This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960


It is difficult to grasp how piercing the skin with a sharp piece of metal can help effect relief or even cure. Stimulation of the skin by stroking or piercing evokes a response by the autonomic nervous system that probably accounts for acupuncture's beneficial effects. It is 5,000 years old and based on the Chinese philosophy of internal energy, 'chi', with its two components 'yin' and 'yang'. When these are disturbed by disease, needling 'rebalances' the yin and yang, 'realigning' chi to restore health.

How does it work and what is

the evidence?

Dr Tanvir Jamil explains the

key points


 · Easy to learn basics

 · Decreased analgesic use

 · Relatively safe

 · Popular with patients

 · Often relieves pain unresponsive to conventional therapy

Cons (all rare)

 · Infections ­ hep B and C, HIV, bacterial endocarditis (now virtually eliminated with the use of disposable needles)

 · Pneumothorax

 · Bleeding

 · Broken needle

in situ

 · Adverse response ­ some patients faint

What is acupuncture used for?

 · Pain

 · Psychological Insomnia, anxiety, stress

 · Gynaecological PMT, period pain, menopausal symptoms, breast tenderness

 · Urinary Detrusor instability

 · Allergies Hayfever, eczema, sinusitis, itching

 · Abdominal IBS

 · Pregnancy Morning sickness, labour pain

 · Nausea and vomiting from anaesthesia or motion

 · Sports injuries

 · Terminal illness Erostomia (dry mouth), anxiety, visceral pain, dyspnoea,

pressure sores, hiccough, nausea


British Medical Acupuncture Society (for doctors only).

12 Marbury House,

Higher Whitley

Warrington WA4 4QW

Tel: 01925 730727

Fax: 01925 730492

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