One of the main branches of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture involves the insertion of fine, single-use, sterile needles into specific locations in the body. These locations, called acupoints, lie on the meridians, which are a network of energetic pathways that connect the functions of the internal organs to the broader functions of the body.

It is believed that by inserting acupuncture needles into prescribed locations on these pathways, the body's homeostatic functions are activated. As the body returns to its natural state of equilibrium, there is no longer a place for illness or disease.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Acupuncture is generally a pain-free experience, with the desired response to needling being a numbness, heaviness or tingling sensation around the insertion point. That said, there are varying methods and techniques that relate to differing styles of acupuncture, some of which involve deeper insertion and stronger needle manipulation, with others being shallow and extremely gentle. Thomas's primary concern is the comfort and wellbeing of each of his patients and as such, he is committed to ensuring that each patient receives the treatment that they need.

How long does a session last?

The initial consultation lasts just under 60 minutes. As well as treatment, this is where Thomas takes your case history and discusses your requirements in depth. Each session after this usually lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.

How many sessions will I need?

This is completely dependant on your condition, whether it is acute or chronic, as well as other factors such as your age and constitution. During your first session Thomas will discuss what he feels is an appropriate course of treatment with you. Treatment falls into three stages:

  • Relief Care
  • Restorative Treatment
  • Wellbeing Maintenance
  • An initial course of treatment might be anything from 6-10 sessions, with follow-up appointments to restore and then maintain good health.

What else is involved?

Thomas may use any combination of the following, as required: Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping, herbal liniments, electro-acupuncture, gua sha and shiatsu. Please ask about these adjunct therapies when you book your appointment.

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Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine is a highly developed branch of TCM in which natural ingredients are combined in specific ways to address the multitude of complaints that patients present with in clinic. While there are many traditional formulae used in modern practice, the beauty of this modality is that formulae can be modified to each individual's particular requirements. This kind of personalised treatment is one of the main strengths of Chinese herbal medicine and TCM in general.

Why Chinese herbs?

Say for example, that you came to the clinic to address your insomnia, but that you also suffered from anxiety, lower back pain and poor concentration. The formula you may be prescribed would address all of these symptoms, not just your main complaint.

Thomas' priority in practice is the treatment of the individual and not just the disease. Chinese herbal medicine is a wonderful way of doing this.

How do I take my herbs?

There are a number of ways of taking herbal medicine. Thomas works with two in particular as he has found them to be most successful in the modern Australian environment.

  • Granulesare the most superior method of consumption. In this method, the herbal formula is decocted in a traditional method from the raw herbal ingredients, then dried and mixed with cornstarch to make a powder. The powder is mixed with a small amount of warm water and then consumed. Thomas has found this to be the most successful and manageable method of consumption. The potency of the pharmacological agents is high and the formula is rapidly absorbed by the body.
  • Capsulesare also effective, but is less potent than the granules. Herbal formulae are powdered and made up into capsules. Absorption is relatively fast. The strength of this method is that the capsules are tasteless!

Herbal medicine is generally taken 2 or 3 times daily, with modifications made by Thomas as required. You can benefit from thousands of years of clinical practice by taking herbal medicine that still has astonishing relevance in today's healthcare community.

Is herbal medicine safe?

In a word, yes - when it is prescribed by a qualified professional and taken according to their recommendations. All products used by Thomas are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) ensuring their quality, safety and efficacy. The ingredients are all natural. Feel free to contact Thomas if you have any questions about your herbs, the dosages, or any concerns you may have at all.

What about endangered species?

As the Chinese herbal materia medica is so large, there are many alternatives to ingredients that have been historically taken from endangered plants and animals. Thomas does not use any herbal medical product containing animal or plant derivatives that come from endangered species. Thomas is registered with the Endangered Species Certification Scheme (ESCS), administered by AACMA. Practitioners with this certification do not use or support the use of herbal products containing illegally traded wildlife ingredients.

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Shiatsu & Adjunct Therapies

Thomas uses a number of complementary therapeutic methods and techniques within the course of treatment.

Shiatsu Massage

This form of Japanese massage is based on Chinese medical diagnostic principles, making it a wonderful addition to the clinic. Shiatsu involves the rhythmic application of pressure to the meridians, specific acupoints as well as to underlying physical substructures. It is commonly used to relieve muscle tension, to calm the mind and reduce stress - and to restore energetic balance within your system. Shiatsu induces deep relaxation, simultaneously calming and stimulating the nervous system.


is the primary Chinese medical method of heat therapy. Moxa (mugwort artemesia vulgaris) is used to introduce heat into the body due to its gentle warming effect and because it produces minimal ash. Moxibustion is commonly used to tonify areas of weakness, to move areas of stagnation and to introduce heat when the body shows signs of cold.

It can be applied in a number of ways, both indirectly and directly. The most common indirect methods (where the moxa does not come into contact with the skin) are the moxa stick, the moxa box and the warm-needle technique. Other methods are also frequently used.

  • A Moxa Stick is a cigar-shaped roll which is lit at one end and held for periods of time over the desired area. This is a flexible method which allows heat to be introduced over both broad and specific regions.
  • An open-bottomed Moxa Box has loose punk moxa lit and put inside it. Placed onto the body it allows for warming to occur over a larger area, such as the lower back or abdomen.

Warm Needle Technique

This method combines acupuncture and moxibustion. Cones of moxa are placed on the ends of the needles before being lit. The heat travels down the needles and into the body, creating a deeply penetrating and effective method of heat therapy.


Cupping is a fantastic method for drawing out stagnation, commonly ofqi and blood. The oxygen is taken out of glass cups, creating a vacuum. The cups are then placed immediately onto the surface of the body in the appropriate locations. The skin is sucked up into the cups, gently pulling apart the layers of tissue beneath the skin. This allows for old, dead blood to flush away and fresh, new blood to flow into the tissues, resulting in reduction in pain and the regeneration of damaged tissue.Cupping can reduce muscle tension and reduce the symptoms of colds and flu. Sign of effective treatment is when sha (temporary discolouration of the skin) occurs.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is a method of scraping the skin in order to clear stagnation ofqi and blood. This is generally used on tight, sore muscles in combination with acupuncture and massage.


Electro-acupuncture involves sending a gentle electrical circuit through the acupuncture needles which are already in place. Once a circuit is created, the acupuncture can have a further-reaching effect. Electro-acupuncture stimulates blood flow, micro-circulation in local tissue, as well as causing endorphin/encephalin release - and as such is extremely useful in the treatment of pain conditions. Used commonly in the hospital system in China, electro-acupuncture is employed when a stronger method is required.


There are many differing Chinese herbal liniments that can be applied. They are commonly used for musculo-skeletal complaints, aiding in the regeneration of tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament and even bone), post trauma. Herbal liniments are very effective when used to rehabilitate strains and sprains as well as for other sport-related injuries.

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Learn more on the blog

Caring for your wellbeing with Chinese medicine

In times gone by in China, patients would often STOP going to their acupuncturist when they became ill. That seems the wrong way round, right? Why would they do this? Because people would get acupuncture and take herbs to stay healthy! Read more