General, Health

Acupuncture as Complementary & Alternative Medicine

Nov 22, 2019

Ancient Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture

Question for you, do you think that ancient Chinese medicine, which is thousands of years old, would still be around today if it didn’t work?  Let me ask another question, wouldn’t it suit the pharmaceutical industry if it wasn’t around?

The reason that Chinese medicine doesn’t seem so popular in the west is because it is largely misunderstood, furthermore other professionals offer biased opinion about a model of healing that they do not understand.

Coupled with some doctors blatantly refusing to acknowledge any other form of medicine other than their own, whilst others are jumping on the band wagon and offer acupuncture following a weekend training course, which is taken to support their own therapy and all this is often very confusing to the end user.

The fact is, that acupuncture can’t be learned in a weekend or a 3 year degree for that matter.  A simple mathematic equation deduces that, if a scholar was to study the ancient medicine for their entire life, there would still not be enough years to learn the medicine because it is thousands of years old, plus health changes so vastly. The body is the biggest complex computer system and we are learning more about it every day.

Acupuncture & Western Medicine Combined

Does acupuncture and Chinese medicine have a place…..absolutely!  Does Western medicine….absolutely!  Imagine how powerful healing would be if these two modalities were combined (actually it is, in China).  However, I’m not holding my breath in the west, as there would be one organisation that would protest and that is the pharmaceutical industry, which happen to be a major contributor to the economy.

Many people ask me what acupuncture can treat and the simple and short answer is that it can help any symptom or condition that you might visit the doctor for.  That said an acupuncturist is restricted by the National Institute of clinic excellence (NICE) guidelines (the NHS regulators) as they say there is not enough evidence to support its benefit.  This is always going to be difficult to provide on paper, as the research clinical trials are not designed for eastern medicine, yet we are still able to provide it!  The best evidence is what clients say, but I do recommend understanding a practitioner’s background, are you really receiving acupuncture or dry needling?

Can a GP refer you for acupuncture?

“Acupuncture may be of benefit to you” are the only words I would expect your GP to say or “best ask a degree trained acupuncturist”. The reason for that is that he/she is not qualified to talk to you about acupuncture, the mechanics of it as a healing model is alien to them.  Acupuncture originated in China after all and the only way to develop some understanding, is to study it at least degree level, this will provide basic theory, the rest comes from experience.

GP stands for general practitioner; in highlighting this, I’m not trying to undermine a doctor’s training, I know that study is long and hard.  I also don’t doubt that the reason a doctor chooses to study medicine comes from a desire to help people regain health.  However being a GP means that they have a broad, generalised understanding of western medicine.  A GP is a referral gateway to those who have studied specific systems of the anatomy i.e. cardiology, respiratory, gynaecology, etc. however this does meant that a GP is not qualified to advise on whether acupuncture is for your or not, unless they have studied Chinese medicine at degree level, at the very least.

So natural health or pills?

I would like to make it clear that I’m not opposed to western medicine, in fact, to the contrary, I think our emergency services, whilst often stretched are second to none as is ancillary care, however I’m not a fan of a ‘pill for every ill’ approach to health and that is because medication often carries so many side effects, often causing the symptom, that an individual would like relief from in the first place.

I see many people in clinic who are on medication and are not recovering their health or are often given more medication to counteract the side effects of the original medicine prescribed.

Pain killers are a prime example.  A pain killer does what it says on the box (if you’re lucky!), the concept is that it interferes with the message being delivered to the brain.

Let’s examine it in more detail….

Pain occurs because there is an issue in the body.  The pain is a message sent to the brain suggesting that something is in need of attention.  A pain killer will cut that message off so that your brain forgets all about it, however the issue will still be present.  My concern is that, whilst the brain has forgotten about the problem, the issue is still present and in the meantime daily business continues and your health could be getting worse without you knowing it!

Sometimes I hear it said that an issue was resolved following taking pain killers and I wonder if this is actually the case or has the issue found another route. Perhaps there is no longer an issue because the individual continues to take pain killers, then I ask my clients, what happens when you stop taking the pill?

My thoughts …. There is no right or wrong in a journey back to recovery, as long as we achieve our ultimate goal of returning to good health, some will prefer a natural approach and some medicated, I think what is common amongst us all is that we all look for a quick fix and my experience tells me that the body can’t be rushed in its healing process and will take the time it needs, this can be different for everyone, because we are all different, we are all unique.

Wishing good health to you!

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