Sue Zhang Sabol, LAc, MD-China, PhD.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

8120 Woodmont Ave, Suite 120, Bethesda MD 20814 USA
Tel: ​​(301)-718-8858 or (301)-908-1703
Fax: 301-718-8585

Frequently asked questions

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is probably one of the oldest complementary therapies and continuously practiced systems of medicine in the world that came into being following five thousand years of observation and analysis. This unique medical system is used to treat a wide range of disease, and is of special use in treating various kinds of pain and psychological problems. Also it can prevent illness, maintain health, and fight disease. TCM remedies possess few side effects and, unlike with drugs, tolerance does not build up over time.
What is Acupuncture?
Cupping employs the application of glass or bamboo cups and to acupuncture points or an affected part of the body. The cupping is attached to the skin surface to cause lacal congestion through the negative pressure created by introducing heat in the form if an ignited material. The vacuum suction created by heat helps stimulate blood circulation and improve the flow of energy. The technique is useful for muscle injury, joint pain, headaches, infection, bronchial congestion, and other afflictions
Acupuncture started in China more than 5,000 years ago. The Chinese believed diseases such as arthritis were caused by an imbalance in life forces: yin and yang. The imbalance leads to a blockage of qi (pronounced chee), a vital energy source in the body. Acupuncture was thought to unblock that energy, which helped ease the pain. For years, words like yin and yang relegated acupuncture to the fringe of medical science in the USA. The technique gained credibility during the 1980s and '90s as scientific studies began to suggest that acupuncture could trigger the release of natural painkillers.An analysis of 22 studies showed that acupuncture relieved lower back pain when compared with no treatment or with "fake" acupuncture in which needles were inserted in the wrong places. Several large studies reported in the past year and a half could push the technique into the mainstream.
What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine has traditionally been the most fundamental method of TCM treatment for over 5000 years in China. Chinese herbal medicine consists of theory, strategy, formulas, and substances, A formulas is comprised of medicinal substances, the particular configuration of which is dictated by the organizing principle of the treatment strategy. If the pattern of a disorder is misdiagnosed, the treatment strategy will be incorrect, and its derivative formula will be ineffective. In Chinese medicine, formulas are customized to each patient based on his/her constitution and current medical condition, whereas in Western medicine, drugs are prescribed without regard to individual variations. These herbal formulas work to unblock the energy and to nourish, detoxify, and repair the organs. Another group of herbs, classified as "food grade herbs", are highly nutritious and easily added to the diet for general strengthening and maintaining a strong immune system.
Are there standards for acupuncture needles?
Does acupuncture hurt?
What is cupping?
How do nutrition and exercise work for the body?

The origin of many common illnesses can be traced to improper eating habits, including overeating of fats and refined sugars, irregular eating, under-eating and rushed eating. Doctors of TCM suggest appropriate modifications in dietary habits and choices in order to prevent the development of serious illnesses, such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Life style plays an important role in almost all illness. Experienced TCM practioners can gently guide and encourage a patient to properly manage his or her lifestyle. TCM offers numerous energy enhancing exercises, such as Tai Chi movement and Chi Gong. These mild exercises take very little time to practice and do not require a large workout space or special equipment. A patient can practice daily as a treatment and a preventative method.
After reviewing the existing body of knowledge, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) removed acupuncture needles from the category of
"experimental medical devices." The FDA now regulates acupuncture
needles, just as it does other devices such as surgical scalpels and
hypodermic syringes, under good manufacturing practices and single-use
standards of sterility.
 Are there any dangers?
The most common serious injury reported from the needles of acupuncture has been accidental puncture of the lung. This results in a partial collapse of the lung called pneumothorax. The most common infection reported from acupuncture treatments with reusable needles is viral hepatitis, a potentially serious infection of the liver. Other side effects include bacterial infections locally at the site of needle insertion in the skin and elsewhere in the body. Generally, side effects seem to relate to poor hygiene and training of the acupuncturist. In our practice, only single-use disposable needles are used, eliminating the risk of transmission of disease from one patient to another.
Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker than a hair. The insertion is not like receiving an ordinary injection. In some cases, you will not even know the needles are in place. In others, there may be some heaviness, warmth, tingling or radiation along the meridian. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment.
Fees, Insurance, and Payments?
We make every effort to keep the cost of your treatment affordable. Many health insurance plans now cover acupuncture treatment for pain or nausea management, often with a maximum number of covered treatments per year, so please check with your insurance company regarding coverage. We generally submit claims to all insurance companies other than Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. We are a "preferred provider" or in-network provider for the following insurance companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield (all plans including those of CareFirst and Anthem), United HealthCare, MD-IPA, Foreign Service Benefit Plan, First Health, Multiplan, and PHCS (Private HealthCare Systems). (This list is subject to change.) We participate as out-of-network providers with other health plans, including Aetna, Cigna, and plans (such as Mail Handlers) that use the Aetna or Cigna provider networks. You should review your health plan benefits to determine whether acupuncture is covered and for which conditions. It is very important to note that some Blue Cross and Aetna insurance plans cover acupuncture only when used in place of anesthesia during surgery, and some plans cover acupuncture only when an in-network provider is used. Acupuncture is covered under Workers Compensation. We will accept Workers Compensation insurance, if written pre-authorization is obtained from your insurance company. This is the patient's responsibility. Acupuncture is not covered by Medicare, Medicare Supplemental plans, Medicaid, or Tricare. If a patient has primary Medicare Part B insurance and secondary health insurance, we will submit claims to the secondary insurance along with a letter explaining that Medicare does not accept claims from acupuncturists.