Have you ever received Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has been practiced for thousands of years as a complementary therapy. This ancient practice involves the insertion of thin acupuncture needles by an Acupuncture practitioner into specific acupressure points on your body, with the aim of balancing your energy flow and promoting healing.

With its ancient origins and an important role played in medical history, Acupuncture has gained widespread acceptance as a complementary natural therapy, and Acupuncture is often referred to as an alternative medicine. Acupuncture is used by many practitioners (both traditional and alternative) to support a variety of health conditions including chronic pain, shoulder pain, stress, infertility, back pain, menopause, and migraines and support the reduction of reliance on medical devices.

Acupuncture. Brisbane Livewell Clinic. Acupuncture needles with Ear Acupuncture inset.
In Australia, Acupuncture is recognised as a part of integrative medicine and an important health care modality, and many thousands of people now turn to this method for its therapeutic benefits. Its popularity is bolstered by a growing body of research investigating its efficacy and mechanisms of how Acupuncture works, as well as by governmental regulations (enforced by AHPRA and the Chinese Medicine Board) ensuring the practice of Acupuncture meets certain safety standards.

Key Takeaways

  • Acupuncture is a thousands of years-old Eastern medicine therapy practiced to balance the body's energy and support various health conditions.
  • This natural therapy involves the insertion of fine needles into specific acupuncture points in the body by a qualified Acupuncturist. For safety reasons, the needles used are disposable needles, and those practicing Acupuncture are trained in Acupuncture needle insertion, often inserting the needles so gently they are barely felt by patients.
  • Acupuncture may support the relief of pain, support pregnant women with morning sickness and back pain, support the regulation of your nervous system, and support the reduction of postoperative nausea or nausea from chemotherapy treatment, among many other supportive measures.
  • A number of sessions at regular intervals may be recommended by your Acupuncture Practitioner to allow this complementary therapy to take effect more strongly - it is rarely a "one-off" treatment.
  • Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that has gained popularity in Australia, with modern Acupuncture becoming an important part of integrated holistic healthcare. It is often chosen by patients in preference to conventional medicine, including to support the relief of pain and strengthening of the immune system.
  • Because of the thin needles used, many patients with a phobia of needles are able to have Acupuncture regularly.
  • Many medical professionals and physical therapists refer their patients to an Acupuncturist for support.
  • The practice of Acupuncture is supported by research and various scientific studies, and is regulated in Australia to ensure safety within the field.
  • The Chinese Medicine Board of Australia and AHPRA regulates acupuncture needles (recommending disposable needles) and the practice of Acupuncture in Australia.
Acupuncture at Brisbane Livewell Clinic

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the strategic insertion of fine, sterile needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Practitioners of the complementary therapy of acupuncture aim to restore balance within the body and promote natural healing by stimulating certain points, known as acupuncture points or "acupoints".

The practice is based on the theory that the body has patterns of energy flow referred to as qi (pronounced 'chee'). Disruptions to this flow are believed to cause health issues. Acupuncture is utilised to correct imbalances in the flow at identifiable points close to the skin.

While acupuncture is most widely recognised for its application in supporting the management of pain, it's also used to support a broad range of other conditions. The therapy is tailored to the individual, as a patient's health condition, lifestyle, and response to acupuncture can influence the focus and frequency of the sessions that are needed.

Acupuncture: How it works, uses, benefits, and risks

  • Effectiveness: Acupuncture is often considered for support for various types of pain management and for a range of other conditions, such as providing support for migraine and arthritis relief. A significant amount of research points to its effectiveness, particularly in the area of support for pain management (refer to the sources copied below).
  • Mechanism: The practice involves inserting thin acupuncture needles into specific points on the body. This is believed to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue, potentially boosting the body's natural painkillers, supporting the calming down of the nervous system and supporting the increase of blood flow. Medical devices are not required during an Acupuncture treatment - instead, different acupuncture points are stimulated by the use of very thin needles.
  • Traditional Roots: Originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture is based on the concept of balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as qi or chi (CHEE) — which is thought to flow through pathways (meridians) in the body.
  • Regulation and Education: The practice of Acupuncture is regulated differently across various regions, with some countries enforcing strict licensing for its use. Practitioners usually complete extensive Acupuncture education and training to learn the necessary techniques and principles, and only registered practitioners in Australia may call themselves "Acupuncturists".
  • Scientific Perspective: While the existence of meridian pathways has not been scientifically proven, certain acupuncture points are recognised in the medical field for providing symptomatic relief and supporting the reduction of pain. A number of studies have looked at the correlation between stimulation of these points and pain relief (and relief of other symptoms) in patients.
Acupuncture - Beyond Needles

How Can Acupuncture Support You?

The practice of Acupuncture is considered to have a significant potential effect on the human body and the central nervous system. See the sources below.

Commonly cited benefits of acupuncture include support with:

  • Pain reduction
  • Improved stress management
  • Relief of back pain
  • Calming of Fibromyalgia trigger points
  • Enhanced mental clarity
  • Better sleep quality
  • Weight loss
  • Greater overall well-being
  • Regulation of the nervous system
  • Nausea associated with pregnancy and chemotherapy treatments.

Possible Adverse Effects and Contraindications

While Acupuncture is not considered high risk when performed by trained professionals, there may be possible side effects, such as minor bleeding where needles are inserted or bruising at needle sites.

There are also specific contraindications for which acupuncture may not be recommended, such as in the case of certain skin infections or blood clotting disorders.

It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting acupuncture, particularly for patients with certain health conditions or those who are pregnant.

For more detailed information, exploring HealthDirect's outline on acupuncture can provide further insight into the practice's background and uses.

Acupuncture's History and Origins

Acupuncture is a therapeutic practice with a meticulous historical evolution, stemming from ancient China, expanding through the Western world, and maintaining a significant presence in contemporary Australia. Acupuncture is often referred to as a complementary and alternative medicine.

Roots of Acupuncture

Acupuncture practice is believed to have begun as part of traditional Chinese Medicine before 2500 BCE in China. The earliest organised system of acupuncture was detailed in "The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine" around 100 BCE.

Acupuncture then (and still does) involved the insertion of needles at specific points on the body (acupuncture points) to balance the flow of life force or Qi, reflecting a profound philosophy of health and disease in ancient Chinese culture.

Western Adoption

By the late 20th century, the West adopted acupuncture, integrating it within modern healthcare practices and Western medicine. Initially met with skepticism, scientific studies and clinical applications have led to a broader acceptance of acupuncture as an adjunct or complementary therapy, particularly recognised for its efficacy in the support of various health conditions.

Loving Acupuncture. Brisbane Livewell Clinic

Acupuncture's Presence Today in Australia

Acupuncture has secured a substantial presence in Australia's healthcare landscape. The practice is regulated, and practitioners are required to be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). 

Why is Acupuncture now so Popular in Australia?

Australians have embraced acupuncture as a part of their Western medicine not only for its documented supportive effects but as an aspect of holistic well-being. This has contributed to its growing popularity and relevance in Australian society today.

Acupuncture has gained significant popularity in Australia for its perceived benefits in supporting pain management and overall wellness. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) underpins this practice and is integrated into the country's complementary healthcare approaches.

In the United States, more than 10 million acupuncture sessions are administered each year, reflecting a growing public trust in its effectiveness as a complementary therapy. This increase in adoption is supported by both traditional practitioners and healthcare professionals from different disciplines, recognising the value of integrating acupuncture into comprehensive care.

Acupuncture's growth in popularity can notably be seen through a surge in availability and demand. It is being incorporated into multimodal wellness plans alongside conventional medicine and being practiced widely, from Asia to North America and Europe. This modality is increasingly understood as beneficial for a variety of conditions, extending beyond support of pain management to encompass support for gynecological disorders and chronic diseases (refer to the sources below).

Historical Integration and Regulation

Australia recognises acupuncture as a form of professional practice. It's regulation through the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia ensures that practitioners meet stringent education and practice standards, bringing credibility and safety to the practice.

The Board also regulates acupuncture needles and the conduct of Chinese medicine practitioners.

Research-Backed Benefits

Research in Australia has shown acupuncture's positive impact in supporting pain management, especially during labour and with a number of sessions. This encourages an evidence-based approach to Acupuncture's utilisation in medical settings. See the sources below.

Broad Acceptance and Accessibility

Health professionals, including physiotherapists, nurses, and doctors, are increasingly incorporating acupuncture into their treatments and referring their patients for Acupuncture therapy by qualified Acupuncturists and Chinese medicine practitioners. This multidisciplinary adoption has amplified its accessibility, making it a mainstream service.

Systematic reviews have increasingly corroborated acupuncture's efficacy in supporting the relief of low back pain and neck pain, a common affliction among Australians. As further examples, scalp acupuncture may support the reduction of migraines and ear acupuncture (or auricular acupuncture) may support the relief of earaches.

The shift towards non-pharmacological interventions has played a role in patient preference for practices like acupuncture, particularly in support of back pain, the immune system and the central nervous system.

Theoretical Foundations

The theoretical underpinnings of Chinese acupuncture are deeply rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine. They encompass the concept of Qi (Chi) energy, the network of meridians and acupoints for inserting needles, and the fundamental Yin and Yang theory.


In traditional Chinese medicine and traditional acupuncture, Qi or Chi represents the vital life force that circulates through the body, maintaining health and vitality. It is believed that disruptions or imbalances in Qi flow can lead to illness, and acupuncture aims to restore this balance. Qi/Chi is generally seen as different from the central nervous system of the body.


The human body is thought to have a network of pathways called meridians, through which Qi flows. Along these meridians lie specific points known as acupuncture points or acupoints. By Chinese medicine practitioners or Acupuncturists stimulating these points through acupuncture needles, the use of acupuncture is said to influence the flow of Qi, thus promoting healing and well-being.

  • Major Meridians: There are twelve major meridians, each associated with a different organ system.
  • Acupoints: Over 400 acupuncture points exist, with precise locations on the body where acupuncture needles can be inserted to achieve therapeutic effects.

Keep in mind that acupuncture points are usually different from trigger points in Western medicine.

Yin and Yang Theory

At the core of acupuncture's theoretical foundation lies the Yin and Yang theory, an ancient Chinese concept describing two opposing yet complementary forces. Health is perceived as a harmonious balance between Yin (cool, slow, passive) and Yang (hot, active, dynamic) energies within the body.

  • Yin Properties: Associated with water, darkness, and the moon.
  • Yang Properties: Linked to fire, light, and the sun.

Maintaining equilibrium between Yin and Yang is considered crucial for health, and acupuncture is one modality used to adjust these energies when they fall out of balance through needle insertion.

Acupuncture Techniques

Acupuncture encompasses a variety of techniques, each with its own methodology and purpose. These techniques are utilised to stimulate different points on the body, aiming to balance energy flow, treat pain and address various health issues.

Learn more about the different Acupuncture techniques here.

Which Conditions Does Acupuncture Support?

Acupuncture's effectiveness is recognised through scientific research for its efficacy in supporting the relief of various health conditions such as back pain. The applications of Acupuncture range from support for pain relief to support in enhancing fertility and supporting mental health.

1. Pain Management

Acupuncture has been frequently utilised for pain relief, particularly for those with chronic pain. Acupuncture therapy is often applied to support the alleviation of chronic pain conditions, including back pain, neck pain, and knee pain associated with osteoarthritis. It may also reduce pain following surgery. Refer to the sources below.

2. Women's Health

For women, acupuncture offers benefits for supporting the regulation of menstrual cycles and alleviating menstrual cramps and back pain associated with periods. It can also assist in supporting symptoms associated with menopause.

3. Fertility, Conception, Pregnancy and Labour Support

Acupuncture may support fertility by improving blood flow to reproductive organs and balancing hormones. During pregnancy and labor, it can support the management of symptoms and support a healthy pregnancy.

4. Mental Health Support (Anxiety and Depression)

Acupuncture can be a complementary therapy to provide support for anxiety and depression, possibly supporting the improvement of the patient's mood and supporting the reduction of anxiety levels.

5. Chronic Conditions

Acupuncture supports the management of chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and respiratory disorders such as allergic rhinitis. Many of these conditions have a chronic pain component.

6. Support for those undertaking Cancer Therapy

Patients undergoing cancer therapy may find acupuncture beneficial to support the management of side effects like chemotherapy-induced nausea and joint pain associated with certain breast cancer treatments.

7. Support with Other Health Conditions

Additionally, acupuncture may aid in the support of headache relief, including migraines and tension headaches, and it may also support relief of allergies and insomnia.

How We Practice Acupuncture at Brisbane Livewell Clinic

At Brisbane Livewell Clinic, acupuncture is tailored to individual needs, ensuring comprehensive support across various health challenges and life stages.

Support for General Health Challenges

The practitioners at Brisbane Livewell Clinic support a wide range of general health issues using acupuncture. They may assess areas such as the patient's tongue, skin, pulse, and eyes to diagnose conditions, as these are considered key indicators of one’s health.

Support for Pain Management and Chronic Pain

Our practitioners have a deep focus on supporting the management of pain and chronic pain conditions, utilising acupuncture to target specific points on the body. This method is aimed at supporting the reduction of pain, supporting the enhancement of recovery, and supporting the improvement of quality of life for patients experiencing ongoing discomfort.

Support with Fertility, Conception and Pregnancy

Our Acupuncture practitioners may provide support with fertility and conception, offering a holistic approach. During pregnancy, they may provide acupuncture sessions designed to support and complement prenatal care.

Labour Preparation

Acupuncture can be utilised as a method of labour support preparation. Our Acupuncturists may support the preparation of their patient's body for labour and provide support to manage discomfort during labour.

Support with Women's Health Issues

Our Acupuncture practitioners take a particular interest in women's health, supporting various concerns such as menstrual irregularities, menopause symptoms, and hormonal imbalances.

Cosmetic Acupuncture

Cosmetic acupuncture is an alternative to conventional aesthetic treatments. This natural approach aims to support good skin health and support a reduction in the signs of aging by triggering the body’s healing processes.

Ear Acupuncture

Our Acupuncturist often applies ear seeds to specific acupoints on your ears, using auricular acupuncture to support the relief of anxiety over the next few days after your session.

Safety and Regulations in Australia

In Australia, acupuncture is subject to comprehensive regulations to ensure the safety and competency of practitioners and the health of the patients.

Education and Training of Acupuncturists

To practice acupuncture in Australia, practitioners must have adequate education and training. This involves completing an accredited course of study, such as a bachelor's degree in health science, majoring in acupuncture. All programs are structured to provide both theoretical and practical components, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for clinical practice.

Licensing and Certification

It's critical when you see an Acupuncture Practitioner to make sure they are registered and are not providing sham treatments.

Acupuncturists must be registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA). To maintain registration, practitioners must adhere to strict guidelines like those found here, which cover various necessary codes for professional conduct and performance standards.

Sterilisation and Cleanliness

Guidelines on infection prevention and control play a crucial role in acupuncture to avoid risks related to skin penetration. Australian standards mandate practitioners to maintain rigorous sterilisation procedures and cleanliness within their practice, as detailed in the documents provided by AHPRA.

Regulations on Practice in Australia

The practice of acupuncture in Australia is regulated by both national and state guidelines. The CMBA's revised registration standard for acupuncture endorsement reflects Australia's commitment to enhanced patient safety standards. Practitioners must also comply with local laws regarding healthcare and skin penetration procedures.

Acupuncture as an Integrative Medicine

Acupuncture, with its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, is increasingly recognised as a component of integrative medicine, which combines conventional medical treatments with effective alternative and complementary practices.

Combining Traditional and Modern Medicine

Acupuncture bridges the gap between traditional Chinese medicine and modern healthcare by incorporating ancient techniques into contemporary wellness plans. 

This combination of practices serves to enhance patient outcomes through a more comprehensive approach to healthcare.

Holistic Health Perspectives

Integrative medicine views the patient holistically, considering all factors that influence health, wellness, and disease. Acupuncture aligns with this by supporting the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—not just symptoms. This holistic approach suggests that acupuncture can support the clearance of energy blocks and promote the body's natural flow of energy, which contributes to overall wellbeing, as noted by healthdirect.

Patient-Centered Care Approaches

Providing patient-centered care is a key element of integrative medicine, which prioritises the patient's individual needs, preferences, and values. Acupuncture supports this personalised care through its adaptability to suit each patient's unique condition. It offers a therapeutic option that can be tailored to individual health goals and is often seen as a patient-empowering practice, as described by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Research Directions and Innovations

The body of scientific literature examining acupuncture's efficacy is expanding. Studies are now more frequently employing rigorous methodologies, with a marked emphasis on control groups and blind testing. Emerging focuses in research include its role in supporting oncology pain reduction and brain imaging studies that explore how acupuncture impacts neural activity. See the below sources.

  • Pain Management: Maintains prominence in research circles due to consistent patient interest and reported success.
  • Neurological Applications: Recent studies are exploring how acupuncture could be used to treat conditions like migraines and neuropathies.
  • Integrative Therapies: Research continues into how acupuncture can be effectively combined with other therapies for holistic patient care.


Acupuncture, a practice grounded in traditional Chinese medicine, presents as an intervention with evidence indicating its effectiveness, particularly in supporting chronic pain relief and providing support for certain conditions. Its application spans a diverse range of ailments, asserting minimal risk when administered by a licensed practitioner.

If you are located in Brisbane, whether you live on the North Side or the South Side of the Brisbane River, we have an Acupuncture Brisbane Clinic near you at Brisbane Livewell Clinic (Wavell Heights) and Brisbane Livewell Clinic (Cannon Hill).

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses common inquiries regarding Acupuncture to help you better understand how it works:

1. What does Acupuncture involve?

An Acupuncture session typically includes an initial assessment by the practitioner, followed by the strategic insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and balance. Acupuncture works by the practitioner carrying out a systematic review of their patient's health then inserting needles into specific acupuncture points in the patient's body to provide support for various conditions. A number of Acupuncture sessions are often recommended for maximum benefits.

2. What are the potential benefits of Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is known to support a variety of ailments, from supporting the reduction of stress and anxiety to supporting the improvement of sleep and digestive functions, thus contributing to overall well-being.

3. Can Acupuncture be effective for managing pain?

Numerous patients report Acupuncture as an effective means for the support of pain management, supporting relief from chronic pain conditions and post-operative pain.

4. What should I expect during an Acupuncture session?

During Acupuncture, you can expect your Acupuncturist to carry out a systematic review of your health. You should only feel minimal discomfort from the insertion of needles, and it is recommended to immediately tell your practitioner if you feel any pain. You should typically experience a sense of calm and relaxation throughout the session, and your Acupuncturist may leave you to relax (and perhaps fall asleep) while the Acupuncture works its magic.

5. Are there any risks or disadvantages associated with Acupuncture?

While it is considered low risk when performed by a trained professional, Acupuncture may pose risks such as bruising or soreness at needle sites, and rare instances of more significant complications.

Your risks from acupuncture are likely to be higher if you see a non-registered Acupuncturist.

6. How frequently should I undergo Acupuncture to see results?

Acute conditions may require 3 to 6 sessions, while more chronic issues could need between 8 to 15 sessions to obtain noticeable improvements. Your Acupuncturist will recommend the best number of sessions for your particular conditions.

7. Is Acupuncture a viable option for treating nerve pain?

Acupuncture has been identified as a potentially viable option for supporting the relief of certain types of nerve pain, capitalising on the body's natural painkillers and anti-inflammatory responses.

Related Articles – Acupuncture Brisbane

Read some of our articles about how Acupuncture at Brisbane Livewell Clinic can support your illness or condition:


  1. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians
  2. Acupuncture and Electroacupuncture for Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Research
  3. Therapeutic Effect of Acupuncture on the Outcomes of In Vitro Fertilization: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  4. Effects of Acupuncture on Menopause-Related Symptoms and Quality of Life in Women in Natural Menopause: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
  5. Acupuncture for the Prevention of Episodic Migraine
  6. Acupuncture or Acupressure for Pain Management During Labour
  7. Stimulation of the Wrist Acupuncture Point P6 for Preventing Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting
  8. The Safety of Acupuncture. Use of the Literature to Inform Clinical Practice
  9. Neural Mechanism Underlying Acupuncture Analgesia
  10. Chinese Medicine Board of Australia - AHPRA
  11. World Health Organization: Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials
  12. Healthdirect Australia: Acupuncture
  13. PubMed Central: Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis
  14. Cancer Research UK: Acupuncture for Cancer Patients
  15. Journal of Affective Disorders: The Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Depression—A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials
  16. PubMed Central: Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Fertility

Last Updated on 2 July 2024 by Brisbane Livewell Clinic