Does Acupuncture hurt?
The fine needles used in Acupuncture treatments are the diameter of a strand of hair, so much thinner than a hypodermic needle, and should not hurt, although some acupoints are more tender and sensitive than others. I use coated needles to ensure a smooth insertion. Occasionally there may be a sensation of a dull ache when the needle finds the correct acupoint, and this sensation may radiate, particularly when treating musculoskeletal conditions. This indicates a healing response is occurring. The sensation should not last for more than 30 seconds, although occasionally the needle may be manipulated to seek a stronger healing response. Your levels of comfort will always be a priority.
Why do you need to take my pulse and look at my tongue?
Both the pulse and the tongue give the Acupuncture practitioner so much vital information. They are a valuable diagnostic tool, which give a window into the health of the internal workings of the body. There are 12 pulse positions to be observed, which is why it can sometimes seem to be taking a little longer than pulse reading in Western medical settings.
Do I need to get undressed?
During your appointment you may be asked to undress down to your underwear while I leave the room. Towels are provided so that you can cover yourself before I return to the room. This allows a full body diagnosis and accessibility to the locations of the body needed for treatment, though your comfort levels will always be a priority and any exposure will be explained as the appointment progresses. There are times at follow up appointments where full undressing is not needed, so it is a good idea to wear loose clothing which can be rolled up easily.
How will I feel during a session?
A lot of patients fall asleep on the table, which is a normal response. Once the needles are in, I stop asking questions to allow full relaxation, unless I am administering moxibustion, cupping or massage. However you are able to ask any questions you may have, and let me know if there is anything you need. I will occasionally take pulse readings throughout the session, to assess vital feedback of the effectiveness of the treatment, but will endeavour to do this with minimal disturbance to your treatment time.
How will I feel after a session?
Patients often describe feeling very grounded and clear headed at the end of a session. You may feel relaxed, and a little ‘floaty’, although this is normally reported as being very mild and pleasant, and should pass very quickly.
How many treatments will I need?
The answer to this question varies, depending on your general health constitution, the condition being treated, and how long the condition has been present for There are three phases of treatment- relief, curative, and maintenance. Often in acute pain conditions, patients report immediate relief during the first 1-2 sessions, however to reach the curative phase of treatment often takes a commitment of 6-8 treatments. In chronic conditions, the effect will take longer, particularly if the condition has been experienced for a longer period than 3 months.
It can be useful to think of treatments all building upon each other, and to undertake treatment with this in mind. When seeking any kind of healthcare, there is rarely a condition that can be treated by one pill, often there will be a course of medication. It is the same for Acupuncture, however without any of the negative side effects that are experienced with many medications.
The frequency of treatments will also depend on the condition you seek treatment for. Sometimes if a patient is experiencing intense pain, more than one treatment a week will be indicated for the initial 3 week period, so that the benefits of pain relief can build upon each other quicker.
This is a general guide, however patients do report experiencing a marked lessening in symptoms, from the first 1-3 treatments. Once the curative phase has been established, and the symptoms have been treated successfully, there may also be a period of tapering down which can be very effective in maintaining health, and there may be a maintenance phase that can follow, where appointments can be spaced further apart. Often patients report experiencing additional benefits to treatment, and once the initial condition has subsided, still attend appointments to enjoy Acupuncture as a preventive or relaxation treatment and book regular sessions throughout the year to maintain wellbeing.
I am unable to commit to weekly treatments or a longer period of treatment. Would there be any benefit to me attending treatment?
Yes there is! While you may not experience the full benefits, you may still experience some of the lessening of symptoms. You will not be pressured to attend any more sessions than you can commit to, although hopefully when you experience a lessening of symptoms, you may decide it is something you can prioritise in order to reach the curative phase. If you are unable to commit to weekly treatments, you may find that the response takes longer, however each treatment will still build on the previous one.
The exceptions to this would be if you are experiencing acute pain which benefits from a more clustered approach of treatments. Added exceptions would be if you are seeking fertility treatments which require a regularity of treatment for three months of weekly treatments in order to regulate menstrual cycles and optimise fertility conditions before ART procedures begin. Treatment during IVF also very specific timings regarding Acupuncture treatments.
You may be interested to read some of the research behind length and frequency of treatment advice.
What kind of Acupuncture do you practice?
I practice Classical Acupuncture which is rooted in ancient traditions, as well as 5 element theory, and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
At the International College for Oriental Medicine (ICOM), we studied Classical Chinese Medicine. This approach is informed by reading and analysing the old classic texts such as the Nan Jing from over 2000 years ago. However the education I received also included other approaches such as Five Element Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Stems and Branches. I use each of these approaches according to what is being presented, and sometimes a combination of all of these approaches at once. Having such a rounded education, allows me to think of each of these approaches a s a set of tools in my toolbox, and I select each according to the imbalance which is in each patient.
What is Five Element Acupuncture?
Five element acupuncture is a treatment method which sees the body as a reflection of the environment. The five elements in nature- Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood, correspond to organs within the body as a microcosm of the natural world. These elements are arranged in a cycle of feeding ( Shen cycle) and controlling each other, (Ke cycle) and equally the organs have this dynamic relationship within the body for healthy function. When one of these relationships is out of balance, the Five element practitioner uses points on the meridians corresponding to these elements, to feed and control the elements which brings this cycle back into optimum function.
Below is an example of these relationships
This is a very simplistic explanation of this very effective balancing approach, however if you have any further questions about this theory, I’d be happy to discuss them further. Additionally, if you would like to read further on the influence of the elements in Chinese Medicine, I can point you in the direction of some reading material.
What is TCM?
A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach arranges various complex signs and symptoms and classifies them into a pattern of disease. The practitioner assesses all the signs, including tongue and pulse diagnosis, a detailed history. and forms a diagnosis, which draws on a wealth of prior knowledge, investigation, and playing detective! The advantage of this approach is that for each pattern there are sets of prescriptions of points which treat the disease. There are often a few pattern presenting each time which need addressing, and the practitioner needs to determine how to incorporate treating more than one complex patterns at once.
What is Stems and Branches?
Stems and branches allows an additional layer of approach to treatment, although it is the most fundamental layer of Chinese medical philosophy, and underpins all other approaches. We analyse a patient’s general constitution and health tendencies according to calculations made at the time of their birth, and the energies which were present at this time. The body again is seen as a microcosm of nature, but in this theory, the reflection is of the universe, and the cycles of time that occur within the universe. These cycles of time are divided into units, becoming years, months, weeks, days, hours minutes and seconds, each having their own particular energy. The Acupuncturist looks at the deficiencies and excesses suggested by the time of birth, and marries them up to the signs and symptoms which are presenting in the patient. The practitioner then calculates the energies that are present at the time of the appointment, and formulates a highly individualised treatment to select points that are then used to address these imbalances. These imbalances can be corrected by a Five element approach, or an approach which rebalances the constitutional energy. This allows the patients symptoms to be treated at the deepest level of their individual health make-up, and thereby cause of disease.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions about this approach, as this is a very short and simplified description! I can also point you in the direction or reading material if you would like to explore this further.
Is Acupuncture safe ?
Yes, in clinical trials acupuncture has been shown to be safe, with few adverse effects when administered by a fully qualified acupuncturist, who can take all contraindications and cautions into account. I am a full member of The British Acupuncture Council, and abide by their strict hygiene protocols.
I have a condition that needs treatment, where can I find a list of conditions that acupuncture can help with?
Acupuncture can help with such a varied range of conditions. The British Acupuncture council has a list of conditions they have compiled factsheets for, which include the evidence to support these claims. The factsheets can be found here:
For honest reviews on conditions that have been helpful to patients I have treated, please go to my testimonials page on this website.
Do you perform treatments that help turn a baby that is in Breech position, and is there any evidence to support this?
The World Health Organisation has concluded after weighing up the evidence, that Acupuncture is an effective treatment for Breech presentations. The NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) does not currently include Acupuncture or Moxibustion for Breech presentations in their guidelines. However, several NHS trusts, including Poole, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, Bolton National Health Trust, and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, offer moxibustion delivered by midwives with additional training, in the maternity clinic for Breech presentations. Moxibustion comes under an Acupuncture treatment, as herbs (Moxibustion) are lit above Acupuncture points, and then the patient is given clear instructions, and Moxa Sticks to take home and perform the treatment at home for 7-10 days. This treatment can be given by a trained Acupuncturist.
What happens during an Acupuncture appointment for Breech baby presentation?
Firstly, I will take a thorough medical history as there are several contraindications when performing a treatment for a Breech presentation that I need to rule out before a treatment can begin, and safety is the number one priority. When you book an appointment with me, you will receive a clear demonstration during the appointment, and a take home instruction sheet for home use, with clear descriptions such as the correct location to be used, safety guidelines, and timings to perform the treatment at home safely. You will also be given two Moxa Sticks to administer at home. You will also have direct contact with me throughout the period of home treatment should you have any questions.