Today is the start of the year of the Earth Dog, but there are actually five different types of Dogs based on the five elements of Wood. Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. You’ve most probably heard of these elements, but how do they influence you and your health?

Rooted in nature’s seasons, 5 Element theory allows us to classify people into element types. As microcosms of nature we have within in us all 5 Elements, but as with nature our inner climate has a hierarchy of elements. Identifying this interplay is what allows your acupuncturist to diagnose and treat you. It also gives you tools to better understand and maintain your own health and those of your friends and family.

In Chinese Medicine, 5 Element theory underpins your acupuncture treatment. As soon as a new patient enters my treatment room I mentally gather information. How do they move? What body shape are they? What tone is their voice? So the list goes on as you provide data that I can use to better understand your element or constitution type.

Each element has a host of associations, but for our purposes, they relate to an organ pair. For example, The Spleen (SP) and Stomach (ST) belong to the Earth element. If Earth is your dominant element then you may manifest some characteristic symptoms when out of balance. But don't worry (an Earth type tendency!) there are things you can do for yourself to regain your equilibrium...

Read on to find out how you can identify your dominant element (s) and discover some self-help tools including dietary advice, acupressure and yoga...

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Earlier I was sitting in my office doing admin listening to a discussion on Radio 4 about the menopause. My post arrived and in it was a book I had recently ordered: Managing Menopause Naturally with Chinese Medicine, by Honora Lee Wolfe.

Why the growing interest in the menopause? Personally, the menopause is more on my mind as I approach my mid-40's, my middle age, as, although my periods may not stop until I'm 50, physiologically I'm already changing, I'm peri-menopausal.

Consequently, I'm taking stock and reviewing my life-style choices.  Preserving my energy reserves (Jing) for later in my life is more of a priority.  For example, I’m balancing my tendency towards Yang activity like mountain biking with more Yin activity – contemplation in woods and Yin yoga. Likewise, I’m making more informed dietary choices such as substituting Yin depleting coffee for Blood nourishing drinks, such as hibiscus and nettle teas.

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Acupuncture practitioners in the UK (article written by the BAcC can viewed on their website here)

Two main groups of health professionals employ acupuncture techniques in their clinical work. The main group are professional traditional acupuncturists who have normally completed a 3,600 hour, degree level training in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.

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Dear Ruth,

It is with great joy that I can announce the beautiful, safe and healthy arrival of our daughter. A much long awaited miracle we thought would never happen and I must offer my sincere gratitude to yourself for helping make this dream a reality.

After several upsetting disappointments, your empathy and professionalism together with your expertise helped and supported my health and lifestyle whilst balancing my emotional and physical well-being. Your immense skill as a practitioner in providing me with such a calming environment and supporting my hopes and dreams by fine-tuning my body to support and promote the IVF process.

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The dimpled, orange-peel skin characteristic of cellulite is not an illness but if you don’t like having it there are things you can do to reduce its appearance and prevent it forming.

Cellulite is the stagnation of fatty tissue commonly on the hips and thighs. I have had so many of my female clients complain of their cellulite – even thin ones – and have had enough happy clients that I have decided to advertise my bespoke, anti-cellulite acupuncture-cupping treatment programme.

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Often I am asked what the difference is between the traditional Acupuncture that I practice and 'dry needling' as practiced by other medical practitioners such as physiotherapists.

I am a registered member of the British Acupuncture Council. BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. This style of acupuncture differs from that used by medical practitioners such as physiotherapists where the technique of 'dry needling' is adopted.

Although both practises use needles, dry needling aims for 'trigger points' whereas traditional acupuncture is based on the meridian system. Medical acupuncturists usually have significantly fewer training hours in the technique of acupuncture and use it as part of their practice alongside conventional treatments.

To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in acupuncture (minimum three years full-time at BSc or BA degree level) which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture and their expert practice skills are maintained by following a mandatory individual programme of continuing professional development (CPD). BAcC membership is also a mark of assurance of high standards in professionalism, training and safety.

The British Acupuncture Council is also accredited by the Professional Standards Authority under its Accredited Voluntary Registers (AVR) scheme. Being accredited under the AVR scheme offers enhanced protection to anyone looking for an acupuncturist.

(information from the British Acupuncture Council press release for AAW 2016)

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