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Q:  I would like to find a qualified practitioner who uses massage to help clear sinus. The emphasis is on massage not acupuncture needles which I dislike.

 

A: This is rather difficult for us to answer - acupuncture is what we do!
 
That said, there are a number of our members who also use tui na, a form of Chinese massage based on the same fundamental principles as traditional acupuncture. This forms a part of the basic training of some of the teaching institutions, but not all, and we do not keep separate records of which aspects of acupuncture each individual member uses in their practice. In these cases we tend to rely on the fact that our members are often our best resource for providing someone with exactly what they need. There are five BAcC members listed for the Deal area, and if you contact any one of these and explain what it is that you need, we are confident that they will provide you with a suitable referral to a BAcC member in the area who uses tui na as you wish.
 
There are likely to be a number of other practitioners offering tui na in the area, and although we are sure that most belong to reputanle associations it is important to check that anyone you find is properly trained and fully insured. Even though tui na is non-invasive, like any healthcare practice there are always slight risks and one of the primary reasons why our members get so much business is that we provide the levels of professional protection for the public which reassures them about our service and our members.
 

 

Q:  I have many dark marks on my  face and back.  On my back I have body marks, same as chicken pox marks.

 

A:  It is very difficult to offer a view of whether acupuncture could be of benefit to you without a great deal more background information that we have before us. This exemplifies the difference between western and eastern medicine. In conventional medicine, a symptom such as this alreayd narrows down the field of possibilities, and a good doctor will,with the asking of a few more questions, be able to hone in on the best course of action without necessarily having to see the patient. In eastern medicine the practitioner would need to see how the whole system was performing to be able to make sense of individual symptoms which arise, because from an eastern perspective the symptom is only a part of what the practitioner works on, not necessarily the primary focus of treatment.
 
Based on our experience, however, we would be less optimistic about treating this kind of problem with success unless there were a very clear pathway, i.e. something which stood out as a cause of the problem in eastern terms. It is true that Chinese medicine treats the person, not the disease, and that simply attending to someone's constitutional balance may help all manner of problems, but skin problems tend to be difficult to resolve at the best of times, and we often recommend that prospective patients see someone who is also trained in Chinese herbal medicine, because herbal approaches seem to be more able to shift longstanding skin problems. This may be because the daily treatment helps to maintain a momentum for resolving the problem.
 
In the absence of more detail, though, there is not a great deal more we can say unless we knew how the markings arose, what other health problems were around, and so on. Our best advice is always to seek a brief face to face assessment with a practitioner local to you who can see the problem as it manifests and give much better advice on the suitability of treatment.  
 
 

Q:  My 31/2 year old soon has chronic coughing, doctors are note sure if its asthma yet. But he coughs all winter and vomits with it so he has lost a lot of weight. Antibiotics, steroids etc don't seem to help and so I'm looking for safe alternatives. would acupuncture help with this? he also has an IGA deficiency. Im desperate .

 

A: As you can see from our quite detailed review paper on bronchial asthma
 
Please click here

in amount of evidence that acupuncture can benefit someone suffering from asthma, although as the introduction says, there are insufficient trials to be able to make positive recommendations and equally a number of methodological problems about setting up meaningful tests of acupuncture if there is insistence on using randomised controlled trials which are more appropriate for drug testing.
 
However, the most important point to make in this context is that children are not simply little adults for the purposes of making a diagnosis in Chinese medicine, and there are some quite sophisticated ways in which the developing child's energy is understodd in Chinese medicine terms. This can sometimes offer treatment possibilities which may not be applicable to adults, and may be able to offer a little more hope than one might want to give in the case of an adult. A fundamental problem is that once people are dependent on medication for the treatment of asthma it is very difficult to make a case for stopping the medication, since in western medicine this is perceived as increasing the risk of a potentially fatal attack.
 
Chinese medicine has been dealing with the same problems as western medicine for over two thousand years, and there are a number of different protocols for the treatment of breathing problems which a skilled practitioner might employ. Even treatment at a constitutional level, in the simply belief that a system in balance rights itself, may offer possibilities.
 
We do not recognise specialisms because we have a commitment to generalism - all of our members are capable of using Chinese medicine effectively with any patient they see. However, over the last thirty years a significant number have focused their work on specific target groups such as women in pregnancy or children, and there are a number of postgraduate courses which we are currently examining in detail to assess whether our members can lay claim to expertise in their advertising. We cannot give recommendations for individual practitioners until and unless we agree these standards, but there are two or three well-known courses which maintain databases of practitioners who have met the appropriate standards, and we are fairly sure that if you google 'acupuncture' and 'treatment of children' you will see the main ones. You might also usefully add your location to see if anyone who has undertaken this training works near you.
 
Based on what you have said we believe that there may be some benefit which your son may derive from acupuncture treatment, but there is no substitute for a face to face assessment, and if you can find someone suitably trained near you they will almsot certainly be able to advise you on the best options for your son, whether this involves acupuncture treatment or other forms of complementary medicine such as cranial osteopathy which is also used for many children's health problems.

 

Q: I have had a 'mystery' pain in my left arm for some time now. I think this was caused when I was out walking with my wife, who was holding my hand or to be more precise by two or three fingers, when she stumbled and pulled down hard on my fingers to steady herself. I have been to the doctor who told me to take some Iboprufen (not my preferred cure!) and the pain is with me still. It hurts most when i lift something or grasp and lift.

 

A:  It would certainly be worth seeking out a BAcC member local to you and asking their advice on what acupuncture treatment might be able to achieve. There are a number of musculo-skeletal problems for which acupuncture has been shown to be successful, notably in the case of chronic back pain, and from a Chinese medicine perspective the problems often involve blockage and stagnation in the energy or 'qi' which flows around the body, caused by strain or injury. The removal of the blockage, usually with needles but sometimes using heat in the form of a burning herb called moxa, enables the body to resume its normal functionm. Without seeing exactly where the problem lies, however, it is difficult to pass on a more informed judgement. Some conditions, like tennis elbow, are relatively amenable to treatment, and there is an increasing number of studies which show that treatment may be beneficial. Other muscle or tendon strains, which is what this sounds like, can be more intractable.
 
Although it may not please some of our members to read this (because many physios use acupuncture and are often felt to be 'poaching' on our territory) this is a case where we believe an assessment by a physiotherapist or osteopath may also be a very valuable route to pursue. It may not simply a matter of removing pain; there are issues to do with re-building normal function involved, and the advice of an expert in the body's musculature and movement about what to avoid and what to do to build up one's strength again may be very useful. Our members work closely with a great many other health professionals and it is a part of their role and duty of care to ensure that a patient gets the care most appropriate to their needs.
 

As far as the use of acupuncture treatment for Alzheimers is concerned the evidence is not good. As a review published three years ago concludes
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19490197
 
there are insufficient trials available on which to base conclusions and those that do exist are not that encouraging. However, it is very difficult to design trials of acupuncture which meet the western standards of proof, the randomised double blind control trial, at the best of times, but when the target group on trial are difficult to define precisely this makes the task even harder.
 
The best one can say of any treatment of problems such as Alzheimers is that it slows down the progress of the condition, and whether it is effective or not is very often a unique judgement best made by those who are most closely involved in the patient's care. A family, for example, are often finely tuned to the nuances of someone's behaviour and able to assess 'good' and 'bad' days in ways which might not be amenable to formal analysis. We have certainly heard anecdotal evidence that the qualoty of life of people with Alzheimers seems to have improved with regular treatment, but there is no formal evidence which would enable us to give a formal recommendation. The best advice we could offer would be to discuss each case individually with a local BAcC member, and seek their view, based on a face to face assessment within the terms of Chinese medicine, of whether they felt they might be able to achieve some positive outcomes.
 
The evidence for the use of acupuncture and OCD is even more sparse. You may find the occasional study, as
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19684500
 
which seems to be encouraging but there are very few.
 
However, a key word in Chinese medicine is the word 'appropriate', and with it an important diagnostic consideration about whether an emotional response to a situation is disproportionate in scale or time. From a Chinese medicine perspective, grieving deeply for a dead relative for a few months or a year is normal, but for a decade or more isn't. Worrying whether you have locked the front door and checking once is normal; worrying to the extent that you check twenty times isn't. If there are clear diagnostic signs that the driving force behind an OCD presentation may have a root in an imbalance which might be treatable, then a practitioner might believe that a short course of treatment might be worthwhile, with carefully designed outcome analysis and a clear end point for review. Acupuncture treatment could, in theory, have an impact if the factor driving the OCD could be tied directly to presentations which are clearly understood within the Chinese medicine framework.
 
Our overall view, however, is that the treatment of OCD is not something for which we would recommend acupuncture treatment, and we would be more inclined to refer patients on to forms of hypnotherapy or psychotherapy which might complement the various conventional therapies and treatments such as CBT already being used.