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Ask an expert - about acupuncture - How often?

7 questions

There are no set rules for how long it may take for treatment to show benefits, and most practitioners have lived to regret promising change within a set number of treatments. From a Chinese medicine perspective the symptoms are often less important than the underlying patterns to which the diagnostic systems relate, and this can sometimes lead to confusing anomalies - a serious condition based on a relatively simple imbalance can sometimes clear as if by magic, whereas a minor condition based on a complex chronic imbalance can be almost intractable. All that a practitioner can do is to ensure that they review the situation on a regular basis with the patient. We don't make any stipulations, but most members have often drawn a line at four or five sessions, sometimes a few more, and discussed with a patient how well things are going. Even where the main condition may not have changed at all, there may be changes to diagnostic signs which indicate that there will be progress. If there aren't then the practitioner should acknowledge that there are some people for who acupuncture doesn't work, and work with you to see what other alternatives there may be which suit you better.


There are no set rules. The majority of practitioners in the BAcC see patients once a week, occasionally twice a week, but it is not unknown in China for someone to have a course of ten treatments on a daily basis. This is particularly the case with acute conditions, and there are occasions where a patient will be advised to attend the clinic two or three days in a row to bring more acute problems under control.
Just as there is a problem with treating too infrequently, over-treating can be an issue. Most practitioners use the analogy of cleaning out a pond. If you take all the rubbish off the bottom the water becomes cloudy for a few days, and you need to let it settle before you can properly assess what change you have achieved.

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