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Traditional Chinese Medical theory is based in part on ancient Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian philosophies, living in harmony with nature and being aware of how the change in seasons impacts on our health and wellbeing is a central principle of Taoist thinking. The ancient Taoists developed a subtle and profound system of thinking that looked at how our body reacted to changes in the seasons. The Wu Xing or Five Elements or Phases represents the dynamic change in the seasons throughout the year and the ancient Taoists related this to our physiology and how our vital energy or Qi transforms throughout the year.

Our ability to adapt to the seasons is important to maintain health and wellbeing throughout the year. In Chinese Medicine the emphasis is on health preservation and developing body awareness, through techniques such as yoga or Tai Qi and being mindful of what we eat and nourishing ourselves with adequate rest. By developing mindfulness and body awareness we are able to identify any problems that may arise early and deal with them before they develop into something more serious or chronic.The change in seasons is incredibly important and can impact on our health and wellbeing.  Spring is related to the Wood element in the Five Elements system of thinking, spring is a time of growth and a flexible outward flourishing of energy.  In terms of physiology the Wood element is related to our Liver and Gallbladder, which in Chinese terms is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi in our body. When Qi flows smoothly our body’s function well and our emotions are balanced and our physical body as well as our mind is flexible. As the spring energy comes into fruition the Wood element dominates and if our Liver is poorly regulated, from either poor nutrition, lack of exercise or unresolved emotional issues manifesting as frustration, our Qi can become easily stuck.

Stagnation of Qi can manifest in pain particularly along the pathway of the Gallbladder meridians which traverses the neck and shoulders, and chronic habitual neck and shoulder pain is often a sign of Qi stagnation.  Stagnation of Qi can also manifest as IBS type symptoms with abdominal bloating and pain and alternating constipation and diarrhea and in woman stagnation of Qi can manifest as period pain with PMT symptoms.

The Liver is also responsible for the smooth flow of our defensive qi which protects us from catching colds and flus. If our Qi is stagnant then our defensive qi can become easily ‘stuck’ and not perform its function properly. Our Qi responds to changes in the weather and our environment and with the incredibly changeable weather in Spring, particularly this year, our defensive qi becomes confused.  Seasonal hay fever can be aggravated if our defensive qi is poorly regulated.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can help many of the problems associated with stagnation of Qi, each of us is unique and as a result acupuncture treatments and herbal prescriptions are individualised. The ancient Taoist’s would treat themselves with acupuncture and herbs when the seasons were changing to prepare themselves and to be in optimal health for the coming season.

How healthy is your wood element?

Are you physically flexible?

Can you bend and flex when circumstances don’t go according to your plan?  Or do you get frustrated and angry?

Are you nourished?

Do you restore yourself after exertion or do you have a residual tiredness?

Is your sleep refreshing or do you wake tired?

How much of your time are you frustrated and angry?

Do you find ways to flow past or grow through meeting obstacles in your life?


For the whole of May Simon Plant, Breathe London’s Acupuncturist will be offering a £10 discount on your first treatment  (normal price £55), refer a friend and receive another £10 discount.

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC MRCHM

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Member of the British Acupuncture Council

Member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Breathe London Acupuncture Clinic


Acupuncture Awareness Week

The first ever Acupuncture Awareness Week launches today Monday 27 February 2012 and will attempt to dispel the many
myths still surrounding acupuncture. Simon Plant, British Acupuncture Council Member will be offering free fifteen minute taster treatments at Breath London at the Colombo Centre and Westminster Gym this week and will be on hand to answer your questions about how acupuncture can help you.

Recent research has revealed that over 21 per cent of the British public think acupuncture needles are as large as the needles used for regular injections. Not true! But it just goes to show that in spite of Chinese medicine’s ever increasing popularity, there are still a whole host of common misconceptions surrounding this ancient form of treatment.

Every year traditional acupuncturists carry out 2.3 million acupuncture treatments and this figure is on the rise. Yet the latest research clearly demonstrates how myths about acupuncture still remain strong. Acupuncture Awareness Week, the first of its kind, aims to banish these myths and provide the public with all the answers they need to feel confident about giving acupuncture a try.

A growing body of evidence-based clinical research shows that traditional acupuncture, as practised by British Acupuncture Council members safely treats a wide range of common health problems including low back pain, [click here to visit BAcC research page],  tension headaches and migraine-type headaches. In fact the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on best practice now recommend that GPs offer a course of ten sessions of acupuncture as a first-line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain.

TV presenter Clare Nasir had had several failed attempts to conceive using IVF alone. She had one last chance, and decided to use acupuncture in conjunction with the IVF to boost her chances of success. She now has a two year old daughter – listen to her story in the video below.

Learn more about Acupuncture by visiting

Learn more about Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine available at Breathe London by visiting

To book a free fifteen minute taster treatment contact Simon Plant at Breathe London: 07570 091568


Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC MRCHM

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine


Cupping – An Acupuncture Technique

Cupping is an ancient technique used throughout East Asia, the middle east and in many eastern European countries to treat muscular skeletal pain and in traditional cultures it is believed to help treat colds and flu’s. Cupping is one of the techniques commonly used alongside acupuncture. Cupping involves the application of a sterile glass cup to the skin, air inside the cup is heated to create an air tight seal. Cupping is incredibly relaxing and like having a strong massage, massage oils infused with herbs such as mint are applied to the skin and once the cup is on it can be moved up and down the affected area, a technique known as slide cupping.Chinese medical theory developed over centuries, through observation of nature and our interaction with the environment and as such the language used in understanding illness, pain and the cause of disease is very different from modern western medical language. Environmental causes of diseases such as wind, cold, damp and heat are very important in Chinese medical thinking. In traditional Chinese medicine the use of cupping helps to expel cold, move stagnant blood and reduce swelling and inflammation and as a result stop pain. An ancient Chinese medical saying “Where there is pain there is no free flow, where there is no free flow there is pain” sums up neatly the understanding of the causes of pain from a Chinese medical perspective.A recent study1 found that medicinal cupping reduced the level of pain and tender points in patients with Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterized by pain and pain on pressure. Other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are fatigue, sleep disturbance, joint pain and stiffness and digestive and bladder problems. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown and there is no known cure.At the Breathe London Acupuncture Clinic patients come to see me for help with the symptoms associate with Fibromyalgia. Cupping is one of the techniques I often use to help with pain. However I always use the principles of Chinese Medicine to try to understand what is happening to the patient and treat the root cause of the illness rather than treat purely symptomatically. I use a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and cupping and to treat each patient’s unique experience. Treatments are constantly modified and adapted in response to the patient’s needs.

If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture, cupping and herbs can help you please contact Simon Plant at Breathe London. Free 15 minute chats are available if you would like to know more.

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC MRCHM
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Breathe London Acupuncture Clinic


Acupuncture may reduce period pain

A recent systematic review1 has found that current evidence supports the use of acupuncture to reduce period pain. The systematic Cochrane review is recognized as one of the most authoritative and valid sources of evidence in healthcare and systematic reviews are recognized as producing the most valid and rigorous results. The systematic review critically reviewed ten clinical trials involving over 900 participants who where treated with acupuncture for period pain. 

The review found that acupuncture and acupressure reduced nausea and back pain associated with period pain and improved quality of life compared to placebo controls and medication. The research is an example of the increasing evidence base being generated through clinical trials to validate the use of traditional acupuncture treatments.

Period pain is one of the most common conditions I treat in the acupuncture clinic at Breathe London and the treatment of period pain and other problems associated with the menstrual cycle are well documented in classical Chinese medical texts.  I also combine acupuncture and herbal medicine for the treatment of period pain and from my personal experience find that the combination of the two is more effective than acupuncture on its own.  The aims of the treatments are not to provide short-term pain relief but to provide long lasting changes so that even when treatments have finished period pain is significantly reduced.

Each person’s experience of pain is different and treating period pain with traditional acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is no different from treating other conditions with acupuncture. Although there a classical acupuncture points for treating pain, an individual diagnosis and treatment is essential for long lasting and effective results.

An In depth initial consultation is important during which a traditional diagnosis is formulated and the treatment is tailored to each patient and involves close monitoring of the menstrual cycle. The points used will also change throughout the menstrual cycle. Acupuncture may also be combined with moxibustion which involves the gentle warming of acupuncture points with the herb Artemisia vulgaris. Dietary and exercise advice are also given and a short course of herbs may be recommended.  After acupuncture treatment for period pain many of my patients report other beneficial experiences including the relief of the symptoms of premenstrual tensions (PMT) including improvement in digestion and bloating, and also mood.

If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture and herbs can help you please contact Simon Plant at Breathe London. Free 15 minute chats are available if you would like to know more.

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC MRCHM
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Breathe London Acupuncture Clinic

1 Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jan 19;1:CD007854.

Acupuncture can help with Nausea

A recent Swedish pilot study (1) has found that acupuncture can help with nausea and vomiting associated with radiotherapy. Although an essential part of treatment for cancerous tumors radiotherapy has unwelcome side effects including nausea during and after treatment.
During the study acupuncture sessions of thirty minutes duration was used two to three times a week during the course of radiotherapy treatment. Results indicated that the acupuncture treatment reduced the feelings of nausea and incidents of vomiting. In addition patients reported a reduction in pain, increased relaxation and improved sleep.The acupuncture point neiguan on the pericardium meridian was used. Neiguan is a point commonly used to treat nausea not just as a result of radiotherapy but also nausea due to morning sickness and also anxiety. The use of neiguan to treat nausea was recorded in early Chinese medical texts and its use continues to this day. Neiguan is located on the inner aspect of the wrist and is the acupuncture point stimulated by the sea sickness bands that can be bought in pharmacies. Neiguan treats nausea because the acupuncture point is on the pericardium meridian which connects with the stomach.

Although the results of the pilot study were positive one of the negatives was that patients were treated with only one acupuncture point and following a set treatment protocol. The strength of traditional acupuncture, which is often poorly reflected because of the nature of clinical trials, is that treatments are individualized based on a upon each individuals experience of health and their own body awareness. Using dialogue with the patient and also by examining the tongue, feeling the pulse and palpating the abdomen a unique diagnosis and prescription of points is used.

In the acupuncture clinic at Breathe London I often use neiguan when treating patients for nausea but only in combination with other points and always based upon my traditional diagnosis. I also teach patients simple acupressure techniques to help them with their nausea and also offer dietary advice. The acupuncture sensation is totally unlike having an injection although you may feel a numbness or tingling sensation and only fine sterile needles are used.

If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture can help you please contact Simon Plant at Breathe London. Free 15 minute chats are available if you would like to know more.

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC MRCHM
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Breathe London Acupuncture Clinic

1 Pilot testing of methods for evaluation of acupuncture for emesis during radiotherapy: a randomised single subject experimental design. Acupunct Med. 2011 Apr 3

Save The Rhino

22nd September marked World Rhino Day, organisations such as do essential work in highlighting the threat to this endangered species.  Tragically there is an increase in illegal poaching of rhino horn for use in herbal medicine.

There is a mistaken belief that Rhino Horn can cure cancer. Professional bodies representing Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioners around the world have condemned the use of rhino horn and have categorically stated that rhino horn has no medical properties.

The UK’s Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine strongly condemns the illegal trade in endangered species and has a strict policy prohibiting the use of any type of endangered species by any of its members and no animal, mineral or endangered species are used. The illegal poaching of rhinos is not only abhorrent but is also an abuse of the Confucian principles that form some of the philosophical foundations of Chinese medicine that centre on respecting nature, living in harmony with and minimising our impact on the planet.

Members of the RCHM only use approved suppliers of herbal medicine who provide sustainable and responsibly sourced herbs.  The herbs and soil they are grown in are tested at each stage from planting, harvesting to processing for heavy metals and pollutants. Only herbs passing strict quality assurance standards are used.

Much of the world’s population rely on herbal medicine as their primary form of health care and many pharmaceuticals are derived from plant species. Artemisia Annua a herb that has been used in China for centuries to treat malaria like symptoms has now been synthesised to create new drugs to combat Malaria, still the largest cause of death1. Traditional herbal formulas are constantly being researched and traditional knowledge is being supported by modern research, recent research has shown that a traditional Chinese herbal formula can increase the quality of life for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease and is suitable for long-term use2.

When going for a herbal Medicine consultation always ensure that the herbalist is a member of a recognised professional body such as the RCHM, Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM), or the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH). Ensure that the herbalist only uses an approved supplier of medical herbs.

If you are interested in learning more about how Chinese herbal medicine can help you please contact Simon Plant at Breathe London. Free 15 minute chats are available if you would like to know more.

Learn more about Rhino Conservation by visiting:

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC MRCHM

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Breathe London Acupuncture Clinic




Rhino Horn Image sourced from

Treating Insomnia


Treating Insomnia 

Wellbeing is often defined as more than just an absence of illness, and the ways in which we react to stress is often an indicator that although we are not ill we are not necessarily balanced. Insomnia is one of the main indicators of stress affecting our lives in a negative way and I often treat patients in the acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine clinic at Breathe-London for insomnia. In fact many patients come for acupuncture or herbs for different reasons but often come with chronic insomnia and have just accepted this as a normal way of being.

In the ancient Chinese way of thinking about health and wellbeing a poor sleep pattern or poor quality sleep is an indicator of an underlying imbalance in our Qi.  At night our defensive Qi circulates throughout the interior of our body nourishing and warming our internal organs, if this circulation is disrupted then over time other health problems can arise.

There is a long history of treating insomnia with acupuncture and Chinese medicine in fact there is an acupuncture point called Anmian that translates as peaceful sleep and is one of the main points to treat insomnia. If insomnia is due to a background of anxiety herbs such as licorice and angelica root, goji berries, and Schisandra fruit are used to calm the spirit.  A full case history is taken during the first consultation and patients are treated with a unique combination of acupuncture points and a bespoke formula of herbs is created to treat the insomnia and also to address any underlying imbalances that may be causing the insomnia.

In London noise and light pollution are common causes of sleeplessness and we also can get into negative patterns of behavior with our sleep including drinking too much caffeine during the day and not having enough down time to quiet the mind after a hectic day. Teaching sleep hygiene and developing positive new patterns of behavior is an important part of the treatment process.

If you would like to learn more about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine Visit

Simon Plant May 2011

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Breathe London Well Being Centre

Graeme Weatherston /

Note: Do not take any herbal medicines without consulting a qualified herbal medicine practitioner.

Hay Fever? Try Acupuncture.

   Hay fever season is in full swing and many of my patients coming to see me for acupuncture are suffering from really bad hay fever. Most don’t realize that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can treat the symptoms of hay fever and are pleasantly surprised when their symptoms improve.

In the Chinese way of thinking, which is rooted in the ancient philosophy of yin yang theory, spring is the time of great transition and the decline of cooling nourishing yin and the flourishing of warming, protecting yang.

Yin yang theory is also rooted in the traditional Chinese way of understanding how the body works. The yang qi (or energy) in the body is the body’s ability to protect itself and it is during this flourishing of the yang energy in the spring when symptoms of hay fever manifest.

If the body’s defence is poorly regulated the immune response, trigged by pollen, overreacts and causes the symptoms of blocked and runny nose and sore itchy red eyes. In terms of the Chinese way of thinking the body’s yang qi is too strong and not controlled.

Over 2000 years of history and tradition is now supported by evidence and acupuncture has been proven in clinical trials to relieve the symptoms of hay fever1 while acupuncture combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine is a safe and effective way of treating hay fever2.

Visit to learn more.

Simon Plant February 2011

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Breathe London Well Being Centre

1 Xue, C., English, R. et al. (2002) Effect of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 30 (1)1–11.

2 Brinkhaus, B., Hummelsberger, J. et al. (2004) Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. 59 (9) 953-960.

Photograph by Arvind Balaraman /

Upset stomach? Try acupuncture and herbs.

In the west acupuncture is associated with treating pain but there is a history and tradition of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine being used to treat digestive problems.

In 2009 I was lucky enough to study with Dr. Zhou Gengsheng a specialist in gastrointestinal medicine at the outpatients department of Zhejiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital in Hangzhou, China.  Dr. Zhou treated over 40 patients in a morning using a combination of his knowledge of bioscience and Chinese herbal formulas, some of which have been in use for over 2000 years.  He treated disorders ranging from Irritable Bowell Syndrome (IBS), Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, h.pylori infection and acid reflux and made a massive difference to the quality of life of his patients.

Traditional knowledge is being increasingly supported by scientific research. Although acupuncture and Chinese medicine is rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy, the action of acupuncture points that have a direct effect on the digestive system can be demonstrated from a western understanding of how the body works.

A study in the Journal of Gastroenterology1 identified that stimulation of the acupuncture point zusanli on the stomach meridian causes muscle contractions that may be beneficial to constipation-predominant IBS sufferers while acupuncture point zhongwan causes muscle relaxation which may help diarrhea-predominant IBS sufferers.  Zhongwan may also inhibit gastric secretion and aid heartburn.

A further study2 investigated the use of Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of IBS and found that using traditional herbal formulas offers improvement in symptoms for patients with IBS.

If you are interested in trying acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of gastrointestinal problems please visit: Learn more about other therapies at Breathe London by visiting:

Note: No animal products, minerals or endangered species are used only herbs of botanical origin that are of the highest quality, that contain no adulterants, are tested for heavy metals and contaminants are used.

Caution: Never treat yourself with herbal remedies without the guidance of a practitioner of herbal medicine.

1 Takahashi, T., (2005) Acupuncture for functional gastrointestinal disorders. Journal of Gastroenterology. 41 (5) 408-417.

2 Bensoussan, A., et al. (1998) Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Chinese Medicine. A Randomised Control Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association.

Simon Plant March 2011

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC RCHM

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Breathe London Wellbeing Centre

Sports Injury? Try Acupuncture and Herbs

Many people are aware of the therapeutic benefits of deep tissue and sports massage to relieve pain and speed up the healing process and some have experienced acupuncture for the treatment of injuries and pain. However, there is a long history of treating injuries with a combination of massage, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

The warring states period in China (221-207BCE) was a pretty dangerous time and Chinese generals required a medicine that was quick and easy to apply and also effective. In addition secret formulas where passed down through the years in Shaolin temples and in the Kung Fu martial arts tradition. Known as die da or hit-fall medicine a range of pre-prepared soaks, liniments, plasters and herbal powders to be drunk where developed.

Herbs such as frankincense, myrrh, angelica root, safflower and turmeric are used both internally and externally to reduce swelling, cool inflammation and reduce pain. In the Shaolin tradition herbs are also used for ligament damage, deep bruising, and to speed up the knitting of fractured bones.

Acupuncture and massage reduces inflammation, facilitates the flow of blood and lymph, increases range of movement and is effective for treating strains, sprains and myofascial pain. A range of pre-prepared herbal products in the form powders, sprays, plasters and creams are available.

Luckily for us we don’t live in the warring states period of Chinese history but we do have access to the medicine to treat sports and traumatic injures, as well as occupational injuries such as tennis elbow and repetitive strain injury to help us recover quickly and get back to being active as soon as possible.

Visit and to book a series of massage, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments to suit your needs.

Note: No animal products, minerals or endangered species are used only herbs of botanical origin that are of the highest quality, that contain no adulterants, are tested for heavy metals and contaminants are used.

Caution: Never treat yourself with herbal remedies without the guidance of a practitioner of herbal medicine.

Coming Soon: Using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to treat gastrointestinal disorders.

Simon Plant March 2011

Simon Plant BSc (Hons) MSc MBAcC RCHM

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Breathe London Wellbeing Centre


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