Find out more about the Acupuncturist at the Angel Welllbeing Clinic - Alexandra Huisgen Serrano

acupuncturist at the angel wellbeing clinicMusic:

My taste in music is varid ranging from pop to classical and from rock to jazz. My mood, the weather and the season play a major role in the choice of my songs. I don’t believe that good music can only be found in a certain genre or with a particular artist. Personally, it doesn’t matter who sings it as long as it makes me feel an emotion.


I love reading! I encourage people to read in their spare time since this stimulates creativity and enriches your knowledge. I don’t have a particular preferred book or genre. I like thrillers, folklore, humour as well as personal developmental books. My favourite type of book, like my favourite type of person, is that which contributes positively to my development towards a moral, thoughtful, compassionate human being. I’m currently reading a famous confidence-boosting book titled “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie that is giving me insightful tips for my interpersonal skills. I would recommend it to everyone.


I like to stay active. I regularly go to Yoga and Pilates sessions to strengthen my core muscles, improve my flexibility, relax my mind and nourish my soul. I also like to play tennis and volleyball to keep the cardiovascular system healthy and my energy and stamina up.


I love travelling. I prefer spending money on travelling than on material belongings. The best education you will ever get is travelling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences. My favourite places that I have visited so far are Kenya, Rio de Janeiro, Hangzhou and Havana. At the top of my “To explore” list are Australia and India.


My favourite cuisines include Chinese, Japanese and Mediterranean. I like to gather with my friends and cook the typical Spanish meals such as paella and gazpacho or eat jamón serrano. However, if a food competition was to take place my grandmother would win as she makes the best tortilla and croquetas.

Professional Goals:

If I had to summarise my professional goal in one sentence it would be to fully focus my career in the health sector and grow into an excellent and talented acupuncturist and life coach in order to aid patients to become the best version of themselves and live a healthier and satisfactory life.


Moving to a metropolitan city like London brought many advantages to my life. One of the rewards that I encountered since coming to the city was the fact that I got to know people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds. Sharing cultural and religious aspects has been very stimulating as well as trying to understand them from their point of view. I like to be challenged and get out of my “thinking box”. Another benefit from moving here was the greater avenues of amusement that London offers. There is always something to do in this city - and not just anything - there is always something different and exotic going on. You have plenty of choices to amuse yourself be it a secret bar to a Jacuzzi cinema.


Acupuncture for Stress, Anxiety and Depression


This article is by Gursharan the acupuncturist in Islington at the Angel Acupuncture Clinic

With the amount of pressure an average Londoner encounters on a day to day basis, it is no surprise that we as a society are increasingly turning towards complementary therapies to help manage stress levels and overcome anxieties. Chinese Medicine follows the principle that the mind cannot be divorced from the body. Anything that happens in the mind will impact the body, and anything that happens in the body can affect the mind. By encouraging the free flow of energy and removing blockages in the body, we often see acupuncture having a profound impact on stress levels and many different mental health problems

A few useful facts and figures:

• A British Acupuncture Council survey showed that the top four emotional issues treated by acupuncture are depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress (McNeil et al, 2009).
• The World Health Organisation lists acupuncture as an effective treatment for depression (WHO, 2003).
• Studies indicate that acupuncture can have a specific positive effect on depression by altering the brain's mood chemistry, increasing production of serotonin (Sprott, 1998) and endorphins (Wang, 2010).
• Acupuncture may also benefit depression by acting through other neurochemical pathways, including those involving dopamine (Scott, 1997), noradrenaline (Han, 1986), cortisol (Han 2004) and neuropeptide Y (Pohl, 2002).

Our acupuncturist

Gursharan has a keen interest in working with mental and emotional health. She was awarded a First for her undergraduate thesis on the use of acupuncture in the treatment of depression, which involved an in-depth retrospective analysis of clinical case records. She has undertaken continuing professional development (CPD) in areas including anxiety and depression, and is taking steps to work more closely with those trying to advance research in acupuncture for post-traumatic stress disorder. Gursharan has also worked extensively with more hands-on techniques for those who are anxious about needles.

Gursharan would love to hear from anyone who is struggling to manage their stress, anxiety or depression, as she firmly believes that encouraging the correct flow of energy in different parts of the body is key to overcoming mental obstacles and challenges.

January Health Tips

1. Adapt your diet for each season. Choose warm soups and stews over raw salads in Winter.

2. Try and be asleep by 11pm every day. Your liver cleans out your whole body between the hours of 11pm and 1am…but only if it is not working on other things!

3. Keep your neck, back and abdomen covered in the cold, you’d be surprised how easily the elements can penetrate and get trapped inside our bodies.

4. Go for a walk, being active and engaging with our surroundings can help overcome stress, anxiety and keep our bodies in good condition.

Acupuncture and the Brain

Recent studies have determined that acupuncture can have a direct effect on brain functioning. Let’s take migraines as an example…

Parts of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain often have decreased ‘functional connectivity’ in migraine sufferers. MRI results have shown acupuncture to restore ‘functional connectivity’ in these parts of the brain, with the desired effect of reducing pain, or decreasing the intensity, duration and frequency of migraine attacks.

A more general study has shown that needling to the depth of ‘qi’ (the vital energy that can be accessed at different acupuncture points) on the pain relief point He Gu or Large Intestine 4, also results in the deactivation of parts of the limbic system of the brain - which is involved in registering pain!

This ongoing research is very exciting and continues to shed light on the possible mechanisms involved in acupuncture treatment.

10 Tips on How to Maximise the Chances of a Healthy Conception, Pregnancy and Birth.

A recently published article has highlighted how Chinese medicine has a long history of helping infertile couples to conceive and documenting health preservation practices.

In addition to providing treatment to couples and individuals wishing to conceive, modern Chinese medicine practitioners typically provide lifestyle advice in order to improve health and optimise fertility. Despite many improvements in living conditions, modern couples are exposed to numerous challenging factors that can potentially reduce their fertility. Alongside acupuncture and herbal medicine there are a number of measures that individuals can undertake pre-conception to improve their chances of a healthy pregnancy and birth

The author has suggested the following points to improve the possibility of a positive outcome:

1. Where possible and appropriate, attempt conception prior to 30 years of age (and men prior to 35).
2. Reduce alcohol consumption, especially prior to and during IVF(if undertaken), but allow for the occasional drink.
3. Give up smoking.
4. Eat a plant-based diet high in ‘good’ fats and antioxidants (the ‘Mediterranean’ diet is ideal). Avoid low-fat dairy foods in favour of the full-fat variety. Spend time outside to increase Vitamin D levels. Supplement with folic acid (women) and a good multivitamin.
5. Exercise moderately and not the point of exhaustion.
6. Men should keep mobile phones and laptops away from their testicles and try to keep their testicles cool by wearing loose fitting cotton underwear.
7. Reduce stress levels by introducing simple and enjoyable activities that are effective and easily achievable. Meditation, yoga and qigong are ideal.
8. Avoid overwork and take regular holidays where possible.
9. Reduce exposure to soft plastics, pesticides, hormones and fertilisers by choosing organic food and avoiding processed and packaged foods. Use less toxic cleaning products. Change plastic food containers to glass or BPA-free.
10. Check BMI - being under- or over-weight adversely affects both male and female fertility (the optimum BMI for fertility is 20-25).

To find out if acupuncture or herbal medicine could help you, or if you have any further questions please contact the Angel Wellbeing Clinic on 0207 288 2999 and ask for a free mini consultation with Larry our resident acupuncturist and herbalist.


Cannon, E, (2015). "How to optimise and preserve fertility: current research, lifestyle choices and Chinese medicine", Journal of Chinese Medicine, 107: 43-52.


NHS approved use of Acupuncture

If you were unsure of whether acupuncture may be helpful for your condition please see the information below taken from the NHS NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines relating to acupuncture.

Common uses of acupuncture

There is no one health condition or set of conditions that acupuncture is meant to treat.

Instead, acupuncturists use the treatment for an extremely wide range of health conditions.
The use of acupuncture is not always based on scientific evidence. This means that practitioners may use acupuncture to treat a certain health condition, even though there have not been scientific trials showing that acupuncture works for that condition.

NICE recommended uses for acupuncture

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines to the NHS on use of treatments and care of patients. Currently, NICE recommends that acupuncture is a recognised treatment option for persistent lower back pain. NICE also recognises that there is positive evidence for the use of acupuncture for dental pain, pain and discomfort during gastrointestinal endoscopy, headache, nausea and vomiting after an operation, pain and discomfort during oocyte retrieval (a procedure used during IVF) and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Other common uses

Acupuncture is often used to treat musculoskeletal conditions (of the bones and muscles) and pain conditions, including:

headache and migraine
chronic pain, including neck and back pain
joint pain
dental pain
post-operative pain

Acupuncture an also be used to treat a far wider range of conditions, including:

post-operative nausea and vomiting
allergies, including hay fever and eczema
depression and anxiety
digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
infertility and menstrual disorders

In addition to the conditions listed on the NHS website acupuncture is able to address many other conditions as during the consultation all factors relating to a patients health are taking into consideration before a diagnosis is reached and a treatment plan is agreed.

How many acupuncture treatments are required?

Patients often ask how many treatments are required.
Typically, for a chronic condition, a treatment plan of up to 6 sessions is usually recommended initially, after which time a case review would be indicated, although it is common for patients to start to feel the benefits from the first treatment.
The sessions maybe be taken weekly or twice weekly depending on what suits the patient and their presentation.

Once progress has been achieved patients can then alter their treatment plan and may then only require treatments once every two weeks, or once a month until they are fully recovered. It is not uncommon for some patients to then come for occasional treatments once every 4 or 6 weeks to stop the return of a chronic condition and to maintain good health.


Acupuncture and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) describes a collection of symptoms, commonly including chronic abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and altered bowel habits. It is a functional disorder of the intestines, occurring in the absence of visible structural abnormality.

IBS affects up to 22% of people in the UK (Maxwell 1997) and is the most common functional digestive disorder seen by GPs. Women are 2-3 times more likely to develop IBS, and often suffer more symptoms during their periods. The condition often begins in adolescence or early adulthood.

Predisposing factors may include a low-fibre diet, emotional stress, use of laxatives or a bout of infectious diarrhoea. It is typically a chronic, recurrent disorder, associated with substantial health, social and economic costs. Pain and impairment from IBS can lead to frequent doctor visits, hospitalizations and workplace absenteeism, and can cause depression.

The cause of IBS is unclear, but it appears that sensory nerves in the bowel are hypersensitive in people with IBS and may overreact when the bowel wall stretches. Intestinal muscles can be hypo- or hyperactive, causing pain, cramping, flatulence, sudden bouts of diarrhea, and/or constipation. The symptoms are usually triggered by stress or eating. Systematic reviews of the research literature suggest that conventional medications are of limited benefit in IBS (Akehurst 2001).


Akehurst R, Kaltenthaler E. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a review of randomised controlled trials. Gut. 2001 Feb;48(2):272-82.

Maxwell PR et al. Irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet. 1997 Dec 6;350(9092):1691-5.
How acupuncture can help

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may benefit IBS symptoms by:

  • Providing pain relief (Pomeranz 1987).

  • Regulating the motility of the digestive tract (Yin 2010, Chen 2008).

  • Raising the sensory threshold of the gut. Various possible mechanisms have been identified, involving spinal nerves and NMDA receptors and a range of neurotransmitters (Xu 2009, Ma 2009, Tian 2008, Tian 2006, Xing 2004).

  • A lowered threshold to bowel pain and distention are hallmarks of IBS.Increasing parasympathetic tone (Schneider 2007b).

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can stimulate colon spasms, resulting in abdominal discomfort. In people with IBS, the colon can be oversensitive to the smallest amount of conflict or stress. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation or 'rest and digest' response.

Reducing anxiety and depression (Samuels 2008). The distress provoked by IBS symptoms can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety-pain-anxiety, while the embarrassing nature of the condition can lead to feelings of depression. Acupuncture can alter the brain's mood chemistry, increases production of serotonin and endorphins (Han 2004), helping to combat these negative affective states.

There is consistent evidence that a course of acupuncture improves IBS symptoms and general wellbeing (Anastasi 2009, Trujillo 2008, Reynolds 2008, Schneider 2007b, Xing 2004, Lu 2000), though there are arguments about the extent to which the effect is placebo-related (Lembo 2009, Schneider 2007a, Lim 2006, Forbes 2005). As yet there is no satisfactory placebo/sham intervention for acupuncture so this is still a matter for conjecture. There are plausible physiological explanations for acupuncture's effects (see above) and it can promote mechanisms not seen with sham treatments (Schneider 2007b).

Acupuncture can be safely and effectively combined with Western biomedicine, and other treatments such as relaxation exercises, herbal medicine and psychotherapy. In addition to offering acupuncture and related therapies, acupuncturists will often make suggestions as to dietary and other lifestyle changes that may be helpful in combating IBS symptoms. Working with a supportive therapist can also help people suffering from IBS to change their negative health beliefs and improve their coping mechanisms, which can have a positive influence on both mood and symptoms.

If you are sufferring from any of these symptoms and would like to try acupuncture please contact the London clinic and arrange to see Lorraine.

The Effect of Acupuncture on Working Memory and Anxiety


Jason Bussell


To investigate whether acupuncture can improve memory and reduce anxiety.

Design, setting and participants
A two-group, randomized, single-blind study (throughout 2011) involving 90 undergraduate university students.

Participants completed the state-trait anxiety inventory (STAI) form Y-1 (state anxiety, SA) and STAI Y-2 (trait anxiety), and each participant lay on a treatment table for 20 minutes. The Acupuncture group had needles inserted into select acupoints; Controls did not. Participants then completed the STAI form Y-1 again and the automated operation span task (AOSPAN), a computerized test of working memory.

Main outcome measures
Performance on the AOSPAN and STAI scores.

Acupuncture group scored 9.5% higher than Controls on the AOSPAN total correct score (65.39 vs. 59.9 p = 0.0134), and made 36% fewer math errors (2.68 vs. 4.22, p = 0.0153). Those who had acupuncture also reported lower state anxiety after intervention than controls (26.14 vs. 29.63, p = 0.0146).
1. Introduction
Working memory (WM) was originally described by Baddeley and Hitch [1] to account for deficiencies of a model that conceptualized memory as having only long-term and short-term components. WM is short-term memory plus attentional control. It is understood as consisting of three constituent systems: a central executive which is in charge of allocating mental resources and attention; a phonologic loop and a visual sketchpad where audio or visual data are kept in short-term memory, respectively [2].

Operation span tasks have been developed to measure WM and have been associated with predicting such diverse capabilities as reading comprehension [3], arithmetic calculation [4], note taking [5], language comprehension [6], learning a computer language [7], learning to spell [8], following directions [9], building vocabulary [10], writing [11], complex learning [12], and reasoning ability [13]. Working memory capacity is correlated with success in many areas.

Anxiety has been shown to impair performance in math 4, 14, reading [15], and operation span task measures of working memory [16]. Anxiety impairs test performance. According to the American Test Anxiety Association, “About 16–20% of students have high test anxiety, making this the most prevalent scholastic impairment in our schools today. Another 18% are troubled by moderately-high test anxiety” [17]. This means that up to 38% of students have performance impaired by anxiety. Students with high test anxiety score approximately 12 percentage points lower than their peers on school examinations [18]. Reducing anxiety should help improve test performance.

When performed by a trained practitioner, acupuncture is a safe procedure [19], and has been shown to reduce anxiety. Studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce generalized anxiety, depressive anxiety, and preoperative anxiety. See Pilkington et al [20] for a review of the literature regarding acupuncture and anxiety.

If anxiety impairs memory and acupuncture can reduce anxiety, can acupuncture improve memory? Research has been conducted with cognitively-impaired animals that shows that acupuncture protects and restores cognitive function 21, 22, 23, 24. Some research has also shown that acupuncture can help cognitively-impaired humans 25, 26, 27. To date, however, no study has examined whether acupuncture can improve memory in healthy human individuals. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of acupuncture on WM and anxiety in healthy subjects.

2. Material and methods
Full approval for the study was granted by the Institutional Review Board of the National University of Health Sciences. All study protocols adhered to the NIH Guidelines for Protecting Human Research Participants and the Declaration of Helsinki.

2.1. Participants
Ninety students of varied ethnicity were recruited from local universities. Clinical Trial Registry: ID = NCT01492738.
Inclusion criteria were that all participants must: be undergraduate university students aged 18–30 years; be willing to receive acupuncture; have not received acupuncture in the three months prior to the testing; be free of any serious medical problems; not be taking any psychoactive medication; not be pregnant; not be breastfeeding; and be fluent in English language. Participants received US$20 financial compensation for their participation at the conclusion of the study.

2.2. Setting
The study was conducted at two private acupuncture clinics: A Center for Oriental Medicine in Wilmette, IL USA, and the Tiffani Kim Institute in Chicago, IL, USA. Consent and demographic questionnaires were filled out in the waiting room. The remaining procedures were performed in a 2.4 m × 3.0 m private room with a treatment table, a desk with a laptop computer, and one chair.

2.3. Instruments and measures
The state-trait anxiety inventory (STAI) is a self-report anxiety instrument comprised of two separate 20-item subscales that measure state (situational, SA) and trait (baseline, TA) anxiety. The STAI has shown test-retest reliability and external validity [28]. It is one of the most widely-used anxiety measurement instruments in the world [29].
The automated operation span task (AOSPAN) by Unsworth et al is a computerized test of WM that has shown good internal reliability and external validity [30]. Participants are presented with a math problem to perform in their head and then are shown a letter to remember after answering the math problem. Afterwards, they are presented with another math problem followed by another letter. After a set of between three and seven of these math-letter pairs, participants are shown a recall screen and are asked to recall all the letters they were shown in the correct order. The math-letter sets and recall screens are presented consecutively with a total number of 75 letters and math problems each. The AOSPAN absolute score and the total correct score both reflect the recall of the letters. The total correct score counts all correct responses. The absolute score only gives credit for letters recalled correctly when the entire set is recalled correctly. For example, if there is a set of seven math problems and letters and a participant correctly recalls six of the letters, the absolute score would be zero and the Total Correct Score would be six. The AOSPAN also tracks performance on the math problems. It provides a score for the total number of math errors; and breaks that number down into accuracy errors and speed errors (failure to answer in the allotted time) [30]. The AOSPAN can be thought of as testing how well participants can keep information in the back of their minds while processing tasks in the front of their minds and vice versa.

2.4. Independent variable
The independent variable was whether or not the participant received acupuncture for 20 minutes while they lay on a massage table for 20 minutes.

2.5. Dependent variables
The dependent variables analyzed were: initial SA (SA1), SA after the variable period (SA2), TA, change from SA1 to SA2 (ΔSA), AOSPAN total correct score, AOSPAN absolute score, AOSPAN math total errors, AOSPAN math speed errors, and AOSPAN math accuracy errors.

2.6. Procedure
Participants were randomized into Acupuncture and Control groups. They were tested one at a time and had only one appointment to keep. At the start of the appointment, participants had the study design partially explained to them. Then they completed demographic questionnaire and informed consent forms.

All participants completed STAI forms Y-1 (SA) and Y-2 (TA). After this, all participants were instructed to remove their shoes and socks and lay on a treatment table.
Participants randomized into Acupuncture group then received acupuncture according to Clean Needle Technique at Sishencong (EX-HN1), Shenting (GV24), Yintang (EX-HN3), Shenmen (Ht 7), Neiguan (PC 6), and Taixi (Kd 3). The needles were retained for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the needles were removed from Acupuncture group.

Acupoints were selected in an effort to calm the spirit and improve mental function. According to Deadman et al [31]: Sishencong (EX-HN1), benefits the eyes and ears; calms the spirit; and is indicated for poor memory. Shenting (GV24) benefits the brain and calms the spirit. Additionally, the GV channel goes to the brain. Yintang (EX-HN3) calms the Shen and is indicated to calm anxiety and agitation. Shenmen (Ht7) calms the spirit, regulates and tonifies the heart; and is indicated for poor memory, fear and fright. Additionally, the heart organ houses the mind. Neiguan (Pc6) is indicated for poor memory, apprehension, fear and fright. The Pericardium is the protector of the Heart and treats disorders of the spirit. Taixi (Kd3) was chosen because the kidney is associated with the brain and because its low position on the body balances the effect of all the points on the upper body.

The Control group were directed to lie on the same table for 20 minutes. The same acupoints were touched and swabbed with alcohol but no needles were inserted. Care was taken to ensure that the amount of verbal and physical contact was uniform between groups, as Finness et al have shown that differences in these areas can establish a placebo effect and affect outcomes [32]. After this variable period, all participants followed the same protocol.

Participants then completed STAI form Y-1 again and were then directed to a computer where they received instructions for performing the AOSPAN. Participants were instructed that a strong performance on the test would enter them into a drawing for a cash prize and were encouraged to do their best. The researcher remained in the room while participants completed the practice sessions. After the practice sessions, the researcher instructed the participants to complete the AOSPAN on their own. Participants were given a bell to ring and were told, “When you are finished, please ring this bell. Then I will return and we will continue.” After the AOSPAN, participants were debriefed.

Care was taken to reduce the likelihood that participants in Control group would realize that they were in Control group. Participants were not told the order of events of the study. They were told, “You'll fill out some self-evaluation questionnaires, take some computerized tests of memory, and may receive acupuncture at some point.” When they were administered the AOSPAN, the researcher told them, “Now we will have you take the first memory test.” This was intended to raise the possibility in the participants' mind that they could still receive acupuncture before possibly taking another memory test.

2.7. Statistical analysis
Statistical analysis was performed to examine relationships between anxiety, gender, age, and AOSPAN performance. The two-sample t test was utilized for statistical comparison of mean values between Acupuncture and Control Groups, and between subgroups. Regression analysis was performed to examine interactions between all measured parameters of STAI and all measured parameters of the AOSPAN.

3. Results
Ninety students met inclusion criteria and participated. Control group had 46 participants (22 males, 24 females) and a mean age of 21.28 years. Acupuncture group had 44 participants (16 males, 28 females) and a mean age of 20.53 years. There were no significant differences in gender makeup, age, or handedness between groups. There were no adverse reactions reported from any participants. Results are presented as mean ± standard deviation and confidence interval (CI).

3.1. STAI
The STAI yielded numeric values for: initial state-level anxiety (SA1), Trait level anxiety (TA), and state-level anxiety after variable period (acupuncture or rest, SA2). The difference between SA1 and SA2 was termed ΔSA.

There were no significant differences in SA1 or TA between groups. Mean SA1 was 35.98 ± 7.26 (95% CI 35.9–36.04) in the Control group and 33.75 ± 7.14 (95% CI 33.68–33.82) in the Acupuncture group (p = 0.146, not significant). Mean TA was 38.46 ± 10.6 in the Control group (95% CI 38.35–38.55) and 37.86 ± 10.39 (95% CI 37.76–37.86) in the Acupuncture group (p = 0.789, not significant). Mean ΔSA was −6.35 ± 7.49 (95% CI 6.23–6.37) in the Control group and −7.61 ± 5.65 (95% CI 7.54–7.64) in the Acupuncture group (p = 0.33, not significant). The mean SA2 was 29.63 ± 8.2 (95% CI 29.55–29.71) in the Control group and 26.14 ± 4.5 (95% CI 26.09–26.17) in the Acupuncture group (p = 0.0146, significant).

The values obtained for TA ranged from 23 to 63. Using a median split, participants with TA below 43 were classified low-anxious (LA, n = 62) and those with TA at or above 43 were considered high-anxious (HA, n = 28). Within the Acupuncture group, the reduction in SA was greater for those considered to be HA (9.93 ± 6.40, n = 14; 95% CI 9.82–10.02) compared to those considered LA (6.53 ± 5.02, n = 30; 95% CI 6.47–6.59), but this was not quite statistically significant (p = 0.0623).

The AOSPAN provided numeric values for absolute score, total correct score, total math errors, math accuracy errors, and math speed errors. The highest possible absolute and total correct score was 75.
Participants who received acupuncture performed better than the Control on the AOSPAN. For the total correct score, participants in the Acupuncture group scored 9.5% higher than those in the Control group [65.39 ± 7.38 (95% CI 65.32–65.46) compared to 59.70 ± 13.1 (95% CI 59.58–59.82), p = 0.0134, significant]. The mean AOSPAN absolute score was 45.87 ± 18.36 (61.2% correct; 95% CI 45.70–46.04) in the Control group and 52.20 ± 14.28 (95% CI 52.07–52.33) in the Acupuncture group (p = 0.072, approaching significance). For the subgroup of males, AOSPAN Absolute score was 44.14 ± 16.73 (58.9% correct; 95% CI 44.36–44.92) in the Control group (n = 22) and 55.13 ± 15.01 (95% CI 53.37–54.89) in the Acupuncture group (n = 16, p = .044, significant). The Acupuncture group committed 36% fewer math errors. The mean total number of math errors was 4.22 ± 3.44 (95% CI 4.19–4.25) in the Control group and 2.68 ± 2.31 (95% CI 2.66–2.70) in the Acupuncture group (p = 0.0153, significant). The mean number of math speed errors was 1.24 ± 1.59 (95% CI 1.23–1.25) in the Control group and was 0.80 ± 1.3 (95% CI 0.79–0.81; p = 0.153, not significant). The mean number of math accuracy errors was 2.98 ± 2.52 (95% CI 2.96–3.00) in the Control group and 1.89 ± 1.71 (95% CI 1.87–1.91) in the Acupuncture group (p = 0.0188, significant).

Regression analysis was performed and no significant correlations were found between: gender and anxiety (SA1, SA2, TA, ΔSA); gender and performance on all measures of the AOSPAN; TA and AOSPAN performance; SA2 and AOSPAN performance; SA1 and ΔSA; or between ΔSA and AOSPAN performance.

Overall, a trend occurred where participants with HA performed worse on the AOSPAN than LA participants. When broken down into Control and Acupuncture groups, HA participants performed below the LA participants in the Control group; but this detriment was reduced or eliminated in the Acupuncture group (Tables 1 and 2). There was also a trend that the improvement in scores on the AOSPAN found in the Acupuncture group was more pronounced for males than for females (Tables 3 and 4).
Table 1. Automated operation span task performance by trait anxiety (mean ± standard deviation).
Absolute Total correct Total math errors Speed errors Accuracy errors
Low-anxious 50.45 ± 16.74 63.44 ± 9.96 3.19 ± 2.49 0.92 ± 1.26 2.27 ± 1.93
High-anxious 45.68 ± 16.45 60.36 ± 12.99 4.07 ± 3.96 1.25 ± 1.86 2.82 ± 2.75
Difference −4.77 (9.45%) −3.08 (4.8%) +0.88 (27%) +0.33 (36%) +0.55 (0.24%)
Table 2. Automated operation span task performance by trait anxiety among control and acupuncture (Acu) groups (mean ± standard deviation).
Absolute Total correct Total math errors Speed errors Accuracy errors
LA control (n = 32) 47.59 ± 17.84 61.31 ± 11.53 3.56 ± 2.37 0.91 ± 0.10 2.66 ± 1.94
HA control (n = 14) 41.93 ± 19.59 56 ± 15.99 5.71 ± 4.92 2.0 ± 2.35 3.71 ± 3.47
Difference −5.96 (11.8%) −5.31 (8.6%) +1.86 (60.4%) +1.09 (120%) +1.05 (39.5%)

LA Acu (n = 30) 53.50 ± 15.19 65.70 ± 7.50 2.80 ± 2.59 0.933 ± 1.51 1.87 ± 1.87
HA Acu (n = 14) 49.43 ± 12.15 64.71 ± 7.35 2.43 ± 1.60 0.5 ± 0.65 1.93 ± 1.38
Difference −4.07 (7.6%) −0.99 (1.5%) −0.37 (13.2%) −0.4.3 (46%) +0.06 (3.2%)
HA = high-anxious; LA = low-anxious.

Table 3. Automated operation span task performance gender differences (mean ± standard deviation).
Absolute Total correct Total math errors Speed errors Accuracy errors
Female (n = 52) 49.12 (±16.84) 62.71 (±10.26) 2.96 (±2.32) 0.78 (±0.89) 2.17 (±1.89)
Male (n = 38) 48.76 (±16.75) 62.16 (±12.10) 4.16 (±3.72) 1.34 (±1.98) 2.82 (±2.59)
Total math errors male vs. female p = 0.0638.
Math speed errors male vs. female p = 0.0772.

Table 4. Automated operation span task performance gender differences among control and acupuncture (Acu) groups (mean ± standard deviation).
Absolute Total correct Total math errors Speed errors Accuracy errors
Female control (n = 25) 47.46 ± 19.97 60.58 ± 12.62 3.04 ± 2.26 0.83 ± 0.70 2.21 ± 1.93
Female Acu (n = 27) 50.54 ± 13.84 64.54 ± 7.48 2.89 ± 2.41 0.75 ± 1.04 2.14 ± 1.88
Difference +3.08 (6.4%) +3.96 (6.5%) −0.15 (–4.9%) −0.08 (9.6%) −0.7 (3.2%)

Male control (n = 22) 44.14 ± 16.73 58.73 ± 13.83 5.5 ± 4.07 1.68 ± 2.12 3.82 ± 2.84
Male Acu (n = 16) 55.13 ± 15.01 66.88 ± 7.21 2.31 ± 2.15 0.88 ± 1.71 1.44 ± 1.31
Difference +10.99 (24.9%) +8.15 (13.9%) −3.19 (58%) −0.80 (47.6%) −2.38 (62.3%)
Absolute score for male control vs. male Acu; p = 0.0442.

4. Discussion
This protocol improves memory and decreases anxiety immediately after administration. Participants who received acupuncture scored 9.5% higher as a total correct score and committed 36% fewer math errors. This technique also reduced anxiety. However, improvement in memory was unrelated to SA and ΔSA.

4.1. HA/LA differences
This research also supports the existing evidence that HA individuals do not perform as well as LA on tests of working memory 14, 33, 34. In all categories that AOSPAN measures, HA individuals scored lower than their LA counterparts did, although this was not statistically significant (Tables 1 and 2). The use of the median split has been questioned by Conway et al [35] and there are some limitations to this procedure. The median split still is widely used with the STAI and yields a thought-provoking trend in this case. The administration of acupuncture reduced some of the deleterious effects of HA. When broken down between Control group and Acupuncture group, the effect of HA was much less for those who received acupuncture.

4.2. Gender differences
Although sample size of each gender was not large enough to reach conclusions that are statistically significant, an interesting trend emerged in the analysis (Tables 3 and 4).
There were no significant gender differences in STAI data. However, when examining AOSPAN performance, the benefits of acupuncture were more pronounced for males than for females. Males without acupuncture performed worse than females without acupuncture on every measure of the AOSPAN. With acupuncture, males performed better than females on every measure except math speed errors.

The AOSPAN absolute score was 6.4% better for females in the Acupuncture group vs. females in the Control group, but the score was 24.9% higher for Acupuncture males vs. Control males. Acupuncture helped females perform 6.5% better as a total correct score; and acupuncture improved males' performance by 13.9%. Females who had acupuncture made 4.9% fewer total math errors than females in the Control group; Acupuncture males made 58% fewer total math errors than the Control male group. These differences are not statistically significant and may disappear in a larger sample.

However, if the trend is valid, the author has no explanation regarding why males benefit more from acupuncture than females do. It could be that the deleterious effects of anxiety are more pronounced in males; therefore, reducing anxiety has a greater benefit to them. However, since these differences are not statistically significant, it could just be random chance that accounts for these trends. Future study is needed to investigate gender differences in acupuncture and WM further.

4.3. Alternative research designs
An alternative design for this study would be to have participants take the AOSPAN before and after the variable period. For this study, this design was rejected because it was felt that taking the test twice measures participants' ability to learn a task rather than solely testing memory. Additionally, no data exist testing the reliability or the validity of the AOSPAN's measurement when administered twice in such a short time span.

This study indicates that acupuncture can improve memory and reduce anxiety in the short-term. Future study should investigate how long these effects last.

4.4. Why no sham (placebo) group?
Sham acupuncture does not exist. Placebo acupuncture is not an inert intervention. The two most common methods for administering sham acupuncture are cutaneous stimulation/superficial needling or needling points away from major (or indicated) acupuncture points, also known as “off-site” needling.

Superficial and off-site needling have been shown to induce physiologic changes in the limbic system; and those changes are different between participant types. For example, superficial needling increases limbic system activity in participants who have no pain, but it reduces it in those with pain. Some studies have shown that sham acupuncture is as effective as verum acupuncture, and that both are more effective than placebo medication. Others have shown the addition of both verum and sham acupuncture to medication provide superior benefit over medication alone, but the addition of verum acupuncture is more beneficial than sham. Others have shown that, while both sham and verum may be beneficial, they may work through different mechanism. Some studies even have concluded that sham acupuncture is more effective than verum, and that both are more effective than no treatment. Clearly, these techniques are not inert.

Lundeberg et al reviewed the literature regarding “placebo” acupuncture and concluded that it does not serve to elucidate acupuncture's effects but rather introduces a potential bias, which interferes with understanding its true effects.

Did the participants in the Acupuncture group know that they were in the treatment group? Yes. Did those in the Control group know that they were in the Control? No, they were unaware of study protocol and did not know until the end that they were not going to receive acupuncture. It is possible that participants in the Acupuncture group's knowledge that they had received an intervention may have boosted their confidence and, therefore, their performance. For this reason, future research may incorporate a placebo pill group so that all participants would believe they had received an intervention prior to taking the AOSPAN and the STAI for the second time. All participants were told that a strong performance on the AOSPAN would enter them into a drawing for a cash prize, so it is assumed that all participants gave their best effort.

This acupuncture protocol improves memory and reduces anxiety, but those effects are not correlated.

Disclosure statement
The author affirms there are no conflicts of interest and the author has no financial interest related to the material of this manuscript.

Thanks to Dr. Hui Yan Cai, Dr. Xu Nenggui, Dr. Patricia Rush, Jeanie Bussell, Christopher Martiniano, Judith Schlaeger, Dr. Ezra Cohen, Judy Pocious, and my family.

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What Type of Migraine do you Have?


Migraines affect one in seven adults in the UK, with women being three times more likely to get them than men. You can get migraines at any age but they are most common from adolescence up to the age of 50. About half of all people who get migraines have a family history of them.

The most common types of migraine are migraine with aura (classic migraine) and migraine without aura (common migraine). Aura is like a set of warning symptoms that comes on just before your migraine.

Common aura symptoms include:

• visual disturbances – such as flashing or flickering lights, zigzag lines, blurred vision, temporary blindness
• numbness or a tingling sensation – common in the hands, arm or face, similar to ‘pins and needles’
• slurred speech
• poor concentration
• problems with your co-ordination

Most people don’t get aura with their migraines. The general symptoms of migraines include:

• a headache that lasts anything from four up to 72 hours
• pulsating or throbbing pain, often just on one side of your head
• a headache that gets worse when you’re active or stops you from being active
• feeling sick or vomiting
• increased sensitivity to light and noise

Most people don’t need to see their GP when they get a migraine. However, it’s a good idea to see him or her if your migraine changes or if they start suddenly.

• your migraines become more frequent or get worse over time
• you’re over 50 and you have never had a migraine before
• you get aura symptoms lasting more than an hour

You may get a migraine at any time, when you wake up, during the day or at night. You may be able to sense when a migraine attack is about to start. This is different from aura, instead it’s a sensation that a migraine may be beginning. Irritability, lack of concentration, food cravings and tiredness can all warn you that you may be getting a migraine. A third of people have aura with their migraine. Aura symptoms don’t tend to last for more than an hour and you usually get them before the general headache symptoms of a migraine start.

If you are sufferring from migraine why not arrange an appointment with the Orly Barziv, the acupuncturist at Islington's Angel Acupuncture Clinic. If you want an appointment please click below.


The Different Types of Headaches

This article was written by the acupuncturist at Islington's Angel Acupuncture Clinic and looks at the different types of headaches that can be treated at the Islington clinic. This article covers the following:

  • Tension headaches

  • Hormone headaches

  • Cluster headaches

  • Chronic daily headaches

Tension Headaches

Tension-type headaches affect almost everyone at some point. Those that happen occasionally are just that: occasional headaches. Some people, however, have tension-type headaches just about every day, and these are considered to be chronic. Headache symptoms for tension-type headaches usually include pressure or muscle tension on both sides of the head or back of the neck; the pain is usually constant, not sharp or throbbing. Many people describe them as like having a band squeezed around their head. These headaches whether they are the acute or the chronic type respond well to treatment.

Hormone Headaches

Hormone headaches are menstrual headaches that may start before your period is due or while you’re menstruating. Migraines are often associated with menstruation, and symptoms include sharp, throbbing pain on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and even touch.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches affect men more often than women. They are extremely intense, very severe headaches that last between 30 and 45 minutes; you can have several in one day. They usually come on with no warning, catching people by surprise. The pain is piercing and usually located on one side of the head, often around the eye. People also report teary eyes on the affected side and sinus congestion. The headaches will recur over a period of time, almost always on the same side, and are followed by a headache-free period of varying length.

Chronic Daily Type Headache

Chronic Daily Headache is defined as a headache type which is present on most days typically occurring over a six-month period or longer and it can be daily and unremitting. In some patients, an episode of chronic headache resolves in a much shorter time. It can occur in children and in the very old. Twice as many men have it compared to women and the symptoms can last for decades.
About 50% of patients attending a doctor with a headache will have Chronic Daily Headache. Chronic Daily Headache Type is characterised by a combination of background, low-grade muscle contraction-type symptoms, often with stiffness in the neck, and superimposed migrainous symptoms. Patients might have had migraine in the past and experienced a difficult patch of high frequency headache.

Ice Pick/Ice cream Headache Type Typically the patient is young to middle aged and patients describe a short piercing pain like a flash of lightening lasting from seconds to minutes and may occur several times a day. Ice Pick headache type usually involves one eye and bruised after the pain has gone. Some patients find cold foods trigger the pain. Sometimes the patient has multiple attacks per day on a daily basis.

If you are suffering from headaches please call our Islington clinic and arrange to speak to our acupuncturist or make an appointment by clicking below.

Summary of Fertility Treatment Acronyms


This article is by Islington's Angel Acupuncture Clinic's acupuncturist Orly Barviz and looks at:


  • ivf

  • icsi

  • iui


ICSI is a highly advanced type of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment where fertilisation is achieved after injecting a single sperm into each egg of the female partner. With the benefit of ICSI it is possible to obtain fertilisation when very few sperms are obtained from men who are sterile. Sperms are taken by the minimally invasive techniques, usually under local anaesthetic.

The female partner’s treatment and egg collection are the same as in the standard IVF protocols.

The sperm cells obtained are prepared in a laboratory and are then ready for injection into the eggs by ICSI. Each egg is injected with one sperm, which has been selected by the embryologist.

If an adequate number of sperm are obtained at the time of the procedure, the sperm and/or testicular tissue containing sperm not used for the ICSI procedure can be frozen for later use.


Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a relatively low tech assisted fertility treatment. Intrauterine insemination involves preparing the male partners sperm in the laboratory and then placing only those sperm which move well and are normally formed in the women’s uterus. The sperm are transferred into the uterus at the time of ovulation. IUI can be performed with the sperm of the male partner or with donor sperm.

The success of intrauterine insemination depends on 2 factors: The reason it is being performed and whether performed in a drug stimulated or natural i.e. drug free cycle.
In general intrauterine insemination is a good assisted conception treatment.

Treatment starts at the beginning of the woman’s menstrual cycle. Typically, you would commence drug treatment by one injection of Gonal-F on the second day of your period (day two of the cycle). Further injections are given on the fourth, sixth and eighth days of your cycle, and on the ninth or tenth day of the cycle you would need an ultrasound scan.

Depending upon your ultrasound picture, further injections may be given on, or after, the tenth day of the cycle and the dose of drug may be increased or decreased. The aim of the stimulation is to achieve the development of two or three mature eggs to maximise your chances of pregnancy. Eggs are thought to be mature when they develop in follicles that are approximately 2cm in diameter. The number of follicles and the size of the follicles is therefore assessed at ultrasound. You may need two or more ultrasound scans in your treatment cycle to determine the optimum response.

When you have follicles of the appropriate number and size in your ovary, arrangements will be made for you to have a final injection (Ovitrelle). This causes the eggs to be ovulated approximately 24 to 40 hours later. The timing of your injection will be carefully determined to enable insemination to be performed around time of ovulation.

Multiple pregnancy

The most important risk of treatment with intrauterine insemination in a stimulated cycle is the risk of multiple pregnancy. Approximately 1 in 4 women who become pregnant following this treatment will have a multiple pregnancy.

Ovarian HyperStimulation Syndrome

The second risk of treatment is Ovarian HyperStimulation Syndrome. As the ovaries are stimulated more than they would be in a natural cycle, they become larger and contain fluid filled follicles that hold the eggs. Rarely the ovaries can become very swollen leading to a condition called ‘Ovarian HyperStimulation Syndrome’.

Intrauterine insemination is a successful treatment if used in appropriate couples, for most couples, up to three cycles of intrauterine insemination may be attempted assuming a good response is being maintained.

What is Stress?

This article is written by the acupuncturist at the Angel Acupuncture Clinic. This article covers the following topics:

• What is stress?
• What is the fight or flight response
• Why do we need a fight or flight response
• Everyday stressors
• Symptoms of stress
• Ways to deal with stress

What is Stress?

Stress is the response to the environment that we are in. Stress can be an appropriate response such as reacting to a frightening incident or it can be an over reaction to everyday events such as relationship or work problems. This second cause of stress is the more damaging and can often needs treatment. This type of stress can be insidious and it can impact on happiness and relationships and make life hard work. If it goes on for long enough it can impact upon long-term health.

The Fight or flight response

When you are faced with a challenge or a threat the body responds to protect you, either to get you away from the threat as fast as possible, ‘flight’, or to confront the threat and ‘fight’. I can remember hearing about a farmer who chopped his arm off in a harvester and walked across fields with his detached arm in his hand so he could phone for help. The film ‘Touching the Void’ also illustrates how effective the fight or flight response can be and how appropriate when it is when activated in the right context. Joe Simpson was descending the 6433metre Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985 when he fell 150ft.

Simpson survived the fall but broke his leg and for the next three days with very little food or water he dragged himself the five miles back to the base camp. These are both very good examples of what you can achieve when there is an increase in adrenalin and cortisol production.

Where does the fight or flight response come from?

The fight or flight response is when the sympathetic part of the body’s autonomic nervous system is activated unconsciously in response to the stressful situation. Stress triggers off the neurological pathway that culminates in the release of adrenalin, nor adrenalin and cortisol from the adrenal glands that are located just above the kidney’s. this leads to an increase in respiration rate and heart rate leading to an increase blood flow to muscles to ready them for action, increased thickening of blood to aid clotting and to help carry oxygen around the blood stream. Dilation of pupils to maximise vision and increased hearing sensitivity as well as a decrease in blood supply to the digestive tract. Endorphins are also released and they are naturally produced painkillers.

• Blood pressure rises
• Respiration rate increases
• Digestive system slows down
• Heart rate rises
• Immune system is suppressed
• Muscles prepare for action
• Increased state of alertness as the senses become more acute.

For the majority of our lives we don’t require the fight or flight response to the extent of climbers or to the extent of the farmer carrying his severed arm for miles across the countryside. Stress is always in our lives to some extent and what determines whether or not we feel stressed is our perception and understanding of the situation we are in.

Some people are better at dealing with stress than others and can implement helpful strategies to minimise the stress. Other people may not have these strategies or may not be as resistant against the effects of the activation of the sympathetic nervous system than others and may suffer more from the symptoms.

Everyday stresses?

Performance at work
Relationships at work
Relationships at home
Commuting to work.
Moving house

How does stress present itself routinely at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

Patients present with a number of different problems and often they have tried various ways to deal with their symptoms. At the Angel wellbeing Clinic we have an acupuncturist and a psychotherapist to help tackle the problem from different directions.

Back pain
Difficulty breathing
Chest pain
Muscle tightness
Decrease libido
Susceptibility to colds and infection.
Nail biting
Nervous twitches
Pins and needles in random distribution
Sleeping difficulties
Stomach pain
Skin conditions
Irritable bowel symptoms
Lack of motivation
Problem concentrating
Changes in appetite
Drug abuse
Alcohol abuse
Higher tobacco consumption
Feeling isolated or seeking out isolation
Crying and unpredictable emotions
Relationship problems

How to deal with stress

There is a need to deal with the causes of stress and to identify what is the thought process behind you feeling stressed. This is something our psychotherapist can help you with. Jane Dawson our psychotherapist will create a safe and comfortable environment in which you can discuss the areas of concern to you and then help with devising an effective coping strategy.

Orly Barziv our acupuncturist can help you by reducing risk of further health implications reducing the number of sick days taken, offering an effective preventative treatment for stress and by making stress easier to handle.

If you are a new parent and you are having trouble adjusting to the new baby Emua Ali our parent coach may be able to give you some good advice and counselling.

If you feel that you want to improve the quality of your life and decrease the impact stress plays in your life contact the Angel Wellbeing Clinic by clicking the link below or call 020 7288 29999



Tips for Bonding with Baby from Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s Parent Coach

Here are ‘Ten tips for bonding with baby’ from our parent coach Emua Ali. Emua is the parent of four children and a qualified parent coach having worked with parents for over 15 years.

Dads are parents too and can feel a bit marginalized initially, so if you are a dad with concerns or worries Emua can help you too and then you can help mum and baby.

Here are some simple tips to help you bond with your baby and develop a secure attachment. This will help your baby to settle and reduce emotional and behavioural problems later on:

1. Make eye contact and speak with your baby from day one.

2. Give your baby your time and you will grow together.

3. You are your child's first teacher, so sing, laugh and play together.

4. When your baby cries, avoid sticking a bottle or breast in their mouth
straight away. Find out what your baby is trying to communicate to you.
Your baby may not be hungry. Are they bored? Is your baby wet and needs changing? Does your baby need some attention?

5. Do what comes natural to you and your baby and listen to your instincts.

6. Baby's love games like peek-a-boo, funny faces and they love watching your face and listen to the sound of your voice and as you play with them. Let your baby see you cooking, cleaning and doing household chores as they enjoy your company and describe what you are doing to keep them entertained and interested.

7. A settled baby is a happy baby and they enjoy routines like bath time, story time, nap time, meal times and once a routine is established you can also have family time and couple time.

8. The more time you invest in your baby when they are small the closer you will become and this leads to a secure attachment. Baby feels safe and comfortable.

9. Do ask for help from friends and family. You need to build a team around the family and get support from others. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but the most rewarding.

10. You cannot spoil a baby so give plenty of cuddles, kisses and hugs and the more you invest in your baby's emotional bank account when they are small, the higher the dividends you will get back when they are older because you will have a strong bond and cooperation will be easier.

If you want to find out a bit more about Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s parent Emua Ali and how she can help you and your baby click here.

Unexplained Symptoms Eased By Acupuncture

Patients that have ‘unexplained symptoms’ can feel distressed and confused. These symptoms are real to them and they are caused a lot of anxiety because of them. Part of the anxiety comes form the GP being unable to help alleviate the problem and for the patient this can often be the last line of help that they can get and it hasn’t worked.

Studies have shown that the cost to the NHS in managing these unexplained symptoms is twice as much as managing a patient with a specific diagnosis.

The first trial of this kind in the NHS has taken place and it looked at the treatment of these unexplained symptoms using acupuncture in addition to their usual GP care. A research team from the Institute of Health Services Research, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, has carried out a randomised control trial and a linked interview study regarding 80 such patients from GP practices across London.

The British Journal of General Practice has published the results and they reveal that acupuncture had a significant and sustained benefit for these patients and consequently acupuncture could be safely added to the therapies used by practitioners when treating frequently attending patients with medically unexplained symptoms.

The acupuncture group registered a significantly improved overall score when compared with the control group. They also recorded improved wellbeing but did not show any change in GP and other clinical visits and the number of medications they were taking. Between 26 and 52 weeks the acupuncture group maintained their improvement and the control group, now receiving their acupuncture treatments, showed a 'catch up' improvement.

The participating patients had a variety of longstanding symptoms and disability including chronic pain, fatigue and emotional problems which affected their ability to work, socialise and carry out everyday tasks. A lack of a convincing diagnosis to explain their symptoms led to frustration, worry and low mood.

Participating patients reported that their acupuncture consultations became increasingly valuable. They appreciated the amount of time they had with each acupuncturist and the interactive and holistic nature of the sessions - there was a sense that the practitioners were listening to their concerns and, via therapy, doing something positive about them.


As a result, many patients were encouraged to take an active role in their treatment, resulting in cognitive and behavioural lifestyle changes, such as: a new self-awareness about what caused stress in their lives, and a subsequent ability to deal with stress more effectively; and taking their own initiatives based on advice from the acupuncturists about diet, exercise, relaxation and social activities.

Comments from participating patients included: "the energy is the main thing I have noticed. You know, yeah, it's marvellous! Where I was going out and cutting my grass, now I'm going out and cutting my neighbour's after because he's elderly"; "I had to reduce my medication. That's the big help actually, because medication was giving me more trouble...side effects"; and "It kind of boosts you, somehow or another."

Dr. Charlotte Paterson, who managed the randomised control trial and the longitudinal study of patients' experiences, commented: "Our research indicates that the addition of up to 12 five-element acupuncture consultations to the usual care experienced by the patients in the trial was feasible and acceptable and resulted in improved overall well-being that was sustained for up to a year.

"This is the first trial to investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment to those with unexplained symptoms, and the next development will be to carry out a cost-effectiveness study with a longer follow-up period. While further studies are required, this particular study suggests that GPs may recommend a series of five-element acupuncture consultations to patients with unexplained symptoms as a safe and potentially effective intervention."

She added: "Such intervention could not only result in potential resource savings for the NHS, but would also improve the quality of life for a group of patients for whom traditional biomedicine has little in the way of effective diagnosis and treatment."

If you are frustrarted by the symptoms you are having and have exhausted the NHS why don't you give Orly Barziv call at the Angel Acupuncture Clinic and make an appointment.

Gift Membership of the NCT


The NCT is the largest charity for parents and it has just updated it's website. There is plenty of information on pregnancy, giving birth and parenting with details of local groups for support and advice.

Membership of the NCT is a great present for someone you know that is pregnant or has just given birth.

gift membership of the NCTClick onthe link for the gift membership of the NCT.








Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis

1. Eric Manheimer, research associate
2. Grant Zhang, assistant professor
3. Laurence Udoff, assistant professor
4. Aviad Haramati, professor
5. Patricia Langenberg, professor and vice-chair
6. Brian M Berman, professor,
7. Lex M Bouter, professor and vice chancellor (rector magnificus)


Objective To evaluate whether acupuncture improves rates of pregnancy and live birth when used as an adjuvant treatment to embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.


Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data Sources

Medline, Cochrane Central, Embase, Chinese Biomedical Database, hand searched abstracts, and reference lists.

Review Methods

Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials that compared needle acupuncture administered within one day of embryo transfer with sham acupuncture or no adjuvant treatment, with reported outcomes of at least one of clinical pregnancy, ongoing pregnancy, or live birth. Two reviewers independently agreed on eligibility; assessed methodological quality; and extracted outcome data. For all trials, investigators contributed additional data not included in the original publication (such as live births). Meta-analyses included all randomised patients.

Data Synthesis

Seven trials with 1366 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation were included in the meta-analyses. There was little clinical heterogeneity. Trials with sham acupuncture and no adjuvant treatment as controls were pooled for the primary analysis. Complementing the embryo transfer process with acupuncture was associated with significant and clinically relevant improvements in clinical pregnancy (odds ratio 1.65, 95% confidence interval 1.27 to 2.14; number needed to treat (NNT) 10 (7 to 17); seven trials), ongoing pregnancy (1.87, 1.40 to 2.49; NNT 9 (6 to 15); five trials), and live birth (1.91, 1.39 to 2.64; NNT 9 (6 to 17); four trials). Because we were unable to obtain outcome data on live births for three of the included trials, the pooled odds ratio for clinical pregnancy more accurately represents the true combined effect from these trials rather than the odds ratio for live birth. The results were robust to sensitivity analyses on study validity variables. A prespecified subgroup analysis restricted to the three trials with the higher rates of clinical pregnancy in the control group, however, suggested a smaller non-significant benefit of acupuncture (odds ratio 1.24, 0.86 to 1.77).


Current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

BMJ 336 : 545 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39471.430451.BE (Published 7 February 2008)

This comment to the BMJ paper was added by Laurie Barclay, MD:

Acupuncture has been associated with statistically and clinically significant improvements in pregnancy rates resulting from the embryo transfer process, according to the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis published online February 7 in the British Medical Journal. In China, acupuncture has been used for centuries to help control the female reproductive system.

"Firstly, acupuncture may mediate the release of neurotransmitters, which may in turn stimulate secretion of gonadotrophin releasing hormone, thereby influencing the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and fertility," write Eric Manheimer, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues. "Secondly, acupuncture may stimulate blood flow to the uterus by inhibiting uterine central sympathetic nerve activity. Thirdly, acupuncture may stimulate the production of endogenous opioids, which may inhibit the central nervous system outflow and the biological stress response."

The goal of this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials was to assess the effect of acupuncture given with embryo transfer on the rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization.

This comment is from Orly Barziv:

This article investigates whether acupuncture improves the rate of pregnancy when administered before and after embryo transfer in women undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization).

The authors have included in their analysis 8 previously published research controlled trials (1366 women with a wide range of ages and causes of infertility) that compared the number of clinical pregnancies in two groups, one of which received acupuncture within one day of embryo transfer (typically one session 25 minutes before transfer and one immediately after).

Their analysis found that embryo transfer with acupuncture is associated with higher rates of clinical pregnancy and this result was not affected from sensitivity analyses performed for all but one sets of studies. This provides preliminary yet significant evidence that IVF, when performed alongside acupuncture, has increased chances of a successful outcome.

When to seek help for infertility?

Getting pregnant isn't always easy. About a quarter of couples experience a period of infertility lasting more than a year, and some continue to experience difficulties for longer. At least one in six couples consults an infertility specialist, and about one is 80 babies in the UK is born as the result of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

Infertility may be a result of factors affecting the fertility of either partner. In some instances, despite investigation, the cause is never identified. This is called unexplained infertility.

Orly gets a number of enquiries each month at our Islington based acupuncture about how to maximize fertility. You can find out more about Orly and and acupuncture in Islington and how acupuncture can help at her acupunture website

The BBC also has a good page on infertility

Meet our new receptionist Marty and her 30 secomd quiz!


What is your job role? Part Time Receptionist

How long have you worked here? 1 day!

What do you do in your free time? Go to clubs/ bars / restaurants, theatre and socialise with friends.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done? Sea - Para gliding in Cyprus (I'm scared of heights!)

Summer or winter? Summer most defiantly.

What is the last book you read? How Could She by Dana Fowley

If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be? Beyonce Knowles or Michelle Obama.

If you could go a trip where would that be? The Bahamas

Favourite album of all time? Can't choose just one, but anything by Jay Z.

Most memorable night out? Hawa's wild limo Birthday.

Favourite drink? Jack Daniels




 Blood Donation Following Acupuncture

Patients who have received acupuncture are still able to give blood providing they meet certain criteria. The National Blood Service guidelines are explained here.
National Blood Service (NBS) Guidelines

1. Patients must not donate (obligatory):
If the condition for which treatment was given is not acceptable to the NBS.
If it is less than 4 months since treatment was completed for that condition.


2. Patients may donate (discretionary):
If acupuncture has been performed under the NHS.
If acupuncture has been performed outside the NHS by a qualified Healthcare Professional registered with a statutory body.

The following are statutory bodies:
General Medical Council (GMC)
General Dental Council (GDC)
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
Health Professions Council (HPC)
General Osteopathic Council (GOsC)
General Chiropractic Council (GCC)

Click here to go to the National Blood Service website

Acupuncture Assists Success of IVF Fertility Treatments

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has welcomed the preliminary results of a recent international study which found that acupuncture given with embryo transfer can improve rates of pregnancy by 65% in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Head of the British Acupuncture Council Research Committee, Professor Nicky Robinson said: The recent systematic review and meta-analysis of 7 trials, involved 1,336 women undergoing IVF.

"This study suggests that when acupuncture given in conjunction with embryo transfer increases the chance of women becoming pregnant by 65%, in comparison to sham acupuncture or no additional treatment. What this means is that 10 women would need to be treated with acupuncture to bring about one additional pregnancy."

"It confirms what many of our practitioners and their patients have found, namely that acupuncture can be helpful in this area."

"At the BAcC, we recognise that our practitioners are treating more and more women for a wide range of fertility issues, including menstrual irregularities and the inability to conceive and the, has a comprehensive research study underway, analysing the member's practice of fertility related conditions."

The researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and VU University Amsterdam set out to determine whether acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves the rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing IVF.

Acupuncture is a form of oriental therapy and fertility focused acupuncture treatment can help to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, balance hormone levels, regulate the menstrual cycle and help improve the lining of the uterus and quality of eggs released.

Acupuncture is thought to aid fertility treatments by being able to:

* regulate the menstrual cycle and promote regular ovulation
* regulate the hormones to produce a larger number of follicles
* improve the functions of ovaries to produce better quality eggs
* enhance the vitality of sperm
* relieve the side effects of drugs used in IVF
* increase the thickness of the uterine lining so to encourage successful implantation.

This article is from the British Acupuncture Council website and can be found at

Couples Find the Aid of Acupuncture is Fertile Ground for Conception

Research suggests that around one in six couples are likely to experience problems conceiving, with more turning to IVF and donor insemination as alternatives*. While infertility is often thought of as a female problem, only a third of cases can be linked solely to women. Fertility issues affect both male and female partners, and couples are increasingly turning to traditional acupuncture to help them conceive.


In men traditional acupuncture treatment has been shown to influence the quality and quantity of male sperm, improving the motility and count. In women, it can regulate the menstrual cycle and promote ovulation by controlling hormonal imbalances, thus helping to increase the chance of natural conception.

Not only can acupuncture have a positive impact on the patient’s mental and emotional state but it has a wide range of other benefits for both male and female partners. Individuals may experience increased energy, inner strength and vitality.

When partners who are struggling to conceive both opt to have acupuncture, it can have a very positive effect, uniting them as a couple and helping to create a calmer, more relaxed state of mind. In addition, couples that have acupuncture treatment for a three to six month period may well find they can conceive naturally, negating the need for IVF treatment. If couples do chose to have IVF however, acupuncture works alongside it very effectively to increase the success rates.

Maggie Bavington, acupuncturist and member of the British Acupuncture Council says: ‘In my experience and that of my patients, acupuncture has a lot to offer couples trying for a baby, whatever their diagnosis. Dealing with infertility can be extremely stressful and both parties can become tense and anxious. This can result in poor sleep or low libido, and a reluctance to keep trying because previous attempts have failed with every passing month, bringing more pressure on both people’.

‘Male patients often benefit from the relaxation acupuncture brings and are overjoyed when tests show their sperm has improved. Getting pregnant is not the end of the story and I often treat women through the whole pregnancy. Of course the most rewarding part for me is when I get to meet the long awaited baby in person and see the joy of the new parents’

While some couples look to acupuncture for help with specific fertility issues or conditions, others may choose to have treatment to help maintain overall health and well being. Regulating the flow of Qi, the body’s motivating energy can help boost energy levels as well as ward off illness.

Traditional acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health. Its benefits are now widely acknowledged all over the world and in the past decade, traditional acupuncture has begun to feature more prominently in mainstream medicine in the UK.

This article is from the British Acupuncture Council website and can be found at

Mum’s diet may play a role in the earlier development of diabetes

This article was written by Elspeth Stewart, Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s Nutritional Therapist located in Islington.

It is widely acknowledged that a healthy diet during pregnancy can make a difference to the health of both mother and child. A new piece of research coming out of Cambridge University, in a study lead by Susan Ozanne, has highlighted how maternal diets may be linked to the earlier progression of type II diabetes in the next generation.

This research, carried out in mice, demonstrate that a low-protein diet caused changes to gene expression leading to a reduction in a protein required for beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin effectively (Hnf4a). If this takes place, the beta cells ‘age’ prematurely and struggle to maintain a normal insulin response. Similar beta cell ‘aging’ has been identified in people with type II diabetes but research is yet to demonstrate this particular dietary association in human studies. Given the ethical considerations of carrying out research around pregnancy it may be a little more difficult to demonstrate.

Where's the protein?

As a nutritional therapist working in Islington I spend a lot of time looking at the diets of new clients, I often find myself encouraging people to look at how they might include more protein to improve their health. The explosion of convenience foods since the 70s and Islington’s Upper Street has plenty, has significantly changed the way people eat and prepare food. The diet most people now follow is quite carbohydrate rich and the bulk of protein seems to be consumed at dinnertime. A typical food diary I might see includes:

cereal or toast for a quick, easy breakfast
a sandwich for lunch on the go
biscuits, fruit, flavoured yoghurt or crisps for a snack
juice, soft drinks or sweetened tea or coffee as drinks through the day

Even dinner can be quite carbohydrate-heavy with pizza, pasta, noodles and rice dishes. So unless taking care to select foods that contain a reasonable amount of protein and plenty of vegetables, it is easy to end up with a diet that is predominantly carbohydrate based.

Referring back to the study on mice, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that a similar process may have been taking place in humans over the last 30 years, contributing to the current epidemic of diabetes. It is not unusual now for teenagers to be diagnosed with type II diabetes, a condition once associated with old age.

Our diet influences the expression of genes

Research into epigenetics (how diet and environment can shape the way our genes are expressed) is starting to demonstrate clearly that our health is not entirely fixed in our DNA and that we have the power to shape how genes are expressed through modifying our diet, exercise and stress levels. This is great news for anyone who wants to take positive control of their health.

Good nutrition during pregnancy is essential

If starting a family, it is essential to recognise the importance of a healthy diet and how you can eat in a way that will not only keep you and the baby well in the short term, but also lay a foundation for good health in years to come.

Elspeth Stewart is Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s Nutritional Therapist, she has a keen interest in how nutritional therapy can improve health and how nutritional therapy can improve pregnancy. Elspeth Stewart is part of a team including, Orly Barziv, Islington’s Angel Acupuncture Clinic’s acupuncturist and Chantal Prince, Islington’s Angel Osteopathic Clinic’s osteopath. Chantal spends a lot of her time at the clinic treating mums and babies.


New Fertility Treatment to be Assessed by Regulator

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to assess a controversial new fertility treatment.

The "three-parent IVF" technique pioneered at Newcastle University involves the transfer of human genetic material between two fertilised eggs.

For the full article click here

Acupuncture Found to Help Reduce Hot Flushes

The results of the Acuflash study, completed in 2009, conclude that acupuncture can contribute to a clinically relevant reduction in hot flashes and increased health-related quality of life.

In the study, carried out by The National Research Center in Alternative and Complementary Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway, women reported a reduction in frequency and intensity of hot flashes both by night and by day having used acupuncture (12 weeks):

Hot flushes reduced by an average of 5.8 flushes per 24 hour period and the intensity of hot flushes decreased by 3.2 units amongst women receiving traditional acupuncture treatment. An improved sleep pattern was also reported.

Terje Alraek of the University of Tromso says: “After menopause, 10–20 per cent of all women have nearly intolerable hot flushes. The promising results of the Acuflash study suggest that acupuncture may be able to provide an alternative to long-term use of hormone replacement therapy.”

Mark Bovey of the British Acupuncture Council says: “Our members have for many years successfully helped patients suffering from various menopausal symptoms. At a time when the body is undergoing numerous physical and emotional changes, an acupuncturists’ approach of treating the individual, rather than the illness, can help smooth the transition, providing relief from symptoms as well as an improved sense of wellbeing. We are looking forward to seeing the results of the study presented in full at the ARRC symposium.”

Acupuncture and physical exercise improve hormone levels and menstrual bleeding pattern in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Acupuncture and physical exercise improve hormone levels and menstrual bleeding pattern in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), reveals research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

In the current study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, a group of women with PCOS were given acupuncture where the needles were stimulated both manually and with a weak electric current at a "very" low frequency that was, to some extent, similar to muscular work. A second group was instructed to exercise at least three times a week, while a third group acted as controls. All were given information on the importance of regular exercise and a healthy diet.

"The study shows that both acupuncture and exercise reduce high levels of testosterone and lead to more regular menstruation," says docent associate professor Elisabet Stener-Victorin, who is responsible for the study. "Of the two treatments, the acupuncture proved more effective."

For the full paper

Acupuncture and Assisted Conception

Orly Barziz is the acupuncturisit at Islington's Angel Acupuncture Clinic. She has a keen interest in acupuncture and fertility and has contribueted articles on the subject of fertility to this website

It's possible that the more relaxed a woman is when the embryos first enter the womb, the more likely they are to nestle in and grow successfully. In previous research, a Cochrane review of studies found, potentially stress-relieving acupuncture treatments done at the time of embryo transfer have nearly doubled pregnancy rates.

"The data from this meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture does increase the live birth rate with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment when performed around the time of embryo transfer. However, this could be attributed to placebo effect and the small number of trials included in the review. Larger studies are necessary to confirm the results. Acupuncture may have potential harmful effects in early pregnancy and hence clinicians should be cautious when giving advice regarding the use of acupuncture in early pregnancy".

The National Child Measurement Programme

As part of the National Child Measurement Programme children are weighed and measured at school. The information is used by the NHS to plan and provide better health services for children. Some local NHS providers will send the results to the parents of the children measured.

Acupuncture and Male Infertility

Infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive after approximately two years of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Nowadays this is a very common trend; one in six couples seek some form of assisted fertility treatment. In about 50% of infertile couples, there is a male infertility factor associated, either due to abnormalities in the semen or inadequate sexual function.

Many factors influence semen parameters (number, motility and shape of spermatozoa). These can be hormonal, psychogenic, environmental toxins, increased heat of the scrotum, systemic diseases, smoking and alcohol etc. In some cases no cause of infertility can be found. This is then referred to as unexplained infertility.

My experience from my patients is that assisted reproduction is a a very stressful, let alone expensive procedure, so many couples seek help from complementary therapies before they decide to go for IUI, IVF or other artificial fertility techniques. And rightly so!

Recent clinical trials and case studies suggest that traditional acupuncture can contribute to the treatment of male infertility, as the results of the research showed an increase in the sperm count, motility and quality. It has also been demonstrated that scrotal temperature decreases after acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture has proved to produce very positive outcomes with stress release and hormonal balance, two significant factors contributing to a healthy sexual life and fertility. If you want some more information on the research and its outcomes please visit

I believe we all know by now the effects of lifestyle to fertility and healthy sexual life. Smoking, drinking alcohol, eating the wrong things and overworking are not beneficial for the body and, not surprisingly, will impair both. In traditional acupuncture individualized nutritional advice is a very important part of the treatment. Also it can give you a helping hand to quit smoking, once you have decided this is what you want to do but cannot quite do it on your own.

Depending on the individual diagnosis acupuncture treatment may last for a course of 7-10 sessions up to a few courses if the condition is chronic or deeply rooted. As the treatment improves semen quality, acupuncture can be an important aid to assisted fertility techniques. Let me clarify one thing that many people are not aware of: the treatment does not involve any contact with the genital area whatsoever. Diagnosis and treatment take place as usual for a holistic treatment and needles are not inserted anywhere locally. Typical areas of needling are the lower limbs, the back and the abdomen. I know a lot of men are put off by the idea of having acupuncture for fertility for this reason but there is no reason for that.

A few words on female infertility will follow soon; I just wanted to point out here that in cases of unexplained infertility, where no physical problem can be identified in either of the partners and the couple decides they want to try natural conception, it is ideal that both receive traditional acupuncture. This is because a minor imbalance that is not physically detectable (has not structurally manifested yet) but can impair fertility, can be present in both partners.


Male Infertility Helped by Antioxidants Says Research

The BBC's Health section has an interesting article: Antioxidants may help improve male fertility, early research suggests.

A review of existing data found, compared with controls, a couple was more likely to have a pregnancy or live birth if the man took certain vitamins or other antioxidants.


If you are are looking for ways to maximise your fertility through diet arrange to see our Nutritional Therapist Elspeth Stewart BSc(Hons), DipCNE, MBANT, CNHC

Acupuncture and the Treatment of Children with Lazy Eye

Patients who come along to the Angel Wellbeing Clinic Islington to see the acupuncturist do so for a variety of reasons. As far as I know we haven’t had anyone present at the clinic suffering from lazy eye, or amblyopia (to give the condition its medical name).

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is a condition where the vision in an eye is poor due to the lack of use of the eye during early childhood. Generally, only one eye is affected, but in some cases it affects both eyes. However, although this is a rare case, some degree of amblyopia is the most common condition treated by paediatric ophthalmologists and affects 1 in 25 children. This is one of the reasons why children in the UK usually have a routine pre-school or primary school vision-check as amblyopia is very treatable at this age.

The condition develops gradually in a baby and it is during this important developmental period that the neurological pathways involved in vision are established, whereby the eye is linked to the brain, and internal neurological connections within the brain are formed. During this developmental process, the brain learns how to interpret the vision signals that come from an eye. This neurological developmental process continues until the child is 7-8 years old; beyond which the pathways are fully developed and the possibilities of change are greatly reduced.

If, for any reason, a young child cannot use one or both eyes normally, then the normal neurological development will not take place, and amblyopia, or a lazy eye, will develop, resulting in poor sight (visual acuity). Furthermore, the amblyopia develops in addition to whatever else is affecting the eye. Therefore, even if any other resident eye problems are treated successfully, the visual impairment from amblyopia usually remains permanent, unless it is diagnosed and treated before the age of about seven years. Essentially, amblyopia is considered a neurological developmental problem of the brain rather than a problem within the eye itself.

The most common treatment for amblyopia is ‘patching’ or occlusion therapy. This involves placing an eye patch over the good eye, forcing the lazy eye to work better at seeing, by pushing that part of the brain that is responsible for vision to work harder with the un-occluded eye and thereby developing its neurological connections.

Jianhao Zhao, of the Joint Shantou International Eye Centre of Shantou University and Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shantou, China carried out a randomized, controlled trial with 88 children to see how effective acupuncture was compared to occlusion therapy or patching for the treatment of lazy eye [Zhao et al., 2010].

In the experiment, the children were assigned to one of two groups:

• Acupuncture Group - 43 children. These were given five treatment sessions each week, which targeted five needle insertion sites, also known as acupoints.
• Patching Group - 45 children. Their good eye was patched for two hours each day. They had to perform near-vision activities with their lazy eye for one hour each day. Near vision activities included reading or typing.

After a total of 15 weeks' worth of treatment the following was observed:

• Visual acuity improved by 2.3 lines in the Acupuncture Group;
• Visual acuity improved by 1.8 lines in the Patching Group;
• 75.6% (31) of the children in the Acupuncture Group experienced an improvement of at least two lines;
• 66.7% (28) of the children in the Patching Group experienced an improvement of at least two lines’
• In the Acupuncture Group lazy eye was considered as resolved in 41.5% of cases;
• In the Patching Group lazy eye was considered as resolved in 16.7% of cases.

The results of the experiment appeared to show that acupuncture was an effective means of treating amblyopia, and in fact compared to patching, was statically superior. It led the to the view that well-targeted acupuncture may have altered the activity in the part of the brain that receives data from the eyes (visual cortex), and that the treatment may also have enhanced blood flow to the eye and surrounding tissues, as well as the generation of compounds that support the growth of retinal nerves could also be stimulated. Nevertheless, [Zhao et al., 2010] concluded that “Although the treatment effect of acupuncture appears promising, the mechanism underlying its success as a treatment for amblyopia remains unclear.” Therefore, before acupuncture can be championed as an alternative treatment to occlusion therapy for amblyopia, further studies must first be conducted to identify its true value in the treatment of the lazy eye.


[Zhao et. Al, 2010] Jianhao Zhao, MD; Dennis S. C. Lam, MD, FRCOphth; Li Jia Chen, PhD; Yunxiu Wang, BMed; Chongren Zheng, DEpid; Qiaoer Lin, DN; Srinivas K. Rao, FRCS; Dorothy S. P. Fan, FRCS; Mingzhi Zhang, MD; Ping Chung Leung, MD; Robert Ritch, MD, FRCOphth, “Randomized Controlled Trial of Patching vs Acupuncture for Anisometropic Amblyopia in Children Aged 7 to 12 Years”, Arch Ophthalmol. 2010;128(12):1510-1517. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.306.

Depression, Pregnancy and Having an Emotionally Healthy Baby.

The Angel Wellbeing Clinic has a strong interest in all things mother and baby, with the acupuncturist, cranial osteopath, counsellor and parent coach having a keen interest in this topic. We are able to help with the lead up to birth and post birth, with care for the mother and baby’s physical needs and the mum and dad’s emotional needs.

There have been a few articles published in recent years that look at the emotional state of the mother, and the effect on the foetus with respect to the emotional state of the baby [Kinsella, 2009]. This touches on a number of different fields: medicine, psychology, psychiatry, embryology and neuroendocrinology. It really is the point where there is a convergence of anatomy and physiology to produce a sentient being with an individual personality.

Studies have shown that an increase in maternal depression during pregnancy leads to an increase in cortisol levels in babies at birth [Marcus et al., 2010]. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, which are located just in front of the kidneys as a response to physical or psychological stress. In doing so, cortisol prepares the body and the brain to deal with this stress by guaranteeing that they have enough energy to react and function whenever this stress occurs. Other than being known as a stress hormone, cortisol has a number of other effects on the body such as regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular function, as well as regulating carbohydrate metabolism and suppressing immune function.

Cortisol is secreted into the blood stream from the adrenal glands as a response to physical and emotional stress. Apart from its effects as a stress hormone, cortisol also has a neuronal developmental effect; therefore, it is also involved with the development of the child’s brain, particularly the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, which is part of the neuroendocrine system that interprets and regulates emotions. This influence of cortisol on the development of the child’s brain may carry on until they are 10 years old and the mylination of specific neurones is completed. This fits in nicely with Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation [Bowlby,51], where he suggested that an unbroken attachment to the mother was essential during the first two years of the child’s life to prevent problems in later years.

The exact influence that cortisol has on the neurons of the brain is not fully known. However, it has been suggested in [Essex et al., 2002] that the substance may accelerate the loss of the neurons, resulting in delays in the mylination of the neurons or in abnormalities due to inappropriate ‘pruning’ of the neurons. Moreover, the effect of this on the brain is that the brain becomes more sensitive and responsive to stress. Consequently, the body has less control of stress, which, as a baby developing into a toddler, then into adolescence and finally into adulthood, can exhibit behavioural and emotional problems.

Understanding the long term effects of having a ‘damaged’ stress response should promote better care pre and post partum, with better care for the mum pre and post birth and mum and dad post birth, to create the most secure parenting environment possible. This is something our parent counsellor has a keen interest in and as an adult, CBT therapy can help with dealing with inappropriate stress responses.

Once your baby is born, his or her brain develops partly because of genetic instructions (nature) and partly because of exposure to the outside world (nurture). Experiences help determine which synapses grow stronger and which are pruned. If the baby is exposed to consistent and empathic parenting the neurons that promote low anxiety for the baby will be nurtured and the baby will express low anxiety behaviour. The baby will then grow up being able to handle stressful situations better, be less anxious in relationships and be less vulnerable to stress-related illnesses. If the converse happens, the baby may grow up having an increased risk to anxiety-based disorders such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, OCD, PTSD and ADDH to name but a few [Coplana, 2002].

In summary, how you are as a mum in the run up to birth is essential for decreasing the level of stress for your unborn child. How you are as mum and dad in the lead up to the birth is also extremely important too. Post birth with the change of situation, the reaction to that situation and the change in the relationship is also important to produce a low stress child.

What can you do for your baby at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

• Massage and acupuncture help reduce stress.
• Parent coaching can help plan and prepare you both for the birth and anticipate the changes.
• Massage, acupuncture and osteopathy post birth can help physical and emotional recovery.
• Cranial osteopathy can help with making the baby as settled as possible.
• CBT therapy can help with any fears and worries about parenthood.


[Bowlby, 51] Bowlby, J., Maternal Care and Mental Health, Geneva: World Health Organisation, 1951, ISBN 1568217579.

[Coplana, 2002] Coplana, J.D., Moreaub, D., Chaputb, F., Martinezb, J.M., Hovenb, C.W., Mandellb, D.J., Gormanb, J.M., Pine, D.S., Salivary cortisol concentrations before and after carbon-dioxide inhalations in children, Biol Psychiatry, Feb 15 2002, 51:326-33.

[Essex et al, 2002] Essex, M.J., Klein, M. H., Cho, E., Kalin, N.H., Maternal stress beginning in infancy may sensitize children to later stress exposure: effects on cortisol and behaviour, Biological Psychiatry 52, pp776-784, 2002.

[Kinsella, 2009] Kinsella, M.T., Impact of Maternal Stress, Depression and Anxiety on Fetal Neurobehavioral Development, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology: September 2009 - Volume 52 - Issue 3 - pp 425-440,
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e3181b52df1, Psychiatric Disorders in Pregnancy

[Marcus et al., 2010] Marcus, S., Lopez, J.F., McDonough, S., MacKenzie, M.J., Flynn, H., Neal Jr, C.R., Gahagan, S., Volling, B., Kaciroti, N., Vazquez, D.M.,
Depressive symptoms during pregnancy: Impact on neuroendocrine and neonatal outcomes, Infant Behavior and Development, July 2010.



Ten Ways To Manage Stress at Christmas - or maybe not!


Christmas is an expensive time for everyone so set yourself a budget and stick to it. Accept that being a good parent or being a good and loving partner doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. It is the thought that matters and if they don’t like the ‘thought’ then they aren’t worth it so leave them. That goes for the children too!

If your child says ‘I can’t live without it’ with reference to a wii game or something similar, they are lying so ignore them!

Hosting Christmas can sometimes feel like a bit of a burden, especially if you're cooking dinner. So to reduce stress get invited to someone else’s and leave before it is time to do the washing up..

Look after yourself! If you're feeling stressed, you're not going to have a good time. Make sure that you feel relaxed by having a drink and falling asleep on the sofa when it is time to wash up.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, if you delegate properly you will have next to nothing to do

If you're getting a touch of cabin fever and your family is getting on your nerves go out for a walk to the pub. It is okay to take the children with you if there is an outside play area.

It's easy to underestimate that children may get tired or bored quite early on in the day and so irritate the adults so banish them to their bedroom nice and early. If they put up resistance tell them that if they are bad children Santa has to pass this way on his way back to the North Pole and he can always stop off and collect the presents, it is their choice!

You should try to eat and drink regularly to keep yourself hydrated and alert. Start the morning with a bucks fizz but don’t forget that keeping the fluid levels topped up constantly throughout the day is important so maybe a gin and tonic before lunch may help. Don’t get seduced by the old wives tale about drinking plenty of water.

Don’t worry about over eating on Christmas day and Boxing Day as you can combine a New Year healthy eating campaign with a detox programme from too much alcohol consumption over New Year. Obviously don’t get upset with the knowledge that you make the same New Year’s resolution and it only lasts a week!

Although everyone dreams of the perfect family Christmas, try not to panic if it doesn't work out how you wanted. There is always another one in 12 months time!

Infertility: Men need to take it seriously

The Angel Wellbeing Clinic has a couple of practitioners that are interested in the subject of fertility. But what is clearly evident is that it is solely women who come into the clinic with concerns about their fertility, and it is these women that take a proactive attitude towards fertility and conception. So what about the men and fertility? Why don’t they take their fertility as seriously as women do?

Macho attitudes may have something to do with it, but this probably isn’t worth discussing here. Women, on the other hand, have a more conscientious approach towards smear and obstetric check-ups, and view their reproductive system in far more medical, nuts and bolts, fashion than men do. Unlike their male counterparts, women do not see the ability to reproduce as an extension of their egos! As a father myself, it never once occurred to me that I would have trouble becoming a dad, or that my offspring would be anything other than a son. My attitude, I’d admit, was nothing more than that of a typical hot-blooded, virile male. To top it all, being right in both accounts didn’t do anything to dampen that ego I was carrying around in my young body!

Women don’t see it as a failure or weakness to be concerned with their reproductive system. So, unblinkered, they can see the benefits of looking after themselves (with a bit of help from the marketing ads in GP surgeries or wellbeing women clinics etc). Men, on the other hand, take the approach that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, so naturally there is nothing wrong with their fertility levels.

However, evidence would seem to contradict this, as the September 2010 Science Policy Briefing from the European Science Foundation have just produced a report looking into the subject of fertility in men, and at the possible causes and ramifications of decreased male fertility on our society. It contains some very sobering facts that really should be taken seriously by all men.

Fact 1: It is reported, in the Science Policy Briefing, that in most European countries male fertility has dropped below the replacement level. That is, the birth rate has dropped below the level that replaces the population. Men can’t take all the blame for this, for society has changed over the past couple of decades where women have easy access to birth control methods, choosing to have fewer children and starting a family later in life in order to pursue a career.

Fact 2: The progressive increase of obesity amongst men in our society, and the resultant development of cardiovascular disorders and Type-2 diabetes have been detrimental for male fertility due to the reduction in testosterone levels. This has been particularly evident in the young male population, within the age group which has historically been engaged in relationships and fathering children. It can be concluded then that this decline in male fertility is inextricably linked to the increase in male mortality, following a decrease in cardiovascular and metabolic health and well-being.

Fact 3: The above facts, combined with a reduction in semen quality, an increase in testicular carcinoma and an increase in male congenital reproductive abnormalities may all conspire to decrease fertility in the population and reduce birth rates. This then has great financial implications regarding healthcare provided by our governments. However, the reduction in semen quality is not a recent phenomenon, with approximately 50% reduction of quality in fertile men reported over the last 50 years. At present the World Health Organisation’s Reference Level of sperm concentration is not met by 20% of the male population. There is not a great deal of research into this field, but a Danish study has found that women of the age group that would have the highest rate of pregnancy also had the highest decline in pregnancy rates as well as showing an increased use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) as well as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), a process by which one selects a single healthy sperm and injecting it into the egg.

Fact 4: The development of healthy sperm is also effected by the exposure of humans to numerous chemicals in the environment, or to chemicals that we are exposed to in society:

PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenols) Found in transformers, plastic, paint and food.

Brominated flame retardents. Building materials, electronic equipment and food.

Bisphenol-A (polycarbonate) Baby and water bottles, electronic equipment and food.

UV-filters (hydroxylated benzophenones and camphor. Sunscreens, coloured industrial products.

Dioxin By-product form combustion processes, food.

Polyflourinated chemicals Paints, impregnation of clothes and footwear, waxes for floors and cars, air.

Pesticides (Vinclozolin, dieldrin, DDT, DDE) Food.

This sudden increase in male infertility due to reproductive disorders cannot be attributed solely to genetic factors, but to environmental factors as well, and these have to be identified and remedies put in place to rectify them. The bottom line is that men, and their positions they hold in businesses and governments, make powerful, all-encompassing policy decisions that have led to this decrease in male fertility, reduction in birth rates, and the subsequent decline in our industrialised society. Despite the obvious irony, these men have paid little to no attention to the male reproductive health disorders. For the very first time, these fertility problems have been highlighted by the European Science Foundation in their September Science Policy Briefing, and a detailed discussion on the ramifications for demographics in industrialised Europe.

Too long has the ‘nations well-being’ been met with a smattering of derision by the Press. But once you get past the initial hyperbole, well-being is a serious issue, not just on an individual basis, but for society at large. And the easiest way to attack the problem is through tackling obesity and its subsequent effects on testosterone levels.




Acupuncture and Multiple Sclerosis

What can acupuncture do for Multiple Sclerosis

Complicated conditions such as MS require an integrated treatment approach: western medical knowledge and technology should work along with the wisdom and experience of Chinese medicine to control the disease and promote the patient’s wellbeing.

MS is a modern disease (the first cases were reported at the end of last century), which has been relatively unknown in China. How then can an ancient medical system deal with a modern disease? Chinese Medicine is based on a pattern differentiation basis whereby diseases are categorized according to the overall picture of signs and symptoms that the individual presents with. Consequently a number of different western or modern diseases may fall under one category and are treated both for their cause (root) and the manifestation (branches).

Acupuncture seems to be the complementary treatment of choice for most MS patients internationally after diet and nutrition. According to the World Health Organisation Resources publication for Multiple Sclerosis (WHO 2008), the five most prevalent alternative or complementary approaches used are diet and nutrition (88.3%), acupuncture (86.7%), herbal medicine (81.7%), massage (78.3%) and homeopathy (73.3%). As will be mentioned later, dietary modification and chinese medicine, particularly for the case of MS are inseparable.

Acupuncture treatment is perfectly safe for MS patients when performed by fully trained practitioners. There are no significant side effects reported. A healing crisis may occur meaning the patient may experience an exacerbation of some symptoms for a couple of days before they subside. Some very deficient patients may feel tired, drowsy or a bit faint after the treatment. In very few severe cases insertion of needles led to muscle spasms.

Acupuncture can effectively ameliorate the symptoms of MS and prevent deterioration through invigorating the local circulation of Qi and blood and supporting the function of the internal organs and immune system. Examples of symptoms that can be relieved are

Bladder and bowel problems
Visual impairment
Leg weakness, numbness
muscle atrophy, stiffness and spasticity
Sensory problems
Trigeminal neuralgia
Emotional disturbances

Equally or more important is the role of acupuncture in preventing possible triggers for MS:

- emotional instability: acu promotes mental wellbeing and spiritual tranquility
- viral, bacterial or parasitic infections: acu enhances the function of the immune system and protects from infections/illnesses
- environmental factors (dampness, cold, heat etc): patient’s circumstances play a significant role (dress appropriately and avoid damp living conditions); acu promotes smooth circulation of Qi and blood therefore reducing the chances of getting affected by adverse climatic conditions
- wrong diet and/or lifestyle: Chinese medicine strongly emphasizes on these factors as crucial for maintaining and promoting good health both physical and mental. After diagnosis the patient will be given personalized diet and lifestyle recommendations, making him/her take on an active role in the healing process.

If there are severe lesions in the nervous system part of the damage is irreversible so the aim of the treatment is to manage existing symptoms, prevent deterioration, and improve the quality of daily life.


Analysis of the effectiveness of TCM treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Jiang D.
Journal of Chinese Medicine. (92) (pp 13-18), 2010. Date of Publication: February 2010.

Multiple sclerosis patients with bladder dysfunction have decreased symptoms after electro-acupuncture.
Soe SH. Kopsky DJ. Jongen PJ. de Vet HC. Oei-Tan CL.
Multiple Sclerosis. 15(11):1376-7, 2009 Nov.
[Letter. ]

Comparison of the effect of two types of acupuncture on quality of life in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: a preliminary single-blind randomized controlled trial.
Donnellan CP. Shanley J.
Clinical Rehabilitation. 22(3):195-205, 2008 Mar.

The Treatment of Bladder Dysfunction From Multiple Sclerosis with Acupuncture.
McCormick J
International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture 2007;16(2):135-6.

Acupuncture application for neurological disorders.
Park H.-J., Park J., Kim M.-J., Hong M., Yang J., Choi S., Lee H.
Neurological Research. 29 (SUPPL. 1) (pp S49-S54), 2007. .

Treatment of multiple sclerosis with acupuncture.
Yang ZG
International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture 1997;8(1):61-4.

An investigation into the management of the spasticity experienced by some patients with multiple sclerosis using acupuncture based on traditional Chinese medicine.
Miller RE
Complementary Therapies in Medicine 1996 Jan;4(1):58-62.

Treatment of trigeminal neuralgia with electro-acupuncture in a case of multiple sclerosis.
Rampes H
Acupuncture in Medicine 1994 May;12(1):45-6.

Multiple sclerosis: staging and patient management.
Blackwell R, Macpherson H
Journal of Chinese Medicine 1993 May;42:5-12.

Chinese Herbal Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

ATLAS World Health Organisation Resources


Temporomandibular dysfunction can contribute to aggravation of tension-type headache: a case report

* Palle Rosted,
* Annette Jørgensen,
* Mads Bundgaard

Acupunct Med 2010;28:154-155 doi:10.1136/aim.2010.002469


A 15-year-old girl, who had had occasional tension-type headache, developed, rather suddenly and without any obvious reason, severe headache. She was admitted to hospital, where examination including CT and magnetic resonance scans did not show any abnormality. A visit to her own general practitioner 7 months later showed tenderness in the muscle of mastication. The patient was referred to a dentist, who diagnosed temporomandibular dysfunction and tension-type headache. After three acupuncture treatments, the patients was without headache and remained free of headache during the following 6 months.

Orly's 30 Second Quiz


What is your role at Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

To help people become healthier both physically and emotionally, to make them feel happier.

How long have you worked here?

I just started working in the angel wellbeing clinic last month and its great being part of the team.

What do you do in your free time?

Spend quality time with my daughter, read, photography, cook healthy food, go to the countryside.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Participate in a motocross race through the mountains of Chalkidiki about 20 years ago.

Summer or winter?

Both, as long as the people I love are around.

What is the last book you read?

Travelling in England by N. Kazantzakis.

If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be?

Albert Einstein

If you could go a trip where would that be?

Japan, because of their traditional medicine, zen culture and magnificent landscape.

Favourite album of all time?

Keith Jarrett, The Koln Concert.

Most memorable night out?

One night in Madrid due to IBERIA airlines strike.

Favourite drink?

Raki in the sunshine by the sea.




Pauline's 30 Second Quiz


What is your role at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

Practice Manager.

How long have you worked here?

Coming up to 2 years January.

What do you do in your free time?

Read, gym, yoga, go movies, dim sum with mates.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Marry my husband!

Summer or winter?

Does it matter? So long as there is sunshine and blue skies!

What is the last book you read?

“The Light Fantastic” by Terry Pratchett


If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be?

Leonardo da Vince. A painter, scientist, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor…. The list goes on! Driven by his unquenchable curiosity, he was a technological genius, churning out theories and conceptualisations of so much that are common-place in our modern-day world. Inspiring! Great for days when the brain seems to lag behind my body by half a day.

If you could go a trip where would that be?

Shangri-La, although a fictional place described by J.Hilton in his book “Lost Horizon”, wouldn’t it be nice to just stumble upon this place, where it’s people live an almost immortal life of total contentment, in complete isolation from the outside world. In reality, many people have debated where Hilton gained his inspiration. Wherever it was, general consensus seems to be somewhere around Tibet. Sounds like a good place to start an adventure!

Favourite album of all time?

Aaron Neville, “To Make Me Who I Am”

Most memorable night out?

Zhang Yimou’s “Impression Liu Sanjie”, Yangshuo, Southern China. An awe-inspiring out-door staged-show on the Li River, that runs through Yangshuo, with a backdrop consisting of illuminated karst hills. The show has a cast of more than 600 indigenous people – farmers, fishermen and children from surrounding villages. Together, they perform a famous regional love story through folk songs and dances, conducted with lots of lighting, flames, beautiful costumes and gliding around the river on bamboo rafts.

Favourite drink?

Got to be Malibu with coke.



Acupuncture and Chronic Headaches

Headaches are a very common problem and maybe it is a shock when numbers are put to it. A study in Australia from 1995 showed that 15% of the Australian population use headache medications. The survey also showed that the most commonly reported recent illness suffered by the survey group was a headache. In the USA 6.54% of the population Americans experience a chronic headache. It should be noted that everyone gets a headache now and again and these statistics refer to those that get regular recurring headaches not the odd incidental headache.

The NHS Choices website has figures for Tension-type headaches affecting over “40% of the UK population at any one time. Many people have one or two tension-type headaches every month. Sometimes they develop more frequently, typically during times of stress. Approximately 3% of people have a tension-type headache on most days. When this happens, the headaches are called chronic tension-type headaches.”

Tension headaches are often described as a feeling of pressure behind the eyes and a tightening of the neck muscles. Tension-type headaches normally come on during the day and can build gradually throughout the day. In most cases, it lasts a few hours and does not prevent you from doing everyday activities. They are often the response to posture at work and stress.

The Angel Wellbeing Clinic in Islington has various practitioners that are experienced and qualified to treat this common and uncomfortable condition. Here is a good article about ‘Acupuncture Effective Against Chronic Headaches’.

The Toddler Test

This article made me smile. My not-so-little boy, Ed, will be nine in December and when I watch him playing with his cousins or watch him come out of school with his friends and they chat to me I have to remind myself that it wasn’t too long ago that he came out of school with a shirt that was too big around the neck, a cap that hid most of his face and shorts that looked like Wallace’s “Wrong Trousers”.

It is always good to remember what the were like so this “Take my toddler test” from the Parentlineplus website is amusing After this stage you have the stage where you go to the loo in the night and tread on Lego but this is far more preferable to walking around unconsciously whistling the tune from ‘In the Night Garden”!


Natalie C.

What is your job role?

Afternoon/evening receptionist and in charge of social media for the clinic.

How long have you worked here?

Just over 7 months, feels longer though…

What do you do in your free time?

Look after my 2 children, see my friends and clean my house!

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Appeared on GMTV for a makeover, lets just say I am not a natural in front of the camera!

Summer or winter?

Winter, I love cold days and crisp mornings and hot chocolate and soups and log fires and cosy coats and snuggling under a warm quilt and Christmas and my birthday….

What is the last book you read?

The secret life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli, it was brilliant!

If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be?

One of my children’s teachers at their school to see what my children really are like when I am not around!

If you could go on a trip where would that be?

To see the Northern lights.

Favourite album of all time?

I haven’t got one, my tastes change all the time.

Most memorable night out?

Let’s just say it involved a lot of booze, a bar on Upper Street, a fire extinguisher and being picked up by a bouncer and thrown out of said bar, memorable for all the wrong reasons but one to tell the grandchildren!

Favourite drink?


Are We Doing it Right?

Everyone at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic is aware that patients want top quality clinical care and top quality customer service. We achieve the clinical care standard by selecting our therapists carefully and listening to what the patients say about them, and we achieve good customer service results by taking the patients needs very seriously.

Like most things in life we can always do things a bit better but we need your input for that. We do try and see things from the patient’s perspective but we aren’t the patient so please fill in the customer satisfaction form and tell us what you think.

Many thanks.

Brian Bamberger

Pregnancy Calculator

No, this doesnt let you work out how much having a baby costs!

Enter your dates for ovulation and know when your due date is going to be. Obviously everyone gives birth exactly on cue!

Good luck!

So, Is He Or Isn’t he?

No, this doesn’t refer to McCain’s mental state in having Sarah Palin as his running mate. I think if he knew as much about her then as he does now and he still chose her then he would clearly be one state short of a majority. This ‘is he or isn’t he’ refers to David Beckham signing for AC Milan after Christmas.

There have been lots of suggestions as to “why AC Milan?” such as “his missus will like the shopping”, “Posh likes pasta and pizza” – well, maybe individual lengths of spaghetti or a pizza the size of a canapé. Or maybe it could be because he will get to

play football with some of the world’s finest players and have his fitness managed by a chiropractor at the Milan Lab!

This period with Milan Lab’s chiropractor Dr Messerman will not do his value as a player any harm and I am sure it will keep the England manager and former manager of AC Milan happy. Maybe this spell will enable him to get to Bobby Moore’s number of caps and maybe this move will even help him prolong his career as a footballer. I am sure that the owners of LA Galaxy wont see it like this as they will prefer him to have a bit of a rest when their season finishes but they are Americans and what do they know about football, sorry, soccer?!

Beckham's move to AC Milan may help him no end, after all Beckham is a great athlete and has kept himself comparatively injury free in his career - there is a chance that he can emulate the other AC Milan pensioner Paolo Maldini who is 39 and contemplating another year on his contract. Maldini is a full six years older and still playing at a top level, albeit as a defender (okay, he has spent a good deal of his career laying on the pitch and rolling around feigning being fouled).

So what has AC Milan’s chiropractor got to offer and why is a chiropractor in charge of fitness and rehab? A complete approach to wellness and injury prevention without the shackles of conventional medicine’s paradigm of health. This complete approach to wellness is what we have here in Islington - an understanding that there is a lot more to health and fitness than treating illness and injuries. It is about making sure that the whole body is David Beckham kicksfunctioning as well as possible.

Here is quote from David Beckham’s chiropractor:

"Players are seen every day by the chiropractor," Meersseman explains. "This allows us to prevent numerous injuries, while maximising the player's performance. We apply chiropractic in a subluxation‑centered, wellness‑oriented perspective. We especially place a strong emphasis on the upper cervical area and applied kinesiology allows us integrate the biochemical and mental aspect of the triangle of health, as well as to respond to the specific needs of sports chiropractic."

The figures for Dr Meersseman are very good, he has improved injury recovery time, he has reduced the number of steroid injections the team has over a season and consequently this has allowed AC Milan to have a smaller squad that saves the finances and has kept Maldini going at 39.

All these are the benefits of chiropractic care for a professional footballer, but it doesn’t take a lot of thought to see how the population of Upper Street, Islington and the surrounding areas can also benefit form chiropractic care, especially in these grim economic times. If you are an employer you want the staff you have to work at their best, so looking after them is going to pay off. They will be off work less often and they will feel better at work.

I imagine that a lot of time at Milan Lab is spent looking at how the upper body and neck function in conjunction with the biomechanics of how the ankle, hips, knees and pelvis function when striking the ball. This is no different to looking at how the body is functioning at work sitting in front of a PC. We can assess how your body is functioning and make changes to how your spine functions in response to your working environment and prevent injury and fatigue at work.

So maybe David Beckham and Dr Meersseman are going to increase the public’s awareness of chiropractic? I will let you know when the first male patient comes in to the clinic wearing a sarong!

Read more about the Milan Lab here: and


MBT's Activate The Whole Body v's Nike's "Just Do It'

Will my back pain get better if I spend £150 on MBT’s?If spending £150 on a pair of MBT’s means that you are going to do a lot more walking then there is possibly a benefit from buying them. But will it cure your back pain? I doubt it.

There is a lot in their advertising about Masai warriors not getting back pain and how the shoes simulate the ground giving way under foot. Here are some of the claims:

• Improves posture and gait.
• Tones and shapes the body.
• Can help with back, hip, leg and foot problems
• Can help with joint, muscle, ligament and tendon injuries.
• Reduce strain on knee and hip joints.

• MBT activates the whole body.

I have no problems with people buying shoes or trainers to help with a physical activity. You only have to go into one of the big sport shoe shops to see the range of specialist shoes, dedicated running shoes for the aspiring marathon runner, running shoes for cross country running, tennis shoes that come in all sorts of different configurations for the different surfaces, cross training shoes that do a bit of everything and then the more ‘off-road’ type of shoes for running up and down mountains or in my case worn when walking the dog.

So there is clearly a shoe for everyone out there and of course they all purport to help cushion the foot, provide support, prevent fatigue in the foot muscles and of course they all claim to help protect against injury and aid performance. None of them until now claim to ‘activate the whole body’.

Can a shoe activate the whole body? Nothing that is laced to your feet, strapped to your arm playing music or stuck to your shoe to record how far and fast you have run can activate your body. The only thing that can activate the whole body is you and marketing a shoe as the panacea, and this is what it is in this way I feel is unhelpful.

There has been a lot of press coverage in the past about obesity and diet. In particular mentioning that children growing up now are going to be less fit than their parents and even having a predicted lifespan less than their parents. I have a child and this is indeed worrying so how do I address it at a family level? My little boy is keen on walking and having a dog we walk a lot. He enjoys running around with his cousins. We play tennis and throw a rugby ball about; I am getting off the point here. So what is it that I am going on about? It is our choice of lifestyle that causes the problems that we have and not our footwear.

I imagine that a Masai warrior has a very different lifestyle to us, I reckon that one of the reasons the Masai don’t get back pain is because they don’t spend a third of their day sitting at a computer staring at a screen, I imagine they are out and about hunting and gathering to a level that we over here haven’t done for centuries. We are all designed to be hunter-gatherers and actively seek out our food and have a diet of lean meat and fish, fruits and nuts, live an active life and die in middle age. I guess there isn’t much time for back pain.

So back to the original question. Can a shoe activate the whole body? No. Only you can activate the whole body, it is your choice to change your life and look at what you do and of course the effect your choices in life have on you and your health.

So maybe the Nike slogan is best ‘Just do it’.

Read Article in Irish 'Independant' reviewing MBts

Crunch Time

Fed up with the doom and gloom that’s in the papers at the moment ? Feeling you might scream if you hear the words 'Credit Crunch' one more time? What about that dreaded ‘R’ word? RECESSION. We may not have any power over the economy but what we do have power over is our own lives.

Sometimes you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. You need to look at who you are and how you act. What in your personality is stopping you moving forward? That takes personal reflection, insight and honesty.

We can, for example, take personal responsibility for our health. For some, the obvious things to do are to stop smoking or drinking and with Christmas and New Year on the horizon I am sure there will be plenty of opportunity for both! Others might want to take more exercise or to eat better. But for the majority of the patients I see, the biggest problems are more general ‘lifestyle’ problems and in particular issues associated with work.

Many of us spend a third of the day sitting at a desk. In an economic downturn, stress and pressure make everything that little bit harder so it’s more important than ever to look after yourself. My two top tips are to get your spine adjusted to keep yourself well (it only takes 10 minutes and you an even fit it in on your way to or from work) and to create some time and space to do the things in life that you really enjoy.

When it comes down to it you can only enjoy yourself if you are dealing with work and stress in a healthy way. Come and see us and find out how Angel Chiropractic Clinic can help you function better, help your body cope with stress and set you free to gain more from life.




Is Your Laptop Giving You A Pain In The Back?

Everyone knows the less time you need to spend in the office the better. Most of us are now used to carrying out laptops around with us to give us more freedom. But even the lightest laptop can be quite cumbersome and tiresome to haul around between the office and home. More and more patients are coming into Angel Chiropractic Clinic complaining of an aching neck and shoulder pain from carrying around their computers.

So, the question is what can you do ? You can minimixe the strain on your shoulders by using a wheeled case if you are travelling a long way with your laptop. If you can't do this then make sure you have a bag that hungs the body and has a wide, heavily padded shoulder strao to distribute the weight and reduce shoulder strain as much as possible.

When you are using the computer itself take regular breaks, roll your shoulders and neck around gently to release the build up of tension. Think about invest in a laptop stand which can offer relief by elevating the screen to your eye level.

How Long Before I Get Better?

This has to be one of the most commonly asked questions when a new patient comes in for the first treatment. And I can't give a straightforward answer such as two weeks or five visits for example. It's impossible to say - the chiropractic equivalent of how long is a piece of string.

This ties in nicely with a new book I have started to read called 'Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell'. It asks why do some people achieve more success than others? "Can they lie so far outside the ordinary?" What is the secret of their success?

The simple answer, Gladwell says, is 10,000 hours. From Bill Gates to The Beatles, its the way you spend your time that will make you a success, and that amount of time is 10,000 hours. So back to the original question, how long before my back gets better? Well obviously 10,000 treatments is out of the question! obviously the answer!

Most patients are pain-free within the month, maybe after two hours of treatment. But to make a success of your back and achieve wellness, then maybe 10,000 hours over your lifetime devoted to your health is just about right.

So getting you out of pain can be quick but getting you to a point where your back is working well may take a little longer. Which is okay with us as we are here for the long term and will help you to help your back.

The next Blog is about procrastination. Why it is so hard to change the habits of a lifetime? and why is prioritising your health so low on “the task list of life"!

How Long Before The New Year's Resolution Becomes History?

Most people I talk to make a New Year’s resolution, or at least they have ideas of what they may want to change in the New Year. But how many people actually achieve that goal ? Or if they do, how many actually sustain it? We always think about the obvious ones; stop smoking, lose weight, do more exercise and eat better.

But somewhere along the road, or maybe even by the end of January, that New Year's resolution becomes a weight around your neck. Excuses start to come out and eventually one or two weeks of good behaviour become a distant memory and it is back to the old habits.

One good thing to do is to look at what you want to achieve and then set some sensible goals. Don’t get too carried away - be realistic. If you've joined a gym don’t start off with too punishing a schedule because it will take time for your body and mind to adjust to the changes. Get your diary out, look at the next three or four months, and set your self a sensible pace.

Remember, if it is fun and manageable you are much more likely to stick to it.

Happy New Year, and good luck from everyone at the Angel Chiropractic Clinic.

Second Week Back After New Year. So How Are You Doing?

It is still dark, it's cold. There's the end of the month credit card bill to pay and it is still three months to go before the clocks change. So how do you get through the next few months?

Concentrate on the things you like doing; the things that have historically made you feel good. A mixture of sports to shake off the seasonal over indulgence and for the more emotional side spending time with friends and family. It is simple to recharge yourself after Christmas but making a conscious effort to do it is crucial.

So, think about how you feel and about how you want to feel. Ask yourself - what was going on in your life when you were feeling that way? Then implement simple strategies to recreate that point in your life.

Good luck!

Anyone For Tennis?

If you have ever tried to book a tennis court during Wimbledon you will know how popular tennis gets for two weeks of the year but if you don’t play tennis regularly you are going to be prone to a few injuries when you launch yourself into the two-week frenzy at the local tennis courts.

Sprained ankles must be the most common injury and again RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Immobilisation, Elevation) is the way to deal with them followed by a course of rehabilitation on the wobble board and maybe some strapping. I also find that patients that have twisted their ankle also have some back problems as a result, either from the sudden action of twisting the ankle and the torsional effect on the spine or from the limping around afterwards, so checking out the back is also part of the treatment of a sprained ankle.

Shoulder injuries are also common but maybe for the more intense player. The repetitiveness of practising serving can result in overuse injuries, such as tendonitis or bursitis in the one or more of the muscles around the shoulder. Again, RICE is the way to start tackling but careful thought has to go into the rehabilitation of the shoulder with strengthening and exercises and a gradual return to previous levels of intensity.

Calf strains are also frequent tennis injuries and prevention like all things is the best way to deal with them. Gentle warming up, not really stretching the calf but gradually warming up doing the movements that you would do during tennis. So get your racket and stand on the base line and gently move side from side to side playing against an imaginary opponent. Slowly increase the intensity to a point where you can then play the actual game.

Tennis elbow is on the list of tennis injuries but in 15 years of being a chiropractor I have had only one patient come to me with tennis elbow (inflammation of the extensor tendons around the elbow) from playing tennis. Rackets weigh so little nowadays that there is a lot less stress on the elbow. Most tennis elbow seems to be due to computer use rather than sport so maybe mouse elbow is more appropriate. Again if you have tennis elbow or mouse elbow we can treat it at the clinic.

The Point of Acupunture

World Health Organisation endorses acupuncture for at least 24 conditions. So we all know what acupuncture is but why does it work?

Acupuncture has an analgesic effect and this is well documented but what biologically happens to bring about this reported effect? The insertion of the needle does not alleviate the pain but stimulation of the needle by either turning it, passing an electric current through it or in some cases heating the needle brings about the desired effect.

It is believed that the pain killing effect of acupuncture is brought about by the release of opioid peptides in the central nervous system as a response to the long-lasting activation of ascending pain tracts in the spinal cord due to the intermittent stimulation of pain receptive nerve endings by the needle. It is believed that Adenosine is the central mediator in this process.

Chiropractic is also successful at treating chronic pain and it is believed that the chiropractic adjustment may act on the pain receptive nerve endings surrounding the joints of the spine.

The Point of Acupuncture

World Health Organisation endorses acupuncture for at least 24 conditions. So we all know what acupuncture is but why does it work?

Acupuncture has an analgesic effect and this is well documented but what biologically happens to bring about this reported effect? The insertion of the needle does not alleviate the pain but stimulation of the needle by either turning it, passing an electric current through it or in some cases heating the needle brings about the desired effect.

It is believed that the pain killing effect of acupuncture is brought about by the release of opioid peptides in the central nervous system as a response to the long-lasting activation of ascending pain tracts in the spinal cord due to the intermittent stimulation of pain receptive nerve endings by the needle. It is believed that Adenosine is the central mediator in this process.

Chiropractic is also successful at treating chronic pain and it is believed that the chiropractic adjustment may act on the pain receptive nerve endings surrounding the joints of the spine.

School Sports Day: Be Careful!

As much as I enjoy a bit of regular exercise, I play tennis a few times a week to a reasonable standard and I go running two to three times a week to not such a good standard, I still feel a compulsion to show my son how fast I am in the ‘Dad’s Race’ at sports day. The reality is I am not a sprinter or a runner of ability.

The first ‘Dad’s Race’ I competed in (note the word ‘competed’!) I tore my right adductor muscle, okay a groin strain, and it was painful for a month or so. So be careful, don’t get too competitive as your son or daughter will still think you are wonderful even if you don’t win. But my son still thinks I was stupid trying to do the ‘Fathers Race’ in flip flops!

Couch Potato

There was an interesting article on the BBC website last week regarding research querying the link between obesity and inactivity. The study challenged the previous assumption that a lack of exercise causes children to put on weight. Researchers looked at 200 children in the Plymouth area and came to the opposite conclusion: getting fatter makes them inactive. There is a lot more to this than meets the eye so maybe check out the BBC webpages (link at the bottom of this article).

As a parent of an eight and a half year old boy I am very aware that I have a big influence on him both emotionally and physically, and the example of ‘lifestyle’ is the one I set for him. So, perhaps looking at what parents are like is the best way forward as there is no point tackling children’s habits and lifestyle if their parents do not understand what a healthy lifestyle means.

Children generally should not set the rules of the house; they certainly should not have carte blanche over picking what food goes into the shopping trolley or what and when they should eat. I know what my son would pick, given the chance, but he doesn’t get that opportunity!

Again, this is an area of responsibility of the parents and there is a need to set sensible boundaries for your child. Sometimes though, setting these boundaries can be stressful as not all children take ‘no’ as well as mine does. But you have to be firm, consistent and appropriate which is easier said than done! When it comes down to it we, as parents, are only human and have good and bad days as well. However, we have to aim for this consistency and appropriateness at all times for the sake of our children.

Childhood obesity is clearly a growing problem. Addressing this issue is as multifactorial as the cause of it. Clearly though, by educating the parents as to their own health requirements, the benefits of diet and exercise and how good they can feel from this, can set a rock-solid example to their children of a good and healthy “life style”, and put them onto the road to a live-time of improved health and wellbeing. Coupled with this, if the Government enforces stricter labelling of food packaging and limiting the direct marketing of “unhealthy” foods at children in shops as well as on the television would be two steps forward to a better and healthier population.

When it comes down to it, as a parent ask yourself this question: “Do I want an obese and unhealthy child?”

If you don’t, then it’s time to do something about it!


Strictly Come Slouching

Sorry, I cant take responsibility for the title of this blog entry!

With the autumn nights about to draw in and Strictly Come Dancing starting this weekend, the nation is gearing up to a series of Saturday nights slouched in front of the box.

From now until Christmas, there is an onslaught of weekend entertainment programmes and the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is warning that we could all be ‘Strictly Come Aching’ as a result.

Research highlights that 28% of the population already spend over 15 hours seated per day Monday to Friday. But for the next three months avid viewers of X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing could spend the equivalent of an extra two days on the sofa watching Simon Cowell and Len Wiseman put contestants through their paces.

Poor posture is one of the biggest causes of back pain, and figures continue to rise, with 32% of the nation currently suffering from back pain and 62% having suffered. This additional inactivity on top of our already sedentary lifestyles means we could be in for a serious case of the Slouch Factor.

Tim Hutchful from the British Chiropractic Association warns: “As a nation we clearly like to sit down and whilst resting is good for our bodies there is almost twice as much pressure on your back when you are sitting incorrectly than there is if you stand up. Sitting for prolonged periods of time as inactivity coupled with incorrect posture lays us open to back pain.”

The British Chiropractic Association has some simple pointers to enjoy Saturday nights in front of the TV safely:
• Sit up! Sit in chairs that provide full support for your spine and make sure your shoulders, hips and knees face the same direction.
• Stand up! Avoid sitting in the same position for more than 40 minutes, less if possible. When you do take a break, walk around and stretch a little.
• Exercise! Compensate for inactivity during the ad breaks by doing some light exercise – anything to loosen your muscles. Using something like the Straighten Up UK exercises would be ideal.

The BCA has also devised a simple three minute exercise routine called Straighten Up UK. This can be incorporated into our daily lives to help strengthen the spine and improve posture. The exercise routine is available to download from for more information call the BCA on 0118 950 5950 or visit where there is also plenty of practical advice to help avoid back problems and improve posture.

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