In Chinese medicine, ‘qi’ is a term used to describe body processes and functions. Acupuncture regulates the flow of qi within the body by inserting fine needles into specific points on ‘meridian’ pathways on the skin. Other techniques can also be used, such as moxibustion or massage.
In traditional acupuncture there is no mind-body split. In other words, the physical, emotional and mental aspects of life are seen as interdependent. This holistic approach underpins my work.
Amidst the challenges and changes that our busy lives bring, I offer a calm, safe and accepting space. Together we can sensitively listen, notice and attend to what’s happening within you. Treatment is as much about the maintenance of health as the management of dis-ease, and the benefits frequently go beyond relieving one particular condition. Many people find it can lead to an enhanced sense of overall relaxation, wellbeing and vitality.
What will happen when I go for treatment?
I will take a thorough medical history, feel your pulses, may examine the site of your symptoms, and may look at your tongue. This allows me to identify your individual underlying patterns of disharmony and design a personalised treatment plan.
I will decide which combination of acupuncture points is right for your whole body as well as your symptoms. Sometimes acupuncture needles are inserted for just a second or two, or you may rest for a while before the needles are removed. Points most commonly used are used on the forearm, lower leg, abdomen and back. I recommend that you wear loose comfortable clothing to allow easy access to these areas.
I may also combine some massage strokes, pressures and movements, using my hands to help release tension and discomfort.
I also use craniosacral therapy techniques. Craniosacral therapy is an extremely gentle form of body therapy that supports the body’s innate ability to balance and restore itself. I use sensitive touch (over clothing) to feel tensions and subtle flows within your body, working with the underlying forces that facilitate health. Contact is usually made with the feet, head and the base of the spine, and often with other areas too. The subtle dialogue between me and your body helps to reorganise the effects of life’s experiences, both physical and emotional, and encourages your body’s innate resources.
Who has acupuncture?
A wide variety of people of all ages use acupuncture. Some women use acupuncture for support throughout their pregnancy. Children can benefit from acupuncture (and non-needle techniques can be effectively used). It is also used alongside western medicine in palliative care. People first seek acupuncture for help with a wide range of conditions, such has migraines, back pain, digestive complaints, menstrual problems, fertility issues, skin problems, anxiety, insomnia, post-viral fatigue and many more. Other people choose acupuncture when their body systems are out of balance, even though they have no obvious diagnosis. Some choose to have regular treatment because they find it beneficial and relaxing.
Is there evidence that acupuncture works?
Evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness is growing. A large systematic review concluded that acupuncture was effective for chronic pain: osteoarthritis, back pain, neck pain, headaches, and shoulder pain¹. This review also showed that acupuncture was not a placebo and the effects persisted over time. Acupuncture has been included in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for Headaches (CG150) and for Chronic Primary Pain (CG193). The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN): Management of Chronic Pain (136) guidelines include acupuncture for lower back pain and osteoarthritis.
For many conditions a sufficient number of high quality clinical trials have yet to be conducted for researchers to draw firm conclusions. You can find detailed evidence on the British Acupuncture Council website: www.acupuncture.org.uk and at www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org.
How can acupuncture help me?
I will treat you as a person, not just the condition which you have, so each person’s treatment plan will be different. I will be happy to offer a free chat about how acupuncture can help you.
What do acupuncture needles feel like?
Acupuncture needles are so fine that most people don’t feel them being inserted. It is normal to feel a mild tingle or dull ache as the needle is adjusted. Many people feel deeply relaxed during the treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
Weekly sessions are quite usual to begin with, for perhaps five or six treatments, reducing in frequency as your body responds.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of healthcare you can choose. Definitive surveys in the UK and Germany concluded that when practised by a properly trained qualified traditional acupuncturist, the risk of serious adverse events from acupuncture is extremely low.
Are there any side effects?
Sometimes a small bruise may appear when a needle is removed but this is unusual. Occasionally, people can feel dizzy or tired for a brief time after treatment.
Should I tell my doctor I’m having acupuncture?
If you have been prescribed medication I recommend you tell your doctor that you plan to have acupuncture. Do not stop taking your medication. You should tell me about any medication and supplements you are taking.
I am trained to recognise potentially serious underlying health conditions and will refer you to your GP if appropriate.
Will my health insurance pay for acupuncture?
Some health policies now cover treatment with BAcC registered acupuncturists so check with your insurer.
1. Vickers AJ, Vertosick EA, Lewith G, et al. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. J Pain 2018;19(5):455-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.11.005.