Rebecca Adlington, Olympic Gold Medal winner, uses acupuncture to help her shoulder injury...
A British Acupuncture Council video providing an insight into how Adam works and treats his patient John Joseph, who has suffered from back pain for many years.
The principle aim of acupuncture is to treat the whole person not just the title of disease and to recover the equilibrium between the physical, emotional and spiritual self.
This is achieved with a diagnosis based on information relating to, for example, past and present emotions, diet, life style and a health history starting as early as childhood.
Acupuncture techniques have been used for over 2,000 years. Although refined and adapted over the centuries, it has retained a simplicity which is still applicable today. This is possible due to the interpretation of signs (what the practitioner sees) and symptoms (what the practitioner is told).
Acupuncture was thought by the Ancient Chinese to alter energy flow through a system of channels or meridians which course through the body. The Chinese believe that the circulation of this energy or life force (‘Chi’) influences health and well-being. Although the precise mechanism is unclear, it is probable that Acupuncture exerts an effect through the central nervous system. By the stimulation of very fine nerves which run beneath the skin it is possible to modify nerve impulses to the spinal cord and brain. This may facilitate the release of certain chemical transmitters, thereby easing many symptoms for which Acupuncture can be effective.
Adam utilises cupping, which is a very old technique spanning the continents and was used in far eastern countries, Africa, north and south America and across Europe. It is recorded that the founder of the Royal Marsden hospital, Dr William Marsden, used cupping extensively during the 1930's. Adam has found cupping to dramatically help with conditions such as diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal bloatedness. Additionally, it is extremely beneficial for muscular-skeletal problems like back pain, frozen shoulders and tightness in thigh and calf. He has also found it very useful for those suffering from respiratory problems, facial paralysis (Bell's Palsy) and other complaints.
Adam uses the more traditional way to apply the cups, which requires a flame to be placed inside the cup (via a lit cotton wool bud soaked in methylated spirit) thereby burning away the oxygen which results in a vacuum . The cup is then quickly and strategically placed against the patient’s body, usually where a light dab of baby oil has been applied in order to assist the process of the cup 'sticking' to the body. The cups come in varying sizes and can be used on adults and children alike.
Another ancient technique Adam uses is Moxibustion. Moxibustion is a therapy that uses moxa, which comprises predominantly of a herb called mugwort. It comes in various forms, shapes and sizes but typically Adam uses it either in a stick form that resembles a cigar or as a small solid cone shape placed on the end of the needle. In either instance the herb is lit and provides a concentrated heat that is usually extremely comforting. This sensation may be localised or can spread superficially or deeper into the body. This technique is called 'indirect moxibustion' because it is not placed directly on the skin; where it is placed on specific acupuncture points on the skin is known as 'direct moxibustion'. Adam tends to use the Japanese technique for 'direct moxibustion' called Okyu. This treatment utilises tiny rice grain sizes of moxa, lit on strategic locations to maximise the benefit.
It is suggested that moxibustion was used before acupuncture with needling supplementing moxa around 200 B.C.E. One of the first books reportedly written about the specific use of moxibustion as a therapy was around 500 B.C.E. by Bian Que a famous doctor of antiquity and one of the first specialist in moxibustion. In Modern China the use of Moxibustion is now inseparable from Acupuncture. However some practitioners of Classical Chinese Medicine still only use Moxibustion as their way of treating illness, which is a testament to the effectiveness of this therapy. There are numerous studies into the use of Moxibustion and possibly the most popular and widely recognised use is its ability to, in some pregnant women, facilitate the turning of a breech baby, thus preventing the need for caesarean section.
Adam uses Moxibustion because from a TCM perspective it moves the qi and blood to clear obstructions and stagnation in the body; as moxa is warming it is Yang in its energetic quality and so when the body is affected by external pathogenic factors, especially cold it will help remove the restrictions that cold causes which results in the stagnation of flow of qi and blood. In Chinese Medicine, when qi and blood do not flow, it often leads to pain. Sometimes the qi and blood of the body will flow counter to its normal course, this can be the cause of many problems such as nausea, headaches and even panic attacks. Moxa [and acupuncture] can rectify the course of qi and blood. Furthermore if there is a lack of warmth or Qi in the body, symptoms such as weakness, lack of energy, poor circulation, body chills, poor digestion, frequent urination and/or bowel movement, infertility and other problems can result. The warming properties of moxa can help tremendously to restore vitality and energy.
A technique that has developed much more recently is electro-acupuncture. This is a form of acupuncture that uses a low frequency TENS type machine providing an electrically stimulated sensation, through the needles, into acupuncture points to produce analgesia and anaesthesia to treat a vast array of painful conditions. Adam has found this therapy hugely helpful for numerous complaints including back pain, frozen shoulders, peripheral neuropathy, Bell's Palsy, knee and ankle injuries/pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
According to David Mayor, an acupuncturist who started using electro-acupuncture in the late 80's and who is Editor of Electro-acupuncture: A practical manual and resource (Churchill Livingstone 2007). Electric currents have three effects: chemical, physical (or stimulatory) and thermal. These can influence the body at different levels: cellular, tissue, segmental and systemic. Adam has found that electro-acupuncture can have a profound benefit and positive outcome that may not be achieved by acupuncture without stimulation.
Finally it is worth noting that a recent, 2017, comprehensive review supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture has been collated in the 'Acupuncture Evidence Project', an 81 page document viewable online. There is a summary 5 page version which is also available online. The co-authors opinion is that 'it is no longer possible to say that the effectiveness of acupuncture is because of the placebo effect, or that it is useful only for musculoskeletal pain'. Adam's 25 years as a practitioner in North London (in addition to studying full time for 3 years) supports the authors view of acupuncture.
Practitioner: Adam Leighton
Feet are vital to your independence and an important aspect of overall health care. A wide range of conditions are treated from simple corns, callus and nail conditions to more complicated ailments, such as biomechanical dysfunction and the removal of painful ingrowing toenails under local anaesthetic.
Chiropody is the treatment of feet, addressing specific problems like corns, verrucas or nail care to other general problems like arthritis, leg pain, back pain, sports injuries and disabilities. Chiropody can help people of all ages especially the elderly or physically impaired, to maintain mobility and independence.
The foot is a highly complex structure which is used every day and can be put under high stress. Feet can develop problems themselves and cause problems such as bad posture leading to back or neck pain. Feet can also be affected by many general medical conditions. Chiropodists have a good working knowledge of the whole body, in order to assess the causes and general health implications of the foot problems facing them.
Mobility – and the freedom it brings – is essential to the quality of life and should not be considered a luxury. Unfortunately, immobility is very common due to painful feet and lower limb.
Practitioner: Maurice Leane