Kamis, 22 November 2012

Keep Healthy Through Autumn - Five Elements Style

Autumn - letting go of Summer

Article applies to geographical areas that have seasonal variations.

As the indistinct Summer we've had gives way, nature changes to adapt to the next phase. We look forward to the beautiful Autumnal colours but also perhaps feel a hint of sadness at the departing season. In terms of the five elements, we are leaving the late Summer (Earth Element) and entering the Metal element. Although the non-human organic eco-system adjusts to this change automatically, we vary in our ability to take on the changes.

The Metal element is made up of the two meridians (energy channels) which are named the lung and large intestine channels. The two meridians cover our respiratory and elimination systems as expected from their names but also has influence at the mental and emotional level. For example, the phrase in the title "letting go" is the mental/emotional equivalent of the physical elimination of waste carried out by the large intestine. At the non-physical level, letting go is very much associated with grief and sadness too. Then our lungs are organs of breathing, taking in fresh air and exhaling carbon dioxide. The inhalation at the physical level is linked with the taking in of new ideas and being inspired by them. Interestingly, in the Eastern medical view, the lung, which is the interface boundary between the outside air and our inner tissue, is totally equivalent to the skin.

So as we slide into Autumn, there could be a sense of grief and finding it hard to accept the new energy of the season. Metal is sensitive to light, and the drawing in of the days will add to the sense of sadness. Yet as mentioned, the stunning colours can be very inspiring as can be the fresh crisp frosty days. The majority of us work in buildings and do not have the time to be more connected to the natural world. So changes of season can present physical and emotional challenges. We could be more susceptible to respiratory infections or have skin problems. Our bowels and urinary tract can play up. Emotionally we might feel down and out of sorts and perhaps have a sense of general malaise.

Being out in nature can be invigorating on clear days and can help with adapting to the energetic changes. Our diet can also help us to adjust. Eating with the seasons can really synchronise us with the natural changes. For example, it is now best to reduce consumption of tropical fruits and start with pears and apples and berries. Squashes are also plentiful and a bowl of warming pumpkin soup fits in nicely. Another positive side-effect of eating with the season is the positive ecological aspect - as supermarket demand of imported food reduce the "air miles" impact due to fuel usage pollution will also reduce. Knowing this will introduce a feel-good factor which is starting to be acknowledged as a very important part of out mental well-being. Additionally, a "top-up" or "maintenance" acupuncture treatment at the change of seasons is a good idea and will help the body and mind adjust to the coming Autumn.

The Concept of Qi in Acupuncture

We acupuncture practitioners speak of "energy" flowing through the meridians. It is worth examining this concept further. The word "energy" is translated from Eastern literature from "qi" or "ki" but does not convey the real concept of the term. A better term is "life force". Bluntly speaking, if qi does not flow in the organism then the organism is in fact not alive. It is dead! Hence the suggested term is more appropriate, as if life force does not flow, life does not exist.

So, as life force flows along the meridians that can be charted on the human body. These charts have literally existed for thousands of years. They have mainly developed as people have used trial an error methods using sharpened implements on themselves and others to try to sort out various ailments. As men have a keen ability to invent and use abstract concepts, empirically based theories have developed around acupuncture. These help them to get a deeper understanding of different points along the meridians that help improve the flow of life force. The resulting improvement in health then feeds back into the theories, refining and improving their usefulness.

The meridians have now been divided into pairs and each pair being assigned to an element. There are five elements - Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. These elements have characteristics that effect our physiological, mental and emotional state. Constitutional weakness in at least one of these elements tend to exist in us and this give rise to various pathological states when the element is in distress. The acupuncture practitioner will diagnose the blockages and imbalance in the life force and treat the relevant points on the meridians. The resulting improvement will boost the natural healing ability of the body.

There are twelve main meridians that are named after the various body organs. These are shown with element associated with each pair.


Large Intestine


Gall Bladder

Small Intestine
Triple Burner

The two other meridians are the Ren and Du and these are not related to the elements, or more accurately, their function will affect all five elements. Hence they are not listed under any particular one.

The elements are also associated with the seasons as the meridian's energy characteristics vary with the changes in the surrounding natural environment. This means that the constitutionally weak element will, if distressed, will cause the person to experience problems with their health and well-being during the seasonal change. Here are the correspondences:

Sabtu, 10 November 2012

Is Acupuncture "Only" a Placebo Effect?
What is the placebo effect?

Yes, what really is this placebo? Just consider, this effect says that we humans can get better without any real outside intervention, be it medicine, injections, surgery or whatever. Wow this is an amazing ability, I would say - wouldn't you? Many research studies have been carried out that show that this effect is a genuine human trait. But the effect is not consistent. Otherwise we would not need the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical and health industry. Just get this effect to cure all our health issues and dismantle all industries associated with medicine. No, we cannot call on this ability to cure all our ills, unfortunately. And its effectiveness is so variable and uncertain that we would not want to rely on it much. Is it really this almost totally random phenomena or is there a chance that we can harness its awesome potential?

Lets consider acupuncture

As an acupuncture practitioner for more than fifteen years, I believe that the placebo effect can be utilized in a much more methodical way. The practice of acupuncture is shrouded in mystery because Western medicine have not been able to explain it "scientifically". Yet they cannot deny its powerful ability of relieving symptoms, especially when the patient does not respond to conventional drugs or surgery. So what if acupuncture can call upon and amplify the placebo effect in a more controlled way? I believe that controlling the placebo capability is one of the ways that acupuncture works. It is a system that has been in use for over 2000 years so its methods have undergone refinement for much longer than Western medicine has. And its trials have been carried out in real world situation on a vast scale (consider the population of China alone). As a practitioner, I have been able to help hundreds of people with "intractable" conditions where normal medicine has been ineffective. Of course, conventional medical intervention is still necessary in many cases but there is room for both to cover the complete spectrum of ailments in the modern world.

Beyond the placebo

OK, there are cases where the "placebo effect" cannot explain completely how acupuncture works. Research in acupuncture is almost impossible in a way. This is because the human body is full of channels and points that are outside the accepted official ones used in acupuncture. So in tests where "sham" acupuncture is used to compare with the genuine one, the sham points used might inadvertently be one of these uncharted points that will have an effect on the energy system. Yet these studies have shown that real acupuncture gives better results than "sham" acupuncture. This shows that there is something beyond the placebo effect at work in a real acupuncture treatment. Otherwise both methods will yield similar results. And I suspect that different practitioners will get different results. So there is something happening when having an acupuncture treatment - an additional factor beyond harnessing the placebo ability of the patient. This is clearly seen where treating animals where the "patient" gets better yet is not likely to be affected by any placebo consideration.

But really, most patient's priority is in getting and feeling better, irrespective of whether it is due to the placebo or any other effect at work!

Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012

Use Acupuncture For Tension Headache And Migraine Says NICE
Tension headaches and migraines are affecting millions of people in the UK every year. It is one of the main causes for a trip to the GP. About 80% of the population experiences headaches each year and it seems to affect women primarily.

Now, NICE is advising acupuncture to treat tension headaches and migraines, acupuncture being the only prophylactic treatment for tension headaches.


1. Apply some cold.

Wrap a dish towel around an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas, or a cold can of soda. Apply the cold to the area(s) of pain. This can be the side of your head, around the ears or above your eyes for example.

2. Rest.

If you have a monster headache, don't even think about trying to work through it. Go home, lie down, and rest.

3. Stay hydrated.

Drink if possible, however, if nausea is a problem, try sucking on some ice chips.

4. desensitize.

Protect yourself from bright lights and loud noises. Go indoors, close the shades, and turn out the lights. If you can't be at home, use sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to filter the bright light.

5. Relax.

Deep breathing, visualisation, and meditation may help speed the passing of your symptoms.

6. Use acupressure (aka acupuncture without needles).

There are 2 acupuncture points you can use to ease off a headache.

- Large Intestine 4: is located on the hand, in the web between the thumb and index finger. It is a great point to reduce headache and sinus pressure. Apply some gentle pressure (You might feel a bit of an ache with the pressure) for a couple of minutes on each hand or until the headache has started to calm down.

This point is contra-indicated in pregnancy! So don't use this acupressure point if you think you might be pregnant. You can use the next one instead.

- Du20: is situated at the top of your head, at the crossing point in line between the nose and the top of the ears. Just put your finger at the top (Again you should feel an ache under your finger) and let the acupressure do its work.

This is something you can do yourself or even better ask someone else to do it for you.

7. Medicate.

It would be unrealistic to expect anyone to suffer through a migraine or headache without medication ever.

If you suffer from recurring headaches, it is best to get checked up by your GP. He/she will be best able to recommend both on analgesic (Usually paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin) and with any prophylactic treatment to avoid the recurring pain.

8. Check what you can do to prevent headaches

Following the new guidelines, an even better choice would be to contact an acupuncturist to get rid once and for all of your headaches as well as stopping any medication.

Sabtu, 13 Oktober 2012

What Is Community Acupuncture, and Why Would I Want to Go There?

What is community acupuncture?

Acupuncture is relatively new in the Western world. Although it has been around for thousands of years in China it has only been practiced in the West in recent times. In Australia it is considered a complementary medicine and is not on the public health system. This leaves acupuncture remaining within the realms of those who can afford it. This is unfortunate as it has clinically shown to be a highly effective treatment modality. A community acupuncture clinic aims to close this gap and bring acupuncture to those who otherwise could not afford it. Treatments are subsidised resulting in them being a-lot more affordable for everybody.

How does a community acupuncture clinic work?

A community acupuncture clinic provides subsidised acupuncture treatments for those who usually can not access it due to cost. This can work in a couple of ways. The clinic may run multiple beds at the same time so that they are not limited to seeing just one person an hour. This means that overheads may still be met because potentially they could bring in the same amount of money. There could also be sliding scale of costs. If you are able to afford more, then you will pay more. This in turn helps those who can't afford the higher fees as your higher fees will subsidise theirs.

What can I expect?

Generally speaking community acupuncture clinics are also multi-bed clinics. This means that there are multiple beds in one room. They may be divided by screens but this is not always the case. You are not one on one with your acupuncturist, and there is less privacy. Many people enjoy this. They enjoy the communal environment of sitting there together relaxing and listening to calming music together whilst letting the needles do their work.

Be aware that as there is less private space it is especially important to wear loose comfortable clothing. Rather than disrobing you may remain fully clothed and your acupuncturist will instead adjust your clothing according to where the needles need to go.

Why would I want to go there?

The obvious advantage of a community acupuncture clinic is cost. Even if you were paying the un-subsidised price you may still find that it is less expensive than your traditional one on one clinic. Another good reason is that you can look at it as supporting your community. By going to one of these you help the doors remain open so that acupuncture can be provided to the wider community. You may also like the energy in these places. They are generally more relaxed and less formal, and you will be with others so any apprehension you may feel will fade a-lot more easily.

Sabtu, 29 September 2012

Acupuncture And Its Uses

Acupuncture is a drug free healing art, which has helped millions of people for thousands of years. It originated in China about four thousand years ago and due to its usefulness, today, it is being used worldwide to treat many ailments. Acupuncture is based on maintaining the energy balance throughout the body. Acupuncturists unblock the flow of vital energy by inserting hair thin needles in specific body points. Acupuncture has also been showed to raise Serotonin to help with mood and the White Bloods Cells to help with inflammation in the body.

As Acupuncture is a drug free therapy, there are no side effects. This is the reason why many people are turning to the acupuncture to treat their illness.

Acupuncturists believe that, when the energy flow is blocked or disrupted it results in aches, pains and illness. Through needle insertions, acupuncturists unblock the flow of energy, and it regulates the bodies natural ability to heal itself. Needle insertion increases a level of endorphins, which is a natural pain relief hormone. This way, it reduces the need of medical intervention and drug consumption for pain relief. Acupuncture for pain relieving has its long lasting advantages. Acupuncture proves immensely beneficial to relieve body aches and pains irrespective of age and gender of the person.

Apart from treating illness, acupuncture is beneficial to treat the various health issues during pregnancy and hormonal care. During each step, from pregnancy to labor and postpartum, acupuncture is the safe, beneficial and results oriented remedy.

Many women suffer from the morning sickness, back pain, nausea, headache, vomiting, pelvic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, heartburn, leg cramps and various such other health issues, during and after pregnancy. Treatment of Acupuncture for pregnancy is safe, because it cures health issues without exposing a mother and yet-to-born child to the chemical based drugs. Acupuncture reduces the labor duration and even lessens the Baby Blues symptoms. It is equally beneficial to solve many breastfeeding concerns.

Acupuncture can be used to treat infants' health problems like diarrhea, sinus, skin rashes, ear, throat, nose infections, fevers, colic, asthma, etc. Though it hard to see your baby being treated with needles, acupuncture needles are hair thin, and the process is much more gentle than the routine vaccinations. Babies do not have needle phobia like most of the elders. So, you might observe that your baby is actually enjoying the process. Acupuncture fastens the postpartum healing process and improvises the overall health of a baby and mother, as well.

People, who are experiencing infertility, acupuncture treatment is immensely useful for them, as well. Acupuncture regulates the body's own functioning. Irregular ovulation and menstrual cycle, blockage of sperms ducts are some of the contributing factors to infertility. Acupuncture reduces the intensity of such irregularities by balancing the flow of vital energy in the body. Acupuncture treatment, coupled with the herbal medicines, proves most beneficial to improvise the reproductive system of both, men and women.

Sabtu, 15 September 2012

Acupuncture in Ancient China - A History of This Traditional Medicine

Acupuncture originated in China around 8,000 B.C. during the new Stone Age. Back then they did not use needles. They used a type of stone called "Bian" to puncture abscesses and lesions on the skin. This technique healed wounds by draining toxins from the body. As acupuncture developed over the centuries, so too did the acupuncture needle. It evolved from using stone needles to needles made from animal bones. During the Qin Dynasty metal was developed and metal needles replaced bone. There were copper needles, then silver and gold. Today we use sterile, one-time-use, stainless steel needles.

The earliest known textbook on acupuncture and Chinese medicine is called "Huang Di Nei Jing" which was written between 770 B.C. and 221 B.C. during the Spring/Autumn and Warring States eras. This book described in detail the theories of the acupuncture diagnostic system. These theories, which are still used today, include the Yin/Yang theory, Five Element theory, Organ (Zang/Fu) theory, Meridian theory, and Qi/Blood theory. Together they form the basis and foundation for Chinese medicine, which treats a person's health in a holistic way.

Meridian theory is the most important theory in acupuncture. Through centuries of observation, clinical practice and detailed documentation, Chinese doctors discovered sets of points on the body that, when needle properly, were able to resolve disease. By the 3rd century A.D., Chinese doctors had documented 365 acupuncture points located on 14 meridians, or pathways, on the body. From the 3rd to the 19th century, Chinese doctors documented a few hundred additional acupuncture points, called "extra" points, which are not on the main meridians. Acupuncture points, when needled, have powerful properties, including the ability to conduct sensations up and down the human body, influence organ function, and interact with other acupuncture points along the meridians.

As early as the 6th century, doctors from Japan and Korea came to China to learn acupuncture. Chinese doctors also traveled to Japan and Korea to teach acupuncture. Acupuncture spread to Europe in the 16th century, and became known to the U.S. in the 1970's. In 1971, the New York Times reporter James Reston went to China on business. During his visit, he was struck with an acute case of appendicitis. He went to a Chinese hospital to get treatment. The Chinese doctors successfully removed his appendix using acupuncture anesthesia and treated his post-surgery pain with acupuncture. He was very impressed with the acupuncture he received. When he came back to the U.S. he wrote an article about his experiences with acupuncture. That started the awareness of acupuncture in the U.S. You can read the article he wrote in 1971 on our website.