I’ve never been to a fortune teller or medium, but today I finally had that a-ha moment, that moment when someone you’d never spoken to before, knows something only you would know. While Ingrid Huang is not a clairvoyant her talent in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and as an acupuncturist allowed her an insight into my health that numerous visits to my doctor and a full round of blood tests didn’t detect.
First coming into Ingrid’s clinic, you are welcomed with the earthy and warming scent of burning ai ye or Artemisia, a healing herb commonly used in TCM particularly for circulation, energy, and women’s health. A scent that was new and familiar at the same time, which instantly brought me to a head space open to healing and relaxation.
Any nerves I had about spikey, sharp inanimate objects were thrown out of focus with Ingrid’s beaming face and her laugh which is much bigger than her 5-foot 4 stature would have you expect. A welcomed chuckle over my clumsy self-falling over the treatment table and our session was off to a start. Like with most consultation it began with a quick review of my medical history, top level any immediate concerns I had and any allergies/ pain. I replied with a generic overall great health, a little bit tired and seem to be getting ill often with niggling colds and what not.
Now the next part is where we go slightly off piste. Similarly, to the way a doctor asks you to ‘say aah’, Ingrid asks me to open my mouth, but this time instead of looking at my throat she was looking at the colour and texture of my tongue, explaining that, ‘the gut is your core, and as digestive health is central to your wellbeing it is like the roots of your body and the tongue is the flower. Just as you can see what your plants needs by looking at its’ petals, your tongue is a great communicator of what your gut is trying to tell you.’
Straight off the bat she was able to tell me, that while not intolerant medically or suffering greatly from it, my body was suffering an imbalance. From simply examining my tongue, Ingrid was able to see that in diet my body was not at equilibrium from too much sugar and dairy, damp and too much heat.
It is the notions of hot, cold, the yin and yang which are foundational to TCM and the measure of energy in the body. Damp generally as retaining water, often associated with being lethargic, digestive health and weight issues, and heat which in my case was attributed to anxiety, stress and general inflammation. Health in Chinese medicine hinges on striking a balance between all the elements in our body, and it is when these are off kilt that can lead to illness.
Then Ingrid brought out the Digi Meridian Detector, which picks up energy frequency of the body from the acupressure points associated with our internal organs e.g. the underside of your foot which is connected to your gallbladder and kidney.
During her diagnosis using her energy frequency machine she was able to pick up the slight imbalances my body experiences in day-to-day life. Niggling things I had noticed but not focused or given any attention to, imbalances which could lead to ailments and dis- ease further down the line. That’s when it became clear to me that while I was in overall strong health, I haven’t been listening to my body. Sometimes because I was too busy, sometimes because it wasn’t a priority, but it should have been. In fact, putting up with pain and discomfort for many is so commonplace that we don’t think it is worth mentioning or focusing on but this doesn’t have to be our reality.
That’s what functional medicine and these alternative approaches to healthcare offers, helping you align your mind and body, prevent disease through this alignment and help treat imbalances, these ‘discomforts’ or signs from your body before they become illness.
Now comes the fun part we’ve all been waiting for – the needles! These are micro thin, thread-like steel needles, which stimulate the sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles. But don’t worry, Ingrid has mastered the art of distracting banter which makes you forget you’ve become a human pin cushion. To be honest there is almost a catharsis in the slight pin prick you feel, the millisecond of pain which brings your attention and awareness to parts of your body you usually go days without taking notice of. This pin prick is mostly felt in the parts of the body that are more sensitive, toes, wrists and ankles (I honestly didn’t even feel a thing on my back, a great benefit to having an extra layer from Easter feasting). Once the fun and slightly nerve-wracking part is over, the pin prick feeling completely dissipates and you begin to find calm and focus in a meditative state while Ingrid performs facial reflexology, light touches of the face and pressure to stress points, that makes you nearly drift off to sleep.
To finish off our session, Ingrid gave me a treatment of cupping, an ancient practice in which glass cups are suctioned onto the body. You may be familiar with this if you have seen big perfectly circular red/purple marks on someone’s back, while it may look like a very focused paint ball attack, I can assure you it isn’t violent and it doesn’t hurt. While you can feel pressure it is through this suction the cups are able to increase blood circulation to the area, most commonly the back, to relieve muscle tension, improve overall blood flow and promote cellular repair.
In TCM it is believed this suction helps facilitate the flow of “qi” in the body, a Chinese word meaning life force. In fact, in Chinese culture and medicine, it is believed that cupping helps to balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive within the body and restoring balance between these two extremes forces in the body.
While this was my first-time having acupuncture, it most definitely won’t be my last. Ingrid not only treated my body but helped me to view my health and my body through a different lens. To see the body as not just my own but a part of my surroundings, in energy and nature. I thoroughly recommend this for anyone looking for an alternative approach to supporting their health and wellbeing, or simply looking to communicate with your body in a new way. I think TCM and acupuncture is the ideal solution when you feel that there is something not quite right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, Ingrid’s practice helps you to find these imbalances treat them and gives you the tools such as a diet and lifestyle plan to continue to support your health into the future.