Friday, 21 May 2010

Facial acupuncture vs a bike?

A year ago I took a course in "facial revitalisation". I took it because, as a woman who has hit the 4-0 mark, I really wanted to know "does it work?". When I left the course, all the students were abuzz with excitement with their new found skill that was going to get them new, and happy patients... except me. It's not that it doesn't work. It does. However, deep inside I feel its being a little deceptive. It's like giving someone a bike to stop wrinkles. If a person is in poor health, stressed, angry, holding tension in their shoulders and have a furrowed brow, one of the best thing they can do is to move their Qi a bit. A great way to move your Qi is through a bit of exercise... a bike will do. Once that person starts moving their Qi, getting a few endorphins, a bit of serotonin, they feel a lot better. Moving their Qi is synonymous with stress release. So, they stop furrowing their brow and pinching their shoulders up. You'd be surprised at how much tensing the shoulders radiates up to the face. When you relax facial muscles the wrinkes appear less. Relaxing facial muscles is exactly what botox does. Well...not exactly-- botox paralyses the muscles and then heads to the brain (or at least it did in one 2009 study on rats). Essentially, riding a bike could result in reduced wrinkles. Needles could have relaxed the facial muscles as well, so it does work. However, as a practitioner, I feel that acupuncture is a tool, not a prop. Patients should be given the awareness and knowledge of how to improve their own health. Sometimes they can't and needles can be an excellent tool to start them on their way. For example, sometimes people can't relax their shoulders because they are so used to them being tense they don't even know what relaxed feels like. A few sessions can give such strong relief from that tension that they suddenly are aware of when they are pinching their shoulders to their ears. With that awareness, they can then relax them on their own.

But wrinkles aren't always about tension. They can be caused by being depleted. I had a patient come in several months ago who was overworked, exhausted from poor sleep, and feeling run down. She came in because she felt her immune system was weak and she was constantly on the verge of getting a cold and she couldn't afford the break in her schedule. Physically, this showed on her face with bags under her eyes, furrowed brow and skin sagging. She looked beyond her 40 years. I gave her four weeks worth of treatment aimed at moving and tonifying her Qi. I also talked with her about ways to manage her time which was causing her stress. She responded well to treatment and each week she reported feeling stronger. And each week, she looked younger and more vibrant. Her brow wasn't furrowed, her eyes weren't puffy and she looked "lifted". I didn't put one needle into her face. I wasn't giving her a beauty treatment, I was giving her a health treatment. When you are healthy, you look vibrant and younger.

Facial acupuncture is expensive. If you want to spend £600 on your looks, that money might be better spent to extend your holiday or upgrade your hotel room. We all know how much younger we look after a great holiday!

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