Catherine Carter Acupuncture

Acupuncturist and Naturopath in Bristol

Frequently Asked Questions


What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that originated over 2000 years ago. It is based on the concept that your qi, or energy, circulates the body via channels or meridians (12 primary and 8 secondary). 'Good health' is when our qi is strong and flowing smoothly. TCM always aims to treat the cause and not just the symptoms.

What kinds of problems can acupuncture help with?

Acupuncture has the potential to help a wide range of conditions because it works holistically with your qi, or energy, so that your body can heal itself. People often visit an acupuncturist for pain (chronic and acute), hormonal issues (PMS, infertility, period pain), digestive issues and during times of emotional difficulty (stress, anxiety, grief). Acupuncture can be used as a reactionary or preventative form of medicine.

What happens during an acupuncture appointment?

Your first appointment will last 1 hour 30 minutes. Around an hour of this time will be spent taking your case history, taking your pulse and looking at your tongue (key diagnostic tools in Traditional Chinese Medicine). I will then make a diagnosis and select the acupuncture points that will be most effective for you.

Once the needles are inserted, usually up to 10 needles, they will remain there for up to 20 minutes.

Follow-up appointments will last up to 1 hour. Around half of this time will be spent discussing your case history and the other half will be spent carrying out the treatment.

Regardless of why you're seeking acupuncture, almost everyone leaves the treatment room feeling relaxed. 

Do you use any other techniques, aside from needling, in your treatments?

Yes, Traditional Chinese Medicine encompasses acupuncture, moxibustion, gua sha and cupping.

Moxibustion, commonly known as moxa, is where mugwort (a herb) is burnt and held above the skin to strengthen and warm the body. It comes in various forms, such as a moxa stick, needle-top moxa, loose moxa and moxa cones. I will discuss specific methods with you further if I use them during your treatment.

Gua Sha is where a small, thin, rectangular tool, traditionally made of jade, scrapes the skin. This is most commonly used for injuries, a common-cold or pain.

I use the traditional method of fire cupping, where a flame is inserted into a special glass cup, then quickly removed before the cup is applied to the skin. The flame burns off the oxygen inside the cup and a suction is created.Cups are either applied and left static for around 5 minutes, or oil is applied to the skin and the cups are moved around, known as slide cupping.

Cupping can leave some bruise-like marks on the skin, but clients often comment that the treatment itself feels like a deep tissue massage and the marks cause no pain. Like gua sha, cupping is mainly used for injuries, common-colds and pain.

I may also apply Bach Flower Remedies to specific acupuncture points or apply essential oils to your skin. I will discuss these methods with you in more in depth if I think they will be beneficial to your treatment.

What should I wear to my appointments?

Loose, comfortable clothing that can easily be pulled up or down. Joggers and a vest would be ideal but if you're in your everyday clothes or I need to get to less accessible areas, I have blankets to keep you covered up and warm.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Rarely. There may be some discomfort on more sensitive areas but most people are surprised that they don't even feel the needles go in. More commonly, people experience sensations such as tingling, pulling, aching or a feeling of warmth; these sensations are known as deqi and are a positive sign that your body's qi is reacting to treatment.

How many appointments will I need? How often should I come?

Everyone is treated as an individual and therefore there are no set time frames for courses of treatment. Generally speaking, for most new clients, it would be beneficial to have weekly treatments for a few weeks. Appointments can then be spread out to fortnightly/monthly and then a check in now and again for 'maintenance'.

Having said this, all conditions vary greatly and what I recommend may change as the treatment process moves on. I will always give an honest indication, using the best of my knowledge, of how your treatment plan will look.

Do you offer any lifestyle advice to help me get the most out of my treatments?

Yes. I also hold a Diploma in Naturopathy and integrate this into my treatments. You can read more about Naturopathy here. I am aware of red flag symptoms and may refer you to your GP if necessary.

Do you sell gift cards?

Yes, I sell gift cards for treatment value or monetary value. You can purchase them in person or via my shop. Terms and conditions can be found here.

What is your privacy policy?

My privacy policy can be found here.

Any other questions?

Please feel free to contact me at or on 07848836226