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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates back thousands of years, making it one of the world’s oldest health care systems.  This natural and holistic system of primary health care includes acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and remedial massage (An Mo Tui Na). TCM is used to treat people from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds worldwide.

The underlying philosophy of all TCM practice is that an abundant supply of Qi flows freely through the meridians of a healthy body. If this flow is blocked or inadequate, the body struggles to maintain harmony, balance and order. Pain, disease and/or illness follow.

In addition to physical trauma, common contributors to disharmony can include stress, overwork, poor diet, disease pathogens, environmental conditions and more general lifestyle factors.

TCM’s holistic approach to understanding normal function and disease processes means that it focuses on the prevention of illness as much as it does on its treatment. Underlying conditions are treated, in addition to resolving presenting symptoms; via individualised formulae for each patient.

Evidence-based TCM practice also utilises the wealth of clinical research findings from the past 50+ years to guide treatment plans.

Image by ‘Art of Acupuncture’ 

Image by ‘Art of Acupuncture’ 

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The art of acupuncture involves insertion of fine sterile needles into specific locations, to stimulate the body to heal itself.

Traditionally, explanations involve its effect on improving the flow of Qi to balance Yin and Yang; a paradigm of health and disease similar to the Western biomedical concept of homeostasis.

In recent years, much attention has been focused on elucidating how acupuncture works in terms of Western physiology. We now know that “Qi flow” equates to nerve transmission, connective tissue planes, metabolic components of blood, and the functional energy of organ systems.

Acupuncture regulates therefore improves function. This is achieved, largely, via effects on the nervous system that result in the body producing its own chemicals to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and induce a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

The simple answer is “no”. Some people feel a heavy sensation or dull throb at the site of needles; some don’t feel anything.

Acupuncture needles are only 0.3mm thick (or less) – about as thick as 2 strands of hair. They have a solid body and rounded tip, designed to separate and slide between tissues. Very different to the 0.8mm (or thicker) hollow-bodied cutting-tip needles that nurses etc use. This is why bleeding, bruising or sharp pain at the site of an acupuncture needle is uncommon.

What Can Acupuncture Treat?

Pain-management is the most common reason people seek acupuncture – neck, back, shoulder, knee, elbow, headache, sciatica… Acupuncture also effectively treats many other conditions, including:

    • allergic rhinitis (hayfever)
    • anxiety
    • asthma
    • constipation
    • depression
    • fatigue
    • high blood pressure
    • insomnia
    • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
    • menopausal hot flushes
    • nausea & vomiting
    • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • restless leg syndrome
    • smoking cessation

For further information, check out The Acupuncture Evidence Project

The British Acupuncture Council has also compiled fact sheets about acupuncture treatment for 60 specific conditions.

What to Expect at Your Acupuncture Appointment

Our registered acupuncturist, combines her gentle style of Chinese acupuncture with massage, trigger point needling (referred to by many practitioners as dry needling), stretching, remedial exercises, cupping, liniments, guasha, moxibustion (moxa), diet and lifestyle advice as appropriate.

She’s aware that many people prefer access to their practitioner throughout the entire duration of their appointment. To cater to this, she doesn’t book overlapping appointments, nor leave you alone in the treatment room unless you wish her to do so.

At your first appointment, a thorough case history is taken prior to commencing treatment. This ensures that they can tailor treatment to you as an individual. At follow-up appointments, your progress is evaluated and the treatment plan adjusted as necessary. Tongue and pulse analysis form a part of every consultation.