Do people have acupuncture even when they are well?

By Paul Johnson, 2017


The people who come to me for treatment do so for a number of different reasons.

For some people, I am the last port of call, their final chance. Western medicine, physiotherapy or osteopathy have failed them and they have nowhere left to turn. “I’m only coming because my wife has made me!”, a client said a few years ago. He had been in pain for nearly twenty years. When I significantly reduced that pain in a few weeks he became a huge convert! Every time he had a treatment he left with a handful of cards to give to everyone he spoke to because he was so amazed at the relief he was getting – a few tiny needles were working better than high daily doses of morphine!

Once people have had acupuncture and experienced how powerful it is, they often return as soon as they develop any new problem. Every week I will treat a couple of clients who I haven’t seen for a couple of months or even years.

I also see other people on a regular or semi-regular basis. These are people who are well and want to stay that way. I might see them every two weeks or once a month. One of the oldest Chinese medical texts, the Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) tells us to “treat the disease that has not yet manifested”. This is the way that acupuncture was used historically – to prevent illness.

We all have little imbalances and weaknesses which, if left unchecked, may lead to illness in later life. Even when a person isn’t unwell, the acupuncturist collects information by asking questions, looking, palpating the abdomen, taking the pulse and observing the tongue. All of this information is used to ascertain what imbalances there are in the body. The acupuncturist then places needles into various parts of the body to restore internal harmony. I sometimes tell my clients it is a little bit like a reboot – giving the body a set of clear instructions so that their energy can come out in the correct way after a good night’s sleep. This is why people typically sleep very heavily on the night of their treatment and feel very different the next day.

I often give lifestyle and dietary advice. Acupuncturists are also educators! I want to make sure my clients know what foods they should be eating more of, and what they should avoid. I want them to engage in keeping themselves well. If they take this advice on board and act on it, then they shouldn’t really need to see me anymore.

Which may put me out of a job… but for a good reason!!