What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years, and although many different styles have evolved, it is a thoroughly tried and tested system. From this ancient perspective, the insertion and manipulation of needles under the skin at specific points on the body balances the flow of 'qi' (loosely translated as vital energy), thereby restoring and maintaining health.  From the Western medical perspective, there is much debate about how acupuncture achieves its effects, but studies have shown (amongst other things) that blood flow is increased, hormones are influenced, and areas of the brain are directly affected. See the JCM website and my Research page for up-to-date information on acupuncture research.


Moxabustion (or 'moxa'), and cupping, are also important parts of acupuncture treatment.  Moxa involves warming acupuncture points or areas of the body in various ways, for example with a cigar-like stick (see image to the right).  Cupping involves stimulating qi and blood flow with glass or plastic suction cups.


Whatever your perspective, acupuncture can often provide significant health benefits, either by addressing specific conditions, or by improving general health and wellbeing. Treatment is aimed at the underlying 'root' of your condition, as well as the symptoms.























Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine, sterile, single-use needles into various points on the body. This can cause a range of sensations, which most people find tolerable or even pleasant.  Depending on your condition, other techniques may be employed, including cupping (the placement of suction cups onto the skin), electro-acupuncture (passing a mild current through the needles), moxabustion (warming acupuncture points with burning herbs), and tuina massage.  Herbal remedies may also be offered.


Adverse reactions are rare, although bruising can occasionally occur which clears within a few days. You may notice your bowel movements and other bodily functions alter as your system adjusts to treatment, and some people may experience a 'healing crisis', where the condition temporarily worsens following treatment before getting better. You may feel tired after a treatment and should allow time to recover before driving etc.  





Unfortunately, due to new ASA regulations, acupuncturists and other healthcare providers are no longer allowed to discuss the benefits of their therapies in terms of specific conditons not deemed to be proven scientifically.  Nor are they allowed to display information provided by patients who have found relief from specific conditions.  Please refer to the Research page for a further discussion of these issues, and educational information regarding various conditions.


Please see my blog for my thoughts on the ASA regulations.



What to expect from your treatment

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What can acupuncture treat?

Copyright 2010 Tom Kennedy | Acupuncture Bristol | Tuina Bristol