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Before Your Appointment

What does "Three Treasures Wellness" mean?

Acupuncture theories stem from the Chinese philosophies and practices of Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. According to Daoism, to be human is to be suspended between Yang and Yin, heaven and earth. The uprightness of a human makes us unique among animals - we uniquely connect heaven and earth. The Three Treasures represent the entities of heaven, earth, and human. In Chinese medical physiology, these forces are represented by three substances: essence (which is Yin, like the earth), energy (Yang, heavenly oriented), and spirit (a substance specific to humanity). Together, these substances are the core of a person, and they are known as the Three Treasures.

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How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is a complete system of medicine. The goal of acupuncture is to support the whole person towards wellbeing. The theories of acupuncture aim to clear pathogens and build the substances that help to keep us healthy. Whereas allopathic ("Western") medicine aims to treat disease, acupuncture aims to promote health, and understands that we are more than a body. The whole person approach of acupuncture embraces that shoulder pain is not just pain - it's a sense of burden, and a feeling of disconnection between who you are and what you do. So when an acupuncturist "treats shoulder pain," we aim to reduce the pain but also to improve a sense of self, of hope, and quality of life. Acupuncture uses several theories to explain the outcomes we see - because acupuncture is based in observation, the knowledge of the treatment outcomes has come before the knowledge of how those effects happen on a molecular level. We do have some ideas about how acupuncture changes the body from an allopathic medicine understanding. 

Research suggests that acupuncture increases the efficacy of endogenous opioid receptors, which can help explain how it provides natural pain relief and reduces exogenous opioid dependence (Trento et al, 2021). Acupuncture has also been found to influence the central and peripheral nervous system in animal and human models, with outcomes being dependent on anatomical, physiological, and neurochemical changes taking place with treatment sensation being at the heart of the conversation (we call it de qi which is translated as "grasping energy") (Zhao, 2008)


I practice a few different styles of acupuncture - Worsley Five-Element Acupuncture (trained at the Maryland University of Integrative Health), Traditional Chinese Medicine (Diplomate of Acupuncture from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), Kiiko Matsumoto Japanese Palpation-Based Acupuncture (trained with David Euler), Yamamoto New Scalp Acupuncture (trained with Darrell Wallace), and the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association protocol (certified AcuDetox specialist). Each of these employs different lenses through which I complete diagnostics and plan and administer interventions - from constitutional support to targeted symptom relief. Having a robust set of tools gives me the opportunity to help more people, because I have more options available for the unique person in front of me. Acupuncture teaches that the body is wise, whole, and fully capable of health, if we only get out of our own way. I see my role as helping you to determine what your body is asking you - symptoms are messages from our bodies, trying to teach us how to take care of ourselves and live our lives to the fullest.

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I'm not feeling well. Should I still come to acupuncture?

NO! Do not come into your appointment if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please follow the CDC's guidelines in regards to the current global health crisis:

If you call to cancel the day of your appointment due to illness, I will waive my late-cancellation fee.

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What are your hours? 

Please visit my Hours page for this information. Subscribe to my newsletter to get the latest updates in case anything changes


I can also provide home visits and community events in Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia. Contact me for more information on these services.

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What do I need to do before my appointment?

Thanks for scheduling with me! When you receive your email confirmation, click on the "Manage My Appointment" link to access your on-boarding forms. Please complete all of them before you come in, or come to your appointment 15 minutes early to complete on-boarding paperwork in person. Come to your treatment having eaten 1-2 hours before your appointment time, and be sure to use the restroom beforehand. Please do not brush your tongue for two days before your appointment. Also, please do not wear heavy makeup, perfume, or cologne (moderate deodorant is fine) to your appointment. Your job as a patient is to help me help you - be yourself so I can get to know the authentic you!


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Do you accept insurance?

No. I do not accept insurance. I can provide "superbills" for you to submit to your insurance for possible reimbursement. It is your responsibility to submit and follow up on claims with your insurance company or FSA/HSA provider for services received at Three Treasures Wellness, LLC. All fees are due at time of service. Acupuncture can often be reimbursed or paid for using an FSA or HSA. Check with your provider for restrictions.

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Why don’t you accept insurance?

Insurance companies dictate a lot about the structure of acupuncture treatments. As I prepared to answer this question for myself as a practitioner, I talked to a lot of acupuncturists who do take insurance. Most of them lamented that they do not have time to conduct certain procedures like bodywork because of the required treatment structure for insurance billing. My treatments very frequently include these procedures and I have found them to be extremely effective in terms of clinical outcomes for my patients. If I were to take insurance, I would need to change the way I practice to be less effective in order to follow the insurance companies' rules. I want the best outcomes for you, my patient, and do not plan on changing my treatment techniques to fit the insurance companies' requirements. Therefore, I do not accept health insurance. I will, however, happily provide you with a "superbill" upon your request, which you can then submit to your insurance for possible reimbursement. 

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What are your fees?

Please contact me to discuss my rates. I charge a flat, hourly rate of $130 per hour, which is applied to the following structure of appointments:

- 30 minutes Relax session $65: for ear acupuncture and zero balancing (can be booked as a first-time appointment or a follow-up).30 minutes of ear acupuncture and/or zero balancing. This appointment does not include individualized treatment, gua sha, cupping, or moxibustion. It is intended for general relaxation. For an individualized session, please book 60 minutes or more so that I can have adequate time for assessments.

- 90 minute Intake session (includes treatment) $195: You must book this session before any of the following services, even if you have done 30 minute Relax sessions with me already. Your first appointment in Old Town Alexandria will last 90 minutes, and will include interviewing, physical exam and diagnostics, and you will receive the treatment interventions we discuss to be most appropriate for your diagnosis and wishes during this first session. We will also discuss the course of your treatment, what you can expect throughout the process, and any lifestyle adjustments which may be indicated.

- 60 minute Maintain follow-up session $130: Keep up your progress in acupuncture and zero balancing with regular follow-ups. At each 60-minute follow-up, we will discuss how you have been doing since I saw you last, any changes you have noticed, and what your present wishes are. I will do any indicated diagnostics to assess how you are progressing and discuss the possible interventions with you. We will then move forward with our agreed-upon interventions.

- 75 minute Grow follow-up session $162.50: When things get a little tougher, a little extra TLC can make all the difference. Book this follow-up when it's been more than a month since we saw each other or you're feeling pretty off your game. At each 75-minute follow-up, we will discuss how you have been doing since I saw you last, any changes you have noticed, and what your present wishes are. I will do any indicated diagnostics to assess how you are progressing and discuss the possible interventions with you. We will then move forward with our agreed-upon interventions.

- 90 minute Thrive follow-up session $195: Root-level healing takes time. Book this session when it's been 3 months since I saw you or there's been a major life stressor or new injury. At each 90-minute follow-up, we will discuss how you have been doing since I saw you last, any changes you have noticed, and what your present wishes are. I will do any indicated diagnostics to assess how you are progressing and discuss the possible interventions with you. We will then move forward with our agreed-upon interventions.

For home visits, my prorated $130 hourly rate also applies to travel. I offer services within a 30-minute driving time travel radius from my office. 

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Do you offer a sliding fee schedule?

I can sometimes make price adjustments for those in need. ​Let's discuss your situation and I'll see if I can accommodate you. If not, I may be able to help you find more affordable care elsewhere. 

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Where are you located? Is there parking?

The building has two addresses: 330 N Washington Street and 700 Princess Street. Both will allow your GPS to navigate you to the correct building. Enter on the Princess Street side - the door has "700" above it. (Otherwise, you will find yourself inside the Wells Fargo.) If you're struggling to get into the building, contact me via text, email, or a phone call and I'll come fetch you. My offices are located in Suite 206, on the top floor of the building. The property managers are working on replacing the elevator, so for now you will need to take the stairs up - I apologize for any inconvenience!

Please plan to use the ample street parking available near us on Princess, N Columbus, Queen, and Oronoco streets. If you have a mobility or other accommodations need, please let me know ahead of time and I can arrange for you to park in the lot behind the building or we can arrange a home visit.

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What will happen during the intake? Does the intake include treatment time?

The intake will consist of an interview, physical examination, and treatment. This appointment will take 90 minutes. During the physical exam, I will palpate (touch) your abdomen, feel your pulses, look at your tongue, and manipulate your joints. We will discuss the treatment strategies we can employ and then proceed with the agreed-upon methods (acupuncture, zero balancing, cupping, gua sha...) during that same session. 


This first intake session is a very important time during which I will get to know you. I want to understand why you’re seeking treatment, what’s going well in your life, what you would like assistance with, and how you interact with your environment. Acupuncture and zero balancing are holistic health care modalities which encompass the whole patient as they show up throughout their life (see my blog posts on Body-Mind-Spirit and acupuncture). As I’m conducting my intake, you may wonder why I’m asking particular questions because they don’t seem related to the main issue you’re dealing with. In traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, often times ailments are all interconnected in that they are different manifestations of the same energy, so I need to assess all of these to understand the health of one of them.


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What if I don't want to be needled?

Not a problem. We will work together to find the right treatment approach for you, through zero balancing, gua sha, cupping, acupressure, moxibustion, and other techniques available to me in my scope of practice. Many of my clients are needle averse and enjoy treatment benefits from non-needle techniques. My style of treatment is a great fit for folks who don't want to be needled or dislike needles.

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What does acupuncture feel like?

You may find the actual needling doesn’t have much sensation. I find I feel more of the movement of energy. If you’ve never received acupuncture before, you should be aware that needle placement may be accompanied by a range of sensations, such as electric sensations in the limbs, radiant warmth from the point of entry, tugging sensations, or the sensation of liquid flowing in the body. These are normal! If you have significant pain at the site of insertion, please let me know and I will guide you through determining whether the needle needs to be adjusted or not.

Acupuncture affects the breath energy, or Qi, in the body. Western medical researchers have sought to locate Qi in the body for years without success - what we as Chinese medical practitioners know is that Qi cannot really be seen. Acupuncturists learn about the state of a patient's Qi by observing those things that Qi does in the body. For example, Qi is the motive force that allows the heart to move the blood to the extremities, so by feeling how hot or cold your extremities are I am learning something about your Qi, even though I cannot literally look at your Qi. 

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What do I do after acupuncture?

In order to make the most of your treatment, after your appointment, it’s a good idea to:

-Drink plenty of water (unless I tell you otherwise)

-Rest if you need to (if you’re able, sleep from 11 PM to 7 AM)

-Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours 

-Avoid all alcohol and recreational drug use for 24 hours

-Avoid sexual activity for 24 hours (unless I tell you otherwise)

-Avoid extremes of temperature for 12 hours (keep yourself covered when you go into the wind, skip the sauna)


After your treatment, your body is working hard to assimilate the changes encouraged by the needles. The “please avoid” factors above could interfere with this process and limit the benefit you retain after treatment. Of course every body is different, and some people may feel that these factors don't negate treatment as much as other people may find. Bottom line: go gently and pay attention to your body. Symptoms are messages from our bodies to let us know that something is amiss. Acupuncture helps you listen to them with a fresh perspective, and get to the root of the problem. 

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How frequently should I get acupuncture?

Frequency of treatment depends on the nature and severity of your concern. For very severe and chronic concerns, you may want to come in for treatment multiple times a week for a month or so before beginning a more typical course. Many patients come for treatment once or twice a week for one to three months, and then drop down to once a month. If you’re able to cultivate your health between acupuncture treatments and your primary concern has resolved, you may be able to discharge (this is what I want! I want you to get better!). Many patients get treatment 4-5 times per year, during changes in seasons, and during changes in life (e.g. grief, changing jobs, moving, getting married). 

It’s important to note that the longer an imbalance has been present, the longer it will take to shift with treatment. Chronic concerns can take a couple of months of consistent acupuncture before any improvement may be observed, while acute concerns may shift rather quickly. 

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What is Zero Balancing? (ZB)

ZB is a gentle bodywork method which works on the energy and structure of bones and joints to promote a deep sense of wellness and balance. ZB is a newer method - created by Dr. Fritz Smith in the early 1970's. ZB blends theory from osteopathy and acupuncture to deliver soft pressure and gentle traction in areas of tension, releasing stuck energy and structure and creating a point of stillness in the body. From here, the body is able to reorganize and integrate the many forces acting upon it (including the mind) and relax. 

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How frequently should I get ZB?

I recommend you come in for 3 weeks in a row and then drop down to once a month. This is the recommended course of ZB treatment, and I find it to be very effective in maintaining progress.

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I got acupuncture/ZB yesterday, and today I feel awful!

You may notice that your symptoms get a little worse for 24 to 48 hours after your treatment, and then after 48 hours they will improve relative to where you started (e.g. you get a treatment for back pain. Say at the beginning of treatment, your pain is 7/10 on the pain scale, 10 being the worst this pain has been. For 24 hours, your pain may go up to 8/10. After 48 hours, your pain could diminish to below the 7/10 range). This is a normal process in acupuncture known as Law of Cure. According to Law of Cure, illnesses get worse before they get better, and you may see a recurrence of old symptoms. Perhaps before you had back pain, you had a sore knee. Your sore knee may return once the back improves, but, in my experience, with continued acupuncture treatment all symptoms associated with the concern should resolve. 


You may notice ups and downs in your chief complaints for a couple of weeks following each ZB as the body continues to process the released energy. I find symptoms trend towards improvement over this time, but it can be a little rocky at first. This is perfectly normal. 

If symptoms do not improve or if they get worse after 48 hours, get in touch with me, and let me know what you are experiencing.

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I got acupuncture two days ago, and today I feel awful!

Please call me! Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on.

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Who else is in your office?

I share my space with Charlette Smith, an extraordinarily skilled massage therapist and reiki practitioner. Charlette's business is named Primarily Massage. Charlette studied massage at the Potomac Massage Training Institute and also has training in reiki and craniosacral techniques. She practices very uniquely to get to the biomechanical root of your concern. Her clients report great improvements in range of motion, pain, and sense of wellbeing. Charlette is an especially good fit for you if you find that usually massage therapists can't seem to figure out how best to help, and you leave massage with little to no improvements - she's excellent at cracking the case when traditional methods don't seem to yield results. I highly recommend Charlette! Click the buttons below to learn more and to book with her. 

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Intake Expectations
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What is ZB
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