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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments, both conventional and complementary, on offer in the UK.
Two surveys conducted independently of each other and published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. This is far less than many orthodox medical treatments.

One survey was of traditional acupuncturists and the other of doctors who practise acupuncture. A total of 66,000 treatments were reviewed altogether, with only a handful of minor and transient side effects recorded.
A 2003 survey of 6,000 patients of acupuncture produced almost identical figures.

There are very few side effects from acupuncture when practiced by a fully qualified practitioner of traditional acupuncture. Any minor side effects that do occur, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are mild and self-correcting.
When you receive treatment from a traditional acupuncturist you can be confident that your well-being and safety is at the heart of everything your practitioner does. The following assurances are standard:


  • My training is to first-degree-level including substantial elements of western anatomy, physiology and pathology

  • I will record all relevant details of your health condition and your medical history before treatment commences. Occasionally, based on this information, I may refer you to your GP for further investigation or medical treatment

  • I use only pre-sterilised single-use needles which are safely disposed of after your treatment

  • all treatments are carried out in accordance with exemplary professional standards detailed in the URHP Codes of Safe Practice and of Professional Conduct

  • my treatment room and all equipment conforms to standards laid out and approved by South Hams DC environmental health officers

  • I have full medical malpractice and public/product liability insurance cover.

Are Chinese Herbs safe?
Chinese herbs are very safe when prescribed correctly by a properly trained practitioner. Chinese herbal medicine has a continuous tradition dating back more than two thousand years, and throughout its long history, practitioners have placed great emphasis on safe and effective treatment. Over the centuries generations of doctors and scholars have compiled detailed information about medical herbs, forming an unprecedented body of knowledge available to the modern practitioner, thus enabling high standards of practice and safety.

How is the quality of herbs controlled?
The need for herbal quality control led to the formation of the Chinese Medicine Association of Suppliers (CMAS). Member companies are committed to the provision of authenticated high quality herbs and herbal products. In addition, in order to reassure the public, the Unified Register of  Herbal Practitioners (URHP) has drawn up a set of rigorous standards for suppliers, which is used as the basis for a list of URHP Approved Suppliers. Suppliers who are accepted on to this list are vetted at regular intervals.

I am concerned about endangered species
The URHP has always condemned the illegal trade in endangered plant and animal species. Strict rules are in force, which prohibit the use of any material of this description by URHP members.

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