Acupuncture has been practised in Eastern cultures for some 2,500 years. It is used to treat illness and maintain good health in a prophylactic manner. In the Western world, acupuncture is becoming increasingly accepted as a drug-free alternative to Western medicine for the treatment of common illnesses and conditions. Acupuncture is particularly effective in improving conditions caused or made worse by our modern, hectic lifestyle.
The ancient theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) explains that acupuncture works due to the vital energy ‘Qi’ and the balance between Yin and Yang. Qi flows in our body through channels referred to as meridians. In order for a person to feel well and live without illness, Qi needs to flow freely through the body’s meridians. The flow of Qi may however become disrupted or blocked in the course of a person’s life. In the West, common causes for such disruption may be emotional upset, physical trauma, a poor and irregular diet, overwork and a sedentary lifestyle, to mention but a few examples. If the Qi remains disrupted or blocked for a period of time, illness and pain may occur. One of the main differences between TCM and Western medicine is the holistic approach TCM follows to treat the root cause of the disease as opposed to the symptoms. Additionally TCM views every patient as an individual possessing their own inherited constitution; therefore different patients often receive different treatment for the same ailment or Western diagnosis. By inserting hair-thin disposable needles into different acupuncture points on the body, the acupuncturist will try to unblock the Qi stagnation and help it flow freely, thereby restoring the body’s equilibrium. Depending on the type of illness or pain, the acupuncture treatment may be complemented with other remedial methods such as cupping, moxibustion or gua sha. Another important part of TCM is diet and lifestyle advice. These two aspects are often also addressed along with acupuncture to increase the treatment’s effectiveness.
Scientists are increasingly studying the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating patients. Several studies have demonstrated that acupuncture has a measurable effect on the body’s ability to self-regulate (hormones, blood pressure, the immune system and brain activity to mention a few areas). The most favourable explanation among researchers is that the nervous system is activated when needles stimulate specific nerves and nerve endings (from an Eastern point of view this would be termed deqi). This stimulation creates a signal in the brain that prompts the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers.
Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture (FRA), or cosmetic acupuncture, is a non-surgical method that reduces the signs of ageing on the face, neck and décolletage. It offers a natural and non-invasive alternative to methods such as surgical facelifts or botox fillers. FRA treats the whole body holistically, since the aim is not only to erase the wrinkles and fine lines on the skin’s surface, but also to harmonise the internal imbalance which the external signs on the face reveal.
By increasing collagen production and blood circulation to the face, FRA will minimise the appearance of fine lines and prevent the formation of new wrinkles. FRA will also help the skin to regain lustre and smoothness, as well as relax the facial, jaw and neck muscles. Through its effect on the endocrine system, problems such as acne, oily skin and dry skin may also be improved.
A few conditions exist where FRA is not recommended, such as:
A 1996 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture reported that out of 300 cases treated with FRA, 90% of patients experienced immediate positive improvements on their skin and face, after one course of treatment. Improvements included:
Generally, this depends on the person’s constitution and lifestyle before and during the course of treatment. Some people will notice improvements after the first treatment. More lasting effects become noticeable after approximately the seventh session. The course of treatment consists of 12 weekly sessions. After the initial course of treatment, maintenance sessions 4-6 times per year are recommended in order to prolong the results.
A special and very gentle Japanese acupuncture style called Shonishin is used on infants and children. It is a non-invasive treatment method which consists of stimulating the skin with light tapping and rubbing, and making stroking movements on the arms, legs, back, head and neck. This gentle technique will help to relieve the symptoms as well as work on the child’s constitution and build up the immune system.
In older children Shonishin may be combined with very gentle and shallow needling. The main advantage with this technique, compared to traditional acupuncture, is that the length of each treatment session is very short, lasting for approximately 10 minutes. Most children enjoy the gentle treatment. Shonishin is effective in treating common paediatric problems such as:
What can I expect during a treatment session?
The first acupuncture session will last about 90 minutes. I will ask you questions concerning your detailed medical history and your specific conditions. In TCM, the focus is not only on improving isolated symptoms, but rather on improving your overall well-being and improving your health in the long-term. Therefore some more general questions will be asked, concerning sleeping and eating habits amongst other things; female patients will be asked questions about their menstrual cycle. In order to make an accurate diagnosis I will also look at your tongue and feel your pulse. Thereafter you will be asked to lie down on a couch and I will needle the specific acupuncture points according to the diagnosis. The number of needles depends on your condition and constitution. The needles will be left for 10-20 minutes. Most patients find the treatment to be very relaxing.
The following treatment methods and acupuncture types may be combined during an acupuncture session depending on your condition and constitution.
Fine needles are inserted into acupuncture points on the body. Most needles are inserted on the torso and limbs. The insertion depth depends on the specific body area, physical constitution and the condition being treated.
The ear is considered a micro representation of the body. Needles may be inserted into the outer ear alone or combined with body acupuncture. Ear seeds may also be left in the ears after the treatment session to enhance the effect. Auricular acupuncture is often used for detox, stress and insomnia, but can be used for any condition including paediatric treatments.
Cupping is a treatment method that consists of using glass cups of different sizes to create a vacuum, which will help to move or remove the stagnation beneath. Cupping is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to ease pain and muscle tension. It is also highly effective in treating coughs and colds, as well as cellulite. Patients usually experience cupping as being a very relaxing and pleasant treatment. Cupping could leave a mark on the skin for a few days, which is harmless.
Moxa is a treatment consisting of burning mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) to promote healing. The main benefit for the body is moxa’s warming properties and the treatment is often used to warm the body and expel cold. Since moxa is warm it also moves strongly and may therefore help to release or remove stagnation and enable Qi to flow freely again. Due to its strong moving properties, moxa is often used to turn breech babies and treat other gynaecological conditions. Moxa may be administered to the body directly on an acupuncture point, in a technique called rice grain moxa, or it may be applied to the tip of the acupuncture needle. It can also be applied over the skin on larger areas in a moxabox or with a moxastick. The patient should experience pleasant warmth when moxibustion is applied. Finally moxibustion is often used to treat pain due to stagnation, and it also has a tonifying and moving effect on the blood.
This technique consists of using a guasha tool, where the practitioner will prepare the skin with oil and then use the guasha tool to stroke the skin with downward movements. The stroking movements will move the Qi and blood and you will usually feel instantly released from your condition. If the area is stagnated, the skin will become red with a rash that might last a few days. Guasha is mainly used to release tight muscles or to release pain mainly in the areas of neck, shoulders, back, buttocks and limbs.
The conditions below have proven to be effective in controlled trials (medical studies). The list is taken from the World Health Organisation (WHO, Acupuncture; Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical trials, 2003, 87 pages):
In my personal experience I have also found that acupuncture is very effective in treating the following conditions:
A course of 12 treatments (3 months) is recommended to prepare your body for conception and pregnancy. This course of treatment may be used as preparation for natural conception, or after miscarriages or together with IVF treatment.
The treatments would start from week 36 or 37 and are recommended for pregnant women planning to have a vaginal delivery. The aim of the treatments is to relax and prepare the woman for labour on a physical and emotional level, as well as supporting the ripening of the cervix and preparing the pelvis for delivery. The treatment will also be adapted to the woman’s and baby’s individual needs. Breech presentation treatment with moxa may start from week 34. This package includes acupressure handouts to ease labour pain, as well as the demonstration of acupressure techniques.
Research has demonstrated that pre-birth acupuncture increases the chances of a vaginal delivery with reduced labour time, and reduces the likelihood of medical interventions (Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for pre-birth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20).
Labour induction by acupuncture is listed by the World Health Organisation as an efficient method by which to induce labour. The aim of labour induction by acupuncture is not only to stimulate contractions, but also to ripen, soften and thin the cervix in order to initiate spontaneous labour. Acupuncture treatment may start when the woman is 2 days or more overdue.
* If you should deliver earlier than the 4 arranged treatments, the remaining treatments may be used after delivery.
Most people find acupuncture relaxing and enjoy the effect it has on their mind and body. The needles used are very thin and the insertion is usually not felt. I only use disposable pre-sterilised high quality Japanese needles to ensure the smoothest possible insertion. Occasionally a short sting or tingling may be felt on insertion.
Yes, acupuncture is safe if performed by a professionally trained acupuncturist. My membership of the BAcC and SBO-TCM assures you that I have extensive training in both Western and Chinese medicine, and that I comply with their strict membership rules. Bruising might occur as a result of acupuncture and some people may feel tired but relaxed after treatment. However these side-effects are only short lived, reference British Medical Journal in 2001 (1,2).
This will depend on the condition and your constitution. Some people may feel an improvement already after a few sessions, for others up to 6 sessions may be required. For chronic illness, monthly follow-up treatments may be recommended once the condition has improved. In the beginning I recommend attending sessions on a weekly basis.
Renate Mohler Acupuncturist MBAcC Bsc (Hons) Dipl
My name is Renate Mohler. I hold a BSc (Hons) in acupuncture from the University of Portsmouth in the UK. I am trained in classic acupuncture as well as in paediatric acupuncture and women’s health acupuncture. I have furthermore been trained by Virginia Doran in London in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, a treatment also known as cosmetic acupuncture. I have also been trained in Japanese paediatric acupuncture by Dr. Stephen Birch (PhD).
I am registered with the majority of health insurers in Switzerland; with supplementary insurance you will be able to recuperate between 70-90% of the treatment costs depending on your coverage model. I am also an overseas member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) as well as a member of the Swiss SBO-TCM.
My aim is to help you find your optimal health. This does not only mean keeping you free from illness, but rather harmonising your body and mind to prepare you for long-term health and to help you maintain an inner equilibrium. If you feel worn out, have trouble sleeping or lose your temper too often, then a course of acupuncture treatment could be exactly what you need. I have experience in treating a variety of disorders including: