As an Acupuncture practitioner I see endless applications of this therapy for everyday health problems. I thought it might be useful if I summarise the common issues I see regularly in the clinic to give you an idea of the scope of Acupuncture.

1. First up is ‘tiredness and stress’. This is the main complaint of about 60% of my patients. Typically I see this in working women in their 30/40’s with 2/3 children and a partner who works long hours.

2. Second is ‘pain’. Often acute physical strains from eg. Picking up a heavy weight or maybe a whiplash car accident, or a sports injury. But also physical pain coming from stress, such as sitting for a long time in front of a computer, or arthritic pain in the joints from damp and cold.

3. Third is ‘emotional overload’ causing mental stress and physical symptoms. This is very common and underlies most of the other issues I see. Helping people unblock emotionally is one of Acupuncture’s great strengths.

4. Fourth there are the chronic ongoing conditions such as headaches or IBS or menstrual pains where medical drugs don’t really address the cause of the problem. Many people are ground down by these issues and feel their lives are restricted.

5. Fifth are the patients who need help detoxing and strengthening. This could be during treatments for cancer or those getting off drugs like cigarettes or alcohol.

6. Sixth are the increasing numbers of women (and men) who use Acupuncture to help with fertility issues, including IVF assistance.

7. Finally there are some lesser known Acupuncture applications which sometimes feel like ‘miracles’. In this category come turning breech babies, overcoming the terror of flying, and controlling menopausal sweats.

For more information on Acupuncture please contact Andy Roscoe on 07932 011 281.

What can I do about Hayfever..?

After a warm winter and a cold spring, the recent lift in temperatures has brought a sudden rise in pollen levels and for some the start of hayfever misery.

Medical solutions range from relatively harmless saline solutions to stronger suppressants such as anti-histamines and steroids. The latter two may be faster acting but often carry side effects such as drowsiness, nasal irritation and nosebleeds.

If you have tried these and are worried by the side effects, you might instead try acupuncture or homeopathy. Both approaches are sophisticated and holistic because they are tailored to your individual needs and constitution. Side effects are rare and although fast relief is not guaranteed it often happens.

Andy Roscoe, Acupuncturist, has been treating this problem for more than 23 years.

He recalls treating a combine harvester driver who had suffered for over 20 years from hayfever every harvest time. His symptoms almost disappeared in one session, and occasional maintenance sessions thereafter kept them under control. Both his livelihood and his life came back into balance.

Holistic approaches have the potential to reintegrate the mind and body, rather than just the suppression of symptoms.

If you are interested in trying  acupuncture or homeopathy then call Andy on 07932 011281.


It has been fashionable for some years to describe low energy or depression in the winter as ‘suffering from S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder’.

andy_newS.A.D. appears to be a general description of mid-winter malaise but in fact the concept is does have diagnostic significance and was well understood more than 2000 years ago in Chinese Acupuncture thinking.

In Acupuncture the vitality of all living organisms is seen in the context of the different energies of each season, amongst other things. In turn each season is related to different organs in the body.

So for example, Summer is related to Fire energy which is encapsulated in the Heart and Small Intestine. Winter is related to Water energy which is held in the Kidney and Bladder. Spring is the Wood energy which is held in the Liver and Gall Bladder. Autumn is Metal Energy which is held in the Lungs and Colon. And in the Late Summer (a fifth season between Summer and Autumn), we have Earth energy which is held in the Stomach and Spleen.

To show either an extreme liking or disliking for a particular season is to reveal therefore an imbalance in one or more related organs, which in turn may indicate where treatment needs to be focused to restore health generally.

When we are generally in balance it is possible to feel the beauty and benefits of every season.

In the case of people who regularly suffer from S.A.D. in the Winter, it is often indicative of exhausted Kidney energy leading to similar in the Heart as we struggle to keep the internal fires burning in the absence of light and warmth.

Acupuncture can really make a difference to your patterns of energy and in particular help you beat the Winter blues.

Click here, for more information about me or to find out how Acupuncture can help you, call me on 07932 011281.

How Food Affects Your Inner Energy


Chinese medicine believes that it is not just what you eat that is important but also when and how we eat it. Eastern Dietary therapy believes that what is right for one individual may not be right for another and that the best diet for an individual is based on many factors: lifestyle, metabolism, inherited constitution and internal organs all differ from person to person and all should be taken into account. Therefore this information is meant as only a general guideline and should only be used within the context of a full diagnosis and consultation.

Before considering any of the information below it is important to remember that food is our fuel for life and you get out what you put in. Food and our diet is too often seen as a burden or necessity in modern life but enjoying food and having a respectful and good relationship with food can make a huge difference in how you feel from day to day.

What we eat:

  • Choose food with strong Qi, that’s as close to nature as possible: Always choose fresh food over processed food and Organic over non organic. Wherever possible choose locally-grown in-season food. Try at all times to avoid over-processed and pre-packaged food, in order for these foods to have such long shelf lives and best before dates all the goodness and essential fatty acids are often removed. Yes, it is more expensive but how important is your health and feeling good to you.
  • Avoid the rubbish: You will be amazed at how much better you can feel by just avoiding certain foods. It is essentially important to avoid where possible additives that de-nature food and prolong its artificial life such as sweeteners, preservatives, colourings and flavourings. For example organic meat doesn’t contain the hormones and antibiotics that non-organic animals are fed. Choose good quality fats (extra virgin olive oil) and avoid cheap hydrogenated vegetable fats. If it’s cheap, it’s often because it has no nourishment to offer. What you spend on good food now, you might save on health in years to come.
  • Balance / Avoid extremes: Neutral foods (rice, pulses, beans etc) should make up the bulk of our diet, while foods that are more extreme in nature (strong flavoured rich, greasy, spicy, salty, sweet etc) should make up a small part of what we eat. This means that very concentrated and refined foods (like sugar and fruit juice) should only be consumed occasionally. We should also aim to avoid over-consuming any one type of food. In our current western society it is all too common for someone to eat a wheat based cereal, a sandwich for lunch and then pasta for the evening meal resulting in a diet consisting almost entirely of wheat. This is obviously imbalanced and may be the reason that intolerance to certain foods occur.
  • Mix things up: Try and eat a wide range of different foods rather than repeating the same meals week in week out. Colours can be a good guide to this, for example try to eat a range of different coloured vegetables with every meal – red, orange, green, purple will mean your getting a good range of nutrients.
  • Eat the right proportions: Eastern therapy believes that our diet should mostly consist of grains and vegetables (about 70-80%). And is said that roughly 10-20% should be made up of protein foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and additional fats.

When we eat:

  • Eat Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a Pauper (or peasant): Our digestive systems are at their strongest between 7am and 9am, and at the weakest between 7pm and 9pm. Therefore it is best to give your body as many nutrients as possible during these times (7am) with a good hearty breakfast (i.e. porridge, muesli or a cooked breakfast). This will set your metabolism in motion and give you the energy you need to get through the day.
  • Avoid eating late at night: As mentioned above your metabolism starts to wind down after 7pm. Eating after this hour in the short term will overburden your digestive system and possibly affect your sleep. The food will sit undigested in your system and can cause you to wake tired, groggy and sluggish and disinterested in food. In the long term it will continually deplete digestive fluids and can cause weight gain and digestive problems.
  • When you’re eating – do nothing else but eat. Our blood can only be in one place at one time and when we eat our blood and our focus is needed in our digestive system. If we are doing something else, our blood will be diverted to another part of the body and taken from where it is needed in the digestive system. For example: if you stand or walk while eating, blood will be diverted to your legs, if you watch television, read, drive or work blood will be diverted to your brain. For this reason eating on the go, business lunches and TV dinners can weaken your digestive system over time. Animals are great examples of how we should eat, when you see an animal feed it does nothing else but focus on its food, and lets nothing distract it.
  • Aim to eat when relaxed and stay that way: Eating while stressed, nervous or uptight will lead to food stagnating in your digestive system. In the long term this can lead to digestive problems like heartburn or ulcers.
  • The Stomach likes regularity: So try to make your meal times as regular as possible as your body will prepare for digestion. It is important not to skip or miss meals as this weakens the body and digestive fluids. Equally constant snacking and eating late similarly depletes these important digestive fluids. Diabetics are only too aware of the need to eat a regular sensible diet to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Take time to digest: Your body needs time to digest once you’ve eaten your food. Try not to rush on to the next thing but instead take a while to digest your food and relax. Avoiding indigestion.

How we Eat:

  • Don’t drown your food: Healthy digestion requires an abundance of digestive fluids. Drinking a large quantity of fluid with your meals will water down these powerful digestive juices. Instead have a small amount of fluid (water, green tea or wine) with a meal and drink the rest of your daily fluids between meals.
  • Don’t chill your stomach: In the same way we need heat to cook food our digestive system needs a certain level of ‘heat’ to digest food. For this reason never eat food directly from the fridge or have iced drinks with your food otherwise your stomach will first have to warm the food to 38degrees before it can start to digest it and this takes a lot of energy. Avoid overeating raw food – especially if your digestive system is weak. Instead lightly steam or stir-fry vegetables to make them more digestible without losing valuable nutrients. Cooking soups and stews is a good way to retain more of the goodness from vegetables.
  • Your Stomach has no teeth: Digestion starts in the mouth and so it is imperative that you chew well. Giving your digestive system as little work to do as possible means that your body can quickly transform and transport the nutrients from your food to where it’s needed. Equally as important is eating your food slowly so that your body has time to digest. Indigestion is often a direct result of people eating too fast.
  • Don’t over do it: Try and pay attention to your body, stop before you get totally full. Overburdening your digestive system will lead to stagnation in your digestive system and will often give you that uncomfortable bloated feeling. Eating slowly helps to avoid overeating as the stomach takes a while to give the brain the message that it is full.
  • Listen closely: We are often over run with information on what foods we should eat through diets, science, news and handouts like this one. All this information can sometimes undermine our bodies own ability to know what is good for us individually. Explore how your body feels before, during and after eating different foods. Listen loud, trust and be proud.
  • Cravings: Craving for junk and sweet foods is a sign your digestive system is weak or that your hormones may be out of balance. Make sure you eat enough foods that maintain a steady blood sugar level (oats or brown rice), and if you must snack keep some healthy snacks ready (a tub of mixed seeds and nuts can be great for snacking).

The best changes are slow and gradual – ones that you can keep.

We think it’s important that this information is only used within the context of a full diagnosis and consultation.


‘HELPING OURSELVES’ by Daverick Leggett, 2008, Meridian Press

‘HELPING OURSELVES WITH WHOLEFOODS’ by Paul Pitchford, 1993 and since updated, North Atlantic Books

Written by


Acupuncturist and Director

Thame Therapy Clinic September 2013

23 Upper High St. Thame. Tel 01844 215555


Acupuncture in Guangzhou, China Oct 2013…

Day 1:

Hi everyone from Guangzhao in south eastern china. I’m here for 2 weeks studying acupuncture in an acupuncture hospital which also has western medicine. We are in the middle of a city of 12 million people and it is all go 24/7.

The hospital is a bit smaller than the John Radcliffe and I am with a group of 15 acupuncturists observing various doctors in their surgeries. It is like being in the outpatients wing of the JR as people turn up all through the day and wait to be seen.

In the treatment rooms there are anything from 4-10 beds and couches and everyone gets treated together. They pay £10 per treatment of which £9 is paid by their compulsory insurance. Most of them come in every day.

So far I have been seeing people with paralysis of the face (Bells Palsey and other similar problems), neck spondylitis, back pain and various other pains. A lot of patients have chronic serious problems. Most of them get needles, anything up to 40 needles at a time, inserted in under 2 minutes! You may be grateful that this is not what we do in the west as a rule!

A lot also get tuina which is like strong massage and in some cases like osteopathy as they reset bones. Again, this can be vigorous and not for the faint hearted!

So far I am just observing but soon I shall be putting needles in under supervision and joining in the next episode of Casualty!


The hospital and adjacent multi storey highway.


Five mins walk from the hospital, you see this.










Day 2:

Hello again from Guangzhou. It’s now been 4 days in outpatients and they are still coming in thick and fast.

One thing that is different here is that the acupuncturists can also choose to train in tuina which is very similar to osteopathy as it includes bone manipulation as well as all the deep tissue massage. They are surprised that the two disciplines are separate in the UK.

We continue to see many serious cases and the great thing us that the patients can come in every day for treatment if needbe as it is essentially £1 a session ad I explained in the first blog.

Today we saw some young children being treated with acupuncture. Both were premature births. In one a young girl had misformed feet and ice cold legs. She had had operations on her feet to reshape them (in another part of the hospital – how good it is to have integrated medicine) and now she was getting acupuncture to connect up the lower body again. In the other a young boy could not speak and was essentially autistic. In amongst all the kisses and hugs he kept giving us he was given acupuncture to help him speak again, and had two words he could now say.

We see also amazing care given to these children by both parents and doctors and wonder how much this reflects the ‘one child ‘ policy and the preciousness of the only child.

I have attached a few photos of the treatment rooms where we observe to give you an idea of what it is like.

Typical scene in communal treatment room.

Typical scene in communal treatment room.

Two year old cerebral palsey with approx 40 needles in her!

Two year old cerebral palsey with approx 40 needles in her










Patients often get cupping before acupuncture to take out cold and move the energy.

Patients often get cupping before acupuncture to take out cold and move the energy.

Most patients get electro-acupuncture as well as cupping which leaves red and purple bruising

Most patients get electro-acupuncture as well as cupping which leaves red and purple bruising











Day 3:

Hi again with more news from Guangzhou. A week has gone by and we have been on a short break on the Pearl River delta which connects the city to the sea and Hong Kong. This is the agricultural heartlands of the Cantonese speaking people and from where most Chinese have emigrated over the centuries. We are currently travelling through mile after mile of vegetable and fish farms – bit like the south of Spain but without the plastic sheeting!

Reflecting on the first week in the hospital, the main impression is of ralentless demand for medical help. This is mainly due to the population explosion in the city from 3 million in 1980’s to 12 million now. In this context there simply isn’t time to do individual consultations notwithstanding that it is fairly normal to have treatments in shared space in most of China.

The top professors here are seeing on average 70 people a day, 5 days per week. And they are working 9-5pm with a 2 hour lunch break which are not long days by UK standards.

We have seen a huge amount of stroke patients as well as lots of neck pain types. These seem the main specialisations here. It is very rare for an acupuncturist to be the first port of call for a stroke patient in UK. Here they treat these people with western medicine for the first 3 days and then refer them for acupuncture.

The advantage of this is that they use acupuncture to encourage blood and energy to keep flowing through the affected area (without getting into too much technical jargon here), once they have stabilized the patient. In UK we would be unlikely to see stroke patients within the first month of occurrence.

As always it is fascinating to see the two systems of medicine side by side. There is no attempt by the acupuncture doctors here to claim superiority.

Finally on a slightly humorous note we also observe the adroitness of the doctors putting needles in with one hand , on the phone with the other, directing photographs every few minutes, and all the time there is a patient below with a serious problem who sometimes is also on their phone!

All for now, more to come soon. I attach a few photos of life in outpatients including one of me having a walking Tuina treatment, and one with Prof Qin, aka the Flying Needle Doctor.

With Dr Qin the ‘Flying Needle Doctor’.

With Dr Qin the ‘Flying Needle Doctor’.

Getting walked over by the Chinese…

Getting walked over by the Chinese…












Day 4:

We are into our last 3 days in Guangzhou and still the cultural differences are so interesting.

When we walk into a restaurant our guide will shout at the waiter to find us a table and then shout again for food and tea. No please and thankyou. But then it is considered rude if you don’t wash your cup, bowl and chopsticks before you eat. When you eat it is also ok to talk and eat at the same time and it doesn’t matter what falls out of your mouth!

It is also common to have Chinese youths want to have a picture taken with you, and they get in really close head to head as if you were a family member. No concept of English personal space here!

In the shops the clothes have obscure English slogans on them or American brand names. It is cool here to have a European or American style. Meanwhile back in the Uk it is cool to have a tatoo with a Chinese character on it…

Meanwhile our clinical observations continue in their strange and wonderful ways. We have seen patients hung upside down by their feet on an inversion board. Once vertical they are swung about to increase back mobility and some have had low back manipulation at the same time.

In the acupuncture department we have seen patients getting a red hot needle lightly touching the skin to remove cold from their bodies. There are no marks left on the skin from this. But with moxa treatments (a smouldering herb left on the skin) they do let it burn the skin and it leaves a scar. I have enclosed a picture below of this.

There is generally an obsession here with getting rid of cold and this has puzzled me given the subtropical climate in these areas. The answer however is that a lot of it is down to huge numbers of workers sitting long hours in cold air conditioning, itself a response to the unpleasant muggy atmosphere caused by air pollution on top of the humid climate (itself exacerbated by rapid population growth).

Ironically the same problem was around  centuries ago when workers spent their days in cold damp fields and got pains in their joints. So there has been huge progress materially but same result!

There will probably be time for one more report before returning to some familiar place a long way away.

Moxa scars.

Moxa scars.

Pearl Riverscape in the city.

Pearl Riverscape in the city.











Last Day:

Hi again, just time to squeeze in one more report before we return.

We start our days here with taichi in the park at 7am which is a daily ritual for many city dwellers. You grab your spot under the trees  and pretty soon you are surrounded by people doing sword dancing or fan fluttering or   kung fu type moves. We regularly get locals joining in with us, some with transitor radios on and small dog alongside. Average age seems over 50. We are an obvious oddity going about our business quietly and with proper English personal space around us!

There is a consistent awareness of the need for good exercise such as taichi and diet  advice in the hospital. Every department puts up big dietary posters which are changed each season as the Chinese medicine pays attention to changing seasonal energetics. Every patient can also get an individual dietary plan which addresses their specific complaint. I don’t think we do anything like this in UK hospitals.

There is of course the usual fast food on the streets, and whilst you can always get fried food there is also a lot of steamed food which is healthier. There are also intriguing and challenging options such as tortoise soup, toad casserole and deer antler and hoof pot.

One menu also had 3 kinds of snakes, or snake-three-ways as they say on Master Chef!

We continue to see integrated medicine in all departments. Today we saw how patients in the respiratory recovery section could also have bee sting therapy which can counteract autoimmune diseases or treat allergies or joint problems. Small bees are placed on acupuncture points and the sting activates the body’s healing. Yes the bee dies…not considered an issue here given that anything with 4 legs except the table is eaten!

We saw diabetic patients receiving insulin and also Chinese herbal treatment. Some of these herbs are given as a foot steaming treatment as diabetics often get numb feet. I managed to sample one of these foot tubs – see picture below – with herbs that increase the blood circulation. Whilst I was doing this one of the in-patients brought me his sandals for afterwards. Didn’t feel it was right to ask for a cup of tea!

We saw young children getting tuina/acupressure for breathing problems – gentle but firm rubbing on places on the hands, arms and back. Those with asthma were getting steam nebulisers which blew a herbal concoction onto their face. They also had steroids as far as we could gather.

Finally we sat and practised our flying needle technique with one of the acupuncture  doctors. Safe to say I shall not be doing 40-50 needles in 2 minutes on patients anytime soon! But it is still amazing to watch a master in action, every needle put in like a dragon fly dipping to touch the water momentarily and the sensation for the patient virtually nothing despite the needle being one or more inches deep. Seeing is believing…and now it is time to say goodbye.

Having a herbal foot steamer.

Having a herbal foot steamer.

Taichi in the park.

Taichi in the park.

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