Get the point of acupuncture

MONDAY sees the start of Acupuncture Awareness Week throughout the country and, for those readers who may be curious about this 2000-year-old form of therapy, this is your chance to find out what it’s all about.

Thursday, 23rd February 2012, 8:40 am

Last week, I visited the Galloway Acupuncture Clinic in Wigtown where I was given a consultation and treatment by practitioner Jenny Craig, a member of British Acupuncture Council. Jenny studied for four years in both Chinese and Japanese forms of acupuncture and the first thing you discover is that acupuncture is not just about needles!

Originating in China, this traditional therapy is becoming more widely accepted in the west as an effective complementary treatment. According to the theory, our health depends on the balance of “life force” energy (Qi) which flows through invisible channels (meridians) throughout our body. When Qi becomes deficient or out of balance, we eventually start to develop symptoms of illness. Acupuncturists are trained to recognise signs of physical and emotional disturbances that are associated with each meridian, and, by stimulating points along the meridians (usually with very fine needles), they aim to restore balance to the whole system.

On my arrival at Jenny’s clinic, she spent a few minutes asking questions about my general health and specific issues I had. My general health is good and I have no outstanding worries; I sleep well and do a reasonable amount of exercise. The only minor niggle I told Jenny about was a stiff neck, probably from sitting staring at a computer screen for hours at a time.

The first part of my treatment involved “moxibustion”. This involved placing a small amount of the herb moxa on the skin. The moxa is then set alight and smouldered close to the skin. This created a pleasant aroma and helps to aid the healing process. The next stage involved the specific positioning of small metal discs on parts of the body. This stimulates the Qi along the meridians. Jenny used copper and zinc discs on me. One on the outside joint of my right hand and one on the outside joint of my left foot. After every stage Jenny checked my wrists to see if the pulses were in tandem with each other.

The final part of the session was the use of very fine needles at the back of my neck and on my shoulder blade. These special acupuncture needles are so fine you have no sensation of them being there at all. You don’t even feel them going in. After five minutes or so Jenny removed the needles, which are all prepacked in sterile wrappers and never re-used. She rechecked my pulse and commented that the left and the right pulses were much more in tune than they were at the beginning on my treatment.

When I returned to work from my hour-long session with Jenny I could feel the sensation of heat on my back for quite some time. It was similar to the feeling you get when you have been caught by the sun. Acupuncture is also known to aid sleep and, although I am a good sleeper anyway, that night I slept the sleep of the dead!

I was so impressed by the experience I have booked another session with Jenny.

Depending on the problem, there is sometimes a significant improvement after the first treatment but Jenny reckons a minimum of five sessions is necessary for lasting benefit.