Thursdays 3-4 pm
Other times available on request
About the therapy:
Acupuncture and shiatsu, cupping, moxibustion and gua sha are ancient therapies originating in Traditional East Asian Medicine. They are now practiced, in more or less traditional forms, throughout the world. Used individually or as a combined therapy, they apply varied stimuli to the body, usually focussing on what are described as the body's energy (qi) points and channels.
Specific treatment is highly individual, depending on the client's condition, preferences, and on what is found to work best. Touch is at the core of both diagnosis and treatment. After discussing presenting symptoms, medical history and general health, palpation yields information about the condition of the body and progress of treatment. The client's feedback during treatment helps to guide therapeutic choices.
Acupuncture : familiar enough to need no introduction, it is worth pointing out that the term covers a wide variety of styles and theoretical models originating in ancient China but now practiced throughout the world. It continues to develop, and much research is carried out which informs approaches both ancient and new. For example, the charity AnxietyUK has just launched, together with the British Acupuncture Council, research into the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of anxiety.
Shiatsu: a Japanese massage therapy based on applying pressure to reactive points and channels (pressure which can be virtually skin-deep to bone-deep). Other techniques include passive stretching and joint mobilisation.
(Wholly subjective though this may be, I am convinced that shiatsu is one of life's great pleasures!)
Some therapies associated with acupuncture that are not as well known:
Moxibustion: burning dried artemisia - aka mugwort or moxa (a common herb also used internally in herbal medicine). The original Chinese term for what we call acupuncture is zhenjiu (acumoxa), which refers to both needling (zhen) and moxibustion (jiu). Points are heated by burning various forms of moxa. Used for both acute and chronic conditions and to help relax tight muscles and deal with the effects of inflammation.
Cupping: described in one of the world's oldest medical texts (Ebers Papyrus, Egypt ca 1550 BC), we know cupping was used the Middle East as well as in China. Cups are applied to the skin and suction created by removing air, gently drawing the flesh up into the cups. Promoting circulation to the underlying musculature, it is often used in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain.
Gua Sha: little known in this country, sometimes called 'coining, spooning or scraping'.
Gua Sha involves press-stroking the skin with an instrument to create a rash-like reaction or 'sha' on the surface: technically a transitory extravasation of blood (petechiae) in the subcutis. The
resulting ecchymosis resembles but is not - and does not feel like! - bruising. It fades over a few days, depending on the individual's circulation. 1
Modern research shows Gua Sha produces an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a single Gua Sha treatment. This accounts for its effect on pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, wheeze, nausea and vomiting etc.
Benefits of treatment:
I quote from the British Acupuncture Council website -
A growing body of evidence-based clinical research is discovering how the body responds to acupuncture and its benefits for a wide range of common health conditions. A lot of people have acupuncture to relieve specific aches and pains, such as osteoarthritis of the knee, TMJ, headaches and low back pain, or for common health problems like an overactive bladder. Other people choose acupuncture when they can feel their bodily functions are out of balance, but they have no obvious diagnosis. And many have regular treatments because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.
Shiatsu, in addition to sharing many of the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture, provides specific musculoskeletal treatment.
About the practitioner:
I fell in love with shiatsu when I discovered it in the 1970s while living in Montreal. It was like coming home into my body. For several years I practiced "barefoot shiatsu" on friends and family. Later in Italy, then in England, I pursued professional shiatsu studies in differing styles, one more medical, the other a traditional Japanese model.
In the 80s in Rome one of my clinics was in the Studio Nankino, at that time a centre for Chinese acupuncture studies. I became increasingly interested in Chinese medicine. In the early 90s I moved to Camden and soon gravitated to Women & Health where I practiced shiatsu for years before qualifying as an acupuncturist.
Since then I have enjoyed combining the two therapies, which are truly complementary...the only constraint being the 50-minute hour!
Over the years much of my postgraduate study has centred on Japanese acupuncture and moxa techniques.
Particular areas of interest are stress-related and painful conditions, both emotional and physical, and women's health.
For a number of years I was a practicing doula 2 (and member of DoulaUK), a natural development from working closely with women before and after conception, during pregnancy and postnatally. Although no longer an active doula, I continue to support women with acupuncture and shiatsu through the different stages of childbearing.
British Acupuncture Council (www.acupuncture.org.uk)
Actlondon (www.actlondon.net) a group of London-based acupuncturists dedicated to helping women through the experience of conception, pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
1 for more information, see Arya Nielsen's website guasha.com
2 a doula provides non-medical support to women through pregnancy, and especially labour and birth
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