Unlike conventional Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine views the body as a whole. This ancient system of health care is closely linked with the Chinese philosophy of balance and harmony. Once that balance is disturbed, then we become unwell. And the greater the imbalance, the more severe the ensuing disease.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs seek to redress this balance and bring the body back into a state of health. How does it do this? It's all about the 'Qi'. 'Qi' (pronounced 'chee') is the energy that permeates the universe, that forms and flows through our physical body. If it's plentiful and free-flowing, then we feel fit and well, but if it's low or deficient, or gets "stuck", that's when the trouble starts.
We can keep it in this enviable state of plenitude and flux by looking after ourselves - by eating well, sleeping well, not getting worked up about the next door neighbour's barking dog, breathing in good air, and generally leading a calm, happy and dignified life. Oh, and a sense of humour helps too! There's nothing like a good chuckle to get the Qi flowing.
When life "happens" and, like all good New Year's resolutions, good behaviour starts to slip or our allotted amount of 'pre-heaven Qi' (what you're born with rather than what you nurture) becomes depleted, Chinese medicine can help, be it via an acupuncture session, a relaxing Chinese massage, or a few cups of 'I've tasted better' Chinese herbal brew.
The initial consultation and first treatment lasts about one and a half hours. A full case history is taken and your pulse will be felt and your tongue examined. Your treatment will then be discussed. You will not be asked to discontinue any medication - that is between you and your doctor.
A diagnosis will be made according to one or more styles of acupuncture, be it the 5 element style, the 8 principle method or the Balance method, whichever is most appropriate. Fine needles will then be inserted at chosen points along the acupuncture meridians/channels of energy with the aim of stimulating the body's own healing response in order to restore it's natural balance.
Herbs may also, or alternatively, be prescribed to encourage the same result. These will need to either be boiled up or simply have boiling water added to them.
Subsequent acupuncture sessions, which generally produce a state of deep relaxation, last about one and a quarter hours.
Whether you come with a bad back, a fertility problem, headaches, hayfever, or simply a general feeling of malaise, the aim is the same: the restoration of balance and harmony.