Your first appointment
No two patients are the same, and illnesses and ailments affect us all differently – so successful treatment has to begin with a careful study of your unique constitution.
During your first appointment, I aim to build up a picture of your medical and family history, your lifestyle, how your various bodily systems function and your present state of health. I will ask about your symptoms, sleep patterns, diet, digestion and other lifestyle factors. All this helps me to decide on the type of treatment you need.
The next part of the session involves a physical examination in which I take your pulse on both wrists and examine your tongue.
In traditional acupuncture, pulse-taking is a vital diagnostic art which is learned through long hours of study and practice. An experienced practitioner can distinguish six pulses on each wrist, and each pulse can have any one or more of twenty-eight individual qualities. The pulses provide information not only about a patient’s current state of health, but about their life-experiences and their past history.
Treatment by needles
During the treatment, I insert ultra-fine sterile needles at points located just beneath your skin. There is no need to be nervous about this. The treatment is quite painless, and the most you are likely to feel is a faint tingling sensation as the needle is inserted.
Because energy meridians range across your whole body, the needles may not necessarily be inserted in the spot where you experience pain or discomfort. For example, if you suffer from headaches, needles might well be inserted in your foot or hand.
As part of your treatment, I may use a herb called moxa to stimulate the acupuncture points. Small cones of the herb are placed on the skin and burned to provide heat directly to the Qi energy.
This technique has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It can be used either by itself or in conjunction with needles for stimulating the flow of energy. It may not suit everybody, but moxibustion can be an extremely effective form of treatment, and I believe it deserves to be more widely used.
Most patients find acupuncture relaxing and feel pleasantly calm during and immediately after treatment. Afterwards, you may feel a little tired or sleepy. You should be aware of this if you are planning to drive or to use heavy machinery.