Your first treatment
What will happen
Before your treatment begins I will take a look at your tongue noting its shape, colour and coating and take your pulse on both wrists noting the quality, strength, rhythm and speed. The tongue and pulse give a clear picture of the energetic state of the internal organs and vital substances of your body.
Care will be taken examining any areas of pain, tension or weakness before and/or during your treatment. My aim then is to weave together all the information gathered, and make a diagnosis based on the principles of Chinese medicine. Your treatment plan will be something we work out together; it will reflect your individual needs and specific circumstances and will include supporting you regarding the things you can do to help yourself.
What to wear
Loose trousers or a skirt and a comfy top with sleeves allow easy access to the most commonly used points on the lower legs, arms, abdomen, chest and back. It is also ideal for therapeutic massage which is usually given over light clothing. There are acupuncture points all over the body so in some cases you will need to undress to your underwear.
Should I eat before treatment?
Yes - something light and avoid anything alcoholic.
Will acupuncture hurt?
Usually there is no pain when the needles are inserted. Sometimes there is a slight pricking, tingling or aching, these sensations are usually very brief and once the needles are in place most people feel very relaxed.
Ultra fine, single use, sterile acupuncture needles are gently inserted to stimulate specific acupuncture points. They will not necessarily be close to where you experience symptoms. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand. I generally uses 4-12 needles which are left in place for up to 20 minutes then removed.
As well as needles I may also use moxa, cups and massage to stimulate points and energy channels. These method are a part of traditional Chinese medicine and were used by ancient shamans and healers before needles were invented.
Important points that are sometimes too sensitive to be stimulated with the needle can be activated with the hands and fingers. Sometimes referred to as acupuncture without needles acupressure can be an effective alternative to acupuncture for people who are fearful of needles.
Tui na and shiatsu
As well as pressure a range of hands-on techniques may be included such as stretching, rolling, shaking, grasping and vibrating. Each have particular therapeutic effects which may be vigorous and moving, rhythmic and warming, gentle and subtle depending on what you need.
Gentle warmth is applied to a particular point using the herb mugwort. It can be rolled into a stick and held over the chosen point or a cone which is placed on a medium such as a slice of ginger or an acupuncture needle. This allows warmth to travel into the body.
Vacuum sealed glass cups can be used to stimulte points, activate channels and clear stagnation. The vacuum is created by placing a flame inside the cup which is placed on the skin creating a sucking sensation.
After your treatment
Most people feel calm and relaxed after treatment, you may feel a bit tired or sleepy. Allow yourself time to absorb the benefits and avoid heavy exertion (such as running or going to the gym), large meals or very hot baths. Other therapies such as physiotherapy can work well in combination with acupuncture however, it is recommended that you allow 48 hours between them.