Frequently Asked Questions

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one branch of Chinese Medicine, which also includes herbs, massage (known as tui na), exercise (Qi Gong) and diet.

In Chinese Medicine ‘channels’ or ‘meridians’ of energy known as ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) run throughout the body, each channel is related to an organ. The Qi that flows throughout our channels provides the vital energy we need for our bodies to function properly. If our Qi becomes blocked or deficient we become unhealthy. Acupuncture works by inserting fine needles into specific acupuncture points on these channels to disperse any blockages and restore balance.

What can I expect during my treatment?

Your practitioner will get an update on your condition, as well as checking in on any other affected systems like sleep or appetite. She will take your pulse and look at your tongue. These are an integral part of Chinese medicine diagnosis, giving further information as to the quality and quantity of energy in your different organs. Your diagnosis will be updated, a treatment plan decided and acupuncture points selected. Moxabustion and cupping may be added to your treatment if indicated.

What does acupuncture feel like?

The needles used for acupuncture are nothing like the ones used for injections – they are so fine that most patients feel only a slight pinprick and it is unusual to experience any pain. You are more likely to feel a sensation once the needle reaches the Qi in the acupuncture point; this is often described as a mild tingling sensation, a dull ache or change in temperature. Points on the toes or fingers can sometimes be more intense but the feeling is momentary. The experience of acupuncture for most patients is calming and relaxing.

What is moxa?

Your practitioner may also use a herb called moxa in conjunction with your acupuncture treatment. This dried herb is gently heated near or on the skin to safely warm the body, relax muscles and supplement Qi.

What is cupping?

We use cupping as an effective way to:

  • relax muscles, 
  • improve blood circulation, 
  • activate the lymphatic system,
  • calm the nervous system.

While cupping can be used all over the body, it is best known as an effective therapy for neck, shoulder and back pain (and cups are typically applied to the back). Many do not know that cupping can also be useful for:

  • treating respiratory conditions like asthma,
  • clearing chest congestion associated with colds and flus, 
  • enhancing the immune system,
  • calming stress and anxiety.

Stationary cupping enhances the effects of an acupuncture treatment, improves circulation, and remove blockages. It can create positive effects in many body tissues including the skin, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and lymph. 

Most common conditions treated with cupping

  • neck pain
  • back pain
  • shoulder pain
  • hip pain
  • colds/flus, chest congestion
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • migraines
  • immune system booster

What is a stationary cupping treatment like?

The cupping part of the session involves cups placed on the skin (usually the back) and the creation of a vacuum. The vacuum causes suction, which creates positive pressure on the skin, pulling it up into the cup and generating deep muscle relaxation. 

Does acupuncture have any after effects?

Most people report feeling relaxed, energised and uplifted after acupuncture treatment, with a reduction in pain and stiffness. Sometimes patients may feel dizzy or tired after a treatment but this is short lived. Occasionally needling may cause a small bruise.

What can acupuncture treat?

Although practitioners know that acupuncture can treat a huge number of conditions, ‘research’ is still proving its effects. There is little funding for this research in the UK, and much more has been accomplished in China.

So far in the UK research has shown that acupuncture is effective in the short-term improvement and relief:

  • Overactive bladder
  • Tension and migraine headaches
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Neck and chronic neck pain
  • Temporo-mandibular (TMD/TMJ) pain
  • Osteoarthritis knee pain

However, the World Health Organisation’s report in 2001 reviewing clinical trials into the effects of acupuncture lists 28 conditions that acupuncture has been proved to treat effectively and 63 where acupuncture was proved to be effective but further proof was needed. For a list of these conditions click here.

Is acupuncture safe?

Only single-use, pre-sterilised, disposable needles are used. The regulatory body the British Acupuncture Council, of which all our acupuncturists are members, demands high standards of hygiene. The rate of serious adverse events in the 4 million acupuncture treatments which are given each year is so low that acupuncture is one of the most statistically safe medical interventions.

How many sessions will I need?

Acupuncturists usually recommend seeing patients for at least six sessions but this can vary according to the general underlying health of the patient. It can be difficult to give a precise number of appointments that will be needed because we are all different and recovery time varies from person to person. The general rule of thumb is that the more chronic the condition the longer it will probably take to put right but it is hoped you would feel the benefit within six treatments. Acupuncturists work on the basis of least intervention as this is best for the body so be assured that you will not receive more treatments than necessary.

Should I tell my doctor I’m having acupuncture?

If you are receiving treatment from your doctor or consultant then it makes sense to tell them about your plans to have acupuncture. If you are on any medications or planning to alter your medications your acupuncturist will need to know as this may affect your response to treatment.

Acupuncture and pregnancy – how can it help?

Pregnancy brings many changes to a women’s body and the enormous hormonal shift that comes with pregnancy can also result in a range of unwanted pregnancy-related conditions such as morning sickness, digestive disorders, back and pelvic pain, varicose veins to anxiety and headaches. Acupuncture is an effective option at a time when many women choose to avoid taking medicine for minor ailments and is very safe to have during pregnancy.

Please visit our acupuncture for Pregnancy page for further information.

Is acupuncture safe for children?

Acupuncture is statistically one of the safest medical interventions and therefore safe for children. Several courses in the UK train practitioners in the treatment of children. This extends to how best to handle small children and babies, and how to modify the standard treatments to ensure that they are not too powerful for a child. If you are seeking treatment for your child ask your practitioner if they have undertaken postgraduate training in the treatment of children.

How do I know I'm receiving the best standard of care?

All our acupuncturists are trained to the highest standard and receive continual personal development training and supervision. Our acupuncturists have all received accreditation by the British Acupuncture  Council. Clinical hygiene is of the upmost importance, as is client confidentiality. We have on-going working relationships with a number of medical practitioners within the NHS and private practice.

What is Five Elements acupuncture?

As acupuncture has developed over thousands of years and in different regions, so to have different theories relating to its practice. Five Element is one of these theories along with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is the main type of acupuncture practiced in China. According to Five Element theory, we’re made up Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water (the Five Elements). Organs and emotions are associated with each element and for us to be in good health ideally all elements should be in balance.  Five Element practitioners evaluate your colour, sound, odour and emotion to determine which element is out of balance and then they choose acupuncture points accordingly. Five Element treatment addresses who you are at a core level and is often more mentally/emotionally/spiritually focused whilst TCM is a more physically based system. It’s very useful for those acute and chronic conditions and effective for treating symptoms.

How much does it cost?

Treatment prices vary with each practitioner:

Chinese herbs prescribed by Jill or Helen are charged separately in addition to the treatment cost.

Still unsure and have questions? Contact us on 0117 377 1186 or infor@almavalecentre.co.uk and we can arrange for one of our acupuncturists to call you back.