that the women who received acupuncture had lower pain intensity and concluded that “Additional acupuncture in patients with dysmenorrhea was associated with improvements in pain and quality of life as compared to treatment with usual care alone and was cost-effective within usual thresholds.”

What Causes Dysmenorrhea?

During the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) thickens to prepare for a possible pregnancy. If a fertilized egg does not implant into this lining, it will begin to break down in order to be passed out of the body in preparation for a new cycle. As the endometrium deteriorates, the cells release prostaglandins, a specific type of lipid (fat) molecule that can have a strong physical effect on smooth muscle tissues of the body. Specifically in the uterus, this can cause painful contractions as the lining is preparing to or being shed during menstruation.

Types of Dysmenorrhea

Primary Dysmenorrhea

Primary [...]

Acupuncture for Foot Pain

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

At Beach Community Acupuncture, we treat quite a few people with foot pain. We see people diagnosed with tendonitis, Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, gout, arthritis, and more. Feet are prone to injury and pain because they bear the weight of the whole body. Strain and injury can affect any part of the foot, and may include bones, tendons, ligaments and/or muscles. We’ll look at some of the more common ailments we treat.


Tendonitis in the feet may be due to stress from overuse like running, walking, and excessive standing. Signs of tendonitis include stabbing pain and swelling. The pain will be worse while standing and better with rest. If the stress goes on for too long, the tendons may start pulling apart, causing more inflammation and pain. We work with tendonitis anywhere, and often see a painful rupture in the Achilles tendon. Medical doctors may advise using anti-inflammatory drugs, resting and elevating when possible, and stretching. We prescribe acupuncture as often as is practical for a short period of time (for example, 5 times in a week), to decrease inflammation and pain. We get excellent results for this condition. There are also a few incredibly effective herbal liniments, like “Zheng Gu Shui,” that are applied directly to the painful area to speed healing.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is an extremely painful condition affecting the ball of the foot, usually between the 3rd and 4th toes. It is caused by a “thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your foot…” (Mayo Clinic). The nerve pain that results will be a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, sometimes radiating to the toes. There may also be numbness in the [...]

Acupuncture and Sciatica Relief

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

Many people think of acupuncture in relation to helping ease general low back aches and pains, but did you know it is also incredibly effective in reducing and easing symptoms associated with sciatica?

Sciatica [sahy-at-i-kuh] is caused either by compression or irritation to one of the lower lumbar
or sacral nerves that lead directly to the larger sciatic nerve (located in the buttocks), or by compression or irritation directly to the sciatic nerve itself. Symptoms of sciatica often include low back or hip pain but will also consists of all or some of the following complaints:

▪ Deep gluteal pain
▪ Pain that radiates down the side or back of the leg, sometimes past the knee and/or into the foot
▪ Paresthesias–otherwise known as “pins and needles”, tingling, burning, or numbness in the leg or foot

The main causes of sciatica are as follows:

▪ Spinal Disc Herniation: This occurs when the gelatinous substance within the spinal disc protrudes out and presses on the surrounding spinal nerves, causing pain to those nerves directly and to associated nerves (such as the sciatic nerve).
▪ Piriformis Syndrome: A less common cause of sciatic pain, it is caused by the spasm of the piriformis muscle (which runs from the sacrum into the buttocks). The spasm of this muscle then compresses or squeezes the sciatic nerve.
▪ Pregnancy: Pressure caused by the weight of the growing fetus can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve.

How can acupuncture help sciatic pain?

▪ Acupuncture may change and improve circulation in blood flow leading to the sciatic nerve (Inoue, 2008).
▪ Acupuncture stimulates the nerves, thereby leading to a release of endorphins in the body. This then changes how the brain perceives and [...]

Natural Help for Sinus Problems

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

We see a substantial amount of patients at BCA that, with acupuncture, receive considerable relief of some or all of the following uncomfortable symptoms of rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity) and/or sinusitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity):

▪ general swelling of the nasal or sinus cavity
▪ mucus and fluid retention in the sinuses
▪ post-nasal drip
▪ headaches
▪ ear, face, and/or jaw pain

About acupuncture and sinusitis:

Rhinitis and sinusitis can be caused by a number of factors, but the most frequent cases stem from allergies or viral infections. When subsequent swelling and congestion occurs within the sinus cavity, the pressure exerted in the facial region not only leads to difficulty in breathing and smelling, but can cause frontal headaches and referred tooth or jaw pain. Many of our regular patients come in with acute symptoms due to allergies or a common cold, but we also see many new faces in clinic with chief complaints of the above symptoms that have persisted months past the initial trigger and are trying acupuncture for the first time as a last ditch effort to find some relief for their residual discomfort.

After treatment

with acupuncture in both acute and chronic cases, we typically see patients leave with decreased pain/pressure, and an increased ability to breathe and smell. In cases with mucus or fluid blockage the sinuses will often open and begin draining soon after the needles are in place. As someone who suffers from chronic rhinosinusitis (say THAT ten times in a row), I personally use acupuncture successfully to keep the passages open and minimize the beating they take every year during allergy season.

Studies Prove Acupuncture for Sinus Issues Effective

A recent pilot study conducted by Dr. [...]

Acupuncture for Addiction

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

At BCA we strive to give you the best treatment for your ailments. What we also want to do is provide you with other resources that you can practice outside of BCA. We want you to be the best possible version of yourself! That is why we will be giving you informative articles (written by your favorite L.A.c.s) pertinent to many conditions our clients may face. This week is addiction. Next week…well you’ll just have to wait and see!

Patients at BCA and other clinics successfully use acupuncture to aid in detoxification from:

▪ alcohol
▪ cigarettes and other tobacco
▪ street drugs
▪ prescription drugs
▪ sugary and processed foods

What to Expect During Treatment

In most cases, the practitioner will use the proven NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol to help in detoxification and continued support of the patient. Five needles are inserted in each ear, for a total of 10 needles. Upon insertion, there may be a stinging or warm sensation that quickly subsides. After all the needles are inserted, most patients report that they feel very calm and relaxed. This can be explained by the traditional functions of the points, and also by modern studies showing that stimulation of ear acupuncture points appears to cause the systemic release of endorphins. The needles are retained for 45 minutes. It is most helpful, especially during detoxification, to get treatment as frequently as possible.

About Acupuncture and Addictions

The treatment of addictions with acupuncture is a modern application of an ancient medicine. In 1974 at the Lincoln Recovery Center in the Bronx, clinicians started using acupuncture to help people get relief from symptoms associated with methadone withdrawal. Dr. Michael Smith of Lincoln Hospital developed a basic, [...]

Web MD: “Study Shows Acupuncture Trumps Standard Care for Back Pain Relief”

According to a WebMD article about treating chronic back pain, a study was done using acupuncture. Even the “sham” techniques worked better than usual treatments like painkillers.

Here’s the teaser:

The ancient technique of acupuncture helps relieve chronic back pain better than standard care such as medications or physical therapy, according to a new study.

Even more surprising, all three acupuncture techniques tested — including a “sham” technique with toothpicks and no skin puncturing — worked better than the usual care given for the problem.

“Acupuncture-like treatments had a positive effect overall on people’s chronic back pain,” says study researcher Dan Cherkin, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle. “It didn’t matter if you inserted the needle or superficially poked [the skin].”

Read the whole article here.

Read about how the military is utilizing acupuncture

“Marines are getting relief from physical pain and mental stress at no cost, without a prescription or doctor referral.”

America’s Armed Forces is starting to adopt more affordable and effective ways of treating the body with acupuncture! Check out this great article on acupuncture and its use in the military.