Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Acupuncture?
Why choose a BAcC registered practitioner?
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) are committed to ensuring all patients receive the highest standard of professional care during their acupuncture treatment. Their Code of Professional Conduct governs ethical and professional behaviour, while the Code of Safe Practice sets benchmark standards for best practice in acupuncture. All BAcC members are bound by these codes.
All members of the BAcC can offer you the following assurances:
BSc or BA degree level training or its equivalent in traditional acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and western biomedical sciences including anatomy, physiology and pathology (3,600 hours of study)
compliance with current UK health and safety legislation
full medical malpractice and public/products liability insurance cover
expert practice skills maintained by following a mandatory individual programme of continuing professional development (CPD)
regular updates from the BAcC regarding practitioners' professional obligations to the public
compliance with BAcC Code of Safe Practice and Code of Professional Conduct
patient access to the BAcC complaints and disciplinary procedures
English language skills at least equivalent to those required of doctors and nurses working in the UK
Acupuncturists registered with the BAcC carry the letters MBAcC after their name.
What to expect from a treatment
Before your acupuncture treatment:
Before your first acupuncture session there are several things you should bear in mind:
many commonly used acupuncture points are located on the lower arms and legs, so it is helpful to wear clothing that allows easy access to these areas
try not to go for treatment on an empty stomach or straight after a heavy meal
do let your practitioner know if you are completely new to acupuncture so they can take extra time to explain what happens and ensure you are comfortable with the process.
Your initial consultation:
During your first visit your acupuncturist needs to gain a thorough understanding of your main complaint and your general health and lifestyle. This involves asking questions about your current symptoms and your medical history, as well as such things as your sleeping pattern, your appetite and digestion, and your emotional wellbeing. Women are also asked about their menstrual cycle and any past pregnancies and childbirth.
You might feel that some questions appear unrelated to your condition but the information you give helps your practitioner to form a more complete picture of your health and lifestyle. Your acupuncturist will also take your pulse on both wrists and may examine your tongue and feel for areas of muscular tension or pain.
Your main health complaint:
When talking about your main complaint, the practitioner might ask you to describe in your own words what the symptoms feel like and how severe they are. You may also be asked how long you have been having the symptoms, whether they are constant or intermittent and how frequent they are. You should mention any medication that you are taking and whether you have tried any other therapies.
In order to make a diagnosis according to traditional Chinese medicine theory and to find the right treatment approach, the practitioner will also want to know more specific details.
Treatment plan and treatment:
Based on all the information you have given, the practitioner will make a diagnosis and put together your treatment plan, which may include lifestyle and dietary advice as well as acupuncture. Your practitioner will use very fine single-use pre-sterilised needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body. Because energy meridians range across the whole body, the points used are not necessarily close to where you experience pain or discomfort. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand.
Your acupuncturist is likely to suggest ways in which you can enhance the long-term effects of your treatment. This may involve making changes to your diet and daily routine. If necessary you will be referred to other healthcare practitioners for specialist care.
Most people find acupuncture relaxing and often feel very calm after a treatment. You may feel a little tired or sleepy and should take this into account if you are planning to drive or use heavy machinery straight after your treatment.
You should refrain from vigorous exercise after treatment and, ideally, give yourself a little time to rest. It is also advisable not to drink alcohol for several hours after treatment.
Acupuncture has very few side effects and any that do occur are usually mild and self-correcting. Cupping and guasha can sometimes temporarily mark the skin. Such bruising is painless and generally clears within a day or two.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture needles are so fine that most people don’t feel them being inserted. It is normal to feel a mild tingle or dull ache as the acupuncturist adjusts the needle to direct Qi. While the needles are in place most people feel deeply relaxed which can continue after they are removed.
What are the different types of acupuncture?
Have you ever considered acupuncture but felt unsure who to seek treatments from. This table may help to clarify some of the different types of acupuncture that are available. Please note that this is not a definitive list as there are cross overs, but it should help give you some understanding. If in doubt, don't be afraid to contact a practitioner and ask about their training to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want.
In the UK there are two main routes to becoming an acupuncturist:
1) 2-3 years of studying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) at degree level which includes anatomy, physiology and
pharmacology. This holistic therapy looks at treating the root cause of disease in order to relieve the symptoms.
2) Western Medical (WM) practitioners such as doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, physiotherapists and osteopaths who are
already trained to degree level may take short acupuncture courses. These courses do not contain and TCM concepts
instead focusing on relieving symptoms of diseases where acupuncture has been proven to be effective.
Please note that some WM practitioners have also trained in TCM principles.
Both these methods of acupuncture are effective in their own rights but it is important to match your expectations with your practitioner.