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Ask an expert - general

235 questions

 

Q. I have persistent tingling and numbness in my right hand not painfull but very irritating.. Had scans, tests to no avail would acupuncture help?

 

A. Practitioners in the BAcC often have patients come to them after all the western tests have been done and nothing has been found, because they've heard or read that the symptoms which they describe are a part of the disease patterns understood within Chinese medicine. It is certainly the case that some patterns describe numbness and tingling in the hands as a symptom, but equally true that many people experience symptoms like these where none of the usual accompanying signs occur and for which treatment would not be as straightforward or as likely to be of benefit.
 
Chinese medicine has developed over thousands of years, and offers many different ways of intervening to put someone's system back in order. Symptoms such as yours may be evidence of local disturbance which might benefit from local treatment, or they may result from major functional imbalances and require more work. The best way to establish whether acupuncture would be appropriate would be to visit a BAcC member who can offer you a better assessment based in their own observations about whether your particular case has some clearcut features which suggest that acupuncture might work well.

 

Q. Have sucessfully had acupuncture for fertility issues. Now in peri- menopause and can't get on with HRT or Prozac. Now cold turkey and hot flashes few and far between. Major issue is the mood swings - I am becoming increaslingly difficult to live with (ask my husband, kids and dog!). Can acupuncture help in this area?

 

A. There's no doubt that the research for treating menopausal symptoms is not conclusive, as our factsheet shows but with the wide variety of symptoms which women experience designing good trials is not that straightforward.
 
One of the great strengths of Chinese medicine, though, is that it can offer an understanding of groups of symptoms in a way which would make no sense in western medicine but which would be immediately clear from the Chinese understanding of functions in the body and their relative levels of balance. A skilled practitioner may be able to make sense of what you are experiencing and attempt to adjust the balance to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
 
The fact that you have had acupuncture before and that it has worked for you is very encouraging. Many people find that they are very receptive to one form of treatment over others, and this can often transfer to new symptoms which arise.

 

Q. Does acupuncture help with weight problems? Going through the menopause and the weight piling on.

 

A. The research evidence for acupuncture and weight loss is not good, but that is at least in part because weight gain can occur for a wide variety of reasons, and standardising treatment to test its value will almost certainly be a very hit and miss affair. Most people trying to lose weight are also not only doing several things besides seeking help from acupuncturists or other therapists, but told categorically by weight watching organisations that progress is likely to be slow and hard fought. Deciding what effects are down to treatment, to diet, to exercise or just luck is difficult.
 
There are a number of explanations within Chinese medicine which are offered for weight gain, and being menopausal may or may not be implicated in what is going on. Although we repeat all the time that Chinese medicine treats the person, not simply the condition, this is exactly one of those cases where the unique balance and constitution of the individual is the key to understanding whether acupuncture can indeed help. The most effective way to establish this is to seek a short consultation with a BAcC member to see whether acupuncture might be appropriate.

Try not to have a large meal within an hour of your appointment as the process of digestion will alter the pattern of your pulse, and you may need to lie on your stomach. You should also avoid alcohol and food or drink that colours your tongue such as coffee or strong tea. It is a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothes so that the acupuncture points, especially those on your lower limbs, are easily accessible.

Acupuncture has virtually no unpleasant side effects. Any that do occur are mild and self-correcting. Occasionally there may be minor bruising at the needle point or a short-term flare-up of your symptoms as your qi clears and resettles.

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BAcC Factsheets

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