Author Archives: Doug Swift

Acupuncture for Migraines – Research produced in 1998

This is an article on research undertaken on Acupuncture for Migraines. This is a shortened version, the full articles can be found via the link at the bottom.

acupuncture for migrainesAcupuncture for Migraines has been much used as a treatment and also episodic tension headache both in China and the West. This paper assesses the quantity and quality of the evidence for the use acupuncture in treating this condition. Our conclusion is that there is some evidence that acupuncture has a significant therapeutic effect on symptoms such as pain and frequency in migraine attacks.

Introduction for Acupuncture for Migraines

Migraine is described as the most frequently encountered condition treated in the NHS, which does not lead to disability or death, and costs £20 million per annum. It effects about 20% of the UK population of which 60% to 70% are women. It also has dramatic effects on the functioning of the economy, for example in the UK an estimated 60% of sufferers lose time from work (Tukmachi 1994).
Migraine is defined as “a complex constellation of symptoms effecting the nervous system, gastrointestinal tract and vascular systems” (Lewith 1996).
The highly debilitating nature of recurrent migraine attacks and the limited effectiveness of medications, all of which can give rise to unpleasant side effects (Shaikh 1986), bring many patients to acupuncture for treatment. A recent article reported that it is the 6th most common condition presenting to acupuncturists (Wadlow 1996). In a study of student doctors in Norway, 63% said they would refer patients with acupuncture for migraines (Norheim 1993). Thus both public and professionals are becoming aware of the benefits of this form of treatment.

Outcome Trials with Acupuncture for Migraines

In the 6 trials falling into this group, results are mostly given in terms of a ‘global assessment’ of improvement derived either from the patients or practitioner. All these trials were outcome studies which followed a group of patients treated by acupuncture. Outcomes were arrived at either through posing a simple question on perceived change to patients (Tukmachi 1994, Junnila 1986) or from the practitioner’s assessment (Laitinen 1975). In some cases the mechanism for assessing outcome was not clear, and only the studies by Baischer(1995) and Boivie & Brattburg (1987) utilised more detailed outcome measures.
The results ranged from 81% responding positively to treatment ( Shaikh 1986) to 84% (Tukmachi 1984) and as high as 92% (Laitinen 1975). Baischer (1995) reported 69% of patients improving ‘more than 33%’, with 58% maintaining this improvement at a 3 year follow up.
A long term study of 115 patients from Finland found 77% responded to treatment, with a 81% reported reduction in pain levels maintained over 2 years and a 55% reduction in frequency and duration of episodes at 10 months post treatment (Junnila 1986). In this study 75% of patients reduced their drug intake by at least half.
While outcome studies are useful indicators of effectiveness, randomised controlled trials are generally considered more rigorous (Richardson & Vincent 1986). An evaluation of efficacy takes place where a randomised controlled trial is designed to assess the specific effect of acupuncture intervention while excluding the other non-specific effects of treatment generally.
Controlled Trials

Migraineurs are a highly heterogeneous group in acupuncture terms and the use of simple formulaic acupuncture is unlikely to be an appropriate protocol for treatment (Birch 1998, Blackwell 1991). From the perspective of traditional acupuncture for migraines, treatments should be able to be individualised in at least two dimensions: the choice of points to match the patient, and changes in point prescriptions over time. Other aspects of treatment given as standard, such as lifestyle advice or moxibustion, also need to be included.
The use of a control group that receives a placebo treatment in the form of sham acupuncture should be expected to offer more reliable measure of the benefits of the acupuncture itself. However it appears that the use of sham acupuncture is unsatisfactory as it “seems to have either an intermediate effect between that of placebo and ‘real ‘acupuncture points or effects similar to those of real acupuncture points” (NIH 1997). As a result, the controlled trials that use sham acupuncture as a control will systematically underestimate the therapeutic gain (Vincent & Lewith 1995).

Conclusion for article on Acupuncture for Migraines

All the uncontrolled trials demonstrated that acupuncture for migraines is highly effective, often helping over 80% of patients. This is considerably more effective than a likely placebo response which has been estimated to be from around 30% to as high as 50% (Tavola et al 1992). In all the controlled studies, treatment was shown to be more effective in at least one measure( i.e. pain intensity or frequency of attacks), with statistical significance reached in two studies (Vincent 1989, Tavola et al 1992). In the comparative study (Hesse et al 1994), acupuncture for migraines performed as well as the standard therapy with the added benefit of a lower incidence of side effects. Overall the evidence supports the hypothesis that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of migraine.

See the original article son Acupuncture for Migraines
Read the full article here

Verity Allen Acupuncture is now offering evening slots at Enso

Verity Allen Acupuncture has been working at Enso for the past few years helping people resolve their issues using acupuncture; migraines, IBS and back, leg and shoulder pain are common complaints that Verity sees regularly in the clinic. Her talents lie particularly in treating fertility and has helped lots of women to conceive naturally or as a support through IVF procedures. She now is working an evening slot here to make her clinic more accessible for people working throughout the day. Contact Verity Allen Acupuncture using the contact details below to book an appointment today.

verity allen acupunctureVerity Allen Acupuncture Clinic beginnings: I remember sitting in a circle amongst other fresh-faced, budding students during my first lecture at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in Reading. We were asked to share with the group why we had chosen to study acupuncture. People were talking about their positive experiences having received acupuncture themselves. Others were talking about how much evidence-based research there was backing acupuncture to be an effective treatment. I only really had one answer… I wanted to help people.

I had no idea of the science behind it, the thousands of years old system that kept the medicine alive all these years. I also had no idea of just how holistic the approach seemed to be. This idea that everything about you is so interconnected, that something so minor as a mild change in your emotional state, or even a mild change in the weather, pulls on your body’s resources to adapt and deal with the changes. And it’s how your body adapts that is so key.

Within Verity Allen Acupuncture clinic, in its simplest form, is to instruct qi. The needles are simply facilitators for this. They provide us with a connection to the exact area where qi is in abundance. Acupuncture points (of which there are 361) are specially chosen because they are areas where little pools of qi form. They lie in the fascia between skin and muscle, which is why the needles don’t need to be inserted too deeply in order to have an effect. An acupuncturist will be able to feel when the needle has reached its destination. The qi from the patient and practitioner will have made a connection and the patient will definitely be able to feel it. It’s unlike any sensation they will have ever felt and can best be described as a dull ache or a radiating sensation. It’s not painful, just different. Once the connection is made, the magic happens!

This article on Verity Allen Acupuncture will be continued in next month’s newsletter from Enso Healing Rooms, and also posted in this blog.

Contact Verity Allen Acupuncture clinic in Bristol

Telephone: 07789553954

Seasonal Affective Disorder treatment using alternative therapy

seasonal affective disorderSeasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’) is a form of depression which effects people during the Winter. In conventional medical terms, it is normally believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus.

It can range from a mild case of the ‘winter blues’ to a severe and debilitating condition.
There is very little available in terms of conventional treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’).

Many sufferers use light boxes which emit a bright white light similar to daylight, other than that antidepressants are probably all your doctor can offer.

However, seasonal conditions such as this are well understood and explained by Chinese medicine theory. Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’) is often related to a Yang deficiency, which becomes more noticeable and severe in the winter time. Yang is the bright, warm motivating force of the body which gives you your ‘get up and go’ and when it’s weak it can often lead to depression and tiredness.

If you have deficient Yang you will also feel the cold more acutely than most people, and will likely have poor circulation. It is also possible that your digestive system is weak or easily upset. You will also likely have low energy levels (especially in the Winter)

The acupuncture treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’) therefore focuses on restoring the strength of the Yang energy. Often, acupuncture will be combined with the warming technique called moxibustion where some ‘moxa’ (dried Chinese mugwort herb) is burned to provide a gentle but penetrating heat.

This helps to reinforce the Yang strengthening effect of the acupuncture. This is a lovely technique, and I normally find that Yang deficient people love it!
Acupuncture will also help to regulate the mood and emotions – the key word here is ‘balance’.
Treatment is best begun before symptoms begin, and then regularly throughout the winter to maintain the beneficial effects. In my experience, it can be a very effective way of lifting the spirits and ‘keeping the Winter out’!

Read more articles similar to this one on Seasonal affective disorder

Article used from our therapist Neil Kingham here find out mode about treatments from Neil here

Acupuncture benefits and effectiveness of treatment

acupuncture_benefitsAcupuncture benefits by the insertion of tiny needles into certain points on the body, for the treatment of illness. It has been practised for over 2000 years in China, and is becoming ever more popular in the West. It is estimated that over one million treatments are given per year in the UK. Back pain is one of the most common conditions which acupuncture is used for: as an acupuncturist I treat many people with the condition.

The traditional explanation as to how acupuncture benefits lower back pain is that it unblocks the pathways of ‘qi’, or ‘vital energy’. Blockages may be caused by bad posture, stress, poor diet, or injury. Modern scanning techniques, using PET scanners, have shown that the acupuncture benefits the pathway channels along which sub atomic particles, called positrons, flow. The research has also shown that the insertion of acupuncture needles into certain points stimulates the pain control centres in the brain, blocking the pain signal. Acupuncture benefits have also been shown to release endorphins, chemicals which reduce pain.

In 2009 the Government’s health watchdog NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) published a report which looked at the evidence. It examined seven studies which had been done on low back pain. Treatments were given once or twice per week for between four and twelve weeks. The groups varied in size, some with several thousand participants. Some studies compared real acupuncture benefits with ‘sham’ acupuncture benefits, where the needles are deliberately placed in the wrong area.

The report concluded that ‘acupuncture needling is beneficial in reducing pain and improving function’ (p156). In other words, as well as reducing pain, acupuncture benefits by helping people get back to work, and get on with their lives.

The report also said that ‘an acupuncture benefits by costing less and is more effective than usual care’ (p156). The ‘usual care’ often consists of taking non–steroidal anti–inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, these often cause serious side effects: listed by the NHS as indigestion and stomach ulcers. Long-term use can cause anaemia, gastro-intestinal bleeding, and the development of holes in the wall of the intestines.

This can allow toxins to enter the blood and create serious long term health problems. On the other hand, acupuncture benefits also by having positive side effects: patients often report improvements in sleep, mood, and energy. This is because acupuncture treats the whole person, not just the symptoms. Back pain is often a reflection of other imbalances in the body. For example, stress or exhaustion can lead to a build-up of cortisol in the blood, which can lead to inflammation and pain, and prevent the body healing damaged tissue. Acupuncture benefits have been shown to be effective in treating stress, and reducing cortisol levels, thereby reducing pain.

So, the evidence is clear: acupuncture can be an effective way to reduce back pain and improve mobility. Acupuncture benefits not only treat pain successfully, but also be efficient for many other complaints, and in helping regain vitality and health. An extra advantage of Naturopathic Acupuncture, which is not covered in the report, but which is taught at CNM, is that qualified practitioners are able to give advice on making dietary and lifestyle changes, which can maximise the beneficial effects of Acupuncture needling, and so help prevent further difficulties.

Author of article on Acupuncture benefits

This article was written by Henry McGrath, Acupuncturist at Enso Healing Rooms. To find out about Henry’s treatment click here

Chinese massage Bristol therapy rooms offers half price deal

Chinese Massage BristolChinese massage Bristol therapy rooms is offering a half price during October. Initial treatments are available at £30 rather than the usual £60. This deal is running only for new clients only.

Chinese Massage Bristol is traditionally called Tui Na (pronounced ‘twee nar’, and sometimes known as ‘anmo’) is ancient form of Chinese massage therapy and one of the main branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is some 3000 years old, and many modern massage styles such as Swedish massage and Shiatsu are derived from it.

It is effective for all manner of physical and muscular problems, and is also a kind of ‘acupuncture without needles’ which is able to treat the same internal conditions as acupuncture.

Tui Na massage therapists work with both the physical body and the energetic body; They use what you would recognize as massage techniques to ease the knots and tension out of muscles, and at the same time work with the meridians and acupoints to regulate and balance the flow of energy (Qi).

Sometimes, Chinese Tui Na is called ‘acupressure massage’ as it uses acupressure, and other manual techniques, to stimulate the same points that are used in acupuncture.

About Neil at Chinese Massage Bristol

Neil holds Acupuncture and Tui Na Massage qualifications from prominent British colleges, and a certificate in Traditional Chinese Nutrition from Yao San university in Los Angeles, and has also completed an advanced clinical internship in China at the Zhejiang University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Neil has experience treating a wide range of conditions and complaints of all kinds. He has worked in diverse settings with a range of clients including young sports-people, children with learning difficulties, corporate groups, and various health organisations.

Contact Neil Kingham at Chinese Massage Bristol

Chinese Massage practitioner Neil Kingham is currently offering a full consultation and initial treatment for new clients for only £30 (normally 60)

You can contact him via his website at or call direct on 07985 916114.

Chronic Neck Pain treatment can offer relief with Multiple 60-Minute Massages

chronic neck pain treatmentResults of an NCCAM-funded study found that multiple 60-minute massages per week were more effective than fewer or shorter sessions for people needing chronic neck pain treatment, suggesting that several hour-long massages per week may be the best “dose” for people with this condition. Researchers from Group Health Research Institute, University of Washington, The University of Vermont College of Medicine, and Oregon Health and Science University published their findings in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Researchers enrolled 228 people for chronic neck pain treatment into five randomly assigned groups receiving various “doses” of massage: a 4-week course of 30-minute sessions two or three times each week, or 60-minute sessions one, two, or three times each week. Other participants were assigned to a 4-week wait list, which served as the control group. Therapists used a wide range of massage chronic neck pain techniques and were not allowed to make any self-care recommendations.

The researchers found that 30-minute massages two or three times per week did not provide significant benefits compared with the wait-list control group. However, beneficial effects of 60-minute massages increased with dose and were particularly evident for participants receiving chronic neck pain treatment massage two or three times per week. Compared with the control group, participants were three times more likely to have clinically meaningful improvement in neck function if they received 60-minute massages twice per week and five times more likely if they received 60-minute massages three times per week. However, the researchers noted that longer and more frequent massages might be challenging for many patients due to financial and time constraints. They also noted that future studies of massage for chronic neck pain treatments should include multiple 60-minute massages per week for the first 4 weeks of treatment, self-care recommendations, and longer-term followup.

Click here to read more about Chronic neck pain treatment research

Sherman KJ, Cook AJ, Wellman RD, et al. Five-week outcomes from a dosing trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain. Annals of Family Medicine. 2014;12(2):112–120.