Frequently Asked Questions


Acupuncture really only started to grow in popularity in the West in the last 20 – 30 years, so we don’t all have a very good understanding of what to expect.   Here are some frequently asked questions and myth-busters.

Does it hurt?

Unlike the needles used by Western medicine for injections, acupuncture needles are many times thinner, similar to a cat’s whisker or human hair.  You may feel tingling, numbness or pulling sensations but these should not be painful. 

What Happens At My Treatment?

Acupuncture is a holistic treatment so we will discuss all aspects of your health. We are looking for clues as to how the whole body is functioning, including from a mental and emotional aspect. TCM places importance on looking at the tongue and taking the pulses, this will take rather longer than the pulse taking you may have had at your doctors. All these build up into a picture or Pattern and help to make a diagnosis. We are looking to address the root cause of the issue.

We then put together a treatment plan, and carry out the first treatment which could include acupuncture, cupping and moxa. The needles are usually retained for between 15 and 25 minutes. Many people feel very relaxed during their treatment and even have a little ‘Acu-nap’!

What Should I Wear?

Loose clothing that can be rolled up/down is best.  Most commonly used acupuncture points are on arms or legs, but there are lots of covers to keep you warm and comfortable when needling abdomen or back.

Is it Safe?

Acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments, both conventional and complementary, on offer in the UK.

The British Acupuncture Council notes that 2 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.

Should I tell My Doctor?

If you are seeing your doctor for any condition it makes sense to let them know you are considering acupuncture.  Please don’t stop taking any medication without consulting your doctor

Are There Any Side Effects

Acupuncture has very few side effects. It is recommended to take it easy after a treatment and keep hydrated.  Make sure you have eaten a light meal an hour or two before your appointment to reduce the risk of feeling faint or dizzy.   Occasionally a small bruise can appear at a needle site. Sometimes people can feel dizzy or tired after a treatment but this passes quickly.

Hopefully the side effects are better sleep, digestion and general feelings of well being!

How Does Acupuncture Work?

You don’t have to ‘believe’ in acupuncture for it to work.  There is lots of Western-style evidence based research to show that acupuncture can be effective for numerous health issues and conditions.

The traditional theory is that the healthy functioning of the body is governed by the flow of “Qi” (often translated as “energy”) through a system of channels or meridians under the skin. The meridians function as a network, much like a highway system, that can be mapped out throughout the entire body When the flow of qi is impaired, illness and pain occur. By accessing the channels via acupuncture points, the balance of yin and yang can be restored and the illness resolved.  Lots of things can disrupt the flow of Qi: emotional upset, incorrect diet, imbalance between work and rest or physical trauma.  The underlying cause and treatment has to be considered for each individual to allow the body to restore balance and health.

From a Western perspective research has shown that acupuncture can stimulate various effects in the body which are associated with the relief of pain or health issues.  These include

  • stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues,
  • releasing endorphins and other factors which changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord
  • reducing inflammation - by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors
  • stimulating the nervous system and causing the release of neurochemical messenger molecules
  • increasing cerebral blood flow
  • reducing sympathetic nervous system activity, hence increasing relaxation
  • Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation thus promoting physical and emotional well-being

The resulting biochemical changes can influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms,

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