About Me

Interests and Hobbies

Anthropology of Medicine

I have had a long interest in ancient and folk medical practices from around the world. Some areas I have looked at include classical Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Babylonian traditions, medieval European and Middle Eastern medicine, central American Aztec and Mayan practices, Siberian shamanism, Indian vital spot therapies and traditional African folk healing.

My particular focus has been on the potential mechanisms of traditional healing across systems, how they are adapting to today's modern, scientific, globalised world, and how they change to meet local demands when transplanted across cultures. Interest is growing in understanding them better as they have served us right through our evolution up to modern times. In a society increasingly dealing with chronic health issues and invisible diseases there is great potential for therapies which do not have the side effects of long term drug use or repeated surgical interventions.

Body Art

Closely connected with anthropology of medicine is the practice of body art. I have studied the ways people manipulate and modify their bodies and minds from all over the world, at one time working in the piercing and tattooing industry where I witnessed the resurgence of these practices in the west first hand. In many cultures there is not the clear distinction that we are used to between medicine, art, ritual and religion. These practices often cross several of these lines and are always interesting for the way the challenge our traditional view of the body.

Neuroscience

Neuroscience has advanced immensely in the last few years with the realisation that our brains are constantly evolving in response to stimulation (neuroplasticity). We are also learning about the importance of contextual factors to influence our interpretation of experiences. The idea that we are in constant interaction with our environment and every part of us is affected by it is very close to many of the ancient Chinese philosophies and should be able to inform each other.

By understanding the essential role of the nervous system in every interaction I think it is possible to develop a traditional medical practice that works creatively and holistically without having to resort to superstitious beliefs in spirits or energies (although the anthropologist in me finds it fascinating that we are often doing the same thing, just explaining it differently).

Cybernetics

Cybernetics is the study of dynamic systems of self-regulation such as those seen in computers, applied to other complex entities like economies, weather systems, ecologies, social networks, the human body and brain. In medicine this involves taking a holistic approach, seeing the interactions between various systems in our bodies. In therapeutics it involves applying that thinking to the various spheres of our life and reducing a problem by altering the things it depends upon to thrive, an approach very similar to Chinese medical philosophy.

A combination of my current career in Chinese medicine, my previous work as a programmer, database administrator and network engineer and my initial studies in anthropology, I employ this a lot in my the way I approach problems in the clinic.

Martial Arts

I have practised martial arts throughout my life for physical fitness and mental discipline including Karate, Aikido, Muay thai, Jujitsu, archery and Kendo. I currently practice T'ai chi Yang style short and narrow sword forms, Qigong, and meditation. I am currently assisting my instructor teach at our local T'ai chi class.

These give me practical insights into how the body moves which I employ when devising exercises to help in the clinic.

Chinese History and Philosophy

In order to understand acupuncture properly it is necessary to understand the context in which it has been practised in the past. As I consider it to be an art of stimulation, and stimulation is never without interpretation, it is important to understand the meanings given to each action so we can decide if and how they should be applied today.

To achieve this I maintain an interest in the history and culture of pre-modern China, especially in relation to its belief systems and attitudes towards the body. My favourite periods are the time between 6th century BC to the 2nd century AD, when most of the earliest texts of medicine and philosophy were written.

Cooking

I enjoy the process of cooking: the meditative concentration, the way ingredients combine and transform into something new. It also encourages me to learn about nutrition and the properties of ingredients that I use. My favourite cuisines are probably south east Asian and Mexican.

I question a lot of fads and fashions as being more about marketing than health, preferring to live by simple rules such as: a varied diet with moderate portions; plenty of fruit and vegetables; less sugars, salt and unhealthy fats; and awareness of hidden levels in processed, manufactured foods.

Tea

There is not much more English and Chinese than tea so it is no surprise that I have an interest in all its varieties, styles and customs around the world. I have written articles for websites selling tea about the history, cultivation and preparation of tea and its impact on global culture.

Writing

I always enjoyed creative writing when I was young and wanted to be a writer. As I got older I learned how to organise my thoughts into a clear arguments for essays at university. I still like to maintain this skill, putting thoughts I have into informal essays in order to clarify my position and ensure I have a record to reference in future.

Most of my writing related to Chinese medicine is posted online in my blog and one of my assignments is awaiting publication in a journal in 2017.