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Acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicine – Jo George

Rutland Pride | May 2016

Acupuncture for Fertility

Traditional Chinese medicine can work well alongside conventional medicine for those who are having trouble conceiving. Stamford practitioner Jo George has this advice for couples...

Conventional medicine can offer much to those with fertility problems, yet more and more people are turning to alternative therapies before embarking on the process of IVF, while others use such therapies to help them deal with the side-effects of drug-based treatments and to support them through IVF.

Therapists are keen to stress that they don't offer a magic solution, however their aim, they say, is simply to get both partners into optimum condition physically and mentally, so conception can happen naturally. Even so, many have high success rates: acupuncturist Jo George, for example, who practises at The Broad Street Practice in Stamford, claims that more than 50% of those who come to her with fertility problems become pregnant. Practitioners such as Jo aim to identify and remove any ‘blocks’ to conception.

“In Chinese medicine, the whole orchestra of the body must be tuned together to work in harmony,” she explains. “It can redress very subtle imbalances, such as a poor womb lining, that aren’t picked up by conventional medicine, and also classifies several categories of infertility, such as an energy block that prevents conception.”

“Acupuncture has become widely recognised as effective for fertility, on its own or in conjunction with orthodox reproductive medicine, such as IVF. What acupuncture does is to help prepare the ground, much like a gardener, so that seeds can be nourished, can implant and grow.”

“A majority of women have grown up with the idea that pregnancy happens easily and that one must therefore take precautions. However, pregnancy followed by the delivery of a healthy baby does not happen as easily as one might think.”

Jo points out that for women in their late teens and twenties the chances of pregnancy in a given month is less than 25% - they have to try, on average, for four months. Reproductively healthy women in their thirties will, on average, have to try for ten months, and once women get into their early forties, despite all appearances to the contrary (athleticism, youthful appearance, vigour and energy) the chances per month of becoming pregnant is reduced to 3%, or, they will have to try for almost three years on average.

The chances at all ages are further reduced if the man has a low sperm count, poor morphology, or low motility, or if the woman does not ovulate, short luteal phase (less than ten days), polycystic ovaries PCOS, hormonal insufficiency, thin endometrium, endometriosis, or physical barriers such as fibroids or blocked fallopian tubes.

“Don’t worry if you don’t conceive even though you have tried for a baby at exactly the right time. This does not, on its own, suggest that you have any particular barrier to conception. However, for all age groups, acupuncture vastly improves the chances of conception through stimulating ovulation, regulating hormonal cycles, increasing progesterone production and flow of blood to the uterus.”

Jo also highlights the importance of reducing stress which has a direct impact on a woman’s ability to conceive and also her ability to carry the baby to full term.

“In many cases, especially in those who have unexplained infertility, acupuncture which treats any underlying distress and is often enough to turn things around. However, in some of these cases both partners may have an imbalance in energies such as in unexplained infertility, treating both partners can make a big difference to the chances of, and speed of, successful conception. Physical, mental and emotional components are all important, and in harmony can help create the fertile conditions necessary for conception and a full-term healthy pregnancy.”

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Rutland Pride | April 2016

Helping you through the Menopuse...

Nothing is worse than disturbed sleep. That is what Jo George, Stamford acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist hears every day from patients who suffer from insomnia....

When we can’t sleep well, nothing is right. We are tired, moody, irritable, our muscles are stiff, our head hurts, we can hardly think or function. Furthermore, lack of adequate sleep can cause serious health problems. Most doctors now believe that chronic insomnia brings on the symptoms of fibromyalgia and contributes to cardiovascular stress, not to mention catching more colds.

Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have different approaches to insomnia. To Western doctors, insomnia is the inability to sleep soundly. If there is no obvious physical reason, such as pain, for the sleeplessness, it will usually be seen as an emotional problem such as stress, anxiety, or depression. A patient with a mild case of insomnia is told to ‘relax more, cut back on caffeine, try a hot bath or warm milk before bedtime.’ For chronic insomnia, the usual response is sleeping pills or anti-depressants.

In TCM, a primary concept is the idea of root and branch symptoms like insomnia are considered to be the branches of a disease. The root of a disease is a dysfunction or imbalance of the fundamental substances (qi, blood, Yin, Yang, Jing, Shen), or of the major organ systems. In TCM there are several different types of insomnia which you may be able to relate too:

Dream-disturbed sleep: People with this problem say, ‘I can’t shut my mind off.’

Difficulty falling asleep: People will lie awake, tossing and turning for hours.

Waking up easily: Many people can fall asleep easily, but then they wake up later and find it difficult to go back to sleep again.

Waking up at a specific time every night: For example, some people regularly wake up at three o’clock in the morning. In Chinese medicine theory, energy peaks in the liver meridian, for instance, at 3am, which is why people often wake up then when this organ system is out of whack it can be a result of unexpressed anger.

Other symptoms: When Jo is considering treatment with herbs and acupuncture she narrows down possibilities by looking for symptoms that are characteristic of a particular imbalance in a particular organ system.

Jo George says Everyone wants to sleep well. Nobody wants insomnia, but some people have been suffering with it for a long time. In my practice, patients come in with these complaints every day: “I’ve only slept a couple of hours a night for seven years; I have not slept well for 15 years since my divorce; I have been taking sleeping pills for years; It all started when our company went down; I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and my doctor said my aches and pains are related to my sleeping disorder. Can you do anything?”

In Jo’s experience when treating insomnia, acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are combined for the quickest and most effective results. Not every insomnia patient will be treated with the same herbs or acupuncture points, however. A particular combination of signs and symptoms is called a pattern, and different patterns are treated very differently.

Acupuncture has many positive benefits. It is safe (sterile disposable needles are always used), it is effective for a wide variety of health problems, and it is virtually free of side effects. It has been scientifically demonstrated that acupuncture can have an effect on the body’s central nervous system, and can increase levels of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Acupuncture promotes natural sleeping patterns, and doesn’t have the hangover effect that most sleeping pills do. If you have been having problems with your sleep, it may be worthwhile to give acupuncture a try before taking heavy-duty medications. If you are currently taking sleeping pills and are bothered by the side effects, consider talking to Jo George about alternatives.

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Rutland Pride | March 2016

A Good Night’s Sleep

Don’t let needles put you off: acupuncture can help ease everything from fertility to migraines

From boosting fertility to easing Irritable Bowel Syndrome and helping you get a good night’s sleep, acupuncture is fast becoming the country’s go-to complementary treatment. Some 2.3 million acupuncture appointments are made each year in the UK, according to the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has given it their seal of approval for the treatment of lower back pain, migraine and chronic tension headaches. But many people still only discover acupuncture as a last resort, says local acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, Jo George. And some 21% of Brits think the needles are the same size as those used for injections. In fact, they’re actually only as thick as a human hair.

So what is acupuncture?
Based on 2,000-year-old Chinese healthcare principles, acupuncture is a holistic approach that sees pain and illness as signs that the body is out of balance. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners believe symptoms occur when the body’s qi (vital energy – pronounced ‘chee’) is blocked due to a combination of emotional, physical and mental reasons, such as stress or poor nutrition.

How does it work?
The fine sterile needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points to re-establish the free flow of qi, restore balance and trigger the body’s natural healing response. Acupuncture reduces cortisol levels, so the ill effects of stress are modified. It soothes over-thinking and anxiety, so we feel relaxed and optimistic and it promotes immunity and balances our internal environment,” says Jo, an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist, who has been practising for 16 years.

Who can have it?
Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies, children and the elderly. At The Broad Street Practice in Stamford, Jo sees everyone from men with severe stress and anxiety problems, back pain or hay fever, to women with period problems, migraines or menopausal symptoms. “They are civil servants, artists, filmmakers, teachers, school kids, parents, OAPs, doctors, midwives, and entrepreneurs,” she says. “I see pregnant ladies needing the baby turned, a widow grieving and suffering from arthritis since the sudden death of her husband, and ladies recovering from breast cancer.”

What happens at an appointment?
Jo explains that she does a full diagnostic consultation by asking questions about your medical history including all aspects of your health and wellbeing. She will also look at your tongue and feel your pulses on both wrists. This comprehensive diagnostic consultation allows Jo to create a bespoke treatment plan including lifestyle and dietary advice as well as acupuncture or herbs.

What can it treat?
Research has found acupuncture to be effective for the following common conditions, among many others:

Fertility: Acupuncture can help to regulate fertility hormones, reduce the number of ovarian cysts, stimulate ovulation and increase blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, thickening the endometrial lining and boosting the chances of embryo implantation.

Insomnia: By altering the brain’s mood chemistry, acupuncture can reduce serotonin levels and increase endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels, which help to improve sleep.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS occurs when stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to stimulate spasms in the colon, resulting in abdominal pain. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the ‘rest and digest’ response.

Migraine: The treatment stimulates nerves in the muscles and other tissues, releasing endorphins and changing the way pain is processed in the brain and spinal cord.

Depression: Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of ‘neurochemical messenger molecules,’ which alter the body’s internal feedback systems, promoting emotional and physical wellbeing.

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Rutland Pride | February 2016

No Pain No Gain With Jo...

Acupuncture can help to alleviate symptoms of chronic stress, insomnia or headaches, says Stamford’s Jo George

Do you wish you had more energy, fewer headaches or migraines? Would you like a better night’s sleep and less stress? Last year, 2.3 million acupuncture treatments were carried out, making traditional acupuncture the most popular complementary therapy practised in the UK.

The growing popularity of acupuncture has gained a boost in recent years from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which has endorsed acupuncture treatment for non-specific back pain, and for migraine and tension type headaches, and equal to anti-depressant medication to reduce in the symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia.

With a string of qualifications to her name as long as your arm, acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist of 14 years Jo George is well placed to comment on these ancient healing practices. Jo explains: “In the UK alone 5.85 million adults suffer with migraines and 190,000 people at any one time experience a migraine attack. It has long been known that overuse of painkillers can cause headaches and migraines that feel identical to patient’s existing pain. This can lead to a vicious circle of increasing headaches and migraines with reliance of medication that is causing or worsening the problem. But the good news is that now we have proof that acupuncture can be used effectively to lessen the frequency and severity of migraine attacks or tension headaches.”

Like any good healthcare practitioner, Jo looks at a person’s complete and unique state of well-being, conducting an in-depth conversation, then she will use two distinctively Chinese techniques - feeling the pulse and looking at the tongue.

In an acupuncture session with Jo, the colour, shape, moisture, movement and coating will be assessed. It may seem strange at first but she can actually tell a lot from this evaluation. Jo George explains: “The tongue provides a detailed picture of your body’s state of health as the body’s different organs are represented by specific areas of the tongue.”

The pulses also reflect the internal functioning of the body, mind and spirit, which Jo assesses through the strength, depth, rhythm and rate of the pulse, the condition of the different parts of the system, the disharmonies and imbalances which acupuncture can help to correct. The combination of these diagnostic methods determines the overall diagnosis and only then will Jo give a treatment plan.

Jo is keen to point out; “One of Chinese medicine’s greatest strengths is its ability to respond to any number of symptoms unique to each individual patient. This means that acupuncture treatments can be effective for conditions that don’t always respond well to conventional medicine, such as fertility, stress, insomnia, migraine, anxiety, depression, muscularskeletal conditions and lower back pain. Having said that, in my practice I regularly use it as an addition to western medicine. Jo finishes with a smile, “The best of both worlds!”

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Rutland Pride | January 2016

Helping You Through The Menopuse...

This month Stamford practitioner of Chinese medicine, and acupuncture therapist Jo George provides help for women through the Menopause...

In European and American culture, menopause - the time when a woman’s menses gradually cease, which normally happens between age 35 and 60 - is often accompanied by flushing or hot flushes, mood swings, depression, insomnia, which in Western medical practice, is treated with ‘hormone replacement therapy’ (HRT): a regimen of prescription synthetic hormones.

Yet according to our research at Rutland Pride, in the Chinese culture, hot flushes are uncommon. So, why do some so many Western women experience uncomfortable emotional and physical symptoms during menopause, yet Chinese women don’t? We asked Jo George Stamford acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist to give us her view.

According to Jo, China uses acupuncture for many different ailments, including menopause which they have found to be incredibly effective for women. There is a different mindset between Western and Eastern medicine. Acupuncture is a form of a holistic health care system in China, called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been practised in China for more than 5,000 years.

It is still the medicine of choice in the country today, although Western medicine is practised alongside it. In China, Asian women use this holistic healthcare system as an alternative to artificial hormone replacement. Interestingly, it is found that only 10% of Asian women experience noticeable menopausal symptoms compared to 75% of women in the UK and United States! Acupuncture, in conjunction with the proper diet and herbal medicine has been shown to be effective for the Chinese women.

Use these approaches to alleviate menopausal symptoms naturally, Chinese women do not fear this stage in life, possibly because they do not experience the adverse symptoms as the American women do. They do not consider it something to develop anxiety over nor is it an ‘illness’ needing some medication. This stage of change is embraced and found to be deeply valued as they enter the new stage of life.

The steps that a practitioner of TCM such as Jo George typically take in order to help women going through various menopausal phases are quite simple: diet, acupuncture, and herbs.


  • Eat fibre-rich carbohydrates that have a low glycaemic index such as brown rice, oatmeal and beans. Eat adequate protein in the form of poultry, fatty fish, eggs, low fat dairy produce, beans, tofu, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Create a diet that is plentiful in fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Eat the good fats. These include monounsaturated fats found in olives, avocados and olive oil. Also polyunsaturated fats present in oily fish, flax seeds, vegetables, grains and nuts. Avoid bad (saturated) fats; butter, cheese and animal fat are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Trans-fatty acids (fats which have been chemically altered) are also bad news.
  • Boost your intake of phyto-oestrogen containing foods like soya and flax seeds.
  • In combination with Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture has been found to be the most effective level of treatment. Studies have shown that this method is effective and offers an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
  • Use Chinese Herbal Medicine – Jo can tell which organs in the body are most affected by the change in hormone levels from the deficiency and will work to address the problem with herbal remedies. Herbal medication is specially prepared for each patient. The herbs are usually drunk as an infusion from powder once or twice a day, though many can be taken in tablet form.

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Women's Own | February 2009

It solved my fertility problems

Hannah Elliman, 37, from halsted Essex, is mum to Eva, two, and pregnant with her second child. She credits her successful pregnancies to Chinese herbs and acupuncture.

‘We tried to get pregnant for over three years and even had IVF treatment before deciding to try Chinese medicine’, says Hannah, a teacher. In June 2005, she started seeing Jo George at the Life Medicine clinic in North London. ‘Jo found I was suffering from erratic ovulation’, says Hannah. She was given various formulations of herbs to drink at different times of the month. ‘The first proof it was working was fertility predictor tests that showed I was ovulating. A month after I started the treatment, I was pregnant, but miscarried. I was upset but determined to carry on. Four months later I got pregnant with Eva’. After Eva was born in 2006 Hannah tried again. ‘I got pregnant when Eva was about 14 months, but miscarried at six weeks, so I saw Jo again. Four months later I was pregnant again. My baby is due in March’.

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Red Magazine | August 2008

Acupuncture is calming my pregnancy terror - click here to read.

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METRO | March 17th 2008

The Sharp End of Fertility - click here to read

Ten to 15 per cent of British couples a year have difficulty conceiving. Common responses include IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilisation), with drugs to encourage ovulation. However, a report published last month claimed acupuncture can raise IVF success rates by as much as 65 per cent.

The benefits are obvious: reduced side effects and practitioners who take a holistic view of patient health – so sitting down with them is like chatting to your best (informed) friend.

The comfort factor is something that has led conventional medicine to pooh-pooh encouraging results; it also makes those results hard to quantify – but conventional medicine is opening up to possibilities.

The IVF unit at Hammersmith Hospital, west London, combines complementary and mainstream medicine. For example, Gidon Lieberman, a fertility specialist at north London's Whittington Hospital, says: 'We know that some people manage spontaneous pregnancies [with complementary therapy] and we often don't know why.
'But the fertility journey is hard, so anything that eases it is worthwhile.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Jo George specialises in Traditional Chinese Medicine and gynaecology at the Life Medicine Clinic, combining acupuncture and Chinese herbs to treat infertility.

'The people I meet have usually been through Western medicine to the extent they're thinking about or have had IUI and IVF,' she says.

According to TCM, says Jo, unexplained infertility (18 per cent of all cases) always has a cause.
'Premenstrual symptoms, for example, or slightly late ovulation – these wouldn't be picked up in Western medicine. In TCM, we'd see that as an imbalance that needs treating. We look at these cases holistically – diet, environment, stress levels, what's happening in that person's life.

'In response, the herbal treatment can get very sophisticated. I may blend three formulas for the same month, one for pre-ovulation, another for ovulation, and another for post ovulation depending on the issues.'

She boasts some startling success stories, although there are always cases that neither Western nor Chinese medicine can treat. 'Sometimes some people's systems are just better suited to a more holistic route.'

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Healthy Magazine | July 2007

Review on Dang Gui, its uses in female gynaecology

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Evening Standard | January 2007

5 Chinese Medicine tips for a good night's sleep

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Daily Mail | February 2006

Will Acupuncture really help women to conceive?

Complementary medicine: Michelle Stanistreet asks if her claim has a scientific basis.

Amanda Bush, 36, after trying for four years to conceive, and failed conventional fertility treatment turned to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine at the Life Medicine Clinic, London. Following a combination of Chinese Herbal Medicine and acupuncture she was successful within three months.

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Sunday Express Magazine | January 2006

Treatment of the week - Life Medicine Clinic

How regular treatments helped Louise Walker to gain a healthy body and mind, through improved digestion, sleep, and general well-being.

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Daily Mirror | 17 February 2006

How we got pregnant, apart from the obvious 'Acupuncture got my ovary working' by Kim Jones Click here to read

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Pregnancy, Baby and You Magazine | December 2005

Sharp response. Could the ancient practice of acupuncture really improve Thalia Gray's fertility and help maintain a healthy first pregnancy?

As a sufferer of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Thalia Gray, 40, had irregular periods for most of her life. A month of weekly treatments with Jo at the Life Medicine clinic managed to get her monthly cycles back on track. Just after five months after her treatment started she became pregnant at the first attempt. She continued throughout her pregnancy tomaintian acupuncture treatments, which reduced nausea, removed sciatica pain, and helped her recover from Post natal depression once her son was born.

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Zest Magazine | September 2005

Acupuncture helped me get pregnant

Alison Hammond 37, IT analyst, London started trying to conceive at 34, but after a year nothing happened. She suspected endometriosis, which was confirmed. They also picked up a large blood filled cyst on her ovary. She had keyhole surgery to remove it, but still after 8 months she wasn't pregnant. After consulting Jo, she followed her recommendations to reduce sugar, and dairy intake, and to eat as much organic as possible and as well as take Chinese herbal medicine and receive regular acupuncture. Within 3 months she was pregnant, and continued with regular acupuncture throughout her pregnancy which helped reduce nausea. She had no complications throughout, and gave birth to Henry, 7lbs 6oz, after two hour labour with no pain relief.

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Independent | 1 March 2005

I was desperate to start a family

Double page Health review. A combination of Chinese Medicine and conventional IVF treatment is showing promising results in helping infertile couples by Hester Lacey. Mary Stewart had several eptopic pregnancies, and had her right ovary removed. Mary, 31 tried IVF, which was unsuccessful. After seeking alternative treatment with Jo at the Life medicine clinic, Mary's left ovary was stimulated into action. She continued with a course of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and conceived naturally after another failed IVF attempt. At 36 weeks her son was in breech position, and jo turned the baby using Moxa (a dried herb), and Mary avoided a caesarean.

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Men's Health Magazine

Will acupuncture or hypnotherapy help you stop smoking?

Alex visited Jo George - a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Click here to read. How Alex staved off his withdrawal symptoms with acupuncture sessions from Jo.

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