History of Acupunture

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture treatment involves fine needles being inserted through the skin and briefly left in position. Sometimes manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may be only two or three. The practitioner will assess each patient’s case and treatment will be tailored to the individual; so it is impossible to give more than this general idea of what your particular treatment might involve.

Treatment might be once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals as the condition responds. A typical course of treatment lasts 5 to 8 sessions.

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. 



Acupuncture - past, present and future

Acupuncture-like techniques may have been used for over 5000 years, if evidence from Ötzi the Iceman is considered; however, the most well known system of acupuncture was developed in the Far East from around 2000 years ago. This was first introduced into Europe in the 17th Century, but widespread interest in the technique did not develop until the political events of the early 1970s allowed travel restrictions between East and West to be eased.

In the past thirty years, because of the huge public interest in the subject, considerable scientific research on acupuncture has been carried out - although much remains to be done. We now know much more about how acupuncture works and some of the myths can be laid to rest. It is demonstrably untrue to say that the results of acupuncture are all in the mind.

As we learn more about it, the possibilities of using acupuncture alongside orthodox medicine increase. The distinction between complementary or alternative medicine and conventional medicine is becoming blurred as acupuncture is accepted in medicine. Acupuncture is already available in most hospital pain clinics and it is provided by an ever-increasing number of GPs and hospital doctors.


Evidence of Acupuncture from Historical Records

Although the documents found in the Ma-Wang-Dui tomb in China date back to 198 BCE, they don’t have information about acupuncture. However, they explain the meridians system. Traditional acupuncturists believed that energy flows around the body, and you can manipulate it to attain balance.

According to acupuncture theory, Qi energy travels around the body via 12 major points called the meridians. These points are the major organs such as kidneys and heart and their functions.

The earliest record of acupuncture dates back to 100 BCE in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. This book contains the emperor’s questions and the answers provided by his educated minister. This volume also contains comprehensive information regarding the meridians and Qi.


Acupuncture continued to grow and became the standard of treatment and therapies in China. Practitioners combined massage, herbs, diet, and moxibustion to complement the treatment. Teaching acupuncture became easy during the 15th century as experts started using bronze statues to teach acupuncture points. Practitioners today refer to these points for treatment.

The 14-16th century saw the rise of Ming dynasty. It was during this period when they published The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and MoxibustionThis volume holds the procedures of modern acupuncture practices.



Forms of Acupuncture

There are multiple techniques of acupuncture, most of which were used by the pioneers. Acupuncturists in clinics use the methods recommended by the Traditional Chinese Medicine theories.

One of the techniques used today and was used even in ancient Chinese is moxibustion. The specialist places warm dried moxa plant next to the acupuncture needles to activate the acupoints. You can find many acupuncture experts.

 The specialist passes an electric current through fine needles to activate the acupuncture points. Laser acupuncture stimulates the points without incorporating the needles.

Another technique for you if you don’t like needles is the cupping method. Acupuncture specialists use this method to treat various diseases. The practitioner places cups on specific points on your body and allows suction by ensuring that the cups have no air. Cupping therapy treats migraines and even back pain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cupping was used to create balance within the body.




10 June 2019. Written by Alice from Penrelief


Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear about something and which can be anything from mild to severe.  Most of us have been there at some point or another in our life - feeling tense, butterflies on our stomach, sweaty palms - maybe we were about to sit an exam or waiting for the phone call to see if we got that job.  This is normal anxiety and which tends to go after a certain situation passes - however for some people, anxiety is constantly present and it's this kind of 'problem' anxiety that has a significant impact on our everyday life.

There are a number of anxiety disorders but one that I commonly see in practice is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  This is a condition that causes you to feel anxious about almost everything and seemingly for no reason whatsoever.  Because of this, feelings of anxiety can be particularly difficult to manage and can persist for a long period of time.



GAD can affect you both physically and mentally.  

Physical symptoms include:

  • tiredness
  • palpitations
  • muscle aches and tension
  • stomach problems such as diarrhoea or nausea
  • insomnia.

Psychological symptoms can include

  • feelings of dread
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inability to tolerate uncertainty
  • being irritable. 

For those with GAD, worrying is uncontrollable and tends to make you expect the worst.  


A range of support and treatments are available to you if you think that your anxiety is starting to be disruptive and stop you from doing your normal day-to-day things.  Do visit your GP to discuss what options are available to you and whether a referral to talking therapies will be possible.  Many patients find support from a counsellor or psychotherapist beneficial and which can be extremely effective as a standalone treatment for milder conditions. 

I frequently work with a number of counsellors in the local area who find that their clients benefit from using acupuncture alongside talking therapies as an additional source of physical and emotional support.    



Acupuncture can help reduce symptoms of anxiety in a number of ways.  Previous research has suggested that acupuncture can help regulate levels of neurotransmitters and hormones like serotonin and dopamine which has a knock-on effect on changing the brain chemistry associated with mood disorders.  Acupuncture can also help to activate the relaxation response by stimulating the production of internal opioids which in turn switches on the part of our nervous system that is associated with resting and relaxing.  Acupuncture can be used safely in combination with other treatments such as medication or talking therapies and there are virtually no side-effects when acupuncture is given by an experienced practitioner.  Interest in acupuncture has been so profound in recent years that research into acupuncture for anxiety is currently being jointly conducted by the charity Anxiety UK and the British Acupuncture Council.  


Maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and include a couple of portions of fish a week.  Avoid excessively refined carbohydrates and sugary foods such as biscuits and chocolate.   


Allocate time in the week for 'active relaxation' where you are doing things which you enjoy - this can be keeping your hands busy with DIY, arts and crafts, going for a stroll, visiting a museum or cooking.  

If your anxiety is mild enough to allow you to read, 'Overcoming Anxiety' by Helen Kennerley has been a fantastic resource for some of my clients.  This is a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques and which has been invaluable in helping patients understand their symptoms and their thought-patterns. 




7 Acupuncture Points That Can Improve Your Life This Summer

Summer brings long and bright days, which can be unbearable sometimes. The heat and humidity affect a lot of people, which makes them tired and slow. You might notice specific symptoms such as skin rashes, lethargy, slow digestion, and even edema. An acupuncture specialist can help to deal with these symptoms. By stimulating the acupuncture points, the practitioner revives your energy and gets rid of other discomforts.

Acupuncture and Summer

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer is associated the most with yang; that‘s why they relate summer to fire. According to some studies, specific energetic channels associated with each season and element.

For summer, the heart and the small intestines are the related channels. The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to every body part. Acupuncturists associate mental activities with the heart, which includes our memories, thoughts, and emotions.

The small intestine helps to finish the digestion of food. This organ separates pure from waste products which are pushed to the large intestine for expulsion while the body absorbs the pure nutrients. According to our findings, the small intestine can influence your mental clarity.

When these 2 organs are not working properly, you start to experience symptoms such as heartburn, insomnia, palpitations, depression, and indigestion. Our findings ensures that the heart and small intestines function effectively by activating acupuncture points to help you get through summer.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we should concentrate on the heart and intestines during the summer season. An imbalance in the summer element causes problems within the related organs. Stimulating the acupuncture points does not only help in digestion, but it also soothes heat stroke.

Acupuncture Points for a Better Summer

Although there are over 350 acupoints, only a few of them work for summer to aid in digestion and mental processes. You don’t have to wait for symptoms to manifest, you can just use the penrelief electroacupuncture pen to make your summer bearable.

Below are some of the acupuncture points we use for this season:

Heart 8

This acupoint is located on the bilateral side of the palm. When you fold your fist, this acupuncture point lies at the tip of your little finger. This point helps to get rid of heart and small intestine fire, calm the mind, clear palpitations, and fever. It also helps to balance Qi and relieve pain.

Ren 4

This point is in the middle of your abdominal muscles, 3 thumbs beneath the belly button.  Acupuncture specialists recommend this treatment if you experience diarrhea or gut problems such as indigestion. This acupoint not only balances Qi, but it also improves the functions of the small intestine.

Large Intestine 11

To find this point, bend your arm and search for the end of the crease on the outermost part of your elbow. This acupuncture point acts as a powerhouse with 2 major functions. This is one of the most powerful points when it comes to clearing heat from the body. This could be from a fever, hot flushes, or sunburn. Large intestine 11 also releases the interior that is it acts as a vent for excess heat. Specialists also use this point to clear diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Heart 7

You find heart 7 at the outer end of the wrist crease. This acupuncture point helps to calm the mind, prevent heart palpitations, and reduce fever. Acupuncture experts use this point to counter summer symptoms such as a dry throat, lack of appetite, and dizziness.

Small Intestine 3

This acupuncture point is on the ulna side of the palm, at the edge of the fist, behind the largest knuckle right where the red and white parts meet. Certified experts recommend this treatment to help calm the mind and expel fever. This point activates the heart to regulate body temperature. It also creates assertiveness and mental clarity.

PC 3

Located across the cubital crease on the ulnar side of the tendon medial biceps brachii the PC 3 is beneficial during summer. If you experience palpitations or other summer symptoms, you can visit any acupuncture clinic for help. The specialist helps to clear Yin, which is the summer heat stroke a well as gut problems. Specialists also help to expel heat from all blood vessels, stop vomiting and diarrhea, and to get rid of pain.

Large Intestine 4

This acupoint is located on the dorsum of your hand between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones on the outer side. Acupuncture specialists use Large Intestine 4 to treat summer symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and even diarrhea. According to TCM, Large Intestine 4 can also relieve constipation, which is caused by not drinking enough liquids. This acupuncture point is also used to treat rashes caused by the sun during summer as well as allergies. Stimulation of Large Intestine 4 allows for the flow of Qi and blood.

Summer Tips

Acupuncturists use herbs and diet alongside the practice to improve the results. A healthy diet is beneficial if you want to heal summer stroke. Eating fruits such as watermelon which contain a lot of fluid is recommended. Watermelon is suitable to cool the body and aid in digestion. Drink a lot of liquid, especially water and stay away from carbonated beverages and salty foods which cause dehydration.

Try to stay away from the sun and take regular breaks; this helps to prevent exhaustion and dehydration. If you have to work outside, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen. Summer is an excellent time to let loose and have fun; however, the unbearable heat can hinder you. Apart from wearing the right clothes and eating cooling foods, acupuncture helps to get rid of summer symptoms and pain.



How to Treat Migraine with Acupuncture

What Causes Migraines?

If you experience severe pain, especially from the center of your head, see a bright aura around your vision area, or even throw up, you might have a migraine. You don’t have to experience all the symptoms, but having them regularly is a strong indication of having a migraine.

This condition has several causes, but each patient has their own triggers. Doctors believe that genetic disposition coupled with individual triggers can cause migraine. This can be as a result of stress, hormonal changes, food, or even drinks. You can also suffer secondary migraines which are caused by stressors such as malformation of the brain.

Many women suffer from migraines compared to men because of hormonal changes. Teenagers and kids also suffer from this condition. However, in children, it is often misdiagnosed and left untreated because they project the pain in the tummy.

Most migraines come in the morning and the worst last for days, for instance, a day or two. When this condition lasts for more than 72 hours, we call it a ‘status migrainosus’ which occurs when you overuse medication, or the treatment is insufficient. Acupuncture physicians believe that activating acupoints on the arms and legs while avoiding the head and neck effectively treats migraines.

Acupuncture for Migraine

Migraine is among the top common diseases affecting people worldwide with 1 in every 7 people experiencing this condition. The list below shows how acupuncture treats migraines effectively.

Pain Relief

Although acupuncturists use fine paper-thin needles on acupoints, you won’t feel pain. On the contrary, this method is an effective pain reliever. Acupuncture specialists and all over the world believe that your body is healthy if the energies balance. When the vital energy Qi cannot flow through the body, we develop illnesses.

Acupuncture is an effective alternative treatment for migraines. After discussing the treatment and conditions with your specialist, you will realize that there are minimal complications involved. It takes about 6-8 acupuncture sessions to feel the difference in your condition. You can either have sessions every day or several days a week.

The needles are placed on the arms, legs, back, or face. These needles stay on the points for several moments as you relax. Stimulating these points releases endorphins and neurohumoral factors which relieve pain.

Acupuncture Reduces Inflammation

When you visit your acupuncture specialist he might inform you that inflammation is often associated with migraines. Acupuncture is effective because it boosts the release of vascular factors that counter inflammation. Acupuncture targets painful points and counters inflammation, which causes pain. This works by stimulating the pituitary gland, which then releases cortisol, which fights inflammation.

The first session of acupuncture is usually the longest since the acupuncturist has to make a diagnosis. Although you will be treated for migraine and inflammation, the physician asks about your medical history, your diet, and lifestyle. This information is crucial because acupuncture aims to treat the underlying cause of the disease.

Fights Cortical Related Depression Caused by Migraines

Patients who are suffering from migraines have higher chances of having depression. Acupuncture fights cortical related depression by restoring brain connectivity. Your acupuncture physician stimulates acupoints, which boost the connectivity of corticostriatum to the rest of the other brain regions. These acupuncture sessions help to reduce depression. Anti-depressants taken together with acupuncture increase the chances of recovery. Remember to inform your acupuncturist if you are taking any medication even if it does not relate to migraines or depression.

Affects Serotonin

Acupuncture affects the levels of serotonin in the brain, which may be linked to migraines. Serotonin hormone has many functions in the body, and some people call it the happy chemical because it gives you a sense of happiness and promotes wellbeing. There is a link between serotonin and depression; however, it is unclear whether low levels cause depression or depression lowers the levels. A serotonin migraine occurs when you have low levels of this hormone. Acupuncture stimulates specific points which affect the serotonin levels released in the brain to prevent both migraines and depression.

Before Trying Acupuncture for Migraines

Different acupuncture specialists have their unique styles of treatment. Some might prefer Eastern or Western approaches, while others stick to holistic treatment. For instance, the acupuncturist might use acupressure, moxibustion, cupping, or electroacupuncture for treatment.

Acupuncture is safe, and there is little to no pain during insertion. Many people feel a sensation but no pain this is because the needles are thin and light. You might also realize that the practitioner moves the needles around to boost energy flow. To avoid any complications and infections ensure that you visit a certified physician. Ask questions before the treatment and remember that everybody reacts differently.

When you have migraines, the last thing you want to think about is needles. However, acupuncture is painless, effective, and has fewer side effects compared to other treatments. Although acupuncture started in China, many specialists today believe that this is an excellent alternative to the treatment of migraine. Acupuncture is safe when done by a qualified specialist. Avoid performing this technique by yourself to prevent scarring, bleeding, and infections. Remember to inform the acupuncturist if you are taking any medication, are expectant, have a pacemaker, or any skin infection.