Acupuncture and herbal medicine are both effective treatments when we are diseased to help us get better. However they can both be used to maintain health and maximise life span.
Is the insertion of very fine needles into the body to affect function. The precise mechanism of how this works depends on how you choose to view the universe.
From a Chinese perspective you have 12 main and 8 extra channels that flow through your body and the insertion of needles affects the flow of Qi and Blood in the channels, collaterals and internal organs.
Everything in the universe is a sort of Qi, different sorts of Qi but still Qi.
The character for Qi is the combination of the character for rice combined with the character for the breeze, or steam, or vapour, which means that while Qi is as solid and material as rice it is also as invisible and formless as the breeze – so energy and matter at the same time.
Arriving at a diagnosis after a full consultation indicates what points should be needled to facilitate a return to health.
From a western biomedical understanding then when a needle is inserted into the body, there is a local, a segmental and a central reaction to encourage healing.
Locally, CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide), histamine, bradykinin, and substance P are released. These things promote vasodilation and the formation of new blood vessels, thus facilitating repair after injury to the local tissue.
Segmentally, the needle stimulates the nerves in the body, triggering parts of the brain. The descending pain pathway is initiated, which inhibits pain sensations at the spinal level.
And finally, systemically, beta-endorphin, endomorphin, and dynorphin are released in the brain providing an overall analgesic effect in the body.
Herbal medicine is the oldest form of medicine known to human kind.
Currently approximately 50% of all drugs come from plants. Plants have many different identifiable chemicals e.g. a dandelion has at least 100+. The scientific argument is that it is better to extract and purify the most powerful chemicals, thus reducing the number of variable factors. Drugs suppress symptoms and have specific actions; this may be the correct principle of treatment at certain times – like if you have been run over by a car.
While this specificity is one of their greatest strengths it is also their greatest weakness…. as drugs are so specific and so suppressant they create side effects.
Side effects from drugs are regarded as being the third biggest cause of death in the developed world (after heart disease and cancer).
While drugs give side effects, plants are the perfect balance of chemicals bound up in living matter for health concerns. If a medicine is made from the whole plant, it is not going to suppress symptoms as quickly as drugs, but does offer a gentle, balanced, yet effective treatment to facilitate a return to health.
MSc MNIMH MRCHM MBAcC
Having received 4 years orthodox medical training coupled with over 20 years of busy clinical experience Steve understands orthodox medical treatments and terminology. Traditional Chinese Medicine, Steve’s speciality, can often explain what may appear to be random unconnected symptoms, thus allowing a holistic individualised treatment plan involving acupuncture herbal medicine, and advice on diet, exercise and positive thinking, to be developed.
Steve has been practising herbal medicine since 1985, and acupuncture since 1993. He has worked for the NHS specialising in treating Hepatitis C and HIV / AIDS as well as practising in various private clinics in London, Essex, and Suffolk. He has recently been elected president of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and is joint head of medical services at The Third Space Medicine London’s leading integrated medical centre.