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Gavin Erickson

Gavin Erickson


Q. Can acupuncture help with male infertility and where would the needles go?


A. Although there is no conclusive evidence that male infertility can be helped by acupuncture a number of studies, such as this one undertaken in 2002, suggest that there may be measurable changes in important aspects of sperm motility and quality. Traditional Chinese medicine clearly did not have access to such sophisticated methods of analysis but infertility was recognised as just as much a problem in both sexes over a thousand years ago, and its diagnosis was understood in terms of the patterns of energy with which infertile couples presented for treatment.
As we say frequently on the website, chinese medicine primarily treats the person, not simply the condition, and most treatments use points on the limbs below the elbow and knee, and powerful points on the trunk and back. As we constantly remind patients, though, they are in charge of the treatment. If any needling is suggested for areas outside their comfort zones, they can and should say 'no.' A well-trained practitioner will always be able to find suitable alternative ways to achieve the same results.

Thursday, 02 February 2012 14:33

How treat for Eczema. What points apply?


Q. How treat for Eczema. What points apply?


A. Eczema, as sufferers know to their cost, can be very difficult to treat, even in western medicine. It is not unusual for someone to have tried a wide range of medications and more complex interventions. Whlle there is no clinical evidence accepted in the west according to the exacting standards required by bodies such as PCTs and NICE, there have been thousands of slightly less rigorous trials in China which seem to show that acupuncture many help to relieve some of the discomfort and symptoms associated with the condition.
As we say in all the answers. there are no specific points for named conditions. Each person is given a unique diagnosis which determines where needles may be applied. In some cases the practitioner might use local points, i.e. near where the problem is located, if they feel that this may be of direct benefit to an acute patch of inflammation.


Q. I suffer cronic insomnia i canot get too sleep and am awake all night, and i mean all night, i am feeling very worried what is the sucess rate re acupunture, thank you


A. We are sorry to hear of your problem. Insomnia is a great deal more widespread than people think, and the effects on someone's overall health and well-being can be devastating. Our factsheet on insomnia, which you can find on our website under the 'research' button at the top of the home page or by clicking this link is very encouraging about how acupuncture has been used in trials.
The strict advertising rules under which all healthcare practitioners now operate means that we have to be careful not to 'over-claim' the benefits of treatment unless there is accepted and definite proof of efficacy. There are, though, a number of conditions, of which insomnia is one, where many of the small-scale studies and trials show positive indications and where eventually we believe significant large-scale trials will provide hard evidence.
As we repeat in every answer, however, everyone is unique and different in Chinese medicine, so there is no single simple formula treatment for a named condition. Your best way of finding out whether your own case is suitable for treatment is to visit a practitioner lcoal to you and to ask for advice on whether they think they may be able to help you.

Thursday, 02 February 2012 14:29

Myalgic Encephalomylitis


Q. What can acupuncture offer for lack of energy and brain fog, lack of motivation and inertia, lack of the ability for the brain to release pleasurable endorphines, thus one finds no feelings of enjoyment in life, plus muscle stiffness and muscle pain, with secondary depression, primarily caused by Myalgic Encephalomylitis ME/CFS ?


A. Our website factsheet on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, found under the 'research' button on the home page or at this link is very candid about the fact that there simply hasn't been enough good quality research about ME and CFS to make definite statements about how acupuncture may help. You would know from you own experience, though, that the effects of the condition are so broad and unpredictable, from physical aches and pains through to complex emotional and mental issues, that measuring how 'well' one feels can be almost impossible from day to day.
Many practitioners find it useful to focus on the treatment of the more frequent and enduring symptoms of the condition, and as you can see from the fact sheet, there are encouraging signs that acupuncture may help with some of the more common manifestations. There are no quick fixes, though, and BAcC members try very hard to ensure that people do not have unrealistic expectations of how treatment may help. If there is progress it may well be slow, and not without setbacks.
Optional para
With CFS and ME there are often long term issues to do with 'lifestyle management'. Although resources within the NHS are not as generous as many people might like, many PCTs have ME clinics which help people to regain their normal routines and patterns. A very common problem is for people to try to do too much when they start to feel better, and encouraging people to stay within strict boundaries and guidelines makes a huge difference in how well they can maintain their momentum as they get better.

Thursday, 02 February 2012 14:27

Is acupuncture helpful to bells palsy?


Q. Is acupuncture helpful to bells palsy


A. As you can see from our factsheet;view=item&id=1128:bellas-palsy&Itemid=106
the evidence for the successful treatment of Bell's Palsy is not very conclusive. The trials which have been done are not of a very high standard, and their results not all that compelling.
However, it is fair to say that in China the condition is a great deal more common and acupuncture is often used alongside, or occasionally instead of conventional medications, as a form of treatment. The Chinese believe that exposure to cold wind can sometimes trigger an attack, and since a great many people work the land the incidence is much higher. Oddly enough, in the days before air conditioning in cars there were often cases which appeared to have been triggered by high speed driving with the driver's window open. Most often, though, the direct cause is not apparent.
The received wisdom of Chinese medicine is that any condition involving paralysis or rigidity of muscles becomes more difficult the longer after initial onset the treatment begins. Any well-trained practitioner will take this into account before offering a view of the potential success of treatment.

Thursday, 02 February 2012 14:26

Trigger Point Acupuncture?


Q. I was wondering if you could help me and give me some advice. I have had some back pains for the last 3 months which radiate to other areas and which my Dr says are caused by muscle knots/trigger points in my back. He says the best way to treat it would be with Trigger Point Acupuncture. But many people I know say that the best is to have acupuncture using the traditional Chinese method. My question is: is it actually safe to do both, for example 2 sessions of traditional acupuncture and 2 sessions of Trigger Point Acupuncture in a week?


A. As you will see from our website and factsheets the use of acupuncture for chronic back pain is recognised by NICE as an effective intervention. The NICE guidelines make no comment on the style of acupuncture which ise used, however, because the trials on which the good results were achieved left the choice of points and rationale to the individual practitioner.
Trigger point acupuncture is a system mainly used by western trained doctors and physios, whereas Traditional Chinese Medicine is the province of professional acupuncturists. In clinical practice there is often a great deal of overlap - after all, it's all the same body and points are likely to be in the same place, whatever system is used to classify and choose them. It is quite likely that both forms of intervention will use much the same kind of strategy with the same aims, so in theory there should not be a problem in doing both.
That said, most practitioners, western and eastern, like to be able to assess how effective treatment is, and if someone else is doing something similar but not identical, it might be an issue for both practitioners to determine how well sessions worked and what fine tuning may be necessary. From a traditional practitioner's perspective a problem also occurs against a backdrop of someone's overall health, and the treatment may not necessarily focus on the back itself. This might have an impact on how they approach treatment.
The final point is whether after three months of difficulty you need four sessions a week. In Chinese hospitals where acute back pain is treated with acupuncture it is not uncommon to have ten sessions, once a day for ten days, but chronic problems are sometimes treated over longer periods of time to give the body a chance to re-adjust. Over-treating can sometimes be as much a problem as under-treating.


Q. My daughter had acupuncture for hayfever and this was very successful. She has been geting hiccups several times a day for a year now. Could acupuncture help?
A. The intermittent nature of a problem like hiccoughs means that there is little or no systematic research of whether acupuncture can help. There are a number of case reports and papers which gather up individual case studies and which appear to show that there may be some benefit, but these are a long way from conclusive.
The fact that acupuncture has been successful in treating your daughter's hay fever is a very positive sign, though.  The fact that this has worked well would normally be taken as a good sign that acupuncture may well be useful in tackling other health issues. Many practitioners find that there is often one therapy which works well for a patient, and in your daughter's case this may be acupuncture treatment. It is certainly worth going back to the practitioner who helped her before and seeking his or her advice on this specific problem.


Q. Is there a therapist in Exeter or close by who deals in infertility and discomfort  associated with Hughes syndrome and Sjogrens syndrome.


A. I am afraid that the BAcC doesn't make individual recommendations. From our perspective all of our members are able to work with anyone seeking their help. This is a commitment to what we call 'generalism', and in fact in ancient China the generalists were held in higher esteem than specialists who were seen to be limited!
However, the BAcC realises that many of its members undertake specialist postgraduate training in areas such as paediatrics and obstetrics, and is looking at how to accredit this training in such a way that people who focus their work on groups with specific needs can be identified as such and advertise the fact that they do. This is still some way from final agreement.
The best short term solution is to speak to members based in the Exeter area and ask their advice on who it is best to see. Most local networks are very clear about who in their number focuses their work on infertility issues and are usually happy to make personal recommendations.

Thursday, 02 February 2012 13:42

How often can you have treatment ?


There are no set rules. The majority of practitioners in the BAcC see patients once a week, occasionally twice a week, but it is not unknown in China for someone to have a course of ten treatments on a daily basis. This is particularly the case with acute conditions, and there are occasions where a patient will be advised to attend the clinic two or three days in a row to bring more acute problems under control.
Just as there is a problem with treating too infrequently, over-treating can be an issue. Most practitioners use the analogy of cleaning out a pond. If you take all the rubbish off the bottom the water becomes cloudy for a few days, and you need to let it settle before you can properly assess what change you have achieved.


Q. I was wondering how I would go about finding a dentist in my area who practices acupuncture?


I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and as such local anaesthesia is ineffetive on me which is a real problem for any dental procedures. I was therefore was hoping to try and find a dentist who used acupuncture-based analgesia.

A. The best option is to contact the British Dental Acupuncture Society whose details can be found at
There  are now a significant number of dentists who use acupuncture as an adjunct in their dental treatment, and you should be able to locate someone from their list local to you who can provide the appropriate guidance and advice.