As an Acupuncturist in Inverness, I have seen great change during the years that I have lived here.  Not only Chinese medicine, but also the range of Complementary Therapies on offer in the Inverness area has increased hugely in the last 25 years.

I moved to the Highlands in 1996 with a 3-month-old baby to live the dream, leave London and live in a beautiful country setting near Alness. At that time there were only 3 other acupuncturists in Inverness, one of whom I was taking over from in her retirement and there was only one other Chinese Herbalist. People in Inverness regarded acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine as strange and unusual. Since those days many other acupuncture practitioners have moved to the Highlands, other therapists like physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors have started including acupuncture in their treatments and courses have appeared in “dry needling”. This has brought acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine into the everyday awareness of the Highland community.

When I worked in London, half of my work was in the NHS, in a hospital pain clinic and a doctor’s surgery.  Here the treatment was free for all the patients as I was employed by the NHS. I have tried to find similar work up here ever since I moved up but have never managed to achieve this goal. There was a glimmer of hope about 10 years ago when acupuncture was almost awarded NHS funding status in Scotland and I was informed, due to my past experience that the post in Inverness would be offered to me, due to my past experience. Sadly, Complementary Therapies fell out of favour with the governing party of the time, homoeopathy lost it’s funding and acupuncture never started. The closest I got was working from a GP’s practice in Dingwall for 5 years, taking over from a retired doctor who had practised acupuncture from there before.  Luckily there are now many supportive local GP’s and hospital consultants who do highly recommend acupuncture treatment, so things have improved.

I have worked as an Acupuncturist in Inverness for 24 years at The Centre for Complementary Therapies (now called Kinmylies Therapy Centre). I have seen many practitioners come and go and the ethos of the clinic has changed over the years. We have all struggled hugely with the coronavirus epidemic, as has every clinic, trying to keep up with the Government regulations and provide an environment that assures patients that they are safe and well cared for.

Although I am an Acupuncturist in Inverness I also work from a lovely little clinic in Dingwall called the Green Oak clinic, which is above Batty’s Baps on the High Street, being above a cafe definitely has it’s advantages when I forget my lunch or need a nice coffee! This is the 4th move in Dingwall, but hopefully, our little band of 4 practitioners will stay for some time as we are very looked after by The Legion staff.

The third clinic I run is from my home in Ardross by Alness. Despite being well out in the country, some patients choose to come to my home as it is very quiet, and some feel it a safer place for treatment during the pandemic.

Normally I would see patients from all over the Highlands and even from Orkney and the Western Isles, however, due to travel restrictions I now offer online consultations, this works particularly well for herbal consultations. I have also used online appointments to show breathing techniques for conditions such as anxiety and long covid lung and remedial exercises for back, neck and shoulder pain. These sessions have also been available for anyone shielding or not confident of going to a public space such as a clinic.

My Yoga classes that are usually in Tain, Ardross and Dingwall,  have also returned to Zoom in the second lockdown. I have been enjoying working out different and interesting yoga sequences to challenge all my students.

Please feel free to contact me.

Acupuncture and Cupping, more than half of the ills cured” is a famous Chinese saying, supporting traditional Chinese medicine.

Cupping is one of the treatments that are practised in Chinese medicine, alongside acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal remedies and Tui Na (Chinese massage).  Generally, it is combined with acupuncture, but it can be used on its own. Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatic and arthritic conditions, menstrual and digestive conditions and respiratory problems.

The suction provided by cupping loosens muscles and encourages blood flow, especially in localised areas of pain and stiffness, it also calms the nervous system so helping reduce high blood pressure and reduce anxiety.

Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It can affect tissues up to four inches deep. It releases toxins, moves blockages and improves circulation. Cupping clears congestion in the lungs from a cold and reduces coughing and tight chest in a chest infection and asthma. It removes toxins and improves blood flow through veins and arteries, it is very beneficial for muscle spasm in athletes.  It benefits the digestive system, improves metabolism, relieves constipation and improves digestion.

Cupping used to be used regularly in British hospitals in the 1800s for contagious diseases. In China, the first use of cupping was documented 3000 years ago for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. It is still widely in use in many Mediterranean countries.

Cupping is the term used for the technique of applying glass, silicon, plastic or bamboo cups as suction devices to the skin. The practitioner starts by applying a light application of oil to the skin and then selecting the number, size and type of cup best to use, this depends on the problem, it’s location, the size and age and health of the patient. The traditional method of cupping creates a vacuum by placing a flame inside the cup and then applying the cup to the skin, as the air inside the cup cools it contracts and creates the suction, this sucks up the skin and tissues creating a pulling sensation. This sensation is usually very pleasant and helps relieve tight and sore muscles. The cups are usually left on for about 10 minutes and then removed, the area is lightly massaged after cupping. This technique is known as “dry cupping”. A more modern method uses vacuum cups, where the air is drawn out of the cup using a suction pump, this requires no flame and allows for more careful control of the degree of suction.

“Gliding cupping” is a technique where the cup is used to give a deep massage. Glass cups are used on well-oiled skin, once the suction is created the cup or cups are moved over the tight or sore area to give a very deep massage, this can be quite intense, but very relieving.

Cupping is like the inverse of massage, rather than applying pressure to the muscles, it uses suction to pull the muscles upwards. This is usually a relaxing and relieving sensation.

Cups can be used on their own or in conjunction with acupuncture. When used with needling the cups are placed over the inserted acupuncture needles, enhancing their effect. The treatment of a cold or asthma requires the combination of acupuncture with cupping.

The side effects are mild, the technique can leave mild bruising or “cupping marks”, these clear within the week and usually sooner.

Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Yoga are all be effective in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found acupuncture reduced the severity of hot flushes.

I regularly treat women for a variety of menopausal symptoms in my clinics in Inverness, Dingwall and Alness.

All women will go through the menopause. For some, it is part of life’s natural patterns and they manage the changes, for others, it is debilitating and life-changing.

Chinese medicine is very effective in the treatment of the menopause. Herbal medicine is the most direct route, with a wide range of herbal formulas treating all the main symptoms of the menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disorders, vaginal dryness, headaches, anxiety and mood swings and palpitations. The herbs can be used on their own or in combination with acupuncture which can really help with joint stiffness, aches and pains, headaches and sleep problems.

Yoga and Tai chi are also beneficial during this adjustment in life, reducing stress and anxiety, calming the mind, improving energy and helping sleep.

Technically the menopause is the last menstrual period, this term also covers the time when the menstrual cycle gradually ceases and with it ovulation (and fertility ).

The menopause is a natural part of ageing and usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. Some women can go through a premature menopause ( before the age of 45) for various different medical reasons.

The most common menopausal symptoms are:

Hot flushes – short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest which can make the skin red and sweaty.

Night sweats – hot flushes at night

Difficulty sleeping – this can cause tiredness, irritability and brain fog during the day.

Reduced sex drive (Libido)

Problems with memory and concentration

Vaginal dryness – and pain, itching and discomfort during sex.


Mood changes – low mood and anxiety

Palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable

Joint stiffness, aches and pains

Reduced muscle mass

Recurrent urinary tract infections

Osteoporosis – weak bones, low density

On average, most symptoms last around 1 to 4 years from the last period. However, around 1 in 10 women experience these for up to 12 years.

The beauty of Chinese herbal medicine is that it can treat very specific symptoms. There are different herbal formulas for hot flushes with excessive sweating to hot flushes that burn up and dry out. There are remedies for sleep disorders with palpitations and night sweats and other where the sleep disorder causes headaches and low mood. There are also herbs that can improve bone density. Adding acupuncture to the herbs can target the treatment more specifically for each patient.


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Over the counter, natural remedies can also be very effective.

Black cohosh is probably the most well known having had the most research, it is effective. For hot flushes, however, it should not be used if there is a history of liver disease.

Red clover contains isoflavones which have an oestrogen like effect and can relieve menopausal symptoms. This should not be used if there is a history of breast cancer.

Red sage can be used as a supplement, in food or as a tea, this can reduce excess sweating, hot flushes and poor memory.

St John’s Wort is good for sleep disorders, mood swings and anxiety.

Dong Quai or Chinese Angelica helps reduce hot flushes, but should not be used if there is a history of blood clotting.

Ginseng can help mood swings and sleep disturbances

Kava can decrease anxiety, but should not be used if a history of liver disease.

Evening Primrose Oil reduces hot flushes.

Foods that contain isoflavones or phytoestrogens like Soya, tofu, soya beans and edamame reduce hot flushes, night sweats and improve vaginal dryness. In countries where these foods are eaten regularly like the Far East, women experience fewer menopausal symptoms.

Vitamin D either from exposure to the sun or in supplement improves bone density and mood swings.

Natural progesterone cream used topically can reduce hot flushes.

Anti flush knickers and vests draw away the sweat and reduce the severity of hot flushes with anti flush fabric.

Menopause magnet works by rebalancing part of the autonomic nervous system.

Yoga has many benefits for the menopausal woman. It can help reduce anxiety, irritability, insomnia and hot flushes. It also keeps the body supple and helps with muscle and joint pains.

Exercise – vigorous exercise increases bone density, the more impact the more effective. Running and dancing have more impact on bone density than swimming and cycling,


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So how does a woman naturally ride the menopause with the minimum symptoms? Diet and exercise both play very important roles. A diet high in phytoestrogens, such as soya products, linseed, rhubarb, celery, fennel, Chickpeas and lentils ( all pulses are good), sage and yarrow. Plenty of oily fish and either a good supplement of vitamin D or sun exposure (or both) will all help reduce symptoms and reduce the chances of osteoporosis. Regular exercise, combining high impact for bone density with yoga or Pilates for relaxation and stretching. If this is not sufficient then a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine should help treat the worst of the symptoms.

One of the real issues with treating and coping with the menopause is that the symptoms wax and wane and change, so one needs to keep ahead of them and change treatment tactics to keep one step ahead and keep in control.

Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Massage are very effective in the treatment of both headaches and migraines. Headaches are very common, most people rest or take an over the counter painkiller and the headache clears, however, for many the headaches persist or reoccur and they seek treatment.

The treatment of headaches and migraines with acupuncture, massage and Chinese herbal medicine involves an in-depth consultation, there are many types of headaches and the treatment is only effective if a correct diagnosis is made.


Where on the head is a headache? Is it on the top, back or front, one side, both sides or all over? These areas involve different acupuncture channels and the root of the cause can vary. For example, a headache on the top of the head is more likely to come from stress or suppressed anger if strong and thumping or after a heavy period in women if duller. The forehead is more associated with the stomach and digestive problems, or if it comes from the occipital area and includes the forehead it is often neck tension. The sides of the head usually form tension in the shoulders, some tooth problems and gallbladder issues, the back of the head and neck can be painful or ache after exposure to cold and wind or if the muscles of the upper,  medium and lower trapezius are tight. One-sided headaches or behind the eyes are usually linked with migraines and have the associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting, aura and photosensitivity ( aggravated by light).

What is the pain like? This gives many clues as to the origin, possible cause and how to treat. A dull headache can be from overtiredness, after a heavy period, lack of sleep. A heavy head from a cold, sinusitis, blocked ears and can be linked to dizziness and a muzzy head. A stiffness in the back of the head and neck may be exposure to cold and wind or muscle tension n the neck and shoulders, a stabbing pain may be the site of a fall or previous injury. A persistent cough can cause a strong headache all over the head.

The time of day and what makes a headache or a migraine worse or improve is important in diagnosis. Is it better for rest or activity? What time of the day or night does it come on? Is it affected by weather or emotions? Are there any food links? Many of these factors can improve or aggravate the sensation of a headache.

For women, the menstrual cycle plays a huge factor in their headaches. For many the build-up or premenstrual section of the month can cause severe headaches and migraines, for others it is during the bleed or after, these headaches tend to be duller and more diffuse. Treatment for menstrually related headaches will involve acupuncture and herbs to help regulate the cycle and treat PMS if appropriate word tonics to help the dull post menstrual headaches, especially if there is a heavy bleed involved.

Food and diet can be a huge factor in the cause and treatment of headaches. If headaches seem to be food related a food elimination schedule can isolate the likely culprit. There are common foods that cause headaches, such as caffeine (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks), chocolate, alcohol, citrus fruits, wheat products, dairy and sugar. But sometimes the trigger is not obvious, in these cases it is often a food that is eaten regularly, where the patient builds up a resistance, but in time this causes headaches. For these patients, a methodical elimination of commonly eaten foods can come up with the cause. Generally improving the diet, reducing caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods etc. will reduce the severity of most headaches. However, if someone takes a lot of caffeine, they may get headaches as a reaction to cutting it out or reducing substantially until the body adjusts.


Once a diagnosis has been reached, with appropriate questions as to the cause and aggravation of the headaches, then the treatment will consist of acupuncture, massage and Guashi for more musculoskeletal headaches. Guashi is a technique that involves light scraping of the affected areas, this brings the blood to the surface, increasing localized blood flow and shows all the sensitive areas of the back, neck and shoulders. For more internally caused headaches the acupuncture and massage will be combined with Chinese herbal medicine and appropriate dietary advice.

Headaches and migraines respond well to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, not everyone is completely cured, but the majority get substantial relief from treatment. Enough to reduce medication and to lead a more normal life. Once the headaches have been reduced or cleared they usually stay that way, unless something adverse occurs to the patient, like a physical injury or severe stress.

Some patients actually get headaches as a result of taking excessive painkillers long-term acupuncture, massage and herbal medicine can wean them off dependency and allow them to reduce medication without adverse side effects.



Chinese scalp acupuncture is used as an effective treatment for many neurological conditions. It is mainly known for the treatment of stroke patients, studies show how it can effectively improve the quality of life for a post-stroke patient, bringing sensation back to paralysed limbs and improving speech, hearing and balance problems.  Scalp acupuncture areas are frequently used in the rehabilitation of stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, and Parkinson’s disease. It is very effective for pain management, especially pain caused by the central nervous system such as phantom limb pain, complex regional pain and residual limb pain. There are also research studies showing it’s effectiveness in treating aphasia, loss of balance, loss of hearing, dizziness and vertigo.

Chinese Scalp Acupuncture
The location of scalp acupuncture areas are based on the reflex somatotopic system organised in the surface of the scalp in Western Medicine, it is very much linked to brain anatomy and not to the traditional cheese medicine system of channels and points. An understanding and study of brain anatomy are required for the practice of scalp acupuncture. This type of acupuncture consists of needling areas rather than points on the skull according to the brain neuroanatomy and neurophysiology.  Scalp acupuncture needles are subcutaneously inserted into whole sections of various zones, unlike the single point insertion of traditional acupuncture. These zones are specific areas through which the function of the nervous and endocrine systems are transported to and from the surface of the scalp. These zones correspond to the cortical areas of the cerebrum and cerebellum responsible for central nervous system functions such as motor activity, sensory input, vision, speech, hearing and balance.  The scalp somatotopic system seems to operate as a miniature transmitter-receiver in direct contact with the central nervous and endocrine systems. By stimulating these reflex areas, acupuncture can have direct effects on the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, thalamus cortical circuits, thalamus, hypothalamus and pineal body.  Scalp acupuncture treats and prevents disease through the insertion of fine needles into the appropriate scalp areas. These needles are then manipulated to regulate and harmonise the functional activities of the brain and body. It integrates ancient Chinese needling techniques with western neurology.
Paralysis is one of the main conditions treated by scalp acupuncture.
Paralysis is a loss of muscle strength and voluntary movement. It is usually caused by damage to the nervous system, especially the brain and spinal cord. This can be due to stroke, trauma with nerve injury, poliomyelitis, sclerosis, botulism, spina bifida and multiple sclerosis. Even conditions with minor paralysis and associated sensations such as numbness and tingling caused by nerve impingement respond well to scalp acupuncture in the appropriate zones.  Stroke is an acute neurological disease in which blood supply to the brain is interrupted causing brain cells to die and be damaged, impairing brain functions. In the treatment of paralysis and stroke scalp and body acupuncture is most effective if started as soon after the incident as possible, although “it is never too late to treat a paralysed patient with scalp acupuncture”. However, when treating haemorrhagic stroke, scalp acupuncture should not be performed until the patient’s condition is stable, about one month after the stroke. Stroke from thrombosis or embolism should be treated as soon as possible.  Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing. This can affect all age groups but is more common in the elderly. It can be caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, myasthenia gravis and Bell’s palsy. This condition can respond well to scalp acupuncture.
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease of the nervous system, where communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted. Common symptoms of MS are numbness, tingling, weakness in one or more limbs, visual disturbance, tremor, unsteady gait, fatigue, muscle stiffness and spasticity. A combination of scalp and body acupuncture, depending on the prevalent symptoms is the best course of treatment.  Spinal cord injuries, often caused by car or sporting injuries. Common symptoms include arm and leg paralysis and weakness, difficulty breathing, tingling, numbness, pain. As for MS, the most effective treatment is a combination of body and scalp acupuncture.
Bell’s Palsy is the paralysis and weakness of one side of the facial muscles caused by a viral attack to the facial nerves. Most patients with Bell’s palsy recover quite quickly but some strains of the virus cause more extensive nerve damage and result in longer periods of paralysis and weakness. Combing facial electro-acupuncture with scalp acupuncture can speed recovery and prevent a long-term problem. This is also the same in the treatment of post-hepatic neuralgia.
Scalp acupuncture is also very effective in treating many pain conditions such as phantom limb pain, complex regional pain, residual limb pain, plantar fasciitis, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, shingles and post hepatic neuralgia, lower back and other musculoskeletal pains.
It can be used in the treatment of sense organ disorders such as Menieres syndrome, tinnitus, hearing loss and vision loss.
It is also very helpful in some complex paediatric disorders such as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bed wetting.
Scalp acupuncture can be beneficial in other neuropsychological disorders such as Post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s, essential tremor and chronic fatigue syndrome.
In conclusion, scalp acupuncture is a very useful tool for the treatment of many neurological and pain conditions, especially in combination with body acupuncture.

Chinese medicine is a very effective treatment for skin problems, it can often resolve stubborn skin conditions that Western medicine struggles to treat. The most common conditions treated by Chinese herbal medicine are eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoiec dermatitis and urticaria. Acupuncture and herbs can also help with related skin conditions such as alopecia, chilblains and leg ulcers.

The most widely publicized skin condition that Chinese herbs can treat is eczema. The most common form being atopic dermatitis with its classic itching, redness and dryness especially in the folds of the skin, like the elbows, knees, wrists and eyes. Usually this is an allergic reaction and patients who suffer from this are characteristically “atopic”, they suffer from other allergies such as hay fever or asthma. Finding the cause of the allergy, whether it is a food, body lotion, soap powder or other irritant is the first part of treatment, to stop the condition reoccurring.

The Chinese herbalist’s skill is then in diagnosing which kind of eczema it is, more dry and itchy, thickened skin, crusting, spotting along with other symptoms and work out a specific Chinese herbal formula for that type of eczema and that patient. There are also sub-conditions such as Pompholyx or Dishydrotic eczema, affecting just hands or feet that can respond very well to appropriate Chinese herbal treatment. Stress aggravates and can cause eczema, so a major part of treatment would be stress reducing techniques like acupuncture, breathing and relaxation.

Chinese Herbs For Skin Conditions

The second most common skin condition treated by Chinese medicine is Psoriasis, one of the scaling disorders. This can range from lots of small spots spread over the body as in guttate psoriasis, to localized thickened round, well demarcated scaly plaques as in plaque psoriasis or psoriasis vulgaris or itchy crusting, thickened skin with small pustules called pustular psoriasis. Psoriasis is an unusual condition that can just come and go of its own accord and does not seem to be linked to allergies. It is classified as one of the autoimmune diseases and at its worst stages can lead to psoriatic arthritis (pain and thickening in the joints) and psoriatic nails, with thickened, flaking, yellow nails which are different from fungal nail infection.

Again, the art of the Chinese herbalist is to diagnose and distinguish between the different forms of psoriasis (and other skin conditions), using Chinese medicine differentiation to find the most appropriate herbal formulas to treat the condition. Often the formula has to change and adapt as the condition changes with treatment. Acupuncture plays a role in treating the pain and immobility of Psoriatic arthritis.

Chinese Herbs For Skin ConditionsSeborrhoiec dermatitis should not be overlooked. It is often misdiagnosed, as psoriasis on the scalp and eczema on the body. It can cause extreme dandruff and very itchy skin, especially in the larger folds of the skin (armpits, groin and below breasts) and can cause an unpleasant associated smell if there is a secondary yeast infection as well. Again good diagnosis and appropriate herbs for the severity of the dermatitis as well as its location can improve the condition greatly.

Acupuncture is not usually thought of as the first treatment for skin conditions. They respond much better to Chinese herbal medicine. However, certain conditions respond well to the local stimulation of acupuncture.

Acupuncture can stimulate the local growth of hair in the hair-loss condition of alopecia. Using needles to surround the areas of hair loss can stimulate local blood supply and encourage the regrowth of hair. A similar response with leg ulcers and chilblains, acupuncture round the leg ulcers and chilblains and also on other places on the leaps and feet will stimulate poor local circulation and encourage skin regeneration.

There are topical herbs that are used in China, directly on an ulcer to speed up healing, but would be difficult to use in this country, however, there are some very promising studies on the localized effect of Manuka honey in treating skin ulcers, regenerating skin growth and preventing infection.

Chinese medicine, including Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and Chinese dietary advice can be effective treatments for common and unusual skin conditions. Years of hydrocortisone, antihistamines and other creams and medicines can be stopped or reduced with a short course of Chinese medicine.

Only plant products can now be used in Chinese herbal formulas. No endangered species or potentially poisonous herbs can be used. Herbs are sourced from CMAS suppliers (Chinese medical association of suppliers) who use high levels of quality control.

Chinese Herbs For Skin Conditions

Acupuncture and Infertility
Acupuncture can be used to boost both female and male infertility. For female infertility, it can be used on its own, in conjunction with herbal medicine or along with western medicine such as IVF and other assisted reproductive treatments. For male infertility, both acupuncture on its own or with herbal remedies can be beneficial.
How does acupuncture work to boost fertility
Acupuncture regulates hormone function. It increases blood supply to the ovaries and uterus and helps relax muscles which can improve the chances of the embryo implanting. Acupuncture works on the causes of Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and treats the symptoms, a common cause of infertility in women. Acupuncture generally helps stress and aids relaxation.
“In a study of 160 women, published in the reproductive journal Fertility and Sterility, a group of German researchers found that adding acupuncture to the traditional IVF treatment protocols substantially increased pregnancy success.”
Traditional Chinese medicine treatment for female and male infertility 
When used in conjunction with western fertility treatments, acupuncture increased conception rates by 26%. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reports ” when combining IUI with traditional Chinese medicine treatments, 65.5% of the test group were able to conceive, compared with 39.4% of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.” For the 4.5 million couples experiencing infertility each year, acupuncture may be just what the doctor ordered.
Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system. The goal of an infertility treatment from a Chinese medicine perspective is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and have a healthy baby.
Acupuncture can provide better blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, creating a stronger chance for the egg to be nourished and carried to term.
40% of infertility is caused by problems in the female, another 40% by problems in the male, such as low sperm count or motility. The remaining 20% is unknown factors.
Acupuncture works to reduce stress, a contributory factor in both female and male infertility. When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. This alters the brain’s neurochemical balance, changes hormone levels and upsets the pituitary balance that is a key to the reproductive cycle.
Due to the balance between the hypothalamus, pituitary and reproductive glands, stress can adversely affect ovulation, it can also cause spasms in the Fallopian tubes and uterus, which can interfere with implantation of the fertilized egg. In men, stress can reduce sperm count and motility and cause impotence. Both acupuncture and herbal medicine can reduce stress by reducing cortisol levels and by releasing endorphins, this can help in both female and male infertility.
Infertility can also be caused by an imbalance in reproductive hormones. In women, high levels of prolactin can prevent ovulation and reduced levels of progesterone reduces the ability of the fetus to attach to the uterus. Low testosterone in men can reduce sperm motility and production and cause erectile dysfunction.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine can stimulate the hypothalamus to balance the endocrine system and its hormones.
Research shows that acupuncture can significantly improve the quality and health of sperm. In a study published in Fertility and Sterility in 2005, researchers analyzed sperm samples from men with infertility of unknown cause before and after acupuncture treatment. They found that men who had acupuncture treatment had fewer structural defects in the sperm and increased numbers of normal sperm.
Acupuncture in conjunction with western medical treatment 
Many women use acupuncture to boost their chances of IVF, IUI and other western medical treatments for infertility such as the drug Clomid, working. Acupuncture can begin at any time during fertility treatment, before starting to take any oral or injectable drugs to help prepare the body, during the drug treatment to help deal with side effects such as nausea, moodiness and fatigue and to boost the effects of the drugs and also during IVF cycles.
I treat many women and men for infertility and have helped many couples conceive. Some I treat with acupuncture or acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine who choose not to have western medicine intervention to regulate their menstrual cycle, restart ovulation, treat PCOS, unblock fallopian tubes etc. and men to increase sperm count and quality. I also treat many women before and during IVF cycles to improve the chances of it working, a number have had unsuccessful cycles before who then go on to get pregnant when they combine acupuncture with the IVF. I have had many cards, thank you letters and photographs of beautiful babies after successful acupuncture and herbal treatments.
Acupuncture is a well established and effective treatment for back pain, alongside osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, massage therapy and exercise such as yoga.
I have been involved in a research programme on “Non-specific mechanisms in Orthodox and Complementary Therapies (CAM) management of low back pain”  based at the University of Southampton for the last six months. This study covers the treatment of all kinds of back pain, including osteoarthritis, sciatica and fibromyalgia.
It is known that different types of treatment can help patients with low back pain. Parts of the treatment such as the physical environment or the therapeutic relationship between the patient and their practitioner can influence how successful a treatment is overall. The main aim of this study is to find out which of these other factors most influence treatment success for patients with low back pain. It also compares how these other factors vary in their importance across the different methods of treatment of acupuncture, osteopathy and physiotherapy.  The results of the study should help improve treatments in the future by showing practitioners how they can improve their practice.
Acupuncture for back pain
back pain
The study into treatment for back pain at Southampton University comes at an opportune time when NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) has recently questioned the use and efficacy of osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture in the treatment of acute lower back pain. Hopefully the study will give back some credence into the efficacy of these drug free treatments. However, NICE does recommend exercise in all its forms (stretching, strengthening, aerobic and yoga) as the first step to managing lower back pain and sciatica. It also recommends massage and manipulation to be used alongside exercise.
NICE has only questioned the use of these treatments for the condition of acute lower back pain. It still recommends acupuncture for the treatment of the following conditions:
1. Persistent lower back pain
2. Chronic tension type headaches
3. Migraines
4. Chronic pain such as neck pain, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder and knee pain
5. Joint pains
6. Dental pain
7. Post operative pain
8. Rheumatoid arthritis
9. Period pains (dysmenorrhoea)
So there is still plenty of recommended scope for the use of acupuncture, especially in pain relief.

The Guardian Saturday 8th October 2016 “Scientists have uncovered the first evidence that ovaries may be able to grow new eggs in adulthood.

If confirmed, the discovery would over-turn the accepted view that women are born with a fixed number of eggs and that the body has no capacity to increase this supply.

Until now this has been the main constraint on the female reproductive lifespan. The findings, if replicated, would raise the the prospect of new treatments to allow older women to conceive and for infertility problems in younger women.”

Could this be where natural treatments like acupuncture, herbal medicine, reflexology, carefully chosen diet and supplements could help? Have we got it all wrong that once your eggs are used up that is it or that if your egg quality is poor you have no chance. Books such as “ It starts with the egg: How the science of egg quality can help you get pregnant and prevent miscarriage” by Rebecca Fett may really be true and egg quality and number could be improved and increased naturally. Hopefully there will be more research soon and more answers for all those desperate couples wanting to have children. Read the article, read the book and see what you think.