Sharp end of research into ancient therapy

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Research in to the effectiveness of acupuncture is taking place in York. Catherine Scott speaks to one woman on the trial.

ACUPUNCtURE has long been known to help people suffering from back pain and other muscle problems, but a new trial in Yorkshire is seeing whether other conditions can be helped using the ancident Chinese medicine.

People suffering from stress, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other conditions are being sought by independent educational charity, the Northern College of Acupuncture to support a major new research project.

Ten people, each suffering from one of: stress and anxiety; IBS; or joint and muscle pain, are being asked to enlist for free consultations and discounted treatment in the research being undertaken by the Northern College of Acupuncture, Micklegate, York, to mark the first ever National Acupuncture Awareness Week (Monday, February 27) being run by the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).

Those who take part in the clinical outcome research study to investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture will receive a free consultation and up to ten acupuncture treatments by students on the college’s acupuncture degree courses under the supervision of qualified practitioners.

The participants will be asked to complete a questionnaire at the start and end of their treatment and again after three months to monitor how their condition is improving. The research will contribute to evidence being gathered about the effectiveness of acupuncture. The project will last until June 2012.

At the end of the study into each condition, the Northern College of Acupuncture, which has a long-standing commitment to carrying out research, will also publish the findings on its website. Initial findings from the 2012 project have already been published.

Northern College of Acupuncture principal, Richard Blackwell, says: “We have a strong commitment to research into the effectiveness of acupuncture and each year we run similar studies which explore how many common conditions can be helped with acupuncture, and often without the need for pharmaceuticals.

“The results from last year’s study examining five common illnesses – IBS, stress/ anxiety, menopausal symptoms, migraine and arthritis suggested that the patients experienced worthwhile improvements in each case and we believe that this year’s study will be as beneficial for those who support our research as it will be for us and those whom we train and treat in the future.”

Denise Sear, 64, was diagnosed with IBS more than a year a go.

She tried more conventional medicines and has even seen a consultant but when nothing seemed to ease her recurring symptoms she turned to acupuncture.

“I saw an advert for the trial taking place at the Northern College of Acupuncture in York which was looking for people with IBS and I thought why not give it a go.”

Denise has had four sessions so far and says she has already felt a reduction in her symptoms.

“My tummy already feels much better, and the staff are so fantastic at the colege they really put you at ease. Something which has been around for so long must have something to it.

“We still have some way to go but I really feel that we are moving in the right direction. Some people are sceptical about complimentary therapies as science and conventional medicine cannot explain why they work. But sometimes you just have to go with it.”

The Northern College of Acupuncture was founded in 1988 and is the only organisation of its kind in the Yorkshire and Humber region which provides degree-level courses in the holistic healing arts of Chinese medicine. The College has trained more than 500 acupuncturists and practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine from throughout Britain and runs the only course in the UK which combines professional training with an MSc in acupuncture.

Acupuncture awareness

National Acupuncture Awareness Week aims to dispel many myths surrounding acupuncture and ensure that consumers get the right information about treatment and what they can expect from it.

A micro site with videos and case study testimonials, including one from TV presenter, Clare Nasir, and practitioner advise is available at For more information on the Northern College of Acupuncture research visit