in this chapter
In order to determine what your problem is and how I can help you,
I shall have to take a full history and ask questions about the
normal functioning of your various body systems. For instance I
might ask, how you sleep, how you digest, or whether you have a
tendency to get thirsty, even if this is not directly relevant to
your complaint. I will then take your pulses on both wrists, noting
their quality, rhythm and strength, and look at your tongue, its
structure, colour, coating, etc. The examination of heart and lung
with the stethoscope, or other relevant medical examinations like
a blood pressure reading, can also be part of the initial consultation.
This process often takes between 30 and 45 minutes.
enough information has been gathered to determine the likely causes
of your problem(s), I will select the most appropriate treatment
strategy. I usually begin with acupuncture treatment. The aim is
to discover which imbalances need adjusting and which channels require
treatment, to boost your overall energy, vitality and well-being,
so your specific complaint starts to improve.
often recommend other complementary treatments to accompany the
acupuncture, in particular the prescription of a Chinese herbal medicine, where this is indicated.
In many cases we will look at what you eat and drink, and it is
common that I make some recommendations regarding diet change. Since
every consultation lasts an hour, there is usually time for talking
selected cases it will be advantageous to back up the diagnosis
with laboratory tests. I can perform all the commonly available
blood tests, and many other relevant tests, but you may wish to
get them free on the NHS through your doctor.
are well over 500 recognised acupuncture points on the body, of
which I use about 100 on a regular basis. For the first consultation
I often choose only a small number of needles, like 2 or 4, which
will help you to get used to the acupuncture and show me how you
respond to the treatment.
usually accompany the acupuncture with a form of healing, which
I like to call ‘qi healing’. My hands are placed several
inches above the needles. In the manner of performing Qi Gong I
allow the energy (the qi) to flow through my left hand into a particular
point and along the channel, to be received out of another point
through my right hand. This you often feel as a warmth and heaviness,
which is usually very relaxing.
more information on the acupuncture and the other complementary
treatments please refer to the individual chapters through the home
happens during subsequent treatments
subsequent treatments I more commonly choose between 6 and 12 points.
The majority of needles will be placed in the arms or legs, below
the elbows or knees. This is where the channels have influential
points known as the command points. Needles are also placed around
the local area of the problem. Another area where needles can be
applied is the ear, which is known as auricular acupuncture.
will usually remain dressed during the treatment, with the clothing
only removed to reveal the site of the needling. If needles are
placed on the back, chest, abdomen, head or neck, it is usually
sufficient to just open a few buttons, or slightly lower the shirt,
skirt or trousers.
patients hardly feel the initial insertion of the needle. Acupuncture
needles are many times finer than injection needles, or those used
in blood tests, and bear little resemblance to the latter. Once
a needle is in place, it should be gently manipulated, usually rotated
or softly moved in and out (“lift and thrust”), in order
to obtain the correct therapeutic effect. This is known as “obtaining
deqi (arrival of Qi)”, and should be felt as a spreading sensation.
It can be very subtle, like a tingling, or the sensation of a magnetic
field, or it can be stronger, like a mild toothache. Occasionally
it is quite powerful, like an electric current. If the spreading
is felt along the pathway of the channel, this can be a very good
indication that the point has been chosen and needled well, and
the response might be favourable.
there is coldness, and the aim is to warm the acupuncture channel,
I may use Moxa, which can be used without needles. Moxa is a dried
herb, which gets burnt over the point without burning you. This
is generally very popular and well tolerated. Some patients are
troubled by its smell, which is the reason why I now mainly use
Japanese smokeless Moxa.
I apply a minute, battery-generated electric current (1mVolt, 1
mAmp) to the needles, which you will feel as a gentle tapping or
fluttering. This is used in inflammatory conditions, where the electro-acupuncture
is often better tolerated than strong hand manipulation.