Professor George Lewith was a qualified physician and general practitioner who had recently retired from clinical practice. He conducted research within primary care and complementary medicine over the last 35 years, largely based at the University of Southampton where he led an internationally respected integrated medicine research group within the medical school’s department of primary medical care.
Professor Lewith combined his scientific interests – including over 300 primary research papers and a series of substantial grants from various charities and the major UK medical research funding bodies – with a busy clinical practice in integrated medicine.
George was a friend not only to all of the acupuncture profession, be it traditional, medical or physiotherapist – he was a member of all three professional bodies – but to the whole of complementary medicine. As well as being a research leader he was also politically savvy, working tirelessly up front and behind the scenes to try to bring acupuncture and CAM further into the mainstream. Nobody did more.
At the same time, both for individuals and organisations, George was always incredibly generous with his time and wise advice, though he could be blunt about woolly thinking. He was the go-to person for any serious media debate, whether written or broadcast, for he was invariably better informed and sharper than his opponents, and could mix it with the best (and worst) of them.
We have lost a guiding hand, a wise counsellor, a dynamic achiever, an all-round good guy, and our world will be a poorer place without him.
Mark BoveyBAcC Research Manager
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) was pleased to hear the discussion around the role of acupuncture on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2 this morning.
Of particular interest is how there is growing recognition of the use of acupuncture in the primary care or general practice context.
GPs are experiencing an unprecedented increase in demand for their services across the UK, with an increase in face-to-face contact with patients of 13% and an increase in telephone contacts of 63%.1
Such increases are not entirely unexpected, given the changes in age demographics and corresponding rise in numbers of patients with long-term conditions and co-morbidities. Adding to the burden of sheer numbers is the recognition that such conditions often cannot be fully resolved by the usual western medical management options, leading to an increase in anxiety for many patients; a rise in numbers of the so-called ‘worried well’.
*In the UK 1 in 7 people at any one time experience a migraine attack.
A migraine is a complex neurological condition, which can affect the whole body and can result in many symptoms, sometimes without a headache at all. Migraines can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other conditions and can affect people in many different ways.A migraine can involve recurrent attacks that can last up to three days and sufferers may also experience double vision, nausea and vomiting. Migraines are often thought to be caused by emotional strain, stress, hormonal imbalances, and lack of food and/or sleep or by a reaction to some foods or medications. Research has shown that traditional acupuncture can be very beneficial in the treatment of migraines as it tends to lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommends acupuncture for headaches and migraines. Migraines can manifest in very different ways and a fully qualified acupuncture practitioner will want to know, among other things exactly where the pain is located, what the nature of the pain is and whether the patient has any accompanying symptoms. An individual diagnosis and treatment plan is then tailored to the patient based on this information and on their general health history.
As a leading cause of disability and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness, lower back pain is estimated to cost the UK economy over £12 billion per year .
In the UK the condition is responsible for 37% of all chronic pain in men and 44% in women but in a bid to cope with the condition, a study by the British Acupuncture Council reveals that 74% of people use painkillers as a quick fix to relieve discomfort.
‘Painkillers often mask the problem and don’t address many of the underlying causes of lower back pain, says Alison Savory, a qualified member of the British Acupuncture Council. ‘With traditional acupuncture we look at the root of the condition as well as the symptoms in order to try and promote longer term health and wellbeing. Many of my patients find the therapy extremely beneficial.’
With 2.3 million acupuncture treatments carried out each year, traditional acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies practised in the UK today. Based on ancient principles which go back nearly two thousand years, acupuncture involves gently placing extremely fine, sterile needles at specific points on the body to trigger a healing response.
Anxiety UK and the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) have launched a joint pilot project which will see members of Anxiety UK being able to access traditional acupuncture through this new partnership.
Throughout the pilot project, data will be collected to determine the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture for treating those living with anxiety and anxiety based depression. This will enable both parties to continue to build a body of evidence to measure the success rate of this type of treatment.
Of those Anxiety UK members who have received traditional acupuncture from BAcC members, 74% reported anxiety was the primary reason for seeking treatment while 62% said it was a secondary reason.
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