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    The five commonest side effects experienced after acupuncture treatment

    Many people are intrigued by the idea of acupuncture point treatment in the abstract, but are understandably wary of undergoing what is, after all, a very unusual treatment method for those of us more familiar with Western medicine. Even if you find that you can reasonably get to grips with the idea of lying or sitting rather still while small needles protrude from your skin, there are still many other questions on the first-time patient’s mind.

    During the summer of 2012, Anelle Davidoff of The Center for Meditation and Holistic Therapies (USA) conducted a survey of 57 first-time acupuncture clients treated by her team at their clinic. Prior to their initial treatment, clients were asked to fill out a questionnaire asking pertinent questions as to what they felt that they might incidentally expect to feel after treatment as a side effect of acupuncture, as well as how they expected acupuncture point treatment to actually address the issue they sought help with.

    The responses received were almost as numerous as the number of respondents, and covered suggestions as diverse as dehydration, headaches, lethargy, localised pain, and skin irritations. Around 65% of respondents that commented on any side effects they expected might potentially accompany treatment, however, stated that they expected some low-level form of incidental but negative effect such as those mentioned above to go hand-in-hand with their treatment.

    One month after the initial treatment was undertaken, the 57 clients were asked to comment on what the actual side effects they experienced were. 53 of the initial 57 clients responded, and the comments they made were evidently a surprise to most of the members of the treatment group; although not to Ms. Davidoff, nor anyone else who has undergone at least one acupuncture treatment!

    The top five side effects that clients experienced feeling between the period immediately following acupuncture treatment and for up to two weeks afterwards were:

    1. Improved sleep

    Over half of the respondents commented that their sleeping patterns improved immediately after treatment, including experiencing a deeper and more refreshing sleep, a reduction in problems getting to sleep, and more incentive to get up at the appropriate time in the mornings.

    2. Better energy levels

    Directly connected to the benefits of a good night’s sleep, respondents added that after their first acupuncture point treatment they felt that their energy levels had improved, and that they were generally more active and energetic throughout the day.

    3. Increased concentration

    Mental acuity was also rated highly, with respondents commenting that their concentration levels were better, and that productivity had increased in the week or two following treatment.

    4. A general feeling of well-being

    An overall sense of well-being and generally being in balance was also reported, and respondents commented that they felt less stressed and better equipped to deal with their day-to-day lives.

    5. Fewer minor ailments

    Finally, just over 30% of respondents commented that they felt in generally better shape physically after acupuncture point treatment, and minor aches and pains that were not directly addressed as part of their acupuncture point treatment were less effecting and seemed to ease.


    Self-acupuncture for anxiety and panic attacks

    If you are unlucky enough to suffer from generalised anxiety or even fully blown panic attacks, you might well be wondering if acupuncture point treatment can help you. Acupuncture has a wide range of applications for all manner of ills and ailments, and is not just effective at helping to treat or ease the symptoms of physical pain and imbalances. Acupuncture and self-acupuncture performed for yourself at home can also be used to treat a wide range of emotional issues and mental health challenges, and is particularly well regarded for the treatment of panic and anxiety.

    When modern Western medicine is used to address issues such as anxiety or panic disorder, the provided solution all too often seems to involve a five minute consultation with a harried doctor and the eventual prescription of some fairly serious medications, such as Diazepam (Valium) or SSRI-group tablets that work directly to affect the brain chemistry.

    Understandably, this is not a course of treatment to be entered into lightly, and many of us are reluctant to artificially alter the way our minds work with catch-all neuro-active medications, which are by no means a good solution for everyone and often, come accompanied by a range of unpleasant side affects. Acupuncture or self-acupuncture performed on yourself is one very viable alternative.

    Why is self-acupuncture particularly effective at treating panic and anxiety?

    Acupuncture point treatment, particularly self-acupuncture performed at home is an excellent solution that is well worthy of consideration by anyone plagued by anxiety issues or prone to panic attacks, for a wide variety of reasons:


    • Acupuncture can be used either alongside of traditional medications or on its own, and will not interfere with any of your other treatment protocols.
    • Acupuncture point treatment has no negative side effects, and is totally safe.
    • Self-acupuncture point treatment can be performed on yourself at home and in your own time; so if you are feeling particularly anxious or unsettled, you can treat yourself on the spot, as and when you need to.
    • Self-acupuncture press needles are very short and safe to use, and can be left on the body and held in place with tape for hours or days at a time to really maximise their effectiveness.
    • The very principle of acupuncture point treatment is a holistic one, meaning that acupuncture and self-acupuncture takes an inclusive approach to the overall mental and physical wellness of the patient, a more logical approach than concentrating on one specific problem.


    Acupuncture points for panic attacks and anxiety

    If you are considering administering self-acupuncture to yourself in order to help with panic attacks or anxiety, the following acupuncture points can be used:


    • The HT 7 acupuncture point, on the little finger side of the inside of the wrist.

    • The LIV 3 acupuncture point, below the second toe of the foot.

    • The BL 15 acupuncture point, near to the shoulder blades.

    • The SP 10 acupuncture point, between the knee and the thigh.

    • The LI 4 acupuncture point, on the hand.


    Our easy to use, interactive acupuncture point chart can help you to pinpoint the exact spot to administer your press needles.


    Commonly used acupuncture points for stomach and digestive problems

    If you are hoping to learn to treat yourself at home using self-acupuncture to manipulate your own acupuncture points, you may find it daunting and somewhat off-putting trying to decode the often complicated descriptions of acupuncture points and their precise locations. Understandably, nobody would wish to invest in a kit of self-acupuncture press needles and then find themselves unable to either accurately locate or be able to reach the acupuncture points in question! Fortunately, there are a wide range of acupuncture points that are both easy to locate and easy to get to on your own body that are popularly used to treat a range of ills and ailments, and performing acupuncture at home for yourself doesn’t have to be difficult.

    In this blog post we will introduce you to two of the commonly used acupuncture points for stomach problems and digestive upsets, and explain where to find them and how they can help you.

    Stomach 36

    Stomach 36 (ST36) or Zu San Li is one of the points of the stomach meridian, and is one of the most commonly utilised acupuncture points for treating nausea and vomiting, as well as gastrointestinal discomfort and problems with digestion. It can also be used to help to treat generalised stress and fatigue.

    Stomach 36 is not located along the stomach as you might expect it to be, but can instead be found on the lower leg. To locate Stomach 36 accurately, find the bottom of your kneecap and then measure four finger-widths downwards along the outside of the shinbone. You can double-check that you have located the right spot by moving your foot up and down; the muscle should expand and contract right under this point.

    Once you have located the right point to treat, use a water-based pen to place a dot over the acupuncture point itself, and then apply a press needle to the acupuncture point. Relax until you can feel your symptoms ease, and then remove the press needle.

    Stomach 25

    Stomach 25 (ST25) or Tian Shu is located on the stomach itself, at the point where the large intestine’s energy gathers. This acupuncture point is useful for alleviating upsets of the bowels and intestines, such as constipation or diarrhoea. To locate Stomach 25, simply measure three finger widths horizontally away from the left side of your belly button, and the acupuncture point will be located along the edge of the outside finger in a direct line from the belly button.

    Apply your press needle to the Stomach 25 acupuncture point and again, relax until symptoms have alleviated. Press needles for self-acupuncture can be taped into place and left on the body unobtrusively for hours or even days at a time, and will not interfere with washing or dressing.

    There are a wide range of alternative or additional acupuncture points that can be used to treat a range of digestive upsets or stomach problems, and as you become more adept at treating yourself at home, you may wish to make use of these points also. However, for the first time self-acupuncture user, Stomach 36 and Stomach 25 provide a useful introduction, and are infinitely helpful for treating a wide range of digestive issues and stomach upsets.


    Acupuncture points to relieve hay fever

    With the British summer now firmly upon us, most of us enjoy spending time outdoors and enjoying the good weather while it lasts. However, summer is no joke for hay fever sufferers and people who are prone to summer allergies, and for many people, pollen season can be the most miserable time of the year.

    Acupuncture can help to greatly alleviate the symptoms of hay fever, and help to ease the accompanying itchy eyes, runny nose and general discomfort that can make summer a nightmare for the allergy sufferer. Self-acupuncture is a great way to help to reduce the symptoms of hay fever and pollen allergies, and small press needles can be used and left in place on your acupuncture points for prolonged periods of time to really maximise the efficacy of treatment. With this in mind, check out our easy guide to some of the best acupuncture points to self-manage the symptoms of hay fever and pollen allergies.

    Drilling Bamboo

    Bladder 2 or “Drilling Bamboo” is a pair of acupuncture points located at the top of the nose at the inner reaches of the eyebrows. This is the acupuncture point that many people unconsciously massage when suffering from tension headaches or sinus pain. Applying a small press needle to the acupuncture points on either side of the face where the ridge of the eyebrows meets the nose can help to alleviate the sinus pain, watery, irritated eyes and blurred vision that often accompany hay fever.

    Welcome Fragrance

    Large Intestine 20 or “Welcome Fragrance” is another two-part acupuncture point, located along the nose at the point where the nostrils flare. Applying two small press needles here can help to ease sinus pain, and the misery of a blocked nose and nasal congestion that hay fever can bring.

    Heavenly Pillar

    Bladder 10 or “Heavenly Pillar” is located at the base of the skull on the back of the neck. It is perfectly possible to find Heavenly Pillar and administer self-acupuncture press needles on your own with the aid of a strategically placed mirror, but you may find it helpful to have somebody else place your press needles onto these points for you. Heavenly Pillar is a pair of acupuncture points around one cun or finger-width below the base of the skull, above the sinewy muscles that run from the head to the back. Press needles can be placed on the Heavenly Pillar acupuncture points to alleviate the woolly-headed feeling of congestion that hay fever brings, as well as the swollen eyes and sore throat that commonly accompany pollen allergies.

    Facial Beauty

    Stomach 3 or “Facial Beauty” is the two points at the base of the cheekbones, in a direct vertical line with the pupils of the eyes. Press needles placed here can help with sore, irritated and itchy eyes, a stuffy nose and eyestrain.

    While any of the acupuncture points listed above can be used alone to treat one specific symptom of hay fever or summer allergies, these points are much more effective when used in combination with each other. If possible, begin treating these acupuncture points before symptoms begin to manifest, inn order to give yourself the best chance of making it through the summer with the minimum of discomfort.


    All about the Neiguan acupuncture point

    The acupuncture point known as “Neiguan,” or P6 (pericardium six) is another well-known and highly utilised acupuncture point, famous across the world. Like the Hegu point on the hand, people often find themselves unconsciously rubbing or massaging the Neiguan point at times of stress or sickness, without ever understanding why it helps.

    Where is the Neiguan acupuncture point?


    The Neiguan acupuncture point is relatively easy to find and well within reach; it is around four centimetres up the arm from the crease of the wrist, between the two long tendons that run along the arm. It is in the area that your wristwatch strap covers, if worn, and is in the channel between the two tendons. You may have to feel around a little to pinpoint the precise location of the Neiguan point, and if pressing on the skin in that area feels uncomfortable or sensitive, you’re probably in the right general area but too close to the nerves, so not quite there! The Neiguan acupuncture point may feel particularly tender if you are feeling sick or suffering from chest pains, which can help to indicate that you have 'hit the spot.'

    What does the Neiguan acupuncture point affect?

    If you’ve ever seen travel sickness bands with raised bumps on the underside and wondered how on earth they are supposed to ease travel sickness, then the Neiguan acupuncture point is the answer to your question! The Neiguan point is the most commonly utilised go-to acupuncture point for the treatment of sickness and nausea, including travel sickness, and these travel sickness bands act on the Neiguan point. However, the Neiguan acupuncture point affects much more than just nausea, and so leaving a travel sickness band with a wide surface area on the Neiguan point for prolonged periods of time can actually cause side affects and additional issues that are of course best avoided.

    Altogether, the Neiguan point is renowned to help to treat and manage:


    • Sickness and nausea
    • Chest and abdominal pains and problems
    • Angina
    • Stomach problems and upsets
    • Inflammation of the pericardium


    The Neiguan acupuncture point is a very “balancing” point, which is why it can have a positive effect on a wide range of complaints and conditions that involve relaxing the muscles, such as those in the diaphragm and the chest.

    Treating the Neiguan acupuncture point at home

    The Neiguan acupuncture point is highly accessible and relatively easy to find, although you may have to spend a little time feeling around for the right spot. However, this is one of the main reasons behind why the Neiguan point is eminently well suited to the application of self acupuncture or self acupressure, as the best person to be able to judge how it feels or where the right spot is, is the person who is feeling it.

    Self acupuncture press needles can be inserted safely and accurately into the Neiguan acupuncture point and left in place until the symptoms requiring treatment subside. However, neither acupressure bands nor acupuncture needles of any type should generally be left in contact with the Neiguan point for prolonged periods of time after relief has been found, as this can both cause imbalances in the otherwise balanced Qi systems of the body, and may reduce the effectiveness of treatment on subsequent occasions.


    The most famous acupuncture point?

    One acupuncture point that a great many people can automatically point to, even if they have never undergone acupuncture, is the point called “Hegu” or “large intestine four.” This point is located on the webbed area of skin between the thumb and forefinger, and is equally responsive to both acupuncture point treatment and acupressure. As well as having an effect on the intestinal tract itself, the Hegu point is also well known to prove affective at treating a wide range of other ailments of different types too. It is one of the most commonly treated points in the case of migraines and tension headaches, and in fact, many people rub or press this point to relieve headaches almost instinctively, without having any idea that it is an acupuncture point at all!

    Finding the Hegu acupuncture point


    The technical description of the Hegu point’s location reads as “between the first and second metacarpal bones on the dorsum of the hand, approximately in the middle of the second metacarpal bone on the radial side.” However, for those of us who are not anatomists, the easiest way to describe its location is as follows: Make an “L” shape with your thumb and forefinger. Look at the point where the line of the thumb and forefinger intercept on the hand, and then move up slightly towards the forefinger, onto the fleshiest part of the tissue in the web of the hand. The Hegu point is a fairly large acupuncture point, around 2cm across, and so pinpoint accuracy isn’t necessary as the Hegu point is one of the easiest to identify and treat!

    Ailments that can be treated by manipulating the Hegu acupuncture point

    The Hegu acupuncture point really is a multipurpose site, which can have a positive affect on various different problems and symptoms. Using acupuncture point treatment or acupressure on the Hegu point is commonly indicated for:


    • Stomach upsets caused by intestinal problems
    • Intestinal discomfort Sinus pain and infections
    • Toothache
    • Headache and migraine
    • Swollen, sore or itchy eyes
    • Redness, swelling or puffiness of the face


    As an additional acupuncture point that is commonly combined with the acupuncture point treatment of other areas to address all manner of physical aches, pains, strains and sprains.

    One word of caution about the Hegu acupuncture point... It should not be utilised during pregnancy, as it is also known to stimulate labour. However, it is worth bearing in mind if labour needs to be induced naturally!

    A great introduction to self acupuncture

    Because the Hegu point is relatively large, easy to find, within reach and easy to see, it is a great acupuncture point to use as an introduction to your first session of self acupuncture. Small press needles that are just a couple of mm long can be taped into place on the Hegu acupuncture point safely and with ease, even for the first timer. The Hegu acupuncture point is an excellent way to try out self acupuncture safely and simply, and will give you the opportunity to establish if self acupuncture can help you, before you commit yourself to attempting anything more detailed.


    How acupuncture points were discovered and identified

    There are 359 commonly utilised acupuncture points located and distributed across the body, and many hundreds of minor and less frequently utilised points too; needles or press needles are not simply placed into the skin randomly by chance!

    As the appropriate acupuncture points for the treatment of any given problem or condition are often located remotely to the physical area in which the problem itself manifests, a common question from those considering acupuncture treatment or who are already undergoing a treatment protocol is “how were acupuncture points discovered and identified?”

    If you are interested in acupuncture point therapy or already enjoy the benefits of acupuncture treatment, it may have occurred to you to wonder at some point how the acupuncture points themselves were identified and located. Traditional Chinese medicine’s philosophy states that the body and all of its assorted systems work together as one complete unit, connected by a series of twenty pathways, or meridians, along which Qi, or the very energy and essence of life, flows. Any blockage in this flow of Qi energy causes the body’s systems to fall out of balance, which can be corrected by clearing the blockage along the meridian affected by means of acupuncture point treatment. As all of the body’s organs and systems lie along the pathway of one or more of these meridians, addressing an issue or imbalance in any given area can involve remote treatment of a point or points along the pathway of the relevant meridian(s) itself.

    At various stages along these meridians lie the different acupuncture points of the body, which were discovered and mapped over the course of thousands of years through experimentation, research and scientific study of the body’s systems. Acupuncture points are usually located at joints and junctions of the body, such as where a nerve enters a muscle, where a muscle joins a bone, or at the midpoint of a muscle.

    The entire body itself and the distance between acupuncture points is measured in a unit called a ‘cun,’ which varies from person to person and is considered to be the equivalent to the width of the knuckle on the thumb of the person in question. An experienced acupuncture practitioner or the layman who is well versed in the principles of acupuncture point treatment and possibly performs self-acupuncture or acupressure at home can identify the precise location of acupuncture points by touch. Much has been written about finding and identifying acupuncture points, but like other specialist skills, identifying the precise location of any given point is something that comes with time and practice.

    Acupuncture practitioners generally agree that they can locate the appropriate points by feeling for minute differences in the temperature of the surface of the skin over an acupuncture point, and by subtle changes in the tension or consistency of the skin itself. This is something that you yourself can try at home, using our comprehensive interactive acupuncture points chart.