Acupuncture is Good For What?

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Acupuncture is Good For What?

We believe that acupuncture is good for many conditions but current UK law administered by the British Advertising Standards Authority now insists that only when ‘robust’ evidence is available may claims for efficacy actually be made.

By ‘robust’ evidence they mean neither 

  • the WHO (World Health Organisation) list of conditions treatable by acupuncture nor 
  • a similar list on the British National Health Service acupuncture evidence site

These are both regarded as inadequate! They regard such lists as being based only on positive evidence and not on all reviews including those of research conducted on a condition where the results were also found to be negative or inconclusive.

We would point out that although, for convenience, conditions with names such as nausea, vomiting and dental pain are treated as such (and successfully according to their requirements for ‘robust’ evidence) acupuncturists don’t treat such conditions!


What acupuncture is good for are, for example, syndromes and channel problems as defined in Chinese medicine.

For example, ‘nausea’ is not such a syndrome.

Nausea can arise in Chinese medicine from a multitude of syndromes, some easier to treat than others, such as

-          Liver qi stagnation with invasion of the Stomach

-          Stomach qi not descending

-          Stomach Heat

-          Stomach qi deficiency

-          Stomach Full condition

-          Heat in the Liver and Gall-Bladder

-          Cold in the Stomach, and so on. (Yes, there are more!)

-          A combination of the above

When you visit your acupuncturist, you may think you are being treated for nausea, your 'presenting' condition

Not so!

Actually, your acupuncturist will be thinking about which, of a number of different ways to diagnose your problem, is appropriate - and that's what he or she will treat, whatever you call it!

If the treatment is successful, your nausea will improve – almost as a side effect.

Firm opinions!

People often don't know about the wealth of conditions that acupuncture is used for. Sometimes they've been told by a friend that acupuncture is good for the problem the friend had, but assume it's no good for anything else.

Or they assume it's good for everything!

What else does your acupuncturist need to know?

Apart from the usual medical details (see Consultation), it is important that you let your practitioner know:

  1. If you have ever experienced a fit, faint or funny turn.
  2. If you have a pacemaker or any other electrical implants.
  3. If you have a bleeding disorder.
  4. If you are taking anti-coagulants or any other medication.
  5. If you have damaged heart valves or have any other particular risk of infection.

He (or she) needs to know the answers to these questions not just so as to guide him away from inappropriate treatment but to give him a deeper understanding of your condition.

For example, you may think that your pacemaker controls your heart so your acupuncturist need not worry about it.

However, if your heartbeat is being 'controlled' that means that at least one of the basic syndromes in Chinese medicine needs attention - and that may be as well as the syndrome he might otherwise have diagnosed.

By diagnosing your symptoms into syndromes, your acupuncturist can tell you which of them acupuncture is good for.

Also, if you have pain along one or more channels, he may be able to clear any blockage or deficiency in those channels, thereby relieving pain. Is acupuncture good for acupuncture channel problems?

It most certainly is! Channel theory is a huge part of the general theory behind acupuncture and a skilled practitioner can often alleviate pain remarkably quickly through using it.

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Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

All the books in the 'Chinese Medicine in English' series should be fully accessible on Kindles and Kindle apps. (Or you can buy the softback print editions, of course.)

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Here are some of the books I (Jonathan) have written.

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Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Yuck! Phlegm! How to Clear Your Phlegm ...

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine! See Reviews.

Seven Reviews so far for Yuck Phlegm. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)

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