Practitioner: Jasmine Uddin
What is acupuncture
Acupuncture is one of the 5 branches of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the others being herbal medicine, dietary therapy, massage (tuina) and specialised exercise (qigong). It is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world having been practised in China and East Asia for more than two thousand years. Traditional Chinese medicine has its origins in Daoist philosophy and each of its branches is underpinned by a similar philosophical and diagnostic framework, which views the body as an energetic system where body, mind and spirit are seen as an integrated whole.
Developed, tested, researched and refined through different historical periods and cultures (which now also includes the West) Chinese medicine can provide a detailed understanding of the body's energetic balance. By focussing on the whole individual, rather than just the illness, all symptoms are seen in relation to each other, providing greater insight into their cause. Acupuncture can therefore not only help alleviate symptoms, but enhance a person's sense of wellbeing, their general vitality and ability to resist disease. This is why this kind of treatment can be successful in treating many imbalances before they become long term and serious problems, whether they are structural or internal.
Health is seen as a state of balance and disease or illness when that balance is disturbed or affected in some way. The body is connected through a network of channels, separate from nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic ducts, through which qi or vital energy flows and which connect the body’s various systems. Health is when there is a free flow of qi in these channels.
What happens when you come for treatment?
At your initial consultation you will be asked to outline why you have come for treatment. In order to assess the context of your condition you will also be asked to provide details of your medical history and various aspects of your lifestyle, such as diet, digestion, sleep patterns and exercise.
Pulse and tongue diagnosis are important indicators in Chinese medicine for assessing your condition so you will routinely have your pulse taken and your tongue looked at as part of your treatment session. If you are presenting with symptoms of pain, the area affected may be palpated and the range of movement explored.
I will explain my findings and outline what the aims of the treatment will be. You will normally lie or sit on the couch depending on what is comfortable for you or required for the treatment, which involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to affect the flow of your body’s qi, or vital energy. Based on all the information you have given, it is likely that I will suggest ways in which you can enhance the long-term effects of your treatment. This may involve making changes to your diet and daily routine. If necessary you will be referred to other healthcare practitioners for specialist care.
The aim is to restore physical, emotional and mental equilibrium by triggering your body's healing response and re- establishing the normal flow of qi.
As the condition being treated improves, you may also notice that other health problems resolve, as treatment is designed to affect your whole being as well as your symptoms.
The focus of treatment is always on the individual as a whole with all symptoms seen in relation to each other. Each patient is unique so that two people with the same western diagnosis may well receive different acupuncture treatments.
Single-use pre-sterilised needles are used in treatment and because acupuncture channels traverse the whole body, the points used are not necessarily close to where you experience pain or discomfort. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand.
Acupuncture is relatively painless because the needles used are so fine that patients only feel a mild tingle or dull ache as the needle is adjusted to direct the qi. While the needles are in place most people feel deeply relaxed, which can often continue once they are removed.
Very occasionally a small bruise may appear at a needle site and sometimes people can feel a little dizzy or tired after a treatment, although this usually passes quickly.
What can be treated with acupuncture?
There is a growing body of evidence-based clinical research showing the benefits of acupuncture for a wide range of common health conditions. A lot of people have acupuncture to relieve specific aches and pains, such as osteoarthritis of the knee, TMJ, headaches and low back pain, or for common health problems like an overactive bladder. Other people choose acupuncture when they can feel themselves out of balance, but have been given no obvious diagnosis. And many have regular treatments because they find it beneficial and relaxing. In 2003 the World Health Organisation published a report, 'Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials', which lists 31 symptoms, conditions and diseases that have been shown in controlled trials to be effectively treated by acupuncture.
Preparation for Treatment
Many commonly used acupuncture points are located on the lower arms and legs, so it is helpful to wear clothing that allows easy access to these areas.
It is advisable not to have acupuncture on an empty stomach as this may lead to feeling a little light headed afterwards, or to come for treatment straight after a heavy meal.
Please allow one and a half hours for your first consultation and treatment. Subsequent sessions are 45 minutes.
Acupuncture has very few side effects and any that do occur are usually mild and self-correcting.
Most people find acupuncture relaxing and often feel very calm after a treatment. You may feel a little tired or sleepy and should take this into account if you are planning to drive or use heavy machinery straight after your treatment.
You should avoid strenuous exercise after treatment and, ideally, give yourself a little time to rest. It is also advisable not to drink alcohol for several hours after treatment.
It is also advisable not to do strenuous physical exercise after a treatment or to return to a physically demanding or stressful job.
I have been an acupuncturist for thirty four years. I originally graduated from the International College of Oriental Medicine in East Grinstead in 1981 and extended my clinical training with three visits to China where I attended classes at the Nanjing College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and treated patients in the acupuncture outpatient departments of both traditional Chinese and Western medical hospitals.
My first degree was in sociology and I have subsequently always been interested in the different ways diverse cultures express dis-ease and resolve the problems of illness. One might think that Western medicine, for instance, is practised in the much the same way throughout the West, but this is not really true, with quite a lot of variation in the health preoccupations of different countries based on many variables such as demographics, climate and culture. My perspective on health and illness therefore is always based on looking at these multiple variables.
I find Chinese medicine particularly interesting because it takes for granted the interdependence of so many aspects of life and 'connects up' one's physical, emotional and mental experience in a logical and coherent set of macro principles which includes the relevance of our interaction with the environment. Equally interesting is the way traditional acupuncture in its long history has been able to adapt to the different cultures in which it is practised, including that of our own and how modern research is continuing to expand our understanding of acupuncture's potential.
In addition to my practice I have been actively involved in the work of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), a professional body whose remit is to foster high standards in education and professionalism. I am currently President Emeritus of the BAcC having been its chairperson from 1996 to 2003 and its President from 2003 to 2006. I have sat on several of its committees and continue to contribute to its work. I am the editor of their professional journal, the European Journal of Oriental Medicine (ejom.co.uk) and Vice Chair of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (baab.co.uk) an independent body accrediting acupuncture teaching institutions in the UK. I was awarded a fellowship by the BAcC in 2008 in recognition of my contribution.
Tel: 07981 491331
I am registered with the British Acupuncture Council acupuncture.org.uk