It is best not to have acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach or straight after a heavy meal. During your first acupuncture session a full case history will be taken asking you about your symptoms; any medical conditions and medication your are taking; your health history and any other treatment you have received so far. I will be interested to find out about your attitude to life and your specific problem as this will have some influence on the state of your health and progress in getting better. This session allows time for any questions you may have about acupuncture.
I will also feel your pulse and will look at your tongue. Tongue diagnosis has been used by acupuncturists for thousands of years. The colour, shape, coating and moisture on the tongue provides clues about your state of health. For example a very red, dry tongue indicates excess heat in the body, which may manifest in symptoms such as restlessness, anxiety and insomnia.
Information gathered in the first session is used to formulate an individual treatment plan. Although you may have similar symptoms to another patient, your treatment will be slightly different, designed to meet your needs. The needles stay in place for around 20 minutes. During this time you are encouraged to relax and rest. There are not many opportunities in busy lifestyles to take a rest and it is in itself, healing and nourishing.
To get the best possible benefit from acupuncture, it is advisable that you refrain from vigorous exercise after your treatment and, ideally, make some time to rest.
Yes. Acupuncture has a very sound track record. Traditional acupuncturists are taught to needle safely. The needles used are single-use, sterile and disposable.
Two surveys were published in the British Medical Journal in 2001. The surveys concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. This is in fact, far less than many orthodox medical treatments.
One survey was of traditional acupuncturists and the other of doctors who practise acupuncture. A total of 66,000 treatments were reviewed altogether, with only a handful of minor and transient side effects recorded.
A 2003 survey of 6,000 patients of acupuncture produced almost identical figures.
There are very few side effects from acupuncture when practised by a fully qualified practitioner of traditional acupuncture. Minor side effects that do occur include dizziness or bruising around needle points and tiredness are short lived and self correcting.
Acupuncture needles are extremely fine in comparison with needles used for injections and blood tests. The sensation upon needling is often described as tingling or a dull ache, which passes very quickly.
The number of treatments needed vary according to the individual. The more chronic the condition, the more likely you are to need treatment over a longer period of time. It is recommended that you have an initial course of around 5 or 6 treatments on a weekly basis. At this point, we will review progress together and more treatments can be scheduled if necessary.
Some people chose to have occasional treatments to help keep themselves well. For some, health may improve quickly and dramatically, whilst for others, changes may be slower and more subtle. The first treatment will take one hour and subsequent treatments 45 minutes.
Cupping and moxibustion are treatments you may receive alongside acupuncture.
Cupping involves the application of vacuum cups onto the skin. Cups can remain static for a short period or may be gently moved as a form of massage. Cupping invigorates qi and blood circulation in the body and is used to treat back pain, sports injuries and other musculoskeletal problems. Cupping is painless. It leaves some bruising, which fades in a few days.
Moxibustion involves the use of the herb mugwort, to apply heat above acupuncture points. The
heat is soothing, penetrating and relaxing.
The decision to start a course of acupuncture is a step towards improving your health. However, there is much you can do yourself to make a big difference. Acupuncture treatment will include a review of your diet, including when and what you eat and any food intolerance or allergies you may have. The food you eat could be impacting upon your health much more than you realise. You may be advised to avoid particular foods and to eat more of other types of food. Say, for example, that you often feel cold, lethargic and prone to weight gain. Chilled food and drinks and raw food such as salads, will not suit your constitution and may be damaging your health in the long term. A more suitable diet would be warm, lightly cooked food and hot drinks. You may be given a list of foods to avoid and a list which may be better suited to you. The Chinese approach to diet considers each individual's constitution. The advice given may therefore differ for each person.
It is not just about what you are eating, but also about when you eat and under what circumstances. Your may, for example, habitually skip meals because of work pressures or poor time management. Embarking upon acupuncture treatment can provide you with an opportunity to review damaging habits and to take more control over your health.
Helen is registered with SImplyhealth
MSc. BA. LicAc. MBAcC
Member of the Obstetrical Acupuncture Association
Based at the Cathedral Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic
Helen Stafford MSc, BA, LicAc, MBAcC
Exeter Acupuncture Clinic @
Cathedral Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic
6 Southernhay West,
Exeter, EX1 1JG
Bookings: 01392 221122
Enquiries: 07814 304424