NICE recommends acupuncture for chronic pain

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has issued guidelines which exclude painkillers for chronic pain and instead recommend acupuncture for chronic pain, along with exercise, CBT and antidepressants.

The draft recommendations will be open for consultation until 14th September 2020 and the final guidelines will be issued in January 2021.

The background to this lies not only in the widely discussed opioid crisis in the UK at the moment, but also that around one third of the UK population suffers from chronic pain and two thirds of those have time off work because of it. Interestingly, this guideline looks specifically at chronic primary pain which is characterised by emotional distress and functional disability so patients with conditions that have previously not been well diagnosed or treated such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, chronic neck pain and chronic pelvic pain, for example, would benefit directly from these changes if they go through.

So what would this mean in practice?

If these guidelines were to be adopted, it would make it far easier for GPs to recommend acupuncture and potentially for acupuncture to be offered on the NHS. However, in order to stay below the threshold of being ‘cost-effective’ the acupuncture would be limited to 5 hours of treatment per patient (could be 10 x 30 minute sessions) and be carried out in the community, not hospitals, by NHS band 6 or 7 staff or equivalent (BAcC Members would hope to be recognized at this level).

Whilst I am absolutely delighted by this news, I do intend to raise concerns that because all styles of acupuncture are covered by this, it means that a GP who has done less than 70 hours of training in acupuncture would be on an equal footing as someone who has done a full time 4 year degree course, such as myself. In very simple terms, what this means is that if you go to a GP you will be given antidepressants for your mood and acupuncture as an alalgesic. If you come to me for treatment, I will be able to use the full specturm of what Traditional Chinese acupuncture has to offer for your mental and emotional well-being as well as the physical pain. High MacPherson conducted extensive research into Acupuncture and the treatment of depression known as the AcuDep report which indicates that acupuncture and CBT yielded better results than anti-depressants.

However, this revision of the guidelines is a very positive move indeed and at the very least, acupuncture will ‘first do no harm’, unlike the opioids that have been over-prescribed for far too long.

Acupuncture Health & Wellness News

Back(ache) To Work Week: Mouse Shoulder, stress, tension and reduced productivity – and a solution!


Backache To Work Week: Painful shoulder 

Are your staff coming to work dosed up on opioids or other pain-killers, just to be able to get through a day in the office without being in too much physical pain?  Are they too afraid to take time off to get the cause of their pain addressed?  If either of these scenarios are likely to be the case, then not only will there be an issue with staff morale and hence staff turnover, but the productivity is going to be much lower then it would be with a happy, healthy workforce. 

Back and joint pain is the second biggest cause of absence from work after common colds and viruses, particularly amongst 50-64 year olds, with the next highest category off work due to mental health reasons, namely ‘stress’.

According to an article in HR Review, “an estimated three million people taking long-term sick leave or say they are unable to work due to back pain according to research from Nuffield Health, with a further 6 million people suffering ‘in silence\ that could be easily treated or avoided altogether.  Although the government celebrates the statistics of fewer people than ever before being off work due to sick leave, a new phenomenon has emerged called ‘presenteeism’ – attending work when ill and ended people are far more likely to turn up to work sick than to take time off work when they are actually well.

Sir Cary Cooper, a professor at Manchester Business School, said presenteeism was the major factor. “Sickness absence is low because presenteeism is high. Given the aftermath of the recession and with Brexit looming people are frightened to be off ill, so they show ‘face time’ when ill or feeling low or job dissatisfied. They do not want high levels of absenteeism on their HR record, which they feel will make them vulnerable.”

Presenteeim does not work for employees or employers.  For that reason, I have introduced corporate packages for foresighted employers who want to support heir staff to stay healthy or to recover quickly if they become ill or who are in physical pain.

The vast majority of people who use a computer will experience some degree of pain or discomfort in the shoulder they use to control the mouse.  When people come for acupuncture to relieve the pain, I often find that the entire upper back, neck and shoulders are tense and there is even a knock-on effect on the breathing because the back muscles are so tight the the rib cage cannot move freely!  This means that they are not fully oxygenating their brains and will have more of a propensity to be muzzy-headed and cloudy in their thinking and judgement. 

Acupuncture, electro-acupuncture and cupping has long been known to be an excellent treatment for pain, but what isless well-known is the AcuDep repost into acupuncture and the treatment of depression. (MacPherson et al 2014 ) in which acupuncture was found to be at least as effective as anti-depressant in the treatment of depression.  

With the frightening statistics of pain-killer abuse and the opioid crisis and increasing awareness of the effects of stress the Welsh Government as introduced the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2014 that covers several areas including health.

“In the Well-being of Future Generations Act, this goal {healthier Wales} is defined as “A society in which people’s physical and mental well-being is maximised and in which choices and behaviours that benefit future health are understood.” 

If you would like to know more about Barefoot Medicine Corporate packages to help your staff cope with either physical pain such as backache or mental and emotional pain such as stress, then , please contact Simone Buehner on +44 7715 239 999.

Acupuncture Health & Wellness News

What the Fly on the Wall of my Clinic would tell HR Managers to help them improve productivity in the workplace.

Stress at work natural solutions

I have often joked that if it weren’t for employers and families, my clinic would be empty and I would be out of the job!

The beauty of any lifestyle medicine such as TCM is that we get to spend 90 minutes with our clients at their first appointment and then about an hour a week for a while after, so we get to know not only their symptoms, but the underlying cause of the problem as well. 

The vast majority of my clients talk about stress in the workplace and we see from statistics that employers are also in a difficult situation with ineffective workers going off sick on a regular basis. No-one is winning from the current situation, so the Fly on the Wall in my clinic has some insight for HR Managers to improve the working environment, the health of their staff and the productivity of the business.

Scenario 1: Do you know how many of your staff have some kind of digestive problem such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome? A vey high percentage of people come to clinic with this diagnosis and they have been prescribed lanzoprazole by their GP and are told to avoid stress and eat sensibly. The first problem with this is that it does not solve the problem and the second is that people cannot just ‘avoid stress’ because either they put up with the stress at work, or they resign and have the stress of unpaid bills. By contrast, I have found that using functional medicine tests to get a scientific report on the state of the gut and then using acupuncture to treat the digestion, metabolism and stress levels, I have got very good results in a relatively short period of time with IBS patients who are then able to go back to work with few if any symptoms.

As an HR Manager, you may or may not be aware that any given employee is suffering from IBS because people are often embarrassed to talk about it, yet if you have senior managers who are stressed at work because of tight deadlines or managing tight budgets and who skip lunch or eat junk food at their desk, they are at a very high risk of developing IBS because the stress hormones over-ride the digestive hormones, so they not only get digestive pains, alternating constipation and diarrhoea and eventually become malnourished and unable to think clearly, but they are also not going to be focused on meetings if they are worried about rushing out to the toilet before some very embarrassing symptoms appear!  None of this is an exaggeration, this is a painful reality for a great many people and as an HR Manager, you need to know if people’s productivity is being affected by something that could be overcome relatively easily.

Scenario 2: Infertility is on the rise because stress hormones override sex hormones. Furthermore, people are choosing to have children later in life so their fertility levels are naturally lower anyway. A lot of men and women who come to my clinic do so because they have been ‘diagnosed’ with Unexplained Infertility. Firstly, I must say that in TCM and functional medicine there is seldom such a ‘diagnosis’, but aside from that, most people follow advice from their GP and just ‘keep trying’. In the work environment, unless you have an extremely good relationship with your staff, few women and even fewer men are going to tell you that they are desperate to have a baby.  Anyone who has never experienced this situation cannot imagine how all-consuming it can become. Suffice to say that  I have had to start running my clinic on a Sunday to accommodate people in this situation because they do not want to tell their employers that they are having any kind of fertility treatment and they do not feel able to take the time off work on a weekly basis to get treatment. 

The emotional impact of infertility or IVF treatment is so extreme that many people decide to resign in order to lower their stress levels and increase their chances of falling pregnant. For them, family is more important than work, especially if they are unhappy in their job. As an HR manager, it would cost you far more to replace them and train someone up than it would cost in ‘down time’ for people to get the support they need by having 1 hour per week of acupuncture, nutrition or functional medicine consultations, but if they do not feel able to talk to you about it, then you cannot support hem and neither party wins!

But there is a solution that benefits both the employer and the employee!

What would your HR budget look like if you had fewer people off sick with backache or stress? Or if you had fewer resignations, or fewer new staff to train up? How would meetings go if your staff were focused, happy and healthy? Where would your business be if you had your pick of the best staff because of high employee satisfaction ratings? Who could you attract if you had a reputation for being an excellent employer with excellent employee satisfaction feedback?

One answer could be that happy, healthy people who are not feeling stressed are productive and content. The fly on the wall sees how people genuinely WANT to do a good job, they get their sense of satisfaction through doing a good job, so as an employer if you facilitate these feelings, everyone can win. 

At Barefoot Medicine I have found that the Corporate Packages we offer are proving very popular to help combat these issues.  Acupuncture, nutritional therapy, functional lab tests and relaxation can all help improve health and wellbeing. By taking out a Corporate Package for your employees, the timely healthcare they would receive would help to prevent them from getting ill. Acupuncture can help with stress as well as any medication (see the AcuDep research from York University), and it can also help with many other health problems such as headache, fertility, digestive problems etc. For those with more chronic long-term health conditions, there are functional medicine tests that can be done to measure stress hormones, digestive hormones, sleep hormones and gut function. 

Given the long waiting lists to see GPs, consultants or get treatment through the NHS, a Corporate Package with Barefoot Medicine would enable you to keep your staff healthy, you would be able to meet your Corporate Responsibility requirements, you could help your staff by incorporating it into a Return to Work package so you can cut costs on staff absences, recruitment and training etc. Furthermore, your staff would feel valued and instead of leaving your employ due to stress, they would want to stay with you because of the health benefits. 

To find out more about the Corporate Packages, please visit www.BarefootMedicine.co.uk or telephone Simone Bühner on +44 7715 239 999.

Acupuncture Functional Medicine Health & Wellness News

Help for Women going through Divorce

managing stress in divorce
[siteorigin_widget class=”thinkup_builder_texteditor”][/siteorigin_widget]
Acupuncture Functional Medicine Health & Wellness News

Stop Winter Bugs in their tracks NATURALLY!

Stop Winter Bugs in their tracks NATURALLY!

t’s that time of year again when children go back to school and bring home all kinds of bugs and th whole family starts coughing and sneezing.  By the time Christmas comes, children are missing nativity plays, parents are taking time off work and hospitals are crying out about bed shortages.

As someone who Is self-employed, I have long recognised that I simply cannot afford to be off sick, so I have taken a particular interest in what I can do to avoid catching the bugs even when I may see several patients a day who are affected with some but or another.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a formula that is always used BEFORE the autumn properly sets in.  It is called Jade Windscreen and is said to act as a Windscreen to stop the cold from blowing into our body.  A herbal medicine practitioner would think of it acting both to shield the body and by strengthening it at the same time.  This formula would not be suitable once you have actually caught the bug, however, because then you would need herbs to expel the pathogen, usually by sweating it out.

It is very important to strengthen our immune systems BEFORE the viruses and bacteria start spreading around.  I do this in 3 tages. 

Firstly I focus on reducing the toxic load in my body by doing a detoxification diet for 10 days each month.  This means my body has some leeway to begin fighting bugs rather than already being stressed out to capacity and finding that the tiniest bug tips me over the edge.  In the autumn I supplement this with the Jade Windscreen herbal formula.  (Click here if you would like to order a consultation and have a prescription made for you.)

The second step in boosting my immunity is to take supplements that strengthen my body.  At the first sign of Autumn I begin adding Baobab, echinacea and elecampane tinctures to my smoothies.  I swear by this alongside the Nice Plus encapsulated fruit, vegetables and berries because in the 5 years I have followed this regime, I have not had a day of illness.

The third step in boosting my immunity is to be aware when I have been exposed to an unusual amount of people coughing and sneezing and I then drink echinacea tea three times per day, I may add some drops of the tincture and if I do feel the tickle in my throat or smell a cold coming in my nose, I write myself an herbal prescription for the mornings, then in the evening I have a very hot bath and an early night with a hot toddy.

This has worked unfailingly for me for the last five years and I would recommend it to anyone over the flu jab, given the number of people I have seen who get ill immediately after having it.  Our body has its own pharmacy and given the right care and nutrition, then it provides the protection we need in a much faster and more reliable way than any vaccine that has been Brough out months after the virus has mutated. 

Acupuncture Food As Medicine Functional Medicine Health & Wellness News

How to Improve your fertility naturally by reducing stress levels inside and outside your body.

Acupuncture for Fertility at Barefoot Medicine
How to improve your natural fertility by reducing stress levels inside and outside your body

When we talk about stress, what we are actually referring to is a hormone in our body called cortisol which is triggered when we need to be alert or on guard over something.  This hormone over-rides all other hormones because it is related to our very survival, alerting our body to a threat.  If we are under threat, then it is obvious that our body is going to use all its resources to get away from the danger and we go into fight, flight or freeze mode.  At this time, it stands to reason that it would not be in our interests to expend energy on non-essential functions such as conception, sex drive or even digestion.  This is where the expression to xxx oneself with fear – our body evacuates itself with anything that is not needed that could slow us down.

In ancient times when we were running away from a wooly mammoth, this served us well because we would run away to safety then the adrenaline and cortisol would go back down to normal levels, the quick burst of energy and high pulse rate would flush out the unwanted byproducts of the energy expenditure (oxidative stress) and homeostasis would return and our daily bodily functions return.

In today’s society, however, so many people have a constant drip-feed of adrenaline either through stress at work, worry about money, stressful relationships etc so the effect of the adrenaline is longer term and leads to a lowering of fertility hormones, lower libido, poor digestion and hence a less healthy body. 

When this is looked at in the context of conception, there are usually heightened stress levels anyway due to the intense desire to fall pregnant, but this pressure, too, becomes counter-productive which is why it is so common to hear about women falling pregnant once they have given up trying.

In the fertility unit at Adenbrooks in Cambridgeshire, they have introduced a programme to reduce oxidative stress for everyone who is about to undergo IVF.  Oxidative stresses when we inhale oxygen and use it up as our ‘fuel’ so anything that makes us get out of breath.  The by-products or ‘exhaust’ are not needed by the body much like an apple that you bite into comes into contact with oxygen and turns brown, or metal comes into contact with water and oxygen and it rusts.  A similar process takes place in our body and releases something Kon as free radicals, which contribute to the ageing process.  This is when our body needs ANTi-oxidants to flush them out.

It therefore follows that if  you want to concede you need to reduce the external factor that are causing the stress in the first place and you also need to reduce the free-radical damage inside your body and restore homeostasis to get your hormones and general health to its optimum level, not just to fall pregnant, but to maintain a healthy pregnancy as well.

Top Tips for improving your fertility naturally.

  1. Begin a course of acupuncture to help restore homeostasis
  2. Change your diet to be very rich in anti-oxidants. At Barefoot Medicine you will be given nutritional advice as part of your treatment because Simone has been trained in both Chinese Dietary Therapy and western nutritional therapy.
  3. Consider using herbal remedies to improve your fertility, your sleep, reduce stress etc.  Whilst many over-the-counter solutions are available for each individual complaint, at Barefoot Medicine, Simone will write a prescription that is tailored to your specific needs taking into account any other pre-existing conditions. 
  4. Reduce your hours at work or change jobs to a less stressful environment.  This is a challenge, particularly if you are trying to pay for private fertility treatment, but there is a balance to be found between increasing stress to pay for the treatment versus reducing the stress and improving you natural fertility levels.
  5. Meditate!  There is a free app called Insight Timer which is a fantastic resource to help you calm your mind, sleep better and get a better perspective on life if you make meditation a part of your daily routine.  Your mental state is fundamental in the way you approach problems and whether the stress response is triggered or not.
Acupuncture Food As Medicine Functional Medicine Health & Wellness News

Acupuncture for Acne and herbal remedies you can do at home.

Acupuncture for Acne and herbal remedies you can do at home.

Acupuncture for acne and herbal remedies you can do at home.

The skin is the largest organ in our body and has a very important role in the elimination of toxins, so in Chinese Medicine, any skin condition is a symptom of something else in the body being out of balance and an attempt by the body to restore homeostasis.

At Barefoot Medicine, Simone approaches acne by using acupuncture to reduce the pain and inflammation, herbal remedies to rid the body of the toxins and restore the moisture and nourishment to the skin.  She will also give you nutritional advice and recommendations for you to follow at home to get the gut bacteria restored which will help the body to restore and maintain homeostasis across all the body systems to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Most of the research into acupuncture and acne has been conducted in China, but of the studies in the West the indications are that acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation, increase local micro-circulation and regulate the immune response. 

In my experience, acne can respond extremely well to Chinese medicine, but ithere are also may things you can do to help yourself at home.

What you can do at home to help reduce acne

  • Change your pillows and sheets as frequently as possible, maybe every 2 days, so as to prevent bacterial infection in the lesions from worsening.
  • Instead of using specialist soaps which dry out the oils in the skin, make your own from oats!  Take a pair of old tights or stockings and fill them with tightly packed oats and use it as a sponge.  Oats contain natural saponins which will lather up like soap, but the oils in it are extremely good for the skin and very gentle and soothing.
  • Reduce or if possible eliminate the amount of hot, spicy food you eat and try to have a ‘clean’ diet with food that s as close to natural as possible.  Obviously avoid all processed foods which have no beneficial qualities in whatsoever!

If you would like to book an initial consultation and treatment, please click on the Book Appointment tab at the top of the page where you will be guided to my calendar and you can book or reschedule your appointment at your convenience.

Acupuncture Health & Wellness News Herbal Medicine

Acupuncture for Migraine

Come to Barefoot Medicine for acupuncture for migraine
Acupuncture for Migraine

Migraines can be very different from one person to another, but whether they are hormonal, stress-related or have no obvious trigger, acupuncture, herbal medicine and nutritional therapy are very likely to make a big improvement. You could also consider doing one of our home-testing saliva analysis profiles to measure your hormone levels and find out whether that is the cause of your migraines, as there are natural supplements that we can offer to rebalance your system. 

Conventional western medicine can alleviate some symptoms for some people, but for many the side-effects are as bad as or worse than the migraine itself so many people turn to acupuncture to help.  Sadly, it is often as a last resort, but in my experience everyone I have treated for migraine, cluster headaches or standard headaches has said that they wish they had come sooner or known about acupuncture before.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine and 5-element acupuncture we look at the body in a totally different way to how it is seen in the West and treatments are tailored to the individual. While there are certain acupuncture points that will commonly be used, the point prescription will vary  because we believe that each person has a root ‘weakness’ in their constitution that will give a tendency towards certain ailments.  If we can get to the root cause of your health problems, then the body has a way of righting itself. 

The acupuncture treatment itself is very relaxing. The initial consultation should be done at a time when you do not have the pain as it takes a good 90-minutes to do a thorough consultation and the first treatment.  If you are in pain when you arrive in clinic, then that will be treated as a priority, but you would be advised to come back for the thorough consultation so that an accurate diagnosis can be made for you personally and a treatment strategy can be put together with the goal of alleviating your migraines altogether, or at the very least of reducing the pain and the frequency.  It also gives you an option for those times when you feel a migraine coming on and you can book in for an appointment at the early stages before it develops.

In Chinese Medicine, nutrition is at the heart of all healthcare and as Simone is not only a fully qualified and experienced acupuncturist, but she is also a practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine, Chinese dietary therapy and western nutritional therapy, so your treatment will also include dietary advice and recommendations for you to follow at home.

It is hard to say how many treatments would be necessary as everyone responds differently, but you should start to notice an improvement right from your very first treatment.

If you would like to book an appointment, please use the tab at the top of the page.

Acupuncture Health & Wellness News

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)