About acupuncture and ME

smiling five element acupuncture practitioner must be a happy personI graduated from the College of Traditional Acupuncture in Leamington Spa in 2005, and have been treating patients in London since then. Recently, I have started practising in Sevenoaks, Kent and am enjoying the relative peace and calm.

As well as running my clinic I became involved in teaching and research for a number of years. From 2007-10 I was instrumental in developing the acupuncture curriculum for the London Institute of Five Element Acupuncture, as well as taking the school through the exhaustive accreditation process with the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board. And if that wasn't enough I was part of an extended research trial looking at the efficacy of five element acupuncture in the GP setting. I was seeing patients simultaneously and it was great to be busy and involved.

Almost without me realising it, I started to pull back from education and research and begin to really appreciate clinical practice. One-to-one time with my patients was becoming more and more inspiring, while my interest in education and research was waning. Gradually I got back to the reason I started studying acupuncture in the first place. We've all read The Alchemist and understand the concept of 'going there to come back', but it's really good to experience it for yourself. There is a great value in trying things for a while, thinking "maybe not" and then returning to where you started with a big bag full of experience.

I'm now in the position where, in acupuncture terms, I concentrate solely on my clinical practice which is where my real interest lies.

The treatment

Five element acupuncture treatment is a progression rather than a single event. We start with the initial consultation, which results in the foundation of the ongoing treatment plan, and then follow a weekly treatment schedule, which becomes a fortnightly treatment schedule, and then monthly, and then on to less frequent maintenance treatments for as long as you need to or want to. This maintenance stage is part of the aim — an infrequent but regular top up that is almost entirely preventative in nature — a line from one of the Chinese medical classics states: "it's too late to start digging the well when one is already thirsty". 

At the initial consultation I will take a full case history, asking you a lot of questions, mainly about the issue that has brought you to acupuncture, and then performing a simple physical exam. This is known in five element acupuncture circles as the Traditional Diagnosis — our way of getting enough knowledge of you and your case to begin treatment with confidence.

After this, I will start the first treatment, which in most cases begins with me spending some time carefully marking up your back in preparation for the first needles. The needles are gently and very superficially inserted into points along the length of your back and will remain there for around 20 minutes. This may be your first ever experience of acupuncture and is a nice gentle way of  introducing you to acupuncture needles. 

While we wait for these needles to finish doing what they need to do, I’ll be asking you more questions; this time more general in nature, for example, your exercise, water intake, coffee and alcohol and cigarette use and such like.

Once I’ve finished this second round of questions, and taken the needles out of your back I’ll needle a few more points - most often on your feet or your hands - and that will just about conclude the initial consultation. The final thing before you go is setting your homework — this might be adjusting the amount of water you drink in a day or discussing ways of being more active. We'll also talk about follow-up treatments and the general treatment plan going forward.

The above is a very, very general overview of how the initial consultation might go. One of the main precepts of five element acupuncture is the uniqueness of the individual; making the treatment specific to the individual having treatment. Your treatment may follow the above path exactly, but more likely, will be at least a little different. Much depends on your specific situation and needs as well as how you respond to treatment. If you’d like to understand more about how acupuncture might help you, why not book a phone consult. We can talk through your specific case and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

Why acupuncture?

I'm often asked how I got into acupuncture. It's a long story; long in the sense that it took about 15 years for me to realise that this is what I should be doing — slow starter maybe! I'd always had an interest in Chinese 'things' — Chinese culture and martial arts, Daoist philosophy, the many aspects of ancient Chinese life that were governed by similar principles — but in fact, I only started to read extensively about the subject in my mid 20's. In the process I came across a lot of info about Chinese medicine and, to my shock and awe, the practice of ascertaining a patient's state of health and balance by reading their pulses. Pulse taking really floated my boat. I was amazed that this was possible and that Chinese doctors had been doing it for thousands of years. It had never occurred to me though, that I could do it too...

Instead, I carried on learning everything I could about the subject: the Chinese view on health and longevity, Daoist medical practices,  I read the fundamental Daoist text, the Dao De Jing, and quoted it (with little understanding on my part) at anyone who would listen. They wouldn't listen for very long of course and I became more selective, but in any event, I still didn't make the jump towards formal training in Chinese medicine. I just carried on in my music career (such as it was), and it was only when I had left South Africa to come to the UK that the light went on. I was still banging on about Chinese medicine to my new English friends, but I had added my extensive career woes to my repertoire. Finally, a friend had taken all she was going to take, and one autumn evening in 2001 said (not without irritation), that I should shut up whining about my job and go and study acupuncture. OR. Just shut up whining.

Well, I found that to be a good idea; I got online, identified a school, enrolled for a preview weekend and four months later, in March 2002, started my acupuncture studies.