Tell us a little bit about your practice..
I practice an integrated style of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and 5 Element acupuncture. TCM is the name given to the standardised system of acupuncture that was brought in by the Chinese government in the 1950s, which it is mainly symptom based (i,e, if you go for a headache, the symptoms are treated through the the channels that lead to the head). Five Element comes from Daoist theory that the universe can be observed through the five elements, as found in nature, and that by understanding the relationships of the elements and using them as a guide, it is possible to discover and treat the root cause of symptoms, restoring health to body, mind and spirit as treatment unfolds. In addition to acupuncture I also do Tui-na (Chinese massage), Gua-sha, which is the use of a jade tool, which is used to stroke down the channels, easing muscle tightness – it feels really nice – like a deep tissue massage!), as well as fire cupping and moxibustion, which is the use of a herb (dried mugwort) which is burnt near the skin, helping to nourish and warm the body.
What first drew you to working with complementary therapies?
I went to have acupuncture on the recommendation of a friend and was slightly sceptical about it! That all changed when little problems I’d been plagued with for years (low energy, period pains etc) soon cleared up after a few treatments. I hadn’t realised but I was stuck in a rut in my life and as the treatment progressed I began making a lot of changes for the better. I started to read up on how it worked (particularly the Five Element aspect, which wasn’t something I’d come across before) and before I knew it I’d signed up to a Chinese Medicine degree course! Someone told me recently that you don’t find acupuncture, it finds you – and that was certainly how it felt for me.
Has this always been your work? What did you do before?
Before this I worked as a PA, but I’ve always had an interest in health and have worked for both the NHS and BUPA – including some time at BUPA answering clinical negligence complaints, which was interesting to say the least!
Why is it important to have regular treatments?
Acupuncture works best when done cumulatively. We live in a world whereby everything is done quickly – a ‘now’ culture if you like – but this isn’t how things work in the natural world. If you plant a seed it takes time to grow into a tree, and our bodies are the same. If you have a condition that’s been around for a while, it will take a few treatments (usually 4-6) to shift things. After this time, most people choose to keep having acupuncture every once in a while because they see the benefits and like the way it makes them feel.
Are they a luxury or is it something we should do to maintain our health?
We service our cars after a certain number of miles, we change the oil, check the tyres and the brakes etc. and by performing this scheduled maintance, mechanical issues are prevented. The human body can be likened to that of a car engine, in that it has specific functions that require maintenance, care and attention. Energy flows throughout the body and when it gets blocked and stuck, health issues can arise. When energy flows freely the mind, body and spirit will be balanced and peaceful. Receiving regular, or semi-regular, acupuncture treatments provides the support the body needs. It will address any issues that might need to be focussed on before they become a bigger problem.
What do you do for ‘me time’ ?
See friends, eat nice food, do yoga or go dancing!
Do you find much time to have treatments yourself?
Yes, I always make time for treatments. I was working away on an island in the summer and there were no other acupuncturists there (and it can be hard to acupuncture yourself due to the location of the points), so I couldn’t have a proper treatment for several months and I really noticed the difference in myself.
Tell us an interesting fact about the body … about your practice … or about the holistic lifestyle
Acupuncture is one of the oldest modalities of medicine. Today needles are a hair’s breadth width, single use, sterile and made from stainless steel but in the past they were made from iron, steel, gold, silver and even bamboo. The oldest needles were made from stone over 5,000 years ago! According to legend, acupuncture was discovered when Chinese warriors found that arrows striking them at certain points in the body healed them of chronic conditions.
If you could send out just one message to your clients, what would that be?
In one of the ancient Chinese texts it talks of one of the benefits of acupuncture being ‘lasting vision’. And to quote the Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu: “when I give up what I am, I become what I might be”.