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Ear acupuncture (also known as Auricular acupuncture or Auriculotherapy) is a specialized branch of acupuncture where the ear is viewed as a microsystem of the whole body.

Did you know?

· Ear acupuncture is commonly used in the treatment of alcohol and drug withdrawal. The NADA protocol (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) was developed in the 1970s to help people in withdrawal from narcotics and later spread to alcohol and other withdrawal problems. It has been used to benefit disaster victims and trauma sufferers worldwide.

· Battlefield Acupuncture is a protocol developed for the US military and has been highly effective as an emergency analgesia for wounded soldiers. It is a first line therapy used before medics can evacuate the patient and introduce pharmaceuticals. The protocol does not require the removal of armour or clothing so it can be applied immediately in the field.

· It has been suggested that pirates used to believe wearing a gold or silver earring would improve their eyesight. There is an acupuncture point on the earlobe called the “ear point” or “vision point” or “master sensorial.” Although there are various points on the body that may be used to improve eyesight, there are reports of people enjoying vision improvements after having their ears pierced.

What happens at an appointment?
An Ear acupuncture appointment is no different to a normal acupuncture appointment. However, it can be performed either seated or lying down, and there is no need to remove clothing.

Chinese medicine looks at the body as a whole, so you may be asked about things that at first seem unrelated to, say, the pain in your elbow. This is because the acupuncturist has to ascertain that the cause of the pain is not due to something other than playing tennis. For example, the pain could be related to diet; research has shown that an autoimmune condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can be worsened by certain foods.

However, it can sometimes be simpler than that. I once saw a client who came to me with recurring left elbow pain. After chatting with him about his lifestyle etc. he mentioned that he was a driving instructor. It turned out that when he was working he spent most of the day with his left elbow leaning out of the window, exposed to the wind and cold! I treated him and suggested he wind the window up a bit, and the pain never returned!. No steroid injection that time, I’m happy to say.

Once the questions are over you can sit back comfortably during the treatment. Occasionally I may also use body points or Tui Na (Chinese massage) to enhance the treatment.

What can Ear Acupuncture help?

As mentioned above, it is often used in the treatment of drug withdrawal (including nicotine) as well as pain relief, from lower back ache to migraines (I have a colleague who underwent root-canal treatment with no anesthetic, just ear points! She was happy to report she felt no pain at all). But it is also great for mental/emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Does it hurt?

Generally, acupuncture does not hurt. Some people feel the needles as they go in, and some people feel nothing. Ear Acupuncture needles are very small solid needles, not hollow like hypodermic needles, and they are much, much thinner – about the diameter of a thick human hair.

If you would like to know more about Auricular acupuncture and how it can help you, give me a call or come and see me at The Therapy Life Centre.

Steve

Natural fertility and Acupuncture

For some failure to get pregnant, either naturally or with IVF, can be devastating. According to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), infertility is estimated to affect around 1 in 6-7 UK couples at some point in their lives. Some couples turn to acupuncture as a last resort, meaning that their conditions may be rather complex and they are often extremely stressed by their situation.

Most women, and indeed couples, with fertility issues are stressed and anxious due to the frustration of being unable to conceive, so relaxation is essential for supporting them, and acupuncture is often beneficial. I work closely with women who have been diagnosed with PCOS, endometriosis or unexplained infertility, but also with men who want to improve the quality, morphology or motility of their sperm.

By reestablishing balance and therefore improving a person’s overall health both physically and mentally, acupuncture can increase the possibility of a natural conception. I closely analyze the body basal temperature, which allows me to monitor the state of the female’s estrogen and progesterone levels and whether she is ovulating at the right time. This highlights any potential problems and gives conception the best possible chance. I also consider a couples diet and lifestyle (stress, exercise, smoking, drinking, etc.) as well as their full medical history, including the male’s sperm test results. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) allows me to consider people as individuals, not simply boxes to be ticked.

As well as physiological problems there may also be psycho-emotional aspects blocking successful conception. Stress affects every process in the body, from the digestive system to the reproductive system. Acupuncture can help to reduce stress and build your vitality and general health.

TCM has demonstrated that it can help women conceive with or without artificial reproduction therapy (ART). Although a Western diagnosis can complement a TCM treatment, as an acupuncturist I find that aTCM differentiation integrated with BBT analysis can be the most effective treatment of infertility prior to taking the ART route.

If you would like to know more about acupuncture and how it can help fertility, please call me on 07909 521847

Steve

Thinking of going running?

With next year’s London Marathon fast approaching, now is the time to start thinking about some serious training. As an acupuncturist I see many running injuries that might have been easily prevented with the right footwear and some good advice. And as a marathon runner myself, I know how frustrating it can be to have an injury in the middle of training!

So here are a my top 10 tips that I hope will help you run safely and injury free.

1. Have a programme to follow. Running aimlessly can be boring and difficult to stay motivated. With a programme for the week you know when you should be running and what type of running you should be doing, e.g. easy run, intervals, long run. Pin it up on the fridge where you can see it and you can plan your week accordingly.

2. Set a goal. This might be a race to train for or simply to reach a level of fitness or lose weight. Having a goal will motivate you to get out on the road on those wet and cold mornings when you would rather be in bed!

3. Motivating yourself can be tough, especially if you run first thing in the morning because of work. A good way to get out in the morning is to get your running gear ready the night before. Put it on the radiator so it’s nice and toasty when you put it on in the morning, and then get straight out there before you’ve had time to talk yourself out of it!

4. Make sure you have the correct footwear. Most running injuries I see in my practice are caused by runners wearing the wrong shoes. When we run the foot either pronates, supinates or is neutral, either way if your shoe doesn’t support this movement it will most probably lead to injury. Go to your local running shop and have your gait analyzed, then try several pairs to find the most comfortable for you.

5. Change your shoes after approximately 500 miles. I’ve worn many brands of running shoe and run thousands of miles, and in my experience this advice isn’t a marketing lie to make you spend more money, the cushioning does deteriorate enough to make a difference. Remember, if you can avoid injury it is a small price to pay.

6. Don’t waste money on expensive waterproof clothing. The most effective waterproofing you can get is your skin. It is more important to keep warm, so wear layers that you can remove. In the winter I find a base-layer worn close to the skin is ideal insulation. The only thing that you shouldn’t scrimp on is footwear!

7. Don’t eat more than you need. If you are running to lose weight, it’s a simple equation: burn more calories than you are taking in. But be careful that you are eating enough. A simple rule of thumb is to eat 3 meals a day, eat organic foods, avoid refined sugars, and drink 2 litres of water daily. So it pays to do your research or talk to a professional before embarking on a programme. If you are putting on weight or you are feeling dizzy, consult your GP.

8. Don’t listen to an ipod. Listening to music while you run can be dangerous but can also lead to injury. Not only does it block out the sound of traffic and other dangers, but music prevents you from developing an ear for your body’s natural rhythm. Running to the rhythm of an upbeat song may be quicker than your fitness allows, which can lead to injury.

9. Listen to your body. This is meant to be enjoyable, so if you are feeling exhausted or ill, either don’t run or change your planned run to something easier. Recovery is just as important as training – you will not get stronger without rest. There is always another day.

10. Stretching. Take at least 20 minutes to stretch after each run. If you are pushed for time at least stretch your legs for 5 minutes each, focusing on each muscle group. Your muscles are nice and warm and are ready to get lengthened after a run. If stretching is new to you or you are unsure of which stretches to do, seek advice and even if it’s a one off attend a Pilates class or hire a personal trainer to be shown the correct stretches. Regular stretching will also reduce the possibilities of injuries and will help keep your body in shape.

If you have any further questions about how acupuncture can help you or you would like to know more about running, please give me a call or send me an email.

Steve