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Acupuncture in Cambridge

Irina Szmelskyj, national award-winning acupuncturist, lecturer and author with 20 years of experience. Based in Impington, Cambridge.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a type of therapy where thin, sterile needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points on the body to treat or reduce the severity of many health conditions or to improve wellbeing.

Traditional acupuncture originated in China around 4000 BC when Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors believed that it works by regulating the flow of ‘Qi’ (often translated as ‘energy’).

But it’s only recently that integrated Chinese medicine acupuncture has been explained by Western medicine. 

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine; it balances the autonomic nervous system, influences hormonal release, and induces neuroplastic changes in the brain.

These effects make acupuncture a valuable complementary therapy for various health conditions, including chronic pain, headaches and migraines, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, fertility and cognitive decline.

Find out more about how acupuncture works

Acupuncture: the scientific evidence

Acupuncture is one of the most researched and highest recommended treatments. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends acupuncture for chronic pain, headaches, migraines, and pregnancy nausea.


Over 20,000 rigorous acupuncture research studies have been published.


As of September 2022, 3,809 international guidelines recommend acupuncture.


In these guidelines, acupuncture is recommended 9,340 times (5,572 for pain and 3,768 for non-pain conditions).

Birch, S., 2022. Update on publications by medical expert groups (Clinical Practice Guidelines, Treatment Guidelines) that make recommendations about acupuncture.

Is acupuncture safe?

Research on the safety of acupuncture involving 10.5 million treatments demonstrated that acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medicine.

Common side-effects include minor bleeding or bruising, tiredness and temporary aggravation of symptoms. The rate of more serious adverse events was 0.00011%.

In contrast, a recent meta-analysis found that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen even for a short duration increased the risk of a heart attack. 

Due to growing evidence about the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture, The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends acupuncture treatment for a range of health conditions including chronic pain, headaches and pregnancy nausea.

Irina Szmelskyj
National Award-Winning Registered Acupuncturist

Acupuncture in Cambridge

Acupuncture is only safe if administered by fully qualified practitioners. World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 2,500 hours of formal training to qualify as an acupuncturist.

In the UK, acupuncture is not regulated, and anyone can set up an acupuncture clinic with no training. Therefore, patients need to check that their practitioner has a degree level qualification in acupuncture.

Our acupuncture specialist, Irina Szmelskyj, has a Master of Science (MSc) in Acupuncture degree qualification. She studied acupuncture for four years at the Northern College of Acupuncture in York. Irina is registered with The British Acupuncture Council. She has been successfully practising acupuncture for 20 years.

CAM Therapies premises have been inspected and approved as safe for acupuncture by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are only slightly thicker than a human hair. So, most people find acupuncture very comfortable. 

Once inserted, we may adjust them until you feel a slight ache or tingling. This sensation means we’ve activated the acupuncture point and should settle within a few seconds. Research shows that this sensation induces physiological changes in the body.

If you feel discomfort during your acupuncture treatment, please tell us, and we will adjust the needle until you are comfortable.

Acupuncture needle size chart

What can acupuncture treat?

Research shows that acupuncture can reduce the severity of a wide variety of health problems:

  • Musculoskeletal pain, including back pain, neck pain, joint pain, muscle pain

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Anxiety, mild depression and stress

  • Pregnancy-related symptoms

  • Insomnia and sleeping difficulties

  • Women’s health, including menopausal symptoms and period pain

Free Initial Consultation

Book a 15 minutes free initial consultation to discuss how we can help you.

Supplementary acupuncture techniques

Electroacupuncture treatment


Electroacupuncture is when a small electrical current is applied to the acupuncture needle to enhance healing.

Ear (auricular) acupuncture treatment

Ear acupuncture

Ear or auricular acupuncture involves the stimulation of ear points using a tiny acupuncture needle that can be left in place for days at a time.

Cupping treatment


Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy that involves applying suction cups to the body. The cups are used to shift congestion or to relieve muscular pain.

Acupressure treatment

Acupressure massage

Acupressure massage is where acupuncture points are stimulated by finger pressure or by a small pen-like probe.

Cambridge acupuncture clinic location

The clinic is based in Impington (North Cambridge), a 10-minute drive from Cambridge city centre.

We are also conveniently located within 15 minutes drive from Cambridge IVF and Bourn Hall Cambridge clinic, making it easy for our IVF support clients to juggle IVF and acupuncture appointments.

Click for directions to our Cambridge Acupuncture Clinic.

What happens during an acupuncture appointment

The initial appointment lasts 60-70 minutes. During the first consultation, we will take your medical history, examine and treat you. We may also review your medical tests or refer you to a doctor if this is necessary. Please email your tests results to us before your first consultation.

Follow up sessions last around 30 minutes and include a quick update and treatment.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine

In some cases, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are used together.

At CAM Therapies, we do not prescribe Chinese herbs. But, if we think your health condition would benefit from acupuncture and Chinese herbs, we will refer you to another Cambridge Chinese medicine clinic that prescribes Chinese herbal medicine.

What Our Acupuncture patients say

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I had a wonderful first treatment with Irina and felt completely at ease. I'm looking forward to my next treatment.
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Always enjoy my acupuncture session, Irina is amazing 🙂
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Wonderful first session - professional and friendly. I have already booked my next session! Thank you.
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Excellent service, Irina is very knowledgeable and explained how she works and what the treatment would be in detail. I felt very confident and comfortable with her. Highly recommended.
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Acupuncture, Osteopathy, Hypnotherapy, Gut Directed Hypnotherapy, Pain Reprocessing Therapy

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How Does Acupuncture Work Scientifically?

Are you curious about how acupuncture works scientifically? Delve into the fascinating world of acupuncture as we unlock its scientific secrets and reveal its numerous health benefits. Learn how the biomedical model provides a modern understanding of acupuncture’s impact on the human body and its functions, including pain relief, mental well-being, and hormonal regulation. Discover how this ancient practice is supported by rigorous scientific research and can be an effective therapy for a wide range of health concerns.

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9 Acupuncture Benefits: A Summary of Research Findings

Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most respected forms of medicine in the world. It has been used for over 3,000 years to treat a variety of illnesses. Its popularity and acceptance, both by patients and by the medical community, are increasing year after year. So, what are the key benefits of acupuncture?

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