Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine originated in China more than 2000 years ago. This system was created by some of the best-educated and brightest scholars in Chinese history. It has developed up to the modern day as scholar-physicians throughout the ages systematically recorded their clinical experiences and engaged in continuous and vigorous debate. It is estimated that there are between 30-40,000 books on Chinese medicine still in existence that were written before the turn of the century. Since then, this tradition has continued with the publication of an ever-growing number of books and scientific journals all over the world. Chinese medicine is routinely practiced alongside Western medicine in hospitals in modern China.

The heart of Chinese medicine lies in its sophisticated understanding of health and disease and its diagnostic system. It uses unfamiliar language to describe familiar patterns of illness, so familiar that it is often the case that as a patient one can often find that it is easier to express how they are feeling within this system than the current biomedical one. There are 5 main therapies associated with Chinese medicine: Acupuncture; Chinese Herbal Medicine; Tui Na Massage; Chinese Nutrition and Qi Gong therapy.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into "points on the body which exert a significant influence over related parts of the body and its physiological functioning. It is a traditional form of treatment practiced since ancient times in East Asia. The points are chosen according to "patterns" of disharmony diagnosed by a practitioner tailoring a treatment specifically to each patient.

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese Herbal Medicine is one of the great herbal systems of the world, with an unbroken tradition going back to the 3rd century BC.

Yet throughout its history it has continually developed in response to changing clinical conditions, and has been sustained by research into every aspect of its use. This process continues today with the development of modern medical diagnostic techniques and knowledge.

Because of its systematic approach and clinical effectiveness it has for centuries had a very great influence on the theory and practice of medicine in the East, and more recently has grown rapidly in popularity in the West. It still forms a major part of healthcare provision in China, and is provided in state hospitals alongside western medicine. Chinese medicine includes all oriental traditions emerging from Southeast Asia that have their origins in China.

Chinese Herbal Medicine, along with the other components of Chinese medicine, is based on the concepts of Yin and Yang. It aims to understand and treat the many ways in which the fundamental balance and harmony between the two may be undermined and the ways in which a person's Qi or vitality may be depleted or blocked. Clinical strategies are based upon diagnosis of patterns of signs and symptoms that reflect an imbalance.

What is Tui Na Massage?

Tui Na Massage is a form of bodywork which applies the same principles of Chinese Medicine used in Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Chinese nutrition and Qi Gong therapy. It is traditionally a medical form of massage designed to promote health, targeting specific health problems. It can be focused to solve a particular problem, or more general in order to promote well-being, relaxation and help de-stress.

There are a number of differences between Tui Na massage and other forms of massage. Firstly, a Tui Na massage always begins with a Chinese medical diagnosis of the patient to build a picture of areas of discomfort and patterns of functional imbalance. A routine is then tailored directly to the patient's individual needs and the current state of their health at that point in time. Secondly, Tui Na massage uses pressure points to influence the patient's health at both superficial and deep levels in the body. Finally, Tui Na massage uses certain techniques not commonly found in other forms of massage such as rolling method (rou fa). Additional techniques may be used such as cupping, gua sha and moxibustion.

What happens in an Acupuncture Treatment, Herbal Consultation or Tui Na Massage?

A treatment will always begin with a diagnostic consultation. The practitioner will ask the patient some questions, look for visual signs, look at the patient's tongue and take their pulse. The initial consultation will be longer (up to 90 minutes) so that a detailed and thorough case may be taken from the patient. Subsequent appointments will last between 50 minutes to 1 hour.

From the information obtained, the practitioner will make a diagnosis of both the patient's current situation and their underlying constitution. Once the diagnosis is complete, the practitioner will discuss the treatment options with the patient, and the patient will have an opportunity to ask questions. The practitioner will then ask the patient to lie on the treatment couch and proceed with the treatment.

In an acupuncture treatment, the needles are typically retained for 20 minutes. Other techniques are often used in order to tailor the treatment specifically to the patient's needs. These include:

• Tui Na Massage

• Moxibustion

• Electro–Acupuncture

• Cupping

• Gua Sha

How does Acupuncture work?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into acupuncture points to achieve specific health benefits. In Chinese Medicine it is understood that these points lie on channels or meridians, which run all over the body. A point that is needled or pressed will have an effect on the areas and organs covered by its respective channel. This encourages the body to restore harmony, prevent disease, facilitate self-healing, promote circulation, improve energy levels and relieve pain and stress.

There are numerous theories concerning mechanisms of action to explain how acupuncture works from a modern Western scientific perspective. A common theory suggests that since a majority of acupuncture points are either located near, or connected to neural structures, it is believed that acupuncture works through the regulation of the nervous system. When a specific acupuncture point is stimulated, the nervous system "shuts the gate" to the sensation of pain due to the release of pain-killing bio-chemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. Similarly, scientific studies show, that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by modifying the release of neurotransmitters and, as a result, affecting the areas of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.

Another more recent theory refers to the link between the location of acupuncture points and nexus points of the myofascial network.

What is the difference between Traditional and Medical Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is today offered by traditional acupuncturists, as well as other healthcare professionals such as GPs, physiotherapists, osteopaths, midwives and nurses. Medical acupuncture used by western medicine professionals takes the practical needling skill and tacks it onto a western medicine diagnosis. Medical acupuncture is used to supplement other therapies like medicine and physiotherapy and can be learned in a short time of 80 hours. It treats a narrow range of physical conditions such as pain and nausea but usually does not treat the underlying causes. Whilst there is a place for this type of treatment in certain conditions, it does not offer the great power of traditional acupuncture in the hands of a well-qualified practitioner. Traditional acupuncture which addresses the exact pattern of disharmony unique to each individual can treat the underlying causes of the health problems and help to balance emotions.

Do I have to believe in it for it to work?

It is not necessary to believe in acupuncture for it to work, however having a positive attitude and state of mind always helps with any type of treatment. Clinical studies involving "non-believers" demonstrate positive effects when treated by acupuncture. In addition, studies on animals and small children, who cannot be thought to "believe", show positive changes through the use of acupuncture.

How do I know Acupuncture can help me?
Based on your medical history, your condition, and what other treatments you have been or are receiving, we can best help you decide whether acupuncture is suitable for you by itself or as adjunctive therapy.

Generally, when a condition is not corrected by Western medicine, the treatment, is quite expensive, or has significant side effects associated with it, then clearly acupuncture is worth a try.

Since acupuncture promotes the body's natural healing ability, many conditions can be resolved or improved. The effectiveness of acupuncture extends far beyond the conception that it is only useful for chronic pain management. Acupuncture is recognized as a comprehensive system of preventive health care and health maintenance. Throughout its long history, acupuncture has established a solid reputation as an excellent alternative for health care and it can be very effective when integrated with conventional medicine. Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies, children and the elderly.

What is the scientific evidence on the effects of Acupuncture?

For further information on the latest research click here.

Is Acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced by a licensed, trained professionals such as ourselves. In addition, we adhere to strict codes of conduct and hygiene laid down by our representative organization, The British Acupuncture Council, to which we are all members.

The importance of seeking an appropriately trained practitioner cannot be underestimated.

Are there any contraindications for acupuncture?
Acupuncture is not advised if:

• The patient has a haemophilic condition.

• The patient has a severe psychotic condition or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Are there any side effects or complications?
As previously mentioned, acupuncture is an extremely safe treatment method, therefore it has virtually no unpleasant side effects or complications when treated by a qualified practitioner.

Occasionally, a small number of patients do have mild and self-correcting reactions to the procedure, such as minor bruising at the needlepoint, a short-term flare-up of the symptoms, nausea, light-headedness or dizziness. Any medical information and concerns should be discussed with the practitioner before and after the treatment to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness.

Can I have Acupuncture if I'm pregnant?

Yes, providing the treatment is performed by an appropriately trained practitioner. It is very important to take into consideration that certain acupuncture points and needle manipulations should not be used during pregnancy.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker than a hair, they have a rounded end rather than a sharp cutting one, and their insertion is practically painless. It is nothing like receiving an ordinary injection. The sensation of receiving an acupuncture treatment can rarely be described as painful, it is typically described as tingling, soreness, numbness, warmth, heaviness or an "electric" feeling moving up and down the channels. This is one of the signs that prove a certain point has been stimulated. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment.

Can I have acupuncture if I'm scared of needles?
Yes. Over the centuries, refined needle insertion techniques and improved needles have been developed which enables the skilled acupuncture practitioner to place a needle with little or no sensation.

If you have a real fear of needles, discuss it with us. An appropriate treatment strategy can always be agreed upon.

How many treatments will I need?

Since each person is unique, the total number of treatments required, will vary in each case The severity of the condition, it's the duration, the frequency of the treatments and the patient itself, are some of the determining factors. As a rough guideline, you may start to feel benefits after the first or second treatment although long-standing and chronic conditions usually need more time to improve. In the UK, treatments are usually prescribed on a weekly basis and for a course of 6 to 10 sessions. After a case review, if the condition hasn't been resolved completely, a new course of treatments may be suggested. Once your health has stabilized, occasional treatments may be recommended to prevent recurrence. Again, a consultation with an experienced practitioner will offer the best treatment program for you.

What should I do before a treatment?

It is best not to have a large meal within an hour of the treatment as the process of digestion will alter the pulse, and you may need to lie on your stomach. It is very important to avoid alcohol and food or drinks that colours your tongue such as coffee or strong tea. It is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothes so that the acupuncture points are easily accessible.

Should I tell my doctor that I'm having Acupuncture?

Yes, it is important to mention that you plan to have acupuncture if you are currently receiving another treatment. Your acupuncturist will need to know about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.

Should I stop other medications?

No. You should continue to follow your current GP's instructions. The acupuncture treatment may enable you to reduce or even stop taking some forms of medication but you should always consult your doctor regarding any change of prescription. DO NOT stop taking medication without professional guidance. Acupuncture is often used to complement and supplement other treatments.

Does medical insurance cover Acupuncture treatments?

That depends upon your insurer. As the demand for complementary medicine increases, more private health insurance companies are beginning to offer cover for traditional acupuncture. You should check your individual policy details.