Acupuncture for cardiac arrhythmias

Heart disease is not new, although the Covid pandemic seems to have brought cardiac symptoms more to the fore among my patients, including sometimes in younger people.

In rare cases covid vaccinations have caused myocarditis and pericarditis, inflammation of heart tissue and the membrane surrounding the heart, mostly in men under 40. And more generally, Covid itself increases your risks of cardiac problems as diverse as “faster heart rate, atrial fibrillation, blood clots, heart damage due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients, inflammation of the heart muscle and lining, or Takotsubo syndrome (broken heart syndrome)”, according to the British Heart Foundation.

There’s so much research being done into the benefits of acupuncture that it’s hard to keep up with it all, so when I got a query this week about acupuncture for a tachycardia I popped over to Google to see where the research is up to for that, and I was surprised how much I found.

Get your heart checked out

The first thing to say about all this is that if you are concerned that you have cardiac symptoms and you have not yet discussed this with a doctor, please take this area of your health seriously.

Check out this list of red flags for heart disease, and make sure you get any significant symptoms diagnosed and addressed by your doctor promptly.

Research on acupuncture for cardiac arrhythmias

The kind of research that we can talk about with more confidence is when it reaches the level of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. This means not just individual studies, but collective studies of those studies. For some cardiac arrythmias and forms of tachycardia, there have been some encouraging results so far:

“In summary, our meta-analysis demonstrates that clinical efficacy of acupuncture is not less than AAD [Antiarrhythmic Drugs] for PSVT [paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia]. Furthermore, in sub-group analysis, acupuncture with or without AAD, shows a clear benefit in treating VPB [ventricular premature beat] and ST [sinus tachycardia]. However, more definitive RCTs [randomised controlled trials] are warranted to guide clinical practice.”

A 2017 systematic review of acupuncture for cardiac arrhythmias

“In conclusion … we believe that acupuncture can treat for AF [Atrial Fibrillation], through improving conversion rate, slowing the heart rate, by reducing adverse drug reactions and the time of AF cardioversion to sinus rhythm. It is therefore worthy of clinical application.”

A 2019 systematic evaluation of acupuncture for atrial fibrillation

“In summary, our meta-analysis demonstrated that combining acupuncture with oral Chinese medicine shows a clear benefit in treating arrhythmias and has no increased risk of adverse events. However, RCTs with large-sample sizes and rigorous designs should still be conducted, in addition to the adoption of long-term follow-up results, to help reduce bias.”

A 2023 systematic review comparing traditional Chinese herbal treatment with and without adding acupuncture

Your heart in Chinese medicine

One of the poetic descriptions used in Chinese medicine for the relationships between your body’s organs is of a hierarchy of officials, based on the emperor’s court in ancient China. Your liver is the general, your kidneys administrate your waterways, and so on, but all are in service of your heart, which is the emperor among your organs.

And, as in western tradition, the heart is also the seat of love and human connection, and it houses our Shen, or spirit. If you were wondering about the ‘broken heart syndrome‘ that the British Heart Foundation mentioned, I went to a fascinating talk about this recently, from a researcher studying it, and it’s an amazing example of the connection between the mind and the body. Extreme emotional stress can be enough to cause sudden physical damage to your heart. This mind-body connection (and many others) comes as no surprise to acupuncturists, who have long considered these inter-relationships as core to your health.

Traditional Chinese medical diagnoses for cardiac symptoms have names like Heart Qi Deficiency or Heart Blood Stagnant, often showing quite a sophisticated understanding of the workings of our cardiovascular system, and also acknowledging the anxiety that can accompany physical cardiac symptoms.

Acupuncture for cardiac arrhythmias

If you would like to give acupuncture a try for your cardiac arrythmias, just get in touch.


Li Y, Barajas-Martinez H, Li B, Gao Y, Zhang Z, Shang H, Xing Y and Hu D (2017) Comparative Effectiveness of Acupuncture and Antiarrhythmic Drugs for the Prevention of Cardiac Arrhythmias: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front. Physiol. 8:358. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00358

Fei Y, Fei R, Zhang J, Sun Y, Yu Q. Systematic Evaluation of Efficacy and Safety of Acupuncture Treatment for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 Jan 26;7(3):461-466. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2019.036. PMID: 30834020; PMCID: PMC6390133.

Ning, Sisi MSa; Yan, Lei MSa; Li, Yan MDa; Cui, Zhaoqiang MDb,c; Wang, Yun MSa; Shi, Jiawei MSa; Zhao, Yuhong MSa,*. Efficacy of acupuncture combined with oral Chinese medicine in the treatment of arrhythmia: A meta-analysis. Medicine 102(12):p e33174, March 24, 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000033174

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Traditional Chinese medicinal bleeding (blood-letting) for high blood pressure

Blood-letting might not sound like a modern treatment for high blood pressure, but this element of traditional Chinese medicine is starting to receive some feedback from up to date scientific research.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

High blood pressure is not ideal. Even if you’re not feeling any symptoms like headaches or blurred vision, it can be quietly doing damage in the background to your kidneys, heart and your risk of a stroke.

What does the research say?

Enough studies have been done on this question that researchers have been able to do systematic reviews and meta analyses, meaning studies of all the available studies, where they can pool the patient data and re-examine it.

“Although some positive findings were identified, no definite conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of Blood Letting Therapy as complementary and alternative approach for treatment of hypertension [high blood pressure] could be drew due to the generally poor methodological design, significant heterogeneity, and insufficient clinical data. Further rigorously designed trials are warranted to confirm the results.”A 2019 systematic review and meta analysis of bloodletting for high blood pressure

“Bloodleting on ear apex as monotherapy or adjuvant therapy might have benefits in treating primary hypertension [high blood pressure]… However, since the number of studies included and the sample sizes were small, and the methodological quality was poor, these findings should be interpreted with great caution. Further well-designed studies need to be conducted to confirm these results.”A 2018 systematic review and meta analysis of bloodletting for high blood pressure

Basically, so far they seem to be concluding that although there have been some good signs in some studies, the evidence base is not yet clear, and further research, including more rigorous studies, will be needed to reach clear conclusions.

Traditional Chinese medicinal bleeding

People often have a few questions about what is involved in receiving traditional Chinese medicinal bleeding. This is a much milder treatment to receive than you may imagine! The best approach will be tailored to your individual diagnosis, circumstances and preferences, but often it can involve allowing just a few drops of blood to bleed from the top of your ear. In my clinic I use automated ‘click’ lancets for this, like the ones people with diabetes use to prick their fingers and test their blood. Generally people don’t find it painful at all, just a feeling of pressure.

Additionally, if you have superficial dark veins visible on your skin, for example on your legs, it may also be beneficial to bleed those a little. In traditional Chinese medical terms, this can release what is known as ‘stagnant’ blood, blood which has not been circulating properly and may be getting oxidised. (We never bleed raised/swollen varicose veins directly.) In any scenario though, we let your body decide how much blood it wants to release, and the quantities are always a fraction of, for example, making a blood donation.

Give it a try

If you’d like to see whether traditional Chinese medicinal bleeding may help your high blood pressure, just get in touch.


Chan-Young Kwon, Boram Lee, Ju Ah Lee, Efficacy and safety of bloodletting on ear apex for primary hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis,
European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Volume 23, 2018, Pages 90-100, ISSN 1876-3820,

Xiong, Xj., Wang, Pq. & Li, Sj. Blood-Letting Therapy for Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Chin. J. Integr. Med. 25, 139–146 (2019).

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and blood-letting for gouty arthritis

As anyone who’s ever suffered it knows, gout is a horrible business. It’s a metabolic condition which can lead to a build up of uric acid in your system, forming crystals in your joints, and flaring up with nasty pain, swelling and redness in your joints.

As the scientific research into traditional Chinese medicine is becoming more advanced, it has been interesting to see studies done on not just standard acupuncture, but also electroacupuncture and traditional Chinese medicinal bleeding (blood-letting).

Acupuncture for gout

In 2018 a systematic review (a study of all the available studies) concluded that:

Ten RCTs [Randomised Controlled Trials] involving 852 gouty arthritis patients were systematically reviewed. Among them six studies of 512 patients reported a significant decrease in uric acid in the treatment group compared with a control group, while two studies of 120 patients reported no significant decrease in uric acid in the treatment group compared with the control group. The remaining four studies of 380 patients reported a significant decrease in visual analogue scale score in the treatment group … The results of the studies included here suggest that acupuncture is efficacious as complementary therapy for gouty arthritis patients.”

Electroacupuncture for gout

Electroacupuncture is a technique which uses a small machine with wires and clips, to apply a small electric current across some of the acupuncture needles. Generally this gives an odd, tapping, kind of feeling, rather than being painful. In 2024, a research team did a systematic review and meta analysis (where the data from multiple studies is pooled and re-examined) and found that:

“This systematic review examined 15 randomized controlled trials that investigated the use of electroacupuncture as a treatment for AGA [Acute Gouty Arthritis] … The current meta-analysis suggests that electroacupuncture and conventional treatments have comparable efficacy and safety in targeting painful symptoms in patients with AGA … Our study showed that when electroacupuncture and medication were used together, there was a more significant decrease in serum uric acid than alone.”

Traditional Chinese medicinal bleeding (blood-letting) for gout

A 2022 systematic review and meta analysis is not presented in the most accessible language, but it concluded that:

“BLT [Blood-Letting Therapy] is effective in alleviating pain and decreasing CRP level [serum C-reactive protein] in AGA [Acute Gouty Arthritis] patients with a lower risk of evoking adverse reactions.”

CRP is a blood test that is indicative of your body’s level of inflammation.

More research ongoing

All three studies (like other studies into many different kinds of medical intervention) also noted limitations in the evidence base to date, and encouraged further research into these topics.

I was surprised to find all three of these systematic reviews on this topic, it’s fabulous to see the evidence base moving forwards! I look forward to hearing what comes next.

Try Chinese Medicine for your gout symptoms

I offer all three of these treatments, in a fully tailored approach driven by your individual needs and preferences. To see if they may be able to help in your case, just get in touch.


Lee WB, Woo SH, Min BI, Cho SH. Acupuncture for gouty arthritis: a concise report of a systematic and meta-analysis approach. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Jul;52(7):1225-32. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket013. Epub 2013 Feb 18. PMID: 23424263.

Ni Z, Xiao Q, Xia Z, Kuang K, Yin B, Peng D. Electroacupuncture for acute gouty arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Front Immunol. 2024 Jan 4;14:1295154. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1295154. PMID: 38239361; PMCID: PMC10794621.

Li SH, Hu WS, Wu QF, Sun JG. The efficacy of bloodletting therapy in patients with acute gouty arthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2022 Feb;46:101503. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2021.101503. Epub 2021 Nov 11. PMID: 34814062.

Image by cnick from Pixabay

Medicinal bleeding for psoriasis

Bloodletting might not be the first thing you’d think of as a modern treatment for psoriasis, but research suggests that it may be able to help.

Psoriasis often involves chronic pain, and is not a nice condition to have. Genetics play a big role, and it’s now recognised as an immune disorder. Triggers for a new flareup can be as minor as small cuts or scrapes, infections or cold weather. New biological therapies have proved to be a powerful help for many people suffering with psoriasis, but sadly not everyone’s psoriasis has responded well.

Medicinal bleeding

Bloodletting, or medicinal bleeding is part of traditional Chinese medicine, like acupuncture, cupping and moxibustion. Less research has been done for this therapy than for some of those other techniques, so it’s not that often that i come across relevant research that reaches the level that I can share it with you. So I was interested to come across a study looking at the effectiveness of medicinal bleeding for psoriasis.

Wet cupping

Traditional Chinese medicinal bleeding can be performed in various ways, but this study looked at wet cupping. This is where we make small incisions in the skin and then use a cup to create a vaccum and draw out a small amount of blood. When I do wet cupping, I use automatic lancets like people with diabetes use, which generally gives a sensation more of pressure than of any pain. I use fully disposable cups for this, for hygeine and infection control.

In traditional Chinese medical theory, this helps to release some toxicity along with the blood, and makes space for fresh blood to move into the tissues, promoting your body’s flow of Qi and blood. This explanation does not have scientific evidence to support it so far, but what research has been able to look at is the results of treatment. Does bloodletting help psoriasis?

Research results

In 2023 a team did a systematic review and metanalysis of the studies of medicinal bleeding for psoriasis, which means they took a close look at all of the available studies on this topic. They whittled them down to 10 studies with 833 patients. They looked at Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI), adverse effects, and the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI), and found:

“Bloodletting cupping combined with conventional treatment can achieve the ideal treatment for psoriasis. However, the combined treatment in psoriasis needs to be further evaluated in high-quality RCTs with large sample sizes to enable future studies in clinical use.”

“We found no significant difference in adverse reactions.”

2023 systematic review and metanalysis of the studies of medicinal bleeding for psoriasis

As is common in medical research, they also noted limitations in the research performed so far, and encouraged further studies with large samples to improve the confidence of this result.

Get in touch

So if you continue to suffer with psoriasis, and would like to try medicinal bleeding to see if it may help, just get in touch.


Ma, X., Li, D., Zhao, M., He, J., Yang, F., & Kong, J. (2023). Bloodletting cupping combined with conventional measures therapy for psoriasis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in Medicine, 10.

Image from the British Acupuncture Council.

Acupuncture for vocal cord problems

I really feel for people who have a problem that is very visible to others – a problem affecting the face, or ability to walk, or something else that can feel like it’s on display to other full time. Problems with the vocal cords are another one of these – every time you try and speak to someone, a raspy, low or breathy sound may have a bigger impact on your listener’s attention than the thing you’d actually like to say. I can imagine that not being able to express yourself clearly and reliably must be very frustrating. And if your problems also involve difficulties with swallowing, or coughing, then a whole range of normal everyday activities can become an unwelcome challenge.

What are vocal cord problems and where do they come from?

Vocal cord problems can cause difficulty speaking, hoarseness, coughing and problems with swallowing. Medical diagnoses can include laryngitis, vocal nodules, vocal polyps, and vocal cord paralysis.

Our vocal cords are delicate structures within our necks, so a whole range of causes can cause vocal cord problems, including vigorous exercise, airborne toxins, reflux problems and inflammation in the throat and sinuses. Trauma, whether physical such as near-drowning, choking, or surgical injuries, or emotional, can also leave a big impact on our voices. Women, and teachers, are more likely to suffer vocal cord problems.

Can acupuncture help vocal cord problems?

So, can acupuncture help? Well, as ever, it’s not professional for me to share anectodal stories from my own experience. But, happily, some research has been done in this area.

The evidence base

In 2017 a systematic review was published – systematic reviews are near the top of the evidence pyramid, they are studies of all of the published studies on a topic. The scientists in this case were looking at a range of interventions, including massage and physiotherapy, and for acupuncture they were only able to find one study that had been done so far. Nonetheless, their conclusion was:

“The literature regarding the effectiveness of physiotherapy and complementary therapies was good in both quality and results, indicating that massage, TENS, and acupuncture seem to be effective treatments to reduce voice complaints and improve voice quality, supporting the inclusion of complementary therapies but mostly physiotherapy interventions in the treatment of patients with voice disorders.”

a 2017 systematic review on allied health treatments for vocal cord problems

Specifically about acupuncture, they said:

“Yiu et al. conducted a high-quality study … In this RCT [randomised controlled trial], 84 participants with dysphonia were divided in three groups: genuine acupuncture group that received needles in nine voice-related acupoints … A significant improvement in vocal function … was verified in both the genuine and sham acupuncture groups, but not in the no-treatment group. About perceived quality of life, genuine acupuncture groups showed significant results comparing to sham acupuncture group (p = 0.003) and no-treatment group (p = 0.01). No significant difference was found between the no-treatment and sham acupuncture group (p = 0.83). Only the genuine acupuncture group demonstrated a significant reduction in the size of the vocal fold lesions.”

So, one study is only a start for our evidence base, but certainly it’s encouraging. They summed up their findings by saying:

“The literature regarding the effectiveness of physiotherapy and complementary therapies was good in both quality and results. The evidence from the studies included in the review suggest that manual therapy through laryngeal massage and massage of the neck or shoulder girdle is an effective treatment to reduce dysphonia complaints and muscle tension and to improve voice quality. It is important to emphasize that the TENS and acupuncture also presented good results. The knowledge of the relationship between body posture, laryngeal muscles, voice production, and dysphonia is of paramount importance because a transdisciplinary action can optimize evaluation and treatment in order to provide clinically significant benefits to patients with voice problems.”

So, if you’ve been suffering with vocal cord problems, this feels like a really positive message, that there are a number of things that may be able to help you. You don’t necessarily need to feel stuck at your current level of vocal problems. And acupuncture may be one of the things that could be able to help.

Get in touch

If you’d like to give acupuncture a try for your vocal cord problems, just get in touch to get started.


Cardoso R, Meneses RF, Lumini-Oliveira J. The Effectiveness of Physiotherapy and Complementary Therapies on Voice Disorders: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Med (Lausanne). 2017 Apr 24;4:45. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2017.00045. PMID: 28484700; PMCID: PMC5401878.

Image by Florian Pircher from Pixabay

Bloodletting & leeches? Old fashioned treatments are more in fashion than you might think…

Traditional Chinese bloodletting seems to be having a bit of a rennaissance. Say what now? I hear you asking… yup, it definitely sounds a bit odd! When I first studied acupuncture, it was mentioned in our textbooks and our classes, but we didn’t get any practical teaching.

Traditional Chinese bloodletting

Since 2014 though, two master practitioners of this art in the US, Dean Mouscher and Henry McCann, have both published books specifically on this subject – Chinese Medicine Bloodletting and Pricking the Vessels. And the Sidney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine has recently published this 18 minute video discussing the various techniques.

I started to hear lots of stories from other acupuncturists about their experience of bloodletting and wet cupping, and I got very fascinated. I read both the new books, took live online courses with both teachers, and did an online course as well with Susan Johnson, another American practitioner, with decades of experience. I got so interested that I even got a qualification in phlebotomy – the western practice of venepuncture, that happens when you go and get a blood test taken.

It feels like this Chinese tradition has been a bit dormant in the west, but is springing back to life.

What does science say?

For sure we have to be very careful before we make any claims of medical benefit for this treatment. This is not an area where tons of medical research has been done, or an evidence base has been established to show whether this is a medically effective procedure.

At the top of the pyramid of research studies is a meta analysis. This type of study is a review of the individual research studies on a topic, which re-analyses the combined results from those studies. I had a quick look and found six in this area, all published in the last five years:

“Blood Letting Therapy is effective in alleviating pain and decreasing serum C-reactive protein level level in acute gouty arthritis patients with a lower risk of evoking adverse reactions.”

A 2022 systematic review and meta analysis of bloodletting for gouty arthritis

“BL at EX-HN6 [the ear apex] as an adjunctive therapy to eye drops may benefit stye. However, high-quality RCTs [randomised controlled trials] addressing on this issue is still needed to warrant the findings of this study.”

A 2020 systematic review and meta analysis of bloodletting for styes (eyelid infections)

“Bloodletting therapy might be an effective and safe treatment for chronic urticaria [hives], but the evidence is scarce. More high quality trials are needed in the future.”

A 2019 systematic review and meta analysis of bloodletting for chronic urticaria (hives)

“Although some positive findings were identified, no definite conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of Blood Letting Therapy as complementary and alternative approach for treatment of hypertension [high blood pressure] could be drew due to the generally poor methodological design, significant heterogeneity, and insufficient clinical data. Further rigorously designed trials are warranted to confirm the results.”

A 2019 systematic review and meta analysis of bloodletting for high blood pressure

“Bloodleting on ear apex as monotherapy or adjuvant therapy might have benefits in treating primary hypertension [high blood pressure]… However, since the number of studies included and the sample sizes were small, and the methodological quality was poor, these findings should be interpreted with great caution. Further well-designed studies need to be conducted to confirm these results.”

A 2018 systematic review and meta analysis of bloodletting for high blood pressure

“A few small studies suggested that wet cupping alone versus antihypertensive medication significantly reduced blood pressure… However based on current evidence, no firm conclusions can be drawn and no clinical recommendations made. Research projects included need validation. Studies indicate that wet cupping is a safe therapy.”

A 2019 systematic review and meta analysis of wet cupping for high blood pressure

So, from this we can see that the scientific evidence base for traditional Chinese bloodletting is thin on the ground. It addresses only a few conditions, and it mostly concludes that more research is needed before we can draw any clear conclusions.

And hospitals are using leeches

Some of my patients look a bit puzzled when I mention traditional Chinese bloodletting, or wet cupping. It just sounds so weird! Right?

But one nurse I treat, she just nodded away, totally unphased, and said, yes, when she had worked at Royal Perth Hospital, she had been in charge of applying the leeches. Yes, leeches are in use again by plastic surgeons across the world, including right here in Perth! They’re a method of clearing oxidised old blood and re-establishing circulation when small items such as fingers are surgically reattached. Here’s a 2021 news story about leeches ‘saving a schoolgirl’s finger’ at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

So yup, the old stuff, the weird stuff, it’s still going on…

Chinese bloodletting in Perth

So, I’ve got no plans to introduce leeches to my practice! But, I do offer traditional Chinese bloodletting and wet cupping to my patients, where it’s a good fit for them.

You’re very welcome to get in touch if you’d like to know more.


Chan-Young Kwon, Boram Lee, Ju Ah Lee, Efficacy and safety of bloodletting on ear apex for primary hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis,
European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Volume 23, 2018, Pages 90-100, ISSN 1876-3820,

Qiao HW, Liu NW, Wang J, Huang S, Yu L, Chen Z. Bloodletting at EX-HN6 as an adjunctive therapy to eye drops for stye: A meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Aug 7;99(32):e21555. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000021555. PMID: 32769896; PMCID: PMC7593029.

Qin Yao, Xinyue Zhang, Yunnong Mu, Yajie Liu, Yu An, Baixiao Zhao, “Bloodletting Therapy for Patients with Chronic Urticaria: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, BioMed Research International, vol. 2019, Article ID 8650398, 9 pages, 2019.

Shuting Lu, Shizheng Du, Anne Fish, Cong Tang, Qingqing Lou & Xuefang Zhang (2019) Wet cupping for hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Clinical and Experimental Hypertension, 41:5, 474-480, DOI: 10.1080/10641963.2018.1510939

Si-Hui Li, Wei-Shang Hu, Qiao-Feng Wu, Jun-Gang Sun,
The efficacy of bloodletting therapy in patients with acute gouty arthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 46, 2022, 101503, ISSN 1744-3881,

Xiong, Xj., Wang, Pq. & Li, Sj. Blood-Letting Therapy for Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Chin. J. Integr. Med. 25, 139–146 (2019).

Acupuncture for perimenopausal depression

Being a middle aged woman myself, and experiencing the challenges of the perimenopause, I have plenty of sympathy for everyone going through this phase of our lives!

And I love that there’s a much more open discussion going on about how this powerful transition can affect us. Often the focus is on physical symptoms that we may experience, whether it’s hot flushes or an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

But, I have a particular interest in working with mental health and emotional wellbeing, and the impact on mood for some women at this time should not be underestimated too. Unfortunately, studies have shown that women in perimenopause are at higher risk of depression than premenopausal women.

So, how about acupuncture for perimenopausal depression? Can it help?

Research on acupuncture for perimenopausal depression

Well, I was really pleased to see that 2021 also saw the publication of a systematic review and metanalysis (a study of all the studies) into acupuncture for perimenopausal depression.

The study looked at the results of 25 randomised controlled trials, including 2,200 women.

“Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression in their lifetime as men … Menopausal transition, also called perimenopause, refers to a critical stage of dynamic hormonal flux that occurs at midlife in women … Perimenopause is defined as a “window” of vulnerability for the development of depression.”

“In comparison with standard care, acupuncture alone or combined with standard care was associated with significant improvements in PMD [perimenopausal depression] and reductions of other menopausal symptoms. This finding suggests that acupuncture may be a useful addition to treatment for PMD.”

Extracts from a 2021 systematic review and metanalysis of acupuncture for perimenopausal depression

I’ve written before about how the evidence base for acupuncture is unfortunately not being well integrated into health systems. Hopefully, over time, more and more women who are going through this part of their life and finding it difficult will get access to everything that can help them, including acupuncture.

Ready to try some acupuncture?

Just book online or get in touch. Jessica will be happy to help you.


Zhao F-Y, Fu Q-Q, Kennedy GA, Conduit R, Zhang W-J and Zheng Z (2021) Acupuncture as an Independent or Adjuvant Management to Standard Care for Perimenopausal Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front. Psychiatry 12:666988. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.666988

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Acupuncture for pain-related depression

If you’re feeling low, or stuck in a bit of a hole, you’re definitely not alone. Unfortunately depression is very common – more than 16% of us can expect to experience it at some point in our lives, making it the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide. And if you’re experiencing chronic pain, unfortunately your risk of depression may be as high as 50%.

Acupuncture for pain-related depression

Chronic pain is a horrible situation to be in, and it can really get you down. We probably all know someone with chronic back pain, who is also suffering with their mood.

I was happy to see though, that a 2021 study concluded, after analysing the results of eight randomised controlled trials, that acupuncture can be helpful for people who are suffering in this way:

“Depression and pain are the most common psychological and physical symptoms in primary care, respectively … Pain has a negative impact on the prognosis and treatment of depression and vice versa. There is a significant correlation between the severity of pain and the degree of depression.”

“… compared with drug treatment, single acupuncture treatment has the same effect in reducing pain and relieving symptoms of depression in patients with CPRD [chronic pain-related depression] … In addition, acupuncture combined with drug therapy has a better effect than a single drug.”

Extracts from a 2021 systematic review and metanalysis of acupuncture for acupuncture for chronic pain-related depression

The researchers also looked at whether any conclusions could be drawn about the safety of acupuncture in this context, and said:

“… single acupuncture treatment has a lower incidence of adverse events compared to oral drugs. Therefore, we can cautiously recommend that acupuncture is a safe treatment for CPRD [chronic pain-related depression].”

Although it’s worth noting, as is so common with acupuncture research, that the study also concluded that more research is needed:

“… due to the insufficient number of included studies, low methodological quality, and heterogeneity of results, further studies using large- and high-quality samples are needed to confirm the role of acupuncture for CPRD.”

Acupuncture for your pain-related depression

So if you’re suffering with pain-related depression and would like to try acupuncture, get in touch to get started.


Jianyu You, Haiyan Li, Dingyi Xie, Rixin Chen, Mingren Chen, “Acupuncture for Chronic Pain-Related Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, Pain Research and Management, vol. 2021, Article ID 6617075, 10 pages, 2021.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Acupuncture evidence is underused by other health professionals

Unfortunately, it’s quite frequent that people tell me that another health professional has told them that acupuncture will not be able to help with their problem, when those statements are not supported by the current evidence base.

Of course it would be unfair to expect the average GP to have a deep expertise in acupuncture in the way that an acupuncturist does. And it’s a challenge to keep up to date with all the great research that is being done. Although it’s worth noting that all health professionals do have an ethical obligation to keep themselves up to date on the evidence base for therapies that may help their patients.

So in this context, this article in the British Medical Journal in February 2022 was a breath of fresh air: Evidence on acupuncture therapies is underused in clinical practice and health policy.

What did the research team find?

The article examined the systematic reviews that have been published for acupuncture – a systematic review is a study of the studies. So whereas one particular trial might reach a certain finding and another study a different conclusion, a systematic review seeks to identify all the relevant trials for a particular topic, and look at what conclusions can be reached overall. So what did they find when they did a study of the studies of the studies for acupuncture?

“Despite minor limitations, systematic reviews of acupuncture therapies are generally methodologically rigorous.”

“A recent overview of acupuncture systematic reviews found … acupuncture showed a moderate or large effect with moderate or high certainty evidence in eight diseases or conditions … However, instead of endorsement in health policies and wide use in clinical practice, only a few healthcare systems incorporated acupuncture into clinical practice guidelines.”

“For example, acupuncture is underused in practice for treatment of post-stroke aphasia … by 2015 compelling evidence had accumulated that acupuncture provided important improvement, relative to the best existing therapy … To date, however, only one Chinese clinical practice guideline has recommended acupuncture therapies for treatment of post-stroke aphasia. In the US alone, 10 million patients with post-stroke aphasia could have benefited from acupuncture treatment.”

“Identified research opportunities are underfunded … Promising acupuncture therapies (large effect supported by low certainty evidence) represent potentially fruitful future clinical research targets, and thus require further investigation and research funding support. The overview of systematic reviews found that in 33 outcomes for 22 conditions, acupuncture showed a promising effect. Existing funding and research endeavours in these areas have, however, increased little in the past decade.”

“Take three diseases or conditions in which acupuncture showed promising effects as an example. Depressive disorders, migraine, and opioid use disorders are prevalent and associated with a high disease burden globally … Even though acupuncture therapies have shown large effects supported by low certainty evidence for all three of these prevalent and high burden diseases, they received limited funding for further investigation.”

The authors’ recommendations included using the acupuncture evidence base properly in health system decision making, and a better organised approach to funding acupuncture research.

What’s standing in the way?

A wide range of factors undoubtedly lie behind this, but sticking to just the topic of clinical research, one point to note is that acupuncture research doesn’t have the financial might of big pharma behind it. The profit motive that drives a proportion of medical research is not there for acupuncture treatment. But apart from funding, there are quite a few other interesting issues to consider in creating good quality acupuncture research.

Often a trial will seek to assess acupuncture using ideas that were developed to test drugs, for example using comparisons to an inert placebo. Concepts like ‘sham acupuncture’ are sometimes used, when from a Chinese medical perspective even touching a point (acupressure) is an active therapy. Acupuncture is more akin to a minor procedure than to popping a pill, and not all studies do well in recognising that.

Meanwhile the master practitioners of our medicine, and the practitioners who are well integrated into research institutions and can gain access to research funding, may not always be well aligned. The ‘acupuncture’ used in some studies can feel like a bit of a puzzle.

For example, I was surprised to see a study on acupuncture for pubic symphysis pain (a condition of late pregnancy), which used a number of acupuncture points that are considered unsafe in pregnancy. (Say what now?) Debra Betts, an acupuncturist in New Zealand and probably the foremost expert in obstetric acupuncture globally, wrote an interesting analysis:

“Although no serious complications were reported during treatment it is of concern that the acupuncture points Hegu LI-4, Kunlun BL-60 and Ciliao Bl-32 are listed with no mention of their function in traditional Chinese medicine to induce labour … The study states that these distal points were chosen due to their well known pain relieving effect … This is an interesting study as while it confirms the benefit of offering acupuncture for pelvic pain in pregnancy it also raises questions about the way point prescription acupuncture can be used by physiotherapists and medical acupuncturists.”

Debra Betts, author of The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Meanwhile, there are lots of other issues around achieving good quality acupuncture research – meaning both good science, and good Chinese Medicine. The same edition of the British Medical Journal also had a very interesting article about how to improve the quality of acupuncture research.

So, when the benefit of acupuncture has managed to shine through all of these kinds of hurdles, it’s all the more disappointing that the resulting evidence is not always being listened to by medical decision makers.


In summary, it is a great pleasure for me to see the evidence base for acupuncture becoming more complete over time. I am in admiration of all the practitioners and researchers who are dedicating time and energy to building the scientific recognition of our venerable healing art.

Unfortunately it is not an infrequent experience to see acupuncture receiving ill-informed negativity. Sadly this sometimes comes from other medical professionals, despite their relevant ethical obligations.

And so I very much concur with the authors’ recommendations that the evidence base for acupuncture should be used properly in mainstream clinical practice and health policy. As wide a group of people as possible should be able to benefit from the evidence-based benefits of acupuncture.


Betts, Debra, Acupuncture Research,

Elden H, Ladfors l, Fagevik Olsen M, Ostaard H, Hagberg H. Effects of acupuncture and stabilising exercisers as adjunct to standard treatment in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: randomised singleblind controlled trail.BMJ 2005;330:761

Lu L, Zhang Y, Tang X, Ge S, Wen H, Zeng J et al. Evidence on acupuncture therapies is underused in clinical practice and health policy BMJ 2022; 376 :e067475 doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-067475

Zhang Y, Jing X, Guyatt G. Improving acupuncture research: progress, guidance, and future directions BMJ 2022; 376 :o487 doi:10.1136/bmj.o487

Acupuncture for shingles: what does the evidence say?

Shingles is a horrible business! So I was really pleased to see that some evidence is starting to build up around acupuncture for shingles.


Shingles is an infection of the herpes zoster virus, the same one that causes chicken pox, but in this case it’s in the nerves, which is why its notorious as such a painful condition. Often it follows the path of a nerve around one side of your torso, which is bad enough, but it can also happen on the face or other very uncomfortable parts of the body.

If you had chicken pox as a child, shingles can flare up in adulthood if your immune system dips due to ageing or going through a very stressful or draining time in your life. The virus has been dormant in your system all that time, and finally manages to get the upper hand over your immune system.

Pain, itching and a weeping rash are common symptoms.

Postherpetic neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) can be an unfortunate complication of shingles, with a burning pain that can continue long after your shingles rash itself has cleared.

Risk factors for postherpetic neuralgia include being over 50, having severe shingles or shingles on the face or torso, having other existing conditions such as diabetes, or not receiving prompt treatment for your shingles.

How much research has been done on acupuncture for shingles?

Individual studies can produce conflicing answers, so it’s great if the research has advanced to the stage where scientists have done the kind of studies that are called systematic reviews or meta analyses. These are studies of studies, investigating all of the studies that have been done on this topic, and trying to draw an overall conclusion.

Often we’ll find that acupuncture research is not yet at the stage where this level of research has been done yet, so in this case I was happy to see a number of recent meta analysis studies about acupuncture for shingles and/or acupuncture for postherpetic neuralgia.

What does the research say about acupuncture for shingles (or herpes zoster, HZ)?

Overall, the researchers concluded that more research is still needed, but based on what is available so far, they did have some positive things to say:

Acupuncture may be effective for patients with HZ. Nevertheless, this finding should be validated by conducting high-quality trials with a larger sample size.

Conclusion of a meta analysis in 2021, after analysing the results of 21 randomised controlled trials

And what about acupuncture for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN)?

Acupuncture may reduce pain intensity, relieve anxiety and improve quality of life in patients with PHN. Further randomized trials with larger sample sizes and of higher methodological quality are needed to confirm these results.

Conclusion of a meta analysis in 2018

There was not enough evidence to suggest that acupuncture was superior to pharmacologic therapy in improving global impression or life quality. No adverse effects about acupuncture were reported. In all, acupuncture is safe and might be effective in pain relieving for patients with PHN. Given the low quality of included studies, the results are not conclusive and more large-scale RCTs with high quality are needed.

Conclusion of a meta analysis in 2019

Book in for some acupuncture

If you’re suffering with the horrors of shingles, you have my sympathy! If you’d like to book in for some acupuncture, just get in touch.


2018 study: Wang Y, Li W, Peng W, Zhou J, Liu Z. Acupuncture for postherpetic neuralgia: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(34):e11986. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000011986

2019 study: Pei W, Zeng J, Lu L, Lin G, Ruan J. Is acupuncture an effective postherpetic neuralgia treatment? A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pain Res. 2019;12:2155-2165

2021 study: Cui Y, Wang F, Li H, Zhang X, Zhao X, Wang D. Efficacy of Acupuncture for Herpes Zoster: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Complement Med Res. 2021;28(5):463-472. English. doi: 10.1159/000515138. Epub 2021 Apr 6. PMID: 33823512.

Image by Martin Büdenbender from Pixabay

Acupuncture coming to Mount Nasura

Are you ready for some acupuncture? Help is at hand – I’m coming to the fabulous Elevated Mind Body Soul centre in Mount Nasura.

Jesssica Kennedy, qualified in acupuncture in the UK in 2005

How can acupuncture help?

I think people often think of acupuncture as something that can help with pain, but the benefits of acupuncture can be a lot broader than that! Just to give two examples, I’ve written here about the benefits of acupuncture for migraines and for hayfever.

My interest areas

Everyone is welcome! I have a general practice and really enjoy seeing all different kinds of problems, and all different kinds of people during my working day.

I practice two styles of acupuncture together – one is TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, which means something quite specific. And also an approach which is rarer in Australia – Five Element Acupuncture, which has a particular interest in emotional wellbeing and in mental health.

Book your first appointment

So if you’d like to find out what acupuncture may be able to do for you, just get in touch.

Address: Armadale Acupuncture at Elevated Mind Body Soul, 1 Lefroy Rd, Mount Nasura WA 6112

Acupuncture is coming to Narrogin

Acupuncture is coming to Narrogin! Offering a fresh approach for lots of areas of your health. From Monday 15 March I’ll be providing acupuncture once a fortnight at Narrogin Chiropractic.

Acupuncture for everyone

Have you tried acupuncture yet? If you have, you’re part of a trend – nearly one in ten Australians use acupuncture each year, according to research in 2005.

Interestingly, that data showed more people in NSW, Victoria and Queensland having acupuncture than in WA. I suspect that lower availability has been part of what has been holding WA back.

Every community deserves access to all forms of health care. Certainly more and more people around the world are making use of what acupuncture has to offer – global growth is estimated at 14.5% per year.

And country doctors in Australia are aware of the benefits too – 68% of NSW country GPs refer patients at least a few times a year for acupuncture, according to a study in 2013.

Joining the Narrogin Chiropractic team

I’ve been chatting to locations all around town over recent months, looking for the ideal venue for acupuncture, and I’ve met lots of lovely people along the way.

Hygiene is mission-critical for acupuncture, so with all the very specific requirements about handwashing facilities and washable flooring and whatnot, it’s taken me some time to find my new base with the great team at Narrogin Chiropractic. The first two times I came to town looking for premises were on days the clinic wasn’t open, so I just peered mournfully through the glass at the beautiful reception area…

Now that I’ve finally managed to meet Roueen and Kiara, it feels like I’ve reached the perfect spot. Waiting to meet with them, and watching patients come and go through the reception area, showcased such a warm and welcoming environment.

How is acupuncture different from dry needling?

Dry needling is more and more available, from all different practitioners. It’s a really positive thing for a partial form of acupuncture to be reaching a wider audience.

The type of musculo-skeletal needling that dry needlers do though, is only a small part of what the full discipline of traditional acupuncture – and more than three years of acupuncture training – can offer you.

Science is catching up too, with studies now confirming the benefits of acupuncture for a wide range of health problems, from hayfever to migraines.

About me

So what’s bringing me to Narrogin? Well, I’d have been surprised if you’d have told me five years ago what I’d be up to now! The short answer is – I moved to Perth three years ago from the UK and I’m now obsessed with camping, exploring WA, and getting out into nature.

Way back in the day, I qualified in the UK in 2005 and built up a busy practice in London. When nature started calling me, I moved first to the green fields and quaint villages of the Cotswolds. But then the sunshine started calling me, and now here I am! Lucky me.

My practice integrates two fantastic styles of acupuncture – TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture. Both have histories dating back through 2,000 years of East Asian medicine. Five Element acupuncture is not taught in Australia – unlike the US and Europe – and it has a strong emphasis on mental and emotional wellbeing.

I am registered with AHPRA (the Australian healthcare regulator), and with the health funds.

Book your treatment

If you’re ready to give acupuncture a try, and keen to support a new local service, get in touch.


Wardle, Jonathan & Sibbritt, David & Adams, Jon. (2013). Acupuncture Referrals in Rural Primary Healthcare: A Survey of General Practitioners in Rural and Regional New South Wales, Australia. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society. 31. 10.1136/acupmed-2013-010393.

Xue, Charlie & Zhang, Tony & Yang, Angela & Zhang, Claire Shuiqing & Story, David. (2009). Recent developments of acupuncture in Australia and the way forward. Chinese Medicine. 4. 10.1186/1749-8546-4-7. (para 6)

Acupuncture in Moora

Small towns deserve all the same services as big cities! Especially when it comes to our health. The positive evidence base for acupuncture is slowly growing, confirming the benefits for a range of conditions as diverse as hayfever and migraines.

And even Australia’s country doctors are on board – in 2013 a study in regional and rural NSW showed 68% of GPs referring patients for acupuncture at least a few times per year. 

So the good news is that more acupuncture is coming to Moora! From 12 November, I’ll be offering appointments twice a month at the Moora Wellness Centre on Gardiner Street.

Acupuncture for everyone

If you’d like to book in to see how acupuncture may be able to help you, you’ll be in good company.

A a 2005 research project showed that nearly 1 in 10 Australians had used acupuncture within the last year. The study showed more people seeing acupuncturists in NSW, Victoria and Queensland than in our other states, so I’d guess that’s because that’s where it’s been most available.

And acupuncture is on the move across the world, with global acupuncture demand estimated to be climbing at 14.5% per year, as more and more people find out about its benefits.

Joining the Moora Wellness team

“We’re so pleased Jessica’s going to be joining us here at the Moora Wellness Centre!  Moora has a way of drawing people in, and we’re so thrilled Jessica is bringing her wealth of knowledge to practice here. Whether you live in a city or rurally, everyone deserves access to the full range of health services available.”

Joley Holliday, Moora Wellness Centre

Loving the country life

I’ve lived in big cities and tiny villages, and there’s a huge soft spot in my heart for both. When I moved from the UK to Perth, I wasn’t planning to be one of those Perth folk who never leave the metro area, except to fly to Bali! I’ve been out and about in WA, enjoying all the natural beauty this gorgeous state has to offer.

It was passing through Moora on the way back from a camping trip, that inspiration struck. I found myself gazing at the Moora Wellness Centre, and thinking, huh! Then I drove back to Perth, and the natural beauty on the way just blew me away. How can I fit more of this into my life, I was thinking? So I dropped an email to Joley and Marcus…

Back story

What brought me to this point? I studied acupuncture in the UK and qualified in 2005, and built up a busy practice in London. In the end though I couldn’t resist the before the lure of WA’s natural beauty and sunny skies.

I practice two styles of acupuncture in an integrated way – Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Five Element style. These both date back through 2,000 extraordinary years of the history of traditional east Asian medicine. Five Element acupuncture is taught at colleges in the US and Europe, but the full training is not available in Australia, so usually it’s harder to access here.  It has a particular focus on mental and emotional wellbeing.

I’m AHPRA registered and recognised by the health funds.

Book your treatment

If you’re ready to give acupuncture a try, and keen to support a new local service, get in touch.


Wardle, Jonathan & Sibbritt, David & Adams, Jon. (2013). Acupuncture Referrals in Rural Primary Healthcare: A Survey of General Practitioners in Rural and Regional New South Wales, Australia. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society. 31. 10.1136/acupmed-2013-010393.

Xue, Charlie & Zhang, Tony & Yang, Angela & Zhang, Claire Shuiqing & Story, David. (2009). Recent developments of acupuncture in Australia and the way forward. Chinese Medicine. 4. 10.1186/1749-8546-4-7. (para 6)

Five Element Acupuncture in Perth

Here I am with a few words about the joys of Five Element acupuncture, from Marie Hopkinson’s fantastic Chinese Medicine Podcast.

Five ElemeFive Element acupuncture interviewnt acupuncture interview

A few quotes…

I think I might be the first person practising Five Element acupuncture in Perth … the thing that’s really special about Five Element is that it really looks at you, the patient, as an individual, in a lot of depth … this is a strength of Chinese Medicine in general … and Five Element takes it to an even deeper level.

Chinese Medicine has this really integrated understanding of how the mind and the body move together … people often have no idea of the things that acupuncture CAN help with … people often don’t think to mention some of the ways they’re not feeling great, unless you ask the questions … people tend to be drawn to the practitioner who is really well suited to what they need.

One thing I really quickly realised, when I was studying acupuncture, and I had my first few patients, is, nobody is dull. Everybody is fascinating. It’s like you sit with someone, and have a conversation with them for like a half hour, and it’s like this beautiful little journey of discovery. And it’s not uncommon that for them it’s a journey of self discovery. Hearing questions, thinking about themselves, feeling really deeply heard, in a way that isn’t commonplace.

So holding that space, really seeing someone, really hearing them, and doing the background thing of ‘what is it that that person needs?’, is a total joy to participate in.

Wellbeing during social distancing – Qi Kung & acupressure

Greetings! I hope you’re well. Here are some traditional ideas and practices from Chinese medicine, that you may find useful in supporting your wellbeing during the challenges of social distancing.

(And it’s important to say that the things I’m sharing here are not claims of medical benefits backed up by scientific evidence.  These tips are not any kind of substitute for medical advice or treatment. In particular in no way am I suggesting that anything here can prevent or treat Covid 19.)


Wellbeing during social distancing – Introduction

Introduction: Wellbeing during social distancingTraditional ideas and practices from Chinese medicine that you may find useful in supporting your wellbeing during the challenges of social distancin

Posted by Jessica Kennedy – Acupuncture Perth on Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Complete sequence of 18 Qi Kung exercises

20: Complete sequence of 18 Qi Kung exercises

20: Complete sequence of 18 Qi Kung exercises(Traditional ideas and practices from Chinese medicine that you may find useful in supporting your wellbeing during the challenges of social distancing)

Posted by Jessica Kennedy – Acupuncture Perth on Sunday, 12 April 2020

Acupressure points summary

21: Acupressure points summary

21: Acupressure points summary(Traditional ideas and practices from Chinese medicine that you may find useful in supporting your wellbeing during the challenges of social distancing)

Posted by Jessica Kennedy – Acupuncture Perth on Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Next instalment coming soon! Follow me on Facebook to stay in the loop.

Acupuncture for coronavirus

What to do if you have coronavirus

Before I start talking about acupuncture for coronavirus, the first thing to say is that if you think you may currently be infected with the novel coronavirus which causes Covid-19, you should most definitely follow the Australian government’s advice for people in your situation.

To limit the spread of the virus, you will be asked to self-isolate, so you won’t be able to receive acupuncture for coronavirus while you are actively infected.

The history of acupuncture for infectious diseases

If we look back to earlier eras, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine have a long history of working to support people’s health during outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Many diseases that we no longer have to live with in developed countries were common during the thousands of years where Chinese medical wisdom developed and accumulated. The classic texts, dating back for hundreds and thousands of years, often discuss approaches to fevers and talk about the body being invaded by by ‘external pathogenic factors’.

Acupuncture for coronavirus – not during active infection!

The traditional diagnostic framework we use in Chinese medicine today often lists symptoms that I would never expect to see in my modern practice – people that sick in the modern era are in a hospital rather than walking into my acupuncture clinic!

And this is true for an active coronavirus infection. Limiting the spread of the infection, and providing conventional medical treatment for extreme cases, including hospitalisation and intensive care if necessary, are the right approaches if you are currently ill with the coronavirus.

Chinese and western medicine side by side

In modern China, traditional Chinese medicine is often much more integrated with western medical approaches than in Australia, and both are often offered side by side in a hospital context.

I understand that this is happening in some cases in China during the hospital treatment of coronavirus patients. It will be interesting to see the medical research papers which come out at the end of this experience, assessing the impact of using both systems hand in hand.

Supporting your lung health

Like everyone else, I’m following all the advice about coronavirus prevention – handwashing, trying not to touch my face, and so on.

I love this video about supporting lung health by Peter Deadman, who is a hugely esteemed acupuncture practitioner, teacher and writer from the UK.

It’s a little 20 minute routine using easy Qi Kung exercises, of simple movements, and tapping the relevant meridians, or energy pathways, to stimulate your lung energy. I’ve added this into my daily practice and I’m enjoying it a lot.

In Chinese medicine the Wei Qi, or the Defensive Qi, which is a similar concept to the immune system, is closely associated with your lung health.

And in general, all the good lifestyle choices which support your health normally, also support your immune system – whether it’s eating plenty of fruit and veg, or getting a good night’s sleep.

So one thing you can do to prepare for any spreading of the coronavirus here in Perth, is just to look after yourself really well!

Post viral recovery

Thinking then about acupuncture for coronavirus, and looking to the future, I’m mindful of the number of people over the years who have come to see me struggling with post-viral symptoms, sometimes even years after their original infection.

Traditional Chinese medical syndromes include patterns involving respiratory illnesses getting ‘stuck’ in the lungs after an acute illness – they have delightful names like ‘Phlegm Retained in the Lung’.

Recently I read an article describing the experiences a Chinese lady went through during her coronavirus infection, which ended with her thankfully being given the all clear of the viral infection, but still working to build her energy back up, and still stuck with some breathlessness.

So I a quick Google for scientific research on acupuncture for post-viral symptoms. I found some research studies on topics like acupuncture for post viral cough, acupuncture for post-viral fatigue, and acupuncture for post-viral olfactory dysfunction (problems with your sense of smell).

But, I quickly realised that I wasn’t going to find the level of robust clinical evidence that is required for me to share it with you here. Acupuncture to support post-viral recovery is an area where scientific research is very much ongoing, and no benefit can be considered proven.

Get in touch

Wishing you lots of good health in challenging times!

And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’ve got any questions, or if you’d like to book some acupuncture to support your wellbeing, at any time.

So many styles of acupuncture in Australia!

OK so I wrote a little bit before about the various styles of acupuncture available in Australia. Then, well, one thing led to another, and I ended up doing a poll of acupuncturists…

Here’s a snapshot of just how many styles of acupuncture are available in Australia and beyond. It’s a lovely diverse picture.

Who did I ask?

I put polls in two Facebook groups for Australian Acupuncturists – TCM Practitioners Share Group Australia, and the Australian Chinese Medicine Union Group. Then I got interested in an international comparison, so I put one in a big international group, with a big US membership, called Acupuncturists on Facebook.

What did I ask ’em?

This was my question:

“Pop quiz! What style of acupuncture are you practising? (As a primary approach within your practice, not something you might add in from time to time ?) “

I created a few answers, and left it open for people to add additional ones of their own. Answers popped up that I’d never heard of ! Love it.

What did I find?

Unsurprisingly, given the rich ancient tapestry that is Traditional East Asian Medicine, many styles of acupuncture are available in Australia.

Styles of acupuncture in Australia

Truthfully, there’s stuff in there that I don’t know too much about myself. I look forward to learning more one day! When I get to pick the brains of my fabulous colleagues, or when I go to a mind blowing seminar about yet another beautiful part of our heritage of wisdom on health and medicine.

How does this compare to overseas?

Well, there are some common themes. TCM and distal styles are popular, and there’s a broad spread of styles. Japanese styles look a little less popular overseas, and Five Element a bit more so, but we’re bumping up against the limitations of my little poll here. And who knew there was a whole ‘orthopedics’ style of acupuncture? Great stuff.

One difference that does maybe jump out is that the overseas participants look to be more likely to be practising a single style of acupuncture, rather than a combination of styles. Make of that what you will.

Is there a ‘best’ style?

No sirreee.

I luuuuurve the two styles I practice – TCM and Five Element. But over the years I’ve received amazing treatments from acupuncturists using other styles too.

None of this is about a better or worse style, just finding a great fit for you. I tend to think that individual patients are drawn to the right practitioners for them.

If I’m looking for a particular kind of therapy or treatment for myself, I tend to be less worried about which style they belong to (chiropractic vs. osteopathy, anyone?), and more about finding a recommendation for a really great practitioner.

Is there any more data out there?

Not on this exact topic, as far as I can find. It doesn’t seem like either AHPRA, our regulator, or AACMA, the largest professional body, collect info on our styles of acupuncture.

And I should emphasise that there’s nothing scientific about my results. Even just collating the answers from Facebook was a bit of a messy manual process.

But anyway, my little poll gives an interesting flavour of what may be out there.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Medicine Board of AHPRA does publish other interesting data on Australia’s acupuncturists in their annual report.

And Jason Chong, over on the east coast, did a great survey and blog post about how much acupuncture costs across Australia. I followed that up with a little bit myself on the cost of acupuncture in Perth.

Wow I’m feeling all fired up and I want to book some acupuncture!

Yes! Quite right too. Get in touch and we’ll get started.

Acupuncture for vertigo in Perth

Acupuncture for vertigo focuses on restoring your balance.

Of all the conditions that people come to me with, vertigo seems like a really nasty one. A lot of people seem to imagine that it’s just about feeling dizzy in high places. But if you’re suffering from vertigo, you’ll know that it’s a much wider problem than that.

You can feel like the room is spinning around you, feel dizzy even when you’re sitting still with your eyes closed, and end up unsteady and nauseous. It’s clearly no fun at all.

Vertigo in Chinese Medicine

As in Western Medicine, vertigo can be driven by a range of diagnoses in Chinese Medicine. They have less familiar names, like ‘blood deficiency’ or ‘Liver fire’. But the goal of treatment is the same, to get your sense of balance back in balance!

Acupuncture aims to clear your head and ears of congestion, and get things flowing smoothly again.

Acupuncture for vertigo – the evidence base

At the moment, as for so many conditions, the research base for vertigo remains at the level of ‘more research is needed’. Here are some of the conclusions of a 2016 study. This was a systematic review of 12 randomised controlled trials, involving 993 patients with Meniere’s Disease:

“The quality of most eligible studies was very low which limited the value of the meta-analysis. Compared with western medicine comprehensive treatment (WMCT), the APS [acupuncture point stimulation] alone or in combination with WMCT had a significant positive effect in controlling vertigo … No adverse events were reported in the studies More high-quality researches with larger sample size are urgently needed to assess the effectiveness and safety.

He J, Jiang L, Peng T, Xia M, Chen H. Acupuncture Points Stimulation for Meniere’s Disease/Syndrome: A Promising Therapeutic Approach

So, more studies are needed to draw firm conclusions about how effective acupuncture for vertigo can be.

Meanwhile, traditional acupuncture practice is not defined by modern scientific research. But it’s great to see lots of studies going on in this area.

Try acupuncture for vertigo

To see if acupuncture may be able to help your vertigo, just get in touch.


He J, Jiang L, Peng T, Xia M, Chen H. Acupuncture Points Stimulation for Meniere’s Disease/Syndrome: A Promising Therapeutic Approach. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:6404197.

BUPA acupuncture in Perth

One question I often receive is whether I am recognised to provide BUPA acupuncture. And yes, I am recognised by BUPA as a provider of acupuncture!

(BUPA don’t provide any training, guidelines or accreditation for acupuncture itself. However, depending on your policy, they usually provide some health fund coverage for acupuncture provided by a properly qualified acupuncturist.)

Can I get BUPA acupuncture from any acupuncturist?

BUPA apply stringent criteria before they will recognise an acupuncturist as properly qualified.

Jessica has been assessed as eligible for recognition, and has BUPA provider numbers for her practice.

Meanwhile, if you want to start checking whether other individual acupuncturists are covered, you can check with BUPA.

How well qualified is Jessica?

When you visit Jessica, you will have the reassurance of receiving treatment from a well qualified and experienced practitioner, fully trained in traditional acupuncture.

BAcC logo

She obtained her Licentiate in Acupuncture in 2005 after three years study at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in the UK. She is a member of the British Acupuncture Council.

She moved to Perth in 2017. She is registered with AHPRA (you can see her registration listing here). She is a member of AACMA (you can search for her here).

Will BUPA cover my treatments with Jessica?

Your BUPA acupuncture coverage will depend on the policy you hold with BUPA. Give them a call to check.

Will other health funds cover my treatments with Jessica?

Jessica has pretty comprehensive recognition from Australian health funds. For instance she is recognised by AHM, ARHG, Australian Unity, BUPA, CBHS, GU Health, HCF, and Medibank.

So, yes, you should be covered, if your policy allows it. You can contact your provider to check your eligibility.

Are there limits on how much I can claim from BUPA?

It depends on your policy. Call BUPA or your other health provider to check your coverage.

Ready for some acupuncture?

In conclusion, to come and see Jessica for some acupuncture, just get in touch!

What styles of acupuncture are available in Australia?

The style of acupuncture which is most widely available in Australia is called Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. Well, that’s obvious right? Because acupuncture = Traditional Chinese Medicine = TCM, right? Well, actually, it’s a richer and more interesting story than that…

For example the way I practice uses both TCM and another acupuncture style called Five Element constitutional acupuncture. This is also traditional, Chinese, and medical! Confusing, right?

A diverse ancient body of wisdom

Well, it’s because the term TCM is used in two different ways. Firstly it’s used to mean a huge body of ancient East Asian wisdom, that dates back 3,500 years. Another term for this is Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM).

But, the term TCM is also used to describe a particular subset of all of that wisdom, which is a specific standardised system introduced in communist China during the 1950s. If an acupuncturist trained in China, or was trained by someone who trained in China, there’s a good chance that this is the style of acupuncture they’re practising.

And TCM is a great style! I’m a total fan.

I’m also completely in love with Five Element constitutional acupuncture, which is widely taught in the US and Europe, but not here in Australia. Used together, I find TCM and Five Element make the most fantastic toolkit.

Ancient texts, secret lineages

My expertise is in practising acupuncture, rather than explaining its history. But it seems like, back in the day, you couldn’t just go along and enrol at an acupuncture college. Families of doctors guarded their knowledge closely, and Chinese medical knowledge was passed down from master to apprentice, in lineages stretching all over east Asia.

This is how the British Acupuncture Council describes it:

“Until the 1940s, when the Chinese government commissioned the development of a uniform system of diagnosis and treatment, somewhat misleadingly referred to as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), nearly all training had been apprentice-style with masters and within families…

As a consequence of this there are many different styles of acupuncture which share a common root but are distinct and different in their emphasis.  You may read of TCM, Five Elements, Stems and Branches, Japanese Meridian Therapy, and many others, all of which have their passionate devotees. The BAcC, though, has long embraced this plurality under the heading “unity in diversity” and sees the variety of approaches as the mark of a healthy profession.”

Standardisation of TCM in China in the 1950s

I like this description from the Association of Registered Acupuncturists of Prince Edward Island:

“TCM is commonly used to describe two overlapping, yet distinct medical systems.

The first, and broader usage refers to the entire body of knowledge, clinical experience and commentaries accumulated through several thousand years of traditional Chinese medical history and recorded in such seminal medical classics as the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (Nei Jing), the Classic of Difficulties (Nan Jing) and the Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Ying). These classics and the principles they codify form the foundation of all styles of acupuncture in usage today.

The second, more narrow usage of the term, TCM refers to the official state-sponsored standardization and implementation of Chinese Medicine in the People’s Republic of China after 1949.”

After reading all this, I ended up making the diagram that you can see at the top of the page, to try and make clear what they’re saying.

So what’s the difference?

All the beautiful forms of Traditional East Asian Medicine around today have wonderful things to offer. Personally I’ve had fantastic treatments from practitioners of all different styles.

Five Element constitutional acupuncture is one of my favourites, and here’s a nice description of its origins from Anjua Acupuncture:

“Five Element acupuncture is very old and dates back to the Chinese philosopher Tsou Yen approximately 300-400 BC. This is in contrast to the more modern style of acupuncture currently taught in most Chinese medical schools in the U.S., known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is the result of the standardization of Chinese medicine during the rise of communism in China in the 1950s.

This standardization made it possible to teach acupuncture and Chinese medicine on a mass scale in schools instead of the traditional master/apprentice approach. It also combined many family lineages into one system.”

Where did Five Element constitutional acupuncture come from?

JR Worsley studied with masters in east Asia in the 1950s, and went on to become a hugely respected teacher of Five Element acupuncture in the west. Here’s how the Worsley Institute describes the start of his journey:

“Worsley practiced physiotherapy and began to study osteopathy, naturopathy and acupuncture. In the early 1950s he travelled to Taiwan, Singapore and Korea to further his studies and was awarded a Doctorate in Acupuncture. It was during his time there that he first came across the Five-Element system of acupuncture and was drawn to the way it looked at every aspect of a person’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being in order to diagnose the root cause of his or her imbalance.

After studying under his Five-Element teachers Ono and Hsui, in 1955 Worsley was awarded the title of “Master” of Five-Element Acupuncture. The following year he returned to Britain and founded the College of Traditional Acupuncture in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.”

I had the pleasure of studying with teachers at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in the UK, who were trained by JR Worsley. They teach, and I practice, an integration of TCM and Five Element acupuncture.

More focus on the emotions

Why bother with both? Well, they are a great combination.

TCM has some huge strengths around what are called the External Causes of Disease – cold, heat, damp, external pathogens, etc. – and the Miscellaneous Causes of Disease – overwork, injury, diet, etc. (These strengths were what led my teachers to study and then teach TCM, after their own original training in pure Five Element acupuncture.)

Relatively speaking, Five Element constitutional acupunture is very interested in the Internal Causes. These are the relationships between your inner world and your physical health. How are you doing emotionally? Are you at the end of your tether with stress? Poleaxed by grief? On a hair trigger of irritabililty? Or just feeling flat and lacking in joy? The impact of these, across your whole mind, body and spirit, can be huge.

A very neat pair of approaches, right?

Well adapted to the modern world

That Anjuna Acupuncture article I quoted earlier makes an interesting point about how the Internal Causes are all the more relevant in the modern developed world:

“TCM modernized acupuncture and Chinese medicine in a way that could be understood by western medical physicians. This; however, diminished its focus on the mental/emotional aspect of a person because it was difficult to translate “the spirit” into something equivalent in western medicine. The “spirit of the points” was still very much embraced in Five Element acupuncture theory in classical texts.

People today do not suffer from famine, war and poverty to the same extent as our ancient predecessors. Most modern diseases come from stress, the stagnation of our minds and the suppression of our emotions. This makes Five Element acupuncture a particularly good approach for treating health problems in today’s society.”

As a side note, I’m not suggesting that TCM has no interest in emotional health – of course it does. And of course many great TCM practitioners have a deep interest in the full spectrum of their patients’ wellbeing. Five Element constututional acupuncture just adds in an extra lens of perception, and an extra toolkit for treatment.

Apparently one reason why emotional and mental health were relatively downplayed when TCM was created in the 1950s, was because of political diktat that said that mental illness could not exist in communist countries.

“TCM developed in China under the guiding light of dialectical materialism.  As such, it has needed to reject those historical aspects of  TOM [Traditional Oriental Medicine] that reflected spiritual issues, especially practices and attitudes that derived from the shamanistic roots of TOM.

Essentially it has focused on somatic complaints and relegated most complaints of mental, emotional and spiritual distress to the realm of politics.  Of course there are exceptions to this generalization, but it is a useful distinction in getting a ‘feel’ for TCM.”

Peter Eckman, In the Footsteps of the Yellow Emperor

Either way, hurrah for all of the diverse lineages across East Asia that have preserved so many fascinating strands of ancient knowledge for us to use today!

An example in practice

For my registration here in Australia, I was asked to do a viva exam, where I diagnosed and treated a real patient. Having reviewed the info I’d received, I put my best ‘Pure TCM’ hat on, and flew to Sydney. It was an interesting experience! A little bit of a TCM / Five Element culture clash.

I really felt for the young patient I treated, who had been struggling to shake off a heavy cough / chest infection for two months. I asked plenty about the cough, but what jumped out at me was their underlying thoroughly depleted, distressed state, based on extreme work stress and family difficulties.

At the end, the TCM examiners suggested I had ‘spent too much time on background questioning’.

From a TCM point of view, yes, there was a straightforward diagnosis of a stagnant / obstructed Phlegm Syndrome (lovely eh!)

But my Five Element training led me to a strong interest in the Internal emotional / spiritual cause for this stuck pathogen, that to my mind that far exceeded the proximate External cause.

Seeking to help the patient from both of these angles can only be a good thing.

Finding the right style for you

There are amazing practitioners out there, from every style of acupuncture!

It’s a different strokes for different folks kind of deal. Finding a great fit for you.

If you’re in Perth and you’d like to experience the joys of Five Element constitutional acupuncture, I think it’s the case that I’m the only person practising it here. So just get in touch to get started…

A side note for acupuncturists

Publishing this post set off some really interesting dialogues about the heritage of Five Element acupuncture. It’s clear that Five Element medical theory does go back a loooong way.

In a very scholarly article, the esteemed TCM writer, Giovanni Maciocia writes here about the prominence of Five Element thinking in the Nei Jing (a key classical text of Chinese medicine, which dates from around 200-300 BC):

“The Five Elements in the Nei Jing: The 5 Elements are mentioned in very many chapters of the Su Wen and Ling Shu.  The most common correspondences of the 5 Elements are with the following: Colours, odors, directions, organs, seasons, flavours, numbers, orifices.”

And it seems that Worsley’s learning from Japanese masters was also much influenced by the Nan Jing (another text from a similar era). In these writings, Five Element thinking was even more integral, see this short article on TCM Wiki (The Five Elements are referred to here by their Chinese name, Wu Xing).

Ready to give it a try? Give me a call…