THE BLOG

Introducing Acupuncture: Acupuncture Awareness Week 3-10 March 2014

21/02/2014 12:09 GMT | Updated 22/04/2014 10:59 BST

Acupuncture is one of the safest and oldest forms of treatment available today; it has an extremely long recorded history of efficacy. Acupuncture has been used in the Far East to restore, promote and maintain good health for over 2,500 years and is rooted in the Daoist philosophy of change, growth, balance and harmony. Today 2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out each year by British Acupuncture Council registered acupuncturists and the therapy is widely accepted as an effective solution for a huge array of illnesses and symptoms.

THE PROCESS

For some people who have tried acupuncture treatment it can only be described as life changing; pain suffered for many years gone in an instance, long tolerated menstrual pain and irregularities can improve in a few months and other apparently miraculous stories of spontaneous improvements in conditions. In the first acupuncture treatment a practitioner will take a full medical case history including past health background and details about the current condition. Once the patient is settled on the treatment couch, a practitioner will carry out pulse taking on each wrist and look at a patient's tongue. Tiny needles are inserted into acupuncture points at various sites on the body where they are retained for about 20-30 minutes. The process in not painful although there is often some mild sensation and the patient can feel very relaxed during and after the treatment. The practitioner will make a treatment plan which may include lifestyle and dietary advice as well as a schedule for acupuncture.

It certainly isn't easy to explain how a tiny needle you can hardly feel might have such a dramatic effect. It goes back to the concept of creating balance and harmony in the body for health and wellbeing. Our Qi courses through our bodies continuously, making connections and activating channels of energy. From a western medicine perspective we know that acupuncture releases endorphins which are natures pain relieving messengers. In my 20 years of practice I have witnessed that acupuncture helps return the body to normal function and rather like an engineer makes a car run better, uses acupuncture to 'tune' the body.

PHILOSOPHER'S STONE

For me, studying acupuncture was like going to Hogwarts; it was quite simply like learning to practice magic. Put a needle in there and you will see results somewhere else. Look at the tongue, feel the pulse, study the patient, ask some questions and you will be able to sum up what is going on for the patient - in a way that is so profound sometimes they will think you can see their soul. This still never ceases to amaze me and the more you practice this the better you become at reading the patient and seeing to the heart of the issue, or finding a way to connect to a person's pain and describe it to them in a way that makes sense to them - maybe for the first time. Believe me - if my computer goes wrong I'm all at sea; you just become over developed in one direction.

Acupuncture has become particularly well known for pain relief and in the field of fertility. There are several studies showing an improvement in the regularity of ovulation in anovulatory women and improvements in IVF outcome in women who use acupuncture to support IVF. It can also be a very helpful adjunct treatment in combination with talking therapies for treating stress and anxiety. Over time I have seen small miracles happen, arthritic men returning to gardening after a few simple sessions of needles in their knees, women crippled with period pain experiencing pain free periods for the first time in years, women falling pregnant after years of trying and when all else has failed, cysts disappear, headaches dissolve, nausea subsides before your eyes.

But of course it isn't magic and it doesn't always work in the way you expect. So I have learnt over the years to keep an open mind. The style of my practice is very much integrated and so I work closely with the medical profession and other practitioners so that we can provide a complete approach to a patient's health and well-being.