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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient system of treatment with a history of over 3000 years and can be used for clearly defined problems such as migraine, back ache, dental pain and vomiting to more general feelings of being unwell, low energy or tiredness.  For a list of conditions that can be treated with acupuncture, please look at the British Acupuncture Council website

Acupuncture consists of inserting very fine needles into particular places on the body with the intention of improving the health and well-being of the patient.  The needle encourages the body’s self healing mechanisms to activate and restores balance, seeing no separation between body, mind and emotions. When a person is balanced they feel energetic, enthusiastic and able to cope with anything life throws at them.  If this balance is lost, or qi (vital energy) is blocked, a person may experience fatigue, pain, low mood and a lack of resilience.  There are many things that can throw us out of balance and block the qi, such as injury, stress, overwork, poor diet, lack of exercise, physical or emotional trauma and the general day-to-day events of life.

Traditional acupuncture treats the person as a whole rather than the label of the disease.  Each person is completely unique and so two people experiencing back pain may have different acupuncture points used as the cause of their back pain could be very different.

Can acupuncture cure everything?

Acupuncture is a wonderful complement to orthodox medicine, but it is not a substitute for it.  You need to take responsibility for your own health and see your GP if you think you have a problem that is serious.  I can use acupuncture to compliment orthodox treatments such as easing the side effects of chemotherapy, but it is often wise to discuss this with your GP.

Sometimes people are just not feeling themselves or have an underlying grumble that they just put up with – just like the odd noise that your car makes, but it still drives ok, so why get anything done about it?  Acupuncture is great at helping people with these such grumbles – nothing is seriously wrong but if left long enough you may start to suffer further problems, just like a car eventually will.  Acupuncture will help your body right itself so you feel better in yourself.

If you are unsure whether acupuncture can help you, please contact me either by telephone or email for a chat.  The British Acupuncture Council have produced research factsheets on many conditions which you may find useful to read here

How does it work?

This is an area of big debate between acupuncturists and the medical profession and there are many different explanations of how it works:

Western theory

Scientific research and clinical evidence has shown that in terms of pain relief, acupuncture works by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to release natural chemicals; endorphin which is a pain-killer, melatonin which promotes sleep and serotonin which promotes well-being, to name a few.  These chemicals help the body to heal itself and relieve pain.  Research has not yet proved why acupuncture works for a whole host of other medical conditions.

Traditional Chinese Medicine theory

This is an ancient system that was originally passed down from master to apprentice and has an interesting history through the years.  It is a holistic concept which regards ill health, pain or disease as an imbalance in the body’s energy, or qi (pronounced chee).  There is Yin energy, which is quiet, calm, dark, female, cold, and Yang energy, which is vigorous, light, male, hot. They are complementary opposites and there is always some Yin in Yang and vice versa.  There is a dynamic flow of qi around the body but it should be balanced for health.  Qi may become blocked or stagnant for a number of reasons – injury, stress, illness, poor movement patterns, trauma, emotional disturbance, poor breathing technique, poor diet or constitutional weakness. By stimulating certain points on the body, the balance of this energy can be changed so that balance is restored, resulting in better health.

Is there any risk of infection from the needles?

All needles I use are pre-sterilised and are single use only.  I follow strict rules and regulations when using and disposing of needles so you can rest assured that there is no risk of infection.

What happens when I come for acupuncture?

At your first appointment I will ask you questions that will help me form a picture of you and your particular condition.  It will be useful to bring a list of medications you are currently taking.  I will feel the pulse in your wrist and will also ask to look at your tongue as these are important reflections of what is going on inside your body.  You will then be asked to make yourself comfortable on the treatment couch and I will start inserting the needles.  For the first appointment the needles will be left in 10-20 minutes.  Once your treatment is completed I will ensure you are feeling ok and discussions on further treatment can be made.

It is best to wear loose comfortable clothing that can be moved around to put the needles in, or you may wish to wear/bring shorts or a sleeveless top.  Before your treatment it is recommended to have a light meal a few hours before to ensure you don’t feel dizzy or weak after treatment but avoid a big meal as you may need to lie on your stomach for treatment.

Who can practice acupuncture?

At the moment acupuncturist is not a protected title, unlike physiotherapist.  This means that anyone can call themselves an acupuncturist with little or no training.  There are organisations that are trying to regulate acupuncture, such as the British Acupuncture Council and the British Medical Acupuncture Society, which regulates medical acupuncturists such as doctors.  Doctors and Physiotherapists who practice acupuncture have had basic training and practice mostly what is called ‘Western Acupuncture’ and mainly treat pain.  I completed this basic training in 2001 and have gone on to study acupuncture full time for three years to understand the traditional Chinese medicine theory.  If you have had failed acupuncture in the past from a Western trained acupuncturist or someone who is not a member of a professional body, come and see if I can make a difference in your condition using a traditional Chinese medicine approach.

Other techniques

There are a number of other techniques which I may discuss and use to treat you, including the following:

Moxibustion - the burning of a herb moxa on or near

to the needles to add heat to the body.

Cupping – the application of suction cups to the body

to bring more blood to the area to nourish the tissues

and help decrease pain.

Gua sha – using a special tool to scrape over the skin

to encourage blood and qi to move freely.

Auricular acupuncture – using acupuncture needles,

magnets or pellets on certain points in the ear, which

may just be used during treatment or may be left in

place for a couple of days.  It is believed that the

whole body is represented in the ear and using

these points is helpful if I cannot needle certain

parts of the body due to poor skin condition, infection,

inflammation or swelling.  There are also certain protocols

I can use to help with drug detox (including nicotine).

Acupressure – a gentler form of acupuncture for people

who are needle phobic or cannot tolerate the needles –

the acupuncture points are stimulated by pressure rather

than a needle.

Electroacupuncture – stimulating needles by sending

an electrical current through them, similar to a TENS

machine used for pain relief.


How much are appointments?

 The initial appointment is £40 and can take up to an hour, subsequent appointments are £35 for up to 45 minutes.

If you struggle to pay this amount or have a condition that requires regular acupuncture, please consider attending Hull and East Yorkshire Community Acupuncture clinic on Bean Street in Hull.  Here you will receive the same care and skill of delivering acupuncture but as you are in a room with other people, the costs can be reduced, giving you a saving.  Visit the website for more information.