Frequently Asked Questions
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Yes, acupuncture is very safe when done by a highly qualified practitioner. In the UK, they should be at least registered with the British Acupuncture Council. This ensures that they have undertaken the full level of training necessary and operate according to rules and guidelines outlined by the organisation.
They will take details of your health condition and a medical history before treatment, use only pre-sterilised single-use needles and will maintain treatment rules and equipment as detailed in the BAcC Code of Safe Practice.
If you have a bleeding disorder such as haemophilia or are taking anticoagulants, you should speak to your GP before treatment. It’s also important to let your acupuncture practitioner know if you’re pregnant as certain points should not be used at this time.
Is Acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture usually doesn’t cause any discomfort or pain, however you may feel a dull ache or tingling sensation when the needles are inserted. The needles used are very fine and most people don’t feel them being inserted. Certain parts of the body are more sensitive than others, but treatment should never hurt. If it does, tell your acupuncturist who can change needles or use other points.
What are the side effects of acupuncture?
Acupuncture has very few side effects and is considered to be one of the safest medical treatments in the UK. Occasionally you may see a small bruise where the needle was inserted or feel tired or dizzy after treatment, but this usually passes quickly. Most people find that they feel very relaxed and even energetic after their acupuncture treatment!
What is the history of acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine that emerged many thousands of years ago. There is evidence of this as far back as the 2nd century BC with the book, Inner Cannon (Neijing) of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi). Through careful study, observation and research, practitioners were able to develop a thorough understanding of the energy balance of the human body.
At the start of the 20th century, traditional medicine started to decline in China due to an increase in western health care treatments. However, despite calls to ban it entirely in 1929 and an ever-increasing emphasis on western methods, traditional treatments continued to be used.
Acupuncture became more popular in the west around 1970 and continues to be practised around the world. An increasing number of clinical trials have highlighted its efficacy in treating certain ailments, which is why the NHS has begun to highlight acupuncture treatment as an alternative to conventional medicine.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practised for thousands of years in China and Asia. Unlike the western approach to illness, it focuses on you as an individual, not on your illness itself and often sees your symptoms as interrelated.
During treatment, very fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body to improve the flow of your body’s vital energy, or qi. It’s often used in the west to treat lower back pain, joint pain, gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and vomiting, stress and emotional issues, although it can be used for many other physical, mental and emotional health problems.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
The benefits of acupuncture can include reduced stress, reduced back and neck pain, headache and migraine relief, mental clarity, improved energy, improved immune system, ease of digestive issues, allergy relief, addiction relief, period pain, osteoarthritis, dental pain and much more.
What is Classical Chinese Acupuncture (Stems and Branches)?
Classical Chinese acupuncture (CCM) uses a different treatment paradigm from Traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCM). CCM focuses on cycles, transformations and the interactions of Qi that can affect a person both internally and externally. This theory comes from ancient observations of nature such as the cycles of day and night and the changing seasons.
How many treatments will I neeed?
Your treatment plan will be tailored to your unique requirements. However, for a single complaint, you’re likely to need one treatment per week for between 3-8 weeks. This will depend on your condition and its severity.
Is it suitable for teenagers and babies?
Yes, acupuncture treatment can be an excellent treatment for babies, children and teenagers (as well as adults of all ages!). The beauty of acupuncture is that there isn’t a minimum age or age limit. Young people usually respond well and treatment can often reduce the need for more invasive interventions.
To find out more about the British Acupuncture Council’s recommendations on acupuncture for children, read this article.
What does acupuncture feel like?
Despite what you might think, acupuncture doesn’t hurt. Most people feel some sensation such as pressure, tingling, a heavy feeling, a warm feeling or even something more electrical. This is a good thing and shows that your acupuncture treatment is having an effect.
I'm scared of needles!
Don’t worry! Acupuncture uses tiny needles that are not at all like the ones used for blood tests and injections so they’re unlikely to bother you at all. Most people don’t even feel them penetrate the skin and barely notice them in place. If you’re concerned about your treatment, please do let us know.
How should I prepare for an acupuncture treatment?
There are a few things to bear in mind before you come for your acupuncture treatment. Firstly, make sure that you don’t eat a large meal within an hour of treatment as it can affect your comfort, but to avoid feeling dizzy please ensure you have eaten something before treatment(See British Acupuncture Council). Secondly, avoid drinking alcohol or consuming food or drinks that colour your tongue, such as coffee or strong tea. Lastly, many acupuncture points are located on your legs and lower arms, so it’s best to wear loose clothing if you can.
And after the treatment?
After your treatment, you are likely to feel relaxed and calm. Some find that it also makes them feel drowsy, so you should avoid driving or using heavy machinery after your acupuncture session.
You should also avoid overexerting yourself and get plenty of rest so that the treatment can have maximum benefits. If you feel energised by your treatment, it’s best to opt for a gentler form of exercise such as a walk in the fresh air or a yoga session. If you can, eat wholefoods and avoid coffee and alcohol as much as possible.
Will my private health insurance cover acupuncture?
Many private health insurance companies do offer cover for traditional acupuncture treatments. This does depend on your insurer and your individual policy. Check your policy for full details.