1 Cockburn Halls, George St, Ormiston

Clinic Hours:

9:00am – 5:00pm (Mon and Thu) 

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What is an Acupuncturist?

body massage

What is an acupuncturist (the person giving you acupuncture) and how do you know if he or she knows his or her business?

There are many tools in the acupuncturist’s toolbox!

       Listening! That’s the first thing acupuncturists do! Not just listening to what you say, but also to how you say it.

They will probably need to know about your health history and sometimes even the health-history of your parents.

      Then, asking questions.  

       And taking notes, of course!

Looking at where it hurts

       Then looking at where it hurts, pressing around it – and elsewhere! – to look for changes in your skin’s texture and sensitivity. For example, they may gently test along acupuncture ‘channels’, or check trigger points to see their effect.

       Possibly they may palpate (ie touch and press) your abdomen or back, depending on what they are looking for. They are looking for different qualities in your flesh: harder or softer, sensitive or sore to touch and pressure. (For example, at your ‘alarm points’.)

Taking your Pulse the Chinese way

       Often, your acupuncturist will take your pulse the Chinese way.

This takes longer than the Western way and can yield a lot more information.

Learning to understand what your pulses reveal can take many years. Experience helps! Read more about this under pulse diagnosis.

Your Tongue

Yes! This is your opportunity to stick out your tongue!

Examining your tongue is another way an acupuncturist can understand your health. Find out more about what tongues can tell you under tongue diagnosis.

A diagnosis for you

This diagnosis is to explain what your acupuncturist thinks needs to be done, and how. 

This can be really revealing because, if you’re interested, your acupuncturist may use a completely different way of looking at your health.

Yes, it may involve words like ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, or acupuncture ‘channels’ or ‘meridians’. (Click on the links to find out more about these words.)

But once you understand these, it can suddenly transform your understanding of ill-health.

What’s more, it can often suggest ways to help yourself.

Then, if you would like it, there’s enough time and it’s appropriate, you can get on to the actual treatment!

At last! Acupuncture!

  • Does your acupuncturist use acupuncture needles?
  • These are pre-sterilised needles, wrapped hygienically by the manufacturer and unwrapped in your presence.
  • They are thin, flexible and often have a solid or coiled handle.
  • Each needle is used just once, then put in a sharps box for disposal. Read more under

Moxibustion - 'Moxa'

  • Moxibustion uses a herb (Artemesia Vulgaris or Artemesia Chinensis).
  • This is burned either close to or over the skin, or on the handle end of an already-inserted acupuncture needle.
  • There are various ways of using it.
  • Moxibustion is warming and comforting. Read more about it under moxibustion.


Cupping is placing a special ‘cup’ on your skin and withdrawing air from it.

This creates a vacuum which gently draws your skin into the cup, encouraging new blood to refresh and nourish the underlying flesh, hastening repair. For more, see Cupping.

The image above shows a ‘cup’ from which the air was removed by fire-cupping – putting a lighted taper briefly into the cup, so heating the air which, when placed on the skin, cools and contracts, drawing the skin upwards and into it.

There are other types of cup, some of which use a rubber handle or pump to remove the air – see below.

Cupping this way makes it easier to move the cup around on the skin.


  • Guasha – a form of rubbing or scraping over the surface of your skin, which elicits a bruised reaction, helping to exteriorise toxins and heat that have built up and been causing ill-health.

Your acupuncture Channels or Meridians

Any acupuncturist trained in traditional acupuncture would recognise along which channels you have discomfort.

To do this they use an extensive and sophisticated ‘channel theory’

Yes! Acupuncturists spend years understanding it and then learning how to use it for your benefit. 

Acupuncture Needles

  • Identifying the acupuncture ‘channels’ along which you have discomfort is a vital first step.
  • That’s because acupuncture needles are inserted into acupuncture ‘points’, many of which lie along acupuncture channels.
  • Knowing which channels are affected can hugely enhance your treatment.
  • Read more under channels. Knowing this also means your acupuncturist can often suggest what to eat more of and what foods may be worsening your condition, so are better avoided.

Food, Lifestyle and Chinese Culture

woman in black tank top and black pants standing on green grass field during daytime

Many Chinese and East Asian cultures are older than ours in the West. 

Many highly intelligent and observant people have contributed to what is now Chinese culture.

This is like street knowhow, known by Chinese families and passed down through the generations. 

When you get to grips with the underlying philosophy, it begins to makes sense and you can see what you need to change.

This vast field of knowledge is studied by experienced acupuncturists to be able to advise and help you.

Otherwise, you might get a perfectly good acupuncture treatment but go out and do something that undoes all the good from which you’ve just benefited.

It can cover everything from the best (and worst!) foods for you, to when may be a good time of day to rest or act, and how to counteract damage done by your posture at work – and lots more!

Including exercise – see image above!


  • ‘Letting’ is a term to describe the release of a few drops of blood from specific acupuncture locations. Sometimes this is all that needs to be done, it can be so powerful.

Advice about Diet and Nutrition

chef holding cooked food

Chinese Herbal Medicine

white and brown ceramic teapot on wooden tray
  • Chinese herbal formulae: not all acupuncturists prescribe herbs, but they can often enhance the results.
  • However, you have to pay for the herbal prescriptions.
  • Also, they aren’t sold on taste!

Acupuncture medical theory

  • A knowledge of acupuncture or Chinese medical theory.
  • Very important! The theories go back over 2000 years and are in daily use, even nowadays.
  • With the theory behind a diagnosis, your acupuncturist can refine the treatment to suit your personal needs.
  • This means the treatment is individualised for you.
  • So the treatment you get could be quite different from that of a friend even though you both want treatment for the same Western-diagnosed illness (such as: headache, indigestion, knee pain, fatigue, insomnia).

Professional Membership

  • Membership of an appropriate professional association denotes that your acupuncturist’s qualifications and experience are recognised.
  • That means they are covered for insurance.

But all the above is only half the message!

Do you know which sort of acupuncture will be used?

There are many schools of acupuncture round the world and they all have merits. Each can take years of training and suit particular kinds of problem.

Click here to read more about some of the different types of acupuncture and how they may help you.

If you are in pain we have a reduced rate scheme which may suit you. Read about it on our page ‘Acupuncture for Pain’.

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