Q: What will happen on my first visit?
A: Your first consultation may be longer than subsequent sessions. The acupuncturist needs to assess your general state of health, in order to identify the underlying pattern of disharmony and give you the most effective treatment.
You will be asked about your current symptoms and what treatment you have received so far, your medical history and that of your close family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. To discover how the energies are flowing in your body, the acupuncturist is likely to feel your pulses on both wrists, noting their quality, rhythm and strength.
The structure, colour and coating of your tongue also gives a good guide to your physical health. Once enough information has been gathered to determine the likely causes of your problems, the acupuncturist can select the most appropriate treatment.
The aim is to discover which energy channels need adjusting for your specific complaint to improve, and which require treatment to boost your overall energy and vitality.
Loose, comfortable clothing should be worn, and you should be aware that the acupuncturist may need to access points on your torso as well as on your arms and legs.
Q: How often will I need treatment?
A: In traditional acupuncture philosophy each person is considered as unique, and therefore the number of treatments required depends on the individual. Some change is usually felt after five treatments. Sometimes the effects of the treatment are dramatic, and only one or two treatments are required. With other patients, the effects are more subtle and they may need treatment over several months. Normally you are recommended to visit your acupuncturist once or twice a week at first, although some conditions may need less frequent attention.
Q: How many treatments will I need?
A: This varies between patients. Certainly a course of treatment is required, one off miracle cures are unusual! Some changes either in yourself generally, or in your condition directly should be noticed after 4 – 6 treatments.
Q: Should I tell my doctor?
A: If you are receiving treatment from your doctor then it makes sense to tell him or her about your plans to have acupuncture. The acupuncture treatment may enable you to reduce or even stop taking some forms of medication, but your doctor should be consulted regarding any change of prescription. You should always tell your acupuncturist about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.
Q: Should I continue with my prescribed medication while undergoing a course of acupuncture treatment?
A: Yes, at least until careful discussion is had with your doctor or the practitioner who prescribed the medication. Many people seek the help of an acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction with drug treatment – because it does not seem to be working or because the side effects are unacceptable. DO NOT stop taking any medication without professional guidance.
Q: Who can have treatment?
A: Chinese medicine can be used by people of any age or constitution. Your practitioner will take any previous or current illness or medication into account before providing treatment. With suitable adjustments for dosage and with some provisos which will be determined by your practitioner, children and pregnant women can very well be treated by Chinese medicine.
Q: Are herbs safe?
A: Chinese herbs are very safe when prescribed correctly by a properly trained practitioner. Over the centuries doctors have compiled detailed information about the pharmacopoiea and placed great emphasis on the protection of the patient. Allergic type reactions are rare, and will cause no lasting damage if treatment is stopped as soon as symptoms appear. All members of the RCHM give guidance on this to all patients. The provision of good quality authenticated herbs is also very important to protect public safety, and the RCHM is currently working with the main suppliers and Kew Gardens in order to ensure that the products used by our members meet the highest standards.
Q: What about endangered species
A: The RCHM is greatly concerned about the threat to wild animals and plants that have come as a result of the growth in demand for traditional medicines. We strongly condemn the illegal trade in endangered species and have a strict policy prohibiting the use of any type of endangered species by any of our Members. The RCHM uses information supplied by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Wildlife Liaison Office of the Metropolitan Police and the Department of the Environment, all of whom work to stop the trade in illegal substances wherever it is found.
Q: What does it feel like?
A: Most people’s experience of needles is of those used in injections and blood tests. Acupuncture needles bear little resemblance to these. They are much finer and are solid rather than hollow. When the needle is inserted, the sensation is often described as a tingling or dull ache. Needles are inserted either for a second or two, or may be left in place for 30 minutes or more, depending on the effect required. During treatment, patients commonly experience a heaviness in the limbs or a pleasant feeling of relaxation. Occasionally people may experience drowsiness after treatment, in which case it is advisable not to drive or do anything that can put you at risk. The benefits of acupuncture frequently include more than just relief from a particular condition. Many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, better appetite and sleep as well as an enhanced sense of overall well being.
Q: Is it safe?
A: All members of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) must observe a Code of Practice which lays down stringent standards of hygiene and sterilisation for needles and other equipment. These procedures have been approved by the Department of Health, and provide protection against the transmission of infectious diseases. Patients who have been treated by a BAcC member are eligible to donate blood through the National Blood Service.
Q: What should I do before treatment?
A: Try not to have a big meal within an hour of your appointment as the process of digestion will alter the pattern of your pulse. Also avoid alcohol and food or drinks which colour your tongue (such as coffee) immediately prior to treatment.
Q: How will I feel after acupuncture?
A: Usually rather relaxed and calm. Occasionally you may feel tired or drowsy for a few hours after treatment, in which case you are advised not to drive or do anything that can put you at risk. There may also be a short term flare up of your symptoms as your Qi clears and resettles itself.
Q: What is the difference between the BAcC and the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS)?
A: We understand that the BMAS takes members who are doctors who have an interest in acupuncture. The BAcC registers practitioner members who have an extensive training in acupuncture (irrespective of any prior western medical training) of at least 3 years full-time (or the part-time equivalent) and which includes the requisite western medical sciences.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: Acupuncture is not painless but neither can it be described as painful. Most people’s experience of needles is of those used in injections and blood tests. Acupuncture needles bear little resemblance to these. They are much finer, and are solid rather than hollow. When the needle is inserted, the sensation is often described as a tingling.
Q: What about the needles used?
A: Members use single use pre-sterilised disposable needles, which are disposed of after each treatment. British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) members observe a Code of Practice which lays down stringent standards of hygiene and sterilisation for other equipment.
How often should I have treatment?
Extreme acute conditions may be treated daily, particularly if they are accompanied by significant pain. Acute conditions should be treated 3 times a week.
More chronic problems respond better when treatments are received 2 to 3 times a week, tapering to once a week or once every other week, with improvement.
How many treatments does it take?
This depends on the nature of the condition being treated. For some acute conditions 4 to 6 treatments may be sufficient. Those of a more chronic nature may require 6 to 12 (or more) treatments. Conditions such as severe arthritis may require ongoing periodic care to control pain.
How long before the results are felt?
You may feel improvement in your condition (usually pain reduction) after the very first treatment. Sometimes you will not feel improvement for a number of treatments. This does not mean that the condition is not improving. Each treatment is cumulative and results are often felt after 3 or 4 sessions.
Can it be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment?
Yes. Laser Therapy is often used with other forms of treatment, including physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, soft tissue mobilization, electrotherapy and even following surgery. Other healing modalities are complementary and can be used with laser to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Does it hurt? What does a treatment feel like?
There is little or no sensation during treatment. Occasionally one feels a mild, soothing warmth or tingling. Areas of pain or inflammation may be sensitive briefly before pain reduction.
Are there any side effects or associated risks?
During more than twenty years of use by healthcare providers all over the world, very few side effects have ever been reported. Occasionally some old injuries or pain syndromes may feel aggravated for a few days, as the healing response is more active after treatment.
Has effectiveness been demonstrated scientifically?
Yes. There are thousands of published studies demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of Laser Therapy. Among these, there are rigorously controlled, scientific studies that document the effectiveness of laser for many clinical conditions.