After hearing rave reviews about acupuncture and acne healing, plus how it can really help balance out hormonal and digestive issues, I booked myself an appointment with a local acupuncturist to help improve the stubborn hormonal problems I was suffering with around ovulation and during menstruation. I’ve only had 3 sessions in 5 weeks so it’s too early to say for sure, but I’ve already experienced incredible improvements and my first period since starting acupuncture was noticeably lighter, shorter and I had zero cramps – something I’ve not experience in years!
Acupuncture and acne: Q+A with Acupuncturist Emma Vickers
I’ve been lucky enough to grab 10 minutes with my acupuncturist Emma Vickers, an ASI Certified Acupuncturist from Oasis Acupuncture to find out why this form of Traditional Chinese Medicine can have such a positive impact on acne.
Before we start, are you able to tell us a little more about how acupuncture works?
Acupuncture uses extremely fine needles to trigger healing responses and therefore improve overall health. The needles are placed in combinations in very specific points, which encourages the smooth flow of energy and fluid in the body. The needles trigger changes in nervous, endocrine, immune and reproductive systems which then has a positive effect on all other aspects such as sleep, digestion, menstrual cycles…. The acupuncturist uses lots of techniques to diagnose the imbalance in each individual patient in order to ascertain which areas are mostly out of balance before treatment. The treatment itself lasts around 20 minutes although appointments are usually about an hour so that discussion and diagnostic assessment can take place.
One of the first questions I’m sure people ask you is; does it hurt?
Most of the time no! But occasionally you might get a sharp sensation as the needle goes in for a split second, or a dull ache during the treatment. However these sensations tend to be gone in a few breaths and are really nothing to worry about. The needles are much finer than a hyperdermic used in hospitals and are single use so are completely hygienic.
How did you become interested in acupuncture?
My husband started having acupuncture before me for some health issues and the results were almost immediate. I then decided to try and I was blown away by how effective it was. I was hooked!
Tell us about your acupuncture education. Where did you study, how long did it take and what was your favourite element of your course?
I studied three years full time at the International College of Oriental Medicine (ICOM) to obtain by BA Science degree in Acupuncture from Greenwich University. It was the most intensive three years of my life, without a doubt, but also the most rewarding. From Year 2 we were working in groups (with a qualified practitioner of course!) treating patients who came for free treatments to the clinic there, but were authentic patients who had real health issues. The first time I was able to help someone feel better (an elderly lady with arthritis) was something I’ll never forget.
After graduating, how did you start your career in acupuncture and go on to set up Oasis Acupuncture?
Well, I was quite unusual in that when I graduated I was 8 and a half months pregnant! In fact I had to complete my final practical clinic sessions whilst express breastfeeding in my lunch hour! So it took me about a year and a half to get properly set up as I had my hands full with my beautiful son, but I started treating friends and family almost straight away as I didn’t want to lose the momentum after just graduating.
Are there any conditions that you specialise in? i.e fertility, digestion, pain management, addiction etc
I don’t really specialise as such, but do find the majority of my patients see me for female related hormonal issues, whether that be fertility, menstrual, menopause or any of the related health issues that are consequence of hormone imbalances.
Other than your needles, do you have any tools, resources or gadgets that you’ve found enhances the treatments that you give at Oasis?
Apart from needles I use a technique called cupping, which uses glass suction cups to move blood, lymph and fluid through the muscles, especially across the back. I also incorporate some massage into my treatment mainly for musculoskeletal issues.
So, the majority of people who visit this site are looking for some sort of advice on acne. In a nutshell, how can acupuncture help with healing acne?
As acupuncture can help with balancing the endocrine system and relieve stress and anxiety which can exasperate skin issues, it can also bring relief and a reduction in the outbreaks of skin conditions, such as acne but also psoriasis and eczema.
Acne is often linked with issues in the gut, hormones or chronic stress/anxiety. How can acupuncture help relieve these specific areas to encourage healthier skin?
Acupuncture uses the needles to get the body to change the way it reacts, as opposed to giving it something (like a pill) that changes the body from an external source. Therefore you are always looking to treat the root of the problem (such as stress), as well as the symptoms (the acne).
The majority of western doctors prescribe the same blanket treatments and drugs to women suffering from acne and hormonal problems, whether it’s putting them on the contraceptive pill, Accutane or Spironolactone which doesn’t treat the root cause of acne and often comes with many unwanted side effects. How does this approach to conventional medicine differ from Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture?
As I’ve mentioned the Chinese Medical approach looks to treat the root of every illness in order to prevent it reoccurring, as well as the symptoms as they are presented. That is why side effects are less common, although several treatments are often required as the body readjusts with each treatment. People who have suffered from acne have often suffered for years (or decades) before they seek treatment of this kind, so it is a process that takes a little time. That said, when things improve, the improvement should be long lasting as it is the body itself which has made the readjustments.
When starting a new acne treatment/diet/lifestyle it’s quite common to suffer from some detox reactions as the body adjusts. Is this the same for acupuncture?
Yes it can occur especially if there is underlying toxicity in the body that needs to be purged before healing can commence. But this is unlikely to happen after the first couple of sessions and the patient may just need to take it easy for a couple of days.
Are there any tips (diet, lifestyle) you can give to my readers to help support the energy flow within their body without acupuncture?
In Chinese Medical terms, acne can occur when we have an accumulation of ‘damp heat’ in the body. In order to help reduce this we can help the vital organs by reducing certain foods which are ‘damp’ forming: foods that are fatty, greasy, high in refined sugar, too spicy, or too much dairy. Try to avoid chilled foods (eg straight out of the fridge) that will chill our insides and compromise our stomach function (which requires warmth for digestion) – try to eat foods room temperature if you can. Obviously drinking water is good for skin and general health, and exercise is good for stress and bolstering the immune system.
In the 6 years that you’ve been treating people through acupuncture do you have any case studies you can share that showcase the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat digestive, hormonal or skin conditions?
I’ve recently helped a bride-to-be with her facial psoriasis so she can feel good on her impending big day. I’ve got several clients who no longer have painful periods and a couple of ladies who are now mums due to having regular cycles so we’re able to identify when they were ovulating… 🙂
Finally, what’s your advice to someone looking to find a reputable acupuncturist? Are there any qualifications or practices that are best to look out for or even avoid?
The best way to find an acupuncturist who has undertaken the minimum three years training is via the British Acupuncture Council (BACC) website, www.acupuncture.org.uk. You can type in your postcode and it’ll bring up all the local acupuncturists and their websites for you to check out. As acupuncture is not, sadly, statuary regulated it means lots of people can call themselves acupuncturists on very little (i.e. a couple a days) training. So definitely like use the BACC to find someone you can be confident know what they’re doing.
Could acupuncture be the key to unlocking your energy flow to help your body heal from skin conditions, digestive issues, hormonal problems and PCOS symptoms? Keep your eyes peeled for tomorrow’s post where I’ll be chatting with my Insta-friend and Nutritional Therapist Nikky Duffell who says that acupuncture was key thing that helped her say goodbye to hormonal acne for good. Plus, on Friday I’ll be chatting to my friend and yoga teacher Edyta who finally got her period back after just a couple of acupuncture sessions!
Peace Love & Clear Skin