In the UK more and more people are finding out what acupuncture can do for them. Some people have acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or to relieve pain, reduce the need to use medication or avoid surgery. Some use acupuncture because they feel generally unwell but have no obvious diagnosis. Others choose acupuncture simply to enhance or maintain their sense of health and wellbeing.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice that has been used for thousands of years in China.  It is based on the concept of balancing the flow of vital energy, known as ‘Qi’ within the body.  According to TCM theory, the body’s health is influenced by the balance of this vital energy, and disruptions or blockages in its flow can lead to various health issues.  Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, known as acupuncture points, to stimulate and balance the flow of Qi.  TCM Acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of conditions using a holistic approach that considers the patient’s overall wellbeing.

Medical Acupuncture

Medical Acupuncture is also known as Western Medical Acupuncture (WMA) or Dry Needling.  Medical Acupuncture is a modernized approach that incorporates some principles of TCM Acupuncture but focuses more on current knowledge of anatomy, physiology, health conditions and evidence based medicine.  

There is increasing evidence to support the use of Acupuncture in Western Medicine particularly for pain relief, depression, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, side effects of chemotherapy treatment, migraines, headaches and chronic/ persistent pain.  The research suggests that the insertion of fine needles stimulates the central nervous system which in term releases natural analgesics, healing chemicals and good hormones.    

Medical Acupuncture is typically practiced by licensed medical professionals, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists or other qualified healthcare practitioners who have received additional and specialised training in acupuncture techniques.  Practitioners of medical acupuncture often use acupuncture as a complementary therapy alongside conventional medical treatments.

What are the key differences between TCM and Medical Acupuncture?

  • TCM Acupuncture is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, which includes concepts of Qi, Meridians and the balance of Yin and Yang.  Medical Acupuncture, while still using acupuncture needles, may not adhere to these traditional philosophical principles and theories but focuses on a more anatomical and scientific understanding of the body.
  • TCM Acupuncturists typically follow traditional training and certification pathways in Traditional Chinese Medicine, while medical acupuncturists are often licensed medical professionals who receive specialized training in Acupuncture and the techniques are supported by current scientific evidence.  
  • Medical Acupuncture is often integrated into conventional medical practice and may be used alongside other medical treatments, while TCM Acupuncture is often practiced within the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine but can also be used alongside other medical treatments.  

Busting the Acupuncture Myths

Despite the growing popularity of both TCM Acupuncture and Western Medical Acupuncture, several myths surround this treatment that can deter people from trying it.

Acupuncture is painful

Many people fear that acupuncture will be painful because it involves the insertion of needles.  However, the needles used in acupuncture are very thin and often the insertion is painless.  Some people may experience a dull sensation, slight prick or tingling but these sensations usually dissipate quickly.  It is extremely rare for patients to report any significant pain or discomfort.  

Acupuncture causes bruising

Another common myth surrounding acupuncture is that it can cause bruising.  While it is possible for acupuncture to cause some minor bruising, it is a rare occurrence and not a common side effect of the treatment.  There is an increased risk of bruising when needling deep acupoints or if the patient has a blood disorder that causes them to bruise easily.  A well-trained and experienced acupuncturist will use a gentle technique and carefully select the appropriate needle for each point, reducing the likelihood of bruising.  If bruising does occur, it is typically minor and fades quickly. In rare cases, a patient may experience more significant bruising that lasts several days, but this is very uncommon.

Acupuncture is not safe

Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a qualified and experienced Acupuncturist.  However, as with any medical procedure, there are some risks, such as infection or injury but when proper hygiene and sterilization procedures are followed the risks are minimal.  

Acupuncture is only effective for pain relief

While acupuncture is widely used to alleviate pain, it can also be beneficial for a range of other health conditions including anxiety, depression, digestive disorders, fertility issues, and more.  

Acupuncture is a placebo

Research has shown that acupuncture can have definite physiological effects beyond the placebo effect.  Evidence confirms Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and releases endorphins and other good chemicals and hormones to help modulate various systems in the body.  The extent of these physiological effects depends on the individual and type of Acupuncture treatment.  

In conclusion, acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that is gaining more acceptance in Western medicine as a complementary or alternative therapy for a range of health conditions.  While there are some myths surrounding acupuncture, the evidence suggests that it is safe and effective when performed by a qualified and experienced Acupuncturist.  If you are considering Acupuncture as a treatment option, it is important to discuss your options with a qualified healthcare provider who is trained and certified to determine if it’s a suitable treatment for you and your health concerns.  

Why not give Revival a call on 01386 792126 and ask to talk to Claire our TCM and Medical Acupuncturist or Maxine our Medical Acupuncturist about a consultation

Helping you live your healthiest and happiest life. Revival Health & Wellbeing Centre offers a variety of treatments, clinics, counselling and holistic therapies from our specialist team of practitioners.