Latest posts are at the bottom of this page.Use the filter buttons above to help find answers - click on the boxes
Q: I'm planning to study intensive acupuncture in Goa (India). I would like to know if I will be able to work in the UK after that and if I could be registered with the British Acupuncture Council.
A:There is regulation of acupuncture by the state in the UK, so in theory anyone is free to practise. However, local authorities operate local laws which govern all skin piercing activities which means that a practitioner has to be registered or licensed to practise. The grant of a licence or registration depends on the practitioner showing that they meet all the requirements for safe practice and that their premises are also sutable. Many local authorities now check the standard of someone's training, and undertake basic checks of being properly insured. The only exceptions are in London where belonging to a professional body on the list of exempt organisations means that a practitioner does not have togold a licence, although they are still required to let the authority know they are there. As far as intensive training courses are concerned, it is only fair to tell you that the BAcC had some quite difficult arguments with other UK acupuncture associations some years ago because of our insistence on a minimum of 3600 hours training over three years. We do not believe that you can train to be a sound and effective practitioner in less time than this, and we regard the clinical element of the training, where someone learns through supervised reflective practice as critical. It is perfectly possible to learn the basic theory in much less time than this, but in our view that is not in itself a good basis for practice. We only give automatic eligibility to graduates of accredited colleges. However, we do have an entry route for practitioners who trained elsewhere which uses the same criteria and we have known of cases where people have taken a shorter training and then succesfully applied to us after they have used their skills in clinical practice for several years, but as the professional standards are being raised year after year, we do not expect to see many people being admitted to the BAcC with less than a three year training. This is, after all, the World Health Organisation's recommendation for a non-medical practitioner in independent practice.
A: There are no specific points for raising body temperature. There are a number of reasons in Chinese medicine why the body as a whole might be cold or why specific parts of the body may be cold, but the nature of Chinese medicine is that the practitioner treats the person, not necessarily the symptom in itself. Although the practitioner might describe a patient as Yang Deficient, often manifesting in coldness, there are many different ways in which a Yang Deficiency can both manifest and be created. The choice of points would reflect the specific nature of the unique balance of the individual.
There are plentiful lists of 'cookbook' or formula acupuncture on the internet, and there are often generic points which might appear in many of the possible treatments for Yang Deficiency. We always have a concern, however, that used out of specific context these points may have no effect or no lasting effect, and although they are unlikely to cause any harm, our experience is that people tend to walk away from treatments which cause them transient adverse effects, and we believe that point recommendations without specific diagnosis are not to be trusted.
The best advice, if you are experiencing coldness, is to visit a BAcC member local to you and seek their advice from a brief face to face assessment. This will give you a much clearer idea of what may be possible than that which we can give you here.
A: >There are no specific points for raising body temperature. There are a number of reasons in Chinese medicine why the body as a whole might be cold or why specific parts of the body may be cold, but the nature of Chinese medicine is that the practitioner treats the person, not necessarily the symptom in itself. Although the practitioner might describe a patient as Yang Deficient, often manifesting in coldness, there are many different ways in which a Yang Deficiency can both manifest and be created. The choice of points would reflect the specific nature of the unique balance of the individual.
Q: Who are the people who access more acupuncture treatments? Educated or non-educated people?
A:We have no data on which we can base any comment.
It used to be something of a piece of 'received wisdom' that traditional acupuncture was a middle class preserve for financial reasons. Indeed some of the more innovative ways of providing acupuncture, such as community clinics and mutli-bed clinics, have their origins in the United States where a very forceful group argued that acupuncture would be beyond the means of working people without initiatives such as these.
However, in our view this may not be the case at all. Although the cost of treatment has risen over the years it is no longer beyond the means of an ordinary working person. Nor is there a direct correlation between class and educational background as there may have been thirty or forty years ago, leaving aside what 'educated' might mean.
Essentially, the message of traditional Chinese medicine is not one which requires a great deal of intellectual capacity or the ability to understand esoteric concepts. The very direct way in which it describes and addresses the sorts of problems which everyone has makes its message easily accessible, and it is always very reassuring when giving talks to audiences of all kinds to see the recognition which greets some of the descriptions of the ways in which disharmony and imbalance can affect the body, mind and spirit.
Q: I have had 4 strokes and I have diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I have been falling a lot lately, tripping over my own feet. This happens a lot more when I am tired. My neurologist says that my falling is multi-factorial - the diabetes he feels has caused some neuropathy in my feet and the strokes have messed up my center for balance in my brain. I am at my wits end trying to avoid falling. Do you think that acupuncture could help my condition(s)?
A: There is certainly no likelihood of any hard from trying acupuncture treatment; it remains one of the safest medical interventions, with very few adverse effects, most of which are transient.
We have been asked about diabetic neuropathy on a number of occasions. Our factsheet on neuropathic pain tends to address neuralgias more than neuropathy itself, and our answer to our last enquirer, slightly more specific than your question, was:
Q: My husband has diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy. Please advise if he should find an acupuncturist specializing in this condition. .We live in west wales and would be grateful if you could recommend a practitioner.
A:The first thing we have to say is that you are unlikely to find an acupuncturist who specialises in treating this condition, but that is in the nature of Chinese medicine which is inherently generalist. In fact, in ancient China the specialist was regarded with disdain because they were restricted to treating a small number of conditions, whereas the generalist could treat all. Chinese medicine treats the person, not the condition from which they suffer. It would not be unusual for twenty patients with the same presenting conventional named condition, say migraine, to be treated in twenty entirely different ways.
Symptoms, what the patient experiences, are the same whatever system of medicine one practises, however, and it is the sense which a practitioner can make of them which determines whether treatment is possible. The normal symptoms of this form of diabetic neuropathy - pain, weakness in the limbs, muscle wasting and so on - would be seen by a Chinese medicine practitioner in the context of the Chinese medicine system which is premised on an understanding of the body as a flow of energy, called 'qi'. How qi flows. The balance and rhythms of this flow determine whether someone is healthy or not, and unsurprisingly where the flow is blocked or out of balance, pain and loss of function will result.
This is a rather long-winded introduction to saying that the Chinese medicine practitioner will be less interested in the name given to the condition than in how it presents, and will try to make sense of that both as a local disturbance and as a manifestation of the balance of the whole system. This can mean on occasion that acupuncture treatment can achieve changes where people thought change was impossible, but this has more to do with the fact that the causal relationships on which conventional medicine relies can be misinterpreted. Nearly everyone over the age of 60 has some degeneration of the lower spine visible on X-ray but that doesn't mean that every backache is caused by it.
In the case of diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy, however, the diagnosis tends to be more precise and what we can say is that there is a limited amount of evidence for the use of acupuncture in the treatment of neuropathy and considerably more evidence for the treatment of chronic pain wtih acupuncture to suggest that acupuncture treatment may be able to take the edge off your husband's pain. Working at this remove, though, and without being able to see exactly how it manifests we are somewhat limited in what we can say. The best advice we can give is that you go to see a BAcC member local to you for an informal face to face assessment of whether acupuncture treatment may be of benefit. A skilled practitioner should very quickly be able to tell you based on what they can observe whether they think that treatment applied locally may help, or indeed whether balancing the whole system may help the body's own mechanism's to function better and take charge of its own recovery.
As far as finding a practitioner is concerned, there is a 'find a practitioner' feature on our home page www.acupuncture.org.uk which should be able to provide you with a list of names of working in or near your postcode area. We always recommend using postcodes; the search engines are very specific and if you name a county you may find that someone works just over a county border who is far closer than the practitioners operating in your own town or county.
We think there is enough overlap here to answer some of your question, but we would probably place greater emphasis for you on the fact that acupuncture treats the person, not the disease itself. Given that you have a number of quite serious health problems, it is sometimes more advantageous coming at them from a different perspective to avoid taking on symptom after symptom, one at a time. We see many patients taking bucketloads of medicine as a consequence of this approach, and while we are not at all opposed to the use of medication, we are always concerned that this overloads the body with the complex interactions between the medicines and generally addes a few more symptoms.
The traditional acupuncture practitioner will try to make sense of the patterns which have developed in such a way that they can apply the minimum amount of treatment to the most needy areas to encourage the person's own healing process. While it is possible to use acupuncture treatment in a more targeted way, we believe that taking a holistic approach offers the best way not just to help the patient to get better but to stay well. In ancient times the traditional doctor was paid to keep someone well, not to get someone better after they had become ill. This was, said the Chinese, like 'digging a well when you are already thirsty, or forging a spear after the battle had started.'
The best advice, as we said in our earlier reply, is to visit a BAcC member local to you and seek a brief face to face assessment of whether acupuncture treatment may be of benefit to you.
If you have any questions about acupuncture, browse our archive or ask an expert.
Research based factsheets have been prepared for over 60 conditions especially for this website
Catch up with the latest news on acupuncture in the national media
Keep up to date with our news or join the #acupuncture conversation
Thinking about trying acupuncture?
Have a look at our Frequently asked questions, browse our video testimonials or the Ask an expert area
63 Jeddo RoadLondon W12 9HQPhone: 020 8735 0400
Fax: 020 8735 0404