ACH Blog

When online am I an acupuncturist or a health consultant?

Isobel Cosgrove - Monday, May 25, 2020

Since the end of March, I have held just under 40 ‘acupuncture’ sessions online, with clients who have been working with me for some months, and occasionally longer. The main intention in holding the sessions has been to continue, through lockdown, to support the improvements in general health, and in specific symptoms, with each person. 

You may well be thinking - how is this possible? We have all been reflecting on how to honour the therapeutic relationship and maintain duty of care through a time when face to face contact is not possible. Here are some of the ways in which I have been working during April and May this year. 

white iphone 5 c on macbook pro

In ‘normal’ times, during a treatment: 

1. In a conversation I will be listening to hear how a client has been since the last time we met. This can take between fifteen to thirty minutes depending on the time between and how much change has been happening, which I need to know for diagnosis. 

2. Then I take pulses, examine the tongue and palpate some channels of energy again so that I can make diagnostic decisions to plan the day’s treatment. 

3. I then needle the appropriate points, and may use moxa, a warming herb, to facilitate more energy movement along channels which are depleted. 

4. During the treatment with needles, I may direct energy with some massage, which helps to unblock areas of tense holding. 

5. After the needles are taken out, I sometimes give Qi Gong/Tai Chi exercises to help maintain the flow of energy, which the treatment has enabled. 

Lateral Epicondylalgia (Tennis Elbow): Evidence Based ...

Recently when a session takes place online, all of these can be part of our time together, except pulse taking, channel palpation and needling. I have not treated any new clients since March. I have chosen to work with only those whose pulses, and channel energy pictures I already know well. 

Instead of needling, I have indicated to a client which points they themselves can massage, to keep calm and influence sleep, anxiety, and overstimulation (a drop of lavender in massage oil and a couple minutes quietly holding the point location). If more energy movement is needed, e.g. to stimulate slow digestion, or low lung activity, then other points will be used, massaged more firmly for longer, to create more energy movement in the specific organ which is running on empty. 

votive candle

Online, I can also show a client how to use an exercise to strengthen (or soften) an area of muscle deficiency (or tension). With these exercises, I can give some massage instruction, again to unblock tense holding patterns. 

If a client has learnt to use a moxa stick with me when face to face, then I know they will be able to safely use one (which I can post to them at home). The use of moxa, on leg points on the stomach channel, not only aids digestion, but also fills the energy reserves, helps alleviate fatigue, and enables better metabolic activity. 

As you can see, without needling, so much can be achieved in an online acupuncture session, and the therapeutic connection is continuing.

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Family connections are the Earth we stand on

Isobel Cosgrove - Wednesday, May 20, 2020

In Chinese Medicine our family and our community is our Earth: the ground we stand on. It is our land, our territory, where our tribe lives and gives us a place called Home. It is where we find nurture, where we can feel loved and accepted. As children we need a safe place in which to grow and flourish. As parents providing this space, we need support from extended family, and/or the wider community. We also need loving times together.

selective focus photo of woman lifting child during daytime

How has the virus disrupted community life?

There has been no school for most children, and so no time to play with friends. There have been no conversations at the school gates, no contact with other children’s families. And no grandparents providing back up. Nor is there very much time in the day or evening when parents can just chill out together, reflect on the day, or quietly be with themselves. Working at home while homeschooling is a big ask.


So what have we lost?

The familiar shape and structure of the work/school day. Walking-to-school time with friends, and parents of friends. Checking in with teachers to see what’s working well/not working so well. Hanging out at lunch time, playing football in the playground.

The whole spectrum of after school clubs and sporting activities.

boy in green sweater writing on white paper


And what have we gained?

Time to plant seeds, to watch them grow and produce food for meals. Time to paint, draw, learn the guitar, cook, sew, knit, read, sing, watch films together. Time to explore and find a new rhythm and shape to the days. Maybe you have started the novel you have been waiting to write. 

What will we keep from this time?

We will have learnt to value the structure of the school day [instead of complaining about it]. We will have learnt to know ourselves as a family more intimately, and hopefully have more understanding for each person we share our home with. How can we carry these leanings with us as we move out of lockdown? If you'd like to talk further about this, get in touch, I'm really interested to hear your thoughts.


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Health in Spring

Isobel Cosgrove - Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Lockdown this year has interrupted the usual context in which we experience moving into and through Springtime. Energetically, Spring is a powerful moment of awakening from the darkness, cold and inward quality of Winter.



During lockdown this year, we have so many constraints imposed on our lives, which have prevented us from physically and emotionally joining in with the awakening that Spring offers.


What is in the way?

We can’t go to join friends for coffee. Tennis, football, cricket games are cancelled. How much we can exercise is limited. Our diets are changed. We are drinking more alcohol. And stress and anxiety levels are much higher than usual. Some of us are mourning the death of friends or family. 


What have we lost?

As families we have not been able to celebrate Mothering Sunday, the Easter holiday, which is about Death and Rebirth, and this week the big events marking V.E. Day have been cancelled. What impact has all of this change had on our health?


How are we managing?

Children are out in the streets, drawing with chalks on pavements, and painting rainbows to show their support for the NHS. Without time at school have their creative instincts had more time to flourish? Spring is definitely a time for creativity.

Many of my clients have been cooking, crafting and painting too. This feeds the body, the mind and the spirits of those both doing and those just enjoying/being fed.


Connecting to Spring with Chinese medicine


Make the most of all of the greens which Spring offers...garlic leaves, dandelion leaves, kale, chard, spring greens themselves!

They help the body clear out the residual debris from a Winter of more Yin [slower, quieter] activity. The sun and warmth of this year’s season, has given us a chance to fill up with the more Yang energy of Spring.

Sit in the sun each day if you can, for at least 1/2 hour. And some gentle stretching can give you more flexibility, and may put a spring in your step. Follow the example of the trees, and extend your body more each day as you walk/run/cycle. And most of all, enjoy!

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