Frequently Asked Questions

How is Classical Five Element Acupuncture different
from other methods of acupuncture

Frequently Asked About AcupunctureIn this method of acupuncture, we work to restore balance to your whole system by addressing the underlying causes of imbalance.  These causes can originate at either the physical, mental or spirit level within your system. 

In our culture we understand the physical level very well, and we know when we have manifested physical symptoms.  The mental level refers to mental clarity and focus, and this is another area with which we are quite familiar.  

The spirit level is not as commonly understood in our culture.  I would describe it as that part of us, when vital and strong, that is able to feel optimistic and full of purpose even when things are not going the way we would like.  Most people coming into my office do not have this sense.  Most of us are trying to make everything around us the way we want it to be so that we can feel alright.  This indicates a lack of connection on the spirit level, which is an imbalance that ultimately leads to physical and emotional symptoms.

In  treatment with Five Element Acupuncture, we address the imbalance at the level in which it originated, be it the physical, mental or spirit level, thereby returning your whole system to the ability to heal itself, and restoring you to your natural vitality, enthusiasm, decisiveness, and inspiration, as well as physical well-being.

Other methods of acupuncture frequently focus on the physical level only, and treat only the organ system that is manifesting the physical symptoms.

How many treatments will I need?

Because this method addresses each person individually, the number of treatments needed varies greatly from person to person.  Some of the factors involved include how long you have had your condition and how deeply rooted it is, the strength of your underlying foundation, and your current lifestyle (i.e., stress, nutrition & sleeping habits, activity level, etc.). 

After the initial session we suggest you schedule at least six weekly treatments.  Over the six week period, in most cases, we are able to restore balance to your chi significantly enough that you will notice that the improvements to your health are holding from one treatment to the next.  In some cases this may take less than six weeks, or in some cases longer.  As soon as your balance is holding from one treatment to the next, we will extend the time between treatments to two weeks, then three weeks, and so on, until we both feel confident that your symptoms are resolved and that your system can maintain health.

How long is each session?

The first session is 1 ½ to 2 hours long, during which time I will get your complete medical and personal history, do a physical exam, and administer your first treatment. Subsequent treatments usually take 30-40 minutes.

How much do the sessions cost?

Please call the office at (650) 342-1998 to get the current costs.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

Many policies do cover acupuncture, but you should check with your own insurance to see what coverage you have – what conditions are covered and how much will be reimbursed.  If you do have insurance coverage, we will provide you with insurance forms to submit for reimbursement.  We require payment at the time of service.


Shirley is an outstanding Acupunturist. I have been using Acupuncture for over 24 years and she is the best of all available acupuncturists in the State. I would never go to anyone else.
- Sandra H
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Contact Us

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Shirley Nichols Acupuncture is located at:
327 N. San Mateo Drive Suite #5
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 342-1998
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