Many people use acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or conditions.
Others choose acupuncture as a preventive 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. It can be very effective when integrated with conventional medicine.
What should I do before a treatment?
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 lower limbs, are easily accessible.
Should I still take my prescribed medication while I'm having a course of acupuncture?
The acupuncture treatment 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'm scared of needles - can I still have acupuncture?
Yes. Certain styles like Japanese acupuncture use needles that do not break the skin or are inserted extremely lightly.
Acupuncture needles are very much finer than 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.
I have private medical insurance - will it cover the cost of my treatment?
That depends upon 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.
Should I tell my doctor that I'm having acupuncture?
If you are currently receiving treatment from your doctor it is sensible to mention that you plan to have acupuncture.
Your acupuncturist will need to know about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.
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 the body's qi, or vital energy, has been stimulated
How can traditional 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 our research fact sheets to find out more about how traditional acupuncture can help you.
Are there any unpleasant side effects?
Acupuncture has virtually no unpleasant side effects. Any that do occur are mild and self-correcting.
Occasionally there may be minor bruising at the needle point or a short-term flare-up of your symptoms as your qi clears and resettles.
Is acupuncture available on the NHS?
A handful of GP practices offer integrated healthcare with complementary therapies including acupuncture.
However this is not yet commonplace.
How will I feel after a treatment?
You are likely to feel relaxed and calm.
If the treatment has been particularly strong you may feel tired or drowsy and it is worth bearing this in mind if you plan to drive or use any other machinery soon afterwards.
What should it cost?
There is no fixed fee as practitioners' overheads vary.
If you contact a few acupuncturists in your area you should discover an approximate fee level amongst them.
Find a Traditional Chinese Medicine Institute registered acupuncturist near you.
Is it safe for babies, children and teenagers?
Yes. Children and adolescents usually respond very well to acupuncture. Many acupuncturists specialise in paediatric care.
How many sessions do 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 treatment although long-standing and chronic conditions usually need more time to improve.
Once your health has stabilised you may need top-up treatments every few weeks.
Traditional acupuncture is also very effective when used as preventive healthcare and many people like to go for a 'retuning' session at the change of each season throughout the year.