Frequently asked questions
Can acupuncture treat my symptoms?
For a list of symptoms acupuncture can treat click here to access the British Acupuncture Council’s website. For the most up to date information, The British Acupuncture Council provides a range of current and ongoing research on conditions which may benefit from acupuncture treatment.
In the UK, the body responsible for assessing drugs and treatments, NICE, acknowledges the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of back pain, facial pain, nausea and headaches.
In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also lists the following conditions as having a strong basis in clinical research for acupuncture treatment :
- Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
- Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
- Biliary colic
- Dysentery, acute bacillary
- Dysmenorrhoea, primary
- Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
- Hypertension, essential
- Hypotension, primary
- Induction of labour
- Knee pain
- Low back pain
- Malposition of fetus
- Correction of morning sickness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Neck pain
- Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
- Periarthritis of shoulder
- Post-operative pain
- Renal colic
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tennis elbow
The British Medical Acupuncture Association states that modern research shows that acupuncture "can affect most of the body’s systems – the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems.”
The following links will help you to find more information about acupuncture, or enable you to to view the information sources directly.
- National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
- World Health Organisation - fact sheet on Traditional Medicine
- The British Medical Acupuncture Society - for general information about acupuncture
Is acupuncture safe?
The following is taken from the British Acupuncture Council’s website :-
‘Acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments, both conventional and complementary, on offer in the UK.
Two surveys conducted independently of each other and published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. This is far less than many orthodox medical treatments.
There are very few side effects from acupuncture when practiced by a fully qualified practitioner of traditional acupuncture. Any minor side effects that do occur, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are mild and self-correcting’.
Patients may experience some fatigue immediately following the treatment however, this is just temporary and ultimately patient’s energy levels gradually improve with treatment.
As a member of the BAcC I adhere to the hightest standards of care and professional conduct and I am bound by the Council’s code of ethics.
I keep up to date with current research and new techniques through a commitment to Continuing Professional Development.
What should I expect from needling?
The needles used are single-use and sterile. Acupuncture needles have no similarity to needles used for injections – approximately 20 acupuncture needles fit into the end of a doctor’s hypodermic needle!
I insert needles using a guide-tube. After it is tapped in it is very gently stimulated which results in a unique sensation called ‘deqi’ which is the body’s qi reaching the end of the needle. Patient’s report for instance a feeling of energy down the corresponding limb, a feeling of fullness or a slight ache. Some needles will be inserted, gently stimulated and taken straight out and some needles will be left in place for the patient to go into deep relaxation.
Most patients find these acupuncture sensations deeply satisfying and leave the treatment feeling relaxed both mentally and physically.
Acupuncture treatment creates deep relaxation in both body and mind.
Can I use acupuncture in tandem with Western Medicine?
The two disciplines have been shown to complement each other well with very little overlap. Indeed, acupuncture can aid in the reduction of side effects of some medicines. Those patients over whose signs and symptoms a western medical practitioner is most likely to despair are often signs and symptoms recognized within the confines of Chinese medical theory and are therefore considered treatable by an acupuncturist. Similarly, an acupuncturist will encourage their patient to seek western medical treatment when it is indicated. I like to communicate with my patients’ GP where possible in order to discuss progress.
Can I keep taking my medicine?
Yes you can keep taking your medicine whilst having acupuncture; there are no contraindications between western drugs and acupuncture.
How many treatments should it take?
As a general guideline, think in terms of 4 – 6 sessions (usually weekly) however response to treatment differs considerably from person to person. In many cases, patients experience significant relief after a few acupuncture treatments. Some patient’s experience relief almost immediately, especially from some acute conditions. Treatment of other, long-term (chronic) or complex conditions require more treatment over a longer time. As a rule, the longer you have had the complaint, the longer it will probably take to put right. Please be assured that you will not receive more treatments than you need.
Patients’ progress is reviewed regularly and you will be kept well informed.
Remember that the aim of Chinese Medicine is to correct the root cause of the disease and not just the symptoms.
Do I have to believe in it for it to work?
Acupuncturists have successfully brought relief from medical symptoms in horses cats, dogs and other animals, patients that clearly have no notion of ‘believing’ in acupuncture. Additionally, thousands of people who did not ‘believe’ in acupuncture have experienced complete relief of their medical symptoms even though they did not ‘believe’. Acupuncture works on your body’s autonomic systems, so belief in its effectiveness is not necessary for it to produce results.
How can I prepare for my session?
You are advised to eat a light snack before you come for treatment. Do not drink alcohol, smoke excessively or engage in strenuous exercise before or after treatment. Do not rush and try and give yourself plenty of time. If you are on any medications please bring a list of these with you at your first appointment.