Acupuncturist Questions Blood Thinners

I take blood thinners regularly. Is acupuncture dangerous for me?

I wanted to go to a session after I've been dealing with a lot of stress at work. But my doctor doesn't think it's a good idea because I'm on blood thinners, and he said that I should avoid it. Is acupuncture harmful if I'm on blood thinners?

35 Answers

Acupuncture is contraindicated in hemophiliacs (people who don't clot at all). But no, I have never heard of blood thinners causing any one to bleed out from the tiny needles we use. You might have more blood leakage than normal, but that's ok. :-)
If blood thinners were a problem then how could you have blood drawn or have an injection? This is an absolute fairy-tale, that one should not have acupuncture because of taking blood thinners. The acupuncture needle is only the thickness of a couple of hairs and designed to slide through the skin cells without causing damage, or making a hole in the body to extract or to introduce some type of fluid. Tell your doctor that he cannot give you an injection or draw your blood because it isn't a good idea because you are on blood thinners. See what the reaction is. This is a silly and preposterous assumption that does many people who could gain great benefit from acupuncture a great disservice. Mari
In clinical practice, acupuncture therapy administered by a well-trained, licensed acupuncturist or physician to patients taking anticoagulant medication is relatively safe, as these practitioners are trained with regard to the anatomy of the human body and safe treatment techniques in long, formal education sessions to avoid severe adverse events. Because it is necessary to investigate your particular situation in regards to the medication(s), it is best to search out these trained practitioners and have a consultation.
Not really
Maybe the doc needs some education. I treat people who are on blood thinners all the time. If you can bleed to death from an acupuncture needle, maybe your meds are too high.
I'm sorry to hear that your doctor has discouraged you from trying acupuncture due to blood thinners. I've worked on hundreds of patients on blood thinners and it's never been an issue. I don't know you personal medical history, but generally speaking, I would say it's safe. My guess is he is unfamiliar with acupuncture and for your safety thought maybe it's a bad idea. I hope he'll become interested and learn more about it.
Acupuncturists like to know if you are on blood thinners because it can cause more bleeding or bruising. It can still be effective if you are on blood thinners, as we try our best to avoid capillaries, veins and arteries. I would be more cautious of prescribing herbs if you were taking blood thinners.
No. I have treated people that are on warfarin and other thinners. I haven't had any issues at all. Please make sure your practitiioner is aware and extra caution will be applied to your treatment.
Hello. Technically most MD's are very skeptical when it comes to acupuncture, though I personally have plenty patients who are on blood thinners and I perform acupuncture with no damage to them at all. Ask your doctor if mosquito bite is dangerous for you because of blood thinners? I don't think so. Acu needles get even thinner than a mosquito "nostril".
No, Acupuncture is very safe. Your doctor is good in his field but he is not an acupuncturist, therefore, he does not know much about acupuncture.
There are plenty of patients who are on blood thinners that visit acupuncture. It is important to alert your acupuncturist of this, but usually there are no complications. However, be sure to get the green light from your doctor.
Acupuncture does not cause any bleeding, and blood thinner medicines or any other medication do not interfere with your health or cause any harm to patients.
Good afternoon,

You are on blood thinner regularly as long as you tell your acupuncturist so he/she can address accordingly. There will be no danger to receive the treatment.

Thank you for your question.

It is up to the acupuncturist and their and your comfort level with giving you acupuncture while on blood dinners. It is not a strict contraindication. It may be better for your physician to speak with the acupuncturist so that they can gain some level of confidence and education as well. It’s always a good idea to have people who care for you speaking with each other and agreeing on a plan of care.

I do acupuncture on people on blood thinners, and I’m careful how I do the acupuncture, including where needles are placed and how the needles are used. I’m also a physician so I have complete comfort in doing this.


Dr. B
Absolutely not. It may mean you bruise slightly easier than others, but I personally have many patients on blood thinners and in all my years of practice not one has had an issue.
That’s a great question. There are certain techniques within the scope of practice of Chinese medicine that might be of concern, however, acupuncture is not one of them. At most, you may experience some easy bruising, but for the most part, acupuncture is very safe while on blood thinners. Make sure your acupuncturist knows about all of the medications you’re taking, just like with any doctor. That way, he or she will know to steer clear of any contraindicated modalities. Now go get some stress relief! =)
No, acupuncture is safe. The needles are approximately the width of three hairs! I may just use fewer needles, it depends also on the age of the patient.

Hope that helps!!

Acupuncture is not contraindicated while taking blood thinner and it would be very beneficial to help with the stress you are dealing with at work. But Chinese herbal medicine would need to be prescribed with caution. Certain herbs are contraindicated while taking blood thinner.
In the medical guidelines, acupuncture is not contra-indicated when a patient is taking blood thinners. It is actually a safe therapy. If you are having stress, acupuncture might actually help you to reduce your blood pressure if you have high BP and increase blood circulation. Light to moderate exercise is also recommended.

Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
There is no problem using acupuncture while taking blood thinners. Your Oriental Medicine doctor will ask you to list all of your medications and vitamins on the first visit.

Acupuncture is perfectly safe for patients who take blood thinners.Please mention to your acupuncture doctor that you are on the blood thinner. He/she will ask you anyways. Have a happy treatment session.


Scott Sang In Lee
You should definitely be careful if you're on blood thinners and your doctor is advising against it. Acupuncture usually doesn't bleed, but there are occasional times or spots where the needle can prick a vein and a drop of blood come out, or in instances where the patient is on blood thinners each acupuncture point may be susceptible to bleeding.
No. Points rarely bleed. Even on blood thinners.

Glenn R. Williams, D.C., L.Ac.
Hi!! I completely understand the concern. The needles we use are hair thin and with the necessary precautions and in the hands of a trained practitioner it should be a safe procedure. I would avoid points that tend to bleed more and when taking the needles out extra pressure should be applied. Acupuncture is a great tool for stress management. Let your doctor talk to you acupuncturist :-)
Acupuncture must be performed with caution. I always like to discuss with the primary care doctor prior to any session so that we can work together to help the patient receive the maximum benefit. A different form of acupuncture can also be used so that the risk of bleeding is significantly lowered.
In my opinion, it will be okay.
No it’s not harmful, however you should tell your acupuncturist that you’re on blood thinners
Acupuncture isn't harmful if you're on blood thinners but the medication leaves you more susceptible to bruising. Bruising is a common side effect of acupuncture but when you're on blood thinners, the bruises can be bigger, deeper colors, and last longer.
There is a chance that the needle could prick a capillary, which to any person wouldn't be a problem, but could be a problem for someone on blood thinners because the blood thinners prevent normal clotting.

I very rarely have any bleeding or bruising happen when I needle and this is true of most acupuncture practitioners, but when I was a student, a classmate of mine had caused an excess bruising on a family member who was on blood thinner medications. So, it isn't unheard of, but it is rare that this happens.

If you got a flu shot or had some IV put in or had any other medical procedure, it too would be dangerous if you were on blood thinners, but I am certain your MD would not prevent you from getting those. It's all a matter of professionalism and open dialogue.

I would advise you to be very open with your practitioner if you do choose to go to Acupuncture. It may actually help you get off blood thinners, but I cannot say without knowing your case.

Good luck.
There is no evidence that people on blood thinners cannot receive acupuncture. If your platelet level is low, acupuncture may cause bruises.
Not at all!!! The needles are so thin and are inserted in such a way that there is rarely any bleeding. But if there is, the point is so small as to not be of any danger at all. In fact, MOST of my patients are on blood thinners. Doctors are not trained in acupuncture, so they tend to err on the side of caution. But rest assured, being on blood thinners is no problem whatsoever.
I have treated many patients with blood thinners and never saw any drastic results. Few needles are use and all acupuncturist are trained in basic human anatomy. Big arteries and certain areas of the body are avoided and a trained acupuncturist will be able to look for red flags.
Generally speaking, acupuncture is petty safe. Please make sure to discuss your medication of blood thinners when you see your acupuncturist for treatment of your stress.
There is always a slight risk of some bleeding when puncturing the skin with a needle, even when a patient is not taking blood thinners. However, the acupuncturist’s extensive training in needling techniques and knowledge of the body and the acupoints minimize risk.

A PubMed (National Institute of Health Medical Library) article from 2015 examined 384 patients on blood thinners who collectively received nearly 3974 acupuncture treatments. One moderate bleeding event occurred in 3974 treatments (0.003%). The researchers concluded that acupuncture appears to be safe in anti-coagulated patients, assuming appropriate needling location and depth.
I've treated people taking blood thinners before and I know other practitioners of Chinese medicine that treat folks who are taking blood thinners. To be honest, a lot depends on what blood thinner(s) you're on and at what dose.

The risk is an uncontrolled or extended bleed as a result of a poorly placed needle. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and, generally speaking, the goal of insertion is to avoid internal structure. What we call 'acupuncture points' in the western world are actually small cavities or spaces between fascial layers. Usually there isn't much structure to speak of in these spots and a good acupuncturist isn't going to be hitting blood vessels.

That being said, there are probably not many practitioners of Chinese medicine who are familiar with all the ins and outs of the various blood thinners on the market and how the dosing and possible combination of these drugs are going to affect any given patients' clotting ability.

In this case, as much as I hate to say it, I'd err on the side of your doctor and suggest you should try something non-invasive like TaiJi, QiGong, yoga, meditation or mild exercise to manage your work stress.