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What are the benefits of acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an integrative medicine that addresses a wide range of conditions. Pain, stress and trauma can manifest in various ways, often physically, from minor aches and pains to complex conditions. People can often come with a specific condition, to find that not only are their symptoms improving but they are better able to cope with life’s stressors, feel like they are back in control of their health and life and feel more like themselves again. Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the release of endorphins, not only the body’s feel-good hormone, but also the body's natural pain-relieving chemical. It is also believed to influence the autonomic nervous system, which affects both the sympathetic (your body’s fight or flight system) and parasympathetic (your body’s rest and digest system) nervous systems, affecting body functions such as breathing, blood pressure, heart rate etc.


What can I expect from treatment?

Your first appointment will take around 1.5-2 hours and includes a personal and physical assessment, including medical history, family history, medication, lifestyle, sleep etc in order to gain a full picture of what may be behind your symptoms. I will then run some diagnostic tests, including taking your pulse, temperature, blood pressure, looking at your tongue. This will be followed by your first treatment. Thereafter treatments will be around 45 minutes to an hour.

Is acupuncture painful?

This question is often asked as many people say they are scared of needles, equating needles with the size of the injections they may have previously had in western medicine. Acupuncture needles are flexible and only as thick as two human hairs, making it a very different experience to an injection. Acupuncture rarely 'hurts', but can feel like a dull ache or a tingling sensation. Points around the hand or feet can sometimes be a little sharp, but the sensation is usually brief. Most people find acupuncture treatment to be a relaxing and calming experience.


How many sessions of acupuncture do I need?

The number of sessions will depend on how acute or deep-seated your condition is. For best effect, I recommend a course of five initial treatments on a weekly basis. Then depending on your condition, ongoing treatment may be required but I will assess on how well you have responded to treatment in terms of they can then be spaced out along with a treatment plan to suit your individual needs. Of course you are always in control of your own health and you are always free to choose the number of sessions you would like.

How regularly do I need to come for acupuncture?

This depends on each individual and the severity of their condition. Some people respond quickly while others take longer. Acupuncture has a cumulative effect with treatments building on each other. While one-off treatments can help with an acute emergency, in one treatment you are likely to feel a a change, a shift or relief but it is likely not to resolve the problem. Like a good exercise or nutrition programme, it usually requires time and commitment to reap the full results. I usually recommend an initial commitment of five treatments spaced one week apart to clear blocks, bring the body back into balance and create a solid foundation for healing so that you get the most out of your treatment. It is recommended that the first few treatments not be spaced too far apart (weekly is preferrable) as this will reduce effectiveness while your body is getting used to being in a healing state. If you have a condition that requires ongoing treatment, we can discuss a plan for you. Most people, once back in balance, book bimonthly, monthly, seasonally or as and when they feel the need for treatment.


Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments currently on offer in the UK. A 2001 study concluded that the risk of serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10 000. Some minor side effects may be experienced in a small number of patients. This may include drowsiness; nausea; dizziness; bruising; a skin rash; a dull ache or minor local swelling; or tenderness or discomfort at the site of treatment. Your symptoms may also temporarily get worse after treatment, but this is often a sign that the body is self-correcting as part of the healing process.

What's the research?

Acupuncture’s effectiveness has been confirmed in various clinical trials, and there is now a growing body of evidence to demonstrate acupuncture as an evidenced-based medicine. There is also substantial evidence supporting its effectiveness when compared with conventional treatment for addressing various conditions. The John Hopkins Hospital for Medicine have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment, alone or in combination with conventional therapies, to treat a number of conditions. Acupuncture has also been recommended by NICE for the treatment of chronic pain

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