Traditional acupuncture is an ancient Chinese system of healing which enables a person to achieve a more balanced physical and emotional state. Its philosophy is that in good health there is a continuous smooth flow of energy (Qi) through channels within the body called meridians. Illnesses, injury or emotional stress can disturb the smooth flow of Qi, leading to range of symptoms and often the loss of a sense of well-being. The acupuncturist aims to balance the flow of Qi by inserting fine needles into specific points on the body. A person receiving acupuncture will often not only report an improvement in symptoms but also an increased sense of well-being.
Below are some frequently asked questions, please click on the questions to reveal the answers.
Q. Does acupuncture really work?
A. Acupuncture has been tried and tested over many thousands of years and is effective in the majority of people. As with any treatment, people respond differently and some may experience either a better result or a result more quickly than others. However, most people will benefit from having acupuncture and current research proves results in areas such as pain and fertility is extremely positive.
Q. How many treatments will I need?
A. This will depend on a number of factors such as; your general state of health, the condition being treated, the severity of the condition, and how long you have had it for. Generally, the longer you have had an illness and the more severe it is, the longer it will take to improve.
Everyone is different, but most people see some change after 4-6 treatments. However, it is normal to continue coming for “top up” treatments at less regular intervals after this.
Q. How long does a treatment take?
A. Allow up to an hour and a half for your first treatment as your acupuncturist will need to take a full medical history and ask you a number of other questions. This is also an opportunity for you to explain exactly what you hope to gain from your acupuncture treatment. After this initial consultation, treatments normally last 45 minutes to an hour.
Q. What does it feel like?
A. People often describe a tingling sensation or a dull ache. The needles used in acupuncture are many times finer than an injection needle so discomfort is minimal.
Q. What if I am already receiving treatment for my condition?
A. Occasionally, it is desirable for the conventional treatment of an acute condition to be completed e.g. a course of antibiotics or chemotherapy administered in a hospital, before beginning acupuncture treatment. Generally speaking, however, it is very rare for any form of treatment to be incompatible with acupuncture as to make it inadvisable. Acupuncture can be very effective when used in combination with conventional medical treatment. If you are taking prescribed medication for your condition you should normally inform your doctor that you are receiving acupuncture. In many instances it will be possible to reduce or entirely eliminate your need for medication and we hope that your doctor will be happy to be consulted during this process.
Q. What actually happens when I visit an acupuncturist?
A. On your first visit the practitioner will gather the information necessary to make an accurate diagnosis. An acupuncturist will take a holistic approach to a person's illness and will allow about one hour and a half for the initial consultation. Once the acupuncturist has reached a diagnosis and decided upon the appropriate treatment (normally as part of your first visit), he or she will insert acupuncture needles into various acupuncture points. The number and location will depend on the treatment plan; the practitioner may use just one or two points in a treatment, sometimes they may prefer to use several points. Everybody is different, and treatments are individually tailored to meet the patient’s needs
Each treatment depends on a number of factors:
* the severity and the length of the time the condition has existed
* the treatment that has previously been received for it
* the extent to which lifestyle contributes to it
* the nature of the energetic imbalance.
Q. Will any other therapies be used?
A. The acupuncturist may use other traditional techniques apart from needling. The following is a brief outline of the most commonly used techniques.
Moxibustion is the practice of burning small cones of the dried and powdered leaves of the herb Artemesia Vulgaris. They are placed on the acupuncture points until a pleasant and warming sensation is felt by the patient. Moxa may be used alone or in combination with acupuncture. There are various methods for warming an area with moxibustion, the most common being a "moxa stick". This is lit and passed over the skin just close enough to give a mild heat.
Moxibustion is commonly applied over an area of the body which has become cold; such as a "frozen" shoulder, the lower back or the lower abdomen, (beneficial for women suffering from gynaecological problems). The acupuncturist may give a moxa stick to the patient to take home with him or her so that they can continue the treatment themselves on a regular basis.
Cupping is a technique used for applying acupressure. It creates a vacuum on the patient's skin inorder to dispel stagnation, (stagnant blood and lymph) thereby improving Qi flow. Cupping is used on the back, neck or shoulder to treat, common cold, asthma, backache, joint pains and muscular injury.
Counselling patients who are having acupuncture treatment involves advising them on aspects of their lifestyle which is considered detrimental to their health. This could involve discussion about a more appropriate diet, exercise, the skilful avoidance of excessive stress and how to become less overwhelmed by the various "internal causes" of illness, the emotions.
A patient's readiness and commitment to make changes in their life-style can make or break the success of the treatment. If you are prepared to make a commitment to reduce certain stresses in your lifestyle, this can greatly improve the chances of returning to, and maintaining, a better state of health.
Q. Is there any possibility of infection from the needles?
A. Properly trained acupuncturists are absolutely meticulous concerning the sterility of their needles and the method of insertion. All acupuncture colleges stress the importance of this aspect of the acupuncturist's practice. Your practitioner should use single-use disposable needles. A practitioner should be a member of the British Acupuncture Council, whose standards include a rigorous Code of Safe Practice.
Q. Can acupuncture be used during pregnancy?
A. Acupuncture can be extremely helpful throughout pregnancy. Morning sickness and the various aches, pains, and discomfort of pregnancy respond well to acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture can also be effective in helping to induce labour when the baby is overdue. The use of moxibustion on a particular acupuncture point has been shown to be highly effective at turning a breech foetus. Use of acupuncture and moxibustion, is extremely effective immediately after the birth, as it reduces the likelihood of developing post-natal depression and helps to restore the mother's energy and vitality.
Q. Are there any side-effects?
Acupuncture works gently with the body’s natural energies and side-effects are rarely experienced. Occasional possible side-effects include; tiredness, temporary light-headedness, or dizziness, feeling emotional or minor bruising. Any side-effects should be reported to your acupuncturist.
Q. How can I be sure my practitioner is qualified?
Always make sure your practitioner is registered with the British Acupuncture Council. This ensures a high level of training, and good standards of hygiene and safe practise. Members of the British Acupuncture Council are also fully insured and licensed by the local authority. Look for the letters MBAcC after your practitioner’s name.
For more information visit www.acupuncture.org.uk