IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?
No medical treatment procedure is totally without some level of risk, however, acupuncture, practiced by properly trained practitioners is incredibly safe and adverse reactions are very rare. A qualified practitioner will always explain any possible risks before proceding with an acupuncture treatment.
WHAT DOES ACUPUNCTURE FEEL LIKE, DOESN’T IT HURT?
Most patients report that acupuncture is a thoroughly relaxing treatment that leaves them with a deep sense of calm. The needles used are very fine and little thicker than a hair. On insertion there is often no sensation at all and as the acupuncturist manipulates the needle there may be a slight tingling or ‘heavy’ sensation around the point which indicates the desired response. For muscular conditions the sensation may be slightly stronger but most first time patients are pleasantly surprised at how painless the process is.
DO I NEED TO UNDRESS?
No – many acupuncture treatments only need access to the arms below the elbow and legs below the knee. However, some treatments that use cupping, massage or points on the back will require that area to be exposed. Appropriate professional draping and towelling is always used in such cases. Other areas of the body may be needed to be exposed for certain conditions i.e. the hip region for sciatica. I will always discuss these issues with you before beginning a treatment.
HOW OFTEN AND HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
Every one is assessed individually and certain conditions will require longer courses of treatment than others. For acute conditions that are relatively recent, a course of 5-8 treaments is often sufficient although it is not unusual that improvements are seen after the first two or three sessions. More chronic conditions may require longer courses of treatment sometimes lasting several months. Initially, treatments are usually given once a week and once a response has been achieved they can be reduced to once every two weeks or more.
ARE CHINESE HERBS SAFE?
Chinese herbs have been used to treat disease for thousands of years and the clinical knowledge of their actions is well known and respected. However, their potent effectiveness also means that they need to be prescribed properly to avoid possible adverse reactions. When prescribed by a professionally trained herbalist side effects are very rare. As a member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) I comply with a strict code of professional practice and only use the best quality herbal products that are manufactured to GMP (good manufacturing practice) standards. They are thoroughly tested for authenticity of species, purity of active ingredients, and against contamination from heavy metals and other toxins.
WHAT SORT OF HERBS DO YOU USE?
I generally prescribe concentrated herbal granules and powders which are produced in China and Taiwan for the global market. These products are used in Australia and the USA where there are strict quality control laws to ensure high quality and safety of herbal products. Concentrated granules avoid the need to boil up bags of raw herbs which is both time consuming can fill the house with the smell of cooking herbs! Granules are effectively freeze dried decoctions that can be reconstituted with hot water much like instant coffee. They provide much greater strength than prepared pills and capsules and are easy and convenient to take.
WHY MIGHT I NEED HERBS?
Herbs are one of the key pillars of Chinese Medicine and a key component of internal medicine treatment. By combining acupuncture and herbal medicine conditions can be addressed much more effectively than by just using one treatment method alone.
DO YOU USE ANIMAL PRODUCTS?
There are NO animal products used at all in any of my prescriptions, as they are banned in the UK. Herbal substitutes can be just as effective. The use of minerals is also prohibited in the UK, however, some of these substances can be clinically very useful and their use may be allowed in the future. In general the herbs used are flowers, stems, roots, barks, leaves and some non plant materials.
DON’T THEY TASTE BAD?
This is highly dependent on the type of formula prescribed and most people get used to the taste fairly quickly. On the whole though, they don’t taste great. However, the advantage of concentrated granules is that they can be mixed with a small amount of water, as opposed to drinking large quantities of herbal tea following the traditional method of decoction.
HOW LONG WILL I NEED TO TAKE HERBS FOR?
Some courses of herbal treatment can be quite short, i.e for acute conditions such as coughs or colds, however, typically for more chronic conditions a longer course of several months may be required to achieve the desired results. Often larger doses are given at the beginning of a treatment (for the first month or so) and then dosages can be reduced for maintenance purposes.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WESTERN AND CHINESE HERBS
Herbal medicine has strong traditions in the both the West and the East, however, they do vary quite considerably in their approach to disease. Western herbalism treats conditions from mainly a biomedical viewpoint and the actions of the herbs can be viewed in similar terms to western conventional medicine. They are often taken in alcoholic tincture form or as a tea. Dosages tend to be low in comparison to Chinese Herbs. Herbalism is China has been practiced for over two thousand years and the therapeutic effects of the herbs is based on their taste and properties, although their biomedical action has recently also been studied. They are generally taken in much higher dosage and usually in formulas containing typically up to 8-16 herbs. These formulas have been developed over time and through extensive clinical experience and are always prescribed to suit the individual rather than simply the condition being treated.
CAN I TAKE HERBS WITH WESTERN DRUGS?
Herbal practitioners will always pay attention to any other medications you are currently taking, to ensure that there are no incompatabilities with herbs that you may be prescribed. Drug interactions are rare, however, as Chinese herbs exert strong pharmacological effects, they should always be prescribed by a properly trained and qualified practitioner. Often it is sufficient to separate herbal medicine from the administration of western drugs, by at least two hours, to avoid any interactions.