Is acupuncture safe?
When acupuncture treatment is performed by a qualified acupuncturist, it is very safe.
There have been three surveys in the last six years which have shown that it is amongst the safest health therapy and alternative medicine in use in the UK today. Out of 68,000 recorded treatments in two of the 2001 surveys (mainly for chronic pain), there were only 14 minor (bruising, feeling nauseous, pain) reported adverse side effects.
According to the evidence from 12 prospective clinical trials which surveyed more than a million treatments, the risk of a serious side effects with is estimated to be 0.05 per 10 000 treatments, and 0.55 per 10,000 individual patients. This is very low in complementary medicine.
Thin needles are inserted into muscle issue so are less likely to cause adverse effects. The needles stimulate the qi pronounced "chee", our life force. Acupuncture and oriental medicine has been safely used in Asia for thousands of years and is even safe for people with a bleeding disorder.
It is not safe when it's given by a poorly qualified practitioner who hasn't had enough training, for example medical acupuncture or dry needling in pain clinic. Members of an association body such as the British Acupuncture Council tend to be better trained and cause less adverse effects.
Is it safe to drive after having acupuncture?
Yes, it's safe to drive after having acupuncture treatment.
Most people find they feel fine to drive afterwards. However, some people may feel a bit disorientated and light headed afterwards, especially if certain acupuncture points are stimulated. For them they may need to wait 5-10 minutes before leaving the clinic.
Is acupuncture safe in pregnancy?
Yes, it is safe to have in early pregnancy when given by a healthcare professional. In actual fact it can help your baby, ensuring it grows healthy and can be used at the end of the pregnancy to ensure a better labour.
Always make sure that your acupuncturist is qualified to treat pregnant women.
Experienced acupuncture practitioners will never insert a needle on your abdomen or in points that are contraindicated during pregnancy, for example Sanyinjiao - SP 6.
Carr. (2015) The safety of obstetric acupuncture: forbidden points revisited. Acupunct Med; 33(5):413-9. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2015-010936.
Park, J, Sohn, Y, White, AR, et al. (2014). The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Acup in Medicine; 32: p257-266.
White, A. (2004). A cumulative review of the range and incidence of significant adverse events associated with accupuncture. Acup in Medicine; 22: p122-133.