What On Earth Does An Acupuncturist Do?

Worried About Picking Up A Phone?

People are sometimes worried about picking up the phone and calling a traditional  acupuncturist. Common perceptions range from ‘it must be painful’ to ‘will he/she be professional’ or simply a fear of the unknown. So what is the reality? What happens when you book a session. What do people say?

What On Earth Does An Acupuncturist Do?What On Earth Does An Acupuncturist Do?

Not Nothing But Not Painful

When asked about the sensation of having needles inserted into your body I often describe acupuncture as ‘not nothing but not painful’. When I asked some of my patients for feedback, one said ‘you don’t really feel it do you?’, and another said ‘its much better than waxing’. Read my previous blog on this topic. http://theacupunctureblog.co.uk/comfortable-needling/

Also take a look at this video.

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Whilst many practitioners generally don’t work in an NHS setting, if you choose a British Acupuncture Council registered acupuncturist (in the UK) you will get someone who has trained for a minimum of three years to degree level (or equivalent) in acupuncture. They will be fully insured and bound by the highest professional standards.

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of around 3,000 professionally qualified acupuncturists. It is the UK’s largest professional/ self-regulatory body for the practice of traditional acupuncture and was one of the first organisations to become a PSA Accredited Register. The Accredited Register scheme is designed to recognise that an accredited organisation maintains high standards of training, safe practice and professional conduct where the operational sector is not covered by statutory regulation.

Initial Consultation

The first session with an acupuncturist will generally last longer to include taking a full case history. This is more than a nicety – it is a solid foundation on which to create a treatment plan suited to your individual needs. In general you are advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing to an acupuncture session.

You may be surprised to learn too that acupuncturists do more than just insert needles into you. We are caring, sympathetic and willing to listen. Treatments may also include moxibustion (warming therapy), guasha (friction massage), cupping, dietary advice according to traditional Chinese theory, auricular therapy and more. Chinese exercise forms may be recommended too.

What On Earth Does An Acupuncturist Do?

Moxa Is Used for its Warming Properties

So rest assured when you call an acupuncturist you are not entering a portal to an alien world! We are professionally trained human beings backed by one of the oldest established healthcare systems in the world and regulated by a leading self-regulatory organisation.

Martin Dean

The Acupuncture Pain Centre

07969413158

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[What On Earth Does An Acupuncturist Do?]

Acupuncture Fertility – Recognising Individual Circumstances

Exciting Developments

You may not realise it, but fertility acupuncture is one of the most exciting developments within the field of acupuncture at the moment. Here’s why.

Over the years I have worked with many couples to help them achieve their dreams. In my experience the key is to really understand the complex needs of each individual. So how do I do this?

Through very careful observation, enquiry about your current state of health and looking through your medical test results and diagnosis, we can build up a detailed picture of your reproductive health. As part of this the majority of my patients will chart their daily temperature – the so-called basal body temperature. The overall aim is to develop a strategy that will improve your chances through a greater understanding of how your body is working.

To give some specific examples of what I mean, are you able to regulate your temperature well? What do you think is the reason for your current problems? Do you suffer from pre-menstrual symptoms? Does your digestion serve you well? Are you sleeping sufficiently?

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And one other point. I rarely talk about infertility. A more appropriate expression would be subfertility.

One of the Oldest Healthcare Systems in the World

So where does Acupuncture fit into all this? It is one of the oldest healthcare systems still in use around the world. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to improve health by balancing and regulating the key organ systems of the body. It is based on principles that go back over two thousand years.

According to The Fertility Foundation, fertility acupuncture works by :-

  • Regulating hormones
  • Improving blood supply to the ovaries
  • Improving Sperm Quality and quantity
  • Helping with embryo implantation
  • Reducing stress

The following clip  illustrates this in more detail.

Not all of these may be applicable to you of course – but the key is to identify and improve those that are. The key steps are:-

  • Diagnosis
  • Plan
  • Treatment

Traditional Treatments

The following traditional treatments may also be offered alongside acupuncture :-

  • Moxibustion (warming therapy) see earlier blog
  • Cupping
  • Traditional Chinese dietary advice
  • Gua sha (Chinese friction massage)
  • Auricular acupuncture
  • Lifestyle advice
  • Listening

mini moxa

So let me share a typical example. A couple have been trying to get pregnant for 2 ½ years. A simple hands-on check shows that the female partner has a very cold lower abdomen. I inserted two needles into the patient’s hand and two into her ankles. Within minutes her abdomen has warmed up dramatically, something which her partner was able to feel with his own hands. ‘You are a bloody magician’ he said. Three months later the couple were able to announce a pregnancy. Co-incidence?

Here’s to making a difference! Explaining the unexplained.

Martin Dean is a British Acupuncture Council registered acupuncturist who practices in Nottingham, UK.

Tel: 07969413158

Web: www.acupuncturefertilitycentre.co.uk

[Acupuncture Fertility – Recognising Individual Circumstances]

Onions and Garlic – A Force For Good?

Too Common and Crude

According to Ayurveda – traditional Indian medicine – onions and garlic can be ‘stimulating to the desires’. For this reason it is usually avoided by those who practice meditation and other spiritual paths. In Chinese herbal medicine, garlic is often considered too common and crude to be included in classic herbal recipes.

Onions and Garlic - A Force For Good?

Onions and Garlic – A Force For Good?

So how should we regard onions and garlic? Does they have a good side? Could it be helpful for improving our health?

According to traditional Chinese dietary theory onion and garlic, both of which hail from the Alium family, are pungent in nature and warming. This can help to move stagnant Qi (energy), activate the lungs and act as a digestive.They are considered excellent for improving circulation, and for resolving phlegm and dampness (fluid retention) in the respiratory system. This makes these foods a great asset during the autumn cold and flu season in the UK, set against a backdrop of increasing damp and cold.

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According to author Henry C. Lu ‘onion is used in Chinese folk medicine as a diuretic and an expectorant’. Other members of the Alium family including spring onions, chives and leeks offer up similar properties.

Feeding Gut Bacteria

An analysis of 64 studies by researchers at King’s College London found prebiotic fibres in onions and garlic which are known to have a positive effect on ‘good bacteria’ in the gut, specifically Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. These bacteria are required for a healthy digestive system to function effectively. Also refer to http://theacupunctureblog.co.uk/the-microbiome-diet-bugs-that-count/

At this time of year therefore a good addition to one’s diet would be a hearty vegetable soup created from a stock of onions, garlic and leeks. Enjoy good health this autumn.

[Onions and Garlic – A Force For Good?]

Your Initial Fertility Consultation Explained

You are anticipating your first visit to The Acupuncture Fertility Centre. What should you expect for your Initial Fertility Consultation?

Your Initial Fertility Consultation Explained

One or Two?

First of all the invitation to attend will be open to both of you – as appropriate. Secondly you will be asked to bring along a completed consultation form. This will be emailed to you in advance as part of your welcome pack. This process will help speed things along and allow me to tailor the treatment to your circumstances.

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During the session the questions will fall into the following categories:-

  •  Tests, evaluations and previous treatments
  •  Lifestyle changes you have made
  • Your general health
  • Your reproductive health

The assessment is also likely to include a check of your pulse and tongue and an evaluation of your abdominal temperature. The aim of the session will be to put together a strategy to your desired outcome.

why are you taking my pulse?

And ladies (depending on circumstances) you will be asked to start taking your daily temperature (the so-called basal body temperature) so that we can evaluate how effectively your menstrual cycle is working. This was discussed in a previous blog.

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Three Steps

The three steps to take you forward will be:-

  • diagnosis
  • plan
  • treatment

The diagnosis will be individualised according to the principle of traditional Chinese medicine, developed over more than 2,500 years. Treatment may include acupuncture needles, moxibustion (warming therapy to improve circulation), massage, cupping, dietary advice and exercise.

These are clearly not the work of just one session – after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day – but the aim is to put the explained into the unexplained so that you can feel confident that you are in good hands..

Here’s to making a difference!

Thank you for all your help throughout our journey in bringing this little man into the world!  R.

Dear Magic Martin,

There are no words that can really say how eternally grateful we are to you. You helped to change our lives and give us this special gift.    A.H.

[Your Initial Fertility Consultation Explained]

I Can Never Get My Temperature Right

Bright Red And Rolling With Sweat

You never know what to wear. One moment you are frozen and the next you are bright red and rolling with sweat. You put on layer after layer of clothes so that you look like Michelin man! Your hands and feet are always blue and freezing cold.

Full or Empty?

If any of these apply to you then acupuncture might be a helpful friend. But how does this ancient treatment deal with temperature regulation? To make sense of this let us boil the possible variations down into two key questions. These are –

  • Hot or cold?
  • Full or empty?

So what does this mean in practice? The distinction to an acupuncturist is important as each of the four possibilities requires a different treatment strategy. Distinguishing whether we are hot or cold might seem obvious – do we prefer a warm or a cold room, do we look pale or red and flushed, do we like our drinks hot or cold? Does heat or ice help? Do we wear more or less clothes than other people around us?

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But what about full or empty? Full conditions are generally stronger and give rise to fuller symptoms, with a stronger presentation. Empty conditions on the other hand arise from deficiency and may become worse when we are tired.

To give a couple of examples, mild menopausal night sweats are usually characterised as empty heat and often show their hand in the afternoon and at night when we are more tired. They come and go as flushes, as does the redness in the face.  Full heat would be exemplified by tonsillitis. Symptoms of this condition  include a sore throat aggravated by swallowing, along with  a continuous fever. The symptoms will often feel more intense than with the first example, and less inclined to variation. We may feel more restless.

The Red Tip Of This Tongue Indicates The Presence Of Heat

A similar set of principles applies to cold. It is curious to note that many of my fertility patients that exhibit low progesterone levels also present with empty cold. Commonly their abdomen will  be cold as will be their hands and feet.

Deciphering The Signs

The skill of the acupuncturist lies in deciphering the signs presented by the body which involves listening, touching, asking, looking and smelling. This will include a reading of both the tongue and pulse. Treatment such as clearing and nourishing will be applied as appropriate until the signs diminish. Lifestyle changes can help too. Foods can be added/subtracted to your diet to cool you (avoid ginger and chili), warm you (soups and stews, ginger, black pepper) and nourish you (miso soup, beetroot soup).

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You may also exhibit a combination of these symptoms (eg freezing during the day and hot in bed), which would require two parallel treatment principles. And yes men do get night sweats too!

Would you like to be better regulated? Call Martin Dean on 07969413158

[I can never get my temperature right]

Oblique Strategies

‘Honour thy error as a hidden intention’.

This was the phrase presented by the Oblique Strategies pack as I tried to solve a complex problem which had been confounding me. It worked!

What strategies do you employ to set yourself free from a creative tight corner? During my youth I remember being shown this set of cards which were designed for use by muscians and artists, created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975. We would use these whenever exam revision was proving hard, and invariably it would unlock something useful.

Brian Eno

Brian Eno is an English musician and record producer who’s best known for being a founding member of the glam rock band Roxy Music and his innovations in ambient music. His work as a record producer is legendary as he has worked with such musicians as U2, Devo, Talking Heads and Ultravox.

His skill as a producer lies in unlocking the hidden talents in everyone. For example in one interview he told a story about how the drummer in a band he was producing came forward with a new composition featuring lead guitar. The normal procedure would be to give this part to the lead guitarist, but Eno suggested the drummer recorded this part himself. The resulting track was a surefire hit.

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According to Wikipedia – ‘each card offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.’

I rediscovered the concept recently, now available as a free website implementation and smartphone app (search for Oblique Strategies). Intriguingly the original cards still change hands for several hundred pounds on ebay.

A random click on the website came up with ‘from nothing to more than nothing’. Hmmm interesting. Go on, give it a try and see what comes up for you.

Oblique Strategies

 

Pelvic Pain, Sitting and a Pinch Of Scepticism

Tim Parks

Englishman Tim Parks is a best-selling novelist, critic, essayist, and Professor of Literature who has lived and worked in Italy for nearly forty years. He has previously been shortlisted for The Booker Prize.

Some time ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed his book Italian Ways, on and off the rails from Milan to Palermo (in fact I booked an Italian rail holiday off the back of this enticing volume). More recently I came across another of his books which drew my attention – Teach Us How To Sit Still (Vantage books London).

Pelvic Pain, Sitting and a Pinch Of Scepticism

Tim Parks

Symptoms

In his forties the symptoms – constant abdominal pain and urinary difficulty- that were to dog his life began to take hold. In his remarkable book ‘Teach Us To Sit Still’ he describes in everyday detail how the body that had carried him thus far turned out to be less familiar than he thought possible. What he would later come to know as ‘unexplained pelvic pain’ increasingly dominated his daily routine.

He writes ‘had what happened been merely a problem of diagnosis, one bunch of doctors getting it wrong – in their eagerness to cut me up – and then another finally suggesting just the drug that would fix me in a jiffy, I would never have bothered to write about it.’

A Headache In The Pelvis

His was a story familiar to me – ‘so-called’ experts vying to offer treatments based on uncertain knowledge. So what do you do when you have exhausted all the possibilities? Search for the impossible of course! Whilst Googling his symptoms he came across a book entitled ‘A Headache In The Pelvis’ by Drs Wise and Anderson. In this well-researched book he was introduced to the idea that his symptoms – which made him increasingly unable to sit comfortably – were related to chronic tension in the pelvic floor muscles. What was needed, they asserted, was to make addressing the symptoms the top agenda item of the day, not the last.

Thus started a long and productive journey which took him through paradoxical relaxation, canoeing and Vipassana meditation. Parks describes the outcome of one of his early meditation sessions thus –

That Was Odd

‘Abruptly, a tight girdle of muscle between navel and pubis slid down, as if settling into its proper place. At once I felt more comfortable. That was odd. I was astonished. You go to three or four urologists and pay hundreds of pounds only to get the first piece of useful advice, from a self-help book’.

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Honestly and thoughtfully told, Parks’ story is one that will resonate with many trying to find answers to undiagnosed illness. The unresolved problem, the role of the expert and searching within to discover uncomfortable truths. In the end he not only ‘conquers’ the pain but really does find himself in the process (cliched but true).

Compelling reading.

Also see the following article by Tim Parks :- Tim Parks on meditation’s pros and cons: ‘This is more than medicine’

Also read my blog http://theacupunctureblog.co.uk/fine-tuning-the-controls-stress/

 

[Pelvic Pain, Sitting and a Pinch Of Scepticism]

 

Acupuncture Point Sea of Blood

Introducing Acupuncture Point Sea of Blood

This point also known as Xue Hai or Spleen 10 has, as its name suggests a strong relationship with blood and blood circulation. Located on the upper leg, just above the knee (see diagram) it is often tender when pressed.

Xue Hai finds great use in treating skin complaints. For example red, raised heat rashes (which we are likely to describe as being caused by heat in the blood) may be cooled and soothed with this point. Many skin conditions (eg psoriasis, eczema, urticaria or hives) also have an underlying dryness which the classic Chinese texts urge us to treat by invigorating the blood. I find this surprisingly effective in practice, even in severe cases.

Menstruation relies on the smooth circulation of blood and so this point is a real star for treating fixed, stabbing menstrual pains accompanied by the passing of large dark-coloured clots. We talk about ‘dispelling stasis of blood’, which is about keeping it moving and fluid.

Conversely if your periods are scanty (perhaps indicating that you are not building enough womb lining) we might use this point to aid blood production. Because healthy blood is derived from a well-balanced diet, healthy eating would be encouraged too (read beetroot for the blood).

Acupuncture Point Sea of Blood

And finally this is a good point to treat inflammatory disorders of the knee when combined with point spleen 9 located below the kneecap.

Spleen 10, a true heavyweight in the acupuncture world.

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Acupuncture Point Sea of Blood

There’s Nothing You can Do About Sperm Quality (Or Is There?)

Are you a male struggling with low sperm parameters?

I recently came across an article by York Acupuncturist Ali Longridge which I wanted to share with you.  I have had many male patients who have checked in with low sperm count, morphology or motility. The mantra they arrive with is ‘there is nothing that can be done is there?’ But is this really true?

After a course of acupuncture treatment and dietary changes, a repeat sperm test will often show a marked improvement.

There's Nothing You can Do About Sperm Quality (Or Is There?)

In this well researched article Ali points out that that there is indeed much that can be done. As she points out –

Fertility acupuncture has been shown to increase the delivery of nutrients, antioxidants and oxygen to the sperm-making cells.

Read her article at:-

https://www.integratedhealthcareyork.com/myths-about-sperm-quality/

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There’s Nothing You can Do About Sperm Quality (Or Is There?)

Also see http://theacupunctureblog.co.uk/cordyceps-mushrooms-endurance/

(Please note that unfortunately we are usually unable to help with VERY low sperm counts.)

How We Study The Microbes Living In Your Gut

I am a great fan of TED talks – modern ideas for the modern world as I like to put it. A platform for some of the world’s brightest thinkers. In a previous blog I wrote about a diet to encourage healthy gut bacteria ‘The Microbiome – Bugs That Count’ with the principle that for optimum health we should cultivate the widest possible variety of these ‘good’ bacteria. Amongst other things these trillions of microbes contribute to our immune system, aid digestion and protect us from infection.

How We Study The Microbes Living In Your Gut

Living In Captivity

In his thoughtful TED talk, ‘How We Study The Microbes Living In Your Gut’ Dan Knights explains how primates in captivity have less variety in their gut bacteria than those living in the wild, and how this is connected to the poorer health of those individuals in captivity. He also relates the rather alarming finding that most US (human) citizens have even less diversity than primates in zoos. In essence the modern world is facing a decrease in gut bacteria diversity!

Watch video   How We Study The Microbes Living In Your Gut

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Acupuncture As Good As Drugs For Constipation

A large Chinese randomised control study carried out recently found acupuncture as good as drugs for constipation.

Three Different Point Combinations

Researchers tested three different acupuncture point combinations and compared these against the drug Mosapride. 684 patients were randomly assigned to one of the four groups.

Acupuncture As Good As Drugs For Constipation

The acupuncture patients were given 16 sessions over a four week period. In each of the three groups treatment points were stimulated by passing a pulsed electrical current through the needle. This technique allows for increased acupoint stimulation over needle insertion alone.

Outcome

After four weeks all four groups experienced significantly improved bowel movements, but at eight weeks the three acupuncture groups were showing significantly better bowel movements than the drug group. Stool consistency improved equally in all four groups.

Comment

Among the points that were chosen for this study Stomach 37, known as ‘Upper Great Void’ refers to the large bowel. This point, located on the lower leg is known for its ability to regulate the large intestine, and when used in combination with another point used in the study (Large Intestine 11) is said to lubricate the passage of the stool. This point combination was first discussed in a text book (The Spiritual Axis) compiled in the first century BC.

Acupuncture As Good As Drugs For Constipation

For more information on this study click here.