This is one of the most commonly asked questions - How long does acupuncture take to work? Sometimes you will benefit right away from your first acupuncture session, but more often it takes a while for acupuncture treatment to ‘kick in’. Similar to taking antibiotics, you take a course of them over a few days at least, sometimes weeks or months. Their cumulative effect is much stronger than just taking one. The effect of acupuncture on the body adds up over time, some people respond quicker than others and again it depends on a few things.
Type of health issue
If you have a chronic health issue, or one relating to female fertility, it can take a few months of regular treatment to physically see the benefits. This is because, for chronic health issues, your body has been functioning incorrectly for a long time, and it takes time for it to correct itself. For female fertility, we are working with a monthly cycle, which isn’t going to change massively over the course of one cycle. Fertility treatments usually span for at least three months before you see improvement.
Younger people tend to respond quicker to acupuncture treatment, saying that, I have seen very responsive older people so it’s not a hard and fast rule!
Whether you take on advice
During most acupuncture treatments, we will also give some diet and lifestyle advice according to traditional Chinese medicine. This advice will help your body to recover quicker, so if you decide not to follow it, you may find your progress is slower.
Acupuncture works best when you commit to regular sessions, such as weekly or fortnightly for a fair amount of time (depending on the issues above and what your practitioner recommends). If you have, say, 6 acupuncture sessions in the space of 5 or 6 months, you might not see as much improvement as someone who has had 6 sessions over 6 weeks.
Taking time to rest
We advise you to rest after your acupuncture sessions, for a while at least, or have a short nap. Obviously, sometimes that isn’t an option, but if you always head to the gym or go for a run straight after your session, you might have a slower recovery. Pottering around the house and cooking etc are fine, just no hard labour!
Personally, I believe the most important thing is commitment. We really want quick fixes nowadays, with Western medicine giving us many of them. Being able to take a pill and it helps us straight away is great, but when there is no pill or quick fix and you’re looking for alternatives it might require a bit more patience! When I had acupuncture for Meniere's disease (a chronic illness), it took a good while for the treatment to show any benefit even though I was young and definitely rested afterwards - I couldn’t help but fall asleep in the car on the way home (I wasn’t driving!). The diet and lifestyle advice was difficult with me being young, but I persevered for a few months, and I’m so glad I did!
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