This ancient treatment recognises that to treat a person’s health and wellbeing you must take into account that individual’s physical, mental and spiritual state to fully understand and treat the illness. Consequently Laura’s approach to treatment is totally tailored and unique to each individual, their situation, their lifestyle and their needs, as no two patients are the same.
Acupuncture is an ancient medical and health treatment system which was originally documented in China and has its roots in Taoist Philosophy. Early written evidence of acupuncture dates back 2000 years in China and the first archaeological evidence of acupuncture to Europe, some 5000 years ago. Today it is estimated that there are 3 million acupuncture practitioners worldwide. It can treat existing illnesses, assist in illness management and also be invaluable in protecting and maintaining good strong health throughout life.
Acupuncture is based on Yin Yang philosophy and the theory that Qi energy flows through a network of connected channels in the body, providing health, well-being and vitality. In a normal healthy person Qi flows strongly, smoothly and freely however if this flow of Qi energy becomes hindered or blocked then the symptoms of ill health can occur. A blockage of energy could occur through a physical injury, repetitive movement through work or a hobby, long-term stress, poor diet, lack of exercise or emotional pressure & shocks. An acupuncturist works to free blocked Qi energy in the channels of the body and this then allows the body to start to heal itself, physically, mentally and spiritually, returning it to balance, good health and well-being.
Acupuncture diagnosis works to locate and treat the root cause of any ill health or imbalance, not simply treating the symptoms of illness. Fine, sterilised, single use needles are inserted to stimulate delicate points on the body to assist in correcting any imbalance. As well as the use of needles a range of other techniques may be used during a treatment, such as tui na (Chinese remedial massage techniques), cupping therapy (glass jars placed on the body with suction which are especially effective at promoting blood flow in an area, releasing muscle spasms and reinvigorating areas of intense muscular pain), moxibustion (the use of a herb called moxa (commonly known as mugwort) which is an invaluable technique for warming and nourishing the body in certain conditions) and acupressure (pressure applied instead of needles to stimulate acupuncture points, particularly useful for nervous patients and children).
Acupuncture can make an excellent contribution to the promotion of sustained good health and well being at any stage of life. Acupuncture is natural, effective and of benefit to everyone.
From a physiological viewpoint, acupuncture works by using acupuncture needles to stimulate key points on the peripheral nervous system. This sends signals up the spine to the brain upon receiving these signals, the brain then triggers a series of reactions influencing the production of the body’s communication substances – hormones and neurotransmitters in order to decrease pain, relax the muscles, increase range of motion and increase blood flow to the painful area. The resulting biochemical changes activate the body’s self-regulating homoeostatic systems, stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Laura integrates two styles of acupuncture in her practice: Five Element and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):
FIVE ELEMENT ACUPUNCTURE
Within Five Element acupuncture, your individual constitution will resonate most strongly with one of nature’s five archetypal forces: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. One of these will describe your essential self.
Five Element acupuncture can adjust the balance of your body, mind and spirit, and help to address your core issues.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
This approach uses acupuncture, to harmonise your organ functions and musculoskeletal system, to treat specific symptoms and conditions.
Many people have acupuncture to treat digestive conditions, mental and emotional disorders, cardiovascular conditions, respiratory disorders, gynaecological conditions and infertility, addictions, fatigue and tiredness, musculo-skeletal conditions, back pain, relationship issues, stress and insomnia, hair loss and premature ageing. Other people choose acupuncture when they can feel their bodily functions are out of balance, but they have no obvious diagnosis. And many have regular treatments because they find it very beneficial and relaxing.
There is a growing body of evidence-based clinical research which is discovering how the body responds to acupuncture and its benefits for a wide range of common health conditions including:
- Back pain
- Cancer care
- Chronic fatigue
- Colds and flu
- Frozen shoulder
- Gastrointestinal Tract Disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Menopausal symptoms
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinsons Disease
- Post-operative pain
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sports Injuries
- Substance Misuse
- Tennis Elbow
For more information on current scientific research into the effectiveness of acupuncture click here (BAcC)
The World Health Organisation also lists over 100 diseases or disorders for which they say acupuncture is effective (see WHO document for details).
The treatment of specific points or areas may be supplemented with different techniques:
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort – on specific acupuncture points to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years. It is used to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of Qi, and maintain general health.
Gua Sha is a healing technique used throughout Asia. It is a form of massage that uses a flat edged tool to release muscle tension and promote the movement of blood and Qi in an area.
Cupping is a technique used around the world in many different traditions. A vacuum is created inside a clean glass cup, which is placed on the skin to release toxins and promote the movement of Qi and blood around the body.
Tui Na is a Chinese massage therapy used to treat chronic pain, especially that caused by muscle-skeletal conditions and injuries. It is, however, impossible to treat a specific condition with Tui Na without improving the overall Qi status of the body. This means that a whole range of physical and emotional problems can also be treated.
When someone mentions needles, most people tend to think of those used in injections and blood tests. Acupuncture needles bear little resemblance to these. They are much, much finer.
The needles are either inserted for a second or two and then removed or left in place for 5-20 minutes, depending on the desired effect. Patients describe the sensations differently – the most common is that of a tingling or dull ache when a point is stimulated and the feeling then quickly fades.
DOES IT HURT?
Most of the time patients feel little to nothing when having acupuncture. However, everyone is different and on occasion it can be painful, however it is still nothing in comparison to the pain of hypodermic needles used in injections or when giving blood.
If you are concerned about the needles, acupressure can be used to achieve similar results in most situations, so don’t let fear of needles put you off coming along for a chat to see if acupuncture can help you
Your first consultation will be 1.5 hours and follow up treatments will be 1 hour. This first session is an opportunity for you to voice any concerns about your health and not only physical strains, but mental and emotional ones as well. Laura will assess your general state of health in order to identify any underlying patterns of disharmony. You will be asked about your current symptoms, your medical history and that of your close family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state.
To discover how the energy (Qi) in your body is flowing Laura will then feel your pulses on both wrists, noting their quality, rhythm and strength. She will look at the colour, structure and coating of your tongue to give indicators of your physical health. She will palpate specific acupuncture points and channels to diagnose any deficiency. I will palpate your abdomen for points of discomfort and feel for temperature differences on your torso and back to find areas of stagnation. Once enough information is gathered to determine the likely causes of your problems, a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs.
There are around 500 recognised acupuncture points on the body. Stimulation of specific points affect the function of certain organs or areas of the body. However, the points selected may not always be close to the part of the body where the problem is experienced. For example, although you may suffer with headaches, needles may be inserted in your foot or hand.
In conjunction with needling, Laura may use techniques such as Moxibustion, Cupping, Guasha, Massage or Electro-acupuncture. She may also suggest dietary or lifestyle changes.
In acupuncture theory, everyone is considered to be unique and therefore the number of treatments required varies depending on the individual patient and what it is they want to achieve. Initially, I recommend that you visit once or twice a week, although some conditions/situations may need more or less frequent attention.
Sometimes the effects of treatment are dramatic and one or two treatments are enough to get people back on track. With other patients, the effects are more subtle and they may need treatment over a longer period. Individuals may also seek treatment as a preventative measure. In this instance, after the initial few sessions, treatment will spread out over longer periods and these treatments will often be seasonal.
I advise patients that they should anticipate coming for at least 6 treatments over a 4-6 week period initially. By the end of this period, most patients have a good idea whether acupuncture is moving them forward and together we can decide on the next appropriate step
Occasionally a small bruise can appear at a needle site. Sometimes people can feel dizzy or tired after a treatment but this passes quickly.