It really doesn’t hurt. This is the very first rule of acupuncture: it’s not a nightmare starring endless needles. Quite the opposite. It’s a deeply relaxing therapy designed to help and heal the body.
For centuries the practise of inserting tiny needles at specific points in the body has underpinned Chinese medicine. Over a course of treatments, the pressure of the needles stimulate the central nervous system and can, essentially promote a person’s mental and physical healing capabilities. And while it’s hardly a box fresh trend in London, there are certainly practitioners and clinics worth bookmarking for their glowing reputations and outstanding expertise in specific areas such as fertility, physio or skincare.
Here, we round up some of the very best acupuncturists in London.
Ross J Barr Clinic
Best for: grief, heartbreak and fertility
Meghan Markle was so bowled over by the healing powers of her acupuncturist Ross Barr, she invited him to her wedding to Prince Harry. But the Duchess of Sussex is not his only high profile client. Celebrities all over the capital have been clamouring to get an appointment with Barr, who is as dashing as he is precise with a needle. As if all of this isn’t exciting enough, Barr has one of most glamorous treatment rooms in London: it’s at Claridge’s Spa — as opulent as you would imagine.
Barr specialises in fertility but also in grief and heartbreak: it was his own sadness following his father’s death that led him to a career in acupuncture. Being able to fix broken hearts is no mean feat but, judging by his testimonials, Barr seems to have nailed it, one needle at a time.
From £110 for 45 minutes; rossbarr.com
Best for: an A-list complexion
Skincare expert Ooi is behind some of the most luminous ‘that’s got to be a filter, right?’ celebrity complexions of all time including the likes of Ellie Goulding, Rooney Mara and Lily Allen. Her Bespoke Pinpoint Wellness™ Treatment is the thing to ask for whether you’re at your wits’ end with unruly, angry skin or just looking for a bona fide glow up.
Ooi will initially work on a traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis for clients: she is looking for underlying issues which might have thrown your skin (or other things) out of whack before the acupuncture treatment begins. The skin benefits from the needles placed in the face prompting cell regeneration but also from needles placed elsewhere which work to balance and heal ‘invisible’ issues. She’s also a dabhand with a gua sha.
Ooi’s Marylebone clinic is a picture of understated chic — lots of clean white space — and you’ll feel instantly calmer from the moment you arrive.
From £300; 001skincare.com
Best for: all round women’s health and wellbeing
Ellner’s London treatments take place at 180 Health Club on the Strand, which is — as you might expect from the Soho House group — a deeply stylish, luxuriant and considered space. The bad news is you have to be a member either of 180 or of Soho House; good news is, it’s easy to apply.
Ellner, a former journalist and founder of REOME skincare, retrained as an acupuncturist having reaped the benefits of it in her own life by easing her allergies, menstrual cramps and migraines using the therapy. Her focus today is on uplifting and supporting women both emotionally and physically — any woman juggling motherhood and work will hang on Ellner’s every word.
From £120 for initial 90 minute onsultation; £80 for 60-minute follow-up treatments; joannaellner.com
Best for: IVF Support
Although GinSen, which has clinics in both Kensington and Chelsea, has a comprehensive team of doctors who have decades of experience across almost every imaginable ailment and celebrity clients including Jamie Laing. However the clinics are particularly helpful when it comes to IVF support acupuncture. What’s more, the therapy is less expensive than many competitors which will doubtless be welcome for anyone going through IVF.
GinSen recommends starting acupuncture treatments before your IVF process to prepare the body as a whole by decreasing stress, regulating hormones, increasing immunity. The team is supportive and compassionate — and will discuss a tailor-made treatment plan for you.
From £60 for 30 minutes; ginsen-london.com
Best for: mental wellbeing
Based at the gorgeous French Pharmacy in Marylebone, Chong has gained a reputation for her easy, friendly manner — expect a thoughtful heart-to-heart as part of your treatment. One client says “Asha feels like a friend and a therapist at once. I genuinely come out feeling lighter. Asha’s positive energy is infectious.”
Chong practises Five Element acupuncture — the theory that each of our minds, bodies and spirits are all made up of five elements: wood, fire, water, earth and metal and these need to be balanced. With this in mind she digs deep to find out who her clients are — their experiences, their history, their fears and so on — before she even picks up a needle.
£150 for one hour; ashachong.com
Best for: back and neck pain
As a ballet dancing child, Renata Nunes suffered from mysterious pain in her feet which was eventually cured by — you guessed it — acupuncture. This formative experience led her to a pursue a career with a focus on the human body and she trained first as a physiotherapist and then later in acupuncture. Her bespoke treatment incorporates principles from both therapies — a combination of needle and manual therapy techniques to help with back pain.
Brilliantly, Nunes makes home visit appointments in the Central London area but also has clinics at 180 Health Club each Tuesday and Wednesday.
From £190 for 60 minutes; rkntherapist.com
Best for: period pain and menopause
Pia Huber is the first port of call for anyone struggling with their cycle. From her cosy north London clinic, Huber sets about making every part of menstruation easier. For painful periods, she uses acupuncture points to regulating blood flow which is connected with painful periods and helps to relax the body and stop it from tensing up and exacerbating pain.
For menopause she uses acupuncture to help regulate and balance hormones. She can also help to significantly reduce hot flashes and with the sleep problems that can occur often during menopause.
She also advises on exercise and diet — “acupuncture is almost always more than just the treatment in the treatment room”. Her success stories are plenty — but she urges people to remember that acupuncture is culmulative: so one treatment is unlikely to result in an immediate cure.
As chair of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), the largest regulatory body for practitioners of acupuncture in the UK, Huber recommends anyone interested in trying acuptunture looks out for practitioners who are BAcC accredited).
£80 for initial 60-70 minute consultation; help2helpyourself.co.uk
Best for: in-class treatments
With extensive experience spanning over 25 years, John Tsagaris has gained worldwide recognition as a prominent authority in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Pioneering the introduction of facial acupuncture treatments in the UK, he remains at the forefront of advancements in Chinese medicine-inspired facial rejuvenation.
From his clinic in Knightsbridge, his work encompasses a wide range of concerns, from weight management to IVF and sleep disorders. As well as traditional acupuncture, he also boasts proficiency in ear seeding and shiatsu bodywork – an innovative approach that melds hands-on therapy with cupping, acupuncture, and energy healing.
£350 for first consultation and treatment; JohnTsagaris.co.uk
Best for: menopause and women’s health
It was Cassandra’s personal struggles with endometriosis during her early twenties that guided her towards the realm of Chinese medicine. Specialising in supporting women through menopause, she believes that many of its more intense symptoms stem from an underlying imbalance between our yin and yang energies. Her expertise also extends to Chinese nutritional therapy — she strongly advocates for a holistic perspective on health, encompassing adjustments to one’s lifestyle.
She also treats a range of other conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain and digestion issues, and works in the NHS within oncology helping cancer patients with common side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
£65 for initial consolation and £55 for follow-up appointments
Best for: fertility and pregnancy
Claire Dabreo — known as the London Acupuncturist — specialises in Five Element acupuncture, a holisitc approach to wellbeing which focuses on the origins of health issues, rather than solely addressing symptoms.
With over a decade of experience, Claire focuses specifically on fertility concerns, where she employs a comprehensive approach encompassing both the physical and mental dimensions. This approach is designed to create the most favourable conditions for conception, whether through natural methods or during IVF procedures. She also provides acupuncture support for maintaining a healthy pregnancy and managing pregnancy-related challenges.
Prices on request; TheLondonAcupuncturist.co.uk