The initial diagnosis consists of a conversation that I have with each new patient and a series of physical tests. It is an initial and important opportunity to get an overview of who you are and how you are.
It includes an hour long discussion about your current health, past health, as well as day-to-day health aspects such as diet, digestion, sleep, to name a few. The initial diagnosis also involves a variety of physical tests, such as feeling your pulse, visual observation of the tongue, various types of abdominal palpations.
The information gathered by discussion and observation enables me to devise a treatment plan addressing the whole person, with the aim of bringing your overall system back to optimum function.
Five Element acupuncture is a gentle style of acupuncture where very fine needles are used to stimulate acupuncture points that are found on channels travelling through the body. Each acupuncture point has a unique set of functions and can be seen as a place of exchange or communication that the practitioner can use to promote balanced function.
Only single-use disposable needles, made of surgical stainless steel, are used.
The picture displays an acupuncture needle in the foreground. Half of the needle is a coiled handle ending in a loop; the other half of the needle is the 0.2 mm diameter shaft ending in a very sharp tip. The tip is the part of the needle that is used during acupuncture treatment. The second needle in the background is a thin sewing needle, placed by the acupuncture needle for comparison, to show how thin the acupuncture needle shaft is.
Contrarily to other acupuncture styles, I stay with you and I am looking after you for the whole duration of your appointment.
Additional techniques, such as moxibustion, cupping and gua sha, are also commonly used during treatment.
Moxibustion is commonly used alongside Five Element acupuncture as a source of heat whereby moxa is burnt at the vicinity of the area treated. Moxa is a dry plant-based material made from common mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) which can be found in the wild in the UK. Specific processing of the mugwort plant provide different grades of moxa used for different applications according to therapeutic needs. Its use encourages blood circulation that supports healthy tissues.
Gua sha is a technique used on areas of the body where aspects of stagnation are identified to improve flow and cellular exchange. Unidirectional strokes are applied with the gua sha tool to the area treated, increasing surface micro-perfusion inducing pain relief and other mechanisms at the cellular level. It is recommended for muscular pain, decreased range of movement, for regulating body temperature and for breathing issues such as wheezing.
Cupping is a similar technique to gua sha in the sense that it also consists of unidirectional movements over the treated area but this time with silicone cups. An important difference between both techniques is that gua sha uses a stroking action, whereas cupping has a lifting action on the tissues with the cups producing a slight suction. This is of particular interest when tissues are fused or adhered as a consequence of dehydration, chronic inflammation or repetitive motion injuries. Mobility and good cellular exchange go hand in hand with good function. Vasodilation and enhanced fluid exchange also result from the cupping action, relaxing muscles, and supporting nutrient-rich fluids to feed cells while removing cellular waste material.