acupuncture FAQs

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is part of a comprehensive system of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for 2000 years and is a positive model for good health. It is one of the safest medical practises on offer in the UK today and is used by thousands of people as an effective way of improving their health.

Chinese medicine views the body as an energetic organism and believes that optimal physical and mental health are determined by the flow of energy or ‘qi’ throughout the body. Qi can easily become disturbed or imbalanced due to environmental, inherited or lifestyle causes, resulting in pain or ill health. Acupuncture aims to restore balance by the insertion of extremely fine, sterile disposable needles into appropriate points along the channel pathways.

Chinese medicine focuses on the individual rather than their main complaint and all symptoms are seen in relation to each other. It is therefore possible for two patients to have different treatments despite presenting with the same condition, as my diagnoses may point to different root causes.

From a Western medical perspective, acupuncture is considered to influence a number of body functions, such as hormone production, modulating an immune response, and reducing inflammation. Medical scientists have discovered myofascial pathways that trace the channels documented by the early acupuncturists, and the concept of qi seems to overlap with emerging facts about how the body’s cells communicate.

For more information, please visit the British Acupuncture Council.

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Who has acupuncture?

Many people have acupuncture when they are in pain, such as a bad back or recent injury. Other people seek acupuncture when they feel out of balance or have a problem that's been bothering them for a long time, such as anxiety or insomnia. Despite my specialisation, I treat a wide spectrum of conditions, so do give me a call to discuss how I can help you.

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What happens at the appointment?

I will take a full medical history and provide the time and space for you to tell your story. I will feel your pulses and look at your tongue, which are methods of diagnosis in Chinese medicine. I will then form a diagnosis, and select a treatment that is beskpoke to you. I may use a combination of techniques, including auricular acupuncture, moxibustion, massage, dietary or lifestyle advice to supplement my treatment. You may find in the process of having acupuncture that other niggling problems you've been experiencing also improve.

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Is it safe?

Yes, when practised by fully trained and qualified traditional acupuncturists. All needles are single-use and sterile. I've completed a degree in acupuncture, followed by 20 years of continued professional development, which ensures the highest standards are met in all clinical procedures and patient care. I am fully insured and am a member of the British Acupuncture Council, which has a strict code of practice to which all members must adhere.

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What does it feel like?

Acupuncture needles are very fine and some people don't feel them at all. It is normal to feel a slight tingle or ache once the needle has been inserted. Most people feel very calm and relaxed during and after the treatment.

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Does it work?

There is an every growing body of research showing that acupuncture does work. As with all forms of medicine, some people and some conditions will respond better than others. For more information on specific conditions, click here.

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How many treatments will I need?

I will discuss and agree this with you at your first appointment, and depends very much on what you're coming to see me for. I generally recommend a course of treatment, for example six weekly appointments, and then discuss our progress at the end of the course. We may then agree to stop, reduce the frequency, or continue for a while longer. If you're coming to see me for either fertility or cancer care, then the course of treatment will be designed around additional considerations, and this will be discussed at our first appointment.

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Does the NHS recommend acupuncture?

Yes. I currently work in the NHS in cancer care, and more generally, acupuncture in the NHS is becoming increasingly widespread. It is currently recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for migraines and headaches, and by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) for chronic pain, including low back pain and knee pain.

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Will my health insurance pay for acupuncture?

Some health policies now cover treatment with BacC registered acupuncturists, so check with your insurer.

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