Acupuncture: introduction & regulation

Acupuncture is a branch of traditional medicine that has been practised in China and the far east for thousands of years. It has been developed, tested, researched and refined over this time into a treatment option accessed by increasing numbers of patients in the West. Without the benefit of modern scientific equipment, the first acupuncturists discovered many now familiar aspects of biomedical science.

A growing body of evidence-based clinical research is discovering how the body responds to acupuncture and its benefits for a wide range of common health conditions.  Many people have acupuncture to relieve specific aches and pains such as osteoarthritis of the knee. Other people choose acupuncture when they can feel their bodily functions are out of balance but have no obvious western medical diagnosis leading to western medical  treatment.  Many also have regular treatments simply because they find it beneficial and relaxing.

The focus  for a traditional acupuncturist is on the patient as an individual and not just their specific illness, and all symptoms are seen as part of an interconnected pattern. The translation between the patterns of Chinese medicine and western named conditions is a fascinating one. For nearly every named condition you bring to your practitioner, like nausea, or osteoarthritis of the knee, there is a complex weave of different syndromes and patterns within which it is understood. The symptoms are important, a bridge between what you experience and how the practitioner, be they eastern or western, makes sense of what you bring to them. Every symptom has meaning within the eastern tradition.

Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points which are said to affect the flow of your body’s qi, or vital energy, although there is ongoing research and study that suggests what many practitioners already know: that inserting needles into the channels (or meridians) affects change within the human body, and the term ‘energy’ is rather simplistic.

Find out more about my professional governing body, The British Acupuncture Council.