What is it?
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for thousands of years. The theory is that a life force called Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) travels around the body, along lines called meridians. Acupuncture works by correcting imbalances in Qi. Researchers are looking for medical reasons why acupuncture may work, for example by acting on the nervous system.
The acupuncturist inserts thin needles at certain points on the skin. They might also use heat, pressure, electrical currents or laser light.
How might it help?
Many research studies on acupuncture have been published. Some of these did report benefits for a wide range of conditions but the quality of the available evidence is mixed. One of acupuncture’s main uses is to control pain. It is also used for nausea, women’s problems, and addictions.
However, more studies with a better design are needed, before we can say for sure.
What about safety?
Currently, acupuncturists are not regulated by law (unless they also practise in a mainstream health profession). This situation is likely to change as acupuncturists will be regulated in a similar way to doctors or nurses.
Some healthcare professionals, such as doctors and physiotherapists, use acupuncture alongside regular medical treatment.
Infection is a possibility so your acupuncturist should use disposable needles. It’s important for your acupuncturist to be qualified so they don’t damage any inner organs. You might feel faint after a treatment and some people have bruising.
Where can I learn more?
Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists www.aacp.uk.com Members must be qualified physiotherapists with additional training in acupuncture.
You can search online for a therapist and will also see information about acupuncture on the website.
You can find an acupuncturist by looking online at British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) www.medical-acupuncture.co.uk Members must be registered healthcare professionals with additional training in acupuncture. You can search online to find an acupuncturist in your area.