MAEVE HEAVEY - Family Acupuncturist and Herbalist

frequently asked questions

To make an appointment call 0208 808 0134

What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the use of very fine needles to harmonise and regulate the flow of energy throughout the body.

How does it work?
Science is not sure but has many theories, the NHS has seen it to be so effective that a number of hospitals use acupuncture for pain relief. It has been used for thousands of years in the East for a whole range of health problems. Long before modern medicine arrived in China, a quarter of the world’s population depended on it to stay well - which speaks for itself.

To become a fully qualified acupuncturist I studied acupuncture for three years as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The energy pathways of the body are complex and so are the many causes of illness but the underlying principle of acupuncture can be explained quite simply.

A good way to look at it is to compare the channels along which the subtle energy of the body flows to the wiring of an electrical circuit. The subtle energy that keeps us alive is like the electrical current flowing through the wires. Knowing where and when to use acupuncture along this network of channels can clear energy blockages that cause pain and illness and can strengthen weaknesses so as to restore balance and well-being. Somewhat similar to your electrician pinpointing the cause of an electrical fault, restoring the flow of electricity and turning your lights back on. There are hundreds of acupuncture points located on the channels (meridians) where energy pools and each point can be used for a number of different purposes.

What can it treat?
Acupuncture can be used to help and heal a wide range of conditions. From problems that can occur before, during and after pregnancy, to illnesses in infancy and childhood, through to conditions in adulthood and problems connected with ageing.

Acupuncture also calms the mind and emotions and is excellent for alleviating stress. It enhances immunity and overall well-being. In days of old in China the village doctor was only paid when people stayed well so it has an excellent and longstanding reputation as a preventative medicine.

I have listed the most common symptoms that I have treated since 1992 under each heading of the main menu. I haven’t covered everything so please phone me if your problem is not mentioned.

Does it hurt?
I use a very gentle technique of insertion. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and tiny compared to the needles used for injections or blood tests. They do not penetrate the skin deeply. Mostly people don’t feel the needles, sometimes there is a slight achy or tingly energy sensation which quickly wears off. Babies and children come back for more, so it can’t be that bad! The most commonly used points are on the arms and the legs.

The needles are sterilised, used only once and safely disposed of.

Is it safe?
Yes, in properly trained hands. It is most advisable to seek a practitioner who is a member of the British Acupuncture Council. The Council requires that its members are properly trained and adhere to strict rules and procedures approved by the Department of Health.

What happens in a first consultation?
When I first see a patient my job is to assess the problem and its causes, to get an overview. This involves asking relevant questions to get a feel for what is happening in the body and using techniques of Chinese Medical diagnosis e.g. looking at the tongue (which reveals what is happening at an organ/blood and body fluid level). A treatment is included in most cases.

How many treatments will be required?
Generally a course of six weekly treatments is recommended. Within that time frame some people’s symptoms can be alleviated after a few treatments (even just one). Most see a gradual improvement. Some will need more treatment because of the nature of their particular complaint. Acupuncture is a holistic treatment, so the aim is to address symptoms as quickly as possible and restore overall well-being. Many people find that symptoms other than one they came for treatment for are also relieved - a fringe benefit.

Many people will come for a top up treatment every few months to maintain their well-being and alleviate the drain of accumulated stress. They find it a relaxing and enjoyable way to stay well.

How do you use the other therapies you are trained in?
Reflexology, Aromatherapy and Chinese Herbal Medicine are incorporated as required. Most of my treatments involve acupuncture - because I have found it so effective in getting results. Traditional Chinese Medical practice also includes dietary and lifestyle advice.

Should I tell my doctor I am having treatment?
I have worked at a medical practice since 1992 with two doctors and find that Eastern and Western approaches can work well together. So I am happy to liaise with open minds for an integrated approach.

Should I continue with my prescribed medication while undergoing a course of acupuncture treatment?
Please, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU STOP your prescribed medication until careful discussion is had with myself and your doctor.
The acupuncture treatment may enable you to reduce or even stop taking some forms of medication, but your doctor should be consulted regarding any change of prescription.

Why should I go to a BAcC member?
Although it is pending, at the moment there is no government legislation in the UK covering acupuncture. Unfortunately this means that anyone can currently provide acupuncture treatment without any professional acupuncture training whatsoever.
A fully trained practitioner is needed in order to objectively diagnose and administer appropriate treatment for each individual. Therefore self treatment either with needles or other gadgets, sold with manuals indicating 'certain points for certain symptoms' are not to be recommended.
To ensure you are in safe hands you should always enquire as to the training of an acupuncturist. Many GP's/physio's have just done a weekend or two training. The British Acupuncture Council only registers practitioner members who have an extensive training in acupuncture (irrespective of any prior western medical training) of at least 3 years full-time (or the part-time equivalent) which includes a comprehensive grounding in anatomy, physiology and pathology.

Why should I go to an RCHM member?
One needs to be cautious when choosing a herbalist. The use of 'herbs' is a special area of study which requires advanced training. Casual use of herbal medicine by amateurs and storefront 'doctors' is potentially dangerous. There are now a great number of people in the UK who claim to be able to practice Chinese Herbal Medicine. Some of them will have received proper training and some of them have not. It is difficult, if not impossible, for a member of the public to establish the authenticity of the claims or the validity of the certificates of a practitioner who is not a member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. A non member will not be bound by the regulations of a professional body and may well not have professional insurance.
For your own safety and peace of mind it is strongly recommended that you only consult an RCHM member when you are considering taking Chinese herbs. It should be noted that forged certificates are not unheard of, so please do not take a certificate alone as proof of membership, but use the RCHM to select your member.
Another thorny subject is the provision of good quality authenticated herbs which is also a very important consideration to protect public safety. Sadly fake/adulterated herbs are out there and being taken as medicine. The RCHM is currently working with the main suppliers, the herbal authentication unit at Kew Gardens and the Government Medicine Controls Agency to ensure that the products used by members meet the highest standards. Out of concern for the welfare of the people I treat I only use a supplier approved by the RCHM.