Acupuncture involves the expert and precise insertion of fine sterilised needles into the skin at locations known as acupuncture points. These points lie throughout the body on pathways called meridians along which Qi flows. In the Chinese medical system, stimulation of acupuncture points through the insertion of acupuncture needles regulates the flow of Qi and influences the functioning of organs in your body. Biomedically, various studies have shown that Acupuncture can stimulate nerve impulses, change the body's perception of pain and influence levels of hormones and neurotransmitters in the body.
Acupuncture is today the most widely practiced Chinese medicine treatment in the UK, offered by traditional acupuncturists, as well as NHS healthcare professionals such as GPs, physiotherapists, midwives and nurses.
What happens during an acupuncture treatment?
Acupuncture is often carried out on the abdomen, the forearms and the lower legs, although this obviously depends on the problem being treated. Before your treatment, we will ask you to remove any clothing covering the areas that need to be used. It is therefore best to wear loose clothing that can be easily pulled up or removed. We will usually use between 5 and 10 acupuncture points, depending on your personal needs and the condition being treated.
Acupuncture needles are very fine, about the thickness of a strand of hair, and are solid rather than hollow. When the needles are inserted, you may feel a small pin prick with people often describing a tingling, heaviness or a dull ache after the needle is inserted. You will then be asked to relax whilst the needles are retained for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, the circulation of your Qi is restored and the natural balance in your body regained.
Who can use acupuncture?
In 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a consensus statement that supported the use of Acupuncture for a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture is particularly well documented in the treatment of:
- Headache and migraines
- Painful conditions such as lower back pain, sports injuries and arthritic or rheumatic joint pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Smoking, drug and alcohol addictions
- Respiratory and allergic conditions such as asthma, hayfever and sinusitis
- Gynaecological conditions such as painful periods and irregular periods
- Neurological conditions such as Bell's Palsy and hemiplegia.