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 pain when recent research has shown that physical changes 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 biological systems interact with each other. 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:This is not limited to digestive disorders as changes to our microbial profiles have been linked to immune, metabolic and mood disorders and many of the health problems that have increased since the prolific use the antibiotics and refined sugars begun.



Quality Control and Assurance

Improving the quality of Chinese medicine in the UK is of great concern to me. In herbal medicine this means implementing programs of correct identification of herbal species and elimination of contaminants. In acupuncture this requires a rethink of the discipline as an art of stimulation and, since we cannot effectively blind a research group to whether they have have felt something, we have to rethink how we can test these therapies. Since the government has chosen not to implement statutory regulations for acupuncture or herbs it is essential that individual practitioners and the voluntary regulatory bodies make every effort to enforce quality on the industry themselves.

I have recently 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. I would like to see the professional bodies build databases of standards against which they insist their "approved suppliers" check their stock against to maintain their approved status.




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 worked in their original settings, how they are adapting to today's modern, scientific, globalised world and what things might have been lost in their attempts to do so. The evolution of Chinese medicine through the 20th century is an excellent case in point: modernising into a set of mechanical interventions with questionable results only for 21st century science to make neurological and microbiomic advances that start to parallel the older models which were almost abandoned. 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. Body modification practices often cross several of these lines and are always interesting for the way they challenge our traditional view of the body. It makes us question whether a medicine is really just a drug, herb or physical manipulation or whether it is part of a culture and a lifestyle that is actively nurtured. In practice this means understanding the context of each individual's presentation and attempting to find a way that treatment can make the most meaningful change to their lives.



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 and 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.