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Q:I have had an ongoing feeling being 'spaced out' for about 6 weeks now.  It seems to take two forms, the first -and worst- a tense, queazy, feeling in my stomach which is accompanied by the feeling almost like flu, without the flu, if that makes sense, This is generally in the mornings and it then seems to revert to a more generalised feeling of being 'spaced out' in the day. It seems to lessen in the evening. I have had blood test, all clear and an MRI scan, again all clear. I was told it could be related to a migraine issue and I have also cut out certain dietary triggers ie caffeine/ dairy. I would prefer not to take medication to try to resolve this. Do you think acupuncture could help?

This is the kind of presenting problem which many of us love to address. One of the great strengths of Chinese medicine is that it can take symptoms such as these and offer several different possible explanations within a conceptual framework which is entirely different from that used in Western medicine. As you probably already know, Chinese medicine is based on the understanding of the body mind and emotions as a flow of energy, called 'qi', the various patterns, flows and rhythms of which contribute to good functioning in the body as a whole. Where this flow is disturbed, for whatever reason, symptoms will begin to appear, although not necessarily where the imbalance

If someone were to look at your case history there would be in all probability other aspects of your functioning which, from a Chinese medicine perspective, would probably indicate a wider pattern of which this symptom was a part. There are also some very complex diagnostic signs which would also help the practitioner to refine their view of what is happening.

If the cause is similar, from a western point of view, to vertigo or migraines, there is considerable evidence for the treatment of both of these problems, as our factsheets show

to suggest that you would not be wasting your time on giving acupuncture treatment a go. However, these are usually precisely defined in western medicine, whereas the feeling which you have is a more indefinite presentation, although none the less disturbing even though it doesn't have a distinct label.

To give you an example of how different the diagnostic process can be, this expert treated a patient once who was experiencing a similar problem, and it turned out that she was eating as much as half a pound of cheese every evening. Given the energetic balance of her body, which was already out of kilter, this contributed to the formation of what the Chinese call 'phlegm' which embraces what we give the same name but can also extend to solid lumps in the body as well as something which the Chinese call 'mist'. This is said to rise and cause all manner of symptoms of which feeling spaced out is one. Other patients can often manifest the same symptom is their work or
personal circumstances are very stressful. This can lead to a condition called the Rising of Internal Wind, again causing the same problem.

Poetic as these descriptions can sound, they are based on over 2000 years of successful clinical observation and experience, and also 2000 years of successful treatment. On that basis, we think it would be potentially very beneficial to give acupuncture treatment a go, but to make sure that you review progress very carefully so that you don't run beyond the first four or five sessions without assessing what progress there has been. This may involve you in trying to get as objective a measure as you can of how
frequent or severe the symptoms are to be able to assess as accurately as possible whether there has been a change.

Your best bet is to visit a BAcC member local to you to seek an informal face to face assessment of what may be possible. Even a ten minute chat will probably give significant clues about what is going on and whether treatment would be of benefit.


Q:  I have read that acupuncture can be helpful in the treatment of abdominal adhesions  (colon to bladder) is this correct and what would be involved?

A:  We have looked back over our previous answers on topics similar to this, and we find that we continue to be unable to find any research, even case studies, which suggests that acupuncture treatment may be able to deal with adhesions. We have on a number of occasions discussed the merits of having treatment to deal with the pain which is thought to be coming from adhesions, but on each occasion we have had to say that we have never been able to say with confidence that the pain was coming from the adhesions. There are many occasions when the adhesions can in turn cause IBS because of the disruption in normal function, and it is not at all clear where the pain is
coming from.

As far as dispersing or reducing the physical manifestation of adhesions is concerned, we believe that this is highly unlikely, and the only route that we are aware of, which is surgery, remains the best option if the disruption it causes is very great. However, clearly there is some form of disturbance in the energy of the body in that region to encourage the formation of adhesions, and we would be probably more confident in saying that acupuncture would be worth a try to stop things getting worse or to try to
maintain things at a reasonably clear level after surgery. Chinese medicine in its oldest form was almost entirely asymptomatic and rested on the simple
premise that if everything was in balance symptoms would not appear.

We think, though, that this is problem best discussed face to face, and we would recommend that you visit a BAcC member local to you to discuss your own unique case. There may well be factors in your medical history which would shed light on why you have started to get adhesions, and understood from a Chinese medicine perspective these may well inform an educated assessment of what may be possible through treatment.

This is probably the best we can say. We have treated many people with unpleasant adhesions, sometimes with great success but equally often with no change, and we have to be realistic about what may be done, even though we really would wish to rid women patients of the problem.

Q:  My GP has told me he will allow me to have acupuncture on the NHS for migraines,  but asked me to find out where I can go closest to me. Could you tell me what would be available in Essex

A:We are surprised and delighted to hear that your GP has agreed that you can have acupuncture treatment on the NHS. Although NICE have recommended acupuncture as one of the treatments for cluster headaches, we have seen very few referrals to practitioners outside the NHS itself.  The quickest way to identify a suitable practitioner is to use our online search facility at On our home page you will see a search box which, if you enter your postcode, will show your the practitioners geographically closest to where you are. We have tried by using your postcode, and it generates a list of ten BAcC members in your area.

We hope that this helps you to find effective treatment for your problem.


Q:  Posterior rami syndrome neck to shoulder blade to lower rib to lower right side abdomen pain,idiopathic sensory nerve syndrome.  Could acupuncture help .Maybe sacra joint dysfunction..

A:  Posterior ramus syndrome is an unusual problem which was not really precisely defined until the latter part of the last century, although its appearance had been described for at least a century before that. The key factor in the description is that its appearance is unexplained, often described in medical literature as idiopathic, which is a smart way of saying 'it just happens.' There are a few examples where there has been a pre-disposing cause from accident or injury, but the majority of cases arise without obvious reason.

Whether acupuncture could help with suppressing the activation of the nerve roots which causes the problem is a moot point. There is no research that we have been able to locate which suggests that it can. Although there are certain to have been some studies in China, very few Chinese studies are translated and many are methodologically weak, especially from a western research perspective where the randomised double blind control trial is the standard for measuring both efficacy and effectiveness.

However, we have on several occasions been asked about phantom limb pains and whether acupuncture can de-activate the nerve signals which caused referred pain from non-existent limbs, and there are a number of reasonably good quality papers which provide evidence that this can be done. On that principle there may be some hope that treatment might be able to achieve something similar.

Of course, this is to look at treatment from a very western perspective, where needles treat specific conditions. This is far from the basis of Chinese medicine, based as it is on the concept of energy 'qi' and its rhythms, flow and balance in the body. From this perspective the interpretation of the symptoms from which someone suffers is made against a complex understanding of the patterns of flow and how the symptoms sit within these patterns. This is why a number of symptoms in different parts of the body can make sense from a Chinese medicine perspective because they all lie along a channel or meridian which can link head to toe, and all points in between. Nerve pains and pain in general often have specific areas of appearance which associate with the flow of channels and the use of acupuncture treatment to restore the flow where it has become blocked can often have a beneficial effect.

Your case, however, while not unique, is specific enough not to be able to trade in generalities in a written answer on web helpline. The best advice that we can give is that you visit one of our members local to you and seek a brief face to face assessment of what benefit acupuncture treatment might bring. It may well be that they see something in your presentation or in the diagnostic signs which will give them a much clearer idea of what may be possible than we can give here. It may also suggest to them other therapeutic possibilities.

Q:  I had  a second acupuncture session for neck & shoulder. The following evening I developed hives on my  back,under arms, back of thighs (all places where no needles were used). Could this be a healing crisis or not related?

A:It is very difficult to say. Generally speaking if there is a reaction to treatment, especially a skin reaction, it is directly in the area where needles were applied. That does not mean it cannot be a systemic reaction; there are a number of well authenticated cases where there has been a reaction throughout the whole body to local treatment. However, in these cases it is more likely that the reaction is a positive one, what is commonly described as a healing reaction or healing crisis. It often involves a re-run
of a symptom or a condition, often short-lived and quite acute, and the main thing which characterises this is that the reaction is over within 24 to 48 hours.

If that is the case, then all is well. If the reaction recurs on the next treatment, then it can mean a number of things. First and foremost one would need to check whether this was an allergic reaction to the metal in the needles. Some of the needles contain traces of nickel, to which some patients are allergic, and some needles are coated with silicone for better insertion. The immune system is a defensive system, so the reaction can be quite widespread as it goes on 'red alert'. Other possibilities are allergies to something else in the treatment room - this expert, for example, is allergic to biological washing powders - and the fact that the reaction is on the back may betoken something like this is you lay on a blanket or similar couch covering.

There is, of course, the possibility that the reaction has nothing to do with the treatment, in which case if it persist for more than two days it may be worth seeking medical advice, especially if over the counter preparations are not helping. Your doctor can probably prescribe something more powerful than OTC products. The important thing is to seek treatment rather than getting into debate about what caused it. Our experience is that ractitioners can become unnecessarily defensive, which in turn can get
misinterpreted as 'trying to hide something', and from there a fine old isunderstanding can kick off.

Essentially your practitioner is your best resource. He or he will know where they needled, and if it can be established quickly that the reatment in unlikely to have caused the problem then they can be a great help n finding out what actually has happened. It would be really helpful if you ould keep a notebook of your symptoms, or better still photo, to enable him or er to make an informed assessment when they see you.

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