Some 2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out each year in the UK, making it one of the most popular complementary therapies.
This week is National Acupuncture Awareness Week, which aims to promote the traditional Chinese remedy.
Unappealing though it may sound, many people welcome the chance to lie down and have needles pushed through their skin in an effort to relieve pain and stress and the practice can even be recommended by your GP.
In its traditional form, acupuncture stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the origins of which date back around 2,500 years. Its ancient principles have held strong, though, and these days it’s often used alongside modern/Western medicine. In fact, in the UK, the number of people giving it a go has risen by 15 per cent in the past decade.
Acupuncture is actually one of the most practiced complementary therapies in the UK and patients report high success rates – there’s also a wealth of studies backing this up (which you can read more about online, introducingacupuncture.co.uk).
It’s used across a wide range of ailments; people have it to help them quit smoking, combat insomnia, reduce stress and anxiety, to support recovery from injury or surgery, to relieve pain and symptoms associated with problems like osteoarthritis and auto-immune diseases.
First time acupuncture sessions normally begin with a consultation about general health and lifestyle and any illnesses or problem areas, in order to get an overview of the patient before finally focusing on the specific area that acupuncture is needed for.
This is because, in contrast to ancient Greek medicine, Chinese medicine takes a holistic view that mind and body are equally important, so that emotions are considered alongside a patient’s physicality during treatment.
Acupuncture needles are very fine so the physical experience is not like having an injection. However it is important to point out that acupuncture does include a spiritual element focusing on unblocking energy flows, which some patients may be uncomfortable with, and that the process can result in sudden intensely overwhelming emotions or even falling asleep.