Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

What are the side effects of acupuncture?

I am a 26-year-old female who wants to have acupuncture for my depression. What are the side effects of acupuncture?

24 Answers

The only side effects of acupuncture that I've seen are sometimes feeling sleepy after a treatment. Otherwise, people just feel better and very relaxed.
Feeling better.
No side effects.
No side effects, can be very helpful for treating depression
The side effects of acupuncture are generally an overall sense of well-being.

Less than 1% of people experience any negative side effect, such as dizziness or fainting, but in those cases it is most often due to an extremely emotional nature, inadequate sleep, or inadequate food prior to treatment.

Prior to treatment you should have an acupuncture consultation to find out if acupuncture is right for you, and your condition. The acupuncturist can inform how to properly prepare yourself before treatment to optimize your results.
If you are seeing a licensed acupuncturist, there are no adverse effects of acupuncture. You should feel less stressed, more go-with-the flow so to speak, and even sleep a little better afterwards. Not to mention less pain if you are experiencing any.
Wonderful! Very few side effects. Possibly a slight bruise, but usually not.
Side effects to acupuncture include, but not limited to, improved sleep habits, easier response to stress in life, improved quality of life and better health even in terms of menstrual cycle with accompanying symptoms like headaches or abdominal cramping. Negative effects will depend on whether or not the nerve was hit by the needle or the skin grabs onto the needle which will result in tenderness and sharp pains, like a flu shot. The important thing is to make sure you have chosen a good practitioner even if the $$$ is a little higher than the cheapest one and remember to relax. Being tense often makes it more difficult to penetrate the skin and will usually cause the pain.

Live happy,

Side effects of acupuncture are rare and minimal, occurring roughly 2% of the time and can include bruising at needle sites, soreness after needling and fainting are the most common. More serious side effects are extremely rare and are more likely to occur with a non-licensed Acupuncturist or person performing dry needling who is not a licensed Acupuncturist. Compared with prescription drugs acupuncture has significantly fewer and less severe side effects.

Positive side effects are quite common and include improved sleep, improved digestion, regulated menstrual cycles, decrease in PMS symptoms, and many others.

Good luck in your healing journey

Dr. Kim Peirano, DACM LAc
It is very hard to have a side effect by acupuncture treatment with the style I do. Common side effects are hematoma (bruise), pain with insertion and nervousness, etc. You can even research by putting acupuncture treatment for depression and side effect.
It's hard to point out one, but may have a bleeding tendency if have a problem with low platelets.

Thank you for your inquiry.
Clinically, I cannot say there are any undesirable side effects of utilizing acupuncture for depression. I personally have treated many people with depression and emotional challenges that have only reaped the reward of feeling more energy, more inspiration, and an overall better emotional and physical feeling. I highly suggest you consider it for your health and wellness.

Thank you,

Leanne Mitchell, Dipl. L.Ac, MAOM, LMT, ES
Good morning,

Acupuncture has no side or after effects when performed by a licensed practitioner.

Acupuncture has fewer side effects than most medications you might take for depression. However, the complications of acupuncture, although infrequent, cannot be overlooked. Some events, such as nausea and syncope, can be mild and transient, but rare events, such as septicemia and hepatitis C infection, can be fatal. As with any medical procedure, training and competency of the provider is paramount to safety. Find a licensed Acupuncturist, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine or Doctor of Oriental Medicine to provide your acupuncture. Local state licensing web sites and the (National Certification Council of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) are places to look for these practitioners in your area.
Bruise or minor bleeding.
Optimal health.
The most common side effects of acupuncture are things everyone wants: better sleep, more energy, mental clarity, better digestion and less stress. One or several of these side effects occur routinely for many, many acupuncture goers. And indeed, there are other, less pleasant side effects of acupuncture. These additional side effects are much rarer than the most common side effects of acupuncture, but they can and do occasionally happen. None are life-threatening and all typically are fleeting. Still, they are good to be aware of so that if you do experience them, you know they are normal and nothing to be too concerned about. In frequent but possible seven side effects of acupuncture: Feel worse before they start feeling better, Fatigue, Soreness, Bruising, Muscle twitching, Lightheadedness, and Emotional release.
Typical side effects are minor and include bruising, soreness or aching, or fatigue after treatment. When I meet people who are on the fence I always suggest trying it because the worst that happens is that it doesn't help.
The most common side effect of acupuncture is a strong sense of relaxation and aa better sense of wellbeing. Minor side effects are irritation near the area of insertion or some numbness, tingling, redness and maybe a drop of blood. More serious side effects are bruising and aches in the area (usually from poor needle technique - generally from less experienced practitioners or lesser trained ones). Major side effects are bleeding, internal injury, etc. These are RARE and generally occur from negligence or by very untrained people. This is why it is important to go to a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) not to some PT who sticks needles in you or a Chiropractor who "got certified" or an MD who calls himself an "acupuncturist" because they took some classes and there is no law against physicians doing it. Go find a licensed practitioner (L.Ac) and you should have zero to minimum side effects. Mostly, you'll experience your symptoms being relieved and a better sense of well being. If you start to experience any pain or issues, tell them right away and they will help.
Depression is well treated by acupuncture. If I had to say what the "side effect" of acupuncture is, I would have to say a sense of feeling well, but depending on the type of treatment, the patient could feel some slight soreness, or emotional release.

Be well, be confident, we can help.
None. Perhaps some bruising or mild aches are side effects of insertion, though it is rare.
Common side effects are light bruising.
Thank you for your inquiry. It depends on what kind of acupuncturist you meet; if you meet a skillful doctor, there are no side effects of acupuncture.
Acupuncture in the hands of a board certified and state licensed acupuncturist is very safe. There are a few side-effects and adverse events, but these happen very rarely. Acupuncture needles are solid (filiform), we are not introducing any substances to the body.

You may experience some light-headedness, dizziness or tiredness just after the needles are removed. Take your time moving/getting up after treatment. This usually goes away fairly quickly, and having a light snack just prior to or just after your appointment will help.

Sometimes the needle site will itch for a few hours after treatment. It happens because of a histamine response initiated by your immune system due to the needle.

Occasionally a patient will experience syncope while the needles are in. This is fainting or loss of consciousness due to the needles. It happens more often in people that have a strong fear of needles, but anyone can experience the issue at any time - and it's not just acupuncture needles that cause it hypodermics and blood draws can also result in fainting. Your acupuncturist shouldn't insert any needles until you're laying down on a treatment table and should stay in the room for a few minutes after insertion to make sure everything is ok.

Sometimes the needle may nick a capillary bed or small vein. If this happens, there may be some local swelling or bruising. This typically resolves in a couple of days.

Very rarely the needle may get a little too close to a nerve causing sharp pain. It's important for acupuncturists to solicit feedback as needles causing sharp pain need to be removed or repositioned. If you are experiencing sharp pain after the needle has been in for a few seconds, speak up and make sure your provider moves the needle.

Needling over the chest or abdomen carries a risk of organ puncture. The lungs are most susceptible.

Technically, infection is a risk. However, almost all US acupuncturists utilize single-use factory sterilized needles. These needles are used once on one patient and then discarded in an appropriate container.

For the best, and safest results, make sure you're seeing a state licensed, board certified acupuncturist. These are people who attended 3-4 years of school for Chinese medicine and acupuncture, been certified in Clean Needle Technique and passed a set of nationally recognized board exams. If you aren't in CA, go to and use their "Find a Practitioner" lookup to get some providers in your area.