Acupuncture, Tuina & Taiji in London

In this newsletter:

  • Happy Chinese New Year of the Yin Green Goat
  • Acupuncture Awareness Week: 2-8 March - free 15 minute consultations
  • Stress & biomarkers: how acupuncture helps
  • Qi breathing: microcosmic orbit

The Year of the Green Goat 
19 Feb 2015

is the start of the 4713th year of the Chinese calendar which is Year of the Goat (Sheep) and a Yin Wood year

The Chinese calendar dates back to the Yellow Emperor and uses the Stem-Branch system to count the days, months and years. There are 10 Stems and 12 Branches in this system. Stems are named by the Yin-Yang and Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water). Branches use animal names and the sequence is Rat, Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and Pig. Stem and Branch are used together to form a cycle of 60 counting systems which begin with Wooden Rat and ends with Water Pig.

Yin Wood Goat
Corresponding to renewal, growth and balance, Wood is a perfect compliment to the zodiac Goat, which contains Fire, Earth and also some Wood. Fire creates Earth, Earth produces Wood, Wood feeds Fire. This dynamic process can be seen as a simplified version or subset of the Wu Xing or Five Element cycle (also an aspect of Traditional Chinese medicine). 

So, while the Year of the Goat is far from sedate, there are a number of stabilising factors. We have time to stop and smell the flowers along the way. The Goat likes to play and explore the world with bright-eyed wonder. This sign invites you to nurture your inner child and cultivate the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled.

To see what the year of the goat holds for your own Chinese animal sign see here (NOTE: this website is for reference and I do not endorse its views or recommend its products).

Acupuncture Awareness Week 

2-8 March 2015

Acupuncture Awareness Week, supported by the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), aims to help better inform people about the ancient practice of traditional acupuncture. With 2.3 million acupuncture treatments carried out each year, acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies practised in the UK today. Yet many people only discover acupuncture as a last resort despite its widely recognised health benefits.

Laura is a member of the BAcC.
For a free 15-min consultation email

Stress: how acupuncture helps

In today’s fast-paced, urban life we all suffer from stress in some form. Up to half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress every year, which often results in illness.1Stress is a physical and psychological response to perceived demands and pressures. It is manifested in symptoms such as anxiety, back pain, chronic pain, depression, headache, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menopausal symptoms, migraines, premenstrual syndrome and urinary incontinence. If stress-related symptoms are left untreated chronic conditions can develop and subsequently lead to serious illness, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.2
An exciting new area of research is the effect of acupuncture in modulating certain biomarkers. It is increasingly understood in conventional medicine that a small number of biochemical mechanisms, like low-level chronic inflammation, underly a very wide number of chronic diseases, from type 2 diabetes to depression to cardiovascular disease to cancer.

Acupuncture has been shown to down-regulate and beneficially effect a host of inflammatory mechanisms including down-regulating the expression of many pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as suppressing COX-1 and COX-2 (like taking an NSAID - ie ibuprofen - but without the increased risk of ulcers).3 Acupuncture has also been shown in a number of studies to improve the function of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis), which is basically the physical network through which stress exerts harmful effects on the body.4 

This large and growing body of research on acupuncture’s beneficial effects on various fundamental biomarkers helps to explain why it is successfully used for such a wide-variety of clinical conditions.

1 cited in Huang et al (2011) An investigation into the effectiveness of traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA) for chronic stress in adults: A randomised controlled pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (17) pp16-21
2 Health and Safety Executive (2011) Stress-related and psychological illness [online]. Available:
3 McDonald et al (2013). The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture and Their Relevance to Allergic Rhinitis: A Narrative Review and Proposed Model. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013(4), 1–12.
4 Cho et al (2006). Neural substrates, experimental evidences and functional hypothesis of acupuncture mechanisms. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 113(6), 370–377

Qi breathing: microcosmic orbit

In the 2014 Summer newsletter I described dantian breathing or taking qi to dantian. After practicing qigong or taiji for a while, the qi becomes strong enough to go through the front (Ren) channel and the back (Du) channel to form a circle or xiao zhou tien or microcosmic orbit. In Daoist philosophy, man is a connecting heaven and earth through this breathing. 
  1. sit or stand comfortably, feet shoulder width
  2. "make the magpie bridge" (place tip of tongue on upper palate just behind the front teeth, relax the tongue)*
  3. breathe in through the nose - take the qi from the tip of tongue down to dantian (tummy comes out)
  4. breathe out through the nose - take qi from dantian through perineum to coccyx and allow it to float up the spine, over the head and back to the magpie bridge

* The magpie bridge only needs to be formed at the start of the in breath, but you may find it easier to leave the tongue there
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