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.

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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]

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

According to Wikipedia, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) is a condition found in 1 in 300 pregnancies (although some estimates are higher). It is characterised by pain and discomfort in the front of the pelvis. Movement such as sitting or walking may be difficult and sleep may be affected. The pubic symphysis is the joint where left and right pelvic bones join. This is prone to strain during the heavy loading of pregnancy and childbirth. It has been suggested that the hormones of pregnancy may cause this joint to widen.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction In Pregnancy

Pelvic support belts and prescribed medication are the most common treatments for SPD, which usually spontaneously resolves after childbirth. Specialist physiotherapy may also be of benefit. Sufferers are advised to be careful of heavy lifting, avoid stepping over things and being careful of twisting movements of the body.

Acupuncture And SPD

I have treated this condition on numerous occasions and found that the pain usually resolves very quickly with acupuncture. Needles are carefully inserted according to where the pain is situated, most often along the top of the pubic bone. I acknowledge that such treatment requires complete confidence in the acupuncturist, but believe me the results are worthwhile.

Naturally care must be taken with any treatment in pregnancy, but if you are considering acupuncture for your SPD you should seek the advice of a fully trained acupuncturist, such as a member of The British Acupuncture Council.

 

www.acupuncturepaincentre.co.uk

Cupping As A Form Of Deep Tissue Massage

What Is It Good For?

What is cupping therapy and what is it good for? According to The British Acupuncture Council it is where ‘glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant qi’.

Cupping As A Form Of Deep Tissue MassageIn essence it can help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being. We could also consider cupping as a form of deep tissue massage.

Not New

The cups can be fashioned from bamboo, glass, plastic or earthenware. Cupping is by no means a new phenomenon. According to The Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences, ‘the earliest record of cupping is in the Bo Shu (an ancient book written on silk), which was discovered in a tomb of the Han Dynasty [206-220 AD]. Several other ancient texts mention Chinese medicine cupping. Several centuries later another famous medical classic, Su Sen Liang Fang, recorded an effective cure for chronic cough and the successful treatment of poisonous snake bites using cupping therapy’.

The modern cupping practitioner creates a partial vacuum using a lit taper, and the cup is placed on the skin. Sometimes a mechanical pump is used instead.

Cupping As A Form Of Deep Tissue MassageSo how does it work? I like to explain it to my patients in this way.

The partial vacuum created inside the cups causes the skin within to be pulled up and to redden (see illustration), indicating that additional blood is flowing into this area. The effect is, I explain similar to deep tissue massage, and can be helpful in treating muscle injury and stiffness. Where a larger muscle area requires treatment, a little massage oil applied to the skin first will allow the cup to be moved around the affected zone. This draws blood to the area and ‘walks’ it along the muscle.

In clinical practice I will use cupping most often in treating lower

Cupping As A Form Of Deep Tissue Massage

Cupping therapy – removing cups from a patient’s back

back pain, shoulder tension and in respiratory conditions such as the common cold (in which case it is applied on the upper back behind the lungs).

And finally here is a story to illustrate how cupping can be of benefit to athletes.

Marathon Treatment

Three days prior to running a marathon, a lady came to me with a muscle tear in her calf. She could barely walk. Could I achieve the impossible and help her to compete? After assessing her, I oiled up the affected area and attached a cup. Sliding this along the muscle allowed me to improve local blood flow until the area was visibly red. I advised her to rest totally for 24 hours before recommencing running. And the result? She was thrilled to complete the marathon (though not in her best time).

And finally, you may have seen photographs of athletes with painful-looking round ring marks on their torsos as a result of this treatment. ‘Not for me’ do I hear you say? I clearly advise patients that surface marking may occur for a few days after cupping, and that there should be no accompanying pain as a result. The marks will always disappear. If carried out by a competent, trained practitioner cupping therapy should be safe and effective.

Cupping. A form of deep tissue massage for treating pain, inflammation, improving blood flow, relaxation and well-being.

 

Acupuncture Dosage Explained

According to wiktionary.org the word ‘dosage’ is defined as the administration of a medication etc, in a measured amount. So what might the measured amount be in an acupuncture treatment?

Acupuncture Dosage Explained

Acupuncture Dosage Explained

To help answer this question I went to the checklist at STRICTA.info (which offers reporting guidelines for acupuncture researchers). According to this some of the factors that can affect treatment strength are:-

  • Number of treatment points used
  • Depth of insertion
  • Amount of stimulation applied to the needle
  • Needle retention time
  • Needle thickness
  • Total number of treatment sessions
  • Frequency of sessions
  • Style of acupuncture (eg Western medical, Chinese, Japanese, Korean)
  • Any additional interventions offered (eg cupping, moxibustion)

In my experience, one treatment is usually insufficient – a larger dose is often needed. After all, you don’t expect to take just one tablet after a visit to your GP.

In a 2008 paper, Dr. Adrian White also argued that ‘the dose may be affected by the state of the patient (eg nervous, immune and endocrine systems); different doses may be required for different conditions’. It has been argued by others that where trials have shown little or no effect over placebo, this is due to an insufficient dose of acupuncture being given.

So how do we establish the correct dose? In clinical practice, this is usually determined by experience. I would generally give a smaller dose of treatment on the first visit, and also if you have a weaker constitution. Whilst it is normal to experience a little drowsiness after an acupuncture session, extended periods of drowsiness or sleeplessness may indicate too high a treatment dose. Over treatment is usually self-resolving in a few days at most and is not generally considered a safety issue. If you experience side-effects please discuss these with your acupuncturist.

As a patient you should always ask your practitioner how many sessions are anticipated and he/she should agree one or two treatment goals at the outset (eg significantly reduce PMS symptoms). In establishing a correct dosage I usually combine clinical experience with information gained from studies.

Martin Dean B. Eng Lic. Ac MBAcC has over 23 years clinical experience as an acupuncturist, with over 10 years teaching experience.

 

Introducing The Moxa Family

I have written about moxa before. Just to recap, and quoting from The British Acupuncture Council from their website,

Moxibustion is an essential part of Chinese medicine. This involves moxa, a substance prepared from mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris), being placed either directly on the skin, on top of an acupuncture needle or held just above the skin, usually over specific acupuncture points or meridians. The herb is lit and as it smoulders slowly, the heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of “qi” (energy) and blood in the area being treated.

Most people find its gentle warming properties soothing and very effective. Whilst many people will recognise that acupuncturists use needles, it is an open secret that we also use moxa. It is perhaps helpful to think of moxa as a form of dry heat (as opposed to a hot water bottle, wheat bag or hot shower which is damp-heat). If your condition is improved by the application of heat then you may find moxa helpful. Your trusty acupuncturist will be able to advise.

What I wanted to do here is to highlight a number of different types of moxa available on the market, and illustrate the strengths of each. Just to be clear, they (nearly) all contain mugwort leaves. The difference is in the packaging.

Moxa Roll (Or Stick)

moxa stickThis type is available in a cigar form which makes it easy for home use. It can be held close to the skin to warm acupuncture points and specific areas. With sciatic pain it is often helpful to warm the affected nerve area creating a so-called ‘red-stripe’.

 

Moxa Cones

moxa conesIn this form the mugwort is rolled into cones and placed directly on the acupuncture point. It is lit and allowed to smoulder. It is of course removed before reaching the skin so that a pleasant feeling of warmth remains. This approach may be used in conjunction with needle insertion (after swabbing the skin of course). Watch a video.

Moxa On Needle

moxa on needleIn this application a small stub of moxa roll is threaded onto the end of a needle. When lit the heat is both radiated to the surrounding tissues and conducted down the metal of the needle to warm and soften underlying tissues. In the illustration the technique is being used to reduce inflammation and improve circulation in an injured knee.

Mini Moxa

mini moxaSo called ‘mini moxa’ devices are a very convenient and well made and safe device for home use. Patient can be instructed how to light and extinguish them safely, and how to use them.

 

 

 

So there it is. A range of convenient warming techniques for the modern acupuncture practice. Pick up the phone and call your local acupuncturist to discuss whether this treatment might be for you.

Warning: Moxa treatment should only be used under the guidance of a fully qualified traditional acupuncturist. It should not be carried out at home without supervision.

Call Martin Dean on 07969413158 for an appointment.

My Body Has Held Me To Ransom

“I can’t believe my body has held me to ransom for all these years”.

This is a sentiment I have heard expressed in so many ways over the years. As a man it is often difficult to truly appreciate what a woman puts up with each month, particularly when things don’t go smoothly. As an experienced fertility acupuncturist though I have treated many many women with a large variety of menstrual difficulties over the years and I have to say the results are often profound. Of course you don’t have to be trying to get pregnant to get help with your cycle.

So how could acupuncture help? Before starting it is a great idea to seek a medical diagnosis so do have a talk with your GP first in order to rule out anything more serious. On your first visit to an acupuncturist you will be asked a whole lot of detailed questions about your menstrual and general health to establish what is behind your symptoms and how best to move forward.My Body Has Held Me To Ransom

I have come to regard the female menstrual cycle as something which needs to ‘flow’ smoothly. This means for example that the monthly blood flow should be smooth and fluid (so no clots) and free from ‘stop-start’ bleeding. You should be largely pain-free and emotionally consistent for the whole month (so no mood swings or energy drops). Any other symptoms that occur during your menstrual cycle such as bloating (bowels not flowing well) or fluid retention (impeded fluid flow) will be taken into account.

In some of my more poetic moments I am drawn to consider my role as a ‘plumber’, opening taps, removing blockages, turning up the water pressure and improving heat distribution. To translate this into ‘acupuncture speak’, one of the most common diagnoses is ‘Liver Qi Stagnation’ which has amongst its symptoms, moodiness, fluctuation of mental state, a churning feeling in the stomach and feeling ‘wound-up”. Does this sound familiar? Yes we are talking about PMS. Treating acupuncture point ‘Liver 3’ (located on the foot) during the premenstrual phase often produces the most dramatic treatment outcomes. It is like opening a tap.

So go on – get your life back!

Martin Dean

07969 41 31 58