Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, but only now is the West beginning to get the point. Fiona Adams goes under the needle
When faced with an unappealing proposition, I have been known to utter a particular phrase. ‘I’d rather stick pins in my eyes,’ I say with smug, unadorned sarcasm (little expecting, of course, that anyone would ever challenge me to do just that).
This month, however, I have had my comeuppance, as research for this very column led me to meet acupuncturist Sasha Young-Dumont – and yes, you’ve guessed it, not long after entering her company, I found myself the recipient of quite a few pins, including some located precariously close to my eyes.
How they laughed when I returned to the office and showed them the pictures. ‘Was I auditioning for a sequel to Hellraiser?’ they asked with unconcealed glee. Well, dear reader, I let them chortle, for I have seen the light – or, to put it more accurately, the point.
Acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest forms of healthcare, originally practised in China and other Far Eastern societies. According to the British Acupuncture Council, in fact, the first known book of Chinese medicine predates the birth of Christ.
What is involved is the insertion of very fine needles into various points around the body, located in ‘meridians’ through which runs vital energy, or ‘chi’. Amongst mainstream medical practitioners opinion as to its efficacy remains divided, despite growing public popularity.
Sasha studied for six years and operated a free clinic for nine months to learn her trade before going into business five years ago. She treats patients with all kinds of complaints, from infertility and stress to those, like me, on an eternal quest for facial rejuvenation. Converts and sceptics in equal numbers beat a path to her door.
“Acupuncture has received some excellent press of late, which is great,” she says. “However, it really depends on the person. Some people make me their first port of call, others come as a last resort.”
As with all new patients, Sasha takes me through a general health questionnaire to uncover any areas of concern, such as sleep deprivation, poor digestion, joint problems or general lack of wellbeing. She also studies my face for lines and wrinkles, marking them up on a sketch for later.
At the start of any session, Sasha inspects the patient’s tongue and feels for three ‘pulses’ along each arm. Both checks indicate the state of major organs, including heart, liver, stomach and kidneys.
Mine, though fairly happy, needed a little tweaking. So, before my beauty treatment, needles were inserted into my ankles (meridians flow from the ankles to the neck area) to calm and realign my kidney and liver pulses.
In contrast, acupuncture in facial rejuvenation works by sending the skin into a state of defence.
“I insert miniscule needles into the areas that need treating, which brings blood and chi to those points,” explains Sasha. “The result is that the body thinks it’s under attack. There’s a wound/heal effect, and as the red and white blood cells rush to site, the body produces elastin and collagen.”
Ten minutes and 75 deftly applied needles later (clearly I had more wrinkles than I thought), I sincerely hoped that the dynamic duo of elastin and collagen was on its way. I felt like a human pin cushion. Moreover, when I frowned the needles wiggled alarmingly.
But the discomfort was minimal and the results, after 20 minutes of relaxation, astounding. Without any potions, peels or poisons, my skin had a much more dewy appearance, and I felt – and looked – more energised. Even the jokers in the office had to admit the difference.
As for pins in my eyes, I’ve (almost) been there now and it wasn’t half as bad as I’d feared.
Sasha practises at Serenity Medica, Sidney Road, St Margarets. Visit her website at serenitymedica.com. There are plenty of other registered and recommended practitioners throughout Elmbridge, including Cobham, Esher, Walton and Weybridge, as well as Kingston.