Is acupuncture safe?

Dr. Henry McCann, DAOM
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist

Experts say acupuncture is extremely safe when performed by properly trained professionals, but there are some risks. To find out what you can do to minimize them, watch this video featuring licensed acupuncturist and oriental medicine practitioner Dr. Henry McCann.

Dr. Daniel Hsu, DAOM
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist
Yes. Acupuncturists in the United States receive Masters degrees which require around 3,500 hours of training. Acupuncturists with a doctorate receive an additional 1,300 hours of training which includes research and a dissertation. Before receiving a license, an practitioner must pass a rigorous multi-day national board examination administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). In California, where acupuncturists are primary care practitioners, a rigorous state exam is required. Additionally, acupuncturists are required to pass the Clean Needle Technique course administered by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). As having been a student as well as teacher of acupuncture, I can personally attest that safety is paramount in every class and clinic shift.

Acupuncture has minimal side-effects when administered by a qualified practitioner. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates acupuncture needles used by licensed practitioners and requires that needles be sterile, nontoxic, and for single use only. Most practitioners use sterilized, disposable, single-use needles to prevent infection and clean treatment sites with alcohol before inserting needles.

The safety of acupuncture is very good. The worst thing that can happen with acupuncture is nothing. There are very few side effects. Some people could get a bruise or be achy after the visit, and that might last a day or so. Typically, people have good side effects. They may be coming in for knee pain but they notice that they are more relaxed overall, they’re sleeping better, their energy might be a little bit better because the acupuncturist is addressing the whole body and not just the main complaint.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.