Acupuncture and Warfarin



Acupuncture is a method of complementary medicine that involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles. It is used to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions. Originating in China, acupuncture is now widely practiced in western culture. Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force known as qi or chi (CHEE). This life force is believed to flow through pathways in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these medians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will find balance. Since the needles are so small, little bleeding occurs, but the question remains: is it safe to try acupuncture for symptomatic relief of diseases and conditions if you are taking Warfarin?

As with any new treatment, you should always consult your physician before starting acupuncture. One of the main risks associated with acupuncture is internal bleeding. A study published by the European Journal of Integrative Medicine in April 2014 found that acupuncture treatment appeared safe even for patients taking warfarin or antiplatelet medications. They recommended additional large–scale, clinical studies should be done to confirm these results.

The study found no significant difference in the amount of bruising which occurred from acupuncture between those taking an anticoagulant or an antiplatelet and those who took neither.1 Your doctor may want change or increase your test frequency if you are getting acupuncture treatment.

If your doctor approves and you decide to visit and acupuncturist, make certain to check out his or her credentials. Most states require a diploma from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for licensing.


1.    Kim et al. The safety of acupuncture treatments for patients taking warfarin or antiplatelet medications: A retrospective chart review study European Journal of Integrative Medicine, May 17, 2014.