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Dragon Acupuncture 2.0

5 Nov

Following a break over the summer, we’re opening a developing a new clinic space at About Balance 22 Gloucester Place. 

This clinic is designed to make acupuncture treatment available to the broadest cross section of people in Brighton possible.  The cost of treatment will be  £10 per session.

We have a donations box in the reception for anyone who would like to support what we are doing and help us build the project. 

At present we are running two drop in sessions per week between 9.30 and 10.45 on Wednesday and Friday mornings. We will extend the times to much longer sessions when we have more fully worked out this model of practice.  

We’er trying to make our note taking and client intake paperless, so if you”d like to speed up your first visit to clinic please  fill in the contact form below and we’ll send you out a health check list to fill out prior to your treatment.  

We are exploring other changes to the way Chinese medicine is practised, emphasising preventative and personal measures such as lifestyle, diet and movement practice.

This clinic is a response to spiralling housing prices, wage stagnation and the rise in the cost of living in Brighton.  Many people are finding themselves increasingly unable to manage and this affects all of us.

We need a clinic that is economically relevant to everyone in Brighton. Those with chronic health issues, and those of us who are struggling with stress, anxiety and depression.  We need, perhaps more than ever, to create a space that supports the many, many people in this town who, in different ways, are in need of support.

Please come down and check us out, or tell others who you feel might benefit.




Movement for life. A plug for the brilliant thing that is Qi Gong.

1 Sep


fullsizeoutput_55aHow does physical posture and spinal alignment affect our physical health and vitality? Common sense would suggest that the way that you hold your body would have an impact on your capactiy to move your arms and legs more or less freely.  A tense shoulder will limit movement of your arm, and tight back will limit hip rotation and impair movement of the leg.
But if that’s the case then if the muscles in the back, hip or shoulder are held tightly then it would suggest that perhaps the internal organs might be impaired in their function too.
What if your diaphragm was tense and tight, wouldn’t that perhaps affect your breathing, or possibly any of the organs that will connect to diaphragmatic movement? Surely if your posture is hunched over and you can’t breathe deeply then there’ll be less oxygen in your system.

What about the kidneys?  MRI scans have revealed that they change shape dramatically with physical movement, are constantly massaged by the dropping diaphragm, and move about nine miles per day (!!!). Kidneys are crucial for the maintenance of correct blood pressure’ and the management of salt and osmotic processes across the body.  You want those guys working their very best.

Is it possible that if your muscles in your pelvis are habitually tight and shortened that blood flow will be constricted and your heart will have to work harder particularly in moving blood in the legs? I mean it’s only a bit harder.. minute to minute not a problem, but over twenty years, that’s going to mean something, right?

0c43dceb82839fae884525d62e9a25d0--chi-kung-kung-fuThe ancient Chinese had a long standing obsession with maintenance of youth and vitality.  Chi kung is the chinese science of body movement. It focusses on improving the relationship between the emotional and physical tension and the organic processes of your system.  It’s about how to optimise your physical vitality and slow, or reverse, the ageing process.
In practice it is learning relaxed whole body movements that create ease and comfort and a sense of freedom in your body. This is quite good for you emotionally… alright it’s very, very, very good for your emotionally.  Chronic postural habits are almost always a reflection of an emotional state.

Chi kung is a kind of intricate two thousand year old moving healing practice, which has no parallell in the western view of the body. It’s one of the eight parts of Chinese medicine. It underpins  ‘soft’ martial arts like Tai Jii or Bagua.  With good material and consistant practice the physical and emotional benefits are quickly apparent. It hasn’t really appeared in the west because of the issues of Chinese culture, poor translation and the closed nature of Chinese society since the cultural revolution.  It’s ideas about the body are radical and far reaching. Shifting and massaging and enhancing the deep levels of the body with posture and aligned movement.  We’ve been doing it and trying to get people to do it for years. Qi Gong is about regaining freedom and ease in your body which is your lost birth right,  and we think it’s probably important to help people to find this.


Keith Simpson runs daily classes in central Brighton in the mornings Tuesday afternoon and Thursday evening for further details

Karen White teaches a class on Tuesday evening in Hanover tel 07984697041

Calum Thomson is teaching a class on Thursday morning call 07760492136 or 07540496076

So when did you last do a detox?

3 Jul


images-2A little while ago I heard a story about a man in Canada who, whilst being extremenly fit and healthy, did a hair toxicity test to see if he had heavy metal or chemical contaminants in his body. Why he did such a thing wasn’t elaborated.
The analysis revealed that he did indeed have quite high levels of some contaminant in his body.   He opted to pursue a process known as ‘chelation’ which drains heavy metal toxins from the body. Chelation is a very powerful form of detox and requires a great deal from the persons system, but he wanted the heavy metals out so he opted to do it. A year and a half later he died from multiple cancers.

This is an example of going too far with a detox.

Detoxing has developed a lot of appeal in this culture. This is largely about alcohol and drug intake, as well as feeling ill because of long term frustration and anxiety. There’s a large industry associated with it. It has ideas of redemption and control associated with it.  These are attractive if your drinking is excessive and particularly when you have yet another nasty hangover. Obviously if you’re emotional health isn’t good, then alcohol and drugs become more appealing.

The big organ in charge of detoxing in the day to day is the liver.  If you want to support  your liver, milk thistle helps a bit, nettle tea and berberis tincture are definitely useful. Starting the day with lemon juice in water or a table spoon of olive oil and lemon juice are helpful. Cooking with turmeric which has been broken down in oil is helpful for liver detox amongst many other things.  Liver maintenance will tend to improve your mood.

In terms of toxin management, the most useful things from a Chinese medical point of view is good sleep, hydration and digestion.  The solid pillars of good health in most people.

If you aren’t sleeping well and for long enough and clearing your colon regularly, then this will downgrade your health in a way that no amount of abstaining from this and that, or fruit fasting will help with and fruit fasting may well weaken the digestion and in the longer term your physical health, if you over do it.

The most important thing is not always to clear toxins out of your body. The issue is toxin and pathogen management; how we assist the body by making it strong enough.  If it’s strong, it can either process toxins out of the body, or if they are overwhelming, buy itself time and hold them somewhere safe until we are strong enough to clear them out. This is what is known as a healing crisis. We have an illness and are stronger after it.
The body is amazing at holding environmental toxins or potentially damaging health issues in areas of the body away from the internal organs and brain. It routinely stores these things in joint cavities, and body fat, in the gums and the shoulder and the hips and knees. If you have intermittant chronic joint pain then it may well be part of the process of toxin holding taxing the system when you’re more tired or depleted than usual.
A favourite storage place is in the nails and the hair.

What the alarming test of the unfortunate man revealed was that he was effectively managing heavy metal toxicity, and that his body was adapting in such a way as he need do nothing.
We live in a toxic world and all carry various things around with us that when we’re healthy do us no harm. Sadly for him, in the panicky attempt to cleanse his body, he in all likelihood undermined the very systems that supported his health.
The way Chinese medicine looks at the body is that it is an immensely complex system that’s always looking for other options and another way of getting round a problem, and it seeks to assist people in finding another way to deal with a situation, physically or emotionally. His was doing just fine, as is ours a lot of the time if we just relax ensure that the basics of day to day health are in place of digestion, hydration and sleep and let it get on with looking after us.images-3


Gums and Cancer

14 Jun

images-1Articles suggesting an association between an early and terrible death from cancer and routine dentistry have been doing the rounds on Facebook for some time.  It’s an interesting subject, especially if you’re neurotic, middle aged and have had a root canal.

There is a degree of controversy surrounding the issue, with some denying the link and claiming the procedure is safe and some being more cautious.  For the neurotic and middle aged there has been debunking.


That said there are similar associations between gum disease and heart disease which tend to bear out a link between poor oral health and serious degenerative illness.


The gum in Chinese medicine is a dumping ground for a pathological threat that the body doesn’t want to enter the internal organs.  This could be an environmental toxin, a virus, mould or bacteria, or potentially something related to emotional trauma that can’t be processed and must be suppressed.

The body has a number of such dumping grounds, the sacrum and pelvis is one, the shoulder blades is another.  If you have a regular clicking in a shoulder, then in Chinese medical terms this would indicate an area of contained micro-inflammation that were it to enter the interior of the body would spread and threaten the delicate internal organs.

An example of this would be a patient I saw a few years ago who had Crohns disease that went into remission, but who then developed a frozen shoulder.  In terms of Chinese medical theory, his body had succeeded in holding inflammation away from the gut.

The gum and cheek bone is a location into which a lot of the meridians dump rather than allow entrance into the body.  If you have surgery on the gum or destabilise it structurally you then run the risk of latent inflammation being released into the body, particularly as surgery involving anaesthetics and trauma weakens the immune response.

In western medical terms the issue is anaerobic bacteria in the gum being released down into the body where they can busy themselves disrupting your health in their self generated oxygen supply.  This accords nicely with Chinese medical theory.


To maintain gum health oil pulling is reputedly effective.  This involves holding a tablespoon of high grade sunflower, sesame or coconut oil in the mouth for twenty minutes before spitting it out and washing the mouth with hot salt water. This will draw toxins from the gum and enhance gum health.

Obviously good dental hygiene is a sensible precaution.

If you have to have dental intervention then go into it rested, well hydrated and rest after it and your body has a better chance of recovering and containing what has been released.

In the long term sinus problems may turn into issues in the gum.  Your sinuses are a route out for pathogens and a barrier to their entrance deeper into the system.  Blocked up and infected sinuses may threaten the wider system and need looking after.

If there’s something bad smelling and rotting in your mouth where possible, treat it or get it out.




De-Stress Ear Acupuncture.

23 May
Dragon Project

Dragon Project



images-1The Internal Causes of Disease

In Chinese medicine there are two main categories of disease causation:the  external and internal causes of disease.  The external causes are climatic, environmental factors and dietary.
In our culture, whilst environmental and dietary factors are important, an enormous number of health problems stem from the internal causes of disease.

The internal causes of disease are emotional. The idea of physical health problems being caused by our emotions only really gained traction in medicine relatively recently, but Chinese medicine has a profound understanding of the way emotional tension, from the superficial level of ‘having a bad day’, to deep childhood trauma, affects our health.

Our emotional health and physical health are inseparably, interwoven aspects of our well-being.

Stressed Out Brighton

Brighton is a ‘fun’ city , but people in Brighton are surprisingly tense.  Many of us are in insecure housing with sociopathic house-mates;  we’re managing debt; we’re underpaid; we’re entering the ninth circle of hell and on a daily basis doing the morning commute to London;  we’re using alcohol, and powders and pills to unwind, and then the hangover is making things worse.

The pressures on us in the day to day are causing record numbers of people to seek help for panic attacks, stress, anxiety, depression and being emotionally overwhelmed; and this level of emotional pressure is also making us physically ill.  Many of our patients report issues with anxiety and unmanageable, stress levels.

Discussing this recently at clinic,  we concluded that the majority of people, we were treating, were suffering from issues of stress, anxiety and emotional tension.  This was the background to whatever ‘physical’ ailment with which they were attending clinic; and that we needed to work more effectively with stress.  To do that we needed to do it in a way that is both effective, and cheap enough to allow people to access our service as often as they need to.


The NADA Protocol 

The NADA protocol is a five point ear acupuncture treatment developed in drug rehabs in the New York in the eighties.  It had a remarkable, success record with people experiencing extreme, emotional distress, when giving up crack cocaine. The five points do the following things.
Adrenal; takes the body out of a sympathetic flight or fight nervous state into parasympathetic, calm.
Shenmen;  draws your consciousness down into your belly, and out of your head.
Kidney: addresses issues related to adrenal exhaustion and mental weariness as well as calm the adrenals.
Liver: smooths the emotions particularly anger and frustration; stabilises the endocrine system and assists digestion
Lung: diaphragmatic release and emotional release; works in harmony with the liver and kidneys; assists in excretion and breathing issues.

These points synergise and amplify one another to make the NADA protocol an amazing treatment for stress, anxiety depression or perhaps not that surprisingly giving up smoking or other substances. It’s like an all purpose grounding and centring treatment and we can deliver it at speed.

We’re offering this as a service at clinic because we recognise that huge numbers of people would really benefit from calming down both emotionally, and in terms of their physical health.  We think this is the tool to do it quickly, effectively and cheaply.

£5 for each treatment. Drop in between 10.00 and 18.00 Monday to Wednesday

The Drugs Don’t Work. (Or not in quite the way we hoped)

14 Feb


At Dragon we frequently see older people on medication for chronic conditions.  There are of course, a variety of conditions that lead to repeat prescriptions;  diabetes, high blood pressure, angina; frequently need to be managed using western pharmacology.  If you don’t take insulin when you have type one diabetes, you will die. If you don’t manage your blood pressure carefully, then you will have a stroke which may necessitate a lot of medication and may maim or kill you.

What has become apparent over the years is that it is generally true that if people take one kind of pill, then they tend to end up taking another one.   Medication for chronic conditions frequently results in taking other medication for conditions that arise in tandem with the original condition.  If you take codeine for a back problem, then you may well tend to end up taking a proton pump inhibitor to assist with the acid reflux from being on a pain killer that affects your liver and digestion.  If you are on ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure or amitriptyline for a variety of conditions, you may be prescribed viagra for erectile dysfunction.  If you’re using Gabapentin perhaps as a consequence of nerve damage in diabetes, then you may be prescribed an SSRI anti depressant to cope with the suicidal thoughts and anxiety which can be a side effect of Gabapentin.

Sometimes this cascade of medication is quite unavoidable, but sometimes it isn’t.  Western medicine has become an arm of a gigantic and powerful industry that has an interest in medication for chronic conditions.  This has to be understood if one is using the products prescribed by a doctor.  Many chronic conditions that are addressed with a repeat prescription are directly emotionally  related.  They are a consequence of emotional tension held in the body.  Long term digestive conditions, pain, headaches, insomnia, erectile problems, a host of gynaecological conditions, asthma are frequently emotionally inspired problems.  If you go to a doctor to have these conditions treated then they will do their very best to help.  What you will come away with is very likely to be a very powerful compound that will almost certainly do something to your body that helps with the condition.  It usually won’t cure it, it will alleviate it as long as you are taking the medication, and it will have side effects that may not be immediately apparent.  If you are taking more than one compound then the way they interact is a frequent cause for hospitalisation. Bring your body into the equation with it’s variations in biochemical function will be impossible to accurately predict other than that, usually, it won’t help.

My father was a doctor and was adamant that it was important to avoid using medication unless it was absolutely necessary.  If you could manage without it, then you were better off doing so.  Having worked in hospitals, he was clear on the importance of  trying to stay away from them because of they are intrinsically dirty and dangerous places.   If you’re adhering to the statement in the hippocratic oath ‘do no harm’, then a restrained and minimal approach to western medical intervention is the safest bet.

Unfortunately, the large drug corporations have an interest in your using their product.  A doctor facing a chronic health problem will have a pill that addresses the issue, there may have been significant advertising behind it, there may be pressure to prescribe it in terms of time and resources available, and there is an increase in emphasis on a branded products for every ill that has invaded the teaching and practice of modern medicine.

As with many ‘alternative’ therapies, Chinese medicine represents a gentler and safer approach to the management of chronic health conditions.  It won’t lead to a cascade of side effects requiring more medication and intervention.  It won’t lead to nasty surprises further down the line such as the issues of long term proton pump inhibitor usage, or over the counter pain killers.   

Also it won’t make the drug companies any money, but then do you want to give people this cynical, who both make this and hold the patents for this which we know does this?  It’s hardly reassuring is it?

Don’t not go to the doctor, don’t not take medication, but equally don’t assume that it’s safe, always properly researched and this industry is adhering to high standards ; or that everyone in the process has your best interests at heart, because, sadly, they don’t.




The Death Of Ian Kilmister

7 Feb


So he finally died and an era of a kind ends. Lemmy, the quite studiedly larger-than-life, heavy metal monster has finally left this earth. He did it in suitably grand style. A cancer diagnosis two days previously and then he died on the couch playing his favourite poker-based video game. It’s as rock and roll as a quiet death at home surrounded by your family gets, and truly in keeping with the underlying sentiment of his artistic oeuvre terminally ill.
It was always going to become edgy at some point. Playing songs that are essentially about living a short life at an absurd pace and dying young, when you’re getting on a bit yourself, creates a kind of tension. You’ve boxed yourself in, as an older heavy metal demigod, either you have to tone it all down a bit, do some blue numbers, sit on a stool and play, retire to a five bed in Surrey; or stick it out to the end. Lemmy opted for the latter path and managed, against the odds, to pull it off with a last act of terminally ill showmanship.
I’ve always felt that Lemmy’s approach epitomised the pitfalls of a very strong constitution. His intake was the stuff of legend. He lived on a diet of Jack Daniels and amphetamines for a very, very long period of time. Motorheads famous live album was called ‘No Sleep Till Hammersmith’ which expresses his casual take-it-or-leave-it approach to an activity most of us have forced upon us. In the usual run of things you’d expect some health issues after a short time, but Lemmy held stubbornly on for years, behaving much as he always had.
In common with many people, I’ve always been notionally fond of Motorhead and found Lemmy an interesting and compelling figure. I’ve observed him continuing to act like a man in his twenties while in his fifties and sixties. He never had to change in the way that the rest of us do.
Most people moderate their drinking because their hangovers become more and more unpleasant. The impact of a night of interrupted sleep coupled with a thumping head and nausea outweighs the joys of drinking heavily into the small hours. Having young children seals the deal.
We stop taking speed, because the high isn’t worth the low which, unjustly, arrives after the good, exciting bit.  We are forced to adapt our behaviour and develop and mature in the face of the forces of time and life passing. Not so Lemmy who, to an extent, never had to…. or wasn’t forced to until it was too late. He was diagnosed with type two diabetes in 2000 which slowed his partying down a little. Type two diabetes is a variable situation. You can manage it, to an extent, with dietary changes; which he eventually did…. by caving in and switching to vodka and orange.
In 2013 he had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator fitted because of his irregular heart beat. The diabetes slowed his recovery and caused complications and then in 2015 he was forced to walk off stage at the beginning of a show. He died a couple of months later of multiple cancers of the brain and neck.
Maturity wasn’t imposed by physical heath considerations for a long time, until it suddenly was. In Chinese medical terms you could see Lemmys’ death as an abrupt failure of the bodies capacity to contain constitutional threat.
We all do this, locking up incoming physical dangers that would kill us or impair our internal organ function. We store toxins and pathogens in bone cavities and fatty areas, in our gums and hips and shoulders. We hold things; preventing them from causing a vicious circle of downgrade causing further failure of containment and further downgrade. We do this with pesticide residues, dioxins, PCBs, heavy metals, car fumes, and the other multifold sources of toxicity that go hand in hand with modern urban life. From time to time, when we are strong enough, we will clear some of them out on the back of a fever and some sweating.
There is a whole subsystem of Chinese medicine known as the Divergent Meridians that are based on helping maintain this holding, and prevent the release of things into the internal organs for as long as possible. It’s used in chronic health problems characterised by flare ups, where old symptoms re-appear and disappear again. Any auto immune condition, chronic back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, herpes, IBS, eczema, colitis, psoriasis, migraines, menieres disease could all be examples of a condition which would benefit from an approach based on the divergent meridians.
In the context of this way of looking at the body, the idea of detoxing is slightly absurd. The benefits of detoxing are probably more about rest and possibly improved diet. The most useful thing you can do in terms of detoxing is sleep more eat well, make yourself stronger and let your liver get on with the rest of it.
As we know with Lemmy, sleep wasn’t particularly his thing. He evidently had enormously powerful holding mechanisms for toxicity. They’d started to give out when he developed diabetes. Diabetes is a big system downgrade affecting micro blood flow. The lack of blood flow continued to downgrade him until it affected the function of his heart. With decline of the heart goes the blood flow necessary for maintaining containment of toxicity. With the collapse of this, physical masses, tumours and cancers form in the internal organs. They do so as a way of containing inflammation and toxic processes occurring in the organs.
This last ditch, desperate attempt to hold the problem at bay itself impairs organ function and leads to further downgrade and death.
Lemmy didn’t have to change for a long time. In the early years of his career he forged a unique sound that fused punk and heavy metal. He was a compelling comic book figure, almost a parody of the hard living outsider, but conveying a degree of weight and menace. In short he was a very powerful and influential figure in modern music. As time wore on this initial creation didn’t mature. Physically he was able to occupy this position for a long, long time. He continued partying on terms of “Dogged insolence in the face of mounting opposition to the contrary,” as he put it in a recent interview.
Emotionally, he didn’t have to grow, his constitution would allow him to carry on as a much younger man. If growth is, in part, a series of compromises made with your own physical life process, he didn’t have to compromise. If you roll with those compromises, if you change with change, then there is the possibility of spiritual and emotional growth that goes hand in hand with the changes of ageing. He didn’t have to, and so he didn’t.
The live fast die young principle he epitomised is, arguably, more relevant to a time of cushioned affluence; where there are social circumstances to pick up the pieces. A good NHS, sickness benefit, sheltered housing, make all the difference when it’s all over. Really pushing it, Hunter S Thompson style, is at the end of the day, a bit of a luxury.
Or, arguably, it could be said thats what we’re collectively opting for, in terms of our approach to fossil fuels and the biosphere; we are all, at a certain level, Lemmy. Whatever; there was a feeling when he died that this might all have passed its sell by date. Been there, done that, got the badly cut, black T-shirt with the transfers that peel off after two or three washes.
In more personal terms, the enormous psychic force that forged the huge personality that was Lemmy Kilmister was in emotional decline long before the physical limitations kicked in. His self confessed ‘dogged insolence’ implies this rising limitation. He had a great deal invested in this idea of himself, as did many, many others. This was who he thought he was and it became less and less elegant, less viable, which suggests that it might no longer have been the case. The diabetes diagnosis is the point where the emotional limitations have led to physical limitations.  By the time he was absolutely forced to change, he had no energy or time to suddenly grow up, change, become something different and new, and then it was too late.
Where others grow old slowly he stayed young past his years and then his constitution  suddenly collapsed.
I mean that said, he did this all on terms of his choosing, picking at the ‘flaws’ in his process and life path of anyone is ultimately arrogant, especially someone who whilst a product of his times and his own wounding, was in essence a free spirit who clearly did it very much his way.
There is a saying in Chinese medicine ‘No illness short life, one illness long life,’ and Lemmy was the epitomy of that. He might have lived into his nineties with the power of his constitution, but he never had to care for it, and never really knew what he had had, until he’d lost it.
But isn’t that always the way?