What can Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture can be used for both chronic sinisitus and perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitus, and is of real value in treating this often distressing condition.

If you have seasonal allergic rhinitus, attention is aimed at treating the Root of the disease outside the pollen season. End of Summer and beginning of Autumn is actually the best time. Then one has a few treatments during the actual season itself.

Acupuncture can have a long-term effect and may encourage the hayfever to disappear altogether.

Clinical experience indicates that acupuncture is often useful to help people cope with anxiety and panic attacks. In addition, there are good scientific theories explaining how acupuncture could alter the balance of chemical messengers in the brain in a way that would be likely to benefit people with these conditions.

I would normally treat people on a weekly basis, though maybe more often if the panic attacks are severe, and would expect to see quite quick results.

More information on how acupunture can treat back pain can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

More information on how acupunture can treat Bell’s Palsey can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

The pain and discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome can often be helped by a few treatments of local acupuncture (though I will also take on board any underlying causes) and it is always worth considering prior to surgery. 4-5 weekly sessions will be enough to let you know whether acupuncture is effective for you.

More information on how acupunture can treat chronic fatigue can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

More information on how acupunture can treat colds and flu can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website.

More information on how acupunture can treat colds and flu can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

Acupuncture can give excellent results in the treatment of cough, something which comes as a surprise to many people. Acute, recent cough is easier to treat: coughs from acute respiratory infections can be cleared in a few treatments and it is not necessary to take antibiotics which often only lead to residual Heat.

Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating both acute and chronic painful-urination syndrome. Indeed, in acute cases, it can give almost immediate relief.

In chronic cases too, acupuncture provides the necessary tonification (strengthening) to eliminate the cause of recurrent urinary problems.

More information on how acupunture can be used in dentistry can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

There is good evidence that acupuncture can have fundamental effects on the brain’s chemical messages. In fact, there are at least 3 clinical trials indicating that acupuncture is as effective as some conventionally used antidepressants.

Having said that, I often treat people in conjunction with their Western medical treatment; indeed, the two types of approach can complement each other. What is important is that the patient receives the right kind of support, eventually leading to them being able to take some control over their situation as they heal.

8-10 weekly treatments of acupuncture would usually be given for this condition, with maintenance acupuncture may being required if the treatment proves valuable.

The overall control of diabetes lies within the sphere of diet, exercise and appropriate medication to normalise blood-sugar levels. However, frequently people with diabetes develop neurological and circulatory disorders associated with the slow degeneration of the blood supply to various organs and tissues. Acupuncture may help stave off these complications by directly improving local micro-circulation.

Studies indicate that long-term acupuncture may also help diabetic neuropathy and improve digestive function.

Furthermore, there is also some evidence that acupuncture can affect the autonomic nervous system and create vasodilatation, which can maximise blood flow to organs that are potentially affected by diabetes.

This is one of those conditions where the case reports show that acupuncture is an effective treatment but where there have been no good-quality clinical trials which attest to this fact.

However, in all my years of treating patients, I have definitely found acupuncture to be extremely effective in helping and often outright curing this condition even with cases where people had “tried everything else” and were coming to me as a last resort.

Often people feel better as they are able with acupuncture treatment to reduce their medication which they were not tolerating very well. The number of treatments needed will depend on the severity and duration of the condition.

Acupuncture is widely used to treat pelvis pain, such as occurs in endo-metrosis. The clinical experience of many acupuncturists- including myself- is that acupuncture is very successful in the treatment of this condition.

Treatment should initially be on a weekly basis, which will usually trigger a positive response within 6 treatments (though I have often had this after just 1 or 2). Once the patient is symptom free, maintenance treatments should be considered on a monthly or 3-monthly basis.

Acupuncture is now regularly used by women who are having difficulties conceiving.

The main aim of the acupuncturist is to make a clear diagnosis of the underlying energy imbalances that a woman may be experiencing. Once a course of treatment has maximised energy flow around the body, chances of conception are improved. It is thought that acupuncture may help to normalise hormone levels in the body, and it is this mechanism which many help to explain the positive effect it may have in treating infertility.

Acupuncture is often used alongside assisted conception techniques such as IVF, with research indicating improved chances of conception when the two are used in tandem.

Used on its own, it can still be successful; however, although women sometimes respond in a few months, in most cases the treatment will take at least one year and both the woman and the practitioner need to be patient: Conception is highly a delicate process, and its takes time to regain that internal energetic balance.

Appropriate lifestyle and dietary modifications are also put into practice during this time.

Further Reading.

British Acupucture Council: Female Infertility Fact Sheet

More information on how acupunture can treat frozen shoulder can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

While acupuncture treatment for gallstones is common in China, it is far less so in the West.

There have been several large, non-randomized clinical studies that have clearly demonstrated the discharge of gallstones after treatment with acupuncture. It is thought that acupuncture works by dilating the common bile duct and causing the gall-bladder to contract simultaneously. A dramatic increase in gallstones eliminated in the stool is also found after acupuncture treatment.

Treatment needs to be intensive over a relatively short time.

There have been a number of studies of acupuncture as a treatment for tension headaches, which all point to it being an effective treatment.

The most recent large study involved over 400 people and showed that acupuncture offered substantial benefits compared to routine conventional treatment, both in the long and short-term, with the study’s authors noting significant improvement in the frequency, severity and duration of the individuals’ symptoms.

Furthermore, acupuncture has proved extremely effective for alleviating fuzzy headaches, where patients experience a thick head with low-level pain and associated difficulty in thinking.

The effectiveness for heavy periods is unproven by randomised controlled trials, but its usefulness is borne out by acupuncturists.

Certainly over the last 13 years I have successfully treated this condition. The usual diagnoses made (in Chinese medical terms) are: Qi deficiency, which leads to an inability to keep blood in the vessels; excess heat, which leads to heavy bleeding and blood stasis, which is characterised by excessive dark, clotted blood loss at period time.

Ideally, treatment should be given over 3-4 cycles, invoving roughly 6-9 treatments.

Established high blood pressure may produce a range of different symptoms, some of which can clearly be relieved by acupuncture. These may include excessive fatigue and headaches.

Whilst there is no evidence that the use of acupuncture alone, even in the long term, will produce a sustained and safe normal blood pressure, it can help if it is combined, in a prolonged treatment, with appropriate dietary and conventional medicine. Sometimes, acupuncture treatment may relieve the adverse reactions from anti-hypertensive drugs.

Acupuncture needs to be given on a weekly basis for 8-10 weeks to obtain a consistent initial response. if it proves effective, then it will often need to be treated for a prolonged period in order to help control blood pressure.

I have treated a number of patients who are happy to do this because it allows them to keep their medication levels down with a consequent rise in their energy levels and general well-being.

Acupuncture can be helpful when a man is in general good health but has a low sperm count, poor sperm motility and/or poor sperm delivery.

A course of acupuncture treatment, alongside appropriate lifestyle and dietary modifications, can rebalance a man’s energy (in particular, boosting the Kidney energy, in Chinese medical terms) to improve sperm count and motility.

Poor sperm delivery can be improved by treating erectile dysfunction, which is an increasingly common condition.

In a recent trial, good results were achieved in more than 50% of men treated, and I have treated this condition successfully over the years.

Overall, 6-8 sessions on a weekly basis are recommended.

More information on how acupunture can treat menopausal symptoms can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

This condition affects about 75% of women. Doctors identify 2 types: primary dysmenorrhoea, which often begins soon after the onset of menstruation; and secondary dysmenorrhoea, which usually starts later in life and has a number of causal factors. About 15% of women have menstrual pain severe enough to disrupt normal life.

Acupuncture gives excellent results in dysmenorrhoea, and the overwhelmingly majority of cases can be cured. The amount of treatments needed will vary from just a few to weekly treatments over 3 months if the condition is severe. Commonly, a diagnosis of Qi and/or Blood stagnation is made and the Liver and Spleen channel needled, though as is always the case with acupuncture, every diagnosis and treatment will be specific to each individual patient.

More information on how acupunture can treat migraines can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

Acupuncture is particularly useful for morning sickness since ailments that occur early in the pregnancy are problematic to treat with medicines because of the risk of side-effects. There is absolutely no doubt that acupuncture provides a safe treatment for morning sickness. A number of clinical trials have examined needling the P6 acupuncture point, which helps even quite severe morning sickness. the results confirmed the positive effects of acupuncture.

The number of treatments needed for this condition is small. It is worth noting here that treatment with acupuncture with a qualified acupuncturist is perfectly safe for pregnant women, at all stages of their pregnancy.

Because in MS nerves in the brain are damaged there are a consequent wide range of symptoms that can affect feeling, movement, bodily functions and balance. Symptoms and their severity differ from person to person. Whilst acupuncture cannot cure the condition, it can offer considerable help in alleviating its symptoms and slowing down its progress. Acupuncture helps markedly in eliminating the feeling of heaviness and tingling of the limbs and in facilitating walking.

The earlier treatment is started the better. Initially treatment is carried out 2-3 times a week. After a few weeks it can be spaced out to once a week and then once a fortnight. If a good improvement is obtained, the patient should be sen about once a month thereafter.

This is the gradual degeneration of the cartilage that lines the joints, causing pain, swelling and restricted movement. It is more common in the large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, but the joints of the hands, feet, shoulders and neck and upper back may also be affected. Overall, women are twice as likely to be affected by OA as men.

Acupuncture can diminish the need for painkilling drugs. Many clinical trials have established that it helps people with OA. I have found that just a few treatments can give considerable improvement with associated increased energy levels.

4-8 sessions is what is usually required. As is almost always the case with traditional acupuncture treatment, the underlying condition of the patient is addressed so that improvement is long-lasting, backed up with less regular treatments once a month to once every 3 months).

Palpitations is an awareness of the heartbeat, which may be felt either as normal in rate and rhythm or may be sensed as irregular and/or rapid. Case reports and studies published in China suggest that acupuncture may be able to treat some of the causes of palpitations. Certainly, acupuncture relieves anxiety; it appears to have a powerful effect on the nervous system, particularly the autonomic nerves, that may trigger palpitations.

I have have treated this condition with success over the years, with 6-8 weekly sessions the average requirement to give lasting improvement. This is for chronic palpitations; for more acute cases of recent onset less (2-3) treatments are needed.

Acupuncture has been used to treat depression that has many different causes, including post-natal depression. There is some clear evidence that acupuncture can help with depression. If the depression is mild, acupuncture treatment on its own can offer a safe and effective treatment. This is particularly true for breastfeeding mothers since no chemical medication is involved. With more severe depression, acupuncture still has a place alongside more conventional treatments as a means of support. It also can help keep antidepressant medication levels as low as safely possible, which is a factor for breastfeeding women as mentioned above.

Acupuncture has well-documented and fundamental effects on the hormonal system in PCOS. In a study, women with PCOS who were receiving acupuncture demonstrated a decrease in male hormone levels combined with a more normal pattern of ovulation.

Because PCOS is a chronic condition, it does require quite a commitment to acupuncture treatment from the patient, with weekly treatments over a couple of months before any sustained benefit emerges. However, since nobody is just one ‘condition’, patients who I have treated soon report generally feeling better quite rapidly with treatment, whilst the PCOS is being addressed.

This term is used to describe a varying combination of symptoms that begin about 2 weeks or so before menstruation and stop by the end of the period. The condition affects as many as 1 in 3 women,with 1 in 20 having their lives severely disrupted. There have been a number of trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture on PMS, and all the evidence is positive. Clinical evidence suggests that acupuncture has a long-term effect on PMS: it prevents symptoms from recurring in menstrual cycles after treatment has been completed.

4-8 treatments over 2-3 months is what i would give on average. I usually see a quick improvement, often after the first session.

Four clinical trials of varying quality all conclude that acupuncture is of value in treating Raynaud’s disease. It particularly helps in the short term, but also can offer a preventative effect. The clinical improvement in “attacks” correlates well with an improved blood flow through the hands.

When you know you are likely to experience Raynaud’s symptoms- for instance, in the Winter a course of treatment over a period of 6-8 weeks is almost certain to be of benefit. Part of my treatment involves the use of ‘moxa’, a type of herb (mugwort -harmless) which is burnt on the end of the needle. This produces an extremely pleasant warming sensation through the hands and fingers.

Acupuncture is often employed in the treatment of RA: It amy follow either an anti-inflammatory or a pain-relieving approach. Acupuncture appears to work as well as local steroid injections or many conventional anti-inflammatory medications. Moreover, adverse reactions to acupuncture are much less likely.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: The approach I use involves a detailed traditional diagnosis focusing on the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture and therefore the underlying disease process. In general, 10-12 weekly sessions of acupuncture treatment will be needed, while the disease is relatively stable, before it is clear whether or not the treatment is having a fundamental effect.

Pain Relief: Acupuncture may be used to relieve pain, an approach supported by a number of clinical trials, which have shown that it can bring relief to inflamed joints or to joints that are suffering from secondary osteo-arthritis. This approach is used in the treatment of either acute or chronic muscle and joint pain. Usually, 6-8 sessions of acupuncture will be enough to benefit painful knees, hips or strained muscles.

More information on how acupunture can treat sciatica can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

Acupuncture in sports injuries is directed both at relieving pain and accelerating healing. It can be very effective in the treatment of injury to joints and the surrounding ligaments and tendons as well as muscle. Trigger points commonly occur in injured muscles. They cause pain that can be local or referred (experienced some distance away).

Acupuncture can successfully treat trigger point pain. As with all acute conditions, the more acupuncture that can be administered quickly the better. Initial daily treatment is ideal, followed by weekly, or twice weekly, treatment as the injury settles. It is worth noting that, as a traditional acupuncturist, even in acute injuries I always pay attention to any weaknesses in the patient’s make-up since addressing this makes re-injury less likely to occur.

Acupuncture has long been used in the treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders. It is important to make a specific diagnosis for each case and treatment may be prolonged, though on a number of occasions I have seen lasting improvement in 2-3 sessions.

Long-term maintenance after initial improvement is often the chosen way to stop the insomnia returning. Patients often report not just increased quantity of sleep, but also better quality following acupuncture treatment.

More information on how acupunture can treat back pain can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website

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‘Stress’ is often seen as a ‘catch-all’ term nowadays; a response to the ever-increasing speed and complexity of our sophisticated modern lives.

Acupuncture has been shown to counter the negative effects associated with stress by helping balance an individual’s Qi. Additionally, the very act of gouing to see someone and be able to talk to them combined with lying down in the day for half an hour (without feeling guilty!) will go someway to counteracting stress. Many of the symtoms of stress e.g. IBS our covered in more detail elsewhere.

Tinnitus indicates the subjective sensation experienced on hearing a noise in one or both ears. The noise may be constant or coming in bouts, and may vary in intensity and character. It may sound like a high-pitched whistle, like bells, like an engine running, or like rushing water.

Tinnitus is a difficult condition to treat. However, there have been positive case reports. In my clinical experience, some cases do respond well others don’t. If the patient is going to respond, I have found that it will happen quite quickly in the first few treatments.

More information on how acupunture can treat urinary incontinence can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website