Western medical acupuncture is a therapeutic modality involving the insertion of fine needles; it is an adaptation of
Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence based
While Western medical acupuncture has evolved from Chinese acupuncture, its practitioners no longer adhere to concepts such
as Yin/Yang and circulation of qi, and regard acupuncture as part of conventional medicine rather than a complete
"alternative medical system".
It acts mainly by stimulating the nervous system. Western medical acupuncture is principally used by conventional healthcare
practitioners, most commonly in primary care. It is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, including myofascial trigger point
pain. It is also effective for postoperative pain and nausea.
Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle, and can produce a variety of effects. We know that it increases the
body's release of natural painkillers - endorphin and serotonin - in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain.
This modifies the way pain signals are received.
The British Medical Accupuncture Society (BMAS) believes that acupuncture should only be used by trained practitioners who
can adequately assess the risks and benefits of applying the therapy. All members of the Society are regulated health
professionals and are subject to the Society's Code of Practice and Complaints Procedure.
(Download the BMAS Code of Practice.)
Currently, anybody in the UK is allowed to call themselves an acupuncturist and can start advertising and practising
acupuncture immediately, regardless of qualifications or experience.
This of course is not ideal within a healthcare setting, so patients are strongly advised to check the credentials of their
Lisa Ives is registered with the BMAS