Acupuncture works best in an integrated healthcare system. In combination with other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices such as herbal medicine, the results can be profound. Very often it is possible to combine the best of both East and West and use acupuncture or Chinese herbs in association with treatment provided by your GP or other health care provider. As always, it pays to have a clear mind and trust your own intuition in choosing the therapy of your choice.

When to choose Acupuncture?

John often sprains his ankles. The most effective treatment is to be treated by a Chiropractor first, followed by a comprehensive treatment programme by an acupuncturist.

Sally has too much acid build-up, which has burnt her oesophagus. She has been advised to receive surgery to stop acid regurgitation. After surgery, she no longer had heartburn, but constantly had pain under her rib cage. Acupuncture now would help reduce her pain significantly.

Farhad took Losec to treat heartburn for a long period of time, which gave him uncomfortable side effects. To regulate his digestive system, acupuncture would be a positive course of action.

Jacinda has gall bladder stones under 0.2cm. These could potentially be drained out by effective acupuncture treatment or similar. However, if her stones were larger than 0.2cm, surgery would be advisable.

More About TCM

Our immune system is built to cope with a certain amount of stress temporarily, but not with long-term irritation, stress, or repetitive injury. Long-term stress will cause various known and unknown symptoms. In the holistically oriented viewpoint of Chinese Medicine, all this “dis-ease” is a phenomenon of imbalance and disharmony in our body either physically or mentally and may cause long-term and often chronic irritations, disorders, or diseases.

 The holistic principles of TCM incorporate a scientific and systematic approach to treat the disharmony and imbalance in the body and the mind. The main disciplines of TCM are Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine – the former being an applied form of advanced needling techniques, while the latter incorporates a multitude of special herbal remedies for various ailments. Chinese herbs are alkaline in nature compared to the (mostly) chemically processed medications, which tend to be acidic. It is a well-known fact that body acidity is a fostering component for disorders of all kinds, whereas a well-balanced alkaline body supports the immune system and the natural capabilities of the body to heal itself using its own natural resourcefulness. These two sub-categories of TCM therapy can also be supported with acupressure and gua-sha massage, moxibustion (including deep tissue stimulation with the help of TDP mineral lamps), and cupping, to name only a few.

 To give an example of TCM in practice, let’s look at a patient with a chronic cough. The Western medicinal approach would probably be to directly treat the lung or respiratory system. However, in Chinese medicine, the practitioner would first look for any other symptoms, such as whether the patient’s coughing includes pain/discomfort in the lumbar area. Furthermore, any issues with the urinary bladder or kidney system would be looked at in more detail since the cough may have arisen as disharmony/disorder from this part of the body. Thus the final treatment strategy may incorporate a far more extensive treatment programme that includes all related issues and not just the superficial ones.

 This example shows that the TCM approach can explain and treat complex states of chronic health issues and decay. Most people intuitively know that when they feel ill over a long period of time, there are likely to be many factors that contribute to their state of health. Here is where TCM can help, by applying a holistically orientated approach where the restitution of the harmony of body, spirit, and mind, is paramount.

Clinical Examples

Susan has long-term shoulder pain, and often feels stressful. Besides using needling to relieve her shoulder pain, I asked her not to exercise before dinnertime and not to eat too much straight after hectic exercising (to reduce the mechanical stress in her body). This allowed her digestive system to work better, while also increased her absorption ability. Overall, it enabled her body to build up her blood, boosting her strength and enhancing her balance (the shoulders are a very important scale of balance, both physically and mentally). I also advised her to learn how to get rid of stress without planning/thinking 24 hours a day, and she gradually improved her health conditions.

Lee had insomnia. I firstly used a certain needling technique to reduce the irritated/dehydrated feeling of the body. I then advised her to avoid late night supper and “excited”-drinks (alcohol or strong coffee), while also doing a 10-minute breathing exercise before going to bed. She followed the advice and her sleeping pattern has since improved.

Bob came into our practice, saying that he wanted to stop smoking. During the meeting, he suddenly said, “Oh, well, I don’t think, acupuncture can help, it maybe works if people believe it”. I could read the distrust in his eyes and wondered why he came here. But I smiled at him and replied, “If the mental trust can improve your heath, why don’t you just try to trust the treatment?” He smiled and said it could be worth a try. After gaining a bit of his trust, I explained to him, Chinese Medicine is not “hocus pocus,” it is scientific. With regards to smoking, we use either needling or herbal medicine to stimulate the related hormones that release a sweetish flavour in the mouth, which has an affect of hindering the craving behaviour for nicotine. He “accepted“ a programme of treatments, and stopped smoking for several months (he has since moved away, but I hope he still is not smoking again). TCM is a lot about changing naturally – you can’t force people to follow it, but when people understand, respect it, and take it into consideration, changes can happen!

Frank complained about his cloudy and smelly urine, and also that he felt dehydrated at night. After my consultation with him, I advised him to stop overtaking his beloved vitamin supplements. I also pointed out his dependency on vitamins was predominantly due to psychological insecurities, not a pharmacological need for his body. He finally accepted my advice and gave up the regular intake of his concentrated vitamin supplements. The outcome was great – his urination became normal and his dehydration feeling disappeared. Interestingly, at the beginning, he did not want to believe me. He persisted that health food is heath food and that it cannot be taken in excess or go wrong. Oh, well, nothing is just about right or wrong – nature is all about balance and harmony in life. By the way, for this treatment I did not use one single needle. I mainly provided him the proper advice and a mild relaxation acupressure-massage.