Monday, 28 November 2011

4 year already

Well today is the day! 4 years ago today I took my first FULL paying acupuncture client: at woodland Herbs.  Back in the days when I worked full time in a call centre and just 3 hours a week at Woodland Herbs.

That 1st client was a gentleman with depression, didnt see him for as long as i'd have liked, but managed to help lift him at least a little - based on subsequent feedback.

Now 4, incredibly quick, years later I have worked with it must be at least a few hundred people, from all walks of life, builders, postmen, lawyers, medics (in many guises), journalists, lecturers and many many forms of office based mon to fri 9 to 5 workers.  Working with MANY conditions: ME, fertility, period problems, pain in so many places I cant keep track, lots of emotional stuff. e.g depression, anxiety and of course good old faithful stress and even helped someone through a break up of a relationship.

A few of the cases have had such good results its been a surprise to even me including 'agonising pain' in the ankle that all but disappeared after just one session, a girl with abdominal pain that was making her feel suicidal who'd had medical intervention for over 6 years to no avail, and within just one session felt better, and now (after many sessions) just pops in on occasion essentially for a 'top up', so many pregnancies that i've supported the parents through and a delightful man with bipolar who suffers badly with anxiety.

I've also supported people with long term problems, seeing them as and when needed to just keep them topped up, M.E.being one of the biggies in that field.

Four years in and I love what I do more than ever before! I have grown so much in that time, learning daily from the all the people that walk through my door, learning how to be a better person & therapist with my interactions, not to mention improving my skills as a therapist with lots of research, and clients who  willing to be guineapigs for me and who's opinions I value when im tweaking my treatments.

I still can't believe that in just 4 years I have gone from working part time - only 3 hours a week to the 39(ish) i now do, splitting my time between two very different clinics run by two very different people, and providing me with different types of people to work with.

As an acupuncturist working in her home town of Glasgow I am delighted to share my skills and experience with everyone I meet, and as many of my friends will attest I'm sure, acupuncture for me is not just a job, its a way of life!  I'm quite sure they  are sick of me saying 'in TCM terms...'

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my friends family and clients who have supported me in this challenging, yet incredibly rewarding, 4 years! Looking forward to the next 40!!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Why I am an acupuncturist

As an acupuncturist one of the most common questions I am asked is why i do it.

I have a bit of an interesting route into it, as do most acupuncturists I know and have worked along side.

I started out doing a degree in Psychology, realising before I graduated that it wasn't for me, I did want to 'help people' but psychology just didnt cut it for me.

Upon graduating I wandered around the globe a bit, ending up in South Korea teaching English as a second language.  The town I lived in was a relatively small one, and if one ever saw a white person one said hi! I did such a thing whilst sitting in a internet cafe catching up with mates! Got chatting to a lady who told me about this yoga type class she went to most nights.. I was intreged, and a few days later was introduced to one of the most influential couples I have ever had the privaledge to meet.  I soon became a regular - going to class up to 5 times a week, it wasnt quite yoga, and to this day I still don't know what it was called, what I know is that the regular movements were having a positive influence on my life.

Anyway, not too long after that I was persuaded to try having a massage with the Wangjang Neem, a very intuitive therapist who spent up to 90 mins working solely on my abdomen.  I then saw his wife Bo Wangjang Neem, who gave me healing in the form of energy work as well as massage.  A few months later, I managed to burn myself and the Wangjang Neem offered to experiement with his new therapy.. Acupuncture.. and from that day I was hooked!! but hadn't yet considered it a career option.

By Feb 2003 (i had been in Korea for 8 months) I had a new flatmate, Suzanne, who was a reiki master and also practiced yoga on a daily basis, having spent a lot of time in India & Thailand, she introduced me to the idea of therapy as a profession.

By the end of May i was coming to the end of my time in Korea and considering what to do next, on a PURE WHIM, decided to look at how to become an acupuncturist... and quickly realised this was meant for me.. my dad has just moved to Manchester.. and guess where I could study?

I am soo very grateful to my time in Korea, it completely opened my eyes to a new system, a new way of looking at the world, I loved the gentleness of the people, their kindness & respect for others as well as a whole new way of eating...

Food in KOrea is hugely important, and everyone knows the importance of food for healing and maintenance, and changes their diet dependant on weather, lifestyle etc, I found it fascinating that they considered eating Chicken and Ginseng to keep them strong through the hot/humid summers, certainly within my family, food was not there to nurture.

Anyway, by the time I got back to the UK I applied to the University of Salford, but had a year to kill until starting the degree, so decided to do a 'wee massage course' to get me back into studying and to begin to learn about the body.... and it just so happened I loved it.

Soon as I finished my degree (2007)I returned to Glasgow, and found Woodland Herbs, and also now The Bothwell Clinic, I am rapidly approaching my 5th year as an acupuncturist and massage therapist in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire, and I can honestly say that I still adore it.. on a daily basis I learn something new as well as help people to rediscover their health!

I am forever grateful to that chance meeting with Pat in a internet cafe that started me on this path to finding my vocation.. and hope that I can share my passion for health and especially for acupuncture with everyone so they can too benefit and lead a more fulfilling life, free of what ails them!

Monday, 31 October 2011

western acupuncture v traditional acupuncture.

The other week I was treating a GP and we got chatting about acupuncture - most of this conversation happened before I found out what she did for a living..

But I was explaining the difference between 'Western' and 'Traditional' Acupuncture as they have been coined.  For me the key difference is in the theoretical understanding.  Physios, osteopaths, nurses and doctors as well as many other 'health care professionals' have the opportunity to study acupuncture, but to my understanding they do not spend a lot of time understanding the theory behind it all...

In the Beijing International TCM Hospital, where I gained post graduate training I learned that Acupuncturists in China are at Uni for over 8 years (unlike our unis - only getting a few weeks a year off) where they learn the full theory behind acupuncture - that of the 5 Elements/Yin Yang and Qi, they learn about herbs and also get a full western medical degree while they are at it!   My training is not that comprehensive, however I spent the 1st half of my degree learning all about the TCM theory , the Western anatomy, physiology and pathology, before I got anywhere near a needle, in addition to over 400 hours hands on clinical experience whist at Uni.  I have done a little research - physiotherapists are completing 'approved training' with just 80 hours training. (

I have now been in practice for a full 4 years, and with 7 plus years of working with and getting to grips with Chinese Medicine Theory I can finally say i PRETTY much get it now.. but even still the odd person will pop up and will remind me of how much I still have to learn, so how someone can condense this into 80 hours and fully understand it, amazes me!!

What I am aware of is that the majority of these practitioners work with pain conditions, and for most people this is relatively simple: stagnation of Qi=pain and as such is relatively easy to treat, assuming that is all that is going on.. but what we as traditional acupuncturist do is look for why the Qi is stagnating, and treat the underlying cause.

My belief is that this simplification of acupuncture is very useful in alleviating pain conditions, mainly in the short term, , but that the traditional, all be it more complex, model of acupuncture is far more useful in improving quality of life.

I have recently read a beautiful book talking about traditional acupuncurists, and comparing them to gardeners.  Stating that it is my role as an acupuncturist to cultivate life, whilst western medics role is to prevent death..

Monday, 24 October 2011

YIn Yang...

As part of my talk I explained the Yin Yang symbol to which I think we are all familiar, but not sure how much its understood.  It is the basic foundation upon which Acupuncture, and traditional Chinese understanding on how the world works is based, it is dynamic.

The first thing to consider is that it is a contained circle - that one gets smaller and turns into the other.  It is also important to note that there is a little of one in the other, that they are NOT mutually exclusive.

Chinese characters are essentially pictures of what they are try to describe. The pictogram for Yin Yang shows a mountain.  One side facing the sun, and the other in the shade.

Yang is the bright side of the mountain, whilst yin in the dark and as such, in the very familiar image to the left: yang is white and yin is black.

Other things attributed to Yang include: the front of the body, day time, sunshine, warmth, heat, movement, Qi,
Those things attributed to Yin: The back of the body, night time, the moon, coolness, stillness, water, blood.

These things have been categorised as being either predominant in Yin or Yang, but they always have a little of both: for example the front of the body is yang relative to the back, but the upper body is yang compared to the lower body which is yin.

A lovely easy example to understand Yin Yang is to consider 24hours.  Midnight is considered upmost yin (so will be the big bit of the black), noon considered upmost Yang (the biggest white bit) and between is a mix of yin and yang.

What this means for our health.

For me this constant change is what gives us our routines, the fact that we get tired is a result of yang waining and yin increasing as well as explaining many many other patterns found in our bodies.  Women are considered Yin in nature due to the monthly period cycle and our ability to nourish and create life.  As such, Yin declines with age, and menopausal women often show signs of Yin deficiency in that they are overheating, especially at night, as Yin is not subduing Yang, it is incredibly common for women in China to take 'Yin tonics' as they age. 

This dynamic way of explaining the workings of us humans allows me to spot patterns in peoples symtoms and help to rebalance their out of sync Yin Yang and thereby optimise health.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

My work with John

I am in the very lucky position to work with some amazingly experienced and knowledgeable practitioners in the clinics I work in.

Over the month of October, John Williamson and Myself have been giving a course on acupressure.  John is a Zen Shiatsu practitioner and his understanding of how the elements relate in real life gives me such insight that I can then use to enhance my practice.

Today we were talking about emotions and how they affect our health.  The average 'lay person' would more than likely agree that emotions play a part in our physical health.  John was describing the metal element (the one i struggle to comprehend the most) and talking about how its all about barriers and how our interaction with others is about the formation of those barriers... and grief  the emotion related to the Metal Element .. is our way of helping to break down those previously understood barriers or Links as I was reinterpreting it.

Which is why when we are first bereaved of someone we love, to use that example, there are lots of these barriers/attachments/links that we have formed that remind us of that person, be it that they used to share a bed with us, or that they used to shout at the TV when a particular show is on, it reminds us of that relationship that is now lost...

and if we don't deal with it (as with any emotion) it will just keep reoccuring until such times as we figure out how to deal with them.

What I have also realised on this course is just how much I do know and do without thinking now.. especially in terms of locating points... it has become second nature to me.. and thats such a lovely thing to become aware of!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

my first solo talk!

Last night I did my first ever SOLO acupuncture talk.

Bizarrely enough I wasn't nervous at all about it, but I think that had a lot to do with locking myself out my flat and the ensuing chaos that caused to get back in (which I did by the by!)

A friend of mine provided refreshments in the form of THE most delicious cupcakes courtesy of Yumm! Bakery ( while I provided the entertainment!

I gave an brief introduction about me - who I am, what brought me to acupuncture (to follow in another blog), then going on to describe as best as i could, given the time limitations, the theory behind acupuncture.

Discussing Qi:
Which is also known as 'life force': it is Qi that gives us the impotus to move, to function, to grow.  It has 5 main roles within us:
1 To warm - in a similar way to Blood (which relys on Qi to ensure it moves).
2 To protect: it circulates within us to fend off external pathogenic factors
3. it transforms: turns foods into things we can use, e.g. glucose; our thoughts into actions/emotions etc.
4. it holds: the blood in the vessels, the organs in places
5. It moves: it creates our phyical movements, but also the involuntary ones, like our heart beating, the eb and flow of our thoughts and so forth.

We then went on to feel our Qi - not sure that i can explain that without visual cues!!

Then discussing the 5 elements and how we move within these elements and how they influence our lives.

Finally discussing the actual treatment, where everyone got to 'try a needle' if they wished and talked about the other modalities that I use e.g. cupping, moxibustion.

I was in the lucky position to have a couple of people who have previously tried acupuncture so asked for their input now and then too!

It was an evening I thoroughly enjoyed, and hope that I spread the word about acupuncture a bit more!!!   If you are interested in me coming along to do a talk, or perhaps seeking treatment yourself: then get in touch and we can try to arrange something.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Getting to Bothwell Clinic

In the 2 years I have worked over at the Bothwell Clinic I have gone fmrom spending near 2 hours on buses to a 25 min drive!!!  All thanks to the new M74 and a lovely wee car!!

I manage to completely dodge the nasty M8 - sailing past everyone this morning queuing to cross the dreaded Kingston Bridge!! straight down the m74 - limited only by speed limits - 50? what were they thinking??cutting off at the uddingston junction 3a(I think!) - follow the signs for uddingston, cutting through that, past the tesco on your right and the lidl on your left heading into Bothwell - past the co op on your left and there we are!!! parking is the next left - down Green street, where there is FREE off street parking for up to i guess 60 cars, 2 min walk back round and your at the beautiful, peaceful, Bothwell Clinic...

Ideal for anyone travelling from the south side now!!!

it would seem RAC and google maps don't yet recognise the new M74 section I' ve been using it since the 1st day it opened in June - silly billies that they are!!

Friday, 9 September 2011


I was recently chatting with a music therapist and we were discussing emotions.  In his work he seemed to spend a lot of time telling people its ok to be angry and to help them find suitable outlets for it so they were no longer 'problem teens/adults'.  Along with another very interesting chat around PMT type emotional 'outbursts'.

this got me thinking about how my clients talk about emotions. The 1st thing that occured to me was that they tend to use the word emotional to mean tearful.  I think this puts a negative spin on it as being tearful usually  means we're sad, which generally isn't a pleasant feeling, and as such being emotional is negative.  But in my opinion being emotional just means having emotions which albeit we can control to some degree - perhaps we shouldn't?

The acupuncture theory (TCM) perspective is that a true emotion lasts only 7 minutes as it passes through the heart, so true laughter, tears, anger, fear etc lasts only 7 mins and then we settle back in to the norm... now This took some processing for me cos I thought about the last time my heart was broken for example and it more than certainly took more than 7 mins to get over it!!! but then when really thought about it and the raw emotion it was only about 7 maybe 10 mins at a time that i'd cry for, then i'd maybe be a bit angry, then tearful again, then just sad, and occasionally even happy or laughing at something one of my mates said to me and so forth. 

I remember having a conversation with a friend who was feeling guilty for laughing on the day of a loved ones' funeral...

basically I just find it astounding afraid people are of their emotions - we rarely stop ourselves from laughing, even when its at someones misfortune... so why stop ourselves from crying or being angry - it is merely a response to the situation we are in.

i have had numerous conversations with people about giving themselves permission to feel... one of my favorite tricks - especially when im feeling a bit 'hormonal' is to watch a film I KNOW will have me sobbing - steel magnolias is a fav - then i have a nice safe way in which to release my tears without having to work out WHY i'm tearful!  9 times out of 10, after that i'm feeling much lighter and no longer needing a 'greet'.

Interestingly, I had a discusson with a client about said 'hormonal' states and how they are frowned apon and that we should always be happy - for 2 weeks out of the month (for the average woman) we are in the 'luteal phase' which is a time for reflection and withdrawing into ones self - and as a as a society we have turned this into something negative - that we should be happy go lucky wee ladies all the year through and that periods are by their nature dirty and something to be ashamed of - now i think about it as a 30something woman - its crazy how embarrassed I was at having periods as a teen!  it reminds lme of the 50's ads on tv about being a good wife - make sure your up and dressed breakfast made for your hubby etc otherwise he'll leave you was the gist I got from them  (anyway slightly off topic now).

I guess what i'm trying to say is that emotions are not something to be thought of negatively - that if we allow them to manifiest in an appropriate way at the time at which they are evoked we can move on from them, rather than allowing them to fester or trying to block them completely, cos inevitabley they will come out, and then it really might not be pleasant for the person unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end!  We all have good and bad days/weeks/months/years/moments and thats FINE - thats how it should be!!! living in the moment is not (for me) about ignoring what has happened or is about to happen, but to constantly bring yourself back to where you're at right now and try engage fully in it - but also allow time for reflection etc...

Monday, 5 September 2011

monday morning

started my new hours as of Friday - and so far can't complain!!!
Saturday was a fantastic day - 4 hours worth of massage and 4 hours of acupuncture - nice mix :)

had a 1st visit for back pain on saturday - and immediate feedback was that the pain had gone! Today got an 'emergency' back pain client in also - someone i saw quite a while ago for completely unrelated acupuncture emailed me last night - sounding like she was in a lot of pain - lets hope i get as good results for her as i did for the guy on saturday eh!!!

Friday, 2 September 2011

my 1st blog

well figured it was about time to start sharing all that i have learned and experienced as an acupuncturist working in the Glasgow area.

Today has been mainly about getting a survey up and running to get feedback from my clients with regard to how they feel the acupuncture has helped them.

I am also in the process of changing my website completely including the hosting package so lots of very dull admin stuff today!

wednesday however at Woodand herbs was another matter - fully booked day with lots of interesting new cases: from runners knee to acne to fertility.