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A to Z Conditions



How does Acupuncture help?

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.

What is the evidence?

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety by:

  1. Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010).

  2. Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain’s mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states (Lee 2009; Samuels 2008; Zhou 2008; Yuan 2007).

  3. Stimulating production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system  (Arranz 2007). Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response.

  4. Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with anxiety (Arranz 2007)

  5. Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry (Kim 2009).

What is the TCM theory?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long recognised the interconnectedness of human mental, emotional, and physical experiences. Depression and anxiety are seen in Chinese medicine as disturbances of the Shen, sometimes known as our “spirit.”


Digestive concerns


Constipation is a common condition that can occur due to dehydration, stress, eating a low nutrient diet, taking certain medications, or underlying health conditions. 


How does Acupuncture help?

By targeting specific points in the body, acupuncture aims to restore balance and promote healthy digestion, thereby facilitating bowel movements. 


What is the evidence?

A 2020 meta-analysis found evidence to support the use of acupuncture for constipation. The analysis included 28 randomised controlled trials (RCTs)with 3,525 participants. The authors found that acupuncture for constipation was safe and effective, particularly in terms of increased stool frequency and improved constipation symptoms. (Wang et al.)


A 2021 meta-analysis of five RCTs also found that acupuncture could ease constipation in individuals with cancer using opioids for pain relief. The authors noted that the symptom scores of straining, abdominal pain, and defecation time were lower in the acupuncture groups compared with the control groups. Quality of life was also higher in the groups receiving acupuncture.(Han et al)


What is the TCM theory?

In Western medicine, constipation is regarded as a symptom, not a disease, and is most commonly accompanied by such other complaints as bloating, a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen, and spastic abdominal pain. In Chinese medicine, constipation (bian mi) is regarded as a disease and is listed as such in all internal medicine textbooks. 



Haemorrhoids are characterised by inflammation and edema of the vessels surrounding the anus and rectum. It is a common condition affecting millions of people all around the world. Haemorrhoids typically are caused by the effort to evacuate stool, pregnancy, chronic constipation or a low fibre diet. We can classify the hemorrhoid by its localization: Internal (inside the anus) and external (outside of the anus). Main symptoms include: pain upon evacuation, anal burning, anal itching and anal bleeding or any combination of these.


What is the evidence?
Li (2018) studied 76 haemorrhoid patients, 19 cases were diagnosed with internal haemorrhoids, 25 cases were diagnosed with external haemorrhoids, 32 cases were diagnosed with mixed haemorrhoids, they were treated with acupuncture, Kongzui (孔最LU 6) (this point is on the forearm). Treatment was given every day for 24 days and the improvement of hemorrhoid and pain, the reduction of size of haemorrhoids and the recurrence were compared before and after treatment to evaluate the clinical efficacy. Sixty eight cases were cured, which accounted for 86.5%. 


What is the TCM Theory?

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, haemorrhoids are caused because of the accumulation of heat and dampness in the vicinity of the rectal area and lower body such as the anus and intestines. If the body was subjected to a warm temperature and humid conditions for an extended time, it might cause haemorrhoids. This heat, dampness, and humidity can cause the blood vessels to swell up.

What is of interest is that in the treatment of haemorrhoids with acupuncture, the points themselves are well away from the area of the problem. For example, a common acupuncture point used for haemorrhoids is in the back of the calf muscle and another is actually right on top of the head. The rationale of using the acupuncture point on top of the head is that the point can draw up the energy from the lower part of the body in the anus.


 Pain relief

If there is free flow, there is no pain;

If there is no free flow, there is pain.

How does Acupuncture help?

Pain is one of the most common reasons for people to seek acupuncture treatment. This includes neck pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, knee pain. These might have occurred as a result of repetitive use or wear and tear or also with a background of Osteoarthritis. 


  1. Acupuncture needling affects the cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of the naturally occurring opiate substances: dynorphin, endorphin, and enkephalin. Endorphins and enkephalins are potent blockers or modulators of pain arising from the musculoskeletal system. Dynorphin is a powerful modulator of visceral pain; it has a weaker effect on musculoskeletal pain modulation.

  2. The presence of a foreign body (acupuncture needle) may act to stimulate vascular and immuno-modulatory factors, including those of local inflammation. Adrenocorticotropic hormone has been shown to be elevated after acupuncture treatments, suggesting that adrenal activation and the release of endogenous corticosteroids may also result.

  3. Acupuncture may induce relaxation of ‘stuck’ myofibrils within tissue planes. This is thought to have a similar effect to the injection of painful trigger points (a common procedure undertaken in pain clinics).

  4. In causing minor trauma to an area of the body, it is postulated that acupuncture may increase local blood flow to the surrounding area. This may initiate or catalyse the healing process.

  5. The mesolimbic pathway is one of the neural pathways in the brain that link the ventral tegmental area in the midbrain to the nucleus accumbens in the limbic system. It is one of the four major pathways where the neurotransmitter dopamine is found and produces a pleasurable feeling when stimulated. (Wilkinson. J., 2007)


What is the evidence?

Acupuncture has been increasingly used as an integrative or complementary therapy for pain. It is well-tolerated with little risk of serious adverse effects.(Kelly, 2019)

Controlled trials have been published on pain syndromes, such as acupuncture for acute and chronic low back pain, knee osteoarthritis, headache, myofascial pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia. 


Many studies (27 in total) showed that acupuncture reduced pain and improved quality of life in the short term (up to 3 months) compared with usual care or sham acupuncture. There was not enough evidence to determine longer-term benefits. (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, UK)


What is the TCM theory?

If the body’s qi and/or blood stagnate in the channel(s) of the body (for example in the lower back) there will be pain. Imagine a river flowing unimpeded and suddenly a tree falls across the river; we see in our imagination the water no longer flowing freely, but getting blocked by the log, pushing into the banks of the river. The basic concept of acupuncture is to re-open the river, create a circulation so that the log lifts and normal flow is restored.


There are a number of different ways that the free flow of Qi and Blood can become impeded which include: trauma (repetitive strain, accident), external pathogens such as Wind or Cold which can invade parts of the body causing pain, insufficient Qi or Blood.


Headaches + Migraines

How does Acupuncture help?

  • Reduces tightness in the neck by placing the needles along points where muscles are constricted. 

  • Stimulates the release of endorphins which reduce pain and create feelings of wellbeing.

  • Promotes healthy blood circulation by downregulating inflammation and modulating the chemicals in the brain that control the constriction and dilation of blood vessels. When blood vessels constrict (narrow), migraine symptoms are alleviated.  

  • Reduces stress levels and encourages relaxation by regulating hormone levels. The hormones cortisol, serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine are involved in how the body responds to stress; when these hormones are balanced, your body will adapt to stress more efficiently. An imbalance in serotonin levels in the brain is linked to the onset of migraines.

  • Improves immune function which helps regulate inflammation and the production of prostaglandins (pain-promoting hormones). 


What is the evidence?

John Hopkins Medicine list headache as one of the conditions for which studies have shown acupuncture is an effective treatment alone or in combination with conventional therapies to treat


The British Medical Journal states that acupuncture can reduce migraine and headaches. A team of researchers based in China set out to compare the effectiveness of manual (real) acupuncture with sham (placebo) acupuncture or usual care. Their findings are based on 147 patients with a history of migraine without aura who were recruited from seven hospitals in China from June 2016 to November 2018. None of the patients had received acupuncture before, and all were instructed not to take any painkillers or start any other treatments during the trial. Patients received either 20 sessions of manual acupuncture at true acupuncture points, 20 sessions of non-penetrating sham acupuncture at non-acupuncture points, or usual care (including advice on lifestyle and self-management) over eight weeks. Over the next 12 weeks, the researchers compared changes in migraine days and migraine attacks per four-week period from baseline. Compared with sham acupuncture, manual acupuncture resulted in a greater reduction in migraine days with an apparent increasing trend.

These results show that treatment with manual acupuncture compared to sham acupuncture or usual care, “resulted in a significantly higher reduction in the frequency of migraine days and migraine attacks,” write the authors. They say acupuncture “can be recommended as a prophylactic treatment” and clinicians “should provide patients with information about acupuncture as an option when discussing prophylactic treatment strategies.”.

“We now have good evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for episodic migraine,” writes Heather Angus-Leppan, a consultant neurologist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, in a linked editorial.

She acknowledges that the effects of acupuncture (and other preventive treatments) are a modest reduction in migraine days each month, and it is difficult for clinicians to know whether this level of benefit would be noticeable to patients until we have long-term data. 

But she says, given that almost 90% of people with frequent migraine have no effective preventive treatment, “acupuncture provides a useful additional tool in our therapeutic armoury.”


What is the TCM theory?

TCM theory classifies migraine as an external invasion or an internal disruption. The qi and blood of the body’s organs all ascend to the head via the meridians. The three hand yang channels, the three foot yang channels, and the liver channel all meet at the head. Stagnation of qi and blood is often present with migraine. The excess type of migraine, typically short in duration, is from external forces such as wind, cold, dampness, or heat. Wind is the most common external element.

Persistent migraine is caused by internal disruption concerning the energy of the liver, spleen, and kidney. These organs exhibit signs of deficiency in addition to signs of liver yang rising. Deficiency patterns generally present with observable excesses, such as phlegm and blood stasis.

Other factors include weather, emotions, sexual activity, diet, posture, menstruation, and hypertension. Damp phlegm accumulation due to eating fatty, greasy, or sweet food or dairy products initiates migraine. Drinking alcohol or eating pungent food can cause flare-ups of stomach or liver fire. A headache that worsens with pressure is usually due to an excess condition.

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