The Chinese are accredited with the invention of dozens of things that we still use in our day to day lives now, including alcohol, football (soccer), the compass, silk, tea cultivation, the kite, gunpowder, printing, paper money and so on. They also discovered acupuncture.
Acupuncture is the ancient healing art of inserting very fine needles into specific points along pathways on the body to activate the Qi (energy). The flow of Qi can be disrupted in many ways, i.e. emotions, poor diet, overwork, trauma, stress, etc. Acupuncture acts to restore the natural flow of Qi bringing holistic balance back to the body.
The history of acupuncture
Acupuncture has been used in the Far East to restore, promote and maintain good health for over 2,500 years. It developed not only in China, but also in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, etc. The first needles were made from stone and then later from bronze, gold and silver. The first medical text of acupuncture was ‘The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine', which dates from around 300 BC.
Is acupuncture safe?
There have been three surveys in the last six years which have shown that acupuncture is amongst the safest therapy in use in the UK today. Out of 68,000 recorded treatments in two of the 2001 surveys, there were only 14 minor (bruising, feeling nauseous) adverse events. There have been very few reports of serious adverse events, and most adverse effects are transient, lasting no more than a day or so.
Research has also shown that it's perfectly safe to have acupuncture during pregnancy.
How does acupuncture work?
What are the different types of acupuncture?
Most people are unaware that there are different types of acupuncture being performed in the UK. This is because there is no regulation of acupuncture at present, so physiotherapists, chiropractors and GPs can do a weekend course in acupuncture and then offer it to their patients. Sometimes they call it ‘dry needling' or ‘trigger point acupuncture'. Neither of these types of acupuncture exist in traditional acupuncture.
As acupuncture developed on the Asian continent, many countries within Asia use acupuncture and have their own style. For example, there is Chinese style acupuncture as well as Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese styles. Five Element acupuncture was invented by JR Worsley and is western style acupuncture. It doesn't exist in Asia.
I practice Chinese style (TCM), as well as Dr Tan style, Master Tung style and Shamanic (intuitive) style acupuncture. I am therefore able to offer various styles of acupuncture to tackle any particular problem a person may have.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Acupuncture helps to regulate energy and blood flow as well as reduce stress, anxiety and help the body find its own state of balance. It helps the body to help itself. This is accelerated when lying on the couch in a state of relaxation as the body is no longer in a state of ‘fight or flight'. As the body's energy and fluids become better regulated, the hormones, immune system and nutrients within the blood work at a more natural rate making the body healthier. Acupuncture has been shown in research to:
- Relieve pain
- Relieve insomnia
- Improve male and female fertility
- Relieve tinnitus
- Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
- Reduce weight gain
- Regulate insulin levels
- Improves libido
- Reduce menopausal symptoms
- Is anti-inflammatory
- Helps clear acne
- Restores sense of smell
- Relieves restless leg syndrome
- Relieves IBS
- Reduce dementia and improve cognitive behaviour
- Improves type II diabetes
- Relieves carpal tunnel syndrome
Where on the body do the acupuncture pins go?
The acupuncture points practitioners use varies from person to person. I tend to use points on the head, abdomen, hands and lower legs as well as the problem areas people want treated. I use a variety of techniques taught by different masters of acupuncture, utilising various theories and techniques for each individual, giving people a tailor-made treatment.
Does acupuncture hurt?
I often get asked ‘It is painful?’ In truth, the answer is often no. When people think of acupuncture and needles they think of blood tests, which use thick needles into veins, so it hurts. Acupuncture needles are very fine, so fine that you can get 20 of them into a syringe. Some people will feel it go in, but it's not painful, you just notice it. I use the fineness needles I can as pain is bad for business! After the needles are in most people don't feel them and are able to go into a deep state of relaxation.
Do you reuse the acupuncture pins?
No, I nevver reuse any acupuncture pins. They are used only once and then put into a sharps box for incineration.
How often should I have acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a dose like all treatments or medications. The effects of acupuncture generally last around 3-4 days. I therefore recommend that people have acupuncture either twice or once a week, depending on their budgets. To feel the benefits of acupuncture may take time. I therefore recommend having a course of 6 sessions to see if it will work for you.
How will I feel after having acupuncture?
When a needle is inserted, the sensation is often described as a tingling or dull ache. Needles are inserted and left in place for thirty minutes or more, depending on the effect required. During treatment, patients commonly experience heaviness in the limbs or a pleasant feeling of relaxation. The benefits of acupuncture frequently include more than just relief from a particular condition. Many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, as well as better appetite and sleep, and an enhanced sense of overall well being.
What is electric acupuncture?
Electric acupuncture uses a small electric current to particular needles. It isn't painful but is a strong form of stimulation that can produce better results.
What is cupping?
Cupping is the placement of glass cups on specific areas of the body using a vacuum to move stagnant Qi (energy) and detoxify. It isn't painful but may leave a small mark on the body for a few days. It's good for muscle tension.
What is moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a special herb that's lit and placed above certain acupuncture points to draw heat into them. Moxibustion is not painful, just a little warm and is very effective for turning breech babies.
What is heat therapy?
Unlike physios or chiros, Chinese medicine doesn't recommend the application of cold packs to areas of the body with pain. Cold in Chinese medicine causes stagnation and stops the body from working properly. Instead, we use heat therapy, which aids the body in healing itself, as the body works better with heat. That's why when you fall ill, you get a raised temperature so the immune system can work more quickly and efficiently. I apply infrared heat to all areas on pain during treatment.