Acupuncture- what it is and how it works

What is acupuncture and how does it work?


For short, acupuncture is a system of medicine. Often combined with herbs, acupuncture has been in common practice for over 3000 years throughout China and an element in Chinese Culture. It has been used to treat most problems with a high degree of success. The treatment involves the insertion of fine needles through the skin at specific points on the body, called acupuncture points.

Hundreds of acupoints situated along the energy channels, called meridians which are associated with the various body systems. Throughout these channels, Qi (chi), regarded as energy by people outside China, flows smoothly to keep us in a state of harmony or balance.

The aim of acupuncture is to regulate the meridians of the body and unblock  the stagnation of Qi as any obstruction to the flow of energy may result in physical, mental and emotional imbalance. This eventually leads to illness.

By stimulating the acupoints using various manipulations, the energy is able to flow freely and this allows the body to re-establish its natural balance and regain its strength.

Acupuncture is usually performed with very fine and disposable needles. You may feel a slight tingling sensation when the needles are inserted. In certain conditions, some other techniques are used as part of the treatment during an acupuncture session:


Connect a pair of needles to a small DC charge from a specially designed electroacupuncture stimulator. Several pairs can be connected at the same time, and the frequency and strength of the electric pulse can be varied in order to achieve the desired effect. This method is often used for pain relief.


A gentle heat is applied to a acupoint using moxa, a dried powdered herb  (usually common mugwort). This is either attached to the needle so that the heat transfers down the needle to the point or it is rolled into small cones and slowly burnt over the point on top of the protective covering. Using moxa-stick to hold above the skin is also a very common method. Moxibustion is very effective for breech babies.


In this technique, traditionally, a burning taper is heat the air inside the cup(usually glass), then the cup is immediately placed down over the selected area. As the air cools, a vacuum is created and it draws up the skin beneath the cup. Alternatively, a pump is used to draw the air from the cup. This method is now more popular because it gives the acupuncturist more control and appears safer to clients. The effect of cupping is to encourage the flow of Qi and Blood in the area beneath the cup and clear local stagnation. It is very helpful for colds, flu and muscle spasm.

As one of the most widely practised and researched forms of complementary therapy, acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of common ailments. The World Health Organisation recognises more than 100 conditions that can be helped by acupuncture.

back-pain-300x239What can acupuncture help?

  • Pain: including neck pain, shoulder pain, low back pain, sciatica, tennis elbow,  knee pain and
  • other joints and muscular pain
  • Migraine and headache
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME)
  • Stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia
  • Infertility (male and female), support
  • IVF treatment
  • Gynaecological problems: PMS,
  • irregular periods, menopause
  • symptoms, PCOS, endometriosis
  • Irritable Bowl Syndrome and other
  • digestive problem
  • Pregnant management: morning
  • sickness, recurrent miscarriage, back
  • pain, breech baby, over due baby
  • Promote general well being and preventive treatment


However, Chinese medicine sees all illness as a process of energy or Qi disharmony. Acupuncture can help to re-establish the harmony. As there are only a few conditions that acupuncture is inappropriate, the list above is far from complete. If you have any condition that is not included in it, please feel free to email or talk to me.