A few facts that you might want to consider before you choose an acupuncturist.
This is not a marketing manifesto to convince you to visit me but a description of the situation of acupuncture in the UK.
Does everybody practice the same acupuncture?
Acupuncture is not statutory regulated in the UK, which means that anybody can practice. The British government has announced that it was satisfied with the self-regulation of a few professional bodies and that if the public wanted to be safe, they should approach them.
Among the self-regulated bodies, some associations consider acupuncture as an ‘add-on’ to their medical training as a GP, physical therapist or midwife. These associations offer short continuous professional development (CPD) training ranging from a weekend course to other short courses. They tend to use fixed protocols of treatments for all according to a western medical diagnosis.
The other self-regulated bodies consider acupuncture as a comprehensive system of medicine, as it is taught and practiced in most Asian countries from where it originates.
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) offers degree level training (minimum 3600 hours). Students learn the full theory and practice of Chinese Medicine, allowing practitioners to make a diagnosis based on your personal constitution and life situation. The medical examination is thus integrated into in a wider context which is often enlightening and helps to identify a syndrome, specific to Chinese Medicine. A western diagnosis (e.g migraine) may come under different Chinese medicine syndromes and therefore be treated very differently from one individual to the next.
As a member of the BAcC for the past 13 years and a fully licensed medical herbalist with the ATCM (6 years study in total), I like to think in line with Traditional Chinese thought, that health is more than just the absence of a condition but the capacity to make the most of a time and place with discernment, creativity and audacity, resilience, endurance and joy! Most of us have sadly lowered our standards in the face of adversity and restricted health.
We all know that life circumstances (e.g. divorce, a stressful job…) affect our health; however modern medicine appears to treat only the physical condition (e.g irritable bowel syndrome) without taking into consideration and supporting the general health. Blood pressure medication may sadly allow an individual to continue with a self destructive diet or lifestyle, ignoring the root cause of the problem. When Western and Chinese medicine are used alongside like in the treatment of infertility, the combination of IVF and acupuncture/herbs considerably increases chances, as research have shown.
Traditional Chinese medicine can hopefully help reveal and address the underlying mechanisms at play behind any manifested imbalance, support your body’s natural defence and your mind to act upon identified causes. To simply shut a symptom down without acknowledging general health can lead to another one appearing with a vengeance.
This is not to say that if you come to me with sciatica after you have been offloading a trailer of wood that we will necessarily be looking at your lifestyle. However, if you have suffered from chronic sciatica since a difficult life change but also suffer mood swings and insomnia (which you may not have mentioned unless I asked) then we might be able to release some “blockages” that have stopped you from moving on.
In many occurrences, I tend to think that a symptom is essentially the visible part of the iceberg that gives us the opportunity to access and address a difficulty to adapt. We cannot always be so smart as to uncover fundamental underlying patterns in the first session, it sometimes takes a few to build trust but people often experience an unexpected sense of wellbeing, peace or a change of perspective after a treatment.
I find it extremely valuable to be able to practice both acupuncture and herbal medicine (which are two separate training). Many patients present complex patterns of acute and chronic issues were the combination of acupuncture and herbs is precious for faster and lasting results.
Although the journey to better health can be testing, I aim to accompany you with compassion and joy as even a difficult step in the right direction always brings empowerment and enthusiasm.
Looking forward to meeting you.