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Leading acupuncture therapists in Australia

Our natural therapy association has been accrediting acupuncturists for more than 60 years, ensuring that they meet the high educational and training standards required for membership. Every acupuncturist in our directory is qualified and capable of delivering first-rate treatment, which ensures you are searching for only the best therapists in Australia.

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Find local acupuncture practitioners across Australia using our directory of the leading expert practitioners who have been individually accredited by ANTA.

Expert guide on acupuncture

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the process of inserting thin, flexible needles into the body, to provide pain relief and treat a range of symptoms. The stainless steel needles are used to stimulate meridians (lines running through the body), acupuncture points, or neural zones underneath the skin.

History of acupuncture

Acupuncture has been practised for over 2,500 years, originating in modern-day China. Some people believe it was practised in Eurasia as early as the Stone Age, with possible acupuncture needles found made of stone and animal bone.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has ancient roots. The first description of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment appears in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, written around 300 BC in China. The chinese created needles from bamboo, copper, silver, iron, bronze and gold, and it’s believed that modern hypodermic needles were inspired from these original versions.

The philosophy of acupuncture

Traditional Chinese medicine states the existence of Qi (pronounced chee)—a life force within the body that flows along 12 to 14 pathways (meridians), between and through the surface of the body (skin, fascia, muscle, bone) and its internal organs. An imbalance or disruption to the flow of Qi can trigger illness, which can be manipulated and fixed with acupuncture.

The existence of Qi has never been scientifically proven, but despite this, acupuncture has been proven to treat a wide range of issues, including chronic pain, anxiety, fertility problems, and weight loss.

How does acupuncture heal the body?

Given the complexity of the body and its numerous systems, it’s difficult to pin down a single process that makes acupuncture work, and in fact, it may work in a number of different ways.

A 2013 study (Dominic P Lu, Gabriel P Lu, 2013, PMC) from Dominic and Gabriel Lu found that acupuncture activates neurohormonal pathways, triggering biochemical processes in the body and releasing “endorphins, serotonin, enkephalins, γ-aminobutyric acid, norepinephrine and dopamine,” which can help to heal the patient.

By stimulating the body’s nerves, acupuncture needles send signals to the brain, which releases neural hormones that can make the patient feel happy, and reduce their pain. It’s thought that acupuncture doesn’t directly release feel-good chemicals, but instead works at a broader level, stimulating organs such as the pituitary gland, which produces extra hormones.

Other studies have shown that acupuncture decreases proinflammatory markers such as IL-1β and TNF, which reduces inflammation and pain. A common example of a proinflammatory marker in acupuncture is below the knee, which when targeted, can reduce inflammation across the entire body, as well as increase energy levels, and strengthen the immune system.

When using acupuncture to treat nerve damage, it’s believed that the needle sends signals to the brain that tell it to grow and repair nerves, which leads to nerve regeneration. When used in conjunction with fertility treatments, acupuncture has shown to increase the effectiveness of hormone-increasing drugs, with a better balance of hormones, and an improved chance of the patient becoming pregnant2.

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How is acupuncture performed?

Acupuncture is performed by inserting thin, stainless steel needles into particular areas of the body. The needles are the same width as a strand of hair (roughly 0.2mm wide), and usually remain in the body for 25 to 40 minutes, although this will be shorter for particularly weak or sensitive people.

How to choose an acupuncturist—ANTA’s acupuncture directory

Acupuncturists meet strict criteria to become ANTA members. They’re fully qualified and accredited, and are recognised by federal and state governments. For this reason, the easiest way to choose a highly-skilled acupuncturist is by using ANTA’s acupuncture directory, which you can access using the search form at the top of this page.

If you’re set on finding an acupuncture clinic yourself, here’s what you should consider when searching.

Qualifications

National, formally-recognised accreditation is essential when choosing an acupuncturist. They must also carry malpractice insurance.

Up-to-date knowledge

Medicine changes and advances over time, so to provide the most effective treatment, an acupuncturist must be trained in the latest techniques and practices.

Specialist areas

Acupuncturists can specialize in particular areas, for example pain relief or fertility. To get the best treatment, you should check whether the acupuncturist specialises in your particular area of complaint.

Cleanliness

As with any medical treatment, acupuncture must be performed in a sterilised area. Sealed, single-use needles are a legal requirement in Australia.

What to expect from your first acupuncture appointment

Acupuncture is a holistic treatment, which means that it takes the entire health of the body into account, rather than just treating individual symptoms. For this reason, your first acupuncture appointment will be extensive, covering your history of disease and illness, diet, and lifestyle. Depending on the complaint being addressed, they may also ask about your sleep habits, digestive function, urinary function, sexual function, and your emotional health. Some of these questions may seem invasive, but they’re important for the acupuncturist to treat you effectively, so answering honestly is critical.

Acupuncture FAQs

Does acupuncture work?

Yes! Acupuncture is a scientifically-proven medical treatment used to treat a range of physical, neurological, and mental issues, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Acute pain, such as acupuncture for back pain, or acupuncture for migraines
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • The common cold
  • Dental pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Acupuncture for anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Acupuncture for fertility, or acupuncture for pregnancy
  • Acupuncture for labour induction
  • Pregnancy and labour difficulties
  • Nausea
  • Acupuncture for weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Stroke rehabilitation

What does acupuncture do?

An acupuncturist inserts hair-thin stainless steel needles into the body, which triggers natural healing processes, helping to cure a number of ailments. The position of the needles depend on the condition being treated, which is ascertained by the acupuncturist during the initial consultation.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Often, acupuncture feels like a mild ache, or a slight tingling sensation. It isn’t supposed to hurt, and if it does, you should inform the acupuncturist.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture doesn’t hurt. Most people who receive acupuncture treatment don’t feel anything at all. If you do feel a sensation, it’s likely to be mild ache, or a feeling of slight tingling, which are said to be positive responses show the treatment to be working.

What is the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?

Although both treatments involve the insertion of thin needles into the body, they’re different treatments with unique histories. Acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years—it’s aim is to relieve pain by opening up a patient’s energy flow (or chi). Dry needling has become popular in the last twenty years, and aims to stimulate trigger points or muscles that are causing issues.

What are the risks of acupuncture?

Adverse side effects of acupuncture are rare and often less severe than conventional drug treatments. They can include fatigue, light-headedness, soreness, bruising, and emotional release (sensitivity and weepiness). Soreness will typically disappear within 24 hours. However, more intensive treatments can cause soreness that may last a few days. Most acupuncturists will warn you if this is a risk before starting the treatment.

To reduce the risk of suffering from acupuncture side effects, select a qualified and accredited practitioner from our acupuncture directory, at the top of this page.