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Originally from China, acupuncture has been practised in the East for centuries. Now this holistic form of medicine is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and America. Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) provides a useful complement to orthodox medicine, as it can treat chronic or recurring problems such as backache, migraines and asthma, and can reduce the use of drugs in many conditions. Sometimes it can make sense of illnesses that modern medicine has difficulty treating. Seeing health and illness from a T.C.M. perspective enables the acupuncturist to treat subtle imbalances. This can not only relieve symptoms, but also improve the functioning of the immune system, regulate organ functions and create an enhanced sense of happiness and well-being. Doctors increasingly recognise the validity of acupuncture treatment as one of the most valuable complementary therapies. Although acupuncture cannot help everyone, it can treat a very wide range of problems. In 1979 the World Health Organisation drew up the following list of diseases that were responsive to acupuncture:
  • acute sinusitis
  • acute rhinitis
  • common cold
  • acute tonsillitis
  • acute bronchitis
  • bronchial asthma
  • toothache
  • gingivitis
  • acute and chronic pharyngitis
  • conjunctivitis
  • hiccough
  • acute and chronic gastritis
  • gastric acidity
  • duodenal ulcer
  • dysentry
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • migraine
  • trigeminal neuralgia
  • facial palsy
  • consequences of stroke
  • peripheral neuropathies
  • menieres disease
  • nocturnal enuresis
  • intercostal neuralgia
  • cervicobrachial syndrome
  • frozen shoulder
  • tennis elbow
  • sciatica
  • low back pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • neurogenic bladder dysfunction
(Acupuncture: The World Health Organisation View' R. H. Bannerman) Clinical experience shows that acupuncture can also treat: gynaecological problems, depression, allergies, dizziness, insomnia, high blood pressure, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, post-viral fatigue, M.E., smoking, drug addictions and many other conditions. Having a Treatment For an initial consultation with a modern practitioner, be prepared to spend up to 1 - 2 hours. Taking your case involves finding out in detail, not only about the problem you are coming with, but also about many other aspects of your health and lifestyle. If appropriate a physical examination may be undertaken, your pulse taken and your tongue looked at. All this information enables a picture of the various imbalances in your system to be compiled. The diagnosis forms the basis of your treatment plan. Treatment itself may involve massage, moxibustion (a warming treatment using smouldering herbs) and cupping, as well as acupuncture. Some people feel nervous about needles, so we will let you know exactly where and when we will use them. Usually needling isn't painful. Acupuncture needles are very fine and we work hard at good insertion techniques, but occasionally they can feel sharp for a few seconds. This may be followed by a momentary ache in the area. However, once they are in place, many people feel deeply relaxed and experience pleasant sensations. Good practitioners try to ensure that you are very comfortable so you can relax for the treatment. Chinese medicine is based on a model of perfect balance, and the signs and symptoms you have indicate the ways in which your unique system may be out of balance. Practitioners will be able to explain to you how Chinese medicine sees your problem, and may be able to give you diet and lifestyle advice that will support the acupuncture treatment.

By Alison Coles
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