The Relationship Between Acupuncture & Dry Needling

The Relationship Between Acupuncture & Dry Needling
Clarifying Myths & Misinformation

by the American Society of Acupuncturists

Myth #1: Dry Needling is Not Acupuncture

Fact: Dry needling techniques are a subset of techniques used in orthopedic or myofascial acupuncture systems. Dry needling uses acupuncture needles and originators of dry needling identify it as acupuncture. That said, not all techniques being promoted as dry needling would be considered safe and delivered by competent trained acupuncture practitioners; therefore, the public should be wary.

Myth #2: Physical Therapists are Qualified to Perform Acupuncture/Dry Needling Because They Have Advanced Knowledge and Training in Anatomy

Fact: While physical therapists are highly trained experts in their field of physical rehabilitation, their eduction does not effectively include invasive techniques that penetrate the skin surface nor the vast body of information on using needling therapeutically. Licensed acupuncturists must have a degree from an accredited acupuncture school that requires more than 1300 hours of acupuncture specific training for entry-level competency. This includes anatomy relevant to safe acupuncture practice and supervised clinical training. Licensed acupuncturists also receive 450 hours or more of biomedical training. The applicant must subsequently pass five national, psychometrically valid and reliable exams to ensure minimal competency in needling, while the physical therapy community is in promulgating entry into this field with as little as 12-27 hours of unaccredited coursework. This level of disparity in training is likely to lead to patient injury. Additionally, the lack of standards is leading to the rapid expansion of a practice likely to harm more patients than help them.

Myth #3: Dry Needling Has Defined Standards Typical of a Professional Level Practice

Fact: There are no objectively determined standards of education, curriculum, standardized national examination, or requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) in place for dry needling. There are no standards for clinical mentorship. In short, there is no current definition of the practice referred to as dry needling and no standardized system of demonstrating either minimal competency or safety.

Myth #4: Dry Needling is Based on Anatomy While Acupuncture is Based on Energy

Fact: Classical acupuncture theory is based on the observation of humans in their environments, and treatment theory therefore reflects real-world situations that lead to injuries or illnesses that are identical to those observed in modern medicine. While classical theory organizes real-world information about the body differently than western science, it nonetheless describes the same organism with the same pathologies, and therefore bases diagnoses and treatments on anatomy which are compatible with western models. Mechanistic models of acupuncture’s effects have been researched along with the effects of acupuncture needle simulation on the nervous system, muscles, and connective tissue. Acupuncture channels reflect clinically observable and anatomically relevant interrelationships between body structures, including kinematic relationships.

Myth #5: Dry Needling Uses Trigger Points—Points That Are Uniquely Sensitive to Touch; Acupuncture Does Not

Fact: It has been estimated that 95% of trigger points correspond to acupuncture points. “Ashi point” needling is acupuncture trigger point needling, and this is described in Chinese medical texts dating from 200 BCE- 200 CE. For over 2000 years, Chinese medicine has treated these painful areas with acupuncture, tai na massage, heat, cupping, gua sha, and other methods. Trigger points are not a new discovery.

Myth #6: Dry Needling Involves Deep Insertion While Acupuncture Does Not

Fact: Many acupuncture points are needled with deep insertion technique. Each acupuncture point has specific indications for how it should be stimulated, and both shallow and deep techniques are used on many points.

Myth #7: The Scientific Literature Provides Evidence Supporting Dry Needling But Not Acupuncture

Fact: Meta-analyses of acupuncture data received a total of 20,827 patients from 39 trials to conclude that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, with treatment effects persisting over time. Acupuncture is currently one of the most widely studied medical interventions, and much of the literature used to justify the clinical legitimacy of dry needling is drawn from acupuncture research studies.

For the full PDF and a list of sources, please click here.

New Hours! More Treatment Rooms! New Practitioners!

We've expanded!

It's been so busy at Emerging Energy renovating our office, but we are feeling settled in and have big news to share!

We now have 3 Doctors of Acupuncture available 6 days per week, an excellent massage therapist, and a holistic esthetician who also performs facial reflexology. (More about Alison and facial reflexology in another post!)

Our latest staff addition is acupuncturist Dr. Charlotte King, who has special training treating children with non-needle techniques. She also treats pain, women's health concerns and more. You can read all about her here. Dr. Charlotte also has extended evening hours on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Scheduling is available online!


Dr. Mary Claire Dilks has expanded office hours and is now booking Friday mornings/ lunch, 8:30am-12:30 pm. She also has a new standard poodle puppy, Lucy, who may make an appearance in the office from time to time.

Here at Emerging Energy, we love helping people feel their best. When we feel our best, our spirit shines in the sparkly in our eyes, our skin glows with radiant health, and we can relax and enjoy the moment without worry or stress. We would love to help YOU!

Our private treatment rooms, delicious tea, and serene environment allow you to fully benefit from your acupuncture, massage or facial treatment. Healing begins when our nervous system relaxes, so we think this part is critical in your care.

Call or schedule online today!

Chia Seeds: Why You Should Be Eating This Superfood

Cinnamon Spice Chia Pudding



  • 3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup hot water, nut or seed milk (Omega-3 rich Hemp Milk is my favorite!)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (I use immune boosting Manuka Honey during flu season.)
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Heat liquid in a small sauce pan until warm. Stir in honey.
  3. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir well.
  4. Stir every few minutes until fully gelled 20-30 min. Enjoy!

Chia seeds are literally one of the healthiest tiny foods on the planet. These small, nutrient dense seeds contain one of the largest amounts of plant-based protein PLUS Omega-3s so they make a great addition to a plant-based diet. When exposed to liquid, these seeds gel, so they make a great pudding (think tapioca pudding) or jam.

In fact, one ounce of chia seeds (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals like antioxidants and calcium. They are also a great source of Omega-3s which fight inflammation and keep your cell membranes supple.

Did you know these superfoods can help you lose weight?

The fiber in chia seeds is one of its big strengths when it comes to weight loss. One of the characteristics that make chia seeds so unique is that they can absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water. Because if this, they help you feel fuller longer, slow cravings, and can help prolong hydration.

As another bonus for your gut-health, the insoluble fiber acts as a prebiotic that feeds friendly gut bacteria and ferments into short-chain fatty acids to support gut health. You need PREbiotics to help your PRObiotics work.

Do you have a favorite way to use chia seeds?

The DIY Beauty Treatment You're Missing Out On: Facial Gua Sha

The alluring empresses and concubines in ancient China held many beauty secrets. From beautiful floral waters to herbal masks, to facial massage and steams, skin care was a way of life. We still use many of these time tested techniques today.


One facial massage technique (that you may have never heard of) is on the verge of becoming mainstream. Known as Gua Sha (literally skin scraping), it’s gaining huge popularity with celebrity facialists in the green beauty movement and for good reason.

The benefits of facial Gua Sha include relaxing muscle tension, smoothing the connective tissue, reducing wrinkles, and improving lymphatic flow to decrease puffiness. In 2007, a German study found that Gua Sha improves blood circulation to the skin by over 400%! It instantly rejuvenates the skin cells for a healthy glow.

Do you want to know the best part? You can learn to do it yourself! Facial gua sha uses a flat jade tool to apply a gentle, cooling massage. With the proper technique, you can spend 5-10 minutes after cleansing your skin at night, and you’ll see some incredible benefits over time. You can check out tutorials online or attend a live workshop at Emerging Energy Acupuncture in Providence 12/4! Schedule online today- limited spaces remain.

This post was first published on 3 time "Best of RI" Lifestyle


The Problem of Proton-Pump Inhibitors, the common acid-reflux medication

Recent studies have shown an increased risk of death in people taking the popular over-the-counter acid-reflux medications known as PPIs (proton pump inhibitor) such as omeprazole (Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid). Other studies showing increase risk of stomach infections, heart disease, pneumonia bone fractures and dementia. Dispite their common availablility and heavy advertising, these medications are not meant for long-term use, and getting off these drugs can be harder than you might imagine.

First of all, if you're taking a PPI and want to get off, go see your doctor. Your doctor can decide if it's right for you to go without these drugs, the best way to do it, and what supplements may or may not be good for you.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs whose main action is a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production. They are the most potent inhibitors of acid secretion available and lead to a lower pH in the stomach and ultimately in the intestines. This alters the balance of microbes in your gut, which you may know by now is a huge deal when it comes to overall health.

Getting off a PPI can be tricky if you've been on it for a long time. Stopping this medication causes "rebound hypersecretion" because some cells in the stomach undergo hypertrophy as a result of the PPI. Since stomach cells turn over after about two months, the hyper acidity effects shouldn't be permanent, but they will almost definitly cause some discomfort when a person stops taking a PPI.

To limit the discomfort, it can be beneficial to wean off the PPI slowly. In addition, certain supplements can help minimize the effects of hyperacidity. It's generally best if these are started a month before the weaning process.

  • Probiotic: Try adding a probiotic to help build up the benefical flora in your gut. A high quality product is worth the price since the design and technology used in production helps guarantee that whatever strains are in the capsule will actually benefit you.
  • L-Glutamine: Some believe that glutamine may be able to help strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscle ring that stops acid from rising out of the stomach into the esophagus) in the same way that is helps build and strengthen other muscle tissue in the body, thus eliminating stomach acid from coming back up through the LES and causing heartburn. Glutamine is also capable of repairing and healing mucous membranes, including the lining of the esophagus that may be damaged by ongoing acid erosion.
  • Zinc: This mineral found naturally in crabs, oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and dairy products helps limit the amount of stomach acid the stomach produces.
  • DGL: Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice supports a healthy stomach lining when taken before meals. These tablets are chewed for best results, but sometimes DGL can be found in capsules if you can't stand the taste.

Dietary changes are also beneficial. Generally following a low carb, protein and vegetable rich diet is the most beneficial for healthy digestion. Eat smaller meals until you're about 2/3 full (in other words, stop before you feel full). For the first few months after weaning off a PPI, avoid spicy and acidic food. Don't eat late at night or lay down after meals. If you can't give up your coffee, opt for those with higher proportion of milk like a cappucino or latte to balance the acidity. Cold-Brew, dark roast and decaf also have less acidity.

Incorporating custom blended Chinese Herbs may be beneficial if your digestive problems persist. Since these are custom blended, there isn't just one or two individual herbs to mention. The herbs are blended for your individual problems, to treat not only the symptoms but also the reason why YOU have digestive problems.

Lifestyle and diet are always the best way to maintain balance so they can't be overlooked. Stress management helps digestion as well as everything else, health-wise, so incorporating some healthy habits will benefit more than your stomach. Acupuncture can make a big difference here as well by reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Now I want to hear from you! Have you gotten off a PPI or have any tips for reflux to share?

ps. Don't forget to check with your prescribing doctor first about coming off of any medication!

Why I love treating Skin Disorders

So far, I've finished 3/4 of my Traditional Chinese Medicine Dermatology Diploma course in NYC, and I can say with confidence that I have effectively solutions to treat many skin disorders including Perioral Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Rosacea, Acne, Foot Fungus, Sebborheic Dermatitis, and Eczema. Many joyful moments are shared with patients in my clinic as their skin clears. It never gets old.

My love for Chinese Herbal Dermatology started many years ago. My mother in Michigan was suffering with Psoriasis and nothing seemed to be helping her. Her skin itched so badly that it kept her up all night. She would pace around as a distraction from the itch. Psoriasis affected her legs, torso, and arms, and they it spread to her hands and face. She became so self-consious that she didn't want to go out of the house. It affected her mood as well and I could sense she was becoming depressed. Steroid cream provided temporary relief but as it can permanently thin the skin, it's not a good long-term solution. Immune suppressing medication didn't help. She tried all kinds of elimination diets with no relief. I knew there had to be an answer.

I knew of this Chinese Herbalist in the UK that was world renowned for successfully treating difficult skin disorders and had wanted to take his course since before the birth of my son, 8 years ago. In Chinese Medical School, Dermatology was superficially covered in just one course and didn't really give me the strategies to effectively treat skin problems. Chinese Medical Dermatology books are few and mostly in Chinese, so they only provided limited benefit. So I searched out the treatment methods of the leading expert in the field, herbalist Mazin Al-Khafaji, and worked on a chinese herbal prescription for my mom.

Her Psoriasis was turning erythrodermic, which can be a medical emergency, so I treated her twice per day when I could with acupuncture, gave her topical herbs, and had her drink tea made from raw chinese herbs that she cooked every other day. Her skin gradually improved and six months later, it was clear.

I can't even express the joy (and relief) I felt after hearing about her improvements with every phone call. Her healing path wasn't a strait line; it rarely is. She stuck with her herbs and had a remarkable result.

Now more than two years later, her skin is still clear. Every once in a while, she might have a miniscule flare up with one patch here or there, but she uses topical herbal cream and it settles down quickly.

In 2015 I was able to begin my studies with the master herbalist, Mazin Al-Khafaji and now I can give hope to so many people who suffer with many different skin problems. There are answers, and the best part is that because we treat the root causes of the problem, many times the skin problem won't come back.

Chinese Herbal treatment takes some effort on the part of the patient, but it's so worth it to be free from skin problems that can cause so much suffering. From my mom's case, and my own case of acne which I'll share in a later post, I know how skin problems take a toll on our self-confidence and general mood. So much so that we don't want to leave the house or wear short sleeve shirts. Sometimes we don't even want to acknowledge the problem and it can take years before visiting a specialist. Or we feel defeated once we see a specialist and try treatments that give little or temporary results or make the problem worse.

There is hope. There are answers out there. Sometimes we just need stay open minded, be open to exploring different solutions, and sometimes we just need to hold our nose and chug bitter herbal tea.

 Dr. Mary Claire Dilks and her mom, photo by Olivia Gird, click image for details

Dr. Mary Claire Dilks and her mom, photo by Olivia Gird, click image for details

Self- Care: ACUPRESSURE for Neck and Upper Back Pain

People spend more and more time hunched over keyboards and looking at smart phones, and while we love these technological advances, they wreck havock on our necks and backs! Neck and shoulder pain are some of the most common complaints in our office.

One answer, get blood flowing in the muscles. Keeping blood flowing to your muscles prevents tension and "knots" and can help prevent pain buildin up. Try stepping away from your computer at least every 2 hours, stretch, and walk around. Take a bath at night with epsom salts. Use a microwavable heat pack. Get a massage. (Have you had an appointment with our massage therapist, Christine Cummings? She works wonders on sore necks and backs). If you can't make it in for a massage, or in between massages or acupuncture treatments, try acupressure at home.

Acupressure is a form of massage that involves pressure applied to specific acupuncture points. Different points have different functions and can be used for different ailments. Some points are used in a local area for a specific problem. For example, in the neck, there are a number of points used for pain. Other points, called distal points, affect an area of pain from far away.

If you press along a muscle and find a sore point, it's is called an "Ashi" point. If you find an ashi point, it may help ease pain to apply pressure to this point for a few minutes.

There are many useful points in the treatment of upper back and neck pain but here are two simple and effective points you can try at home. Always consult your doctor if you have pain that isn't going away as it can be a sign of something more serious.

  • GB 20 -- just under the base of the skull in two small muscular grooves at the back of the neck (green dot on image)
  • GB 21 -- on top of the shoulder, 2"-3" from the side of the neck (yellow dot on image)

Apply firm pressure to these two points for 5 seconds, first GB-20, then GB-21, then repeat for 2- 3 minutes. It may best to do this treatment a few times per day at first. Direct pressure downward at GB-21 should be avoided on any woman who may be pregnant, as this point has a strong downward effect and is used to induce labor.

Also consider emotional causes of neck and shoulder pain- Are you overthinking and is there too much energy in your head? Trying to bear the weight of the world like Atlas? Worrying and grinding your teeth at night? All of these things can contribute to neck and shoulder pain. Consulting a good therapist helps.

If neck and shoulder tension continues to be a problem for you, it may be best to seek medical attention as these symptoms could be signs of serious medical conditions!

Acupuncture in Pregnancy: Safe and Effective Relief

For centuries, pregnant women have safely used Acupuncture to manage symptoms, improve energy and overall well being. As a treatment that has virtually no side effects, does not harm the growing child, and actually promotes relaxation and wellness, Acupuncture is a perfect answer to a variety of complaints that can make the 40 weeks of pregnancy miserable.

While there are a few points that should be avoided during pregnancy, there are over 300 that can be safely used to treat conditions such as morning sickness, low back pain, low platelets, headaches, allergies, swelling, insomnia, constipation, heartburn, anxiety and much more. The treatment involves using very gentle stimulation on certain points on the body known to cause a specific effect- whether it is to relieve nausea, regulate digestion, calm the mind, relax tight muscles, etc.

Not only does this treatment work to relieve the symptoms right away, it works to treat the root cause of the problem as well. This way, the problem can be treated not just temporarily. Pregnancy is a truly remarkable time and the female body does a LOT of work to grow and support a baby.

Treatment during pregnancy is very gentle. We use thinner needles, shorter duration of treatment, and suggest herbs only if they are highly recommended for the health of the mother. Usually weekly sessions are best. If the condition is very severe we might recommend that women come in up to three times per week for a couple of weeks. Usually, an improvement is noticed within 1-2 sessions, and results can be longer lasting after 6-8. Each point gives your body a signal to change. When you repeat that signal, the body gets the message and the change is longer lasting.

Acupuncture can improve labor outcomes in the last weeks of pregnancy. It's a wonderful support to prepare for labor, reduce anxiety and relax tension. Labor has been shown to be shorter and more productive in women who have had pre-birth acupuncture. Certain points have also been used throughout history to gently induce labor in post-term pregnancies!