expert type icon EXPERT

Jeff Rippey

Acupuncturist

I run a general practice acupuncture clinic in Kansas City, KS. My main focus is distal acupuncture, which means I'm not very likely to treat exactly where the patient is indicating there's an issue. I also integrate time cycles in to my point selection. I see a lot of people for pain management and a good portion of my patient population are looking for help with depression, anxiety or stress.

I love talking about Chinese medicine and acupuncture, even with folks who don't necessarily believe in its effectiveness.
3 years Experience
Jeff Rippey
  • Kansas City, KS
  • Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Accepting new patients

Can acupuncture improve sleep?

Insomnia is one of the places where recent studies have shown acupuncture to be extremely effective. At least one study has shown acupuncture to be superior to prescription sleeping READ MORE
Insomnia is one of the places where recent studies have shown acupuncture to be extremely effective. At least one study has shown acupuncture to be superior to prescription sleeping pills in terms of time it takes to fall asleep, overall sleep quality during the night and lack of that "drugged" feeling the following day.

How it works is somewhat more complicated to explain. Chinese medicine encompasses a diagnostic system that is a bit more flexible than conventional medicine's. There are actually multiple root causes for insomnia in the Chinese system and treatment will vary slightly depending on any given patient's exact presentation.

From the perspective of conventional medicine, acupuncture exerts a calming influence on the central nervous system, reduces stress, increases production of endogenous opiates as well as melatonin and promotes blood flow. Basically, we're helping to get a patient in to a super relaxed state which makes sleep come more easily.

Is it advisable to take acupuncture treatment along with normal medication?

Acupuncture has been shown in several studies to at least match certain kinds of drug in lowering blood pressure. The risk would lie in lowering your pressure too much. I do READ MORE
Acupuncture has been shown in several studies to at least match certain kinds of drug in lowering blood pressure. The risk would lie in lowering your pressure too much.

I do quite a bit of work with hypertensive patients and I prefer to make sure their doctor is aware we're adding acupuncture. This way the drug dose can be adjusted as necessary while acupuncture treatment progresses.

As long as your doctor is aware you're using acupuncture, your acupuncturist is aware of the prescription drugs you're taking and everyone is monitoring your blood pressure, you should be just fine.

Can acupuncture help in treating diabetes?

This is a complicated question. Since you were recently diagnosed, I'm going to assume this is type II diabetes and you're looking at oral medications to manage the condition READ MORE
This is a complicated question. Since you were recently diagnosed, I'm going to assume this is type II diabetes and you're looking at oral medications to manage the condition rather than insulin injections.

If this is the case, acupuncture can help manage the side effects of any drugs you may be prescribed. Additionally, some recent studies of acupuncture in weight loss have shown that it can help regulate insulin levels to a degree.

The extent to which acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine can help is going to largely depend on your individual presentation. Where are your fasting glucose and a1c levels? Are you experiencing any other diabetic symptoms (peripheral neuropathy and so on)? What drug(s) is/are being recommended by your physician? How open are you to dietary modification and how well can you stick to those changes?

How can acupuncture help in treating my loud cough?

Well, this is complicated to answer without digressing in to a lot of Chinese medical terminology that will come across like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. If your chest x-ray is clear, READ MORE
Well, this is complicated to answer without digressing in to a lot of Chinese medical terminology that will come across like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.

If your chest x-ray is clear, the problem is most likely allergy related. There are several studies out showing acupuncture's effectiveness in the treatment of allergy. Speaking more generally, several studies have also pointed to acupuncture's ability to bring things down a notch when the immune system goes in to over drive.

To sort of skirt around the mumbo-jumbo issue - cough in acupuncture is considered a kind of 'rebellion' or 'counter-flow'. The type and quality of the cough (loud, soft / dry or with expectoration) tells us what is rebelling or counter-flowing. That information helps us to arrive at a treatment.

I've treated a lot of persistent cough and allergy patients. I typically get good results unless there is something else going on (like lung infection, which you've already ruled out).

Best regards,

Jeff Rippey, L.Ac.

Are medicines also involved in acupuncture treatment?

That depends on what you mean by 'medication'. If you mean a more conventional pharmaceutical (either prescription or over the counter), yes, we integrate treatments like this READ MORE
That depends on what you mean by 'medication'. If you mean a more conventional pharmaceutical (either prescription or over the counter), yes, we integrate treatments like this all the time. Acupuncture needles are solid, we aren't putting any substances in to the body nor are we taking anything out. The risk that combining acupuncture with pharmaceuticals is going to create some adverse event is therefore very small.

Many acupuncturists also practice Chinese herbal medicine and here's where we need to be more careful. There are some documented interactions between Chinese herbs and conventional medications. There are a lot of Chinese herb and drug combinations where we simply do not know what might happen. To avoid problems with Chinese herbal meds, most acupuncturists will make sure they have a list of what a patient is currently taking. This list should be kept up to date in their records. If they don't ask, a patient needs to make sure the acupuncturist is aware - especially if they're recommending herbs.

I've worked with depression, anxiety and PTSD while patients were on meds to help these issues. I've worked with high blood pressure while patients were on meds for that issue. I've worked with pain conditions while patients were on pain meds.

Best regards,

Jeff Rippey, L.Ac.

Should acupuncture be a long term thing?

Acupuncture can be used over a prolonged period of time without problem. For patients that have acute issues, we usually front load the treatment process. This means we see them READ MORE
Acupuncture can be used over a prolonged period of time without problem. For patients that have acute issues, we usually front load the treatment process. This means we see them at short intervals up front, usually for the first several weeks, and then we transition to a maintenance schedule. Maintenance can mean a variety of intervals from monthly to twice a year, it just depends on the patient.

I do a lot of work with stress patients. Initially I see them weekly for 3-4 weeks and then we go monthly to keep things in check. These monthly treatments can go on for a year or more. If the patient is able to make lifestyle changes to reduce their stressors they might only come back quarterly. If lifestyle changes aren't possible in the near term, then they may consider coming monthly or every other month for an extended period of time.

I've never personally had anyone experience a negative side effect from prolonged acupuncture.

Best regards,

Jeff Rippey, L.Ac.

Is there an acupuncture treatment for treating back aches too?

Acupuncture is excellent for back pain. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture (in addition to other manual therapies like massage or adjustment) as READ MORE
Acupuncture is excellent for back pain. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture (in addition to other manual therapies like massage or adjustment) as first or second line treatment for back pain (before drugs and surgery).

In pain conditions studies seem to be showing that acupuncture affects neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord that play a role in the transmission of the pain signal. There is at least one study, done in carpal tunnel syndrome, where functional MRI imaging showed acupuncture was changing the way signals are processed in the pre-frontal cortex (an area of the brain known to be involved in pain processing).

There's also a musculoskeletal approach to the problem where we look at the lines of tension in your muscles starting in your feet/low legs and going up in to the back. Sometimes releasing and rebalancing this muscular tension can go a long way to relieving the discomfort.

Best regards,

Jeff Rippey, L.Ac.

My mother in law feels very sleepy all through the day. Can acupuncture help her?

Fatigue is an issue that acupuncture can be used to address. With a kidney issue, though, it's hard to say without having the full picture of what's going on. Acupuncture is READ MORE
Fatigue is an issue that acupuncture can be used to address. With a kidney issue, though, it's hard to say without having the full picture of what's going on.

Acupuncture is a therapeutic approach and more than one visit is typically required. The idea is to see a patient relatively frequently in the beginning. As we start to see results, we start to space the visits out until we hit some optimal maintenance interval. What maintenance looks like varies from person to person; it could be monthly, quarterly or twice a year. There aren't really any good ways to predict.

Can acupuncture really help with hair loss?

I've seen some studies showing acupuncture being effective in hair loss. Cosmetic acupuncture is not an area I work in personally, so I can't provide any first hand experience. I'd READ MORE
I've seen some studies showing acupuncture being effective in hair loss. Cosmetic acupuncture is not an area I work in personally, so I can't provide any first hand experience.

I'd suggest looking for a certified acupuncturist who has either worked with hair loss or does a lot of cosmetic work.

Are acupressure and acupuncture the same?

Acupressure and acupuncture are sort of the same thing. Acupressure is using the fingers or an instrument to apply pressure at an acupuncture point. Acupuncture is using a needle READ MORE
Acupressure and acupuncture are sort of the same thing. Acupressure is using the fingers or an instrument to apply pressure at an acupuncture point. Acupuncture is using a needle to stimulate an acupuncture point. They can be done at the same time. Most acupuncturists are trained in a system of Chinese therapeutic massage called Tui Na. Part of the system is the application of pressure to acupuncture points using the fingers/hands/arms. Many practitioners will start or end an acupuncture session with a brisk massage that stimulates certain points. We also often show patients how to apply pressure to certain points so they can perform a degree of self care between visits. In my experience, acupressure can be a useful tool, but for faster, more lasting results, nothing seems to beat needles.

How long does acupuncture treatment usually last?

It's hard to say how many treatments might be required. Different people respond in different ways, different practitioners have different approaches to the same problem. There READ MORE
It's hard to say how many treatments might be required. Different people respond in different ways, different practitioners have different approaches to the same problem. There are a lot of variables in play.

Generally, for pain/headache, I tell folks they're looking at 5-7 treatments. After that, we generally start spacing things out until we hit some optimal interval that leaves the patient with sufficient relief. I've had patients with intervals as long as every 6 months and as short as monthly. The idea is that we find some space where the patient doesn't have to come weekly.

If the practitioner you're thinking of seeing offers a free consult, I highly recommend starting there. This will give you a chance to feel the person out and see if it's a good match. At some point, the practitioner should be asking about your expectations and giving you some idea of how previous patients with your issue have fared under their care.

Is there a cure for acute arthritis in acupuncture?

Acupuncture can absolutely help with pain and mobility issues due to arthritis. You may not feel a huge difference on the first treatment, but if you give the acupuncturist 3-5 READ MORE
Acupuncture can absolutely help with pain and mobility issues due to arthritis. You may not feel a huge difference on the first treatment, but if you give the acupuncturist 3-5 visits, they can probably reduce your discomfort and improve mobility.

Can acupuncture help treat thyroid imbalance?

As a supplement, absolutely. Just be careful if your acupuncturist suggests herbs and you're already taking pharmaceuticals. Most of the time, herbs and pharmaceuticals mix okay, sometimes READ MORE
As a supplement, absolutely. Just be careful if your acupuncturist suggests herbs and you're already taking pharmaceuticals. Most of the time, herbs and pharmaceuticals mix okay,
sometimes they don't. If you're taking prescription meds, make sure to bring a list that includes drug name, strength, and dose so your acupuncturist is aware.

Best regards,

Jeff Rippey, L.Ac.

I have a migraine problem. Should I see an acupuncturist?

One of the things acupuncture has been fairly well proven to help is pain, including headache/migraine. It's definitely worth giving acupuncture a try.

Does acupuncture work for anxiety?

Yes, acupuncture is excellent for anxiety. Probably 30%-40% of my practice consists of treating anxiety/PTSD/depression and I usually get great results for folks.

I am having a lot of stress due to menopause and I am unable to sleep soundly. Should I go for acupuncture treatment?

Yes, acupuncture will probably help you. Acupuncture and oriental medicine are good, in general, for a wide variety of conditions. There are, however, a few places where acupuncture READ MORE
Yes, acupuncture will probably help you. Acupuncture and oriental medicine are good, in general, for a wide variety of conditions. There are, however, a few places where acupuncture really shines and you're asking about 2 of them: stress and insomnia/sleeplessness. Multiple studies have shown acupuncture to be superior to most drug therapies for insomnia. When it comes to stress management, there are some things you can do on your own: exercise and meditation. Adding acupuncture to those approaches will often calm things down pretty quickly. Menopause is also something acupuncturists often help folks manage - particularly hot flashes/night sweats.

Best,

Jeff Rippey, L.Ac.

Can accupuncture help in bringing down my cholesterol?

First off, I'd encourage you to look into the current research around dietary fat, cholesterol and heart disease. This subject is a tangled mess and it's always a good idea to READ MORE
First off, I'd encourage you to look into the current research around dietary fat, cholesterol and heart disease. This subject is a tangled mess and it's always a good idea to read through the available information to form your own opinion.

That being said, diet modification combined with exercise are often more effective in reducing LDL cholesterol. What acupuncture can do is help reduce the body inflammation which is likely the source of your elevated LDL levels.

I have headaches frequently. Can acupuncture treatment help?

Absolutely! Acupuncture is excellent for relieving headache and reducing headache/migraine occurrence. In oriental medicine, we have about 5 different causes of headache. Your READ MORE
Absolutely! Acupuncture is excellent for relieving headache and reducing headache/migraine occurrence. In oriental medicine, we have about 5 different causes of headache. Your practitioner will need to differentiate among these to arrive at the proper treatment. Don't be surprised if they ask you a lot of questions regarding headache location, how they start, how they progress and what they feel like to you.

Best,

Jeff Rippey, L.Ac.

How long does the effect of acupuncture last?

The length of time acupuncture effects can persist varies from patient to patient. Sometimes we can get complete remission of an issue and sometimes there's a transition to maintenance READ MORE
The length of time acupuncture effects can persist varies from patient to patient. Sometimes we can get complete remission of an issue and sometimes there's a transition to maintenance that has to occur. The maintenance window can vary from weeks to months to years - there really isn't any good way to predict what maintenance is going to look like for any given individual.

The good news is you received what sounds like excellent results and those results persisted for somewhere around 2 years. You might need a few sessions in a row to reestablish a healthy pattern for you and then you could probably go to twice a year or yearly "tune ups" to maintain.

Can acupuncture help in treating joint pain?

Yes, acupuncture can be quite effective in the treatment of joint pain. There is a dose dependency in play; sometimes we hit the nail on the head and get great results on the first READ MORE
Yes, acupuncture can be quite effective in the treatment of joint pain. There is a dose dependency in play; sometimes we hit the nail on the head and get great results on the first treatment. Other times it can take a few visits to get things moving in the correct direction. Most acupuncturists are pretty good at estimating what a course of treatment might look like, so don't be afraid to have this conversation with your provider.

If you've had any imaging (X-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc.) make sure you bring those results along to your first appointment. An acupuncturist is going to diagnose from the perspective of Chinese medicine, but having that information available can often help them figure out a treatment approach.