Integrative HealthAcupuntureYour first visitHow to find me

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Your first consultation
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.

Once 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.

I 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 and counselling.

In 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.

There 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.

I 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.

For more information on the acupuncture and the other complementary treatments please refer to the individual chapters through the home page.

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What happens during subsequent treatments

On 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.

You 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.

Most 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.

When 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.

Occasionally 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.

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