Interview with Alexandra Spurgeon, Acupuncturist
How did you come to be attracted to acupuncture?
I first experienced acupuncture in Nepal when I was there teaching in a school. A Russian friend took me to see her acupuncturist as my health was failing and she was convinced that acupuncture would help. I went along intending to listen and politely tell the acupuncturist that it wasn’t for me. Within 5 minutes I was lying on a bed having needles inserted! After that first treatment I quickly realised that nothing in western medicine could make me feel like acupuncture did and I returned the following day for another treatment before flying home.
Alex, you’re from a very academic background – how does this fit in with the “non-scientific” image of acupuncture?
Once I returned to the UK I found a local acupuncturist and was surprised to find that she located the needles in the same places as the lady in Nepal, which lead me to surmise that, at the very least, there was a systematic approach to acupuncture. Modern technology such as MRI scans have shown that when certain acupressure points are stimulated, for example a point on the little toe that an acupuncturist will stimulate to deal with certain eye problems, the corresponding part of the brain “lights up”. This shows us that that acupressure point is stimulating the brain in the required area.
The more research I conducted, the more it became obvious to me that I had found myself a new career path and I subsequently studied acupuncture at the Northern College of Acupuncture in York.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture works to balance the body’s systems. When the body is out of balance, we experience physical and emotional symptoms. The needles facilitate the movement of energy around the body – however there are many different views on how acupuncture works.
Is acupuncture just for pain relief?
Acupuncture is very effective at helping manage painful conditions, but it is also used for a wide range of physical and emotional problems.
I’m needle-phobic; will it hurt? What will I feel?
Most clients report a tingling sensation or warmth at the needle site, and if you are needle phobic the acupuncturist may well start with just a couple of needles and only increase that once you are comfortable with the process. Many people think that the whole body is covered in needles, but this is not normally the case – and the needles are so fine that you can fit around 20 of them into a normal hypodermic needle such as a doctor would use to draw blood.
The needles used are all single-use, sterile needles that are disposed of immediately after each treatment.
Do I have to get naked during a treatment?
Not at all. I would recommend wearing loose clothing that can easily be lifted or rolled up so that the acupuncturist can access areas such as above the knees or elbows and abdomen and back. It is also helpful to make sure you eat a light meal a couple of hours before a treatment.
How many treatments will I need? Do the effects wear off?
It’s impossible to quantify the number of treatments you will need as it all depends on how quickly the individual responds and how much re-balancing is required. Likewise the length of time the effects will last is dependant upon the individuals response.
Are there any side effects?
The most commonly reported side effect is a feeling of well-being!
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