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There’s so much more to acupuncture than just needles!

Original article By Kevin Durjun MBAcC (Edited by Jill Storstein)

When people think about acupuncture, one of the main images that comes to mind is needles. But there’s a whole raft of other treatments including massage, cupping, guasha, moxibustion, lifestyle and diet advice also offered by acupuncturists, alongside acupuncture. Read on to discover more.

Acupuncture is well known as a safe and effective treatment that uses needles to gently encourage the body’s ability to rebalance and heal itself. However, needles are just one aspect of an acupuncture treatment.

When you come for an acupuncture treatment your practitioner is likely to spend up to an hour or longer on an initial diagnosis, before they even think about picking up their needles. During this session you’ll be asked questions relating to your physical health, your lifestyle, and your medical history. Your practitioner may also ask you about your personal life – your work, your relationships, and your family history. All of your answers help the practitioner build up a complete picture about who you are and why a particular health condition may have arisen.

Many people find that just talking about themselves in a safe and confidential environment can be extremely cathartic in itself – for some, this process can be very emotional, and the first step in beginning to feel better. 

Once the practitioner understands more about you, they are then able to consider the best way forward for your treatment.

There are many treatment options an acupuncturist can offer, including massage therapies or cupping, where suction cups are applied to specific areas of the body to provide relief. Guasha may also be available, where a special tool is moved across targeted areas of the skin to reduce inflammation, tension and pain. You might also receive a moxibustion treatment, when a small pinch of the herb mugwort is safely burned above the skin, with the effect of gently warming a specific acupuncture point. You see, an acupuncturist has many treatments in their toolkit over and above the acupuncture itself.

At the heart of acupuncture treatment, when given by a fully qualified acupuncture practitioner, lies the relationship between patient and practitioner. The practitioner works closely with the patient to offer gentle guidance on lifestyle choices and make recommendations on diet and exercise. As an acupuncture treatment session is confidential, the patient can feel free to open up about deep personal issues in the knowledge that their practitioner is there to help them to feel better without judgement. Trust develops as a patient sees the same practitioner over several sessions and they are able to share and confide more over time. This connection can have a profound effect on a person’s sense of wellbeing. In these days of a time-constrained NHS, to be able to spend time with someone in a one-to-one setting is very rare and special – and this is something that acupuncture practitioners provide every day in their practice.

Now to the needles… They are slim, sterile, made of stainless steel and are about the thickness of a human hair. They are tiny! They are used once on a point and are then disposed of. The needles are inserted into the point and may be left in or removed immediately. Some practitioners use more needles than others, even a few carefully positioned needles can have a transformative effect.

If you are considering acupuncture treatment, the most important thing you can do is to select a fully qualified practitioner – members of the BAcC have been trained to degree level, are fully insured, and are able to offer you the most effective treatment to help you reach your full potential in terms of health and wellbeing.

About the British Acupuncture Council

With just under 3,000 members, the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is the UK’s largest professional body for traditional acupuncturists. Membership of the BAcC guarantees excellence in training, safe practice and professional conduct. To find a qualified acupuncturist, contact the BAcC on 020 8735 0400 or visit

About the Jill Storstein

Jill Storstein is a fully qualified acupuncturist and member of the British Acupuncture Council. She qualified in 2013 and has an MSc in Acupuncture. She lives and works in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland. You can contact Jill here.

The original article was written by Kevin Durjun for the use by British Acupuncture Council members and has been slightly edited by Jill Storstein to be a closer reflection to the style of acupuncture and adjunctive therapies she uses.

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