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Is acupuncture safe?

The short answer? It depends who is giving the acupuncture and how well they were trained. A fully trained acupuncturist has undergone a minimum 4yrs acupuncture training to be a qualified acupuncturist registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) as an acupuncturist. We suggest you always ask any practitioner who wants to needle you (this even includes other health professionals with important sounding letters after their name and whose main training is in another modality – ie; not acupuncture) what training they have undergone and if it was less than 4yrs training in acupuncture specifically then there is a good chance they may have only undergone brief studies, sometimes only for days or weeks. Would you trust someone who attended a weekend course in car maintenance and now refers to himself as a ‘mechanic’ to fix your car’s brakes?

At HOFH we only use only single-use, sterile & disposable needles. Individuals respond differently to all forms of treatment (this does include western medicine & pharmaceuticals) and have the potential for adverse events (see below).

Qualified experienced practitioners know how to modify acupuncture treatment for pregnancy and also to avoid particular acupuncture points which are known to be contra-indicated in pregnancy. A recent large systematic review concluded that if adverse events do occur during acupuncture in pregnancy, they appear to be largely minor.

Should this be of concern to you please consult with your practitioner to find out more. We are all members of Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA).



Clarkson C, O’Mahony D, Jones D. Adverse event reporting in studies of penetrating acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2015 May;94(5):453-64

Macpherson H, Thomas K, Walters S, Fitter M. The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34,000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ. 2001;323:486–7

White A, Hayhoe S, Hart A, Ernst E. Adverse events following acupuncture: prospective survey of 32,000 consultations with doctors and physiotherapists. BMJ. 2001;323:485–6  

Witt CM, Pach D, Brinkhaus B, Wruck K, Tag B, Mank S, Willich SN. Safety of acupuncture: results of a prospective observational study with 229,230 patients and introduction of a medical information and consent form. Forsch Komplementmed. 2009;16:91–7