Acupuncture Side Effects – What You Need to Know

Model head showing acupuncture pointsA lot of people who haven’t had acupuncture are scared about the side effects.

If that’s you, there’s no need to worry. Acupuncture side effects exist, but they are very minor. Read the list and you’ll see what I mean.


People often associate acupuncture and needles with the doctor’s hypodermic. So they think of them as being very painful. In truth, acupuncture needles are extremely fine. If they’re inserted properly, mostly they’re totally painless. Occasionally you feel something, but it’s just like a little mosquito bite at the worst.

Lots of people are scared of needles – me included! When I first studied acupuncture, my main fear was because I hated needles myself. How was I going to stick needles into other people?

I remember the very first person who actually asked me for acupuncture.

As far as I’m aware, he’d never had acupuncture anywhere else. I was still studying. I had my 2-year old son running around the place, and this man was lying on my  couch ready to go.  He was my very first acupuncture client, so I was a little bit nervous.

Then he said, ‘You’ve done practicals at college, haven’t you?

And I said, ‘No. No I haven’t.

But he still let me treat him, which was very brave of him. And it turned out great.

I gave him four or five treatments in all. He’d been having knee problems – and he was a painter who had to be up and down ladders all the time. Sometime later he dropped in and told me that he didn’t have knee problems any more. So even for two complete newbies, it worked!

Other Feelings When the Needles Go In

When the needle goes in, usually you don’t feel it. Sometimes you might get like a little mosquito bite or a twitch. There are some other things which can happen too.

Numbness, cold or heaviness

Sometimes you get a numb feeling. A heaviness, heat or cold.

That numbness and heaviness can feel like you’ve been anaesthetised. In China they actually do operations on people when they are fully  conscious. Just using acupuncture rather than an anaesthetic drug. This is particularly good for older people who would not tolerate an anaesthetic or if say the surgeon is working on the brain & needs the patient to be conscious & give them feedback. Obviously, acupuncture doesn’t have the same risks of anaesthesia. Or the after effects when an anaesthetic drug is wearing off.

Shocks and tingling

Sometimes you get a feeling a bit like an electric shock.

This can happen if the energy’s blocked in a meridian and you put a needle in a specific acupuncture point that gets the energy moving again. You can get a shoot of energy in that meridian which feels like a little electric tingle.

If you do get that little shock, it usually goes away. Sometimes after a treatment, people feel those little tingles of energy. It’s because things are very different in the meridians. The energy is starting to flow again, so you might be more consciously aware of that.

But all things that you might feel, none of them are actually harmful.

Just by the way, all the needles I use are sterile and individually packaged. I only use each needle once. So you don’t need to worry about cross-contamination either!

Acupuncture Side Effects After Treatment

Bleeding or Bruising

On occasion an acupuncturist can hit a vein or a blood vessel. Sometimes it bleeds. You might end up with a haematoma or a small bruise where you’ve hit a vein, but that should usually clear within a short period of time.

So just be careful if you’re having needles in the face and they might show! Or you might not be worried. On the rare occasions I’ve seen this, the mark has been tiny.

You’re more likely to get bruise marks if your acupuncture treatment includes cupping. Cups are rarely used where the marks will show. I do have cups but I very rarely use them, so there’s little risk of that in my practice. You can always discuss this with your acupuncturist.


You can end up tired as a side effect of acupuncture. Ideally it’s good if you can go home and have a bit of a rest and relax. If you can just go with the flow, it lets the energy systems readjust.

Of course, the tiredness may just be because you were tired already but you haven’t admitted it to yourself.

So many people these days are pushing themselves to do more and more and trying to keep up with more and more. The adrenals are pushed to the utmost. The energy systems are pushed to the utmost. Sometimes what they really need is just to rest and relax, but they are unable to or don’t give themselves the time to do so. If a treatment helps you allow yourself that time, it’s another good acupuncture side effect!



That’s it for acupuncture side effects. There’s nothing dangerous, there’s really very little chance of discomfort. In my experience, pretty much everyone feels wonderfully relaxed afterwards.

So my suggestion is, come along and give it a go. For first timers, just make sure you haven’t got anything too serious or demanding set up for afterwards, so you can see what it does for you.

Acupuncture for Fertility – My Personal Experiences

pregnant lady holding baby clothesAnxiety and stress are common for women who are having difficulty conceiving. For that reason alone, I believe in acupuncture for fertility problems. If your body is more relaxed, you are more likely to conceive.

It certainly worked for Bianca.

She came to me in June 2015 after a series of miscarriages and IVF treatments. Now, in April 2016, she’s at home with her baby girl, born last month.

Please note, though, that western scientific studies have not found evidence that acupuncture itself improves fertility. There are studies showing it improves the success of IVF, and research is ongoing.

What are the generally received theories around acupuncture and fertility?

Acupuncture works on the energy systems of the body. It’s not just qi, it’s also blood circulation. The whole aim of acupuncture is to release blockages.

Better flow of blood and qi in general means less stress. There’s also a suggestion that acupuncture may improve blood flow to the uterus, release blockage in the female organs and boost the ovaries.

I still remember my very first acupuncture patient who became pregnant, nearly 20 years ago. I was actually treating her for back pain at the time! She was quite a large lady, with 2 prolapsed discs. She was booked in for IVF, and when she went to the doctor, he told her she was already 7 months pregnant! Imagine her surprise! He asked what she’d been doing, and the only change she’d made to her life was the acupuncture with me.

Another interesting case is women who have been on the Pill, but now want to become pregnant. The Pill suppresses the body’s natural hormones and rhythms. Even when you stop taking it, your body is out of sync. Acupuncture can help to realign the body and get natural cycles going again.

Is acupuncture alone enough to treat fertility?

There’s no solid evidence that acupuncture alone can overcome infertility issues – the story of my first patient is just one story and it could be chance! But it’s not really the right question to ask for my approach. As a holistic healer, I aim to treat the whole person, using my training and experience across many therapies.

When patients want help conceiving or bearing a child, I need to know all about them. So many factors affect fertility. Weight. Lifestyle. Diet. Regularity of the cycle. Even how long you’ve been trying to conceive – it affects your stress and your hormones.

Understanding all of these means I can develop a personal plan for you the whole person. Acupunture is likely to be a big part of that. But it may also include massage, aromatherapy, dietary changes and other treatments.

By the time someone comes to me for help with fertility, they are in serious need. Why not do everything possible to help them conceive?

Can you have acupuncture while you’re having IVF?

Acupuncture can be used alongside just about any treatment. It doesn’t interfere or interact in the way a drug might! So combining acupuncture and IVF is just fine. In fact, acupuncture can help manage side effects of the IVF drugs. Some studies say it improves IVF success rates, but the numbers don’t add up to certainty yet.

IVF can be quite demanding for the body. All those injections and hormones. It’s not cheap either. While it works for some, I wish more people were aware of natural alternative treatments and tried those first.

Many of my clients using acupuncture for infertility have come to me after IVF failed. Either the egg didn’t implant, or they miscarried.

Should you continue acupuncture once you’re pregnant?

One lady had lost IVF twins at around 4 – 5 months. She was devastated. After a few treatments with me, she stopped coming. A year or so later I met her by chance – with her little boy! She explained that she had fallen pregnant when I was treating her, but had been afraid to come back for fear the acupuncture might harm her baby.

She shouldn’t have worried!

Think back to that first client of mine – the one I was treating for back pain. She went on having acupuncture treatments right up till she was 7 months pregnant and her child was just fine!

Of course if you do conceive, please do tell your practitioner. I’d far rather know because then I can tailor your treatment to look after both you and your baby as well as possible. Some acupuncture points are not recommended during pregnancy. Using other acupuncture points can help carry your baby safely to term.

So if you’re considering acupuncture for fertility issues, remember these key points

  • Acupuncture doesn’t interfere with any other treatment like IVF.
  • It reduces stress – and if you’re more relaxed your body can cope with other treatments better.
  • It’s perfectly safe when you’re pregnant.
  • It’s best when it’s used with other treatments in a holistic approach.

For more information about acupuncture and other natural treatments for infertility, just get in touch.

By the way, there’s another funny story about Bianca. She and her husband didn’t want to know the sex of their baby before birth. But her mother-in-law did. She wanted to start knitting! So I took Bianca’s kidney pulse. It indicated a girl – just as her body shape did. I was able to email Bianca’s mother-in-law and tell her in advance, while keeping the surprise for the happy parents. And little baby Mia has plenty of pink woollens to keep her warm.

Natural Stress Relief with Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

essential oils pictureNatural stress relief is an increasing part of my practice.

So many people these days are going through long periods of stress. When you have a look at current lifestyles – both people working; dealing with kids; just trying to find a holistic balance in life for yourself and other members of your family… Juggling all the commitments and having to keep up with modern technology and so on, means a lot of people are under almost continuous stress. Eventually it creates health problems, physical, mental, or emotional. Stress is a big issue. And natural stress relief techniques are much kinder on your body than drugs, whether that’s prescription, alcohol or something you buy on the street!

Using Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Natural Stress Relief

Aromatherapy is a core part of my treatment for stress relief. I have a number of favourite essential oils for handling stress, including:

Lavender is always very, very relaxing.

Bergamot is a very balancing oil which takes away anxiety. It’s particularly good for the kind of anxiety which leads to under or overeating when you’re stressed. It’s a great energy balancer.

Chamomile is also an extremely calming and relaxing oil.

Clary sage is interesting. I’m not so keen on the smell, but I love its properties. It’s the most euphoric of the essential oils – by which I mean it makes you feel a high. It’s a natural way to get high instead of those terrible drugs that some of our youth use these days. (Well, they’ve probably been used for a long time, but they’re definitely used now.)

Clary sage is also an anti-spasmodic. When people are under a lot of stress, they can end up with a lot of very tight, tense muscles and clary sage is extremely good to help along with some remedial massage and/ or acupuncture to release same.

Other oils I often use for stress relief include jasmine, marjoram, neroli, and rose. Exactly which oils to use, and in what quantities, depends on the individual.

Designing a Personalised Stress Relief Treatment Plan

I treat everyone who comes to see me individually. So even if two people come to me for stress relief, I’ll use different essential oils. I like to have a bit of a chat with you beforehand and find out exactly what you’re going through. Then I work out the combination of oils that will best balance out whatever it is you’re experiencing at this particular point in time.

Short-term stress vs long term stress

A short-term event that’s causing you a lot of stress needs different treatment from a long-term draining lifestyle or situation. So in the first case, you might need more relaxing oils.

But if you’re going through a long period of stress, you’ll also need re-energizing oils because you’re burnt out and exhausted. And in this case it’s very good for you to have regular massages as a way of dealing with the stress and recuperating.

The ways different people react to stress

It’s not just about the kind of stress people are going through, short-term or long-term. There’s also a difference in the way that different people react to the same stress.

For example, somebody might get really knotted, tense muscles, whereas somebody else might not be able to sleep. So one would be physically tighter, which the other would just be more tired. Some people hold it all inside and try to carry on regardless, while others let it all out and then everyone else around them is affected. Sometimes, the stressed person may actually feeling okay about it all, but there’s a trail of destruction behind them!

So I explore how you’re reacting to the stress as well as what’s causing the stress. That affects the treatment too.

How should a stress relief treatment be?

Obviously stressed people are often very busy and it’s hard to find the time for treatment.

If really the only time you can spare is a half hour, then a half hour is great because at least you’re doing something and you will get some benefits. (Except it doesn’t allow much time for a good massage if you’re the kind of person who gets knotted muscles.) It can also help if you’re on a tight budget with money – and people who have money problems are often stressed. But sometimes investing in some natural stress relief can give you the strength to tackle the issues causing the stress too!

You also need to consider what works for you. Having two half hour sessions a couple of weeks apart works for some people. For others, a full hour session once a month works better. It’s very individual.

What can I do after treatment or between treatments?

You want the benefit of your treatment to last as long as possible, and there are some ways to help with that. One option I offer is to provide aromatherapy oils and creams which you can use at home.

One lady I saw recently for a shoulder problem, which she’s had for two years. During her treatment she mentioned that she’d also been having some sleep problems. She wanted to know if there were any oils or flower essences which I could make up for her. So I’m made up two preparations for her. An aromatherapy cream for her to massage into the areas where she’s been experiencing tension, then also a special oil for her to use in the bath. It’s a home aromatherapy oil to help her relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Now she just has to find time for a bath before bed!

Actually, so should most of us! Sometimes at the end of the day you just fall into bed and you can’t go off to sleep. It’s much nicer to have a ritual to relax and prepare for bed. Allow yourself  an aromatherapy bath – maybe 20 minutes or something of uninterrupted time. Light a few candles. Enjoy a bath with the oils and perhaps some Epsom salts, just so that you can truly just relax and go into having a good night’s sleep.

To find out more about natural stress relief and get a personalised treatment plan, contact me at any time.

5 Stress-Reducing, Anxiety-Reducing Strategies for Right Now

It’s that day of the week we’ve all been waiting for. You probably have a few plans for the weekend already. But there you are – exhausted & stressed to the max!!!

Stress and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues we all suffer from. They give us overwhelming emotions that sap our energy, make us less productive, and make us feel down. And even though we cannot completely do away with feeling stressed and anxious, luckily, there are several stress-reducing strategies we can use right now.


Breathing can work miracles when you are experiencing negative emotions, such as anger. Taking a long, deep breath to calm your mind and body has been scientifically proven to work, and in fact, is the key component of some of the most powerful mind-body exercises like meditation and yoga. Slow, deep breathing is a way to distract the mind from engaging in negative thoughts and emotions. At the same time, the inhalation of fresh air decreases the amount of cortisol – negative hormone produced by the adrenals  – released in the body in response to stress. This very simple practice of mindful breathing is very powerful.


Laughter’s the best medicine. Did you know that one good belly laugh also kicks the immune system into gear for the next 36 hours. When you laugh, magical things happen inside your body, one of which is the release of the ‘feel good’ chemicals (endorphins)  in your body that promote positive feelings, and reduce stress-inducing cortisol. As soon as you begin to feel that unwanted sensation of stress or anxiety, pause for a while, browse through some joke sites, watch a 2-minute funny video clip, or read a feel-good book. Taking time to laugh every day is a great way to lessen mental fatigue and reduce stress.


Friends benefit your health in so many ways. Make it a habit to bond with your close friends on a regular basis. And when we say ‘bond’ it means spending quality time with them up close, not through Facebook or any social media. Having a cup of tea with a friend can really help to relieve high levels of stress, and recharge your batteries. What’s more, it gives you a perfect outlet to vent your emotions or anything that bothers you.


Sometimes, it is too hard to understand our thoughts and the emotions we feel. It is hard to even describe them. Getting a pen and paper is a good strategy to have a clearer picture of what you are going through physically, mentally and emotionally. Scribble your feelings onto a piece of paper.   Keeping a daily journal does a great job in helping yourself understand your feelings more.


Walking is one of the best methods available when it comes to alleviating stress. Walking gives your body an outlet for the build-up of energy that triggers stress, and since it is a form of exercise, walking keeps you fit and healthy as a result.

What if these stress-reducing strategies aren’t enough?

The body self-heals, but sometimes, it’s so far out of kilter that it needs some additional help.  That’s where natural healing therapies come in! So if you need something to kickstart or assist your body in its healing process, why not book a treatment session with Janene?

What is the Difference Between Aromatherapy and Flower Essences? Answer to Frequently Asked Alternative Healing Therapies Question

Picture of essential oils in use at A Holistic Healing Centre North RydeFlower Essences

Flower essences are not about smell. Nor do they contain any physical part of a flower. They are infusions which capture the energy imprint of each flower. They treat the emotional part of you.

Edward Bach is often seen as the father of flower essences. In the 1930s he developed 38 flower remedies, based on English wildflowers. But many cultures have used flower essences for much longer, including North American Indians and Chinese.

It’s rare to apply flower essences externally. Instead, you take them orally. You can take on their own or add to water. They create a vibrational resonance reaction in the body. Flower essences help people release & transform negative patterns or areas where they may be stuck in their life.

Aromatherapy oils

Aromatherapy oils are for external use only. You can use them as scents, in a bath, or with a massage treatment.

These oils are 70 times stronger than the actual plant, flower, herb, or tree bark they are made from. The oil is strong enough to have a therapeutic effect on the mind, body and emotions.

In general, people are attracted to smells that will have a positive effect on them. For instance, you might have positive memories of love and nurturing associated with the lavender smell of your grandmother’s home. Then the smell of lavender will make you feel loved and nurtured even in adulthood.

Sometimes, smells trigger negative emotions. Alternative Natural Healing expert Janene Stevens recalls one dentist who told her that while at University, he had to dissect rats for one of his classes. The professor burned eucalyptus in the room while the rat dissection was going on. Years later, whenever that dentist smelled eucalyptus, it triggered the unpleasant feeling of dissecting rats.

You can find out more at the following pages:

If you have a health condition which you would like to treat naturally using the power of flowers or oils, why not contact Janene? She treats a wide variety of conditions using many different therapies. She will be able to give you advice and develop a treatment plan just for you.

What is Aromatherapy and Why Does It Work?

Products used for Aromatherapy at holistic healing centerAromatherapy is the use of essential oils from flowers, trees, and herbs. One drop of essential oil is 70 times more powerful than the original plant because it’s the concentrated oil of the plant. It’s the opposite of homeopathy, which works on the theory of like cures like.

It is believed that the Egyptians were using aromatics in 3000 BC. It was reintroduced in modern times when Dr. Rene Gattefosse became interested in oils because of his family’s perfume company. An explosion in the factory caused him to burn his hand, which he plunged into a vat of lavender oil which he was intuitively guided to do (I believe). The Lavender Oil helped with the pain & his hand healed without infection or scarring. Dr. Gattefosse became fascinated with the healing properties of the Essential Oils.

Aromatherapy works on the theory that certain chemicals in the oil have certain benefits to certain conditions. The synergy of a number of essential oils is more powerful than just one essential oil on its own.The Aromatherapy Essential Oils have powerful healing effect on the mind, body, and emotions.

Click These Links for More Answers About These Alternative Natural Healing Therapies:

How Many Treatments Will I Need ?

It’s difficult to give a clear answer about how many treatments you will need to feel better. Health is a highly individual matter. Everyone has a different healing time.

Janene aims to deliver results from the very first treatment. But feeling ‘a bit better’ and feeling ‘completely better’ are different things.

There are a number of factors to consider.

Holistic healing tends to reduce the number of treatments required

Janene deals with people holistically, combining a number of different therapies. For most people, this means they heal more quickly than if they just had one kind of treatment. Sometimes it might only require one treatment to become pain free. Others may need more treatments.

It also depends on your condition

It also depends on how long you’ve had your condition.

More chronic conditions often take longer to heal. Your body has become used to a specific way of being and behaving. Treatment can reset it, but habits take a time to break.

For example, maybe you have adjusted your walk to minimise pain in your knee or back. You may feel better after treatment, but if you continue walking the way you are used to, you are not using your muscles in the best way and you may find pain returns.

The same effect happens with spiritual and emotional conditions too.

In some

Your own lifestyle affects how many treatments you will need too

You life outside the treatment session has a huge effect. What you do every day may be making your condition worse. Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep – that will tend to make you more stressed, or more anxious, or more depressed. Your diet can have a huge impact too. Janene tries to integrate treatment into your life. So she may give advice about what to eat, or how to get to sleep, or other lifestyle changes you can make.

Do Acupuncture Treatments Hurt?

Acupuncture TreatmentsOne of the most frequently asked questions from those who are new to acupuncture treatments is about pain. Since an acupuncture treatment involves the use of acupuncture needles, people frequently ask the question, “Do Acupuncture reatments hurt?

The answer to the question about whether acupuncture treatments hurt is… Acupuncture treatments should be painless if the acupuncture practitioner knows what he/she is doing!

Mostly acupuncture doesn’t hurt because the needles used for acupuncture treatments are very fine. Quite often people say they don’t feel the acupuncture needle going in at all, even if they usually have a low threshold of pain.

Sometimes people say that when the acupuncture needle is inserted it feels like a mosquito bite. Sometimes when the needle is inserted into a blocked meridian, you might feel something that feels like a little electric shock. That’s a good sign because it means the energy that was blocked has started to move.

As a comparison, the external practice of acupressure is often more physically painful than an acupuncture treatment using needles.

More About Acupuncture Treatments:

How Does Acupuncture Work?

It’s a common question from those new to alternative healing. ‘How does acupuncture work?’

Great question! Let’s answer it.

What is acupuncture treatment like?

Acupuncture means needles. Most of us don’t like them! But don’t worry. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine. So they don’t hurt.

A few people get tiny twinges. That’s good! It means the needle released a blockage.

Needles must go into the correct acupuncture points. There are hundreds of points. Acupuncturists study for years to learn them. (The UTS course takes 4 years.)

Acupuncture is drug-free. You lie on a massage couch and rest. Most people find it relaxing. We usually combine acupuncture with massage and aromatherapy. Even more relaxing!

The traditional Chinese view of how acupuncture works

Chinese medicine uses the concept of qi, or energy. Qi flows round the body on pathways called meridians. Acupuncture points lie on these meridians.

Qi helps balance yin and yang forces. If qi is blocked, they are unbalanced. The body is unbalanced. So you get sickness or pain.

Acupuncture clears the blocks. Qi flows through the body and restores health.

‘Western’ explanations of acupuncture

Many studies show acupuncture works. But Western science is still not sure how. Most theories say it stimulates signalling systems in the body. For example:

  • It stimulates the central nervous system. This theory makes sense. Many acupuncture points are near neural transmitters. So the needles trigger neural messages to the brain.
  • It produces endorphins, which reduce pain.
  • It releases opioids. These also relieve pain.
  • It increases blood flow. More red blood cells means more nutrients. Better healing.

Conditions acupuncture works for

So much for ‘How does acupuncture work?‘.

There’s a more important question though.

‘What conditions can acupuncture treat?’

If you ask Western science, acupuncture is effective for:

Also, John Hopkins Medicine says National Institute of Health studies support the use of acupuncture for:

  • Nausea after surgery or chemo
  • Dental pain
  • Addiction
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Tennis elbow
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Low back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Asthma

When you use acupuncture, it may be used alone or in conjunction with conventional medicine. So it’s worth discussing with your doctor.

Do you suffer from one of these conditions? If so, why not try acupuncture? Or a combined treatment? Contact Janene to discuss what’s right for you.

Zinc, the New Antidepressant?

Zinc: The New Antidepressant?

Serum zinc levels have been found low in patients with major depression. Treatment with zinc appears to have an antidepressant effect. Human trials found that zinc supplementation augmented the effects of antidepressant drugs by over fifty percent.

Levenson, CW, Zinc: The New Antidepressant? Nutr. Rev. 64,1, 2006.