What is chinese / east-asian medicine?

Size comparison: match stick vs. hypodermic needle vs. acupuncture filiform

Size comparison: match stick vs. hypodermic needle vs. acupuncture filiform

East-Asian Medicine, also called Chinese Medicine or TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), is the medical system that developed in China over 3,000 years ago.

Most people in the US associate East-Asian Medicine with acupuncture and herbal medicine, however, the medicine encompasses much more than that. It also includes Tui-Na (massage), Qi Gong (exercise), moxibustion, cupping, Gua Sha, topical herbal linaments, acupressure, auricular acupuncture and seed therapy, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle recommendations.

East-Asian Medicine looks at your body as a whole entity, meaning that your emotions and thoughts affect your physical body and vice-versa. If any aspect of you body (physical, emotional, spiritual) is out of balance for too long, it can cause symptoms or 'dis-ease' to manifest.

East-Asian Medicine brings your body into a more balanced state by treating the root of the problem and the presenting symptoms, so the body can heal itself and reduce 'dis-ease' going forward.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the strategic placement of very thin, acupuncture "filiforms" (stainless steel, single use, disposable sterile needles) are inserted into very specific points in your body to benefit your health.

East-Asian Medicine views your body is comprised of channels (pathways) that allow for the flow of Qi (energy) throughout the entire body. If the channels become stuck or blocked, they can cause pain, illness, or other symptoms to manifest. The goal of acupuncture is to restore the healthy flow of Qi and balance to the body. 

A way to understand how acupuncture works it to think of the body like a transit system with various roads and highways. The transit system is essentially an analogy of the nervous system, the vascular system, the lympathic system, and the connective tissue network of the body. Imagine each road and highway is a channel, and our energy (Qi and Blood), are the cars. If there is a traffic jam on one road, then cars pile up in that area, but there are few cars in other areas. In East-Asian Medicine, where the cars are piled up is considered a blockage of Qi or Blood. Where there are few cars is considered a deficiency of Qi or Blood. In order for there to be optimal health, the roads need to be balanced with cars and have even traffic. Acupuncture accomplishes this by helping clear blockages and by nourishing the deficiencies so that the cars of your body can move freely throughout the system and deliver energy and nutrients efficiently. Your body responds to the acupuncture filiforms by sending blood and healing cells to the areas of insertion to clean up inflammatory debris and generate new, healthy tissue.

The goal of acupuncture is to clear "blockages" and harmonize "imbalances" that have occurred along those channels. Clearing blockages and restoring balance to your body allows it to heal itself.  

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

No, acupuncture does not hurt, but it does cause "Qi sensations". Qi sensations range from a feeling of warmth or tingling, to a heavy feeling, a dull sensation, or a sensation of movement occurring along on a specific channel pathway. Each person's reaction to acupuncture is unique.

what to expect from a treatment?

During the first treatment, Susanna will ask you a lot of questions and listen carefully to your responses in order to understand your body as a whole and what your goals are from treatment. To do this, Susanna will want to know about your sleep, your diet, your energy level, your emotions, and many other aspects about you.

She will look at your tongue and take your pulses. Your tongue is the only organ that can be seen from the outside, and by looking at it, Susanna is able to get a sense of what is happening inside your body. When she takes your pulses, she is feeling for 12 different positions, each one associated with the energetics of an organ. She uses the quality of the pulses along with the other information you provide to help determine your specific pattern of disharmony.

As you lay down and relax on a warm massage table, Susanna will gently insert the acupuncture filaments (aka needles) into specific areas of your body based upon her diagnosis. They are not painful, but can create sensations in the body. The acupuncture filaments are retained for 20-40 minutes; during this time, your may fall asleep, or may feel a sense of deep relaxation. Susanna will check on you and ensure that you are comfortable throughout the treatment. The initial appointment (evaluation and treatment) may last up to 115 minutes. Follow-up appointments last up to 55 minutes.

After each treatment, you should feel more relaxed, restored, and revitalized than when you arrived.


Acupuncture treatments can often include other modalities including:

  • Auricular Acupuncture + Seeds

  • Electrical Acupuncture (E-Stim)

  • Moxibustion (Moxa)

  • GuaSha or Cupping

  • Lifestyle + Nutritional Recommendations

  • Yoga postures

  • Aromatherapy

  • Crystal / Gemstone therapy

what can acupuncture treat? Can it help me?

Yes! Acupuncture treats you (as a whole person), not simply a specific symptom. It is effective in treating a wide range of conditions, ranging from pain to digestion to emotions to sleep. For more detailed information on what acupuncture treats, click here.

How Many treatments do I need?

Each person is unique and responds differently, therefore, each person receives an individualized treatment plan. The treatment plans depends on the type, severity, duration of your conditions. For optimal results, plan for a series of 6-12 treatments in 3-6 weeks. Timing of treatments are on a weekly or twice-weekly basis. Effects from acupuncture are cumulative, meaning that results build over time, with the effects becoming increasingly apparent. Responses to treatment vary, based on your lifestyle and individual health status. You should expect to see improvement of symptoms within 3 treatments. A general rule of thumb is that acute/short-term conditions require fewer treatments than chronic/long-term conditions.     

After the initial series of treatments, monthly maintenance treatments are recommended so you can continue to feel your best. 

Prevention is an important aspect of wellness. Many patients choose to come in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly for preventative, immune-boosting, stress-relieving treatments.

How do I prepare for a treatment?

  • Complete the health history and consent forms provided to you via email link. Your answers will form the basis of an in-depth conversation we will have at your initial consultation. They enable Susanna to customize an effective treatment plan for you.

  • Bring a list of your medications, supplements, or herbs that you are currently taking.

  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that is convenient for accessing areas such as the arms, legs, abdomen and back of your body. Refrain from wearing any perfume, cologne or scented lotions.

  • Eat a light meal prior to your appointment to prevent light-headedness or nausea.

  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.) or alcohol for least 4 hours prior to your visits.

What should I do after my treatment?

Drink plenty of water and refrain from drinking alcohol. You may want to go home and relax, or you may feel extremely energized. Each person responds differently to acupuncture, so listen to what your body is asking you to do, and respect it.

Does Acupuncture have any limitations?

Acupuncture is not advised for emergency situations - please use modern medical care for immediate, life-threatening conditions. Acupuncture cannot reverse or completely stop many chronic disease conditions, but it can improve your quality of life, reduce pain, and increase functionality.

What's the difference between community and private appointments?

The main differences are: 
  1. length of time Susanna spends with you
  2. level of privacy
  3. cost per treatment
  4. location

Private acupuncture appointments are offered in Susanna's private practice in the Rittenhouse Square area, in a private, serene treatment room equipped with a comfortable, heated massage table. Extra sheets for draping are provided so that you may arrive in whatever clothes you like. Treatments are booked in 55 minute increments, and Susanna can spend as much of that time in the room with you as you desire, discussing information about your treatment, dietary or lifestyle recommendations, or providing other modalities (moxa, cupping, guasha, etc.) that you may need on that day. Treatments are given on one or both sides of the body, last 55 minutes, and cost $110.  Susanna recommends private treatments if you have a more complex condition or if you prefer to have time alone to rest and restore.

Community acupuncture appointments are offered in South Philly at South Philly Community Acupuncture in a semi-private space with four massage tables divided by curtains. In this environment, your time with Susanna is limited to 15 minutes, which include the time spent chatting, being needled, and any other modalities you may need. The other 30-40 minutes involves you laying and resting on the table as Susanna works nearby on another patient. Four patients will be treated in the same room, however voices are kept to a whisper and there is a serene healing vibe as the Susanna moves quietly from patient to patient. Treatments are given on either the front or back of the body, last approximately 45-55 minutes, and fees are on a sliding scale of $40 to $60 per treatment. Susanna recommends community treatments if you have a simple condition (such as pain), or need a more affordable treatment option.

Most people find they have a clear preference for private or community-style treatments.