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You can read the whole blurb if you'd like, but the short version is I trained about 1/4 of a century ago and have been in professional practise since (apart from maternity breaks) with constant ongoing development, most notably in Japan and America. Currently I am also doing a full, degree level training in Chinese Herbal Medicine with the White Crane Academy at ICOM. This is a small and fairly new training (2nd intake) set up by Andrew Flower PhD who is one of UK's pre-eminent practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine. It was worth the wait and is squeezing my brain to keep it reevaluating the wonders of Traditional East Asian Medicine. I currently offer Chinese herbal treatment under supervision from my clinic alongside the moxibustion and acupuncture. They are 3 strands of the same medicine.
Ok, now the full version if you've got the stamina. I originally trained at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine (CICM), Reading, from 1994. We were the second intake then, and now it's one of the biggest acupuncture colleges in the UK. I gained a Licenciate in Acupuncture (Lic Ac) then the main acupuncture qualification. In 2008 I took a further two year Certificate in Acupuncture and Moxibustion for children with Julian Scott, Teresa Barlow and Dr Stephen Gascoigne. Julian now runs a shorter course at CICM and is one of the leading paediatric acupuncturists in the UK.
I've done Continuing Professional Development (CPD) since 1996 and in 2010 began ongoing training with Kiiko Matsumoto and Andy Harrop. Since then I have done further training with many significant teachers of Japanese acupuncture in Europe, including Shonishin training in 2011 with Stephen Birch who has written the main English language textbook on the subject, and specific moxibustion training in 2014 with Mizutani sensei, moxibustion specialist and editor of North American Journal of Oriental Medicine (NAJOM)
In 2015 I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to study Shiunko-kyo, a particularly subtle and effective style of moxibustion, with Koshiishi sensei on her only training course outside of Japan. In 2016 I was invited back to undertake further training with her in Tokyo and returned in 2017 to further this. I also attended the World Conference of Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion in Tsukuba, Japan in 2016 as well as advanced training with various eminent Japanese sensei in Tokyo and Shikoku during both of those trips. I followed this up with the NAJOM 25th anniversary conference in Vancouver and exchanges with other practitioners, including Jason Roberston, in Seattle. which brings us up to now and the last stretch of the full practitioner training in CHM (see above) whilst maintaining acupuncture, herbs and adjunctive therapies, such as dietary therapy, ongoing CPD.
I am also up to speed on the dry but essential Clinic safety, particularly during Covid, and GDPR protocols. I have maintained my First Aid certification and training since 1996.
The letters I use professionally tell you the standard I have achieved in my core training and professional membership. On top of these I constantly update my skills with top Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion, and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners.
The letters mean;
- Lic Ac - Licenciate in Acupuncture, the main qualification standard in traditional acupuncture, now usually taught in UK as a Degree course for Bachelor of Science (BSc). I do also have a degree, but it's in Theatre Design so you don't really need to know that
- Cert Ac (Paed) - Certificate in Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Children, two year postgraduate training with Julian Scott et al.
- DipCHM - Diploma in Chinese Herbal Medicine from White Crane Academy, principal Andrew Flower PhD.
- MBAcC - Member of the British Acupuncture Council, the main body of traditional acupuncturists in Britain. There is currently no state registration of acupuncturists in Britain and the British Acupuncture Council is generally regarded as the lead professional regulatory body for traditional acupuncturists here.
- MRCHM - Member of Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, the lead organisation for Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioners in UK, ensuring quality and provenance of herbs used for creating your medicinal formulae.
If you've had traditional acupuncture before, the chances are that you've had Chinese style acupuncture. If you've had medical acupuncture (from your GP, usually) or pain-relief acupuncture (by physiotherapists generally) sometimes called 'dry needling', you'll find how I practise is really different.
Probably the most significant difference you'll feel is that Japanese acupuncture uses incredibly fine needles and a much lighter technique, which usually means that you will barely feel them, if at all. The other biggest difference is the extensive use of okyu (moxa). This is made from a member of the Artemesia family of plants, closely related to the mugwort that grows on Par Beach. I make a 'pillow' of an herbal ointment and then smoulder rice grain size okyu cones . Most people find the sensation it creates a really pleasant and deeply relaxing. Look at the moxa FAQ for more info.
Japanese moxa is the finest quality in the world; producing such a fine product is a greatly respected skill in its own right, and Koshiishi sensei and Mizutani sensei have taught me subtle and effective treatments using this resource. I was lucky enough to study with Koshiishi sensei on her first teaching trip outside of Japan and to be invited back to study with her in Japan in 2016. Consequently I assisted setting up her return teaching trip before visiting her again in 2017
Japanese acupuncture was developed from the same Classics of ancient China after the Han Dynasty as the better known Chinese acupuncture. The system moved to Japan over a thousand years ago and has developed its own unique character. It is a living tradition, my teachers continue to study and extend and share their knowledge, and so Japanese acupuncture continues to develop today, rooted in the knowledge of the Classics. It's incredibly exciting! I have to go to Japan for most of my ongoing training as there is still relatively little of Japanese style taught in UK; this gives me amazing opportunities to study with a lot of incredible teachers.
Yes. I have full medical insurance for acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbal medicine through the main governing body for acupuncturists in the UK today, the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) of which I am a full member.
I also rigorously observe the Codes of Safe Practice and Professional Conduct. The Code of Safe Practice lays down stringent levels of hygiene and requires the use of sterile single-use disposable needles. This code has been recognised by the government as providing robust self-regulation which meets the needs of the general public. You can find out more at BAcC and RCHM. I'm also aways up to date on Clinical protocols, particularly pertaining to Covid, GDPR, current First Aid certification and herbal medicinal safety.
This is the 'piece of string' question! I usually advise people to book for two appointments a week apart, and a third two weeks after that - so three in a month. Occasionally this is all that is required, especially when treating children, but as adults usually come to see me with a longstanding condition for which they have already tried many different therapies, it often takes longer.
I will however give you an idea of a) whether acupuncture can help with your condition and b) how long it might take. People have to contact me directly before booking and so if possible I would also give you an idea then. Acupuncture however treats the person not the disease, so there is not a simple answer before I have been able to assess you physically. When appropriate I always refer you back to your GP.
Usually I will also advise you on changes to your life that may be useful; I aim to make these small and achievable so that you can actually achieve them. Over time you will find yourself managing your own health and well being more proactively and naturally. Some people want to take on more and these meridian exercises by the wonderful Stephen Brown, are an excellent place to start.
Firstly, I practice Japanese style acupuncture and moxibustion which is much lighter than the better known Chinese styles. The vast majority of needles you barely even feel. Japanese needle technique is so gentle that patients often report a change in sensation well away from the needle insertion. The style of moxibustion that I use is also a very light touch and again, people report changes in sensation rather than discomfort. Some people even fall asleep!
Much of the diagnosis is made from palpating the abdomen, which is an unusual sensation initially but quickly becomes acceptable.
All practitioners of non-orthodox western medicine are now strictly limited claims we are allowed to make about the treatment we practice. These restrictions were put in place by the Advertising Standards Agency in April 2011 for consumer protection.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) continue to advise that acupuncture is safe for a wide range of conditions.
Acupuncture is the insertion of super-fine (I use 0.18mm) solid, sterile, single use, surgical steel needles into specific points on the body to address imbalances in the person's flow of energy.
Some people in the West understand this as Qi or Chi, and in Japanese ki. As a traditional acupuncturist, this is my understanding, as it would be in countries like Japan and China, where this medicine is traditionally used. Others prefer a western interpretation and liken it to the nervous system, which is generally how medical acupuncturists and physiotherapists see it. I will do my best to explain it to you in terms that you understand and are comfortable with.
I also extensively use Japanese moxa, a highly refined product of mugwort (Artemisia argyii) that is smouldered on acupuncture points. There is a FAQ on moxa too, so please read that for more detail as moxa will be a significant part of having treatment from me.
Moxibustion is the use of mugwort (Artemisia argyii) as mo kusa (burning herb) to treat a patient. It is traditionally indicated for a really wide range of conditions and I frequently use it in preference to acupuncture, and I will always use it within a treatment. The Japanese 鍼灸師 translate as 'needle moxa master' so the skills have always been inherently linked.
It involves tiny rolls called moxa 'cones' being placed on a protective balm 'shiunko' at specifically chosen acupuncture points. Just as in using acupuncture, the points are selected to best address your condition, and the required number of cones will be also be chosen to suit your needs.
I have undertaken significant amounts of post graduate moxa training. Most significantly I studied Shiunko-kyo with my teacher Koshiishi sensei in UK and Tokyo and this is the style I use in preference to others. I am also grateful to have studied Fukaya-kyo with another great moxa teacher, Mizutani sensei, and more moxa skills with Miyakawa sensei.
Shiunko-kyo uses the shiunko (shiunko translates as purple cloud ointment) as a cushion to protect the patient's skin from the smouldering herb so that you may feel warmth but should not feel heat or discomfort. The moxa will either be rolled into a few small cones on this 'cushion' or multiple 'threads' to surround a larger area. Japanese moxibustion uses the highest grade of moxa produced in the world, which burns at a lower temperature than the coarser moxa used for indirect moxibustion in China, which is why it can safely and comfortably be used directly onto the skin. It is also deeply relaxing.
PhD research into the value of moxa has shown it to increase blood flow to the area, to calm the sympathetic nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetics, and to support the development of white blood cells, our first line of defence against incoming pathogens. I am always happy to answer further questions on moxa, especially as it is so little known in this country.
Look at these pages from my governing body in the UK. See what they have on your condition; BAcC acupuncture research pages
You can also search PubMed for 'your condition: traditional acupuncture' or alternatively search the World Health Organisation (WHO) They change their pages all the time but offer a long list of conditions that they suggest traditional acupuncture can help.
Finally, you can ask me! I will only take on cases that I believe I can help. I have many years of experience and CPD to draw on so have a good idea of when acupuncture tends to be appropriate. If I don't think I'm the right professional to treat you, I have worked around here for a long time and can usually suggest a practitioner who may treat you or your condition more effectively.
In 2020, I began the most thorough training in Britain on traditional Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) It's a 3 year comprehensive training, compared to most that may be as short as 12 wks or 9months, even 2yrs doesn't give a student herbalist time to really ingrain the principles and practise under the tutelage of really experienced CHM practitioners. You can look up about the course whitecrane.academy
CHM is strongly regulated in UK by Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Crucially only plants are used; most are farmed specifically for the industry and only common plants are wild harvested sustainably. None of the more lurid stories you may have read about it apply to the profession in UK and Europe, or indeed the big CHM hospitals that operate alongside modern medicine in China.