Tension Without Trying

The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way;

The name that can be named is not the constant name

(Ancient Chinese book; Dao De Jing)

tension without trying

The author goes on to add that ‘as soon as something becomes fixed by words, form, language it loses its capacity to adapt, to be everlasting’.

As an acupuncturist I have many patients who hold tension in their shoulders. If I suggest they relax, the first thing they will do is to sit upright, stiffening their back muscles. If I ask them to relax their shoulders they will attempt to pull them down. In effect they are holding their shoulders up through tension and pulling them down with another set of muscles. This is no less than a tug of war and can be very tiring! An easier way is to just let them go and allow gravity to do its work. ‘Not so easy’ do I hear you say? Of course it isn’t otherwise there would be no problem shoulders.Subscribe To Our Blog

What the author of the text is saying is that to really understand something somatic we also have to feel it. Traditional techniques such as Pilates, Tai Chi or Yoga and also progressive muscle relaxation techniques allow us to feel what our bodies are doing, to improve our understanding of these strange bodies we inhabit through endless repetition and practice.

When you walk briskly do you power swing your arms? Do you walk upright? Perhaps you lean back or stoop forwards. When you reach for the kitchen cabinet do you raise your whole shoulder or just your arm? The more I think about it the more remarkable it is how little body awareness we all exhibit. This is of course a survival tactic as we simply do not have the capacity to process every single sensation.

The buzzword on everybody’s lips at the moment is mindfulness. What I have come to realise is that you don’t need to sit in a darkened room and listen to relaxation CDs to be mindful. No self-help book will tell you how to be. You have to find your own truth. Feel your way through life. Wake up to your body and relax.

[Tension without trying]

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Why Is My Tongue Sore

Patients will sometimes ask me why their tongue is sore and what they can do about it. Their GP may have diagnosed a bacterial infection or perhaps prescribed a medicine to ease symptoms. Are there any other perspectives that might be helpful in this situation?

Western medicine, so often good at saving lives, will sometimes compartmentalise issues, and so a sore tongue is a sore tongue. Isn’t that obvious, I hear you ask? It is a cornerstone of Chinese Medicine that our wellbeing depends on the efficient functioning of interrelated systems, presided over by our internal organs. A delicate balance is struck between these organ systems which operate like a team. When one member misbehaves it may affect the whole side. Yin and yang, and the five elements are ancient models that describe these associations in detail and form a framework for our understanding of human functioning. To illustrate this point, our lungs hate being dry, but unless the kidneys take away any excess moisture they will flood (pneumonia). Hence the lungs and kidneys work in partnership.

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In regular practice acupuncturists rely on a variety of indicators to assess a patient’s state of health. We ask questions (how are your bowels?), make observations (you are looking a little pale today) and assess through touch (pulse diagnosis). And of course there is tongue diagnosis.

Why Is My Tongue Sore

The tongue represents a complete microsystem – that is a representation of the whole organism. Whilst a sore tongue may just be the result of accidental biting, by carefully observing the it we can arrive at observations about the patient’s state of well-being. Specifically we can make observations about energy levels, hydration and blood flow. Similar microsystems include the hands, ears, feet (foot reflexology exploits this), eyes and the abdomen. Tongue diagnosis is a pillar of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. To take an example if the tongue is dry we may assume the patient’s tissues are dry. By observing which part of the tongue is dry we can make further assumptions about which part of the body this pertains to.

Broadly speaking the tip of your tongue represents your head and the very rear your lower trunk and legs. ‘But what about my sore tongue?’ I hear you ask. This commonly points to anything that triggers the build up of heat, such as  weakening of specific organs from (for example) worrying or aging. As well as soreness your tongue will probably be dry and your urine dark. You may suffer from night sweats.

Acupuncture treatment will focus on nourishing the affected systems and reducing the heat. You may be advised to avoid dietary factors such as spicy foods and eat easily digested food such as porridge, fish, vegetables and soup.

Give us a call today on 07969413158

Also see related blog If Only We Knew How To Listen

[Why is my tongue sore]

 

Up Down In or Out

You could say that acupuncturists are obsessed with directions. Up down in or out. We ascribe to each of the major functions of the body, the lungs, kidneys, stomach etc a direction. This may be intuitive, at other times less so, so let us take a look. When we consider the stomach this must surely go downwards and not up? So what is the correct direction of the lungs? These are said to descend and disperse in the sense that the fluidic substances associated with the delicate membranes are sent down to the kidneys and bladder for elimination and to the skin. Where the descending function is impaired fluids may collect on the lungs (giving rise to a cough) or we may acquire a nasal drip. Lack of dispersion to the exterior could result in dry skin or perhaps swelling in the face.

Up Down In or Out

 

The direction of the heart is downwards, allowing our minds to be calm and free. Impairment of this could result in a head full of clutter or insomnia.

According to an ancient document called ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine’

Without ascending-descending there would be no birth, growth, transformation, harvesting and storage.

Here are some normal bodily functions where direction is important. Can you spot the correct direction?

  • Giving birth
  • Holding organs in place (i.e. preventing prolapse)
  • Staying grounded, feeling steady on one’s feet
  • Opening one’s bowels
  • Retaining a pregnancy

All these movements work to co-ordinate harmonious functioning. By asking questions about the behaviour of these systems the skilled acupuncturist can ascertain which aspects of the whole are not working correctly and recommend appropriate and effective treatment.

(Answers  – down, up, down, down, up)

Six Point Plan for The Two Week Wait

Many of my IVF patients find their two-week wait after embryo transfer to be a struggle. You have been through so much in a short space of time. Protocols, injections, scans, hope and despair, more advice than you know what to do with. You emerge blinking from the IVF tunnel and are expected to be patient for two weeks until your pregnancy test. You are understandably anxious to do the right thing, but what does this mean? Here is what I tell my patients at this point, my six point plan for the two week wait.

Six Point Plan for The Two Week Wait

Six Point Plan for The Two Week Wait

  1. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. There is no point in beating yourself up. Think of the team of people behind you.
  2. Gentle exercise has been shown to be helpful but how much should you do? Modest activity is great for circulation, and particularly around your middle. Take plenty of walks walks but avoid strenuous exercise such as running or aerobics.
  3. Look after your energy. Avoid overtiring yourself and get plenty of rest, after all you have earned it.
  4. You cannot possibly know if your cycle has been successful or otherwise. Stop thinking about this and busy yourself with something else instead.
  5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  6. Deal with anxiety. Remember that fertility acupuncture isn’t solely about treatment but support and someone to talk to.

Those of you who are prone to worrying might well benefit from an acupuncture treatment half way through your two-week wait. We call this a ‘tucking in the embryos treatment. ‘ Highly recommended.

What is unexplained infertility?

[Six Point Plan for The Two Week Wait}

www.acupuncturefertilitycentre.co.uk/ivf-icsi-support

Rewriting The Constitution

What do we mean by rewriting the constitution? When we look in a dictionary, the word constitution is described as the composition, configuration or form of something. In the context of human beings, we talk about having a strong or a weak constitution. We are effectively referring to the aggregate of a person’s physical and psychological characteristics.

rewriting the constitution

To treat a disease first find the root

When discussing illness and disease Chinese Medicine will talk about the root and the branch (the ben and biao in Chinese). The latter term refers to the ‘outward sign’ or ‘manifestation’. This could be a symptom such as dizziness or headaches. In assessing a patient we would also try to find the root (which is the original cause of the problem). This could for example be a weakness of the Kidneys, which would show up in a number of presenting signs such as the sound of the person’s voice and their facial colour. It is left to the skill of the acupuncturist to deduce the type of disharmony from the signs.

Often just treating the root is sufficient to clear the branches. As the expression goes ‘to treat a disease find the root’. In our example treating the kidneys may clear both the dizziness and headaches. Or we may treat both root and branch together.

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Treating the branch without treating the root is however rarely satisfactory. Gardeners will recognise that removing the stem and leaves of a weed, but not the roots often results in the weed reestablishing itself.

The way Chinese Medicine approaches treating imbalance, developed over many centuries, is an elegant way to treat disease. It consistently leads to longer lasting results compared to treating just symptoms. And often treating the root will clear up several symptoms at the same time.

[Rewriting The Constitution]

Interested? Give us a call.

07 969 413158

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If Only We Knew How To Listen

In an age of technology where medical marvels emerge at a seemingly prolific rate, it is sometimes good to remember that our bodies tell us what they need when we are unwell. If only we knew how to listen . From hair to skin, taste to smell the body is talking to us all the time in its very own language.

If Only We Knew How To Listen

Have you ever noticed how your hair lacks condition when you are feeling below par? In Chinese medicine there is a saying that the state of the Kidneys [system] is reflected in the hair on the head. Your locks may feel lank, dry or just lifeless. Ask yourself – does this match how I feel in general? What will I do differently?

Let us consider too our skin. If we view this as the bag that wraps our body, it becomes a no-brainer that the wrapping somehow reflects the interior. Is your skin dry, mottled, podgy, scarred? Dryness frequently reflects insufficient fluid intake but may also occur as a result of stress interrupting the normal supply of nutrients to the skin layers. What life changes do we need to make to improve the situation? I find it curious that so many skin problems are treated topically without recourse to what is going on inside.

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If you’ve ever sat in a café and ‘watched the world go by’, you’d be aware that people have very different ways of walking. Next time you are in this situation take a look at how someone strolls and ask yourself the question ‘why are they walking like this’. Try mimicking their walk and become aware of which muscles you have to hold tight to act this out. If you are brave you could ask someone to do the same for you!

Common expressions such as ‘the face we present to the world’ and ‘face up to the reality’ make us aware of the significance we place on our countenance. You might recall an occasion when your best friend was feeling peaky. Something different about his/her face that you can’t quite put your finger on. Five element acupuncture uses the five palette colours of the face (red, yellow, green, white and blue/black) as one of the four key signs to figure out what is going on internally. For example when the red hue drains out of the face we see ashen grey. Think too of the sallow shade when someone has a stomach upset.

If Only We Knew How To Listen

There are numerous other ‘message channels’ you can tune into with practice including the pulse, tongue, finger nails, eyes and so on. It is like learning to appreciate a fine wine. Using the faculties of smell, touch, hearing and asking we can remove so much mystery from the human complex and tap into our hidden potential. Go on give it a try. Learn a new language. If only we knew how to listen.

[If Only We Knew How To Listen]

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Making Sense of Illness

When an illness suddenly and unexpectedly rears its ugly head we often seek to make sense of it. I was given to reflect on this very topic myself, as the result of a stay in hospital. When we succumb to a common cold we are sure to have had previous experience of this. We know how it is likely to progress and how best to deal with it. We probably have the remedies and medicines we need in our kitchen cabinet.

Making Sense of Illness

Making Sense of Illness

When we are faced with a new malady it can often be disconcerting. We feel lost. How long will it last? Is it serious? Will it get worse or better? How will I know? With a clear diagnosis ‘Dr. Google’ will often give us the answers we seek but somehow knowledge isn’t the same as experience. The map isn’t the same as the territory. We rely on experts to fix us and to be our guides – our General Practitioner, Osteopath, Acupuncturist and so on. To make sense of illness.

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So what do you do if the experts don’t seem to have a clue? It helps to be able to join up the dots. I wrote about this in a previous blog (Connecting With Your Inner Sherlock) where I discussed the merits of looking at the bigger picture. This of course takes time and dedication, so is often unsuited to public health systems. It may also be helpful to  discuss your symptoms with a good friend (who is not a health professional). It often takes an impartial viewer to point out something obvious that sits in our blind spot.

In the context of making sense of illness I would like to offer one of my own tips for recovery. I am a great fan of the 2015 Ridley Scott film The Martian. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:-

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet.

In my opinion his quest for survival is a really inspiring way to raise your fighting spirit during a bout of illness. Try it and see what I mean. Let me know how you get on.

[Making Sense of Illness]

 

Martian

 

What Is Moxibustion Used For

Many of us are aware that acupuncturists use needles, but what about moxa (mugwort)? What is moxibustion used for.

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Spongy Herb

I wrote about the family of moxa devices in a previous blog. Moxa is a spongy herb used to facilitate healing. It is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine. Moxibustion refers to the lighting of small pieces of moxa herb to release heat in a carefully controlled manner on or around the skin.

Moxibustion is not for everyone. It may be contraindicated in those with high blood pressure or symptoms of overheating. This aside, moxibustion is an extremely helpful technique to benefit poor circulation and low energy in particular. It has gained a particular reputation for turning breech babies, possibly due to its effect in increasing pelvic circulation. Browse the facts here. It can also be used to assist with fluid movement – for example with arthritis and chest congestion. But this is merely the tip of the iceberg for this wonderful herb.

what is moxibustion used for

What Is Moxibustion Used For

The best way to illustrate what moxibustion may be used for in practice is by example.

Patient Mary is seeking treatment for fertility issues. She passes all the standard medical tests and is given a diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’. On examination it appears that her lower abdomen is much cooler than the rest of her trunk. This suggests that there may be reduced circulation to her ovaries and uterus. She also has cold hands and feet and feels chilly.

I treat her with needles and send her home with a supply of moxa to warm a point on the inside of her ankle daily. It should be noted that the moxa device used here applies heat without touching the skin.

On each visit her lower abdomen is warmer until after three weeks it is normal. She also reports feeling warmer generally. She is hopeful of becoming pregnant soon.

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Susan was a farmer’s wife suffering from plantar fasculitis, a painful condition affecting the underside of the foot. After three sessions of acupuncture she was only 10% better, so I applied some moxa (the size of a tiny piece of thread) to the underside of her foot and lit it. The aim was to produce a microtrauma the size of a pin head. Within a minute she was experiencing tingling session running up her calves. Within a few days 90% of the symptoms had gone and she went on to make a full recovery.

What Is Moxibustion Used For

 

Paul consulted me with acute sciatica. As part of his treatment I used a moxa stick to warm the pathway of the sciatica down his leg. The finished effect was a visible red stripe. He gained much relief from this.

Pleasant Heating

These are just three examples of what moxibustion can be used for. Many acupuncturists will use this alongside needle therapy. The sensation from this therapy is a pleasant heating that penetrates into the skin.

Pick up the phone and call acupuncturist Martin Dean on 07969413158

 [ What is moxibustion used for ]

 

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 – Acupuncture Medicine

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. So why might we consider onions and garlic acupuncture medicine?

onions and garlic acupuncture medicine

Are Onions and Garlic Acupuncture Medicine?

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 acupuncture 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.

onions and garlic acupuncture medicine

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 acupuncture medicine]