Acupuncture is an ancient oriental practice, which involves inserting fine needles into the skin at specific points on the body.
It is based on the principle that energy – known as ‘qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) - runs through the body along meridians or ‘channels’, all of which correspond to a particular organ or part of the body. If this energy is free -flowing and balanced within the body, the individual is believed to remain in good health. However if qi becomes blocked, impaired or imbalanced, then it is said that mental, emotional or physical illness may follow.
Acupuncture aims to restore the balance of qi in the body, by inserting fine needles to stimulate specific ‘acupoints’ that run along each of the meridians.
What to expect
To find out which acupoints need to be worked, your practitioner will first carry out a consultation. He or she will ask you detailed questions about your family and medical history, diet and lifestyle, and will then carry out a range of assessments, which may include tongue and pulse readings. You will then be asked to remove items of clothing according to which acupoints the practitioner needs to access in order to balance qi within your body.
Needles are generally inserted just a few millimetres or deeper, depending on the area being treated and how large or muscular you are. Once a needle has been inserted, it is usually left in place for between 20 to 30 minutes. The acupuncturist may also add heat to your treatment to increase the flow of blood and qi to the area.
Benefits of acupuncture
Acupuncture is used by people for a variety of reasons. Some use it to help them manage or cope with specific physical, mental or emotional problems, while others use it as a ‘preventative’ measure, to help them maintain good health and a sense of general well-being.
Acupuncture is perhaps one of the better researched complementary therapies, and although the mechanisms as to how the treatment actually ‘works’ still remain unclear, it is used in many Western hospitals and other healthcare settings, alongside conventional medical care.
There is a growing body of evidence that acupuncture is effective in easing some of the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and low back pain. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) now recommend acupuncture for the treatment of persistent, non-specific low back pain.
To read more about the potential benefits acupuncture has as a form of complementary healthcare, click here >>
Acupuncture should not be used in place of conventional medical care. Always consult a GP or other health professional for medical attention and advice.
Choosing a therapist
It is important to choose a qualified acupuncturist who has undertaken the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of this particular therapy.
By choosing an acupuncturist who is an FHT member, you can be confident that they are professionally trained, qualified and insured. They will also be listed on our Complementary Healthcare Therapist Register, as acupuncture is considered a form of complementary healthcare.