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Acupuncture Tools

When all four legs are strong, the chair is stable.  If even one leg is weak or broken, then the chair becomes unstable, and increasingly so if more than one leg is defective

 

Peter Deadman, Live Well Live Long 

About traditional acupuncture

 

According to the Chinese 'nourishment of life' tradition mind and emotions, diet, exercise and sleep are considered the four pillars of health. They are like the four legs of a chair.  Optimum health relies upon all the legs being in balance.

 

Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine (tCM) and so looks at these key aspects of your health.  Through careful questioning and observation your acupuncturist will determine which of your legs are out of balance.  Your prescription may be a combination of tCM techniques and lifestyle changes.

A brief history of acupuncture

 

TCM is an ancient medical system that has evolved over 2500 years.  It is founded on a different model to Western Medicine (WM) and  views the human body in a different way to the science we are familiar, and perhaps more comfortable with.  This does not invalidate it - mean it doesn't work.
 

Central to tCM theory is the idea that man is not distinct from nature.  We are microcosms of it.  Our internal environment mirroring nature's natural seasons and rhythms. Weather terms are used to describe aetiology (causes of disease) such as Damp, Heat, Cold, Dry, Wind (the spearhead of all disease) which may in turn be Drained, Cooled, Warmed, Expelled.  This may sound archaic, but by flouting the natural universe man has broken the nature-human web to which we are inexorably linked.  

Acupuncture is slow medicine

TCM is an holistic medicine, this means it seeks to diagnose the root (Ben) of disease not simply the symptoms or branches (Biao).  This approach differs from WM which is more symptomatic in it's treatment of illness.  If we take headache as an example.  WM may offer painkillers and generic lifestyle advice, like stress reduction.  Likewise, TCM will treat the pain, the branches, but also search out the underlying causes/roots of the condition and address them also. 

 

Acupuncture is not a quick fix, restoration to your best balance may take some time. This is reflected in the number of treatments you may need.

 

What is Qi?


Simply, it's our energy, our life force or in yogic theory our prana.  It's what makes us different to an inanimate object like a stone.  Jing, also key to tCM, is inherited from our parents - I liken Jing to our genes.  For example, your genetic inheritance may be a constitutional lack (deficiency/Xu) of Lung energy or Qi, or in WM a genetic predisposition towards asthma. 

Jing is different to Qi, we are born with a limited amount of Jing and when it runs out (like a battery running out of charge) we die.  Qi on the other hand may be used wisely - a bit like putting your device on battery saving mode - we can preserve it by choosing how we live.  We can also supplement it.  We have some choice over the quality of the Qi in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the thoughts we think, the amount and type of exercise we take.  We can all modify how we eat, breathe, think, move. Such lifestyle changes take effort and are part of a tCM acupuncture treatment plan.  The patient is an active participant not simply a passive recipient of prescribed medicine/pills.  This may not appeal to all.

 

Meridians and acu-points

Our Qi is transported round our body in meridians. They contain over 600 acu-points which may be located and used to re-balance the  body's energy.  Qi may get stuck, like a traffic jam, and need releasing.  It may need redistributing, there may be too much in one area and not enough somewhere else (i.e. with an over-active mind there may be too much Qi in the head).  It may be deficient and require supplementing.   The list goes on and it is the art of the acupuncturist to diagnose and redress a patient's imbalance by inserting acupuncture needles at acu-points to divert, supplement, release their Qi.

 

The meridians have names which are often abbreviated.  For anxiety and insomnia take LIV 3 as an example.  This is the third acu-point (of 14) on the Liver (LIV) meridian.  Each point has specific effects on the body's Qi.  One function of LIV 3 is to move Qi in the whole body.  If energy is stuck or stagnant it may cause pain, such as headache or emotional imbalance like frustration or anger.  Acupuncture needling at LIV 3 may help move this stasis.

What can acupuncture treat?

More than simply low back pain.   Many people turn to traditional acupuncture for help with a specific symptom or condition. Others choose to have treatment to help maintain good health, as a preventive measure, or simply to improve their general sense of wellbeing. As traditional acupuncture aims to treat the whole person rather than specific symptoms in isolation, it can be effective for a large range of health complaints.

 

Ruth is a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) the U.K.’s leading self-regulatory body for the practice of acupuncture.  The BAcC collates a growing body of evidence-based clinical research and provides accurate and unbiased fact sheets which summarise this research. Factsheets cover conditions alphabetically from Anxiety to Vertigo.

What to expect at your initial consultation

Your first consultation lasts up to 90 minutes and is mainly diagnostic.  You will be asked about your main symptoms, your medical history and other key lifestyle factors such as emotions, diet and exercise.  Your tongue will be observed as it maps your internal health.

If there is time after your case-history has been taken you may receive a mini treatment.  You may lie down on a treatment couch or comfortably seated.  Treatment options are simply needling, acupressure massage, tui na massage and/or moxa and other tCM techniques.  You can read more about acupuncture here.

At your follow up session your treatment plan will begin in earnest.

How many treatments will you need?

We have been culturally trained to expect quick-fixes.  Acupuncture doesn't work like this.  It can take time for you to re-balance.   As a guide, the longer you have had a condition the more acupuncture treatments you will need over a longer period of time.

Commonly, a course of weekly treatment is recommended.   After 6 weeks your progress is reviewed and you may be prescribed further weekly or fortnightly appointments.  Monthly maintenance treatment may be recommended. 

Free remote support
 

Patients have free access to the Jing Self-Care App.  This provides you with ongoing treatment between your appointments.  Generally, patients who follow their prescription make quicker and longer lasting improvement.  For example, you may be recommended to follow a daily 15 minute self-acupressure routine for anxiety or insomnia

Want to try acupuncture but scared of needles? Luckily there are needle-free options
 

Acupuncture is just one technique used in traditional Chinese medicine to restore balance to the body.  Needle-free options include acupressure, cupping, gua sha, moxa and ear seeds.

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