Is Spring finally here?

Shouldn’t it still be Winter?!

I’m tempted to say Spring is here, but technically it’s still Winter.  However, there is no denying that Spring-like things are happening.  The daffodils are flowering and yesterday the highest temperature in the UK was recorded at 20 degrees Celsius. 

Research in fact shows that Spring is arriving earlier every year.  It was on average 11 days earlier in the middle of the last decade than it was in the 70s.  And as flowers and foliage emerges earlier, so does the wildlife that feeds on it, which could be a problem.  The Guardian explains it better than I can

Steve Coster Acupuncture in the Spring

Don’t be too hasty

It may not seem like it sometimes, but we are all part of nature.  Humans, animals and plants alike, we all follow the timetable of the seasons. But just like everything else we can also be tricked into acting as if Spring is here.  Yesterday I saw a man walking his dog in his shorts and a t-shirt at 9am when it was still freezing!  He literally cannot wait for the summer to arrive.

Spring and the Wood Element

Wood is the element associated with the Spring in Chinese Medicine theory.  It is a time of new birth, rebirth, flexibility and expansion.  Wind is the climate associated with this time of year and Anger is the emotion.  In nature we can see a healthy Wood element in how the trees yield and spring back on a windy day.  If they cannot yield then they simply snap or they are uprooted.

The Wind and Anger

Human beings are the same.  If we can’t yield to pressure we will eventually snap.  In America they call this going postal, named after the first workplace shootings at a post office The perpetrator of this horrendous crime suppressed his anger and frustration to the point where it emerged like an exploding pressure cooker!  So, it’s important to have ways to express our emotions.  This might be exercise, or art, or just being able to talk to someone.  Simply bottling up emotions can have devastating consequences to your health, and possibly everyone else.

Wind carries disease into the body according to Chinese Medicine, particularly when our Qi is low.  To our modern minds, however, we know it is germs that carry disease.  But the ancient Masters believed it was ghosts and spirits that invaded the body when it was weak, bringing with them disease.  Obviously they didn’t have the benefit of microscopes and scientific techniques that we have today, so most of their knowledge was based on observation.   It was after all less than 200 years ago that it was believed cholera was spread by ‘bad air’, until John Snow (not JS of Channel 4 news or GoT :)) was able to show it was in fact to do with contaminated water.  

Acupuncture can help!

So this is my point…. it may feel warm but it’s still pretty cold, so dress appropriately.  Our Qi is probably still low from the Winter months so beware of a Wind Invasion.  Wear a scarf!

And of course, come for some Acupuncture for all your aches and pains and Wind invasions.

Steve Coster Acupuncture Southend in the Spring

Chinese Acupuncture

Please do contact me if you have any questions about Acupuncture.  Or you can find out more about any of the topics in my blogs here, about me, or my treatments  


Pain management with Steve Coster Acupuncture

A week in the Acupuncture Clinic

There is never a dull day in the Acupuncture clinic and every day is varied.

Just this week I have helped people with many things, from knee pain to IVF support.

  • back pain (from sprains to a prolapsed disc)
  • Hot Flushes (menopausal but also Chemo-induced)
  • Headaches and migraines
  • IVF support (supporting egg transfer and preparing for IVF in general)
  • Digestive problems
  • Water Retention 
  • Male fertility issues 
  • Cancer treatment support
  • And Morning Sickness!
Knee pain Steve Coster Acupuncture

Electroacupuncture for knee pain

Back pain Steve Coster Acupuncture

Cupping for back pain

Pain management Steve Coster Acupuncture

Acupuncture for Shoulder pain



Some cases are common place, such as lower back ache.  Other cases are more specialised and challenging, for instance chemo-induced hot flushes.  

But what we actually feel is often just the tip of the iceberg.


Pain is not the Cause, but the Symptom

What all the conditions I have seen this week have in common is that they are the symptoms of an underlying cause.  They are not the root itself.  Think of a tree, or an iceberg.  The part that we can see is only a small part of what is actually going on.

No matter how simple a case may seem, the root can be (more often than not) complicated.  We are not machines that if you change a spark plug everything will be fine again.  We are complicated organisms that are affected by what we eat, how we sleep, what we are thinking, where we live, who we talk to….and on and on.  So that is where the real skill of being a practitioner lies; being able to sort through everything and root out the actual cause of a disease or condition.

Do you trust your mechanic?

There is a real danger of treating ourselves as we would our cars.  Something goes wrong so we take it to the mechanic.  At the end of the day he calls you to go and pick it up.  And one day, it costs just a bit too much, so you sell it or scrap it.  There is a whole industry that encourages us to treat our bodies in this way, as if they are misbehaving machines.  We are given a pill for this symptom and a pill for that, and then another pill for the side effects of the first pill!  The pain may be dulled, but now you can’t think straight and your hands are numb!

Qi follows Mind

People often ask me how acupuncture works.  I explain about the concept of Qi , our vital energy, and how if this energy is impaired then illness will result.  But what the acupuncture needles really do is kickstart the Mind and Body into what it should have been doing all along – healing itself.  

In Chinese Medicine we say that Qi goes where the Mind goes.  That’s why practises such as Mindfulness and Meditation are so important for our health and wellbeing.  They teach us to focus our Minds and really feel what we are feeling.  No one can feel what you are feeling but you.

Please do contact me if you have any questions about Acupuncture.  Or you can find out more about any of the topics in my blogs here, about me, or my treatments  


Menopause with Steve Coster Acupuncture

Menopause and Acupuncture

In my Acupuncture practice I help women with menopausal symptoms every day.  I’m not ‘curing’ them, as it’s a natural process that all women go through to one degree or another, but rather I help manage the symptoms.  Let me explain a little about what is happening and why, but also a little about how acupuncture can help.

Menopause is related to the Kidneys

In Chinese Medicine the menopause is seen as a Yin deficiency (which ties in nicely with our Winter/Kidney theme). Whether natural or medically induced, the symptoms will be much the same. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. They might be very mild and barely noticeable, or they can be life changing. However, the good news is that Acupuncture can help with the symptoms.

What is the menopause? (A Western Medicine perspective)

The menopause usually spans 2 – 5 years and the average age is 51 all over the world. Below the age of 45, however, and it is considered premature. Menopause is not a sudden event, but a gradual physiological process throughout a woman’s lifetime. This means that the biological basis of the menopause is determined by her lifestyle and dietary habits right from childhood to the time of the cessation of menstruation. Menopause is not a disease but a normal physiological transition.

What is the menopause? (A Chinese Medicine perspective)

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, menopausal symptoms are generally due to a decline in Kidney essence in its Yin and Yang aspect. But this basic pathology is nearly always complicated by other imbalances – Dampness, Stagnation of Qi or Blood Stasis. Emotional stress is an extremely important cause of menopausal problems, building up over many years. Worry, anxiety and fear weaken the Kidneys and lead to Yin depletion, especially when these symptoms occur against a background of overwork. If you have been following my blogs you will know all about the importance of the Kidneys.  Water contains, controls and regulates the excesses of Fire. If Water is depleted than the affects of an out-of-control Fire will most certainly be felt.

Menopause with Steve Coster Acupuncture Southend

Chinese Acupuncture

How can Acupuncture help?

The trouble with Western medicine protocols is that they do not take into account everything else that might be going on within an individual, e.g. lifestyle, diet, emotions, all of which have an effect on the body. And I suppose that’s the problem, Western medicine doesn’t take the ‘individual’ into account.

Acupuncture can help with the common symptoms of Menopause:

  •    Hot flushes
  •    Night sweats
  •    Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  •    Difficult sleeping
  •    Low mood or anxiety
  •    Reduced sex drive (libido)
  •    Problems with memory and concentration
  •    Urinary Tract Infection
  •    Frozen Shoulder

Menopause with Steve Coster Acupuncture Southend

Acupuncture is able to readdress energetic imbalances and make a natural process much more bearable.

In Chinese medicine we look at the individual holistically; that is, we look at all signs and symptoms and evaluate the possible connections. Women with menopausal symptoms always have more going on than just heat, anxiety, insomnia, etc. You can’t put diseases into little boxes, because we are all different! Feeling unwell, or just out of sorts, is a sign of imbalance within the body. For instance, if you suffer with migraines but also have a terrible thirst that can’t be quenched and have a history of cystitis, then it is at least worthwhile investigating a possible relationship.

As one grows older, the Yin depletes in all of us. This is nature.  In the Spring there is birth and rebirth and life bursts forth; in the Summer the Sun is at it’s highest and hottest and growth is encouraged; in the Late Summer we reap the fruits of our efforts, and if we have done everything right we can enjoy the long evenings; in the Autumn the trees are letting go of their leaves and we must start to prepare for the Winter months; and then the Winter finally comes, the most Yin time of year when all things contract and rest; Then Spring returns and there is birth and rebirth…..and on and on.

In women, as the yin depletes, menstruation ceases, they become a little hairier and the voice deepens. In other words, as Yin depletes the Yang becomes more dominant. In men, as the Yang depletes and Yin becomes more dominant (andropause), we loose our hair and our voices getter higher!  However, it is not only a time of letting go of our youth, but also a time to take stock and prepare for the Winter.  But don’t… worry Spring will soon be here again!

If you would like to know more about how Acupuncture can help you manage the symptoms of your Menopause, I will be doing a talk at The Therapy Life Centre on 18th April.

Please do contact me if you have any questions about Acupuncture.  Or you can find out more about any of the topics in my blogs here, about me, or my treatments  

Shoulder Pain Steve Coster Acupuncture Southend

A Case Study – Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

Although strictly speaking not related to the Water element, but an Earth element issue, this is a great Acupuncture success story that I wanted to tell you all about straight away.

Why an Earth issue?

Well, primarily because all of the meridians related to digestion (Large intestine, small intestine and Stomach) run in and around the shoulder joint.  But also in the Summer, the Earth time of year, there is a real danger of drought and everything drying out.  In the body this could cause the tendons to dry out leading to a loss of flexibility.

Water water everywhere

From a Water element point of view (Kidneys and Bladder) doing too much with little rest can have an adverse effect on our tendons.  Think of the Meridians as being like rivers and streams; if there is not enough rain there is a real danger they will run dry.  In addition, as you will remember from my earlier posts on the Water element, the Kidneys are the most Yin of our organs, so if they become depleted, then so does the Yin and the Qi that supplies the Meridians.  Yin also controls Yang (and vice versa of course), so if Yang is out of control (which is heating) then the body can start to dry out.  You can learn more about Yin and Yang in my earlier post.

A Pain in the Shoulder for 15 Years!

Joe is 56 and of wiry build, which in Chinese Medicine is a good sign of Yin deficiency.  He came to see me for pain and numbness he was experiencing in his left arm.  It originated in Joe’s shoulder but radiated all the way down to his hand, which was now numb.  He was a builder and the pain and numbness was now affecting his work, so he was keen to get back to full health as soon as possible.  This was an injury that had been hanging around for 15 years!  It was a constant ache that was keeping him awake at night, which obviously had a knock on affect on his work.  Joe was generally in good health but did have a history of digestive problems (diverticulitis) and he was in recovery from throat cancer.  Remember I mentioned above about the relationship the digestive meridians have with the shoulder?  Well this was a classic case of how an imbalance elsewhere in the body can affect a seemingly unrelated part via the meridians.  In this case it seemed to me that the Water was not nourishing the Earth.

Steve Coster Acupuncture Shoulder pain Shoulder Pain with Steve Coster Acupuncture

The Treatment

Just knowing the cause makes my job a whole lot easier.  So, by observation and palpation of Joe’s shoulder and arm, and based on what he had told me (as above), I placed a few needles in acupoints along the Large Intestine Meridian in his shoulder, arm and hand.  Because I knew the underlying weakness was related to Joe’s Water and Earth element, I also needled a few points to nourish his Yin and to get the Qi moving.  I also used a heat lamp on Joe’s shoulder, which is a really lovely way to slowly nourish the whole area.

The Result

From the first treatment Joe was in less pain.  By the sixth and last treatment he was totally pain free.  Joe told me that he played a round of golf expecting to have to quit after a few holes, but he completed 18 holes with no pain at all!


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.