What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding about acupuncture?
I think it’s good to be aware of the different ways acupuncture is practised. Some Western trained doctors and physios have learned how to do a kind of non-specific acupuncture called ‘dry needling’, and this is something that can be learned in a few days or less. It’s designed to release tight and tender areas of muscle, and this does have its place, but a professional Traditional Acupuncture has a very different approach and training altogether.
Traditional Acupuncturists will have undertaken a 4 year full time BSc degree course and will have an understanding that is steeped in Chinese Medical history. This is based on the understanding that our health is more than what happens to our physical bodies. To be healthy and enjoy wellness, we also need to pay attention to our mind, emotions, and spirit. Looking after our health and wellbeing on all these levels helps us manage the difficulties that arise in life and as a result, become more resilient to ill health.
Why did you decide to train in acupuncture?
I have been a shiatsu practitioner, a form of Japanese massage, for 20 years, and it was a natural progression and deepening of my understanding of Oriental Medicine to become an acupuncturist. My journey probably started when I was seven when I went to practise Martial Arts and has continued to the present day. I used to receive acupuncture and cupping treatment for my injuries and it worked wonders.
What’s an unusual benefit of acupuncture that you wished more people knew about?
It’s very common for clients to come to acupuncture with a frozen shoulder or tennis elbow, and as well as their injuring improving, they will also tell me, “I feel so much better in myself too” or “my headaches have also got better”. The body and the mind are so interconnected that looking after one often benefits the other.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
Well, the fact that because each person that I work with is unique, I am always in a process of learning and growing. This keeps me inspired and always wanting to find the best way for that person to heal. Of course, it is hugely rewarding when a client explains that the pain that they have been suffering with all their lives has suddenly gone, or that their spirit has been lifted out of a depression.
Tell us a funny story about your experience with acupuncture.
As a traditional acupuncturist, we make a diagnosis by looking at the tongue and feeling the pulses. Some people are amazed at what we can find out about their health by feeling the pulse; it’s almost like having an insider’s viewpoint, as the pulses give us access to the client’s health status and history.
One week a client was amazed that I could tell that he was having sleeping problems by noticing his pulse quality and strength. The next week, whilst taking his pulse, I asked him if he had been for a swim and he replied, “Wow, that’s amazing that you can tell from my pulses that I have just been for a swim!”
I replied, “No, it’s because I can smell the chlorine!” We both laughed!
If you weren’t a qualified acupuncturist, what do you think you would do?
Someone asked me that question 20 years ago when I was a furniture maker, and I said an acupuncturist! So really you could say that I have already fulfilled my dream. But if I were not an acupuncturist today, I would like to be a boogie woogie pianist or a pro surfer. Who knows what is coming next!
For more information about NCIM’s acupuncture service or If you’d like to book an appointment with Alex click here.