Acupuncture assists the body in reaching its natural state balance or ‘homeostasis’. It stimulates nerve endings which send messages to the brain and spinal cord, resulting in the release of feel-good chemicals (such as endorphins and serotonin). It also switches on the relaxation response to reduce stress and balance the nervous system. It resolves pain and promotes healing by interacting with pain centres in the brain, improving circulation, reorganising connective tissue, and stimulating anti-inflammatory immune system pathways.
Yes. The risks of acupuncture are very low when performed by a properly qualified registered practitioner. The risk of a serious adverse event with acupuncture has been estimated to be 0.05 per 10,000 treatments. This risk is substantially less than that of many common drugs or medical procedures used for the same conditions. After acupuncture treatment you may experience minor side effects such as feeling tired, or soreness, itching, minor bleeding or bruising at needle sites. Most often patient’s report no side effects at all
British Acupuncture Council registered Acupuncturists are required to undergo extensive education lasting 3-4 years and including 1500 – 2000 contact hours of teaching, with detailed study of human anatomy and training in Clean Needle Technique (CNT).
Not usually. While it would be untrue to say that acupuncture never hurts, for most people, most of the time it is not painful, but in fact rather enjoyable! Many first-time patients are concerned that acupuncture needles will feel like injections at the doctor’s office. They don’t. Acupuncture needles are much smaller than hypodermic needles – not much bigger than a human hair or piece of thread.
Acupuncture does cause a distinct sensation, traditionally called deqi ‘the arrival of qi’, which indicates that the correct nerve endings have been stimulated by the needle. People often describe this type of sensation as heavy, tingly, pressure or achy.
During a typical acupuncture treatment you should feel relaxed enough to drift into a restful state – a state so relaxing that it will often turn into a little nap! Following an acupuncture treatment some people report feeling euphoric, which is likely due to acupuncture stimulating the central nervous system to release opioids (pain relieving substances) and serotonin (the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter in the brain).
Generally about a 1cm to 2cm, depending on where on the body the needle is being inserted. Places that have a lot of muscle or fat (like the buttock) lend themselves to deeper insertion, however, needles going into less fleshy places (like hands, feet, and ears) may only go in a millimeter or two.
Safety plays a huge role in needle depth. Needling around the head, neck, spine, and over internal organs demands care on the part of the practitioner. Registered acupuncturists spend years studying correct needle depth and placement, and are well aware of what is underneath the area in which a needle is being inserted
A growing body of evidence-based clinical research that traditional acupuncture safely treats a wide range of common health problems.
The initial appointment, which lasts one hour, consists of three parts: completing paperwork, history taking & examination, and treatment. It includes a thorough exploration of current health concerns, as well as details about past conditions. The pulse and tongue are examined, which, along with palpation of the body, yield information that guides the treatment. The acupuncture points chosen will depend on your condition, but you can expect 10 to 20 needles. Once the needles are inserted, you will lie comfortably for 20-30 minutes with the needles in place. Many people find acupuncture treatment deeply relaxing, and it is not uncommon for patients to fall asleep during this time. At the end of your first acupuncture appointment, you will receive a recommendation for a suggested treatment plan and can discuss how it fits your needs.
- Avoid coffee and alcohol for at least two hours before the session
- Make sure you have had something to eat about two hours before to the session
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing
- Allow one hour for the first session, which will include paperwork, detailed history taking/examination, plus treatment
- If possible have a time window after the session when you are not rushing on to another appointment – being able to relax afterwards helps to extend the beneficial effects of the treatment
The benefits of acupuncture are cumulative, so more than one treatment is almost always necessary. For acute conditions you can expect to have 4 to 8 treatments, but you will usually begin to feel relief after one or two. Chronic conditions may take longer to respond, depending on the type, severity, and duration of the condition – one treatment per week for several months may be recommended. Preventative and ‘maintenance’ treatments for general well-being can be scheduled as-needed. A seasonal ‘tune-up’ at the beginning of each season can help promote resilience within the body.
Yes. Prenatal acupuncture can promote a healthy pregnancy for both mum and baby. It can treat a variety of symptoms such as morning sickness, oedema, pain and headaches. Acupuncture also can be used as a routine pre-birth procedure. Regular acupuncture in the latter stages of pregnancy can help prepare a woman’s body for birth, with the emphasis on preparing the cervix and pelvis for labour, as well as building resources for the journey ahead. Acupuncture has also been shown to be able to help correct breech presentation and to help initiate labour.