Acupuncture side effects are very rare if you are in good hands. Qualified acupuncturists must have enough anatomy and bio-medicine knowledge before they start to treat patients. You don’t need to worry about safety if the practitioner is registered with a professional body.

On the contrary, there may be some beneficial side effects of acupuncture. After the treatment, you may feel more relaxed, more energetic, and you may get better sleep, better digestion and less stress. I wouldn’t say I like to insert needles in myself for no reason. Do you? Most of the time, people won’t try acupuncture unless they are really uncomfortable. I understand nobody likes needles, me neither. This is because acupuncture is a holistic approach, so while you are treating a specific condition, it may have other effects on the body.

Unpleasant side effects can happen occasionally. But don’t worry, these are not dangerous side effects. Sometimes it’s like having a hot bath, and the first few seconds can be quite hot, then you can relax and enjoy. Acupuncture is the same. Your body may have reactions to the treatment.


In my experience, the following acupuncture side effects may occur after treatment.



Syncope is usually related to insufficient blood flow to the brain. You may have lightheadedness, sweating, pale skin, blurred vision, nausea. Some people may faint even when they are laughing or sneezing. For acupuncture, it happens when patents are over-hungry/tired before the treatment. It’s not life-threatening, but that means you can’t have treatment on that day. Why would it happen? Acupuncture works by moving the Qi(similar to energy) in the body when your body is overtired, and there is not enough Qi for the treatment. This can lead to abnormal nerve signalling, then the blood pressure drops, less blood flow to the brain. Your body is trying to protect you, because the dropping in heart rate and blood pressure, it is believed, is beneficial in slowing bleeding if one is passed out from blood loss. But it’s a wrong signal! The solution is elevating legs slightly and eat something. Remember to bring some snacks before the treatment if you are starving.



People can feel exhausted after acupuncture. This can be a

signal to alert you that your body needs more rest. Modern

city life drains our energy, we force our bodies to keep going,

you may have strong willpower, but your body is calling for

help. Another rare situation is the treatment is too intense

for you when you have a chronic problem. Tell your practitioner

about the fatigue, and they may change the treatment plan for



Bruising and soreness

The needles we use are very fine. But sometimes the needles can hit a tiny blood vessel, which may lead to a purple-coloured patch. Bruises will last for a few days, but it’s nothing to worry about. You can apply shredded raw potato on the bruise if needed. If you are taking some anticoagulant drugs, please tell your practitioner, you may have more chance to get some bruises. Some acupuncture points can be very sensitive. Very rarely, you may have some soreness on specific points after the treatment. But most of the soreness will disappear within 24 hours.


Emotional release

An emotional release may happen for people who hide emotional pain. Some people may recall some old memory and cry during or after the treatment. This is typically a sign of proper treatment. Don’t hold your tears if you want to cry.



This may happen when you have a Moxa treatment, you feel very energetic, and sometimes it may cause insomnia. This also means the treatment plan needs to be adjusted.

All these side effects should not last long, and they are very rare. Always contact your practitioner if you have some unpleasant reactions.


Acupuncture Clinic in South Kensington, Chelsea, London 

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