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How often can acupuncture be done?


I am new to acupuncture. Can it be done as often as once a day? Are there any risks if acupuncture is performed more often than once a day?

Are there combinations of points which should not be needled at one treatment? Is there any particular order to the points needled?


I get the sense from your questions that you may be treating yourself with acupuncture. If this is the case you should not perform acupuncture on yourself without proper training. You are more likely to cause harm to your health than to receive any kind of benefit.

Whether you are or not, the answer to all of your questions is that it would depend on the case and on the practitioners style/training. You can certainly treat often in acute cases, but for chronic conditions it is often wasteful and disturbing to the body (so yes, there are risks related to over treatment). With regards to point combination, there are many point combinations that should not be used during treatments. Proper pattern differentiation/diagnosis and point selection takes years of training to apply effectively. Along those lines, there is an order for needling which depends on the issues you are trying to treat - but it will change on a case by case basis and be of more value in certain conditions than others.


I read from other sites that one should not have sex before being treated with acupuncture - why is that? How long before does it affect the treatment?

Admin Note: To keep each discussion as clear as possible we have moved your reply to its own discussion thread - here.



I've been receiving acupuncture over the past couple of months. A few weeks back, my acupuncturist (who's experienced enough, has written a book) told me that there are many examples of chronic conditions that he treats up to three times a day? Can you elaborate on the risks related to over-treatment? I understand that generally speaking overstimulating anything is bad, but how is it defined in acupuncture? Thanks.


To begin to answer your question, it is important to clear the assumption that over-treatment simply relies on frequency of treatments. You can overtreat a patient by incorrect usages of points, herbs, moxibustion, etc. regardless of the frequency.

In acupuncture "overstimulation" would be defined, by myself anyhow, as using points and/or techniques which result in the disruption of the flow of energy within a person. This is similar to creating disruptions by the overcontrol of the breath and/or incorrect postures in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and/or meditation (i.e. running fire). Really the term should be incorrect stimulation instead of just overstimulation - so using too strong tonifying points/techniques when a patient has an excess pattern, using too dispersive of techniques when a patient has a deficiency pattern, etc. What this will mean to the practitioner and how they watch for it (and correct it) will depend on whether they use strong stimulation and/or directional techniques (not all practitioners do) and what style(s) of acupuncture they are using.

From the patients perspective their responses could range from simply not getting better to feeling "off" after a treatment, experiencing light-headedness, breathing problems, anxiety, etc.

What it comes down to is there are no standards for how long a given condition should take to treat, except for what you learn in school and what you see your masters (if you have one/some) do. So we operate, as all health professionals do, on a series of assumptions drawn from what we have seen work in the past and what we have experienced for ourselves. This may or may not be correct, but if you are getting results people are unlikely to question what they are doing - even if they may get better results or provide the same care to a patient at less cost (i.e. frequency). It is usually when people are getting poor clinical results frequently that they begin to re-evaluate what they are doing.

With regards to frequency of treatments, the following comment of mine to a previous question, found here, describes most of my views on that point (and the link lower in that discussion from an article by Dr. Dharmananda describes the near opposite of everything I said in my comment). While I'm obviously against treating multiple times per week for anything but the most acute of situations (mostly pain cases), I cannot say that someone who chooses to do this is wrong. It's not a matter of right or wrong, it's largely a matter of style and training and also patient needs and restrictions. What most practitioners do, is what they were taught in school and/or what they learned from studying under various practitioners with high rates of positive clinical results. While I disagree on a number of points with Dr. Dharmananda's article, it is an excellent read as is all of his work on their site.

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