The thought of having little needles poked into your skin at specific points might sound a bit off-putting, but the method can relieve pain and stimulate circulation.
According to TCM, life energy (Qi) flows through the body through a system of channels called meridians. These in turn influence the bodily functions. Illnesses and diseases may emerge if the flow of energy in the meridians is disrupted or blocked. This is where acupuncture comes in, using needles to puncture the skin at specific points – there are more than 400 possible acupuncture points – to release the blockage. An alternative to acupuncture is acupressure, where the points are massaged with the tips of the fingers or special instruments instead of inserting needles.
Acupuncture is said to bring relief to people suffering from different conditions, for example respiratory problems, migraine, sleep problems, hay fever, chronic pain, pregnancy-related conditions, and problems with the musculoskeletal system (back and limbs).
In general acupuncture can be used to treat people of any age, although with babies acupressure is often used rather than needles. If someone has a skin condition, needles shouldn't be inserted in the areas affected.
A session usually lasts 20 to 30 minutes. The patient should be calm and relaxed, ideally lying or sitting. Before a needle is inserted, the acupuncture point and the area around it are massaged gently. As few points as possible are treated during a single session.