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Acupuncture is a holistic treatment using fine needles to stimulate sensory points around the body and promote self-healing.


An Introduction to Acupuncture

Originating in China, Acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate sensory points around the body and promote self-healing.
It is a treatment originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is now popular in Western medicine and has received numerous studies on its effectiveness and benefits.


Concept of Acupuncture

In TCM, an Acupuncture therapist assesses the patient by analysing the tongue, pulse, and the whole body to understand where the imbalance to Qi lies – Qi (pronounced: chee), is a vital life force that flows through the body through particular pathways called meridians. These are accessed by over 350 Acupuncture points and are stimulated with fine needles to help restore flow and harmony in the body.

In western medicine, an Acupuncture therapist uses needles to stimulate particular points on the body which correlate with the central nervous system. This works by sending signals to the brain, which in turn releases neural hormones that naturally relieve pain.


What are meridians?

In TCM, a meridian is an invisible channel through which Qi – the body’s vital energy flows. Similar to our nervous system, the meridian pathways can be mapped throughout the entire body. It is thought when illness or pain occurs, the body’s energy cannot flow freely, and this creates an imbalance in the body.

An acupuncturist stimulates our meridian lines using fine needles to clear these blockages, helping us feel well again. Therefore a practitioner may focus on different parts of the body to the symptomatic area, treating the body with a holistic approach.

Benefits of Acupuncture

How can it benefit you?

Acupuncture is a wonderful tool for enhancing your general wellbeing. It is sometimes used in a clinical setting for headache and migraine relief.

Many people also choose Acupuncture to support a particular concern such as:

  • Improving mood and mental wellbeing
  • Improving relaxation and energy
  • Supporting digestion
  • Supporting pregnancy
  • Balancing hormones
  • Increasing happiness and harmony
  • Increasing life longevity

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Further reading / Studies

As Acupuncture has grown in popularity, a number of clinical studies and reviews have been conducted to establish the practice in western medicine.


Lower back and neck pain 

Long hours sitting at a desk and an overall digital lifestyle, unfortunately, come at the cost of our backs and necks. A systematic review concluded Acupuncture is an effective short-term pain relief for low back pain. A similar review and meta-analysis also deemed Acupuncture suitable for neck pain relief.



Acupuncture is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a treatment for chronic tension-type headaches and migraines. It is sometimes available on the NHS although access is limited.


Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Acupuncture has long been used for women’s health and easing PMS. A Cochrane review of Acupuncture studies related to PMS concluded the practice can help relieve both physical and psychological symptoms.



Positive findings are reported for Acupuncture in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder or anxiety neurosis but there is currently insufficient research evidence for firm conclusions to be drawn.


Sports injuries

In a review of case studies, Acupuncture can be beneficial for delayed onset muscle soreness and can help relieve short-term pain. More research is needed to establish it as a useful, non-invasive, and conservative modality for managing sports injuries.


Sleep problems

A systematic review of trials found Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for improving sleep quality in patients with insomnia.


Nausea or motion sickness

There is good clinical evidence from more than 40 randomised controlled trials that Acupuncture has some effect in preventing or attenuating nausea and vomiting.

Choosing the right Acupuncture therapist

Choosing the right Acupuncture therapist for you

Styles of Acupuncture

The style of Acupuncture a therapist practises will affect how your session is structured.

The most popular types are:


Traditional Acupuncture

This is the oldest form and the most common type. It targets the body holistically to find imbalances in the body and restore energy.


Microsystems Acupuncture

Your practitioner will focus on one area of the body, such as the foot, hand or ear. Working with acupoints in these areas that correspond with specific organs and other parts of the body.


Contemporary, western or medical Acupuncture

This is performed by a registered doctor or healthcare professional. They may provide Acupuncture in a private setting or as a complementary practice.


Currently, there is no statutory regulation of Acupuncture therapists in England. However, it is sometimes available on the NHS. There are some recognised professional bodies that therapists can register with, such as the British Acupuncture Council, Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists and The Acupuncture Society.


Should I choose Acupuncture or Acupressure?

Acupressure and Acupuncture both focus on unblocking energy in the body. Although the technique used is different. Acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate sensory nerves under the skin. In an Acupressure session, however, the therapist will apply pressure to stimulate the body’s pressure points using their hands instead of needles.

The main outcome difference is that Acupuncture needles tend to trigger a stronger reaction to sensory stimulation. Whereas acupressure is less invasive and more suitable for people with an aversion to needles.

What to expect in your first Acupuncture session

What to expect in your first Acupuncture session

You do not need to prepare before your session. However, the following are usually recommended:

  • Have a light meal an hour or two before the treatment.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity after the session.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may need to free up your legs, arms, and back during the session. If necessary, you will be provided with towels or blankets to cover yourself.


What does a typical session look like?

The practitioner will usually start with the assessment of your condition, discuss treatment and your health history. The first session may take you longer, depending on the treatment and could be anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

You may be asked to lay on the back, front, or side, depending on where the practitioner needs to insert the needles. It is not uncommon for the Acupuncture points to be away from your area of concern.

The treatment is usually painless, but you may feel a slight stinging or a tingling sensation when needles are inserted. The practitioner may gently move and twirl the needles during the treatment and apply heat or electrical pulses. Typically, five to twenty needles can be used in a session and can stay for 10 to 30 minutes.

It is usually necessary to repeat sessions, especially when managing a chronic condition.

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Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.