Getting the Optimum Benefit from Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture – Treatment and Health Regulation

A Report on the Event held at The Forum, AcuMedic Centre, 7th September 2013

This informal lecture has been organised in response to one of the most frequently asked questions from the many thousands of patients who have attended the AcuMedic Clinic over the past 40 years: ‘how do I get the most from my treatment?’ To answer this question, Professor Man Fong Mei, Clinical Director at the AcuMedic Centre and Chairman of the Chinese Medical Institute and Register (CMIR, UK) delivered a talk by drawing on several decades of experience as a successful Chinese medicine practitioner and lecturer. He provided some expert advice on how to make the most of your Chinese medical treatment; what the patient should do in between treatments and how many sessions are needed before improvement can be expected. The talk highlighted the importance of collaboration between the Doctor and the patient.

Professor Mei introduced Chinese medicine by outlining the many different facets of this medical system that has been evolving over the past 5,000 years. He introduced some of the basic ideas and explained the links and overlaps between the fundamental principles of Chinese medicine and other natural complementary therapies. Since many people in the West find some of the Chinese medical concepts surprising and somewhat difficult to understand, Professor Mei began the lecture by briefly outlining the cutting edge scientific research discoveries used to validate the Chinese medical model of health and disease.

It is important to note that the scientific world is gradually undergoing a paradigm shift (from classical Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics) in its understanding of nature. More effort needs to be made to explain the quantum physics perspective so that people can understand some of the latest research that will influence the forthcoming model of healthcare.

The guests were updated on the ongoing integration of acupuncture into the national healthcare service, and Professor Mei described the set-up in China, where Western and Chinese medicines are integrated into a unified system of healthcare. He emphasised that in certain situations taking antibiotics can save the patient’s live and recommended how Chinese and Western medicines can be combined in a way that uses the advantages of both worlds. Such integrative approach has been developed in China and is successfully implemented in the United Kingdom by AcuMedic.

Speaking about diagnosis in Chinese medicine Professor Mei briefly introduced the various diagnostic techniques used by Chinese physicians. In simple terms, he explained the meaning of some of the most commonly used diagnostic terms, such as ‘Yin and Yang imbalance’ and placed them in the context of human anatomy and physiology. The main techniques used to examine the state of the patient’s organs and overall vitality were also outlined. He helpfully highlighted the difference between ‘stages’ and ‘syndromes’ in Western and Chinese medicine respectively. In Western medical terms, for example, a condition can be said to be at an ‘advanced stage’ while in Chinese medical terms, this would be described as a separate ‘syndrome’.

He explained the rationale used to call Chinese medicine practitioners ‘physicians’. The term refers to the fact that a properly trained and qualified Chinese medicine practitioner should have the ability to not only administer medicine but to recognise differences between individual patients and be able to tailor the treatment accordingly. Indeed, no two people or patients are the same. Hippocrates, a famous ancient Greek physician considered to be the father of Western medicine, emphasised the very same principle when he said that “it is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has”.

Professor Mei provided the Chinese medical perspective on the aetiology of various common conditions such as insomnia, eating disorders (over-eating, poor appetite). He explained the Chinese medical perspective on the anatomical interrelationships between organs at the root of eating disorders. As part of the introduction he also outlined the Chinese medical perspective on the functions of some of the key internal organs.

The Chinese medical perspective on gynaecology was also introduced with reference to some common female conditions treated by the highly successful Dr. Lily at the Fertility and Gynaecology Clinic in the AcuMedic Centre. Another useful feature of the lecture was Professor Mei’s recommendation of the Individual members of the AcuMedic medical team for treatment of specific conditions.

Professor Mei explained how Chinese medicine can treat anxiety not only through direct intervention with acupuncture and herbal medicine but also indirectly by strengthening the patient’s health and thus helping them to deal with the root cause of the anxiety such as, for example, financial or relationship problems. During the discussion of common health conditions he explained how Chinese medicine can be used to treat high, and low, blood pressure.

The Chinese medical perspective was introduced also in relation to depression as Professor Mei explained that ‘inherited depression’ linked to genetics can be controlled by using Chinese medicine targeted at specific organs linked to emotions in Chinese medical theory. Acquired depression can also be treated by using a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture. He also commented on the Chinese medical approach to another common cause of depression: bereavement, and explained how certain emotions can be controlled by Chinese herbal and acupuncture treatment targeted at particular organs. By working on strengthening the affected organs, Chinese medicine can be used to positively affect feelings.

Furthermore, one of Professor Mei’s clinical specialities has always been natural treatment of pain and in this talk he explained how acupuncture can be used to relieve pain by stimulating various points on the body, local and distal. In many cases, certain Chinese herbs must also be prescribed to support the effect of acupuncture.

Professor Mei emphasised the usefulness of Chinese medicine as clinical intervention in chronic cases such as senile dementia. Here it can be used to control the condition with certain Chinese herbs and acupuncture by correcting the Yin and Yang imbalance and promoting the circulation of Qi (the person’s essential energy) which can help the body recover to optimal level. This can also help the patient avoid dependence on synthetic drugs and the subsequent exposure to their negative side-effects. He introduced the fundamental concept of Qi and outlined some of the different types of Qi that people are born with as well as those they should avoid contracting (e.g. pathogens).

The Chinese medical approach to anti-ageing was introduced through an explanation of the concept of Yang Shen (health cultivation). He explained how this lifestyle approach can be used to prolong the person’s and manage the factors which affect longevity.

On the subject of acupuncture, Professor Mei explained that although acupuncture is a form of medical intervention which can be used to help specific organs and the circulation, its effect on the body is regulatory. Sometimes however, Chinese herbs have to be used to deliver a stronger and more focused type of intervention. Acupuncture can ‘reshuffle’ the body, whereas the effect of the Chinese herbs is more precisely targeted at individual organs. To make Chinese medicine more effective however, combine acupuncture with Chinese herbs.

Herbs serve an important function in the system of Chinese medicine, and in this presentation Professor Mei talked about some of the Chinese herbal formulations created for cancer patients and prescribed to alleviate various types of pain. He also provided a general overview of the different types of herbs and their various therapeutic effects on particular organs according to the Chinese materia medica, and commented on some of the herbs’ functions in relation to the alkaline-acid balance in the context of cancer diseases. He provided some insight into the complex workings of Chinese herbal formulae where there is not only one but several active ingredients working together to provide a synergising effect on the whole body.

Given the crucial importance of herbs in Chinese medical treatment, Professor Mei spoke about AcuMedic’s invention of the ‘TCM Classics’ range of herbal capsules and herbal oral tonics which are often prescribed to patients as part of individualised treatment.

Combined together, Chinese medicine and acupuncture is the gentler means of medical intervention that can treat acute ailments, the seemingly disconnected aches and pains, and, help the patient avoid excessive use of antibiotics.

In addition to being a form of effective intervention, Chinese medicine can also be used as a complete system of preventative healthcare. Professor Mei listed some of the common preventative uses of Chinese medicine and acupuncture and explained how they can be used to maintain – and even cultivate – good health as the means of preventing diseases. To help the audience’s understanding, he also explained the Chinese medical model of a healthy body. He emphasised that the right lifestyle advice from a doctor as well as a positive outlook are essential for regaining optimal health.

Part of the system of Chinese medicine is massage therapy and Professor Mei explained how this is used for therapeutic purposes, such as to relax the patient by stabilising their blood and energy circulation. He revealed how he regularly uses Chinese therapeutic massage to manage his own health.

Professor Mei clarified the widely used concept of ‘holistic’ medicine and explained that what makes Chinese medicine truly holistic is the attention it pays to the root of the health problem, and, its recognition of the seamless interrelationships between the internal organs, blood and body fluids, and the environment that affect the whole person. He mentioned some compelling examples, such as the relationship between the heart and consciousness which can affect the person’s memories.

The lecture was of great value not only because it provided expert insights into the workings of Chinese medicine and explained the important healthcare purposes it serves, but also because it taught the guests about the important acupressure points on the body which you can massage by yourself to increase your own energy levels, reduce stress, relax and enjoy some of the other essential benefits of acupuncture.

In addition, Professor Mei advised the guests on the correct approach to the placebo effect and recommended crucial ways in which patients can use it to their advantage when undergoing treatment. He supported his recommendations by mentioning the key findings in recent research into the importance of the placebo effect in the objective outcomes of medical treatment. Indeed, all patients must remember that the placebo effect can be used to make the treatment work.

Professor Mei emphasised that the patient’s mental attitude can help or hinder their recovery and provided advice on how to increase the placebo effect. He also shared some of his expert knowledge on how to approach medical statistics and how to interpret some of the medical claims based on statistical results.

Professor Mei also provided advice on how to be generally healthy, happy. He explained the importance of understanding yourself – and enlightenment – to being healthy. He stressed that being a good person – and a good patient – are important to the progress of recovery.

The guests found the whole event to be “absolutely useful” and “enjoyable”. The highly interactive presentation proved to be of great practical use to a diverse audience who enjoyed a stimulating afternoon at the serene AcuMedic health centre.

Professor Man Fong Mei is Executive Chairman, Advisory Committee for Working of World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies, Chairman of the Chinese Medical Institute and Register (CMIR,UK) and the Chinese Medical Council (CMC, UK). He is also the Clinical Director at the AcuMedic Centre.

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Follow Professor Mei on Twitter @ProfMei


The Heart and Mind in Chinese Medicine and Culture

Saturday 5th October, 3 – 5pm

The main topic of this tea talk is the mutually dependant relationship between physical health and emotional and mental health. Professor Mei will be citing the Chinese classics and modern research on psycho-emotional syndromes that lead not only to psychological disorders like depression, but also to physical diseases such as cancer and other metabolic syndromes. He will also be comparing Chinese medicine approaches with Western medicine approaches, by referring to the work by Freud and Jung.

The Chinese Scholar –

Enlightenment Through Philosophy, Art and Poetry

Saturday 7th December, 3 – 5pm

Scholarship is not just an idealistic dream of a few intellectuals. Chinese scholars are key figures throughout Chinese history and have influenced the values, philosophy, arts and poetry in Chinese society over thousands of years. In this talk, Professor Mei will summarise his own personal view of the works of many different scholars, who promoted enlightenment within human civilisation and a social reality that enhanced the real meaning of existence. This promises to be a light-hearted and enjoyable tea talk.

To book your place on any of the afternoon tea talks,

Please RSVP to MFM