Updated: Aug 22
It is worth asking what relevance an ancient Chinese approach to treating has anything to do with acupuncture treatment in modern London.
Although it is recognised that acupuncture works for a wide range of health conditions and can alleviate symptoms of all sorts of various conditions it seems so different from western medicine in its philosophy and practice that it must be hard for most people to see how it relates at all to Westerners, Europeans or Londoners for that matter in the modern era.
There are of course plenty of more modern sounding approaches such as “western acupuncture” and “medical acupuncture” that are commonly used in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries at which they excel. This type of approach often gets referred to as “dry needling” because of the way in which it was discovered.
To cut a very long story short work, dry needling was a term used to describe a therapeutic treatment discovered by doctors who were researching the effect of injecting pain killers in to muscles of patients experiencing local pain conditions.
The trials they conducted were trying to see which kind of analgesics would work better when injected into muscles. At the end of the first batch of trials they found a surprising and confusing result. The researchers had discovered that the placebo group in the trials, who had salt water injected into muscles, did just as well if not better than the people who had had analgesia painkillers injected.
They decided to change the nature of the trial to discover if there was something medicinal about saline (salt water) when injected in to the muscle tissue, only to discover that again the placebo group, who this time received only hypodermic needle injection with no substance injected, (therefore “dry needle’), again did better than those who had saline injected into the muscles.
They had therefore invented acupuncture by another route, although when this was pointed out to them, they were keen to distance themselves from traditional Chinese medicine and what was known by now as “acupuncture”.
Often the Chinese medicine world also wants to distance itself from this approach of dry needling which by the way is incredibly good at releasing tight muscle, and what is called a western medical acupuncture model which talks more about stimulation of nerves.
Again both these approaches are really useful and there is no reason for us to distance ourselves from these practices, just because we feel we are performing the more traditional acupuncture or more historically correct acupuncture treatment.
You can see why this sort of snobbery comes about but largely it is due to a lack of knowledge not only of how traditional Chinese acupuncture was performed, which in some cases is very similar to the more modern approaches, but also goes against the whole reason of using these tools.
Whatever technique works for you is valid as long as you understand what it works for and what it does not and how to maximise its efficacy.
Acupuncture treatments are not performed as some sort of historical re-enactment, they are done in order to treat pain and health conditions and if things get better, we are using the tools well and correctly.
It really doesn’t matter what the treatment is called or even which theory is followed - as long as your theory leads to the most elegant treatment of the problem you are facing.
The reason that this non-Chinese/Chinese-medicine/-British acupuncture clinic focuses on this type of alternative medical diagnosis and treatment is because we have found that it is the most practical and wide-ranging in terms of how we can apply it to treat every day conditions effectively and succesfully.
If anyone using any other theory does as well as us or better, fantastic. Our medical tradition is there to enhance the delivery of effective treatment, not some sort of exotic selling point. If, with our theories and practice, we cannot help you then we would look to help you to find an alternative medical treatment from another discipline, to take you a stage further.
Although the language and concepts of the approach we use might seem strange and exotic at first, it is worth bearing in mind that that was not true during most of the development of Chinese medicine. There was nothing exotic or glamorous about a Chinese medicine doctor to the Chinese of ancient China - the treatment was either affective or it was not.
We feel the same about Londoners. We have adapted the way we describe what we do and we even adapt some of the theory when teaching or explaining what we’re doing to people in the modern era. But we find that, the more we understand the principles behind what is being said the more it seems like the shockingly obvious.
What is being described was as true to the ancient Chinese, the ancient Indians, or the modern Italian, American or English patient today.
The fact that anyone 2000 years ago could’ve come up with such principles is astonishing to us.
The fact that it works for so many ailments is not. We begin to take for granted that it works well, while all the time seeking to incorporate new techniques, new understandings that relate back to these principles to help us get better and better at what we do and increase the scope of conditions we are able to treat.