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A lot of people with various diseases can benefit from having acupuncture.

Aldis S. Sigurdardottir
BSc Hons, Li.Ac. OMBAcC.

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one's own body. In certain cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases which encompass a broad category of over 100 diseases in which the person's immune system attacks his or her own tissue. (Acufinder, 2016) These autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, coeliac disease, thyroid disease, and the many other hard-to-classify syndromes in the 21st century.

Due to the complexity of treating autoimmune disorders, integrative medicine solutions including acupuncture and Oriental medicine have received much attention as successful therapies in their treatment, particularly for use in:

  • Providing pain relief
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Managing symptoms
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve overall quality of life

According to Oriental medicine, autoimmune disorders occur when there is imbalance within the body. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual. (Acufinder, 2016)



Colds & Flu

Text coming soon.

Chronic pain

Chronic pain may be defined as pain that lasts beyond the usual course of the acute disease or expected time of healing, and it may continue indefinitely. Typical chronic pain conditions include: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, low back, shoulder and neck pain, headache and migraine, cancer pain, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain (e.g. sciatica, trigeminal neuralgia, post herpetic neuralgia), chronic overuse conditions (e.g. tendonitis), and chronic visceral pain (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis) (Singh 2010).

According to Oriental medicine, chronic pain is present when there is imbalance within the body. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual. This can help manage life with chronic pain by making it bearable or in some cases relive chronic pain from your life in total.

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. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety (Wu, 1999).


Infertility affects up to 15% of couples. It is defined arbitrarily as the inability of a couple to conceive within 12 months, despite having regular unprotected sex. For most couples there is a combination of factors that result in reduced fertility, but not a total inability to conceive. By optimising the conditions for conception to take place, complementary medicine like acupuncture may encourage an improved balance of health to enable conception to occur in those with relative infertility. (Stephenson, 2011, p. 440)

Acupuncture needles are used to stimulate certain key "Qi(energy) points" believed to regulate spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical balance. By rebalancing the energy flow and prime the body for fertility The British Acupuncture Council believes acupuncture may boost female fertility by doing three key things:

  • Regulating hormone function.
  • Increasing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus and helping to relax your muscles which can improve the chance of an embryo implanting.
  • Tackling the causes of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a common cause of infertility.
  • Generally helping to relieve stress and make you feel more relaxed.

(BAcC, 2016)

For many couples, it's often just what the doctor ordered. It can allow you to cross the line from infertile to fertile by helping your body function more efficiently. Acupuncture can also be used alongside with conventional medicine, like IVF, to also work more efficiently.

Acupuncture and Conventional Infertility treatments
Acupuncture can begin at any time during the fertility treatment, before you start taking any oral or injectable drugs to help "prep" your body, during drug treatment to help deal with side effects (nausea, moodiness, fatigue); or during IVF cycles. For some people, doing acupuncture before trying drugs or IVF might help them avoid those treatments altogether. Several acupuncture sessions are recommended for the best outcome. (Parents, 2015)

Lifestyle factors:
There are a number of lifestyle factors that must be kept in mind if a couple has not been able to conceive. It is important to keep these factors in mind and follow as best you can.

For women, a number of strategies may increase the chances of becoming pregnant:

  • Exercise moderately. Regular exercise is important, but if you're exercising so intensely that your periods are infrequent or absent, your fertility may be impaired.
  • Avoid weight extremes. Being overweight or underweight can affect your hormone production and cause infertility.
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco has multiple negative effects on fertility, not to mention your general health and the health of a fetus. If you smoke and are considering pregnancy, quit now.
  • Avoid alcohol and street drugs. These substances may impair your ability to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine.
  • Limit medications that may impact fertility. The use of some prescription and non-prescription drugs can decrease your chance of getting pregnant or keeping a pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about any medications you take regularly, but don't stop taking prescription medications without medical advice.
  • Limit caffeine. Women trying to get pregnant may want to limit caffeine intake. Ask your doctor for guidance on safe use of caffeine. (Mayo Clinic, 2014)

For men, although most types of infertility aren't preventable, these strategies may help:

  • Avoid drug and tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, which may contribute to male infertility.
  • Avoid high temperatures as this can affect sperm production and motility. Although this effect is usually temporary, avoid hot tubs and steam baths.
  • Avoid exposure to industrial or environmental toxins, which can impact sperm production.
  • Limit medications that may impact fertility, both prescription and non-prescription drugs. Talk with your doctor about any medications you take regularly, but don't stop taking prescription medications without medical advice.
  • Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is directly related to testosterone levels, which is a key hormone responsible for sperm production. Eating a balanced diet provides the necessary nutrients to optimize sperm function and minimize the effects of factors which may otherwise damage sperm.
  • Treating reversible causes, such as a varicocele frequently improves sperm numbers and quality and may help to prevent further loss of fertility. (Mayo Clinic, 2014)


Stress is a big factor when coping with infertility. It can arise as the frustration of not conceiving continues and it can also be part of the cause of infertility. It is therefore important to try to minimise stress factors in your life as best you can. Relax, you deserve it, it's good for you, and it takes less time than you think.

Meditation - Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.
Breathe deeply - Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
Be Present – Slow down. When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.
Reach out - Share what's going on with a person you trust. Sharing the pressure can help you release built up stress.
Laugh out loud - A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood.
Tune In to Your Body - Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels, where the tension is and try to release it.
Decompress - Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension.
Crank up the tunes - Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety
Get Moving - You don’t have to run in order to get a runner’s high. All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety.
Be grateful – Even though things are hard to deal with, keep a journal to help you remember all the things that are good in your life.
(WebMD, 2015)



There is some encouraging evidence which suggests that acupuncture has a role to play in helping people to deal with longstanding sleep problems. Some reports suggest that certain acupuncture procedures have a nearly 90% success rate for the treatment of insomnia.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting up to 10% of adults (Edu, 2016). While occasional restless nights are normal, prolonged insomnia can interfere with daytime function, concentration, and memory. The definition of Insomnia is defined as difficulty initiating, or maintaining sleep at least 3 nights per week.

Signs of insomnia may include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking frequently throughout the night
  • Waking too early in the morning
  • Not feeling refreshed after sleep
  • Inability to sleep despite being tired
  • Sleep that is chronically non-restorative or poor
  • Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and impaired ability to perform normal activities
  • Anxiety as bedtime approaches
  • Tension headaches

From a Chinese medicine perspective there are a number of well-established patterns which explain why the mind refuses to close down at night even though the person is physically exhausted. Everyone is unique and different, and by treating these patterns in your energy I am trying to correct your sleeping pattern so that you wake up refreshed with more energy.

I will want to know about your sleeping patterns and everything else to do with your daily functioning because it is highly probable that there will be other signs and symptoms which will show or confirm what is out of balance and needs to be corrected and harmonised (BacC, 2016).

Preventive Care

Anxiety and stress, coffee, and alcohol are common culprits for insomnia. Preliminary studies also suggest a genetic component and underlying medical or psychological condition, such as depression or sleep apnea, often causes secondary insomnia. Early treatment of insomnia may also help prevent psychiatric disorders, such as depression (Edu, 2016).

The following lifestyle changes can help prevent insomnia:

  • Exercising regularly. Best when done before dinner. Exercise should not be done too close to bedtime because it can cause restlessness.
  • Avoiding caffeine, especially after noon, and nicotine all together.
  • Getting regular exposure to late afternoon sun. This helps stimulate the release of melatonin to regulate circadian rhythm.
  • Practising stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing and relaxation. Early treatment of insomnia may also help prevent psychiatric disorders, such as depression (Edu, 2016).

As previously mentioned, some reports suggest that certain acupuncture procedures have a nearly 90% success rate for the treatment of insomnia. Through a complex series of signals to the brain, acupuncture increases the amount of certain substances in the brain, such as serotonin, which promote relaxation and sleep. Several clinical studies have found that auricular acupuncture, using needles placed at various point in the ear, is effective in reducing symptoms of insomnia, such as difficultly in falling asleep and remaining asleep (Edu, 2016).
A preliminary report in 2004 found that in patients with anxiety, acupuncture increased night-time melatonin production and total sleep time. The patients who received acupuncture also fell asleep faster, were less aroused at night, and were less stressed. The researchers concluded that, Acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of anxious patients with insomnia (Bulletproof, 2016).


Acupuncture helps reduce days with migraines and may have lasting effects, according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in Jan. 12, 2012.

Headache is a major public health problem, due to its high prevalence. Migraine is a primary headache disorder manifesting as recurring attacks, usually lasting for 4 to 72 hours (IHS 2004). A migraine headache is characterized by an intense, throbbing pain in one area of the head and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. (Yin Yang House, 2016)

There have now been many controlled trials of acupuncture for migraine, with some large, high-quality ones in recent years. They conclude that acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Acupuncture aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques to restore imbalances found in the body. As acupuncture has a slight different approach to an unbalance in the body than conventional medicine the acupuncturist will ask you a few questions about your migraine. Your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables:

  • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?
  • When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
  • Do you find that a cold compress or a dark room can alleviate some of the pain?
  • Do you describe the pain as dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help create a treatment plan specifically for you.

Musculoskeletal Problems

Many people put up with pain when they don’t need to. Traditional acupuncture is an evidence based therapy that has been shown to help reduce pain and swelling. It helps with most musculoskeletal injuries, its holistic diagnostic methods can help not only treat the initial injury and aid its recovery but also highlight underlying weaknesses which may help in avoiding further injuries in the future.

Many people either ignore their injury or opt for painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Painkillers often mask the problem and don’t always address any potential underlying issues. Often discomfort from musculoskeletal problems can be alleviated with the correct diagnosis and treatment.

In Chinese medicine it is believed that pain or illness can occur if the flow of energy gets blocked or disrupted. Traditional acupuncture can help to identify the root cause of the problem, improving the patient’s understanding and management of symptoms for a more positive long-term outcome. It improves the body’s natural healing process by stimulating specific points on the body to regulate the flow of energy after it has been compromised, increase blood flow to promote recovery and help restore movement at the site of injury.

Despite traditional acupuncture’s widely recognised health benefits, statistics also show that more than a fifth (21%) of people say they are too scared to try it because of the needles. I make sure they understand the acupuncture treatment process thoroughly, including how it’s going to feel and that the needles are single-use, sterile and extremely fine. Acupuncture needles are also nothing like hypodermic needles used for taking blood so I can show you what they look like to put your mind at rest.

Seek professional advice and get a diagnosis and treatment early.

  • Make sure you understand, in conjunction with your therapist, what your problem is and how best to treat or manage it.
  • Follow your rehabilitation plan carefully and consult with your therapist if you are unsure of what you are doing.
  • Avoid or at the very least be careful of, self-treating via internet information as some can be inaccurate and misleading. The wrong exercises can aggravate injuries and increase the pain and overall healing time.
  • Be prepared to work hard in your rehab and also be patient with your injury. The body takes time to heal, even with the correct diagnosis and early treatment.

Exercising with injury
When exercising make sure you warm up and cool down after the main exercise routine is completed. Bring the body back to its normal resting state with care. Make sure your warm up and cool down exercises are done with the same mental and physical focus as the main exercise itself. Don’t think of exercise as just going to the gym or playing sports, exercise can be gardening, walking the dog or physical activities at work too.

Posture is something all people should be aware of throughout their lives in all activities they do, both work and leisure. If you feel pain when doing an activity of any type or even when resting ask yourself why? Can changing position and correcting posture relieve the pain? Poor posture over a long time can be the cause of chronic pain in later life. Look after the body now in order to keep it healthy in the future. Get a professional practitioner to give you advice or asses your posture if you are not sure.

Moderate your exercise with appropriate rest. The body needs time to recuperate after activity, especially when recovering from any type of injury. Pushing the body too hard without rest will inevitably cause it to break down during your rehab or at some time in the future. Take into account your fitness level and age to gauge your exercise intensity.

Don’t be afraid to try traditional acupuncture alongside other forms of treatment, it has no side effects and will only help speed up recovery if administered correctly. (British Acupuncture Council, 2016)


Acupuncture, when provided by a trained practitioner, can give relief for a range of pregnancy related conditions:

  • Back ache
  • Ligament pain
  • Pelvic pain (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)
  • Varicose veins
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension)
  • Morning sickness
  • High/low blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Tender breasts
  • Migraine and other headaches


You should always keep your appointment with your doctor even though you are getting acupuncture. (BacC, 2016)

Acupuncture can turn breech babies
An adjunct technique to acupuncture called moxibustion has been used for many centuriesto turn breech babies, the success rate is somewhere in the region of 80%. (AcuTake, 2016).

Acupuncture and labour
Acupuncture can be used to help to induce labour in overdue pregnancies. It should only be used for induction when the mother has passed her due date. The treatment occasionally has a very rapid effect so it is wise to ensure that the appropriate facilities are in place if the treatment is successful in encouraging the natural process of labour to start. In other cases it can take a few days or a few treatments to start.

Acupuncture is also used as pain relief and to boost the mothers energy if it is a prolonged labour. Also, if the labour has slowed down or if the contraction has stopped, acupuncture can be used to restart the process.

After the birth
Acupuncture is used by new mothers to increase energy levels, to promote healing and to combat the 'baby blues'. It also is very helpful in treating mastitis (infection of the breast tissue). (BacC, 2016)


Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
Yes. Licensed acupuncturists are trained to know which acupuncture points are helpful during pregnancy and which points should be avoided. It’s important to let your acupuncturist know if you are pregnant, or if you think you might be, so the correct points can be avoided.

What conditions can acupuncture help with during pregnancy?
Acupuncture can help with several conditions with which some pregnant women suffer. These include morning sickness, back pain, ligament pain, premature cervical ripening, preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension), fatigue, heartburn, constipation, gestational diabetes. If you are experiencing any of these or other pregnancy side effects, let your acupuncturist know so that your treatments can be tailored accordingly.

Should I keep getting acupuncture after I deliver?
Acupuncture as after-care for new moms is important. Fatigue and depression are common symptoms after delivery. Regular acupuncture and moxibustion are great for helping moms recover and regain their strength after giving birth. You’ll need it as you embark on the exciting adventure of motherhood! (AcuTake, 2016)

More disorders and research

Research fact sheets on the conditions listed below are provided by the British Acupuncture Council. The list is not exhaustive so please contact me if you wish to discuss a particular condition.