Chinese medicine has recognised for thousands of years that there is more to health than taking pills. Acupuncture has long been a mystery to me but we were recently offered the chance to try it out so I volunteered Mr C!

Local resident John Tu has trained in classical five element acupuncture under Gerad Kite who runs arguably the most lauded acupuncture clinic in London. Kite was a self confessed sceptic about alternative treatments until he tried it for himself and never looked back. He treats health issues from infertility to depression, addiction, headaches and pain and much in between.

Five element came out of the Taoist tradition, which was based on how the Chinese related to nature, how they understood the link between what was happening in the outside world and the interior one. It is totally different to the rigorous approach of western medicine, and a concept many of us have difficulty understanding. The seasons affect the body dramatically.

The five elements are earth, fire, water, wood and metal and each element represents a distinct energies within the body. Each relates to a particular organ. Five Element acupuncture seeks to rebalance the body. Every body has a particular element which they tend to be weak in and it will be this one that sets off the imbalance, leading to issues.

John starts by taking a health history, including questions about your emotional state and anything which is bothering you. He is a good listener. He believes in treating the person, not the symptoms which he describes as merely the alarm bells of an underlying problem. His belief is to provide a long term fix by identifying the problem then building the person up to health holistically. Fix the person, not the ailment. It is not easy for us westerners to get our head around this different approach. The approach may seem more akin to counselling initially, but this is an important part to the whole treatment.

John then takes the pulses – yes, we have 6, not one! They are indicative of underlying issues.

Application of needles is extremely precise entering at points relating to the internal flow of energy, or the meridian lines. Measuring and precision are very important. Any treatment will be useless unless needles are correctly placed. The correct placement will also mean that you will not feel them! The placement avoids any nerves or bone when done correctly. You may feel an instant surge of energy, or it may take longer for changes to occur but usually after one session, physical symptoms have subsided.

John may also apply Moxa grass which is a herb. Also known as mugwort, it looks like a moss and is lit before application. It is believed to emit ‘yang’ energy and dispels dampness in the body. Damp is associated with decay and toxin retention and may have an effect on sinus or snoring.

John Tu recognises that the concept of Five Element acupuncture is not easy to understand so he offers all first consultations free of charge, so anyone can try acupuncture before they choose it. If you are interested in alternative therapies this sounds like a great offer. John operates out of the Kingston Natural Health Centre, London Road, Kingston.

Contact John on 0781 067 8761 to book an appointment.