Who has acupuncture?

Many people use acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or conditions.  Others choose acupuncture as a preventative measure to strengthen their constitution or because they just feel generally unwell.  Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies, children and the elderly, and can be very effective when used alongside conventional medicine.

How can acupuncture help me? 

Acupuncture is widely considered to be beneficial for a range of illnesses and symptoms, from clearly defined complaints to more general feelings of ill health and low energy.  Take a look at the British Acupuncture Council's research fact sheets to find out more about how acupuncture can help you.

How many sessions will I need?

That depends on your individual condition.  At first your acupuncturist will normally ask to see you once or twice a week.  You may start to feel benefits after the first or second session, although long-standing and chronic conditions usually need more time to improve.  Once your health has stabilised you may need top-up sessions every few weeks.  Acupuncture is also very effective when used as preventative healthcare and many people like to go for a 'retuning' session at the change of each season throughout the year.

What does it feel like?

Most people find acupuncture to be very relaxing.  Patients often describe the needle sensation as a tingling or dull ache.  This is one of the signs that the body's qi, or vital energy, has been stimulated.

I'm scared of needles - can I still have acupuncture?

Yes.  Acupuncture needles are very much finer that the needles used for injections and blood tests.  You may not even feel them penetrate the skin and once in place they are hardly noticeable.

What should I do beforehand?

Try not to have a large meal within an hour of your appointment, as the process of digestion will alter the pattern of your pulse, and you may need to lie on your stomach.  You should also avoid alcohol and food or drink that colours your tongue such as coffee or strong tea.  It is a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothes so that the acupuncture points, especially those on your legs, are easily accessible.

How will I feel afterwards?

You are likely to feel relaxed and calm.  If the acupuncture has been particularly strong you may feel tired or drowsy and it is worth bearing in mind if you plan to drive or use any other machinery soon afterwards.

Are there any unpleasant side-effects?

Acupuncture has virtually no unpleasant side effects, and any that do occur are mild and self-correcting.  Occasionally there may be minor bruising at the needle point or short-term flare-up of your symptoms as your qi clears and resettles.

Should I still take my prescribed medication whilst having a course of acupuncture?

Yes.  The acupuncture may enable you to reduce or even stop taking some forms of medication, but you should always consult your doctor regarding any change of prescription. DO NOT stop taking medication without professional guidance.

I have private medical insurance - will it cover the cost?

This depends on your insurer.  As the demand for complementary medicine increases more private health insurance companies are beginning to offer cover for traditional acupuncture.  You should check your individual policy details.