Luke Sanders MSc, MBAcC
I have always been an excellent problem solver and consider my primary role as an acupuncturist to be a whole-health problem solver. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are built around the interconnection and interaction of health, disease and dysfunction patterns, this is why traditional acupuncture is well-known for treating health problems that conventional medicine has difficulty treating or even recognising, it considers details and symptoms often overlooked by other approaches.
I graduated from London South Bank University (LSBU) with a Masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture. My four year training incorporated continual clinical practice at the prestigious LSBU Confucius Institute Clinic in London and in China at Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine.
Now with my own private clinic in Wokingham I bring together traditional Eastern and modern Western methods to provide my patients the best from the two approaches. Having studied various approaches and worked in both small clinics and large busy hospital environments I run a practice firmly based on evidence and the most effective treatment pathways for each patient.
Having trained in Kungfu and gymnastics for more than a decade I continue to train and develop new skills, I keep myself at the forefront of strength and movement practices and techniques. This enables me to guide my patients through in-depth rehabilitation programs when appropriate.
Recently Luke was invited and demonstrated acupuncture for the vice president of China Liu Yandong at the opening of the London Confucius Institute's new clinic.
Luke presented on the Chinese approach to healthy patterns at the London falls and frailty conference
Luke ran two workshops on healthy movement patterns at for Allied Health Solutions at Northwick Park Hospital.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that involves the use of small needles to initiate physical and chemical changes in the body.
Acupuncture is able to treat a very wide range of conditions because it is used to treat the person rather than the disease, stimulating a body’s ability to heal itself and self-regulate.
Acupuncture is effective for treating a large range of issues and conditions. Some of the most common that we treat are:
- Musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain, shoulder impingement, neck pain, knee pain
- Maternity services (preparation for labour and labour induction)
- Migraines and chronic headaches
- Menstrual irregularities and pain
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Digestive disorders
How does it work?
Chinese medicine has a unique understanding of the body and how it works that has been developed over more than 2000 years of careful observation, testing and retesting.
It understands that we are complex organisms with complex physiological systems, all of which inter-relate. When one problem arises, it can throw other aspects of our health out of balance. Chinese medicine holds a framework for how all these aspects of our health are connected along with methods for getting to the root of problems and fixing them.
There are many recognised physiological responses elicited by acupuncture (ways acupuncture can stimulate the body to heal itself); some of them are as follows:
- Increased blood flow – This is significant as blood carries all of the ingredients the body needs to grow, repair, fight disease and maintain health, and it carries waste products away from tissue to be expelled.
- Reduced inflammatory blood markers - Inflammatory markers have been linked to many health problems inclufing mental health conditions such as depression. Acupuncture has been found to significantly reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.
- Stimulation of the body’s healing mechanisms – As well as increasing the blood flow to an injury it is important that the blood carries the components needed for repair. A needle creates a ‘micro-trauma’ which stimulates nervous, immune and endocrine systems to produce what is needed to heal the area. The tissue surrounding each needle will also benefit from receiving more of what it needs to repair.
- Chemical production – Acupuncture stimulates the body, via the nervous system, to produce a variety of chemicals. The most well known and researched of these are pain killers, such as endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin. There are others such as melatonin, a hormone essential for a healthy sleep-wake cycle and is regulated by norepinephrine as mentioned above.
- Relaxation of tight and spasmed muscles – These often cause pain and discomfort, can pull joints out of alignment and put pressure on nerves. If suffered long term, or when the body is under stress, spasmed muscles can lead to injuries or uneven wear of joints.
- Parasympathetic nervous system activation – Where as the sympathetic nervous system controls the ‘fight or flight’ response, the parasympathetic controls the ‘rest and digest’ response. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are both essential but they work against each other to produce opposite effects in the body. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system relaxes and calms, allows the body to repair itself and enables the digestive system to work properly. Impaired parasympathetic function has been indicated in autoimmune disorders such as arthritis, lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.