Acupuncture is an holistic approach to health based on over 2,000 years of development and refinement in the Far East and then in the West over about 60 years. The tradition is as much about the maintenance of health as the management of disease. Western or medical acupuncture is a more recent development practised predominantly by doctors and physiotherapists which uses acupuncture techniques within their existing scope of practice on the basis of a western medical diagnosis.
Although sometimes described merely as a means of pain relief, traditional acupuncture is actually used to treat people with a wide range of illnesses. Its focus is on improving the overall wellbeing of the patient, rather than the isolated treatment of specific symptoms. The skill of an acupuncturist lies in their ability to make a traditional diagnosis from what is often a complex pattern of disharmony. The exact pattern and degree of disharmony is unique to each individual and so following diagnosis, the acupuncturist puts together a personalised treatment plan.
According to traditional Chinese philosophy, our health is dependent on the body’s motivating energy – known as qi – moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of meridians (channels) beneath the skin. The flow of qi can be disturbed by many factors, physical, mental and emotional: anxiety, stress, anger, fear or grief, poor nutrition, weather conditions, hereditary factors, infections, poisons and trauma. By inserting fine needles into the channels of energy, an acupuncturist can stimulate the body’s own healing response and help to restore its natural balance.
During my first few years as an acupuncturist I became somewhat disillusioned by the number of clients improving with treatment and then falling back into sickness, so I set out to find what was wrong. In our modern age everything is more or less available 24/7 and yet sickness is affecting people at a younger and younger age. Consequently people are getting sick and feeling old before their time.
My research took me on a journey around the world looking for something special, something that would sort everyone! Eventually I came back to the beginning and the realisation that good health is about not abusing the body by polluting it with harmful chemicals, stress and under nourishment.
Simple to say – but not so easy.
This is how Functional Healing became a major part of my life and my practice. I found that those clients who could implement change into their lives as part of their treatment plan were able to heal faster, and return to a level of vitality that had become just a memory.
I found that the “quick fix” or “magic pill” that I (and so many others) had been searching for ….. well it just doesn’t exist!
In many respects our lives have become easier than previous generations, and yet we pay a huge price for the “convenience” of everything, and that price is our health. Our bodies have become more depleted in the nutrients needed for “optimum” health. What with modern farming (pharming!) practices, the high levels of radio and microwave (EMF) pollution, and so many chemicals/plastics we contact on a daily basis. This is all unnatural, its foreign to the human body and adds to the burden our bodies are struggling to keep in check.
I have further studied in phlebotomy, autoimmune conditions, and keep abreast of current research around the contributory roles of nutrition and the environmental factors and key causal mechanisms involved with autoimmunity.
Making changes to your diet and lifestyle, along with acupuncture treatment can stimulate your immune system to become optimally “functional” again.
A Functional Healing treatment starts with a consultation to discuss problems, lifestyle, diet, emotions, hopes, fears and wishes and the direction in which you wish to take your life. I use a combination of techniques and strategies to help you. These may include acupuncture, dietary changes, Supplements, Spagyrics and more. I will support and guide you as you make positive changes to your life.
If you would like guidance in making change in your lifestyle that could lead to improved health and vitality and are not sure were to start, contact me for an appointment and I’ll do my best to get you back on track.
Stephen Armstrong CertAc AHPR MMQ MAcS
Stephen had various jobs and life experiences before studying medical qigong, nutrition and acupuncture. He now lives and works in County Tyrone with his wife and runs a practice from his clinic there. Stephen travels to England periodically where he assists in the training of acupuncture students at the Healing & Acupuncture College. He also attends regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses in acupuncture, qigong, autoimmunity, phlebotomy, nutrition and associated skills such as spinal acupuncture, tui-na massage, facial revitalisation acupuncture (FRA) and acupuncture for infertility.
He has studied further at International College of Oriental Medicine (ICOM), East Grinstead, Institute of Optimum Nutrition (ION), London and at the International College of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, London. He is a member of the Acupuncture & Healing Practitioners Register and also a member of The Acupuncture Society.
Stephen has a Master’s Degree in Medical Qigong after intensive training with Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson in the USA, one of the few internationally recognized non-Chinese Masters of Medical Qigong.
The word “Qigong”, literally translated from Chinese, means “Energy Work”. It is a highly refined system of exercises and meditations that develop our ability to acquire, store, circulate, and purify our Qi (Vital Energy). Through diligent practice of Qigong, we learn how to use our mind as a tool to direct the flow of electrical signals and energetic currents that comprise the integrated matrix of our body, mind, and emotions. This can lead to a greater sense of mastery over our mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as greater resistance to everyday stresses and disease.
Medical Qigong is the application of Qigong for medical purposes. The practitioner assists the patient by redirecting, cleansing, and restoring the patients vital energy based on the principles of Chinese Medicine. During a Medical Qigong treatment, the patient generally lies or sits on the treatment table while the practitioner uses various hand movements and mental images to perform the energetic healing procedure. Often the patient can feel certain things happening in the body, both on a physical and emotional level. Sometimes, the patient simply gets a sense of deep relaxation and well-being. The experience of the treatment will be different for each patient. There are no invasive techniques used, and little to no physical touching is required.
Qigong and the Three Treasures
Qigong theory is based on the principle that all of life is essentially energy in various forms, and that our human bodymind is part of the vast matrix of energy that comprises the Universe. The basic components (or levels) of this energy is called the Three Treasures. The Three Treasures are Shen (Spirit), Qi (Energy), and Jing (Essence). The principles of Qigong state that Spirit/Soul (Shen) is the director of all Vital Energy (Qi) in the body. The flow of this Vital Energy is what determines the level of function of our organs, tissues, enzymes, proteins, hormones, and other vital substances (collective known as Jing) in the body. Imbalance in one or more of these three energetic levels can cause problems in the others. Qigong uses sitting and moving meditations to allow our Shen (Spirit) cleanse the body of Qi (Energetic) deviations so that pure Qi can be collected and circulated in the body, which can improve health and immunity in our physical bodies and increase our emotional well-being.
A Medical Qigong example – In clinical depression the Shen (Spirit) level is affected first, by a recent loss or a past trauma that resurfaces in memory. A person might begin to lose hope or feel an extreme sense of guilt or shame. If this feeling persists, the effects begin to cascade down to the Energy (Qi) level, where functional symptoms such as poor appetite, fatigue, and poor sleep set in. Eventually, if left untreated, the Jing (physical) level will begin to show problems – loss of weight, changes in skin color, muscle weakness, possible hair loss.
Medical Qigong treatment – In cases of clinical depression it is important to treat at all levels necessary to resolve the acute depressive episode. I might perform Medical Qigong treatments to assist the patient’s body in redirecting and rebalancing the flow of energy, and to assist the patient in releasing the emotional blocks that are keeping them stuck in this depressed energetic state. Herbal remedies can be used along with Acupuncture to assist in the gradual rebalancing of the patient’s energy. Depending on the severity of symptoms, I may refer the patient to their doctor / GP. The patient would also be prescribed simple Qigong exercises as homework to supplement the treatments and to begin training them to use their Shen (Spirit) to balance their own energy. After a time, the patient’s own Shen (Spirit) efforts can be enough to prevent and/or remedy any recurring episodes.
What Medical Qigong can treat – Medical Qigong is currently used in China in the treatment of all medical conditions. Sometimes the entire treatment consists of Qigong, other times Qigong is used in conjuction with herbs, Acupuncture, and Western medical approaches.
Some of the conditions treated include:
* Cancer (all types)
* Cardiovascular disorders (chest pain, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc…)
* Chronic and post-operative pain Gastrointestinal disorders (irritable bowel, acid reflux,
* Orthopedic disorders (sprains, strains, sports injuries, broken bones)
* Emotional disorders (depression, ADHD, Bipolar disorder, and more..)
Medical Qigong is based on the Chinese Medical principle that all disease is based in energetic patterns. Therefore, it can be used to assist in treating any disease process by adjusting, balancing, and restoring proper energetic functioning to the body.
Acupuncture for Infertility
Acupuncture works best when a functional problem is the cause of infertility, specifically when endometriosis, ovulatory problems or hormonal imbalances are the cause for not getting pregnant.
On the other hand, acupuncture has not been proven to be as effective when structural problems, such as an improperly formed epididymis or a blocked fallopian tube, are the cause of infertility.
Acupuncture and Female Infertility
Many women choose acupuncture infertility treatment either on its own or in conjunction with IVF procedures.
Studies have proved the effectiveness of acupuncture for infertility. A 2004 study conducted by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado found that 51% of women who underwent both IVF and acupuncture treatment at the same time became pregnant, while only 36% of those who only underwent IVF did. The latter group also had higher rates of miscarriage stillbirth (20%) compared to those women who had received acupuncture (8%).
Acupuncture and Male Infertility
Men can also use acupuncture to treat their fertility problems, including erectile dysfunction or low sperm count.
Also, a 2005 study conducted by Shanghai University in China found that acupuncture also helped treat male infertility. Of the men who participated, those who had acupuncture had an increased percentage of sperm in their semen; their sperm structure and morphology was also healthier than their counterparts who did not undergo acupuncture infertility treatment.
Costs and Other Considerations
A series of acupuncture sessions can cost as little as £450. For this reason, acupuncture is an affordable option for women and men having difficulty trying to get pregnant, especially when compared with other infertility treatment options, such as IVF.
In order to witness the benefits of acupuncture, the individual should undergo treatment once or twice weekly for a period of many months. It is normal for the patient to undergo up to 12 rounds of acupuncture treatment. Each session is roughly one hour long and should include time to discuss the patient’s current condition, as well as what the patient can do at home to improve her chances of becoming pregnant.
You should also consult with your health care provider / GP before beginning any infertility acupuncture treatment.
If you wish to discuss your individual needs, please feel free to contact Stephen by email or in person by telephone: 075 0219 4907