A Training, Treatment, Research, & Publication Center for Acupuncture

Duration and Response to the Treatment

Acupuncture is not, in the average case, a one-session treatment. It does not guarantee an instant cure.

The average patient with a chronic disease of several years duration requires about 10 to 15 treatments to achieve the optimum amount of relief possible. Each treatment takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Mild diseases need fewer treatments, while chronic diseases require more treatments. Chronic disease may need spaced, maintenance acupuncture at 6 to 8 week internals, after a set course of treatment. Some incurable disorders like Muscular Dystrophy or Retinitis Pigmentosa may need life-long treatment and proper management throughout (Dr. Singh’s formula of the 9 P’s).

To receive the best possible result from therapy it is necessary, if possible, to be mentally and physically relaxed before each and every treatment. Likewise, after a session of acupuncture it is strongly advised that the patient relaxes for at least half an hour, to derive the best possible result. Prof. Singh recommends that for one hour after treatment the patient should not eat or drink anything, as it may disturb the proper flow of the Qi corrected by the treatment. There should not be any metal or ornaments touching the body, as these may also disturb the flow of Qi during the treatment. These are very important aspects of the treatment.

Approximately three quarters of patients who are successfully treated notice a response at the very first treatment, usually within seconds or minutes of the needles being inserted. Others will notice this initial response only after several hours or even several days.

The initial response is often heralded either with an increase in general energy and awareness, or by a feeling of pleasant, drowsy relaxation. As a rule, the depressed patient feels more energetic, and the over-tense patient more relaxed. Thereafter, the patient may observe that some of his symptoms have disappeared, but this may not last. It may wear off after some hours or days. And the treatment then will have to be repeated, but with every repetition the improvement will be more pronounced and of longer duration. Improvement follows an irregular course, some treatments help more than others, some not at all, until finally, by a cumulative effect, they achieve the optimum result. In treating the more severe and chronic diseases, it often appears that a patient who has been cured of his illness will notice, after some time, a recurrence of symptoms. In most cases this can be successfully dealt with by one or more further treatments in the form of maintenance. In case of more intractable disease, there may be several such recurrences, each as a rule, milder than the last, and separated from it by a longer interval.

Symptoms occasionally change during the course of a treatment, so that the patient may notice symptoms which he did not have before; this is only a transient phase, which disappears as the cure progresses. Symptoms may sometimes occur in the reverse order of appearance of the disease exactly as in any return journey the same stations keep coming in the reverse order.

Reactions and complications

Rarely, some patients experience a reaction after treatment and temporarily may feel worse. This is more likely to happen after the first treatment, than with subsequent ones. The reaction may manifest itself as an aggravation of the patient’s usual symptoms or sometimes merely as fatigue. This usually passes off in a few hours. Very often these patients have a more favourable response to treatment.

In former times people accepted reactions as part of the healing process. In fact it was considered a good sign, as the aim of medicine then was to increase the body’s strength and resistance, a reaction similar to a vaccination. However, this rarely is the case in modern western thinking, so that the uninitiated person might be a little alarmed on the rare occasion of a reaction. In acupuncture, one tries to strengthen the diseased part of the body. One tries make the lazy parts work again. This might be compared to someone digging a garden or running after a long period of inactivity. The lazy muscles ache after such exercise, just as under-functioning organs of the body might revolt at the acupuncture treatment.

Reactions are rare, but with subsequent treatments they can be virtually avoided by individualised acupuncture therapy. In order to avoid fainting during acupuncture the patient is advised to avoid having an empty stomach. Acupuncture is not recommended on an empty stomach. It is also a good practice to remove all metal jewellery during the acupuncture treatment as mentioned earlier, and also to put a poor conductor such as wood below the patient’s feet during sitting posture treatment, after removing the footwear and socks of the patient, to avoid the energy generated during the treatment from being wasted through conduction to the earth. For the same reason, wooden tables should be used for acupuncture treatment whilst in the lying position instead of metal beds or tables. No-one should be holding the hands or touching the body of the patient to avoid any waste or disturbance in the flow of the patient’s Qi. This is all based on the knowledge of the body’s bio-energy system.

Pain, bleeding, and fainting are not often experienced in the hands of an expert.