Don F Gates
Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Grand Acupuncture Center
3931 Grand Ave, 2nd Floor
Oakland  CA 94610

Chinese Medicine
All About TCM
Herbal Medicine
What is Qi?
The Qi Sensation
The Meridians
The Organs
Yin & Yang
About Me
My Background
Why I Practice TCM
My Logo
My Practice
Our Clinic
Your First Visit
Fees & Billing
Patient Forms
Before Your Treatment—Your "Homework"
To allow us to spend more time in discussion and treatment, please download, print out, and take your time to thoroughly fill out the health-history forms and bring them with you to your first appointment. If you are unable to print out the forms, I can mail them to you in advance or you can arrange to arrive fifteen minutes early for your treatment and fill them out at the clinic.

To facilitate your treatment, please wear loose, comfortable clothing that can be rolled back enough to expose your elbows and knees. It's a good idea to have a light meal before acupuncture, but try not to arrive uncomfortably full. Avoid consuming alcohol before and immediately after your visit; likewise, avoid strenuous exercise.

Please try to arrive a few minutes before your treatment is scheduled to begin so as to be relaxed and receptive at the appropriate time. If you find you have to cancel a treatment, please give me at least twenty-four hours' notice.

Upon Arrival
The code for the keypad lock on the clinic's front door is the same as our address: press 3-9-3-1, then the big Lockstate button on top. This will open the deadbolt, and you can use the handle below to let yourself in. If you forget the code, use the doorbell to the right (sparingly, please ... it's distracting for other clients).
front door lock

Health-History Interview & Exam
Allow about two hours for your first treatment to give us ample time to gather a thorough health history and chart all of the details relevant to the condition(s) that you want treated. During that time, I'll ask you questions about your family and birth history; your lifestyle, diet, and exercise routines; your mental state and emotions; any physical pain or discomfort you're having; your work; your play; your sleep patterns; and so on. The physical-exam portion of the visit will include palpation of your pulse and abdomen, examination of your tongue (size, coating, color) and face (coloration, skin tone, vitality), as well as more familiar examinations, such as taking vital signs (temperature and blood pressure) and height and weight measurements. In short, the more information we collect, the clearer the picture of your overall health becomes and the more accurate the resulting diagnosis. It's important we take the time during your first visit to make sure we have a complete picture.

From this information I'll formulate a baseline diagnosis that will guide the treatment, helping me choose which acupuncture points, herbs, and other treatment modalities to use that day and in future visits. Of course, everything we discuss in relation to your health is held in strict confidence and will be shared with no one without your written consent, except as required by law.

During the Treatment
After the health-history interview, I'll have you lie down on the massage table and we'll begin the acupuncture. Most people receive between six and twelve needles in a visit, though some treatments require as many as twenty. As mentioned in the About Acupuncture section, acupuncture involves the gentle insertion and stimulation of extremely fine, disposable, sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body, the goal of which is to elicit a Qi response. While some patients are initially nervous and wary of the claim that acupuncture doesn't hurt, nearly all come to find the experience quite pleasurable and calming. Many patients return for weekly or monthly "tune-ups" for that reason alone. After the needles are inserted, you will be left alone to relax in the treatment room for between fifteen and thirty minutes, though some conditions require longer treatment. Heat lamps, eye pillows, and soothing music are available, should you want them, to help you rest.

While you're relaxing, I'll put together an herbal prescription for you, if appropriate. At our clinic, herbs are dispensed in convenient granule (powder) or pill form. If you'd prefer to decoct a raw-herb tea, or if I don't have the prescribed herbs on hand, I can send you to an herbal pharmacy in Berkeley, Oakland, or San Francisco, or, if you prefer, I can have the appropriate herbs sent directly to your home (costs a bit more, of course).

After the Treatment
Though most people feel extremely relaxed after acupuncture, some report feeling a bit lightheaded. If this happens to you, please rest awhile in the waiting room. It will pass in short order.

Some patients occasionally experience a worsening of their symptoms after an acupuncture treatment. This can be a part of the healing process and is usually soon followed by a marked improvement in overall wellbeing. Even still, please contact me or my office if you have any concerns or feel any unpleasant effects after your visit.

A Few Notes on Tongue Diagnosis
Please do not brush or scrape your tongue coat before your treatment. The tongue's natural coating is a primary TCM diagnostic tool that, once brushed off, is lost to us for the day. Coffee, cigarettes, and artificially colored foods—while not praiseworthy habits under any circumstance—can also stain your tongue coat and are best avoided before a treatment.