Frequently Asked Questions


What can Chinese medicine and acupuncture help with/what do you treat?

Chinese medicine can help with a diverse range of problems. People coming to see me as a practitioner present with such things as: stress, fatigue, digestive issues (irritable bowel, indigestion), menstrual issues (pain, amenorrhoea), fertility support, pregnancy-related issues or support, birth, postpartum, anxiety, headaches, migraine, adrenal fatigue, perimenopause and menopause-related issues, pain due to injuries, autoimmune conditions. The list continues! Some people like to use acupuncture to help maintain balance in the body and mind, alleviating stress and improving the overall quality of life.

What can I expect from a typical treatment?

In the first session, we sit together and drink tea while I ask some questions to get to know you and your individual health situation.  I ask about such things as digestion, sleep, your menstrual cycle, and if there is any pain in the body.  Sometimes things that seem insignificant to you can provide me with a lot of helpful information.  Small niggly symptoms are often things we don’t need to live with so it is worthwhile bringing them up!  I will also ask about your emotional world and the bigger picture things you are currently working on in life.

There are plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions as well as discuss anything that comes up for you during this time.  This time is dedicated to listening deeply to you.

After we have finished talking I will ask to feel your pulse and have a look at your tongue.  Observing the tongue and pulse are ways Chinese medicine has developed to gather information about the inner workings of the body to assist with designing a treatment plan.

I will then ask you to move to the treatment table where we start with some gentle bodywork to assist the body to relax and receive the treatment.  Then follows the acupuncture (and possibly moxibustion or cupping).  If you would like herbs, I work on writing your script and getting it ready for you while you are resting.

Before you leave we discuss things you can do at home to help your healing.  This usually includes some dietary advice and/or supplementation with patent Chinese herbal formulas, exercises/stretches, breathing techniques or meditation.  We discuss your treatment plan (including length and frequency of treatment) and ensure that it is sustainable for you.

How often do I need to come back?

This can vary significantly depending on what you are seeking help with.  In the initial session, we make a plan based on your individual situation and discuss how often to come back and for how long.  This is done in consultation with you. The intention is to help you feel well as soon as possible.  While some people come in with a specific issue to work on and return until it is resolved, others come to maintain health and keep body, mind and spirit aligned.

I will be transparent with you.  No medicine works for everyone 100% of the time.  If, after 2-3 sessions, I feel I can’t help you according to our treatment plan, then I can refer you to someone I think will be better skilled to meet your needs.

Is acupuncture painful?

There may be a sensation associated with the insertion of needles, however it is not painful. Most people find acupuncture a pleasant and relaxing experience. My approach is particularly gentle, having trained in gentle Japanese forms of needling and moxibustion. I don’t believe pain is necessary to get results from treatment.

What if I have a needle phobia?

It’s reasonably common that patients express some fear around having acupuncture in their first session. We usually take it really slowly, relaxing the body first with some massage and using very gentle needling techniques with very few needles in the first session. Most people report that it feels more relaxing than they had imagined. We also have other techniques that don’t involve needles, so it’s possible to utilise Chinese medicine without the acupuncture.

What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion involves using a warming herb (Chinese mugwort) over acupuncture points and meridians.  There are many ways of applying it, but in general it feels relaxing and nourishing.

What is cupping?

Cupping is the use of glass cups that are suctioned onto areas of the body.  It is most frequently used to encourage qi (energy) flow, relax muscular tension and alleviate symptoms of congestion associated with the lungs.

I’ve heard Chinese herbs taste really bad! Is this true?

I tell everyone that their herbs will taste bad so that there is no expectation they will taste delicious, especially if they are taking raw herbs!  Often it is just the first dose or two that has a strong or unusual taste. With subsequent doses, people report that they come to really like and crave the herbs. There are also different forms of herbal medicine, so if you find you cannot tolerate the taste, then we can use capsules or pills.

What can I cook my herbs in?

I recommend purchasing a specific ceramic pot.  They’re inexpensive and I stock them at the clinic or can recommend where to purchase them. Some herbs shouldn’t be cooked in metal, and this way you know that you will get the full therapeutic benefit from your herbs. If not advised what to cook with then it is fine to use a metal saucepan.

Can I include other people in my fertility care?

I welcome all types of families and people of all genders and sexual orientations into the clinic to seek care in relation to fertility, conception and parenting (and indeed, and health issues). We are an LGBTQI+ and gender diverse supportive practice.

It is important to ensure all partners are in optimal health for conception and I very commonly see partners when addressing fertility. Chinese medicine is also a wonderful emotional support for the parents-to-be and other support givers.

When do you recommend starting acupuncture for IVF support?

Ideally, your treatment commences three cycles before your first IVF cycle. However, it is ok to seek care at any point in your IVF journey. I start wherever you are at.

Do you offer acupuncture pre and post embryo transfer?

Yes, definitely.  There is some research suggestive that acupuncture on the day of transfer, as well as in the lead up to the transfer can improve outcomes.  See here and here, and also refer to my Fertility page.

Do you see babies?

Yes, for sure! Feel free to give me a call to discuss your needs.  I find gentle osteopathy particularly helpful for newborns to recover from birth and often refer to my wonderfully skilled colleagues at Organic Mechanic.

What if my child won’t take the herbs?

While some kids will happily drink herbs; others won’t. Working with children requires flexibility!  I will find something that works for you. Often I use small pills that are easy to swallow. Sometimes I lean more on massage techniques that you can use daily at home. I also really focus on refining their diet and lifestyle. Making small changes can bring about very quick benefits for kids.

Do you use needles on young children?

With very young children it is often not necessary to use needles, and if I do, it’s usually just one and it’s not left in for more than a couple of seconds.  It’s always with the consent of the child and parent!  We have lots of other techniques we can use with kids as well as acupuncture.  It is important to emphasise that every child is different and will respond to an approach that is specially tailored to them.  Some older children are really keen on acupuncture and ask to receive it!  Others are very cautious and prefer not to have needles, but may, after a few sessions and some relaxing massage, be willing to give it a go.

If you have any further questions not answered here, please get in touch.

Emma Brinkmann Chinese Medicine acknowledges the Dja Dja Wurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nations as the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.

I pay my respect to Elders past and present, and recognise their vital role in custodianship of land, skies, waterways, plants and animals. I honour the deep relationship between traditional health practices and care for country.

I support their sovereignty and recognise that it was never ceded.

Emma Brinkmann Chinese Medicine is committed to social justice for all.

I aim to ensure every individual is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of ability, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation or faith.