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What is an acupuncturist and how does acupuncture work?

Simply put, an acupuncturist is a practitioner of acupuncture. This form of treatment is classed as a complementary form of medicine. But how does it work?

Essentially, very fine needles are placed in certain areas of the skin. These areas are known as pressure points. Some also refer to them as lines of energy, otherwise called “meridians.”

“Needles?” you say. “I can’t think of anything worse!” 

Yup, we get it. A lot of people don’t like the idea of needles. 

Yet, once you’ve experienced an acupuncture treatment, you’ll realise it isn’t anything to fear. Quite the opposite, in fact, it’s pain-free for most recipients. Most importantly, it’s a healthy and restorative form of therapy.


What qualifications do you need to be an acupuncturist?

Health professionals such as doctors, physios, and osteopaths often extend their training to acupuncture. This allows them to add the “acupuncturist” title to their credentials. 

However, it’s not easy. The credential must be endorsed by the Australian Board of Chinese Medicine. Or, alternatively, by the Medical Board of Australia. Either way, a training course takes approximately 300 hours to complete.

But what about practitioners whose primary training is in acupuncture?

At a minimum, Australian acupuncturists must complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university. This includes a thorough education in both Chinese medicine and biomedicine.

Additionally, Australian acupuncturists must also register with the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency). You can search the list of active, registered acupuncturists on the AHPRA website.

How old is acupuncture?

OLD, old! The practice of acupuncture began approximately 3000 years ago in China. This makes it an ancient form of therapy. 

A comprehensive review of acupuncture found it was first documented around 100 BC in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.

What can Acupuncture Treat?

Chances are, if you’re searching for “acupuncturists near me,” you have a specific condition or symptom in mind that you’re seeking relief from. 

Acupuncture is proven as a dynamic treatment for several different health complaints. Hopkins Medicine reports a range of successful National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies on acupuncture, either when used alone or paired with mainstream medical treatments.

Encouraging results have been found for acupuncture’s effect on:

  • Addiction
  • Asthma
  • Back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dental pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Nausea 
  • Osteoarthritis

What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?

Who should NOT have acupuncture?

No single health treatment is for everyone. Acupuncture is best avoided (or strongly reconsidered) if you:

  • Have an infectious skin disorder
  • Have a bleeding disorder or uses blood thinners
  • Is pregnant (at least, make sure to avoid the torso/abdomen)
  • Use a pacemaker

How many Australians use acupuncture?

If you’re new to the world of acupuncture, you might be surprised by how many people use it, and that’s no different for Australians!

Take this national population survey. Across a one-year time span, around 25% of Australians used either:

  • Acupuncture (9.2%)
  • Osteopathy (4.6%), or 
  • Chiropractic (16.1%)

Additionally, the number of acupuncturists in Australia has risen by over 105% in the space of ten years.

Does acupuncture really work?

With several decades of studies on acupuncture’s effectiveness, acupuncture have proven a positive impact on many aspects of health and wellbeing.

Proof, you ask? 

During the mid-90s, acupuncture needles were approved for the first time in the USA as a medical device.

Qualified acupuncturist, Mathew Kulas, explains how the treatment can help:

“Acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural feel-good hormones and reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol.”

The founder of the UCLA Centre for East-West Medicine, Ka-Kit Hui, MD also explains:

“There’s nothing magical about acupuncture. Many of these alternative techniques, including acupuncture; they all work by activating the body’s own self-healing mechanism.”

Is acupuncture good for anxiety?

Good news here. Healthline states that — for those experiencing anxiety — acupuncture is a useful treatment with a low level of risk.

When anxious, the body’s sympathetic nervous system switches on. What happens then? 

Raised heart rate, sweaty palms, and well… you probably know the rest! 

The key is to allow the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) to take back control.

Acupuncture helps with exactly that, according to licensed acupuncturist Ashley Flores:

“Acupuncture treatment helps shift the body back into a relaxed state where the sympathetic system is more balanced and no longer dominating.”

Is acupuncture good for depression?

Acupuncture may be a practical complementary medicine treatment for depression.

Despite the limited research in this area to date, WedMD shares inspiring study outcomes such as:

  • A significant reduction in depressive symptoms among 151 adults who received acupuncture for 8 weeks. This compares with those who didn’t access the treatment
  • Those with depression following a stroke improved their symptoms by receiving acupuncture. This was equivalent to the group taking antidepressant medication

What is the average cost of an acupuncture session?

Typed in “acupuncturists near me” and ready to book, but concerned how much it might cost?

Don’t worry, it’s actually rather affordable compared to many other forms of treatment.

On average, an initial 60-90 minute consultation for acupuncture will only cost you around $90-$120 in Australia.

Additional Sessions after that (which tend to be shorter) will be around $80-$90.

If your acupuncturist is also a general practitioner (GP) then, Medicare may even cover the treatment.

How long does acupuncture last?

Your first appointment at an acupuncture clinic will typically take 60 minutes or so. Part of this will involve a consultation.

Later sessions are likely to last 20-40 minutes.

How long does acupuncture last?

How deep do acupuncture needles go in?

The fine needles will usually enter a muscle anywhere from 0.5 – 3 centimetres (approx. 0.25 – 1.25 inches), depending on the area of the body.

However, this isn’t a set rule. Needles will only be inserted a few millimetres in more sensitive areas (e.g. the forehead).

Does acupuncture release toxins?

Many acupuncture specialists believe that the treatment functions as a natural diuretic. 

How does this work? 

By helping the body to shift and remove toxins via the kidneys and urinary tract. After this, people may feel lighter due to energy now being able to move more freely. 

Can acupuncture damage nerves?

There has been a selection of very rare cases of peripheral nerve complications from acupuncture. 

If anything, though acupuncture is more likely to help than harm nerves, it may even be useful to recover from nerve damage by aiding circulation in damaged areas.

Can acupuncturists write prescriptions?

Not in most circumstances. 

Only acupuncturists who are trained as medical doctors (MDs) before gaining their credentials in acupuncture are able to prescribe medications.

What happens to your body after acupuncture?

Expect to feel calmer. You may even experience improved warmth due to the increase in circulation following muscle stimulation. 

Some people may experience mild bruising or soreness afterwards. This should not last for more than 24 hours.

If possible, it’s generally best to avoid the following after an acupuncture session:

  • Caffeine and alcohol
  • High-stress situations
  • Ice
  • Intense exercise
  • Junk food
  • Strenuous work activity

In a nutshell — rest, recover, relax. Assume this strategy and you’ll get to really enjoy the healing after-effects!

How to Find Awesome Acupuncturists in Australia

Ahh, the most important question of all…

Where can you find acupuncturists in your area, who are reputable and trusted?

With over 500 trusted businesses, the best place to start looking for reputable acupuncture clinics is the Avaana search bar

Thanks for coming by today,

The Avaana team

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