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A:  We only register individual members, not clinics, and we have checked our records and cannot find anyone who is working from a clinic of this name in Harley Street.
 
However, we did find this website
 
http://www.jingshen.co.uk/practitioners.html
 
which we believe may be the clinic to which you are referring. If so, these are practitioners who were trained in Southern Ireland, and the principal belongs to one of the several acupuncture associations based in Ireland, the PRTCM
 
http://prtcm.org/
 
What level of jurisdiction they have over members living and working in the UK is a moot point. We have Overseas members in Southern Ireland, and we have on rare occasions been asked to take up matters by patients who have sought treatment with them, but to be honest we would be stretched in any complaint was sufficiently serious to warrant a full hearing. We make this clear in our statements to the public about the levels of jurisdiction which we have over Overseas members.
 
That said, all practitioners working in London are governed by local authority legislation, and need to be properly licensed unless they belong to an exempt body which meets the criteria of the London Local Authorities Act 1991. I doubt that the PRTCM has met this requirement, and this means that the practitioners will have been licensed and inspected by the relevant local authority.
 
We hope that this is sufficient information to be going on with.

Q:  I am looking to start a course at the OICCT, a college in Northampton which is a 3 year course in acupuncture but I am not sure if it is accredited and whether I would be able to join you as an acupuncturist and gain insurance through yourselves or the CThA. Have you heard of this course and is it safe to study with them?

A:  We have to be honest and tell you that until you brought this course to our attention we had no idea that it existed. It looks as though it is a relatively new venture set up by a group of committed individuals, which is precisely how the first acupuncture teaching institutions in this country were set up in the 60s and 70s. However, there isn't enough detail on the website for us to be able to make a judgement on what it offers.
 
What we can say is that we are not aware that it has contected the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board yet. The BAAB was set up over twenty years ago as an independent standard setting body by the Council for Acupuncture, the BAcC's precursor body. Accreditation is not simply about the details of the course but about the facilities and resources of the teaching institution itself. What it seeks to guarantee is that students are fully supported in their studies and that properly resourced reflective learning means that the end product is a practitioner capable of independent practice.
 
The standards which the Board sets can be found on its website, along with a list of the teaching institutions which have met and continue to meet its requirements (www.baab.org). Graduates of accredited courses are automatically eligible to join the BAcC, subject to decalarations about health and criminal records. All other applicants from courses outside the UK or no-accredited courses within the UK have to go through our external applicant route which uses the BAAB standards as its benchmark.
 
There remains no statutory regulation of acupuncture in the UK, and the only legal requirements for practice are registration with local authorities outside London, and licensing within Greater London unless you belong to an exempt registering body. More authorities are now checking the bona fides of someone's training but a three year course should pass muster. Insurance is never a problem. Although insurance is integral to the BAcC package, there are brokers who are well known inside the wider profession who insure many other individual practitioners.
 
The best that we can say is that a new course without provenance may need a careful look before committing. Its fees are a little lower than the private courses elsewhere, but that may be because there os more distance learning for some elements of the course. We simply don't know, and it would not be fair of us to make a judgement on so little information. What we always say to potential students is that it is always best to visit the courses within travelling distance to see what they offer and whether it is a good fit for what they want to achieve. Most offer regular open days, and if you are a long way from one most will offer you the chance to visit and discuss the course in more detail.  

Q:Can acupuncture help with insomnia.. Where can I find one in the Norwich, Norfolk area?

A: We were asked this question last year at the time of Acupuncture Awareness Week, and our response was:

Q: Can acupunture definitely help with sleep problems?

A: As our BAcC factsheet shows

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/insomnia.html

there is some encouraging evidence which suggests that acupuncture has a role to play in helping people to deal with longstanding sleep problems. Indeed, the issue is a very topical one; we are just about to launch Acupuncture Awareness Week and Toyah Wilcox has lent her support to the venture because she found acupuncture to be a very effective solution to a sleep problem which she had had for many years. Her story can be found here:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/toyah-willcox-on-her-battle-with-insomnia-1586599

From a Chinese medicine perspective there are a number of well established patterns which explain why the mind refuses to close down at night even though the person is physically exhausted. A skilled practitioner will want to know not simply about the sleeping patterns but about everything else to do with daily functioning, and it is highly probable that there will be other signs and symptoms which will show or confirm what is out of balance and needs to be corrected and harmonised.

Delightful as Toyah Wilcox's account is, though, her response to treatment was exceptional. One of the real problems with sleeplessness is that the body gets used to patterns or habits, and it can sometimes take a while for the system to realise that change is possible. We have found patients who couldn't sleep until 2.00am desperately hanging on till 2.00am even though they were now properly exhausted and ready for sleep 'because that's my bedtime'. Many people know this experience well from trying to go to bed at 9.00pm ready for a journey at 4.00am and finding it really hard to do. So, helping someone back to a good sleep routine can often be a challenge but there are success stories.

As we often remind people, though, Chinese medicine works from an entirely different paradigm. Insomnia doesn't have a single specified treatment, and each person who cannot sleep does so in a way that is unique to them. The best advice will always be that given after a brief face-to face assessment by a BAcC member local to you, who can have a quick look at the overall diagnostic picture and offer you a candid assessment of how acupuncture may be able to help you.

We think that this still remains the best advice we can give.

We don't give out individual recommendations; we take the view that all of our members are well enough trained and qualified to be able to handle the vast majority of cases which arrive at their doors. The important thing is to find someone near to where you live, and our practitioner search function on our home page www.acupuncture.org.uk

A:  Balanitis can be a very uncomfortable and distressing condition, but we have found no research articles which offer any evidence that acupuncture treatment can be of benefit. We would be very surprised to have done so, at least in English. Though not rare, the condition is not in the forefront of more common problems for which the use of acupuncture is tested, and although there are very likely to be research papers in Chinese, the vast majority of these are never translated into English and as such are difficult to track down.
 
All that we can say is that the primary aim of traditional acupuncture treatment is to treat the person, not the presenting problem with which they attend a clinic. Although people talk of seeing a BAcC member for their migraines or backache, the underlying premise of Chinese medicine is that each person is a unique balance of energies, and that understanding why the named condition appears requires a full understanding of the person in whom it appears. This is not a perspective unqiue to Chinese medicine; the grear Canadian physician William Osler once wrote 'it is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has'. From a Chinese medicine perspective the important thing to establish is why a problem such as this does not resolve of its own accord, i.e. what is happening in the energetics of the body which prevents a natural process of healing.
 
Generally speaking we find that most members are adept at treating both constitutionally to balance the whole system while at the same time using more local and targeted treatments for some of the more distressing aspects of a condition such as acute pain or discomfort. This does not necessarily mean needles in the affected area, you will be relieved to hear, but often takes advantages of energetic pathways which traverse an affected area by activating points which have an effect at a distance.
 
Our best advice is to visit a BAcC member local to you and ask whether they think, based on some of the wider diagnostic information they can glean, that acupuncture treatment may be of benefit to you. In the case of skin problems of any type, we often advise someone to seek the advice of an acupuncture practitioner who also uses Chinese herbal medicine. In our experience this is often a very potent way of dealing with skin problems. Since 90% of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) membership are also BAcC members, it is not that difficult to use both databases to locate a practitioner close to where you live.
 
The absence of evidence for treating balanitis means that you should set very clear review periods if you decide to go ahead with acupuncture treatment, and also try to establish measurable outcomes, something which will demonstrate whether or not the treatment is having an effect. In our experience, it is quite easy to clock up a large number of treatments with no discernible change unless clear ground rules are drawn up at the beginning, and if this is not done it can create dissatisfaction.  
 

Q:  I am looking for an acupuncturist with a good reputation or a specialist in migraines.

A:  We are sorry to say that we don't give individual referrals to named practitioners. Our view is that all of our members are highly trained and qualified, and all are equally capable of offering the high quality care for which we stand.
 
As far as migraines are concerned, the treatment of these within Chinese medicine is something which agai all members are equipped to offer. There are currently only three areas - obstetrics, paediatrics and mental health problems - where we are looking at what counts as expert practice and what additional requirements for training there may be for someone to claim expertise in treating these groups of patients. For all other conditions, our members follow the age-old Chinese wisdom of treating the person, not simply the condition, and this means that most conditions fall within scope.
 
As far as migraines are concerned, however, the evidence for its treatment as a named condition is good, as our factsheet
 
 http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/migraines.html
 
shows. Indeed, acupuncture is now recommended by NICE guidelines for one form of migraine, and most members report that this is one of the more frequently treated conditions in their practices.
 
However, each patient is unique, and before committing to treatment it is always best to see if a BAcC local to you can spare a few moments to give you a brief face to face assessment of whether your specific presentation is one which they think would benefit from treatment. Using the practitioner search function on our home page www.acupuncture.org.uk , especially the postcode function, should identify a number of members within easy reach of where you live.