How I became an Acupuncturist

One of the most common questions I get asked is “How did you get into acupuncture” or something along those lines.
I’ve been studying and practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine for 10 years now, but the roots of my interest go back much further.
Many people decide to study acupuncture because they or someone close to them experiences such a profound effect from receiving the treatment, they feel inspired to go and practice themselves.
My journey to becoming an acupuncturist began with me at three years old, going missing in the garden, only for my Grandad Sam to find me in my wellies eating raspberries straight from the bushes. Then we’d sit at the kitchen table drinking a cuppa soup, from a bowl with a spoon and the croutons picked out, dunking slices of white bread in to mop it up. Then I’d go out with him into the garden, where he showed me how to mix cement or collect coal from the bunker. I’m told I was really close to him as a kid, the memories have all but faded to the stories my family told me. He was a gentle man, who played the accordion and smoked tobacco in a pipe. I still remember his chuckle at the dinner table as he’s make jokes with his false teeth. My mum tells be about him going to collect cumphrey from the garden to ease injuries when someone fell over or him building DIY scaffolding out of ladders, bins and planks of wood. My last memory of him was him waving bye to each other as he stood at the the gate to our house, whist I played football in the field by our house with my friends. He was smartly dressed wearing his medels he’d got for serving in the war, so I think he must’ve been going to a Remembrance Day service. He would’ve been 19 or 20 when the war began I think, he didn’t want to fire a gun and kill people, so he went off to war as a medic.
This is me and my Grandad Sam on holiday when I was 2/3 years old
Another memory which had a big impact on me was when I was 5 or 6, I remember lying on the bed listening to my dad read Lord of the Rings. The character that captivated me the most was Strider, a nomdic type, who wandered Middle Earth battling orcs and learning how to heal the wounds of his injured companions, like where Frodo is stabbed with the Morgal Blade at Weathertop, and Sam is sent to collect Kingsfoil to treat the wound. Like my Grandad Sam picking cumphrey in the garden, the idea of healing injured people was fascinating to me.
My Dad and I, 2018
I still love the Lord of the Rings, telling the mythical journey as each of the characters follows the hero’s journey stepping out of their own shadow to become the empowered warriors and kings by the end of the book. This stays with me to this day:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Later, in high school I grew interested in martial arts and started watching Bruce Lee films and learning from a good friend of mine. He had a medicinal liniment called Dit Da Jow, which would be applied to training injuries to speed up the healing process. This new interest opened my mind to Buddhsit and Daoist philosophy and mythology, like the tai ji (yin yang), qi and learning to be adaptive, like water.
Having finished school with little direction of what to do next, I traveled, bartended and began working as a chef whilst deciding what I really wanted to focus my energy on. I began reading books around meditation, politics, philosophy and adventure to find inspiration for my life. I wanted to do something which would have a positive impact on the people around me and give me a focus.  My mum always told me that One day while reading I had surge of energy and lay down to meditate. The flash of thoughts brought back the memories I had so fondly remembered from my childhood, my interests, hobbies and deeper sense of myself. How could I combine all of these things to give me a purpose and sense of meaning in my life? This was followed by the word ‘Acupuncture’. I jumped online, searched degree courses and found one at the University of Salford and applied the same day. I’d studied biology, sports science, history and business at A level and my interest in daoism already gave me some understanding of the philosophy, so the application was straight forward.
A month or so later I was sitting in my first lecture on the the Foundations of Chinese Medicine at the University of Salford.

Acupuncture for Lower Back Pain

Lumbar disc herniation (a slipped disc or “my back’s gone”) is a significant cause of lower back pain and pain referring to the legs for people in the UK.  Surgery is indicated for those who fail to respond to nonoperative measure such as physiotherapy or pharmaceutical pain management. Often a lumbar discectomy in the affected area is carried out, where the herniated disk is removed and often an artificial spacer put in place. It is not always the case that the sufferer will experience pain relief despite the procedure.  It is necessary for a multifaceted approach to managing pain. This can occur in the form of exercises, mindfulness practice and often pharmaceutical intervention on a continued basis.

Acupuncture has long been recognized as being an optimal way of treating none specific lower back pain, which until recently was available within the NHS. Acupuncture has been shown to be the most effective way to alleviate lower back pain whilst keeping side effects to a minimum in comparison to other interventions.

If you’re reading this article you or someone close to you is likely to be experiencing some form of back pain which is having a significant impact upon your life and preventing you from living it to the fullest. Acupuncture is an effective and safe way to manage and alleviate your lower back pain.

If you’re suffering with lower back pain, call now on 07970693827 for a free 15 minute consultation. I’d be happy to help you get relief from your discomfort.

A recent study by the British Medical Journal found that acupuncture showed a more favourable effect in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation than lumbar traction, ibuprofen, diclofenac and other treatments indicating that it should be among the front line of treatments for lower back pain. For an overview of the ongoing debate around the use of acupuncture in pain management in the UK click here.

If you haven’t tried acupuncture before, you may be wondering ‘What is acupuncture?’

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to assist in the alleviation of a number of ailments. For more information click here

For more information on acupuncture research click this link for Evidence-Based Acupuncture

If you live in Manchester or Salford and are looking for a way to get relief from lower back pain give acupuncture a go. It’s a relaxing, uplifting and effective and can give an all round boost to your health and wellbeing.

You can make an appointment for acupuncture and Chinese medicine at my clinic along Chapel Street in Salford, Manchester now, by calling or texting 07970693827 or emailing

Healthy Eating and the Spleen

In Chinese medicine the Spleen is seen to be the most important organ in the digestive system. The ancient Chinese attributed several characteristics to the Spleen. It helps to transform and transport foods around the body, taking in nourishment and support on both a physical and emotional level. If we can strengthen and maintain the health of the Spleen we can make better use of the foods we eat.

The Spleen governs over our ability to think clearly, to study to focus and to process information. It serves then to take in food and information and to convert it into something we can use. When we overthink we can crave sweet foods, when we worry we can feel our digestive system feeling tied in knots. These are examples of when the Spleen is out of balance.

Emotionally, the Spleen helps us to meet our needs, to give an receive emotional nourishment and to feel supported and cared for. When we don’t feel this way we can look to food for comfort and find ourselves eating in unhealthy ways. The healthy Spleen provides us with an inner sense of nourishment and support, which we can carry with us all the time.

The Spleen expresses itself through the muscles and fascia tissues, this provides strength and support to keep the body upright. Emotional tension can be felt within these tissues.

5 Top Tips to Care for Your Spleen

  1. Stretch Your Body.

2. Book in for a massage to detox your muscles.

3. Do some mental exercises (e.g. sudoku, crosswords, reading).

4. Be kind to yourself, practice saying nice things to yourself, find a supportive group of friends.

5. Connect to nature: gardening, walking in the forest.

Happy Eating

Often it is not just what we eat which is important but also how we choose eat. Taking a positive attitude into our eating habits can help us to form healthy relationship with our food. A few simple things such as relaxing and chewing can ease our digestion and bring more joy into our experiences with food.

9 Healthy Eating Habits

1. Be positive: If you decide to eat something accept it and appreciate it as much as you can.

2. Relax: Make meal times a relaxing time and be with your food.

3. Chew: this will make it easier for your digestive sytem to process food

4. Stop before you get full: Overeating can cause stagnation in the digestive system leading to bloating, stopping before you’re full will help you to digest

5. Only have a small amount of liquid: too much fluid can weaken the disgestion.

6. Have plenty of warm food: the Spleen likes warmth, warm food will help it to process the food more efficiently

7. Have your main meal early: Eating too late will lead to food being in your system at bedtime, this can keep you awake too late

8. Choose whole foods: These foods are nutrient dense and will be easier to digest

9. Trust what your body tells you: Often we crave what is bad for us, listen to what your body needs rather than cravings.

The digestive system in Chinese medicine is seen to be a foundation of good health and well being which can energise us to have plentiful physical health and a clear, focused state of mind.

Leggett, D (2008) Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics. Meridian Press.

Food Energetics

To understand food in Chinese Medicine, we first have to understand a little bit about how the ancient Chinese viewed the world they lived in.

An important concept is the idea of xiang sheng or mutual arising, where all things are seen to be related and connected to each other. This brought about the notion of Yin Yang, a commonly known symbol reflecting this idea which we see frequently now. This influenced the way in which foods are categorised according to their temperature. Yin foods are likely to be more cool in nature, such as bananas or fresh mint. Yang foods are likely to be more hot in nature such as black pepper or chilli.

Another way of classifying information was in the form of the wu xing or five phases. This observed common occurrences in the world and in a persons experience and was used to categorise those of a similar nature. The seasons, emotions, stages of life, colours, tastes, smells, personalities and so on were all seen to be reflections of each other. Foods were classified as sour such as lemon, bitter such as celery, sweet such as carrots, pungent such as mustard and salty such as seaweed. Each flavour is seen to have a different action upon the body. If consumed excessively or insufficiently then it can lead to disease. To understand this we can think about what happens if we eat too much sweet or salty food for a long period of time.

The theory of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine helped to develop an understanding of how foods we eat can have an effect on the systems of the body. One way we can experience this is the difference between some spicy foods, mustard for example can give a warm sensation in the nose, chilli we may feel in the throat or tongue, ginger we can feel deeper in the digestive system.