A very safe and versatile mode of treatment.
Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide range of symptoms and conditions. It is a branch of Chinese medicine which uses its own diagnostic framework for understanding imbalances in the body and mind. This framework seeks to understand the connection between symptoms and find the underlying causes.
Acupuncture is used to help manage symptoms and encourage the body to uses its own natural ability to self-regulate and heal. It offers a very safe, alternative to managing conditions free from the negative side-effects experienced with some medications.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body selected according to the particular needs and diagnosis of the patient. These trigger responses in the body locally and throughout your whole system which helps your body and mind to heal and self-regulate imbalance, injury and inflammation. It offers an alternative to conventional pharmaceutical medication without the unpleasant side-effects. Where pharmaceutical medication is essential acupuncture can work in tandem with it and can help to minimise the side-effects in some cases.
Acupuncture originates from ancient China has developed and evolved over 4000 years. It is very safe when performed by a suitably qualified person who has undergone extensive training. The British Acupuncture Council ensures its member have at least 3 years of training on a degree level course and adhere to strict Safe Practice guidelines and Codes of Conduct.
The Chinese medicine diagnostic framework which acupuncture uses, is a whole system of medicine used to treat any presenting symptom and condition. Western medicine diagnoses can be helpful to guide treatment but they are not essential. This is because Chinese medicine is interested in the individual and their symptoms rather than the disease name. Chinese medicine is concerned with how the circumstances of a person's life can influence their symptoms. Acupuncture seeks to address the root cause as well as these presenting symptoms.
Acupuncture can be very effective at treating pain and headaches. It has also been shown to help to reduce stress, balance hormones and mood as well as improve sleep and energy. The research base into acupuncture is growing all the time. In 2017, researchers John McDonald PhD, MSc, FAACMA and Stephen Janz RN, BN, BAc, GCCHM, MPH, MAACMA reviewed all the evidence to date. In their summary, they said:
"Our study found evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness for some conditions than others. Acupuncture is considered safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner and has been found to be cost-effective for some conditions. The quality and quantity of research into acupuncture’s effectiveness is increasing.” Acupuncture Evidence Project, p55
You can find out more on the Evidenced Based Acupuncture website along with evidence summaries of other conditions acupuncture can help with.
How can acupuncture help?
Frequently Asked Questions about Acupuncture
What happens when I go for treatment?
The acupuncturist will use a number of different diagnostic methods to get a complete picture of your health and lifestyle, including taking a full medical history, feeling your pulse, and looking at your tongue. Based on this information, the acupuncturist makes a diagnosis and puts together your personal treatment plan. Acupuncture points are selected according to your symptoms as well as your underlying energy pattern. The single-use sterile needles come in sealed packs: they should be opened in front of you and are safely disposed of after each treatment. Your practitioner may refer you to your GP or another healthcare professional if they consider it appropriate.
What does it feel like?
Acupuncture needles are much finer than needles used for injections and blood tests. When the needle is inserted you may feel nothing at all, or sometimes a tingling sensation or mild dull ache for a moment or two.
Is it safe?
The results of two independent surveys published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 (MacPherson et al, White et al, both BMJ September 2001) concluded that the risk of serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. The needles used are single-use, sterile, and disposable. Responses to treatment can sometimes include tiredness or mild dizziness, and very occasionally minor bruising may occur. However, all such reactions are short-lived.
Should my doctor know?
If you have been prescribed medication we recommend you tell your doctor that you are planning to have acupuncture. Do not stop taking your medication. You should always tell your acupuncturist about any medication and supplements you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment. BAcC acupuncturists are trained to recognise potentially serious underlying health conditions and may refer you to your GP if they consider it appropriate.
How many sessions will I need?
Frequency and number of sessions depend on your individual condition. Your acupuncturist will normally ask to see you once or twice a week at first. Some change is usually felt within five or six treatments, although occasionally just one or two treatments are sufficient. Some people choose to have regular acupuncture to maintain good health.
What can it do for me?
Some people turn to acupuncture for help with a specific symptom or condition. Others choose to have treatment to help maintain good health, as a preventive measure, or simply to improve their general sense of wellbeing.
Because traditional acupuncture aims to treat the whole person rather than specific symptoms in isolation, it can be effective for a range of conditions.
Remember that acupuncturists treat the person, not just the condition which they have, so each patient’s treatment plan will be different. However, you can always ask your practitioner about other patients’ experiences, to give you an idea of what to expect. Many people return to acupuncture again and again because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.
If you have any other questions about acupuncture, please feel free to get in touch with Jill.