Where: Suite 1007, Yu To Sang Building, 37 Queen's Road, Central (tel: 2234-9668). Why: Acupuncture is the art of inserting fine needles into different parts of the body to regulate the flow of energy, or qi. It can be used to treat a variety of ailments, from a general lack of energy to something as specific as tennis elbow. It's sometimes used as a last resort by patients who have found other treatments unsuccessful. Other devotees like to visit for regular needle-based tune-ups. Who: Gerry Boyle (37) is from Boston, and studied at the New England School of Acupuncture. He has lived in Hong Kong for over 13 years and established his current practice in 1993. Boyle dresses casually and has a laid-back charm; he also has the pleasant habit of not claiming he has the ability to immediately cure you of your ailments. As well as inserting needles though, he's happy to discuss physical and psychological factors that might be affecting your health, which in some situations means he assumes a role which is part physician and part counsellor. What: First, you're required to fill out a form detailing any specific complaints you might have. Then Boyle disconcertingly asks you to stick out your tongue, which he checks for discolouration and other abnormalities which could indicate 'disharmony' in different parts of the body. He then asks questions about your eating habits and lifestyle which will assist him in administering the most effective treatment. The sterile, super-fine needles are much less scary than you'd think. They're placed in a thin plastic tube which Boyle presses on the skin, inserting the needles by flicking the top of them with his finger. The needles only penetrate about a millimetre or so, and the whole process is remarkably painless - notable only for an occasional tingle around the areas they're sticking out of (in my case, the hands, feet, shins and forearms). The number of needles used depends on the patient's sensitivity to them, but most treatments require at least four. After the needles are inserted, you're left to lie there for about 20 minutes before they're removed. Boyle then gave me a good neck massage while I sat in a massage chair. He sometimes provides this extra service if his clients have particular stiffness in that area. The result: It usually takes more than one treatment to feel the benefits of acupuncture, but I felt better for the short lie down and neck massage nonetheless. The bottom line: One 40-60 minute session with Boyle costs $500, five visits $2,000 and 10 visits $3,500. The verdict: Boyle's pleasant manner makes it worthwhile just going for a chat. But acupuncture is also worth a try if you have any condition that's proven difficult to get rid of. On the day I visited, Boyle was treating people for insomnia, stress, sinusitis and back pain.