Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine


Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine: Nicola Renovich & Rob Long

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine are the two principle treatment modalities of Chinese Medicine which have a history of over 3000 years. Acupuncture uses fine single use disposable needles to stimulate points on energy channels in the body. This stimulation affects changes in the hormones and in the nervous system of the body. It is widely recognized for it’s effectiveness in pain relief including neck and back ache, and dental pain. It is however becoming more recognized to benefit a range of illnesses and symptoms, from migraines, sinus congestion, arthritis and digestive disorders, through to more general feelings of ill health such as nausea, lethargy or low energy. Due to it’s relaxing effect on the nervous system it is considered very beneficial for stress related conditions such as I.B.S, anxiety or depression. Some people without disease or symptoms choose acupuncture to enhance their feeling of well being and maintain a balanced state of health.

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

Acupuncture is often used in the treatment of a variety of conditions and in conjunction with western medicine. Increasingly women are choosing to have acupuncture for fertility, in conjunction with IVF treatment, and to support them throughout pregnancy, labour and after giving birth.


Acupuncture for Pain Relief

Persistent (chronic) pain is a widespread problem that affects around 8 million people of all ages in the UK

Typical chronic pain conditions include:

-osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis;
-low back, shoulder and neck pain;
-headache and migraine;
-neuropathic pain & conditions (e.g. sciatica, Bells Palsy);
-chronic overuse conditions (e.g. tendonitis, RSI);
-chronic visceral pain (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, cystitis, & endometriosis)

Can Acupuncture help?
Recent reviews have shown that it is more effective than no treatment or usual care for chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, or headache (Sherman 2009). There is also evidence that it is effective for chronic knee pain or headache and, for chronic back pain (Hopton 2010).

Back pain can affect anyone at any age and most people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. It is the UK's leading cause of disability and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness absence.

The condition affects more than 1.1 million people in the UK, with 95% of patients suffering from problems affecting the lower back.
Most lower back pain is caused not by serious damage or disease, but by sprains, muscle strains, minor injuries, or a pinched or irritated nerve. It can also occur during pregnancy, or because of stress, viral infection or a kidney infection.

How can acupuncture help?
Research has shown that acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment and at least as good as (if not better than) standard medical care for back pain (Witt 2006; Haake 2007; Cherkin 2009; Sherman 2009a). It appears to be particularly useful as an adjunct to conventional care, for patients with more severe symptoms and for those wishing to avoid analgesic drugs (Sherman 2009a, 2009b; Lewis 2010). It may help back pain in pregnancy (Ee 2008) and work-related back pain, with fewer work-days lost (Weidenhammer 2007; Sawazaki 2008).

Acupuncture can help by:

- Providing pain relief - by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987; Zhao 2008).

- Reducing inflammation - by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007;Zijlstra 2003).

- Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility - by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.

- Reducing the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006).

- Improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises (Ammendolia 2008; Yuan 2008).



Sometimes it may be appropriate in a treatment to include the use of Moxa or Cupping.

Moxa has been traditionally used in Chinese Medicine to complement acupuncture with the use of burning a herb from the Artemisia family either above the skin, or on the end of the needle, to put heat into the muscles and fascia of the body. This can be very relaxing and help tense muscles to relax thereby aiding the circulation of blood in the area. This stimulates the body’s natural healing process.

Cupping uses glass cups which create suction over an area of the skin to increase the blood circulation in the area.This can be used to clear phlegm congestion in the chest and to aid with sore aching muscles.

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