For everything from anxiety to a sore knee, or even infertility, there are over 2.3 million acupuncture treatments carried out every year by British Acupuncture Council members.
But despite its popularity, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the complementary medicine – and a lot of the time these can put people off.
We asked British Acupuncture Council member Andrew Jackson to answer eight of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the treatment – and yes, that includes what to do if you’re scared of needles:
1. Is acupuncture painful?
In a word, no.
“Everybody experiences traditional acupuncture differently, however acupuncture needles are so fine that many people don’t feel them being inserted. It is normal to feel a minor sensation or a ‘tingling’ feeling. However once the needles are placed, most people will feel deeply relaxed.”
2. How big are the needles used in acupuncture?
“Being trypanophobic (scared of needles) is very common and acupuncturists face this all the time. There is a common misconception that acupuncture needles are the same as medical needles. This is not true. Acupuncture needles are as fine as human hair and their appearance does not resemble a medical needle.”
3. What can acupuncture help with?
One of the most popular reasons for people seeking acupuncture is to help with infertility problems, but there’s a whole host of other conditions it can help with.
“Whether it’s emotional or physical, acupuncture can help with a majority of conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to joint pain and migraine/tension headaches.”
Some reports even claim it can help stave of dementia, however this claim has been criticised.
4. Who can and can’t have acupuncture?
Everyone can have it, regardless of age.
“There is no age limit for acupuncture. Acupuncturists are experienced in treating any age, ranging from infants to the elderly, and each treatment is tailored to the individual.”
5. What else does an acupuncturist assess?
Get ready for it – your tongue is one of the most useful things an acupuncturist can assess to really know what’s going on with your health.
“The colour, shape and appearance of your tongue go a long way to them learning about your levels of heat distribution throughout your body.”
6. Are acupuncturists trained?
“Members of the British Acupuncture Council are experts in their field and have had at least three years of degree-level training before being accredited. To find your local council member, visit www.introducingacupuncture.co.uk.”
7. Is acupuncture relaxing?
For most people it is – and some even doze off during a treatment.
“Traditional acupuncture is an incredibly relaxing complementary therapy. The practitioners will go out of their way to make you feel completely comfortable – you might even find yourself dozing off it’s that relaxing.”
8. What will the acupuncturist ask me?
One thing you can’t be when going for acupuncture is shy. An acupuncturist will ask a lot, including a few more personal things you might not have been expecting to cover, such as your menstrual cycle and bowel movements.
“In the first session, practitioners will ask some personal questions. This is purely to gain a better understanding of the problem/ailment you might have. This normally lasts for 30 minutes. Afterwards the practitioner has a deeper understanding of your background and history and therefore is able to offer a treatment tailored to you.”
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