An ever evolving, living, breathing vessel, Chinese Medicine represents a coalescence of didactic techniques deriving from China, Japan and Korea, having kept millions of people across the globe well for over three thousand years. Today, the World Health Organisation recommends acupuncture treatment for over 100 health conditions following extensive clinical trials [1], among them — menstrual pain, PMS, morning sickness, low back pain, stiff neck, gastrointestinal pain, headache, insomnia, depression, and addiction. Rather than tackle individual symptoms, acupuncture treats the whole body, redressing internal balance, supporting self-healing and improving chronic, long-term problems.

The fundamentals underpinning Chinese Medicine —from tongue inspection, dating back to the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) [2], to the Four Examinations [ si zhen ] introduced by ancient Chinese physician Bian Que [3], and Five Element theory [ wu xing ] — which was popularised in the 1970s [4] — remain vital components of modern practice. And yet, to align it with ancient magic or mysticism, is to negate the technical, highly sophisticated nature of acupuncture as medicine. It is as advanced as it is enduring, built upon principles of mind-body connection, self-cultivation and living in accordance with nature, all of which are only now emerging as vital totems of a modern healthcare paradigm.

Close up of an Orchid

“Observing external manifestations is to know the changes of the internal viscera and thus the patient’s illness” —LingShu Jing, 1st Century, BCE [5]


Each acupuncture journey begins with a fluid, in-depth conversation as a means of data-gathering. Every symptom is recorded, however disparate they may seem, each adding a brush stroke to the diagnostic landscape until the painting — or person — can be seen as a unified whole.

Pulse reading, tongue inspection, abdominal palpation, and the gentle observation of how we carry our bodies, all form essential components in the art of the Chinese Medicine diagnosis. Only upon evaluation the total sum of these parts, can patterns pertaining to one’s internal balance of yin and yang, qi, internal fluids, internal or external pathogens, and the Five Elements [ wu xing ] be determined, to provide a clear picture of the pattern of imbalance.

A treatment principle, protocol and selected modalities are jointly arrived at, and a treatment programme is proposed as a means to restore a state of inner and outer balance. Every subsequent visit requires a new albeit shorter consultation, to identify any changes, and chart progress. Joanna takes her cue from the patient, as to how much to impart regarding the theoretical basis of treatment. Some feel empowered by knowing, others prefer to surrender to the unknown.


Acupuncture is a collective term for a group of healing modalities, each honed over centuries to form a systematised, tailored approach to patient treatment. The use of each technique is determined by diagnosis, aligned with patient wishes, and applied with clear intention, to restore a state of flow.



Over 13,000 studies, randomised control trials and meta-analyses have been conducted on the efficacy of acupuncture over the past three decades, with strong evidence indicating its ability to effectively treat a variety of symptoms and conditions. [6]

While the human body contains over 2,000 acupuncture points, 360 of these are used in regular treatment. Points are located on the 12 main acupuncture channels of the body, each representing the organ it flows to and from. They are selected based on their ability to influence the flow of qi in the channels and the organs, the relative state of yin and yang, blood [ xue ] and internal fluids.

Sterile, single-use needles measuring an average a width of 0.13mm are used, almost as fine as a human hair. As such, the sensation of needle insertion is much less the sharp scratch of an injection and more a warm, spreading sensation as the qi pools around the point. Patients describe the experience of acupuncture as being in a “floating”, or “dream-like” state, some fall into a deep sleep while others report experiencing a breakthrough moment; seeing the pathway through a problem.



An ancient form of heat therapy, moxibustion takes multiple forms. The Daoist approach involves the use of dried mugwort herb, rolled into tiny pyramids, momentarily placed directly onto acupuncture points, and lit with a flame to warm and stimulate circulation and support the flow of qi. Particularly effective in supporting fertility, easing digestive issues and calming weary minds, moxa forms a central tenet of Chinese Medicine treatment.



Famed for its popularity among athletes, cupping therapy is used to release blockages, disperse stagnation, and promote the free flow of qi and blood [ xue ] within the body. A traditional approach involves glass cups and a bare flame, which is swiftly entered into the cup and released, before affixing to soft tissue to form a vacuum between the cup and the skin. Creating an immediate myofascial release; muscles are soothed, pain is eased, and incoming pathogens are quickly released. Also a powerful salve for psycho-emotional imbalances, digestive issues, asthma and musculo-skeletal injury, there is a reason cupping has endured for over three-thousand years: it yields results.


Tui na Massage

Considered the oldest system of bodywork in the world, tui na originated in ancient China and continues to form a key component of modern acupuncture treatment. Adored for its ability to instantly unfurl tight, compressed muscles, this is more than just a (very) deep tissue massage. Known to have a therapeutic effect on musculoskeletal pain, nervous system disorders, fatigue, stress and gynaecological issues, it can dissolve tension in minutes. Consisting of eight key techniques, each applied to specific acupuncture points and bodily areas to move stagnated blood [ xue ] and qi, tui na massage can form a vital part of treatment to relax the body and soothe the mind.


Gua Sha

A traditional East Asian healing technique, gua sha is also known as cao gio, coining, scraping, and spooning. Crystal orbs — made of jade or bian-stone — are used to vigorously massage the planes of the face, to release qi stagnation, muscular tension and activate cell metabolism. This creates an immediate lift to the facial contours and prompts skin rejuvenation over time by stimulating an intracellular injury response and bolstering collagen production. It is exceptional in its power to release tension and bring blood flow to the skin — increasing microcirculation by up to 400%. [7]


[1] World Health Organization, 2021

[2] Practical Diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tietao Deng, 1999

[3] The Art of Medicine in Early China, Miranda Brown, 2015

[4] Chinese Medicine Study Guide, Zhou Xue-Sheng, 2007

[5] Lingshu Jing: The Spiritual Pivot, compiled during the First Century BCE

[6] Publication Trends in Acupuncture Research: A 20-Year Bibliometric Analysis Based on PubMed, Yan Ma et al, 2016

[7] Essen University, Germany, 2007

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