Lying prone on a table, naked to the waist and with multiple fine pronged needles sticking from their backs, acupuncture patients hardly look a picture of serenity and calm.
But are the treatment’s pain-defying benefits really true, or a placebo-fuelled myth?
Phoebe Yang, of AcuSpa off Deansgate, has been a believer since she witnessed her mother revive a dead patient using acupuncture when she was a little girl.
Phoebe told MM how she grew up learning about acupuncture.
“My mother was an acupuncturist, so I was able to learn from her and see the outcome of patients themselves.
“My mum was able to revive patients with the acupuncture itself. The pulse was gone and acupuncture brought it back.”
It’s a big claim but her acupuncture clinic on Bridge Street is going from strength to strength, and there’s clearly more to acupuncture than meets the eye.
An estimated four million acupuncture treatments are performed across the UK annually, with the alternative treatment booming in popularity since it was first introduced to these shores back in the 1970s.
The NHS Choices website admits that acupuncture can relieve pain as it encourages your body to produce natural substances like pain-reducing endorphins.
Acupuncture is also occasionally available on the NHS.
However scroll a little further down the page and you’re linked to advice regarding the ‘placebo effect’ and its role in alternative medicine.
So are people who seek the treatment feeling any long term benefits?
Milly, a 19 year-old student, first tried acupuncture when attempting to deal with the stress of sitting her A-Levels and enjoyed a rewarding experience.
“I was told that it would help with my stress and anxiety, and I have to admit the first time you have the treatment you definitely feel a release,” she said.
“Acupuncture relaxed me at the time, but I wouldn’t be able to say the effects were long lasting.
“However my friends and family say they have noticed a real change in my ability to cope with stressful situations, so maybe there is more to it.”
Acupuncture is one of the earliest healing arts ever practised in China, with the treatment believed to stretch back to 12,000 BCE when legendary tribe leader Fu Xi developed a system of medicine involving nine types of needles.
Fu Xi and his disciples believed that an ‘energy’ or ‘life flow’ exists within the human body and travels through channels known as ‘meridians’.
They named this life flow ‘Qi’ (pronounced chee) and acupuncturists believe that the strategic placement of needles in the body releases this energy.
For Phoebe and her patients this ancient art is clearly effective and, placebo effect or not, acupuncture’s northern fanbase is on the up.
Manchester is no exception.