About the treatment
Seeing a new acupuncturist may seem quite daunting the first time especially if it is your first time. I will take you through a step by step explanation of what I will do and why I do it.
1. The Consultation
You will get a treatment in the first session.
For the initial consultation, I will need to gather information about your state of health and your problem. I will ask some general questions:
I will try to avoid any personal or sensitive questions.
There will be other questions like general body function – digestion, urination, menstruation, stress, diet. However, I may ask these questions as I go along in the course of the treatment.
Here I will ask you to remove some clothes. Socks need to be removed. Trousers should be pulled up over knees. A t shirt or blouse is ok. You will be covered with towel and blanket for warmth and modesty. You can change in privacy.
It is advisable to wear loose fitting clothing. You will never have to undress fully. If you ever feel uncomfortable, please express this and we can work around that.
3. Palpation / Body exam
I will also gather information from the body. These are the ‘unspoken messages’. The reason, is that a person’s problems and illnesses whether it is emotional or physical always manifests itself in some way in the body.
You will be asked to lie on the coach – usually face up first, but sometimes if it is a clear back problem, we may start face down. Pregnant woman or people with certain muscular problems may be able to lie on the side or even in a sitting position. Whatever is most comfortable for you? The coach is adjustable. You will never have to be in a position that causes you discomfort.
Checking the Body and Acupuncture Points
Then I will palpate the body. If it is a muscular problem, I will examine the problem area searching for tender or weak points.
Acupuncture works according to a system of energy channels, and acupuncture points in specific points in the body. It works according to the principle of excess energy and deficient energy and an imbalance of the two.
For example, a person may have stiff shoulders and neck. This implies they have excess energy above. At the same time, they may have poor digestive function or excessive urination at night. This implies a deficiency below. It is an imbalance of excess and deficiency and top and bottom. I have to correct that imbalance to release the tension from the shoulder and bring the stuck or excess energy back to the centre (the digestive or urinary organs where that energy is needed.
I will feel the acupuncture points and the channels. Some points my feel weak or hard or painful. This indicates that they are imbalanced and may need some treatment. I will decide what parts are weak and need treating and what parts are excessive or blocked and need to be cleared.
I use abdominal diagnosis which is used extensively in Japanese acupuncture. The abdominal (called ‘hara’ in Japanese) is the root of health. If you have a healthy 'hara', then your general health is good. Problems can show up on the abdomen.
I sometimes use tongue diagnosis. This is used extensively in Chinese herbal medicine and TCM acupuncture. The tongue can indicate the health of the body’s organs and metabolic functions.
I always check the pulses – sometimes several times. The general quality of the pulse can tell me about the state of your health. For example, if someone is very stressed, with many things going on in their life, the pulse can have a hard or tight feeling to it and may be a little more rapid than normal. A person with muscular skeletal pain may also have a strong, rapid or tight pulse. A run down person may have a weak and deep or slow pulse.
As I carry out my treatment, I aim to make the quality of the pulse change and make it better. If it is weak, I want to make it stronger. If it is bounding, I want to calm it down. These are indicators that I am going in the right direction.
I will check frequently throughout the treatment because every time I use a needle or burn herbs, the pulse may change. I need to assess if it is a good change and the treatment is going in the right direction.
4. Treatment - Needles
Acupuncture involves special needles of thickness, length, brand and quality. I use different types of needling for various purposes. For example, I use very thin needles – particularly on the limbs and sometimes slightly thicker needles on the back and shoulder or thicker muscles. The needles I use are thinner and smaller than hypodermic syringes and so are more painless.
It is a priority for me to insert the needle as painlessly as possible. Painful needling can be quite uncomfortable and distressing. I want the experience to be relaxing and enjoyable. I don’t want a patient to tense up or grind their teeth as they anticipate the needle going in.
Firstly all needles are sterilised and are manufactured to a high quality. I always use the best brand on the market – Japanese Seirin as well as Teirin needle brands. Each needle is disposed of immediately after being used and treated as clinical waste and incinerated.
Alcoholic wipes can be used to cleanse the area I will treat. My hands are washed and alcohol gel is used to sanitise my hands. Clean towels and sheets and coach roll is used for each person.
Needles may be inserted either very shallowly – up to a few millimetres or sometimes relatively deeper from 1 – 2 cm if it is into a very large muscle group like the buttocks or leg.
Extreme care is always taken when needling. And deep needling is never performed over sensitive areas.
With needling, a sensation may be felt. It can be a feeling of release, or a lightness that comes over your whole body. In some cases a sensation may flow through various limbs or around the body. Sometimes you may not feel anything. These sensations are all natural.
Non Insertion Techniques - For needle phobic, sensitive patients, children or babies.
Acupuncture does not always need to use the insertion of needles. Actually the needle can be held against the surface o the skin or above it and a change can be elicited. This is called ‘contact needling’ and is used predominantly by some blind acupuncturists in Japan.
Alternatively, a long metal object called a ‘teishin’ can be used to affect the acupuncture points. In some cases, this can be more powerful than inserting acupuncture needles.
Usually, these methods are used with babies or children, because their energy is so sensitive, they can react very quickly to treatment, and do not need stronger methods like needle puncturing.
Generally acupuncture needles have a thinner diameter than hypodermic needles, whilst also being very strong and sturdy. If you look at the picture below, you can see that they are thinner than a matchstick so insertion is quite painless. (The picture also shows the needles in their sterilised packaging and out).
The burning of a herb – mugwort (artemis vulgaris) a common weed, which is processed and then can be rolled into large cones or small cones the size of rice grains or into needle like threads. It is burnt on specific acupoints to bring about a change. Moxa can be used to supplements a weak area of the body. It can also disperse an excess of energy depending on how it is used.
Moxa is safe when used by a professional. It never burns the skin directly and leaves no marks. Instead, it feels very warm and relaxing. I only use high quality Japanese moxa (and not Chinese moxa which is lower grade and leaves a strong lingering smell behind). Japanese moxa does not leave any smell at all. Naturally, Japanese moxa is more expensive, but it is the best tool for the job.
Moxa may also be used on the tip of the needle to add more heat into a weak point or a moxa cigar stick can be used to warm certain channels. It is a very versatile method and can bring about very good results if used correctly.
There are also types of smokeless moxa which can be used in places with a smoke alarm like offices or hospitals.
6. General Treatment Process
It will different for everybody. Once I have identified the problem and approach, I will select certain acupoints to be needled. Some needles may be retained and then taken out. Other times, I will insert the needles for a few breaths and then remove. I will also burn moxa on various points.
I will usually try to treat the front and back, although if there is a particular problems area, I will focus most of the treatment on that area.
I will often treat some points that may seem some distance away from the problem area. These points will typically be on the lower limbs - the foot, the lower leg, hands or forearm. This is because in Traditional Oriental Medicine, these points are considered to be the most powerful points of the body.
They are called the ‘five phase’ points. This stage is what is called the ‘root’ treatment – or where I treat any underlying or constitutional imbalance that can hinder progress of the main presenting problem.
I also practice reflexology and Indian Head Massage and I also have training in shiatsu techniques. I can incorporate this into the treatment or simply give a full treatment of massage.
Reflexology is a treatment involving massaging pressure point on the foot to elicit changes in the body. It is extremely relaxing and often causes people to fall asleep during treatment. It makes it a perfect treatment for people who have a lot of tension in their heads and shoulders, stress, sleep problems.
Head and shoulder massage is especially useful to help release any muscular tension in the shoulders and back, which are common problem areas. Modern day working using computers and excessive sitting creates a lot of tension and ‘blocked’ energy in the neck and shoulders leading to pain. Massage can help relieve this. Although in some muscular skeletal problems, massage may not be suitable.
8. After care advice
Sometimes advice is given with specific exercises, breathing practices, diets, or meditations techniques for you to consider doing at home.
Standard Treatment lasts 50 minutes
(Price is same for both incalls and home visits)
Price – £50 (as of 2017) for a standard treatment