Acupuncture therapy is an ancient treatment that has been used for thousands of years. In that time, it has been used in a variety of ways and for numerous conditions, although it is most common as a form of pain relief. If you want to take advantage of its stated benefits, there are some things you should know before you begin.

  1. It is an alternative therapy:

Most people use acupuncture either alongside regular medicine or when regular medicine has proven ineffective. For conditions such as chronic pain or migraines, which can prove resistant to conventional treatment, acupuncture may provide relief where it previously seemed none was possible. You should, however, discuss with your doctor if you are already on any medication and want to stop or reduce it, as this can lead to unwelcome side effects.

  1. It is an ancient remedy with modern scientific support:

Many alternative therapies based on ancient practices have been thoroughly debunked by modern science. While some of the wilder claims about acupuncture may not be entirely accurate, there is substantial research to suggest it can have value in relieving everything from pain to stress. In addition to its traditional use allowing “qi”, or energy, to flow through the body’s meridians, it may interact with the nervous system and stimulate endorphins.

  1. It can be used for a diverse range of conditions:

Most people use acupuncture for its pain-relieving properties, and that is also where the majority of the scientific research into its benefits has focused. It is possible that acupuncture needles can stimulate pain-relieving endorphins when they make contact with sensory nerves. Other uses may have mixed scientific support. For many people, however, acupuncture is a valued tool for managing everything from tension headaches, migraines, chronic pain and menstrual cramps to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

  1. Acupuncture therapy is safe:

As long as you are visiting a trained and experienced professional who understands the basic principles of hygiene and safety, the risk of acupuncture is low. Needles should be single-use and properly sterilized. They can then be disposed of immediately. There may be some mild side effects, such as bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, or some drowsiness or dizziness. Any pain on entry should be brief and mild.

The exception to this is if you have haemophilia or another bleeding disorder, are taking blood-thinning medication or have an allergy to metal. In these cases, you may need to talk to your doctor first. You should also tell your acupuncturist if you are pregnant.

  1. It is relaxing

It may sound counterintuitive that being stuck with needles can be relaxing, but it stimulates blood flow and encourages your body to let go of its “fight or flight” responses to stress. Traditionally, practitioners used acupuncture therapy not just to heal the body but also the mind by restoring the body’s energy to its natural flow. It should bring everything back into balance. This means that acupuncture may help you mentally and spiritually as well as physically.