Frequently Asked Acupuncture Questions

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Usually rather relaxed and calm. Occasionally you may feel tired or drowsy for a few hours if the treatment has been particularly strong or there may be a short term flair up of your symptoms as your Qi ( or energy flow, pronounced “Chee”) clears and resettles itself.

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.

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.

Quite possibly! Acupuncture is available through many health insurance policies. Each insurance provider is different though, so you need to check with your provider to make sure that you are covered. Many health insurance providers cover acupuncture when treated by an acupuncturist who is a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).

Below is a table of some of the insurance providers who do and don’t cover Acupuncture by BAcC practitioners. If your provider isn’t listed I recommend that you contact them directly to check.

Even if your insurance provider is listed as not providing coverage here, it may be worth calling them to check and get the most up to date information directly from them, as more companies are adding acupuncture over time.

If you work for a large company it’s also worth checking to see if you are entitled to any coverage through them. Many companies will subsidise health treatments such as acupuncture for their employees.

Insurance providers that cover BAcC Members Insurance providers that do not cover acupuncture.
ACTPlan AXA PPP Healthcare
Aviva Health UK Limited WHA
Buck & Willis Health Care Ltd. BCWA
Bupa Cashplan (not BUPA) BUPA
Clinicare Exeter Friendly Society
CS Healthcare Guardian Healthcare
Forester Health Legal & General Assurance Society Ltd
Healthshield Manchester Unity Healthcare
Hospital Saturday Fund
Leeds Hospital Fund
Legal & General Healthcare
Pinnacle PLC
Royal & Sun Alliance Healthcare and Assistance
Standard Life Health Care
Sun Alliance Health Insurance

Not generally. In cases where your local Primary Care Group (PCG) or Primary Care Trust (PCT) have agreed a contract with a local acupuncturist, your GP may make a referral. However, you should always enquire as to the training of an acupuncturist and ensure that they have studied for a minimum three years full-time or the part-time equivalent. Many GP’s/Physios have just done a short training course.

Acupuncture is however covered by a number of health insurance companies and policies, to find out further information about this click here.

British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) members have an extensive training in acupuncture and bio medical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture in the UK. As well as being covered by full medical malpractice and public/product liability insurance, members are bound by codes of ethics, practice and disciplinary procedures.

Aside from assurances that the practitioner is registered with a professional body and has appropriate insurance cover, your personal relationship/rapport with your practitioner is important. Find a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable, who understands what you want from treatment and who can explain clearly what they expect acupuncture treatment to be able to do for you.

A report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) lists many conditions that acupuncture can treat effectively, these include nausea and vomiting, morning sickness, malposition of foetus in pregnancy, induction of labour, allergic rhinitis, depression, dysentry, dysmenorrhoea (period pains), biliary colic, headaches, hypertension, facial pain, knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, arthritis of the shoulder, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, sprains, tennis elbow, pain in dentistry, post operative pain, acute epigastric pain, stroke and adverse reactions to chemotherapy and radio therapy.

The WHO also lists many other conditions where acupuncture has been shown to be effective but further proof is needed. These include absominal pain, acne, alcohol dependence, bronchial asthma, cancer pain, cardiac neurosis, competition stress syndrom, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, earache, eye pain, infertility, facial spasm, fibromyalgia, gallstones, gouty arthritis, herpes zoster (shingles), insomnia, labour pain, lactation deficiency, male sexual dysfunctoin, Ménière’s disease (severe attacks of dizziness and ringing in the ears), nerodermatitis, nose bleed, obesity, drug dependency, osteoarthritis, polycystic ovarian syndrom, post-operative convalescence, prementrual syndrom, prostatitis, Raynaud’s syndrome, urinary infection, retention of urine, schizophrenia, sore throat, spine pain, stiff neck, tobacco dependence, Tourette’s syndrome, ulcerative colitis (inflamation and ulceration in the large intestine) and whooping cough.*

*WHO, Acupuncture Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, 2003, pp 9-10

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