About Me

Specialisations and Interests

Specialisations

Pain Management and Neuroscience

The management of pain was one of the first reasons I started to study Chinese medicine. Western medicine has spent a long time trying locate and remove the anatomical source of the pain when recent research has shown they are often poorly correlated with suffering. My studies into anthropology of pain management led me to look at Chinese medicine to discover what solutions were available if we approach from a different perspective. Pain medicine is slowly starting to see the value in this with biopsychosocial models and multimodal management strategies that are very similar to the ancient Chinese approach. By interacting with the nervous system we can work directly with the mechanisms involved in pain to help patients understand their condition and facilitate improvements without using poorly evidenced methods of structural manipulation or talk of energy fields.

Recent courses I have undertaken in pain management include:



Microbiomes, the Gut-Brain Axis and Systems Biology

The nervous and digestive systems form the entry points by which Chinese medicine can influence the rest of the body and so I take a particular interest in the microbiome and how it interacts with other biological systems. These fields have undergone revolutions in recent years and yet their new models often bear remarkable similarity to how ancient physicians saw their methods working, described as cultivating an invisible ecosystem. Chinese herbs are mostly prepared in water which readily dissolves the sugars that interact with particular species of these bacteria. This makes it possible to develop a practice that is simultaneously faithful to ancient principles and comprehensible to modern science.

Some recent activities include:
  • 2017 - Authored article: Literature Review of Chinese Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Gastritis
  • 2017 - Treating Digestive Diseases (gut dysbiosis, SIBO and IBS) with Chinese Herbal Medicine Workshop
This is not only limited to digestive disorders with changes to the microbial profile of the gut being linked to autoimmunity, metabolic disorders, the production of fatty plaques in cardiovascular disease and many of the health problems that have increased since the prolific use the antibiotics and refined sugars begun.



Herbal Quality Control and Assurance

Correct identification of herbal species and elimination of contaminants is essential for the safe practice for herbal medicine. Despite manufactured products having a licensing program the government has failed to implement any statutory quality controls for customised herbal medicines in the UK. It is therefore essential that individual practitioners and the voluntary regulatory bodies make an effort to enforce quality on the industry themselves.

As well as learning as much as I can about recognising plants by their physical characteristics I have also attended the following:
  • 2017 - High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography Workshop
    HPTLC is a laboratory technique used to identify species, detect adulterants and contaminants based on profiles of their constituents.




Interests


History and 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.



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 and Qigong which I have been doing since 2014 and am currently assisting my instructor teach at our local class.

These give me practical insights into how the body moves which informs the way I assess movement, devise treatments and think about exercises. I do not offer tuition but can put people in touch with my instructors if they wish.



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 and how it has developed up to the modern day. Since 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 to each person.

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 10th century AD, when most of the earliest texts of medicine and philosophy were written. I am especially interested when an ancient text describes an idea or a method that has fallen out of use but newer models of biology of psychology indicate may have been more accurate or effective than the current popular practices.



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 the journal of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine in autumn 2017.