Here is a list of frequently asked questions you might have about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine…

Does acupuncture hurt?

A: Not usually. A dull ache often develops at the point (considered to be a good therapeutic sign) but the needles are so fine that people having treatment for the first time are pleasantly surprised, finding the treatment to be very relaxing and therapeutic.
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Do I need to believe in acupuncture in order for it work?

A: Usually 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 flaring up of your symptoms as your Qi clears and resettles itself.
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How will I feel after acupuncture?

A: Usually 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 flaring up of your symptoms as your Qi clears and resettles itself.
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What is the difference between the Chinese Medicinal acupuncture and other acupuncturists?

A: There are different styles and practice of acupuncture outside China, such as Five Element acupuncture, triggers points acupuncture or dry-needles. The Chinese Medical acupuncturist requires that the practitioner must have an extensive training in Chinese medical theories and Chinese style of 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.
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What about the needles used?

A: Members use single use pre-sterilised disposable needles, which are disposed of after each treatment. The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (UK) members observe the Code of Practice which lays down stringent standards of hygiene and sterilisation of equipment.
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Is acupuncture safe?

A: Acupuncture is only safe and efficacy when it is operated in a proper trained practitioner’s hand. A practiced member must be registered with a professional organization, such as the Assocaition of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM). ATCM’s members must observe the Code of Practice which defines the hygiene and safety standards relating to the practice of acupuncture. The Code of Practice is available for download from the website www.atcm.co.uk/about us . These procedures have been approved by the Department of Health, and provide protection against the transmission of infectious diseases.
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Can I get cross infection from acupuncture?

A: The acupuncture needles are always sterilised before use. To eliminate any possibility of getting AIDS, or other infectious diseases, disposable needles are preferable. Such needles are used once only and then disposed of safely.
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How is a Chinese herbal medicine prescription constructed by a practitioner?

A: Based on the overall symptoms a patient has, which includes the state of illness, the patient’s sex, age, and constitution, occurring season of the disease and circumstances, the physician begins with the guidelines as delineated in classical texts to form a basic prescription and then adjusts the mixture to the patients needs by adding or deleting various herbs, or manipulating the dosages of the compounds to fit the precise disharmony. Such a prescription usually contains 5-15 substances and the dosages average 3-15 grams per herb.
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Is there any type of prepared Chinese medicine available?

A: Yes, there are many types of prepared Chinese herbal medicine available in the form of decoction, tablet, ointment, powders, etc… An alternative to raw herbs, in which you need to make tea-like drinks to take, is concentrated herb powders which you can also take without making up a drink.
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What are Chinese herbal medicine used to treat?

A: Most conditions apart from those requiring immediate western medicine intervention and serious degenerative disease although it can be used to subsidise and complement Western treatment, enhancing the patient’s quality of life. Acupuncture clinics tend to treat chronic ailments for which there is no conventional cure, such as migraine, chronic muscle and joint pain, asthma & allergies, IBS and other digestive system problems, PMS and menopausal issues and other gynecological problems, but the therapy can also be used to treat acute conditions such as flu and colds and other viral or bacterial infections.
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How much treatment do I need?

A: This depends on how long you’ve had the problem, how ‘deep’ or serious the problem is, and on age and constitution. A muscle problem such as tennis elbow may only need one or two sessions but if it’s been with you for months it will be harder to tackle because more muscles will probably become involved. An illness such as ME or Rheumatoid Arthritis will require long term treatment because many different aspects of the functioning of the body have become involved – the illness is much more complex.
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Who can take Chinese medicine?

A: Chinese Herbs can be taken by all age groups from young babies to the elderly, though you must notify your practitioner if you are also taking other medicines, suffer from allergies, other conditions or are pregnant as this may effect your treatment and prescription.
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How long and in what form will I take the herbal medicine?

A: Traditionally, Chinese Herbs are made up into teas or decoctions. This involves boiling the herbs in water for half an hour or more. The patient will receive detailed instructions on the method of preparation. Capsules of raw herbal powder, concentrated extracts and pills are also prescribed. A typical course of treatment would involve taking a herbal formula daily for several months, depending on the nature of the case and the strength of the patient. The patient will be monitored regularly to ensure that the formula is effective and modified as improvements occur.
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Should I continue with my prescribed medication while undergoing a course of Chinese medicine or acupuncture treatment?

A: Yes. Many people seek the help of Chinese medicine or acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction with drug treatment, mainly because it does not seem to be working or the side effects are too severe. DO NOT stop taking any medication without professional guidance.
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I am concerned about the use of endangered species in Chinese herbal medicines.

A: The ATCM has always condemned the illegal trade in endangered plant and animal species, and our members are subject to strict rules which prohibit the use of any such material.
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