Many people come to acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or conditions, and some because they simply feel generally unwell. Others choose acupuncture to enhance their feeling of well-being. Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages, including babies and children. It can also be used alongside conventional medicine.
Acupuncture is based upon medical principles which have been developed, researched and refined for over 2000 years.
Scientists believe that it works by stimulating the nervous system which then activates mechanisms which cause healing and promote physical and emotional well-being. Unlike conventional Western medicine, acupuncture emphasizes individual attention and hands-on care – rather than drugs and technology – and does not carry a risk of adverse side effects.
Acupuncture generally works by correcting a persons underlying imbalances which, if left untreated, can create ill health or loss of function and general well-being. When a person is perfectly balanced, they stay well and function optimum levels.
The first acupuncture treatment combines a diagnosis and treatment – and therefore could last up to 1 1/2 hours. You will be asked about your current symptoms, what treatment you have received, your medical history, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. Mary will also feel your pulses on both wrists, and ask to look at your tongue.
Please bring along a list of any medical and herbal supplements you may be taking, as well as any blood tests and hospital investigations you may have had as this will aid the diagnosis.
The acupuncture points used are not always close to the part of the body where you experience the problem. For example, although you might have hurt your back, needles may be inserted into your hand or foot.
Don’t be alarmed by this, it is done because acupuncture treats the whole body as an interconnected system, such that change in one area can affect the rest.
The number of acupuncture treatments you need depends on the complexity of your illness, whether it’s a long-standing or recent condition, and your general health.
For example, you may need only one treatment for a recent wrist sprain, while a long-term illness may require treatments for several months to achieve good results.
What you do at home in between treatments can make a huge difference in how quickly you heal.
If you act on suggestions regarding dietary therapy, heating/cooling an injury, and lifestyle changes, you can speed up your recovery dramatically.
It is easier to give an estimate after a consultation when more information about the patient and their medical history has been made available.
If you have been prescribed medication you should tell your doctor that you are planning to have acupuncture. You should also tell your acupuncturist about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture has a very sound track record. Each patient is treated with single-use, sterile needles that are disposed of after the treatment.
The same safety precautions are taken with the needles as you would expect at a hospital – however the needles used in acupuncture are significantly thinner.
Acupuncture is a recommended (p11, 1.6.1) treatment for long term back pain by NICE who provided trusted guidance to the NHS.
Responses to treatment can sometimes include tiredness or mild dizziness, and on occasion mild bruising may occur – however all reactions are short-lived.
Acupuncture focuses on improving the well being of the patient as a whole and as such it can help people with a wide range of ailments.
The British acupuncture Council has compiled research documents into the effective treatment of acupuncture and currently lists a number of health conditions acupuncture can treat.
In addition the World Health Organisation (WHO) has a PDF of research (large file – see page 23 onwards) dedicated to Acupuncture.
Specifically they list the symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved – through controlled trials – to be an effective treatment:
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Induction of labour
Lower back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Nausea and vomiting
Pain in dentistry
Periarthritis of shoulder