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Coronavirus and the Fear of the Unknown

In Chinese Medicine the Coronavirus is just like any other cold or flu; that is, it primarily affects the respiratory system.  But left unchecked, and depending on your overall health, it can soon work its way deeper into the body, causing more problems as it goes.

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The symptoms vary, but generally they relate to the Lung and Spleen in Chinese Medicine.  As the whole world knows by now, the main symptoms are fever and/or a cough, but some people have also experienced difficulty breathing, confusion, headache, and in a few cases, sore throat, runny nose, chest pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.  Or more worryingly, no symptoms at all.

Carrying on as normal?

While the government advice is to employ social distancing and self-isolation, there is equally a lot of pressure to carry on as normal.  We find it hard to be threatened by something that we cannot even see.   The argument to carry on as normal is strong of course.  On Radio 4’s Today programme, yesterday, I heard that in China an estimated 50,000 people have been saved from air pollution related deaths because some factories shut down during the peak of the epidemic.  In Venice the fish are returning to the canals.  And, of course, there are lots of other things out there that are more deadly than COVID19.

What has captured my attention is the emotional damage caused by the hysteria surrounding the Coronavirus.  The virus, or the hubbub around it, promotes fear, which is arguably more deadly than the actual virus itself.  But fear of what?  Fear of catching it, or worse, dying from it?  Or is it the fear of not being able to work or losing one’s job?  I would say, more than all of these, it is fear of the unknown.  And rightly so.  Who isn’t afraid of the unknown, an invisible enemy that has the potential to kill us, and at the very least totally disrupt the way we live our lives?  It sounds like a sci-fi horror film!

Fear is a fundamental emotion and essential for survival.

It is hardwired into us; we couldn’t have survived as a race without it.  Fear prompts the ‘fight or flight’ response within us, giving us the ability to flee from a marauding sabre tooth tiger by shutting down non-essential functions such as digestion, sending all the blood to the muscles so we can fight or run away.  Or simply freeze you to the spot like a rabbit in headlights.  In more recent times, if the harvest wasn’t sufficient there is a real risk of starvation in the winter months.   Are there enough supplies to survive winter? Wood and fuel, warmth and a safe place to retire? Better buy as much toilet paper and pasta as possible.

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The power of the word

Coping with this hysteria and panic is not helped by the language used by the media and governments.

“We are in a war against an invisible killer” Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

“We are at war…The enemy is invisible and it requires our general mobilization.” President Emmanuel Macro

With the talk of wars and an invisible enemy, who wouldn’t be scared?  But more importantly, this rhetoric is confusing.  The Blitz spirit being invoked involves pulling together, street parties and hunkering down together while the war rages above our heads.  But simultaneously we are being asked to self-isolate and keep away from each other because we are all potential carriers!  It sounds more like the KGB rather than the NHS.

Fear Descends Qi and it affects the Kidneys

In Chinese Medicine the emotion of fear is related to the Kidneys.  Fear, like any emotion, affects our Qi.  More accurately, however, it descends it.  In severe cases, such as sudden fright, this could mean the opening of the bowels.  But in more chronic cases it can affect breathing, so not good if your respiratory system is then affected by Coronavirus.  This is the case regarding all types of energy.  Look at how fear and panic has affected the global financial market – it has plummeted.

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When all is flowing within us, we have these deep reserves to draw on and our deep inner drives can be fuelled with the force of the waters that fill the reservoirs in winter.  Water gives us our drive, will and courage. (Debra Katz, Characters of Wisdom, 2005)

People with strong Qi will avoid the worst effects of COVID19 despite the fact that everybody, no matter their age or gender, may be affected.  Because each individual has a different physical constitution, the manifestations of the disease will vary, and so a single prescription cannot be universally effective for every patient (despite the race to produce a vaccine).   A strong constitutional Qi will also protect you against the pervading fear and panic, allowing you to sort the good information from the bad.  Acupuncture is conducted with patients on a one-to-one basis, and so is more oriented towards providing symptomatic relief than the generic medicines applied during this period.

Strengthening your own Qi

Well, fortunately there are many ways you can do this.   Here are links to some of my earlier blogs that will help you boost your Qi and protect it.  And over the coming days and weeks I will be posting lots of information to help you get through these challenging times!

Rest well

Eat Well

Exercise well

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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Coronavirus Statement from Steve Coster Acupuncture

Let me begin by stating that Acupuncture, Tui na and Qi Gong are all excellent for boosting the immune system and therefore protecting you against viruses such as Covid19, or at least lessening the symptoms you may experience.

However, please do follow the NHS guidelines re hand washing.   Should you contract the virus, or you suspect you have it, again please do follow the NHS guidelines.

My clinic is open as usual but if you have any flu-like symptoms please call me before attaining your appointment.

Until further notice I will be

  • providing hand sanitizer to all my clients as they enter the building
  • wiping down the treatment couch and face hole after every client
  • couch roll is always changed between clients anyway
  • all surfaces will be cleaned daily

If you have any questions about Coronavirus and Acupuncture, please do contact me.

I wish you all good health.



If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

southend acupuncture cancer pain fertility

Life in a World of Imbalance

We live in a world that is out of balance.  The planet itself is not out of balance of course, it just does what it has always done.  The imbalance I’m talking about is within us; we just project that on to everything else.

Did you know that between the war years of 1940 and 1945 there were no bananas in the UK.  When the banana returned to Britain on 30 December 1945, it was the first time some children had ever seen one.   It’s hard to believe in our modern age, when everything is available all year round, that something as commonplace as a banana wasn’t available.  I suppose it must sound just as crazy to a teenager when we tell them that we grew up without mobile phones or the internet, or that there were only three channels on the TV.  How did we ever survive without looking at Instagram every two minutes?

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Imbalance and disconnection

It is near impossible to live a balanced life in a society that is anything but balanced.  Many of the people I see in my practice tell me the same story:  they are working long hours, eating on the go, punishing themselves in the gym and not getting enough rest.  And then that’s when I see them, when they are exhausted.  Sometimes they are ill or have an injury that won’t clear up on its own.  Or they just don’t feel good; they are not sleeping well, have digestive problems, anxiety, depression, fertility issues….

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Having whatever you want whenever you want it comes at a price.  Not just to the planet, which is well documented, but to the health of every one of us living on the planet.    We have lost our connection to nature.  When something like Coronavirus comes along it just highlights this disconnection.  We see ourselves as something other from the planet, as if we just dropped here a few hundred years ago, like the Conquistadors arriving in South America to plunder the land.   We speak of fighting disease and a war against germs, finding a cure to kill the enemy.

Imbalance on Mars

The world we live in now positively encourages this disconnection with nature.   We treat the planet like it is an inanimate object, here simply to be exploited, stripped bare of all its natural resources.  Now we are even planning to colonize the Moon and further afield, when we all know what colonization really means.  Exploitation.

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Our reductionist worldview encourages the belief that we live on a rock where everything is for the taking and what isn’t, is simply out to get us and must be destroyed.  We apply this view to the macrocosm as well as to the microcosm.   Germs and viruses are part of the same planet we exist on.   They are not Aliens that have found their way to earth intent on destroying humans.  Coronavirus is not a ‘new’ virus, it’s just the usual suspects repackaged.

What has changed, of course, is our ability to live with such viruses.  As the planet’s Qi has weakened, so too has our own.

Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.

Man has created false daylight and a summer with no end.  Energetically this means we are always in Yang mode, always growing and expanding.  This goes against the universal law that Yang cannot exist without Yin.  The world is changing so rapidly that we can’t keep up with it.  5G is being rolled out even though we don’t understand how it might affect our health.  The one thing that is certainly harmful to our health, above COVID19, is fear.  As I have explained previously, the root of all illness is emotional.  Any emotion that is persistent or intense will have a negative effect.  So, just because we cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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Before the Industrial Revolution life was different.  Work was dictated greatly by the sun and seasons.  We ate according to the seasons and to the greater extent, locally.  More exotic food stuffs were a rare treat, not staples like they are today.  As foods weren’t available all year round, it’s storage and preservation had to be managed skilfully.  Now, as all food is available, it feels normal eating salads and smoothies in the winter.

Tuning into the Seasons

The naturalistic philosophy behind Chinese Medicine gives us some idea of how we should be living in rhythm with the seasons.  At the moment Nature is telling us to rest.  We are still in the Yin time of year (at the time of writing this anyway) when all living things are conserving their energy ready to burst forth in the spring.  Winter is also when the Water energy is at its strongest, so it’s a time when the reservoirs are able to refill.  Without this opportunity to do so the reservoirs would be empty for when they are most needed, in the summer, the Yang time of year.  How can we fill our Qi reservoirs if we never stop?

Societies that rely on the land to exist have an intimate relationship with the seasonal energies, and they have a genuine sense of what it means to be in harmony with them.  If the farmer fails to plant the seed in the springtime, he would have missed the moment when the summer arrived.  Without the growth of the spring (wood) and the maturity of the summer (fire) there would be no harvest (earth).

Reconnecting with nature

Although simply washing your hands regularly is effective, here a few other things you can add to your daily routine to not only reconnect to nature, but also boost your immune system:

  • Sleep.  We need more of it in the winter and less in the summer, so don’t feel guilty if you would rather be in bed on a cold winter’s night.
  • Exercise.  As for sleep, we need more rest in the winter.
  • Eat well.  Try to have a colourful diet with many different flavours.
  • Don’t have a tv in your bedroom.  If you do, then cover it up at night.
  • Leave your phone and ipad in another room
  • Turn the Wifi off when you go to bed.  This is becoming difficult as many things in the home are now controlled via wifi.  Or you just forget to do it.
  • Have a few moments of silence in your day.  Resist the temptation to put the TV on at home, or the radio in the car.
  • Try not to carry your mobile on your person.  Put it in your rucksack or handbag.
  • Use the earphones instead of holding your phone close to your head.
  • Leave the car at home when you can. Go for a walk.


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

Southend on Sea acupuncture cancer pain fertility

City City Yang Yang – Learning to slow down

Recently I’ve been spending a bit of time in London.  I was on a fertility and menstrual problems workshop the whole of last weekend, run by my Tui na teacher, Sarah Pritchard.  I also paid a visit to Tate Britain to see the William Blake exhibition before it ends.  It was a great show but very busy, which sort of spoils it a bit for me.  It made me feel slightly suffocated, so I think I rushed it a bit.  In fact, Tate did a study on this phenomenon and found that people on average spend only 8 seconds looking at a picture!

Sarah Pritchard

I find London exhausting these days.  It is still exciting and vibrant and endlessly fun, but it’s also exhausting.  It drains me of my energy.  When I was younger I thought the complete opposite; London was like a magnet.  I worked in the City and so spent a lot of my free time there too.  I was like a moth being lured in by the lights.  That wore off by the time I reached the age of thirty, then all I wanted was to work anywhere but the City.  And as you know, I eventually escaped.

Yang of the City

I’m always surprised by the change of energy when I travel into London.  By the time the train reaches Romford (or Barking, depending on how you approach the beast) I can feel the Qi of the City pulling at me, and by Stratford it’s buzzing.  But it also makes me feel a bit anxious and I’m always relieved when I’m leaving.  When I get off the train at Southend it always feels like there is a lot more space.  The temperature feels like it drops a degree or two.  Being at the mouth of the North Sea helps; it’s as if that open expanse of clean air rushes up the Thames Estuary and clears the atmosphere.

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The energy of any city, not just London, is constantly in Yang mode, which goes against the seasonal grain somewhat.  We are in the Yin part of year, the winter, a time when everything in nature should be doing less, conserving our energy so we can burst out in all our blooming glory in the Spring.

The Capitalist system that we live under influences every aspect of our lives; but it is entirely Yang energetically.  It allows no time for rest, only growth and expansion.  There is no time to rest: lunch is for wimps and sleep is for the dead are the mantras of the modern age.  We eat cold foods in the winter when our digestive systems are crying out for warmth.   We train in the gym late into the night when we should be tucked up in bed.

Yang without its other half, Yin, can only mean trouble.

Chinese medicine teaches us that balance is needed for health.  It’s difficult though; it’s a beautiful sunny day today and there is a temptation to get outside and run or cycle.  But it’s still pretty cold out there.  In Chinese Medicine sweating in a cold environment is bad news.  When the pores of the skin open it allows the cold into the body, which energetically stops the Qi from moving.  This might mean pain in a joint or a muscle, or something more systemic like menstrual pain.  If you do sweat in the cold weather, then make sure you don’t hang about in wet clothing.  Just don’t get cold.

In Chinese Medical theory there is a particular type of Qi, called Wei Qi (or Defensive Qi) that needs nourishing.  The Wei Qi a protective barrier against the outside evil forces, like the weather or diseases.  Think of the Readybrek glow and you’ll get the idea. If your Defensive Qi is weaker than the Qi of a disease, then you are more likely to contract it.  That’s why not everyone catches the flu when it’s going around.

So, what can you do to help you slow down?

In the Tate article above they recommend spending at least 10 minutes looking at each piece of art.  They call it slow looking.  But here’s something you can put into practice straight away.  Next time you are at a Pelican crossing, press the button and wait for the green man before crossing.  Even if there is no traffic, still wait for the green man.  While you are waiting take a moment to ground yourself.  Be mindful of your surroundings.  You may feel frustration, even a little foolish.  But remember that all you are feeling is an expression of the state of your Qi.  Take a moment to enjoy a minute of calm.

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Try it and let me know how it made you feel.

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

Growing Stuff and Grounding Meditations

Last week I went to check out an allotment that I agreed to help a friend with.  She had warned me that it needs a lot of work, so I had prepared myself to be confronted by a bombsite, but it isn’t too bad.  It just needs a bit of tidying up.  All the beds need weeding and digging over and the shed needs a new roof, but apart from that it’s looking good.  At home I have a small garden with just two beds for growing vegetables, but even so it still yielded plenty of veg for the summer.  So, I’m looking forward to having much more space this year.  The allotment is massive compared to my home garden so I’m expecting a massive crop this year.


Be like a Tree

Being in contact with the earth is so important for good health.  You don’t have to get your hands dirty; just standing on it mindfully every now and then is good for you too.  What does this mean?  Try sitting in the garden, or even better, take your shoes and socks off and stand on the grass.  Close your eyes, breath slowly into your belly and imagine you are a tree.  Your roots are spreading deep and wide into the earth, connecting you to the planet, grounding and nourishing you.  In Qi Gong this exercise is called Zhan Zhuang, or ‘Standing like a tree’.  Give it a go and let me know how it makes you feel.

Don’t be put off by the cold, damp weather.   Why not embrace it and enjoy it?  Better than simply feeling miserable when, afterall, there is nothing you can do about the season or the weather; this is the UK!  Feel the dampness on your face and the wet grass between your toes.  And then go back indoors and appreciate your warm home too.

Steve Coster Acupuncture Southend cancer

Connecting to the Earth and Heaven

The concept of Earth and grounding is fundamental to Chinese Medicine.  It is central to everything.  In the Five Element system it is the Earth that connects all the elements to each other.  In Qi Gong it is man who connects Heaven and Earth.  We need to be grounded; not only metaphorically but literally.  Gravity helps of course, but we all know people who have their heads in the clouds and are ungrounded, flitting from one thing to the next.  It’s important to have the creativity and freedom that comes with an attachment to the heavens of course, just don’t lose contact with the ground.

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Being grounded is an essential aspect of Wing Chun and Qi Gong too.  In both arts emphasis is put on the development of the horse stance, a stance used to ground oneself to generate power and stability.  It’s about being as solid and immoveable as a mountain, but not totally rigid and inanimate.  Mountains move, the whole Earth does in fact, we are just unaware of it!  By becoming connected to the Earth, one is not only able to absorb power from it, but also transfer force into it, just like the roots of a tree.

Supermarket buddha

We can also connect with the Earth through our food; not just by growing it ourselves, but by touching it, smelling it and tasting it.   Recently I’ve been making my trips to the supermarket more like a meditation.  I try to ignore the hubbub around me and just wander up and down each aisle, paying attention to the stuff I need.  So instead of hurtling around chucking stuff into my basket and getting out as quick as I can, I take a good look at the food.  I look at the vibrant colours and the different shapes.  I touch it, feeling the different textures.  If it’s not packaged, I smell it.  I actually enjoy going shopping now!  Sometimes I even smile.

If you give the grounding exercise a go, or the shopping meditation, let me know how you get on.  How did it make you feel?

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

Southend Acupuncture Cancer

Cancer and the role of Acupuncture

The role of Acupuncture in the care of cancer patients is contentious.  Some studies show that Acupuncture and Acupressure are of great benefit in the relief of pain and other symptoms, while other studies seem to show that are no significant benefits.   All I can say is that the proof is in the pudding.  As an Acupuncturist at the Macmillan Centre at Southend Hospital I have had some great results, helping patients with pain, hot flushes, anxiety, and lots of other side effects associated with cancer treatment.

Cancer diagnosis and treatment

Cancer treatments have come a long way in recent years, especially if they are identified early.    It is now possible to identify a cancer in it’s very early stages and remove it completely, therefore curing it.  Today you are likely to live nearly 6 times longer after a cancer diagnosis than you were 40 years ago.   You are 95% more likely to survive bowel cancer than you were only 15 years ago.  Cancer treatments, however, can stlll be incredibly harsh and unforgiving.  Even if you get away with the least invasive of treatments with minimal side-effects, you are still left to deal with the emotional impact of having a serious illness.

Acupuncture can help

In Chinese hospitals you are just as likely to be treated with Chinese medicine as you are with Western medicine.  A recent study in China showed that a large proportion of cancer patients use Chinese Medicine in conjunction with conventional Western medicine.  In a recent study in Hong Kong 63.3% of a total 786 cancer patients used Chinese medicine in conjunction with Chemotherapy.

The NHS is a long way from offering Acupuncture routinely, but you will find it on a Tuesday at the Macmillan Centre at Southend Hospital where I volunteer.   As a volunteer therapist I am able to support cancer patients with acupuncture and Tui na. Some are currently undergoing treatments while others are in recovery.

Studies have shown that Traditional Chinese Medicine in cancer management has the potential:

  1. To raise the quality of life
  2. To improve the immune response
  3. To minimise the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  4. To treat the complications during the peri-operative period and promote the rehabilitation of patients after operations
  5. To ease the pain

Cutting Down your Risk

Although Acupuncture can help during cancer treatment (and the effectiveness of the treatment), there are a few things you can do that can either reduce the chances of developing it yourself or to boost your treatment and recovery.

I think therefore I am

Our cells are affected by our emotions, something the Chinese have known for thousands of years. In Chinese Medicine we say that the root of all disease is emotional.  Each organ has an emotion associated to it:

The Heart – Joy and happiness

The Lungs – Sadness and Sorrow

The Liver – anger and frustration

The Spleen – Worry and over-thinking

The Kidneys – Fear

If we experience an intense emotion such as a shock, or a negative emotion over a long period, like having to endure a job we hate or being in an abusive relationship, the organs will eventually be affected.  We can be slowly worn down by fear or anger, especially if you are unable to express that emotion.  So it’s important that we are mindful of what we are feeling so we can do something about it. Easier said than done, I know.  It may take a bit of guidance and practice, but the potential for a new job or relationship is there.  Nothing in life worth having comes easy I’m afraid.

So we all have to do things we would rather not be doing, like work.  Just walking out of a job is not advised, and doing your dream job might be a few years away.  Changing the way you think can make all the difference.  It wasn’t that long ago that we thought disease was spread by a ‘bad air’ known as a miasma.   It was John Snow (not that John Snow, the other one) who made a connection between an outbreak of cholera on Broad Street in London and the water supply. If it wasn’t for such reformers as John Snow we would all be walking around wearing plague masks looking like evil penguins!

You are what you eat

What we eat can also have an effect on the development of cancer.  Certain foods, such as sugar and trans-fats, have been shown to be particularly bad for us.  Some foods on the other hand, such as turmeric, have been shown to be good for us.   Many medical professionals, however, will tell you there is not enough evidence to support this.  But even if there is the slightest risk, isn’t it something we should take into consideration?  If there is enough evidence to suggest something is unsafe, surely it should be approached with caution, and at least warrant thorough investigation?

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This is only my opinion of course.  Everyone should be free to eat as much sugar as they like, but it would be nice to be presented with all the facts so you can make a well -informed judgement.  But we have to be realistic; if there is money to be made certain people and organizations will be reluctant to show us the truth.  For decades the tobacco industry insisted that smoking posed no significant risk to health, when all along they knew how deadly it was.  Why wouldn’t Big Business making money from sugar products do exactly the same? And the meat and dairy industries?

Remember when John Gummer encouraged his daughter to eat a burger to proof beef was safe during the mad cow epidemic.  Did you know that Australia and the USA will not accept a blood or tissue donation from anyone who lived in the UK for more than 3 months between 1980 and 1996?

Here are some links you may find interesting:

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

acupuncture southend

Happy New Year: New Beginnings

Happy New Year…And so we come to the end of another year, but only according to the Gregarian calendar.  In Chinese culture the new year isn’t until the 25th January.  The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February.  The Chinese year is based on the cycle of the moon as well as on Earth’s course around the sun, unlike our calendar that follows only the sun.  A month on the Chinese calendar is 28 days long, and a normal year lasts from 353 to 355 days.  To keep the calendar in sync with the sun and the seasons, the Chinese add an extra leap month about once every three years.  2020 is the year of the Rat.  Rats are clever, quick thinkers, successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life.  Sounds good to me.

I don’t believe in new year resolutions

Why make or break potentially life changing habits on a day of the year when you are most likely exhausted?  Wouldn’t it better to start something new in the Spring when you have more time, energy and money?  In any case, energetically the 1st day of January is the wrong time of year to start anything new.  We are still in the midst of winter, the most Yin time of year when everything about nature is contracted and still.  The Chinese new year is closer to the Spring, the true time of change and new beginnings.

Southend Acupuncture Pain Cancer

But before I run the risk of being accused of being a health Scrooge, and seeing as it is New Year’s Eve, here’s a couple of things you might want to consider adding to your morning regime.  Just a couple of small changes could make all the difference to how you feel for the rest of the day.

1. Start the day with a positive thought

As I’ve said many times in this blog, Qi goes where the Mind goes.  If your thoughts are scattered then so will be your Qi.  Get out of bed on the right side: be grateful you have awakened to experience another day.  Spend 5 minutes meditating on the day ahead

2. Lemon juice and water

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Kick start your metabolism and digestive system with a glass of yin and yang water – this is one half hot from the kettle, one half cold from the tap or bottle.  In Chinese medicine we say that the stomach prefers warm foods and liquids.  Too cold or too hot affects the digestive process.  Studies have also shown the benefit of a squeeze of lemon in the morning too, to prevent acid build up and balance the ph levels in the gut.

3. Take a some deep breathes in the morning

Before eating breakfast, loosen up with Qi gong or Yoga.  These ancient arts are not by accident based on movement with breath.  In Chinese Medicine the Lungs are paired with the Large Intestine (Colon), both of which are organs that deal with the processing of waste. A morning routine of Qi gong will not only make you fitter, it will also get your bowels moving with that morning coffee!

4. Breakfast like a Queen/King

Southend Acupuncture Pain Cancer

According to the Chinese Clock the Stomach and Spleen are at their strongest between the hours of 7 and 11 a.m., so this is when we should be having our largest meal.  In the UK we traditionally have our largest meal in the evening between 7 and 11 p.m. when the digestive system is at it’s weakest!


Start your day as you mean to go on.

If things don’t go to plan don’t think of it as failure; tomorrow is another day, just try again.  The easiest way to make change happen is to make your actions habitual.  Do the same thing at the same time every day until it seems odd if you don’t do them.  But don’t take my word for it, give it a go and see how you feel.  In the immortal words of Victor Kiam, “I liked it so much, I bought the company!”

Happy New Year to all my clients, old and new, and everyone who has supported me throughout the year.  I wish you all happiness and good health.  Steve

Southend Acupuncture Pain Cancer


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

Acupuncture Southend Pain

Ear Acupuncture – a modern twist on an ancient therapy

The word acupuncture literally means ‘to puncture with a needle’, but its usage is relatively new;  it was first used as a verb in 1972.  Acupuncture itself, though, has been around a long time, and it has picked up more than one way to puncture the skin along the way.  There is the Chinese system of course, but there are also the Japanese methods, as well as Vietnamese and Korean.  You will also find acupuncture in Ayurvedic tradition medicine.  There are also many micro-systems of acupuncture including facial, abdominal, scalp and head.

Acupuncture Southend Pain

Ear Acupuncture – a modern twist on an ancient therapy

My training is in Chinese acupuncture, but I also use Ear acupuncture (also known as Auriculotherapy).  The origins of using the ear as a microsystem is not actually Chinese, but French.  In the 1950’s, Doctor Paul Nogier discovered that there are anatomical correspondences associated with the image of the inverted foetus in the ear.  He observed a scar located precisely on the upper portion of the ear on several of his patients, made by a lay healer in Marseilles, had successfully treated their sciatic pain.  Based on this, Nogier was able to map the human body and its functions on the ear.

But what has this got to do with Chinese medicine? The Chinese later adopted Nogier’s findings to enhance their own understanding of the ear as a microsystem.  Large scale trials carried out in China validated Nogier’s discoveries and led to the eventual widespread acceptance of his approach.

Southend Acupuncture Pain

The anatomical representations and acupuncture points identified in the ear are therefore quite recent discoveries and cannot be considered traditional, but because of the inclusive nature of Chinese medicine and its ability to absorb ideas from outside, ear acupuncture has been embraced by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

So how is ear acupuncture different to normal acupuncture? 

Well, there is no difference; people have been sticking pins in their ears (and hands, feet, abdomens, and anywhere else you can think of) to see how it affects the body, for a very long time!  Just like Acupuncture on the normal meridians, Ear Acupuncture can help with not only pain, but a wide variety of conditions.

Ear treatments have been around for a long time.  In around 450BCE Hippocrates, who studied medicine in Egypt, wrote about the Egyptian method of treating impotence by bleeding points on the back of the ear.  And just a few hundred years later (250BCE – 200CE) the Chinese began to write about points on the ear for the treatment of specific conditions.

Did you know?

  • Ear acupuncture is commonly used in the treatment of alcohol and drug withdrawal. The NADA protocol (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) was developed in the 1970s to help people in withdrawal from narcotics and later spread to alcohol and other withdrawal problems.  It has been used to benefit disaster victims and trauma sufferers worldwide.
  • Battlefield Acupuncture is a protocol developed for the US military and has been highly effective as an emergency analgesia for wounded soldiers.It is a first line therapy used before medics can evacuate the patient and introduce pharmaceuticals.  The protocol does not require the removal of armour or clothing so it can be applied immediately in the field.
  • It has been suggested that pirates used to believe wearing a gold or silver earring would improve their eyesight. There is an acupuncture point on the earlobe called the “ear point” or “vision point” or “master sensorial.” Although there are various points on the body that may be used to improve eyesight, there are reports of people enjoying vision improvements after having their ears pierced.

What happens at an appointment?

An Ear acupuncture appointment is no different to a normal acupuncture appointment. However, it can be performed either seated or lying down, and there is no need to remove clothing.

Chinese medicine looks at the body as a whole, so I may ask you about things that at first seem unrelated to, say, the pain in your elbow.  This is because I need to ascertain that the cause of the pain is not due to something  other than playing tennis.  For example, the pain could be related to diet; research has shown that an autoimmune condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can be worsened by certain foods.

But it can sometimes be simpler than that.

I once saw a client who came to me with recurring left elbow pain.  After chatting with him about his lifestyle etc. he mentioned that he was a driving instructor.  It turned out that when he was working he spent most of the day with his left elbow leaning out of the window, exposed to the wind and cold! I treated him and suggested he wind the window up a bit, and the pain never returned!. No steroid injection that time, I’m happy to say.

Once the questions are over you can sit back comfortably during the treatment. Occasionally I may also use body points or Tui Na (Chinese massage) to enhance the treatment.

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

southend acupuncture back pain

Times they are a changing – Acupuncture and Change

Change is inevitable – defy it at your own peril!

You will have gathered from my earlier posts that change is going to happen whether you like it or not.   So perhaps it would be easier if we made more of an occasion of the changes in our lives.

It seems to me that in our society most stages of life are no longer honoured.  We celebrate birthdays and marriages, but what about the other big occasions like coming of age, a girl’s first period, the menopause, and even death?  All these landmarks in a lifetime were once celebrated, but now are gone, tucked away and difficult to talk about.

The Chinese knew about change

Over two thousand years ago Chinese doctors observed that females and males age in seven and eight year cycles respectively.  This is true to some extent; the cells of the organs do regenerate, but at different rates, as do the bones and skin.  The Chinese medical classics talk about Qi and Essence rather than cells.  The Neijing (which is basically the Chinese Medicine bible) makes it very clear that the body is in decline from around the age of thirty-five!

This is what the Chinese observed:

Women age in 7 year cycles

At seven years of age her kidney energy becomes full, her permanent teeth come in, and her hair grows long.

At fourteen years the tian kui, or fertility essence, matures, the conception and vital channels responsible for conception open, menstruation begins, and conception is possible.

At twenty-one years the kidney energy is strong and healthy, the wisdom teeth appear, and the body is vital and flourishing.

Southend back pain

At twenty-eight years the bones and tendons are well developed and the hair and secondary sex characteristics are complete.  This is the height of female development.

At thirty-five years the stomach and large intestine channels that govern the major facial muscles begin to deplete, the muscles begin to atrophy, facial wrinkles appear, and the hair begins to thin.

At forty-two all three yang channels are exhausted, the entire face is wrinkled, and the hair begins to turn grey.

At forty-nine years the conception and vital channels are completely empty, and the tien kui has dried up.  Hence, the flow of the menses ceases and the woman is no longer able to conceive.

Men age in 8 year cycles

At eight years of age the kidney energy becomes full, the permanent teeth appear, and the hair becomes long.

At sixteen years of age the kidney energy is ample, the tien kui is mature, and the Jing is ripe, so procreation is possible.

At twenty-four years the kidney qi is abundant, the bones and tendons grow strong, and the wisdom teeth come in.

At the thirty-second year the body is at the peak of strength, and functions of the male are at their height.

southend fertility

By forty the kidney qi begins to wane, teeth become loose, and the hair starts to fall.

At forty-eight the yang energy of the head begins to deplete, the face becomes sallow, the hair greys, and the teeth deteriorate.

By fifty-six years the liver energy weakens, causing the tendons to stiffen.

At sixty-four the tian kui dries up and the Jing is drained, resulting in kidney exhaustion, fatigue, and weakness.  The kidney reservoir becomes empty, marking the end of the power of conception.

We live in a cult of youth

We have become too squeamish to talk about ageing and bodily fluids; which is strange when you think about it, because it will happen to every one of us, if we’re lucky. I suppose that’s why we try to brush it under the carpet. 

southend acupuncture neck pain

Take funerals for example, which in our culture are often sad affairs.  The Toraja people in Indonesia, however, exhume the corpses of their relatives every year in what they call ‘The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses’.  They clean them and dress them in new clothes and spend the day with them.  In Mexico, of course, they famously celebrate the Day of the Dead. And in Tibetan Buddhism the daily contemplation of death is positively encouraged.  Better to not be taken by surprise by something that is definitely coming.  We just don’t know when.

It is important that we are accepting of change. 

Some things are just inevitable.  We all age and we all experience illness and pain at some point in our lives.  So rather than focusing on the deterioration of our physical bodies, we should highlight the strengths that come with ageing.  The young may have tight skin and be able to stay up all night, but most do not have the wisdom that comes only with ageing.  Let me also add though that not all old people are wise!


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

PCOS Acupuncture Southend

Another Acupuncture PCOS Success Story

Once again Acupuncture comes to the rescue when it seems like there is no hope! Here is another success story dealing with PCOS and the absence of periods (amenorrhoea).  
Vicki is 33 years old and she came to see me for acupuncture because she hadn’t had a period for over two years.  She had been diagnosed with PCOS five years ago, and apart from a dose of Metformin (which did nothing), the doctors said there was nothing they could do.  And so Vicki heard that acupuncture might be able to help….I’ll let Vicki tell the story in her own words:

Vicki’s Story – Acupuncture and PCOS

“My sister saw a post on Facebook about Steve’s successful treatment for a lady with PCOS, and she suggested I contact Steve to see if he could help. At this stage I hadn’t had a period for roughly 2.5 years and had been having issues for a number of years before that. The Doctor’s only solution was that I stayed on the pill to regulate my period, and when I did come off it in December 2016 they were totally unsupportive. I really was totally lost for what to do until my sister found Steve!
I told Steve my fear of needles and he was absolutely brilliant and reassuring – I can honestly say not one of those needles ever hurt and I’ve had a lot now! Steve went through the approach we would take to get my periods going and that it would be a 3 month journey. When we came to the end of the 3 months, however, my period hadn’t started again, so we talked through the options. Steve was really supportive and I made the decision to carry on as I felt we had put so much time in to give up. I am so so glad we did as a few weeks after I had my first period in over 2.5 years!
If you are not sure whether to give acupuncture a try, whether you’re scared of needles, cynical as to how it works or just apprehensive, seriously, have one consultation with Steve and you will change your mind. It’s an investment into your health and well-being, things in life that are priceless!”
Thanks Vicki 🙂

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.