Traditional Acupuncture and Male Fertility

This short article originally appeared in the summer 2014 edition of Nurture magazine.

needlingAs a traditional acupuncturist I treat infertility based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theories, treatments are either standalone or tailored to complement assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF. Statistics suggest that between 35-50% of infertility is due to male pathologies and the NHS suggests that in 25% of all cases the exact cause is unknown.

From a Western biomedical viewpoint it is thought that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, influencing the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, thus activating the body’s self-regulating homeostatic systems encouraging your natural healing abilities. An increasing weight of evidence from Western scientific research is demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating a wide variety of conditions.

Traditional acupuncture takes a holistic approach and regards illness or dysfunction as a sign that the body is out of balance. This holistic understanding that we are all individuals and that the exact pattern and degree of our imbalances are ultimately unique to us is one of the key strengths of TCM. My skill as an acupuncturist lies in identifying the precise nature of the underlying imbalances and selecting the most effective treatment plan.

Male fertility is influenced by many factors including genetics, environment, age, injury and physical or emotional stresses. I usually see men in the clinic after they have been tested and found to have a low sperm count, reduced motility or sperm with abnormal shape and size.

From a TCM perspective fertility problems typically fall under the influence of the Kidney. The Kidney is an approximate translation of the Chinese 腎 shèn and describes a conceptual framework affecting particular functions within the human body; the Kidney is often referred to as the ‘Root of Life’.

Kidney deficiency is commonly seen in male infertility and may include or lead to other pathologies such as Blood and Qi stagnation (Qi in this context means the flow of bodily functions or energies). I typically aim treatment at balancing and strengthening the Kidney and smoothing or invigoration the flow of Blood and Qi.

The Kidney thrives under moderation and a healthy lifestyle, difficult for many of us in these modern times. Stress relieving activities such as qigong, yoga and meditation are helpful as are refraining from long term excessive exercise, excessive physical work and excessive sexual activity. Long term consumption of cold and raw foods, living with chronic illness and just getting older all deplete the Kidney.

A diet high in fruit and vegetables, warm cooked foods and if possible organic foods is preferable. Reducing alcohol and caffeine, stopping smoking and reducing exposure to toxins and pollutants can all be helpful. Men should also ensure their testes are kept relatively cool by not using a laptop on the lap and avoiding tight underwear.

In my experience male and female fertility can often be directly improved through the use of traditional acupuncture and indirectly improved by relieving stress and anxiety and improving ones general sense of wellness.

Sources and further reading:

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/male-infertility.html

http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/infertility-men.aspx

Liang, L. (2004) Acupuncture & IVF Increase IVF Success By 40—60%, Boulder: Blue Poppy Press.

Lyttleton, J. (2004) Treatment of infertility with Chinese Medicine, Philadelphia, Churchill Livingstone.

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Infertility/pages/causes.aspx

Ni, D., and Herko, D. (2008) The Tao of Fertility: A Healing Chinese Medicine Program to Prepare Body, Mind, and Spirit for New Life, New York:  HarperCollins.

http://www.resolve.org/diagnosis-management/infertility-diagnosis/male-factor.html

http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20050803/acupuncture-may-improve-sperm-quality

Knee Pain

Knee pain is a condition I regularly see in the clinic and acupuncture is often very effective in reducing the pain and swelling.

Where appropriate I have always advocated deep needling at acupuncture points Knee-Eyes (the two dimples below the knee cap); so it was interesting to see that recently published research from the Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion concluded that deep needling at Knee-Eyes had a quicker analgesic effect and better overall effect on knee osteoarthritis than conventional acupuncture.

Knee Acupuncture
Acupuncture points shown are ST-34, SP-10, Heding, ST-35 and XIyan (Knee Eyes), GB-34 and ST-36.

I often use the points shown in the this picture to treat knee pain of all types, not just osteoarthritic pain. I also add distal points to treat the underling condition of the person being treated. Results are usually good with a lessening in the pain and often an increase in the range of movement. Swelling when present is also treated to relieve pressure on the joint and further reduce pain.

The following is an abstract from “Clinical Observations on Deep Needling of Points Dubi and Medial Xiyan [Knee-Eyes*] for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis”.

“Objective To investigate the clinical efficacy of deep needling of points Dubi(ST35) and medial Xiyan(Ex-LE5) in treating knee osteoarthritis. Method Forty patients were allocated, in order of visits, to two groups, 20 cases each. Th e treatment group received deep needling of and electroacupuncture at points Dubi and medial Xiyan and conventional acupuncture at points Heding(Ex-LE2), Yanglingquan(GB34) and Zusanli(ST36). The control group received electroacupuncture at points Dubi and medial Xiyan and conventional acupuncture at the above other points. Both groups were treated three times a week, two weeks as a course. Knee joint function was assessed using the Lysholm Knee Scoring Scale before and after treatment. Result There were no statistically significant pre-treatment differences in various indices between the two groups(P>0.05), indicating comparability. Various index scores increased in different degrees in both groups after treatment compared with before. There were statistically significant pre-/post-treatment differences in the three(pain, flaccid leg and climbing stairs) index scores in the treatment group(P<0.05) and significant post-treatment differences in two indices flaccid leg and knee pain compared with the control group(P<0.05). Conclusion Deep needling of bilateral points Dubi and Medial Xiyan has a quicker analgesic effect on knee osteoarthritis and its effect is better than that of conventional acupuncture.”

References:

Liu, N. “Clinical Observations on Deep Needling of Points Dubi and Medial Xiyan for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis.” Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (2013): 857-858.

*Nomenclature varies in translation and from school to school but the points described as Dubi and Medial Xiyan are the points collectively known as Knee-Eyes.

Women’s Problems

Women’s Problems

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture is very good for alleviating the underlying causes and signs & symptoms of many women’s problems such as period pains, erratic periods, heavy periods, long periods, short periods, PMS, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menopausal changes, anxiety and infertility.

I treat holistically, after all it is unlikely that one woman’s circumstances and signs & symptoms are exactly the same as another’s, they may be similar but there will be distinct differences, recognising this patient individuality is one of the distinctive strengths of TCM diagnosis and treatment.

No matter what the Western disease label, in Chinese medicine diagnosis we simply look at all the signs and symptoms, menstrual history, use of medications, contraceptives, general health and lifestyle of the patient. If offered I will also consider Western medicine evidence such as endocrine tests, bloods and scans. Treatment will be directed at alleviating the signs & symptoms (pain, bleeding, hot flashes, etc.) and treating the underlying disharmonies and imbalances such as blood deficiency, blood stasis and stress. Treatment may vary depending on where in her cycle the patient is and where I think we will get the best results. For instance when PMT plays a significant role then mid cycle treatment may be appropriate and where there is severe pain then treatments shortly before the period are suggested.

By Austin ©2014 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Popularity of the Acupuncture Points

From 251 papers, 386 studies were analysed and 381 unique acupuncture points were identified*; placed in order of occurrence from high to low the following table was produced ranking the acupoints in order of popularity. For example, ST-36 was the highest ranking most chosen point, being selected in 183 of the 386 studies or 47% of the time.

Popularity of the Acupuncture Points chart

*This data is an extract from a research report compiled by Austin Austin that sought to consider Ma Dan-Yang’s Heavenly Star Points including to some extent, Fine Jade True Person’s 11 Heavenly Star Points, and to compare their popularity with the most commonly used acupoints in contemporary practice.  The author considered it of interest to know how popular the Heavenly Star Points might be in modern practice and what the most popular acupoints overall were. To accomplish this, papers and journals giving accounts of the use of acupoints were studied and the acupoints used were extracted. This data was used to deduce the most popular acupoints overall and rank them along with the 12 Heavenly Star Points. Other considerations such as Dan Jie point couplings and complex needle manipulation were considered as possible factors in the potency of the Heavenly Star Points. The results suggested that many of the Heavenly Star Points were ranked highly and therefore do appear to be popular points. As some acupoints seem to be significantly more popular than others, then perhaps these points warrant higher priority in point selection. It was concluded that the most popular and least popular acupoints merit further research to ascertain whether there is a relationship between popularity and efficacy.

**Moxa only

©2014 Austin Austin www.austinacupuncture.co.uk


Reference list of studies used to obtain acupoint data for Popularity of the Acupuncture Points:

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Zhu, X.M. and Polus, B. (2002) A controlled trial on acupuncture for chronic neck pain. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 30(1), pp. 13-28.
Ziqi, Z. and Ganghui, J. (2008) Thirty cases of the blood-stasis type prolapse of lumbar intervertebral disc treated by acupuncture at the xi (cleft) point plus herbal intervention injection. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 28(3), pp. 178.
Ziyong, L. (2007) Treatment of Chloasma: The therapeutic effect of facial acupuncture combined with moxibustion. Journal of Chinese Medicine, 84, pp. 12-15.

End

Sciatica – Lumbosacral Pain

I often treat patients who attend clinic with pain in the lumber, buttock and leg, commonly described as sciatica.

Sciatica is usually described by the patient as a stabbing or burning pain that radiates from the buttock down the back or side of the leg occasionally reaching the foot (generally following the path of the sciatic nerve). Typically it affects only one side and is aggravated by driving, walking, bending and coughing. The pain can vary in intensity and affect more or less areas of the leg at different times of the day. The pain can be severe, debilitating and very draining.

Western medicine breaks sciatica down into primary and secondary types. Primary sciatica is due to an infection affecting the sciatic nerve directly. Secondary sciatica is caused by adjacent structures causing pressure or displacement of the sciatic nerve, such as a prolapsed lumber disk, infection in the tissues about the sacrum, coccyx or pelvis, or muscular dysfunction. In clinic I find that a condition called piriformis syndrome, where the piriformis muscle in the buttock excerpts pressure on the sciatic nerve, is often the cause of sciatic pain.

It appears to me that the Western medicine treatment of sciatica  is often vague and comes down to taking pain killers and waiting for it to spontaneously resolve; unfortunately by the time I see a patient the pain has often been present for a long time and or the problem resolves briefly but returns frequently. Fortunately though traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) takes a more practical approach and is often an extremely effective treatment.

TCM classifies the signs and symptoms associated with sciatic pain as Bi Syndrome (pronounced ‘bee syndrome’), a particular diagnosis referring to a painful condition. The cause of this bi syndrome is most often considered to be due to stagnation of qi and blood in the Gall Bladder and or Bladder meridians that closely follow the pain route, see images below.

Bladder Channel

Gall Bladder Channel

This stagnation of qi and blood may be caused by various aetiologies but some common examples are:

  • Prolonged trauma or strain generally characterised by stabbing or piercing pain and a history of trauma. I have noticed that a poor driving position or excessive driving over many years can be a cause and trigger of sciatica
  • Invasion of Wind-Cold-Damp generally characterised by a radiating heaviness with the pain worse in cold damp weather or a cold damp environment, and better for a warm dry environment
  • Kidney Deficiency generally characterised by frequent recurrence of the sciatica. It is often aggravated by exertion, alleviated by rest and accompanied by a weak sore back and knees, tiredness and a feeling of cold in the affected area

Experience shows that TCM treatments are frequently effective in treating the underlying patterns causing qi and blood stasis and relieving the pain of sciatica. Treatment may consist of acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, massage, or often a combination of these therapies. Usually the patient responds quickly with relatively few treatments, although further treatments may be recommended to treat the underling disorders to help prevent recurrence.

To prevent sudden relapse the patient should not let the affected area get cold and should slowly build up exercise and stretching. Where there is an underlying pattern involving Damp then it may also be advisable for the patient to modify their diet to avoid foods cold and dampening in nature.

By Austin ©2014 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Moxibustion The Power of Heat

Moxibustion is a traditional technique often used in combination with acupuncture or as a standalone treatment.  Moxibustion has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for more than a thousand years to help maintain health and fight disease primarily by invigorating blood, stimulating Qi and expelling cold.

Moxibustion produces heat through the burning of moxa (herbs, principally mugwort – artemisia vulgaris), the heat and the intrinsic qualities of the herbs provide the therapeutic qualities. There are many ways to administer moxa and two common methods I use regularly are ‘sparrow pecking’ and ‘needle moxibustion’.

Sparrow Pecking

MoxibustionA cigar like stick of moxa is lit and the end is allowed to become red hot and smouldering, this smouldering end is used to warm the treatment area, acupoint or channel. The moxa stick is held about 1cm above the treatment area and moved back and forth, like a sparrow pecking. The moxa stick may also be moved above and along the treatment area or channel but never staying in one place long enough to burn. Warming of the channels can be very effective for clearing cold obstruction such as sciatic type pains. Moxa is often used to help turn a breach baby by stimulating acupoint BL-67 of the big toe.

Needle Moxibustion

Needle moxaA small cone of moxa is placed on the inserted acupuncture needle and then lit and allowed to smoulder. This is quite a pleasant experience and provides very precise heating to the acupuncture point. Each cone will burn for about 5 minutes and multiple cones may be used during one treatment. Needle moxa is ideal for treating deficiency and internal cold, it can tonify the function of the Kidneys, benefit lumber pain, treat tiredness and intestinal disorders, etc.

Safety

Moxibustion is ideally administered in the clinic however I often prescribed it to be used by patients at home. It is well suited to the treatment of some childhood ailments and parents can administer treatment regularly without attending clinic each time. Joint pain and chronic tiredness are often treated at home, and many midwifes are now familiar with using or referring for moxa to be used at home to help turn breech presentations.

Moxibustion is not suitable for everyone, it is important that you seek a proper pattern diagnosis* from a qualified practitioner as inappropriate use can aggravate certain conditions.

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

By Austin ©2016 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Acupuncture

“Acupuncture-moxibustion for irritable bowel syndrome is better than the conventional western medication treatment.” This is the conclusion of Pei LX, et al. (2012) in their meta-analysis, see abstract at end of this post.

IBS

I have known for many years that acupuncture and moxibustion frequently provide remarkable and life changing results in the treatment of the signs & symptoms of IBS. I have had many patients who have suffered with distressing signs and symptoms for years; they have been through numerous tests and visits to consultants eventually receiving a diagnosis of IBS. They are often prescribed a number of pharmaceutical medications, which in themselves may cause other problems, and are pretty much left to cope as best they can.

A course of acupuncture can relatively quickly relieve many of the signs and symptoms of IBS, such as bloating, stomach cramps, alternating diarrhoea and constipation and urgent stools, to name but a few. When acupuncture is combined with dietary changes based on a pattern disharmony* the results are often remarkable, and over a course of about 3 months many patients are able to get back to a ‘normal’ life.

In my experience for long term recovery it is imperative that acupuncture is combined with changes to the patient’s diet based on Chinese medicine food energetics. Chinese dietetics is different from our general Western ideas of how food affects our health, often changes to diet based on food energetics is not difficult to accomplish.


Acupuncture-moxibustion for irritable bowel syndrome is better than the conventional western medication treatment. This is the conclusion of Pei LX, et al. (2012) in their meta-analysis, see the following abstract from their study:

“OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of acupuncture-moxibustion in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome systematically.

METHODS:

Clinical randomized controlled trials on treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with acupuncture-moxibustion were collected. Through retrieval of CNKI (1979 – December of 2011) and VIP (1979- December of 2011), randomized and quasi-randomized controlled clinical trials on treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with control study between acupuncture and sham acupuncture or western medication were included. The test bias risk and quality assessment of each experiment were carried out by two researchers in accordance with the Cochrane Handbook 5.1.0 standard. And RevMan 5.1.6 software was adopted for the Meta analysis.

RESULTS:

Eleven researches were included with totally 969 patients. Meta analysis shows that the effective rate of the combined methods of acupuncture and moxibustion [RR = 1. 27, 95% CI ( 1.09, 1.49)] is superior to conventional western medication treatment.

CONCLUSION:

Acupuncture-moxibustion for irritable bowel syndrome is better than the conventional western medication treatment.

References:

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Oct;32(10):957-60. [Meta analysis of acupuncture-moxibustion in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome]. Pei LX, Zhang XC, Sun JH, Geng H, Wu XL. Acupuncture and Rehabilitation Department, Jiangsu Province Hospital of TCM, Nanjing, China.”

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

By Austin ©Austin Austin 2014 www.austinaustin.co.uk

Hair Loss (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata is baldness in one or multiple areas and can occur anywhere hair grows but is often most problematic when it manifests as bald patches on the scalp. From a Western medicine perspective the cause is not fully understood but there may be a family connection and it may involve an autoimmune response. Some pharmaceutical medications such as those seen in chemotherapy can also cause hair loss. My experience also suggests that stress is a factor or trigger in some cases.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment can be effective in treating alopecia, particularly when the Western medicine aetiology is unclear and no obvious pharmaceutical cause is known. The cause of alopecia according to TCM diagnosis is often one of a Blood Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation either of which may cause the hair to become malnourished and fall out. Some of the following signs and symptoms may also be present with these patterns such as dizziness, dryness, painful periods, tight neck and shoulders, a feeling of a lump (plum stone) in the throat, palpitations, tight chest, insomnia, vivid dreams, depression, restlessness, cold hands and feet.

Both men and women can suffer from alopecia however it tends to be predominately women I see as it is perhaps more traumatic for women, and women are more easily prone to Blood Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation due to their female nature, menstrual cycle and the modern lifestyle stresses.

Fortunately TCM treatment can be effective in restoring hair growth by addressing the underling patterns of Blood Deficiency and or Liver Qi Stagnation. Subject to diagnosis the following methods may be employed:

Dietary advice to help strengthen the Spleen function and smooth the Liver Qi, by a modest increase in Blood nourishing and Qi invigorating foods such as described by Debra Betts here. It is important to have a proper TCM pattern diagnosis before making changes to your diet as not all cases of hair loss are due to Blood Deficiency or Liver Qi Stagnations and there may be other underling patterns that are more important to address.

Acupuncture to tonify the Spleen function and help your body produce good Blood and Qi. Acupuncture to smooth the Liver Qi, de-stress and help Qi and Blood move effectively to the extremities. Acupuncture to stimulate the area of hair loss to draw Qi and Blood to the area and nourish the follicles.

Plum blossom needling (a special tapping technique using small needles) to invigorate the area of hair loss drawing Qi and Blood to the area to nourish the follicles.

Moxibustion (an external herbal warming technique) to stimulate the area of hair loss drawing Qi and Blood to the area to nourish the follicles.

I will often utilise a combination of these therapies and it may also be useful for the patient to apply fresh ginger to the area once or twice a day until it is hot and flushed, but not immediately following an acupuncture treatment.

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

By Austin ©2014 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Cupping

Cupping is perhaps one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine, historically horn, bamboo or clay cups were used but these days glass and plastic cups are favoured. There are many variations of cupping: static dry cupping, sliding cupping, wet (bleeding) cupping, water cupping and flash cupping, all of which are suitable for differing types of condition. I frequently use cupping in combination with acupuncture or as a standalone treatment

Cupping imageThe main component of cupping is to introduce a vacuum to the cup while it is on the skin. The vacuum is typically introduced by holding a flame to a glass cup just before it is placed on the skin or by placing a plastic cup on the skin and temporarily attaching a small hand pump to cause a mild vacuum.

By lifting the skin and to some extent the connective tissues away from the underlying structures blood and Qi are able to flow more abundantly and freely thus alleviating pain, resolving toxins and aiding the body’s repair processes.

Cupping can leave marks and depending on the underlying condition these marks can last from a few hours to some days. Although the marks look like bruising they are not generally painful like a bruise would be. These days it is not uncommon to see athletes and celebrities sporting the tell tale round marks of static cupping.

Because of the different methods of cupping and because skilled practitioners can control the amount of vacuum or strength of the cups it is a treatment suitable for most patients from children to the elderly. Subject to your pattern diagnosis cupping can be very beneficial for painful conditions and respiratory conditions such as back pain, sciatic pain, shoulder pain, bronchitis, asthma, congestion, gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual pain and infertility.

By Austin ©2014 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk

Acupuncture a Healthy Solution

Acupuncture_figureAcupuncture originated in the Far East where it still features in mainstream healthcare as a stand-alone therapy and in combination with modern Western medicine. These days acupuncture is widely used and accepted all over the world. In the UK more and more people are finding out what acupuncture can do for them.

Acupuncture is just one of many Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment methods, other methods frequently used during treatment are acupressure, moxibustion, tuina massage, cupping, gua sha, lifestyle advice and nutritional advice based on food energetics. Acupuncture itself need not always be used, particularly when patients exhibit extreme needle phobia or have medical conditions such as haemophilia.

What Can Acupuncture Do For You?

Some people turn to acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or conditions. Others choose to have treatment to help maintain good health or simply to improve their general sense of wellbeing. Some conditions I typically treat are:

  • Recovery from injury, surgery
  • Back ache, sciatica, joint pain
  • Medication side effects, chemotherapy
  • Stress, anxiety, low mood
  • Migraines, headaches, tinnitus
  • Women’s problems, pain, menopause
  • Fertility (female and male), IVF support
  • Routine pre-birth treatments
  • Weight loss and stopping smoking

Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies and children. It can be used effectively alongside conventional medicine.

The Point of Acupuncture

For a number of lifestyle and environmental reasons your systems can become disturbed, depleted or blocked, which can result in physical and or emotional pain and illness. In many instances acupuncture can be effective in supporting your body’s repair processes, restoring your balance and promoting physical and emotional harmony and recovery.

Treatment is aimed at the root of your condition as well as your main symptoms. This approach helps with resolving your problem rather than just covering it up. As treatment is holistic you may notice other problems resolve as your main health complaint is treated. Many people return to acupuncture again and again because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.

What Happens When You Go For Treatment?

I treat you as an individual and take a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment. I use a number of different diagnostic methods to get a complete picture of your health and lifestyle, including taking a full medical history, reading your pulses and examining your tongue. Based on this information I make a pattern diagnosis* and put together a personal treatment plan.

Acupuncture is just one TCM treatment method, other methods frequently used are acupressure, moxibustion, tuina massage, cupping, gua sha, lifestyle advice and nutritional advice based on food energetics. Acupuncture itself need not always be used, particularly when patients exhibit extreme needle phobia or have medical conditions such as haemophilia.

Once a diagnosis has been made and we have discussed its meaning and agreed on a treatment plan we can get on with treatment. Depending on the nature of your treatment I will ask you to lie on the couch or sit on a chair and I will gently start the treatment explaining always what I am doing and why. After the treatment most patients feel very relaxed and refreshed.

What Does It Feel Like?

Acupuncture needles are very much finer than needles used for injections and blood tests. When the needle is inserted you may feel nothing or a tingling sensation or dull ache.

Other treatments such as cupping may leave temporary marks but this will be explained before treatment and if there are any concerns other treatment methods can be considered.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

After your initial consultation I will be able to give you a better prognosis and idea of the number and frequency of treatments, but as an example treating female infertility may initially require 12 treatments over 3 months, temporomandibular joint disorders or tinnitus can, depending on the root diagnosis, often be relieved with one or two treatments.

Health & Safety

I am a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC). With over 3,000 members the BAcC is the UK’s largest regulatory body for practitioners of TCM acupuncture, they maintain high standards of education, ethics, discipline and practice to help ensure the health and safety of patients and practitioners.

Should I Tell My Doctor?

You should always tell me (your TCM practitioner) about any medication and supplements you are taking as this may affect your diagnosis and treatment. I am trained to recognise potentially serious underlying health conditions and may refer you to your GP if I consider it appropriate. If you have been prescribed medication do not stop taking it unless we have discussed your circumstances and your GP has been informed and has agreed to any removal or reduction in medication.

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.