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The Completed Self

I have recently discovered the immunological concept of the “Completed Self” which is a way of saying that a healthy and complete human being consists BOTH of their own cells (all the ones that have descended from the fused egg and sperm their parents contributed) AND the whole ecology of commensal microbes – bacteria, viruses, etc – that come to inhabit our skin and hair, our bowels and other corners and crevices in our bodies, shortly after our births.  As the linked review states: “the newborn human naturally engages in an immunologically-permitted merger with designated parts of the environment.”  This whole kit and caboodle of microbes, which we mostly pick up from our mothers, is part of what makes us whole and healthy and able to withstand the infections and to heal from the injuries which the world throws at us.

When the self is not able to “complete” properly, that is to say that it is not able to acquire the proper complement of commensal micro-organisms, staying healthy becomes harder.  It seems that these commensals (commensal means the relationship is either of benefit, or is neutral, for the parties concerned), help to train our immune systems so that their response to the world’s insults is measured and helpful.  An immune response Continue reading

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Restoring the Terrain

In the 19th century, when bacterial forms were first being observed under microscopes, and their habits explored through experimentation, a big scientific and philosophical debate arose between what later became known as the “germ theory” and what later became known as the “terrain theory”.   The germ theory proposed that infectious diseases are caused by germs that invade the body and injure it, pointing to an anti-septic approach to health preservation.  The terrain theory proposed that infectious diseases arise when ever-present germs can take advantage of weaknesses in the terrain (ie -people’s bodies), pointing to a body-strengthening approach to health preservation.

At a time long before many of the major discoveries we know today concerning biological life, both cellular and multicellular, had even been made, this was a battle waged both on evidenciary and on philosophical grounds.  And by the end of the century, the “germ theory” had more or less won that Continue reading

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Health: Relationship to Place

Health is a matter of many factors, but often it is a function of the relationships we have and cultivate in the wider world.  There are many of these, and I will touch on other types of relationships in future posts.  But today I want to touch on the relationship each of us has to a place – to the piece of earth on which we walk around every day.

Firstly, many of us do not live in the same place as the place where we were born.  Many of us do not live in the same place where our ancesters were born, lived, died and were buried.   Those of us who do live where our ancestors lived and where we ourselves were born, often do have a multi-layered relationship to the place where they live.  There is a great deal of personal and familial history resonating in that relationship.  Those of us (like myself), who have come to live to a different place, who have chosen a Continue reading

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The Best Laid Plans…

Healing Haven Acupuncture Clinic has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, and I had only been able to give it part-time attention, while also being employed.  But I am so glad to have found myself getting steadily busier throughout all of the month of 2018, 2019 and up until the beginning of March 2020…

So, back in November, I had marked March 2020 as the time to re-commit myself to running the Healing Haven Acupuncture Clinic full time, all the time, and do nothing else.  As planned I worked my last day in regular employment on the 23rd of March.

However, in the context of COVID 19 being officially recognised as a global pandemic and a national emergency, and therefore not as planned, I have temporarily closed the clinic instead of launching it on to greater things.  Acupuncture comes under the heading of non-essential personal healthcare, and I will not put anyone at risk of contracting an infection here.   Fortunately everyone around here understands this, and is doing their best to weather the crisis in their own place and in their own way. Continue reading

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As above, and as below, we resonate within and without

Much of Traditional Chinese Medicine is a three way conversation that is continually taking place between this patient here now, whose body has its own wisdom, this practitioner here now, who has acquired some training, some skills and some experience, and the classics, the writings that have endured, of previous practitioners who reflected on their experiences and shared them through their writings.  Continue reading

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Flow and Pain

In the tradition of acupuncture, one of the most common algorithms used in practice, can be stated as follows:

[If there is] flow, no pain

[If there is] pain, no flow

That is to say, if acupuncture is a way of treating, exploring, understanding and regulating flows in the body, and there is pain, then it serves as an important signal that some essential flow has slowed or stopped.  Continue reading

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Healing Haven is Still Here

Hello, all.  It has been a long while since I’ve posted here, but Healing Haven Acupuncture Clinic is now entering its 15th year.  14 years ago, in January 2005, I had just returned from a trip with my family that included a clinical experience month in Nanjing, and I launched straight into opening and advertising the clinic.

And the word spread and more people came to me, growing the practice year on year, until, around 2010, when people around here were feeling a considerable pinch in their pockets.  In 2012 I knew I had to go back to the world of “proper” work (employment), so Continue reading

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Feeding a Healthy Body

The subject of diet in Traditional Chinese Medicine is vast.  It is considered the sign of a superior medical practitioner if the patient’s ills can be mended by adjustments to their diet, without resorting to actual medicine or acupuncture, as a less skilled practitioner must do.

For myself, I am not as skilled as all that in giving individually tailored dietary advice in the clinic, but diet is a subject that comes up often in the clinic.  And I am coming to believe that the standard “healthy eating” advice currently dispensed both in magazine supplements and doctor’s offices may be contributing as much to people’s ill-health as the plethora of junk foods tempting us from every aisle in the supermarket. Continue reading

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Social Health Indicators: Bullying

Bullying is a serious hazard to physical and mental health and should never be ignored.

Bullying can cause psychiatric injury (which should be carefully distinguished from endogenous mental illness), with a risk of depression and suicide (which some have started to call “bullycide”). The risk arises from the nature of bullying in which trauma to a person’s mental and physical well-being is repetitive and persistent, leading to symptoms typical of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.  Bullying can be hard for teachers and workplace managers to detect, because  Continue reading

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About Ladybits: Post-pill Amenorrhea

Several women experiencing post-pill amenorrhea have presented in this clinic in the past few months.   Generally, it is considered to be amenorrhea if no natural menstrual cycle has occurred within six months of stopping the contraceptive pill.  The medical literature considers this to be a small but significant risk, with an incidence of around 1% or so, however, when it does happen, Continue reading

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