How does acupuncture work?

Scientific studies suggest acupuncture has an effect on the body in several different ways, both locally where the needle is inserted and centrally. Neurochemicals like endorphins and serotonin are released, which soothe pain and aid relaxation. Effects have also been shown on the nervous system, local blood circulation as well as the hormonal and immune system.

What does it feel like?

Most people find acupuncture very relaxing. Acupuncture needles are very different from needles used for blood tests and injections, much finer. They are about as thin as sewing thread and flex easily.

Patients are often surprised at how little they feel of the needle insertion. Once the needle is in place a dull ache or tingling sensation signals the needle is having an effect. Often a general sense of relaxation and expansion can be felt too.

During each treatment I make sure I have your consent. You are in control and can at any time tell me to stop or go slower.

What happens when I come for my first treatment?

During the first treatment I ask you questions regarding your health history, lifestyle habits, current health state and personal circumstances to get a comprehensive picture of your overall health. This is to create a tailor-made plan that we discuss at the second appointment.

I take your pulses on both wrists and look at your tongue to diagnose and may do a physical examination. We then discuss any questions you may have about the needles before we start. For the first treatment I use points on your back and the needles are either taken out immediately or left for about 20 minutes while you relax on the couch. This first treatment usually takes about an hour.

What happens at a treatment?

A typical treatment takes about 45 minutes, including a few minutes to catch up on how you have been, taking your pulses and looking at your tongue before you lie back and relax for the treatment. Needles are usually left in for about 20 minutes and then to finish some points are needled with the needles immediately taken out afterwards.

Other techniques may also be used to complement the needles, such as moxibustion, cupping or tuina. If so I will always discuss this with you first. You can read more about these therapies below.

What should I wear and will I have to undress?

Loose comfortable clothing is preferable to help you relax and for easy access to acupuncture points on your lower legs and arms. When you need to undress, for treating the back for instance, a gown is provided to keep you covered and warm.

What should I do before a treatment?

Make sure to eat something beforehand but avoid heavy meals within an hour of your treatment. If possible, also avoid food and drinks that colour your tongue like tea or coffee. Take it easy afterwards and to gain maximum benefit from the treatment don’t drink alcohol the same day.

Where do you put the needles?

The most commonly used acupuncture points are on the legs and arms, but points on the back, abdomen, head and chest are also used. The effect of points are not limited to the area they are in, they can have an effect on the whole body or the opposite extremity, such as a foot point affecting the head.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is considered very safe when carried out by a qualified practitioner. Needles are sterile and for single-use so the risk of infection is exceptionally small. Adverse reactions are rare and short-lived, such as tiredness, mild dizziness or very occasionally mild bruising at the site of needling.

How many sessions will I need?

The number and frequency depend on your condition and response to treatment. You may feel an improvement already after the initial treatments but for more long-standing conditions getting better often takes longer. Commonly patients come weekly or fortnightly to begin with, then monthly as their symptoms improve and finally seasonally for regular tune-ups.

How will I feel after a treatment?

Most people feel relaxed and calm afterwards. However, sometimes you may also feel a little tired and lightheaded so go easy on yourself after each acupuncture treatment. Your body is readjusting and needs time and energy to assimilate the changes. If you are driving from the appointment take a minute to sit in the car and get your bearings. Don’t book anything strenuous or stressful directly after your appointment and to gain the maximum effect of the treatment don’t drink any alcoholic drinks or stay up late the same day.

Occasionally patients experience a worsening of their symptoms after a treatment. This is considered a sign of the condition improving, as the body readjusts and makes another effort to begin clearing the imbalance for good. A case of things getting worse before they get better.

What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion is the use of the herb Chinese mugwort, called moxa, on the skin to warm specific acupuncture points or areas like the abdomen. Moxa comes in a fine ground texture that is made into small cones and used either on the end of a needle or placed on the skin. The top is then lit and burns down a little way, creating a pleasant penetrating warmth.

What is cupping?

Cupping is a therapy used to treat muscle pain or the early stages of colds and flu. Glass cups with suction are placed on the skin, usually on the back, and left for a short period of time.

What is tuina?

Tuina is a type of therapeutic massage that can be used to complement and reinforce acupuncture treatment.

Should I tell my doctor that I am having acupuncture?

If you are on prescribed medication it is recommended you let your doctor know you are having acupuncture. You should always consult with your GP before changing frequency or dose of your medication. I will also need to know what medication you are taking as this may affect your response to treatment.

How much does it cost?

Treatments are £57 for the first session and then £49 for subsequent ones.

Where can I have a treatment with you?

I treat at two clinics in Hampshire – in Petersfield at the Centre of Complementary Medicine and in Alresford at The Studio. I also treat at the Redwood Suite in Midhurst, West Sussex. For more information and directions please see Clinics.