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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 we 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, an American practitioner with very lengthy experience using these techniques. I got so interested that I even trained and 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, and an evidence base has been established to show that 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 which have been done on a specific treatment, and an analysis of the combined patient data from those studies. I had a quick look and found six on this topic, 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 as an adjunctive therapy to eye drops may benefit stye. However, high-quality RCTs 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, 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 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… 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 to 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, to them. 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 dead 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

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.


References

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, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eujim.2018.09.011.

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. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/8650398

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, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2021.101503

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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11655-018-3009-2

https://www.9news.com.au/national/twenty-leeches-used-to-help-save-perth-schoolgirls-finger/7a596e66-eb52-4045-8d3f-99d3277b5804

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.

References

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, you can book online or get in touch to get started.

References

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. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6617075

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.

Conclusions

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.

References

Betts, Debra, Acupuncture Research, https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/research/pelvic-pain/

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

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, get in touch, or click here to book:

References

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
https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S199950

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, click the button to get started:

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, or book online:


References

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.

https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/acupuncture-market-industry-trends-size-growth-insight-share-competitive-analysis-statistics-regional-and-global-industry-forecast-to-2023-2020-08-18#: (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, or book online:


References

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.

https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/acupuncture-market-industry-trends-size-growth-insight-share-competitive-analysis-statistics-regional-and-global-industry-forecast-to-2023-2020-08-18#: (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.)

Introduction

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.


References

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…

Acupuncture for acne works as well as medication

In my acupuncture clinic I always feel for people with acne. If you’re suffering with bad skin it can be really hard to get away from. You can feel like it’s staring other people in the face the whole time. It’s great that you’re researching acupuncture for acne and are looking for natural approaches to your health.

Happily this is one of the areas where we now have some good quality scientific evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture.

Acupuncture for acne is as effective as pharmaceuticals

There was no statistical difference in the efficacy of acupuncture compared to pharmacotherapies for acne vulgaris; however acupuncture interventions reported less adverse effects. Poor methodological quality of trial design and lack of consistent reporting of outcome measures from some trials were found in this review; therefore results should be interpreted with caution.

Acupuncture for Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

So that might sound a bit downbeat! But, what it’s saying is that the studies so far show that acupuncture works just as well as the pharmaceutical treatements for acne. And, with fewer unwelcome side effects.

(Also they’re noting that more research is needed. It will be great when we get to that stage, of a really indisputable result.)

How strong is this evidence?

The study I’ve quoted above represents one the most robust forms of scientific evidence – a systematic review and meta-analysis. This gathers and analyses the results of all the good quality studies that have been done on that topic.

Above all, this type of review helps to even out quirky results that single studies may have thrown up. And it stops you cherry picking and just quoting the one study that backs up what you want to say! Researchers from RMIT in Victoria, and Guangdong in China conducted this study.

In summary, this type of study is considered to be a very strong level of scientific evidence.

The Chinese perspective

From the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, acne is often all about ‘Heat’. In some ways this parallels the idea of inflammation. Imbalances related to hormones, diet, stress and lifestyle can cause these eruptions of Heat on the surface of the body.

Certainly treatment will often focus on clearing your Heat and harmonising your system, to bring your skin back into balance.

Holistic treatment, looking at all of your health

Meanwhile I take a very holistic approach to your treatment. In your first consultation we’ll review all aspects of your wellbeing, and identify any other areas where acupuncture may be able to help.

If you choose acupuncture over pharmaceuticals, as well as the benefits to your acne, and the potential reduction in side effects, you may receive improvements in other areas of your health.

Try acupuncture for your acne

So if you’d like to give acupuncture for acne a try, just get in touch.


References

Acupuncture for Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018; 2018: 4806734.

Image by Kjerstin Michaela Haraldsen from Pixabay

Acupuncture for endometriosis

Unfortunately it sometimes seems like we’re living through an epidemic of endometriosis. And if you have endometriosis your symptoms can be so all-consuming. I hear from a lot of women wanting acupuncture for endometriosis.

When I read about a woman as young, and with as much access to healthcare as the actor Lena Dunham, having a hysterectomy due to intolerable endometriosis symptoms, I found it truly tragic.

If you know you’re suffering from endometriosis, you have my sympathies. It’s a step forward at least that you’ve been diagnosed. It can take SO long before some women receive a clear diagnosis. US research shows that the average delay is an unbelievable nine years.

And of course this is partly because it’s such a complex disease, that can affect you in so many ways.

What is my endometrium?

Your endometrium is the tissue lining your womb. It’s supposed to stay put. During your fertile years it swells up during your menstrual cycle, and then sheds each month to create the flow of your period.

It’s when some of your endometrium escapes from your womb that your problems start. This is called endometriosis.

How can my endometrium wander around my body?

You may not realise that your womb actually opens out into your abdominal cavity. It’s not sealed at the top. It has two arms – the fallopian tubes – which reach up and around, and kind of fondle your two ovaries. Your fallopian tubes have feathery frondy ends, that nestle around your ovaries. It’s a bit hard to describe, but there’s a nice diagram here on MedicineNet.

When everything’s working smoothly, your fallopian tubes catch the egg that is released by one of your ovaries each month, and bring it down into your uterus (your womb).

Things aren’t supposed to travel in the opposite direction, up and out of your uterus, and it’s generally not good news if they do. For example, if sperm manage to get all the way up there, and find an egg, you can end up with an ectopic pregnancy. This is a pregnancy outside the womb, which is potentially a very dangerous situation.

Where can it get to?

So with your endometriosis, some of your endometrial tissues has travelled up your fallopian tubes and managed to escape from your womb. When this happens, patches of your endometrial tissues can get stuck to your ovaries. And to all the other structures in the area, including your bowels.

Your doctors may have mentioned your pouch of Douglas – and this is the lowest point in your abdominal cavity. It’s a bit of a backwater in amongst your organs there. Gravity may encourage any loose materials to end up pooling down there and potentially colonising any surfaces they find.

Apparently endometrial tissue can even migrate to your brains or your eyeballs. It hardly bears thinking about.

Anyway, abdominal areas are where it’s normally found.

And why is this a problem?

Two main things – these rogue patches of endometrium may bleed every month, introducing blood to places where it’s not supposed to be. This can include confined spaces, like a patch of endometrium bleeding into itself on the surface of one of your ovaries. This can create a blood filled cyst which grows bigger over time, causing pain and pressure.

Secondly, adhesions. These patches of endometrium may glue tissues together that should not be glued together. When things need to move, for example something as simple as when food needs to move through your intestine, or a stool needs to move out of your system, the pain can be off the charts.

The broader impact

And I say two main things, but actually, also, a third thing, inflammation.

People who don’t have endometriosis often think it’s basically about period pain. And endometriosis can definitely cause extremely severe pain, both during your period and at other times.

What’s less obvious is that endometriosis can also cause mind-blowing levels of fatigue, brain fog, and other systemic symptoms.

When I’ve looked into this, it doesn’t seem clear WHY endometriosis causes these kind of symptoms. But the best understanding I’ve found in the medical literature is that basically all that blood and all those adhesions in the wrong places cause a ton of inflammation. And a ton of inflammation can make you feel properly terrible.

What is the cause of endometriosis?

It’s unkown. It’s a bit of a mystery. I’ve read theories that it’s because we’re all exposed to so many plastics and chemicals these days, some of which mimic the effects of hormones in our bodies. But scientifically, the jury is still out.

It’s also a bit of a mystery that the amount of endometrium, and adhesions, and cysts, and whatnot, that may show up in your scans, and the level of symptoms you have, may not correlate. You can have lots of one, with little of the other.

Acupuncture for endometriosis

From a scientific point of view, acupuncture for endometriosis has not yet benefited from a large volume of high quality research. The effectiveness of acupuncture for endometriosis is unproven. Further research is needed.

Meanwhile the ancient system of traditional Chinese medicine looks at your body through its own lens. With acupuncture for endometriosis, your symptoms are likely to be all about Stagnation. Blood Stagnation and Qi Stagnation. Also Heat, arising from all that Stagnation.

The aim with acupuncture for endometriosis is to smooth back out the flow of your Qi and your Blood and clear Heat, to restore your bodily harmony.

Try acupuncture for your endometriosis

To try acupuncture for your endometriosis, and see whether it may be able to help you, just get in touch.


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Acupuncture for sinus problems

Wow, everywhere I go in Australia I hear people talking about sinus problems! In my years practising acupuncture in London, acupuncture for sinus problems did crop up, but it wasn’t something I was hearing about all the time.

You’d think that the damp British climate would promote sinus problems, but it seems like no, it’s the dry heat of Western Australia that does it.

And from the point of view of Chinese medicine actually, this makes sense. Sinus problems come under the heading of ‘Phlegm’ – charming I know. And Phlegm arises from ‘Heat’ baking body fluids and creating stickiness and obstruction. And for sure there’s plenty of heat in a Perth summer!

So, what’s the story with your sinuses, and with acupuncture for your sinus problems?

What are your sinuses?

So the sinuses are cavities in the bones of your face. They sit above your eyebrows, and below your eyes. There’s a slightly creepy illustration of what they look like here on WebMD.

It seems like no-one is quite sure what your sinuses are for. I had this conversation once with someone who suggested they’re so that your face doesn’t look all hollow. And well, mayyyybe. But I’m guessing that if the sinuses weren’t there, and we all had hollow faces, we’d think that was normal. And we’d be weirded out by the idea of plump outward faces, with weird holes in the bones underneath?

Other, more convincing, theories are that your sinuses help to moisten the air that you breathe in, or that they help give resonance to your voice.

In any case, your sinuses are lined with thin tissue called musosa. As it sounds, they produce mucous. And when everything is working smoothly, this mucous drains away through passages that lead to your nose.

Sinus problems

The most typical reason that people seek acupuncture for sinus problems is because of sinusitis. The ‘itis’ bit on the end means ‘inflammation’. So, the mucous membrane lining one or more of your sinus cavities has become inflamed. Most typically this started originally with some kind of infection. For example a bacterial or viral cold.

Common symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Blocked or stuffy feeling above the eyebrows or below the eyes
  • Pain in those areas
  • Blocked nose
  • And if it gets worse, you may have a sore throat, fatigue, and other symptoms of being a bit more unwell

When sinusitis becomes chronic

Unfortunately it’s relatively common for these symptoms to become a bit entrenched. Your sinus cavities are a bit of a backwater within your head, and lingering infection or inflammation may not always clear smoothly.

The tissues lining your sinuses may remain inflamed, they may produce excess mucous, and polyps may even start to grow – little benign growths. Each of these things creates obstruction and stagnation, within these small and confined spaces.

So, you can end up with soreness, pain and pressure on an ongoing basis. It can be difficult to treat medically – this article from OnHealth talks about how surgery may be needed for some people as a last resort.

Acupuncture for sinus problems

From a scientific point of view, this is an area where more research is needed. A strong body of good quality studies on acupuncture for sinus problems have not yet built up.

A related area where more research HAS been done is acupuncture for allergic rhinitis – you can see my blog post on that here. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hayfever, can itself cause sinus problems. And the evidence shows a good benefit for allergic rhinitis from acupuncture.

Looking from the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, using acupuncture for sinus problems is all about working to release stagnation, congestion and Phlegm in the area, and clearing the Heat arising from inflammation. The aim is to bring these areas of your head back to a smooth flow – of Qi and blood and air and everything else.

Try acupuncture for your sinus problems

If you’d like to see whether acupuncture for sinus problems may be able to help you, just get in touch.

Acupuncture for headaches can reduce your symptoms

If you have lots of headaches, that’s no fun at all. So it makes sense that you’re interested in acupuncture for headaches. The good news is that the evidence base is now strong that acupuncture can provide real relief, for both migraines and tension headaches.

Headache symptoms

It might seem like a simple problem, but headache symptoms can be very diverse. For example they can include:

  • Aching, throbbing, pressure or sharp pain
  • At your temples, behind your eyes, behind your forehead, to the rear of your head, or throughout your head
  • On one or both sides of your head

Your headaches may be better or worse:

  • At certain times of the day
  • In certain weather
  • With certain foods
  • With stress
  • With exercise
  • At certain points in your menstrual cycle
  • Etc

In addition they may be accompanied by:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Visual disturbances
  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to sound and light
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Neck and shoulder tension

Which type of headache?

The three most common kinds of primary headaches are:

  • Migraines – if you’ve got these, you probably know all about it! Pulsing pain in your head, which can go on for days, may be accompanied by nausa, vomiting and visual disturbances. You may become very sensitive to bright light or loud sounds. You may be completely debilitated while it lasts. Different people may have different triggers, but they may include certain foods, hormonal shifts, sleep disruption or exposure to chemicals. Read my blog post here about the research showing that acupuncture for headaches can be a cost-effective way of preventing migraines.
  • Tension headaches – these usually give you a dull ache in your whole head, and your neck and shoulders or other parts of your head may feel tense and be sore when you touch them. Stress is a common trigger. Read my blog post here about how acupuncture for headaches can help. The research is positive for both treating and preventing chronic tension headaches.
  • Cluster headaches – again, if you’ve got these, you’ll know about it! You will suffer a severe burning pain, on one side of your head. You may get swelling, redness, tears in your eyes and/or nasal congestion on that side too. Typically each headache won’t last more than three hours, but they’ll recur over a period of time. These headaches are more common at certain times of the year, and more common in men.

Is medication causing your headache?

A lot of progress has been made in recent years in recognising that in some people your headaches are being CAUSED by taking painkillers regularly. As a result these are known as ‘medication overuse headaches‘ or ‘rebound headaches’.

Consequently, even though medication may temporarily relieve this kind of headache, the strain on your body of processing the drug has reached the stage where taking the medication may now be the main driver of your ongoing headaches.

Headaches as a danger sign

Most headaches are not an indicator of another, more serious, underlying disease. When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras!

However you should consider seeking medical attention urgently if you have a strong headache accompanied by a rash, fever, neck stiffness, the worst headache you’ve ever had, vomiting, confusion, slurred speech, paralysis and/or loss of vision.

But hopefully your headaches fall outside this category. Still, if they don’t respond to pharmaceutical treatment, acupuncture for headaches, or other commonly useful approaches, I would definitely recommend to get them checked out by your doctor.

Acupuncture for headaches

The evidence base for acupuncture treatment of all kinds of health conditions is at different stages of evolution. Happily, for migraines and tension headaches, a good body of evidence has now built up. In short, we can say with confidence that acupuncture for headaches can bring real benefits.

Book your appointment for acupuncture for headaches

To see how acupuncture for headaches may be able to help you, just get in touch.


Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

The cost of acupuncture in Perth

What is the cost of acupuncture in Perth? After years practising in London, I researched this question before I set up my acupuncture clinic in Leederville.

Most websites don’t tell you their cost of acupuncture, but here’s a snapshot of what I did find.

Cost of acupuncture in Perth

LocationInitial appointmentOngoing appointment
East Perth $110 $100
Fremantle $105-$125
(60-90 mins)
$90
(45-60 mins)
Northbridge$80
(60 mins)
$65
(40 mins)
North Perth $90
(80 mins)
$80
(50 mins)
Midland (1)$50$50
Midland (2)$90$70
Range$50-125
(60-90 mins)
$50-100
(40-60 mins)

So that’s a lot of variation! What are some of the reasons for that?

Extra charges at some clinics

Well, one question is what is included within your appointment. In my clinic I provide whatever you need during your treatment, at no extra charge. As well as acupuncture, that may include cupping, electroacupuncture, gua sha or moxa treatment.

Some of the clinics above charge extra for these though.

LocationExtra charges
Fremantle $20 extra for cupping
Midland (1)$25 extra for cupping
Midland (2)$25 extra for cupping
$25 extra for gua sha
Northbridge $30 extra for cupping
$15 extra for moxibustion

So it may be that once you start adding on these extras, a lower priced appointment may not end up saving you money.

Individual attention

Another variable is whether you get the acupuncturist’s undivided attention. Some practitioners will run two treatment rooms at once, and while you lie with your needles in, they’ll start their consultation with their other patient in the other room. (So then it makes sense that they need to charge extra to do a service like cupping where they will remain in the room with you.)

Further down this path, some practitioners operate in multi-bed clinics, where numerous treatment couches are set up in a large space, and patients are treated alongside each other. This can be a great way of reaching out with low cost acupuncture to those parts of the community that might not otherwise be able to access treatment.

Part of what I enjoy about my work is being fully present with each person I see during the day. If you come to me you will get my undivided attention throughout your treatment.

How long is the appointment?

You can see from my research above that it varies a lot how long each practitioner will spend with you. There’s a really wide range of styles of acupuncture, and a really wide range of how acupuncturists approach their practice.

Some clinics allocate 30 minutes for an ongoing appointment. With a shorter appointment like this, the focus may be very tightly on your main complaint – your sore elbow, say. And if your needles are going to be in for 20 minutes, and you’ll need a few minutes to disrobe and robe, get comfortable on the couch, and for the practitioner to set up and clear the room at the start and finish, the time allocated to ongoing consultation with you about your health will be relatively brief.

In my practice I allow up to 90 mins for each first appointment, and 45 minutes for ongoing appointments, to give time to comprehensively explore your health, review cause and effect within your overall wellbeing, and identify all the ways in which acupuncture may be able to help you.

How many treatments will you need?

Well! That’s a question you’ll need to ask your practitioner. What I would say though, is that it’s best to think in terms of at least 4-6 treatments.

How often will you need to have treatment?

Again, different clinics may have different approaches to this.

For most people who come to me, I recommend weekly treatment initially. This is often for the first 2-3 weeks, then when you are feeling well for the full week between appointments, we stretch them out to every two weeks. When you’re feeling well for the full two weeks between appointments, we stretch them out to monthly.

But of course this is subject to what’s practical for you. Having treatment should never become a source of stress in itself!

The cost of acupuncture in Perth compared to the eastern states

By a lucky hap, a colleague in Melbourne has just done a survey on the cost of acupuncture across Australia.

Prices were similar to what I found in Perth:

  • $81-$130 for a first appointment
  • $70-100 for an ongoing appointment
  • Average prices were a little lower in outer suburbs or rural areas
  • There wasn’t generally a pricing difference between newly qualified practitioners and those with years of experience
  • Practitioners who are running a second treatment room and seeing two patients at once, or who have shorter appointments, don’t necessarily charge their patients less

And there’s a nice table towards the bottom of his article which flags up the full range of the help you are likely to receive from your acupuncturist, beyond just the needling. As well as modalities like cupping and moxa treatment, many practitioners (and I am one of them) are routinely utilising the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine to provide dietary and lifestyle advice.

Cost of acupuncture with me

I charge $120 for your first appointment, and I ask you to allow up to 90 minutes. Ongoing appointments are $80 and up to 45 minutes.

So, which should you pick?

I wouldn’t say there’s a better and a worse version amongst all this. Cheaper may not be better. More expensive may not be better either. It’s all about a good fit. I think you’ll be drawn to the practitioner who has the right approach for you:

  • Some people want a quick appointment and a sharp focus.
  • Or you may really value having the time to be heard, and for your health to be comprehensively explored and holistically supported.

If you’re in that second group, then I may be the perfect practitioner for you, and I will look forward to hearing from you.

How can you book?

Just get in touch!


Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay