Is acupuncture real medicine?

Acupuncture has been used as a traditional healing practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years.

It has since become popularised in the Western world, and is recognised as a less invasive method of managing pain and improving overall wellbeing.

However, its efficacy and legitimacy as a medical treatment have remained the subject of debate in the UK and other Western countries for many years.

In this article, we’ll be exploring key aspects of the practice to address the benefits of acupuncture, what acupuncture does, and answer the question, is acupuncture real medicine?

Is acupuncture considered a science?

To understand whether or not acupuncture is a science, we must look back at its history.

Acupuncture is rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy and is based on the idea that the vital life energy Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) flows through the body along pathways named meridians.

TCM suggest that by inserting thin needles into specific acupoints along these meridians, practitioners can balance the flow of Qi to promote wellbeing.

Despite its rich and long past, western medicine demands more scientific evidence and validation, which has led critics to argue that acupuncture lacks scientific grounding.

However, those within the world of acupuncture argue that recent advancements and studies provide a solid basis for understanding the benefits of acupuncture.

In a 2017 clinical study, it was concluded acupuncture was an effective for the treatment of chronic pain.

Numerous studies conducted in the past decade have supported this conclusion.

Is acupuncture medically proven?

Over the years, the medical community in the UK and globally has evolved its stance on acupuncture.

In 1979, the World Health Organisation (WHO) first recognised acupuncture as a viable treatment for 43 conditions, including migraines and chronic pain. Since then, it has continued to recommend and support the practice.

Moreover, the NHS has also acknowledged acupuncture’s effectiveness for certain conditions and it is now used in many GP practices, as well as in most pain clinics and hospices.

Currently, the strongest support in the medical community is for acupuncture’s capacity to alleviate chronic pain.

Is acupuncture a placebo or real?

One of the most commonly asked questions about acupuncture is whether its benefits are real or a placebo effect.

Over the years, many acupuncture studies and trials have tested groups with real acupuncture and sham acupuncture to determine whether or not there can be a placebo effect.

These trials have seen mixed results, with some suggesting that acupuncture benefits extend way beyond a placebo effect and that the insertion of the needle does, in fact, trigger a physiological response.

Are acupressure points scientifically proven?

Acupressure is a commonly used technique that involves applying pressure to specific points on the body.

Although research into acupressure is not as extensive as acupuncture, some studies suggest it can be beneficial, particularly when used in conjunction with acupuncture.

For example, acupressure has demonstrated itself to help reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep.

One 2011 systematic review of 43 studies of acupressure’s effectiveness treating symptoms found that in 35 of the studies, it was concluded that acupressure was effective at treating specific symptoms, including nausea, pain and insomnia.

Get in touch today

We hope that this article has helped you to better understand what acupuncture is and what the benefits of acupuncture are, but if you have any questions or are interested in learning how you could benefit from sessions, feel free to explore our website or get in touch with us today on 0800 051 76 88.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

According to the World Health Organization, of the countries that report data to them, acupuncture is used in an incredible 103 out of 129. In the past 50 years, the practice has increased in popularity and is used to help alleviate a wide range of health issues, from chronic pain to mental health struggles. At Acupuncture That Works, we have helped countless patients to experience the unique benefits of acupuncture, but one of the most common questions we are asked is: “Is acupuncture safe?”.  We understand these concerns which is why, in this article, we explore the safety aspects, including the risks, adverse side effects, who should avoid it, and when it might be unsafe.

What are acupuncture’s risks?

When carried out by a trained and qualified practitioner, acupuncture is considered to be a safe and effective method of addressing a number of health issues. According to NCCIH, relatively few complications from acupuncture have ever been reported. However, as with any medical procedure, it carries minor risks, which our practitioners will always make you aware of. The main risks associated with acupuncture include:

Bruised skin or bleeding

Some patients may occasionally experience light bruising or bleeding where the hair-thin needles have been inserted. This is generally harmless and will subside within a few hours after your session.


Reputable acupuncture clinics will always follow strict hygiene and health and safety protocols to ensure patients are never at risk of infection. However, if you receive acupuncture from an individual who has not correctly sterilised the needles, there will be a minimal risk of infection.


While most patients can hardly feel the needles, some may find acupuncture slightly uncomfortable, mainly when the needle is first inserted, but this should be temporary.

Feeling faint

One of the rare ‘risks’ associated with acupuncture is feeling faint or dizzy during or after the session. Our practitioners find that those who fear needles, suffer anxiety leading up to the session, or have low blood pressure are generally more at risk of feeling faint.

Are there negative side effects from acupuncture?

We believe the incredible benefits of acupuncture far outweigh the mild and short-lived negative side effects that some patients experience. Often, patients leave feeling rested, more relaxed and rejuvenated after their acupuncture sessions. However, some may experience the following:


Feeling tired following an acupuncture session isn’t uncommon because your body has entered a state of relaxation and healing. We recommend patients stay hydrated and take it easy for the remainder of the day so that the body has time to recover and rebalance.


Feeling a slight soreness at the needle insertion site is not uncommon, but this will fade after the session and over the following days.

Feeling worse

In rare cases, we have seen patients’ symptoms worsen briefly but then improve. This can be part of the body’s natural healing process and will not last long.

Who should not have acupuncture?

Acupuncture is generally a safe, non-invasive method of managing a range of health concerns, but we find it may not be suitable for the following individuals:

  • People with bleeding disorders
  • Pregnant women
  • People with pacemakers or heart conditions
  • People with metal allergies
  • People with certain immune disorders
  • People with certain skin conditions

We advise you to always consult your GP and speak to our team about any concerns you may have before receiving acupuncture.

When is acupuncture unsafe?

There is only one instance where we believe acupuncture to be unsafe, and that is when administered by an unqualified individual in unsanitary conditions. We always recommend that you check your practitioner is a licenced healthcare professional or a registered member of a national acupuncture organisation. The British Acupuncture Council is the UK’s leading regulatory body for the practice of traditional acupuncture and allows you to search their online registry for practitioners in your area.

Get in touch today

We hope that this article has helped answer that all-important question “Is acupuncture safe?” but if you have any questions or are interested in learning how you could benefit from sessions, feel free to explore our website or get in touch with us today on 0800 051 76 88.