Acupuncture FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

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Acupuncture FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve collected here some of the questions we most often hear about acupuncture. Sometimes there is no simple answer and sometimes there is no short answer to a given question. If the question you have is not answered here, or not answered to enough detail, don’t hesitate to contact us if you don’t find an answer below.

Who can have acupuncture treatment?

There is no limitation in terms of age, sex or condition regarding acupuncture treatment.

  • The very young or extremely old can be treated.
  • All types of conditions can be treated – chronic or acute, severe or mild, mental or physical.
  • Pregnant women are prime candidates for TCM and much can be done to promote both ante-natal and post-natal care of mother and baby.
Can children have treatment?

Yes. All ages of people can safely and effectively have treatment. Children can attend the acupuncture clinic with their parent or guardian.

What kinds of conditions can be treated?

TCM and acupuncture does not treat western labelled conditions, but treats individual people. Three individuals attending the clinic with the same western named condition, say ‘migraine’ may receive three different diagnoses, a different treatment, but each make a sound recovery.

TCM has a full diagnostic framework which is capable of diagnosing and treating any known problem, but as with any medical system or treatment it is better for some things and less good for others. It is best you contact your practitioner to ask more about your particular condition.

Can I have acupuncture with western medical treatment?

Acupuncture can, and often is used in conjunction with western medical treatment. It does not negatively interfere with other forms of medicine. It is important, however, to tell your practitioner what other forms of treatment you are receiving.

Can acupuncture treat fertility issues?

Yes. Acupuncture TCM can be very helpful for those having trouble conceiving or having the family they would wish.

Your practitioner discuss treatment options with you and suggest Chinese Herbal Medicine, either alongside acupuncture treatment, or on its own.

Can acupuncture treat cancer?

No, you can’t treat cancer with acupuncture or Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture can be very helpful in treatment of side-effects of western medical treatment, such as chemotherapy, and for alleviating cancer related pain or other problems, but it cannot treat cancer itself. For this you need to seek western medical treatment.

What happens on my first visit?

Your first visit is for a diagnostic consultation and if you have made an appointment for acupuncture, your first treatment will be included.

Your practitioner will find out medically relevant information about your condition and examine your tongue and you pulse. A brief physical examination will be conducted where necessary.

If you are seeking treatment to a physical injury or ailment, please wear something that will allow the problem area to be examined easily. If you take any medication including vitamins and supplements, bring a list of these to your first appointment.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture doesn’t hurt. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine, almost like a hair, and it is sometimes hard to even feel them being inserted. Often people report a sensation sometime after the insertion of the needle, but this is a pressure-like sensation rather than a pain.

Is it safe?

In the hands of a professionally trained practitioner, Acupuncture TCM is safe and entirely free of negative side-effects.

Acupuncture needles are pre-sterilised, single use needles. They are safe and painless to use, and safely discarded after the treatment.

What if I’m afraid of needles?

The needles used are hair thin and totally unlike the needles used for injections of medicine. Most people don’t even feel the insertion and those who do, describe it as a kind of pressure. There is no need to be afraid of the needles.

If you are worried, however, mention this when you make your appointment, or at your first appointment so your practitioner can take it into account and make things easier for you.

Can I get advice about my western medical treatment?

No, that is outside the field of TCM. If you need advice about medications prescribed to you by your GP or consultant, you need to discuss that with your them.

How many treatments do I need?

It is impossible to say how many treatments somebody will need, especially without a proper consultation and diagnostic process. What can be said is that generally, more recent complaints are easier to treat than chronic, long-standing illnesses.

How often do I need to have a treatment?

Usually treatments are scheduled weekly, sometimes bi-weekly. Many patients choose to, once the problem has been successfully treated, to attend treatment bi-weekly or monthly in order to ensure they stay healthy.

How much does it cost?

The cost varies for each type of treatment (Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine or medical Qigong) and for each clinic – see the individual clinic pages https://jscm.uk/clinics/ for further information.

What happens on my first visit?

Your first visit is for a diagnostic consultation and if you have made an appointment for acupuncture, your first treatment will be included.

Your practitioner will find out medically relevant information about your condition and examine your tongue and you pulse. A brief physical examination will be conducted where necessary.

If you are seeking treatment to a physical injury or ailment, please wear something that will allow the problem area to be examined easily. If you take any medication including vitamins and supplements, bring a list of these to your first appointment.

How many needles are going to be used?

Typically, only between 2-4 needles will be used. In the context of Acupuncture TCM, less IS more.

Do I need to prepare for my appointment?

There is no need for special preparation. It is good to arrive early so you can settle down and collect yourself. 

If you are taking any medication, including vitamins, minerals and other supplements, you should bring these with you.

It can be good to wear comfortable and loose fitting clothing which can be easily removed, especially if you seek treatment for a physical problem which the practitioner will want to examine.

Is it ok to go to the gym after / How long before I can exercise?

It is ok to the usual things you do afterwards. We do recommend that you avoid strenuous exercise or intellectual strain for about 30 minutes after your treatment.

What are your clinic hours?

58 Wellbeing Centre, Mayfair: Tuesdays 9am – 7pm

Kagyu Samye Dzong, Bermondsey: Wednesdays 2pm – 9pm

Kings College NHS Health Centre: Thursday 9am – 6pm

What if I need to cancel or reschedule my appointment?

If you need to cancel or reschedule, please do so at the earliest opportunity – somebody else will be able to use that time slot.

It is best to call or text, as emails may not be read during the clinics hours. If you don’t receive a confirmation to your text, please be so kind and call your practitioner’s mobile.

Please note that cancellations made with less than 24 hours’ notice need to be paid in full.

How does acupuncture work?

There is no simple answer to how Acupuncture works. The systematic knowledge and understanding of human functioning that TCM has is very different from modern western medicine, and not directly translatable. There are a number of suggestions of the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture but none come forth with a clear and definite answer.

We know from our experience that acupuncture works. But understanding how it does it, in western scientific terms, may have to wait for many further advancements in the fields of modern medicine as well as in science. Recent research into quantum theory has produced results that are somewhat consistent with TCM theory, but understanding this field of study is mainly out of reach of ordinary people.

How does the practitioner decide what to do or where to put the needles:

TCM acupuncture treatment is based on a thorough diagnosis and examination of the problem. Only once your practitioner is satisfied that they have all the information they need in order to understand what is wrong, will they attempt to start putting it right and give you a treatment.

Selecting the right points for your individual condition is a matter of a good diagnosis combined with the practitioners experience. Each acupuncture point does a different thing, or the same thing but slightly differently. 

Do I need to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

No, you don’t. Infants can be treated, as can unconscious people. Animals can be, and are, successfully treated with acupuncture. 

Many medical practitioners, regardless of their field, tend to agree that it does help if the patient’s mind and psyche are engaged in the process of getting better, but this is an accessory to the medicine, not the medicine.

What can it do that going to the doctor can’t?

TCM views the human being very differently from western medicine. It does not separate the body from the mind, or the inside from the outside, but takes a comprehensively holistic view of the person, the complaint and the context it is happening in. TCM can often diagnose and treat ‘odd complaints’, problems that western medicine can’t put a label on.

Can acupuncture improve my health even if I’ not ill?

To go the your GP, you generally need to be ill. Not so with TCM – you can use acupuncture and TCM even when you are not ill, just ‘not feeling 100%’, or you don’t want to wait until you get ill.

TCM has always been used to improve health, to be so well that you don’t get unwell, and be able to live your life to full.

In olden times in China, the patient used to see their practitioner regularly in the understanding that it was the practitioner’s job to help them stay well. If they did fall ill, they wouldn’t pay for the treatment.

Do I need to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

No you don’t. The effectiveness of acupuncture does not based on faith. Milk babies can effectively be treated, and so can unconscious people. Even animals can and do have acupuncture treatment.

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