Merlin Young - gentle and effective acupuncture for everyone
My background is hardly medical - I studied English at University; I worked with deprived kids for the best part often years; and then I spent another ten years working in the construction industry. At the end of this period (of long hours and high stress) I got sick, couldn't get well, and found myself (reluctantly I might add) at the door of an acupuncturist in Birmingham.
What followed left some impression on me - enough to make me decide to study and practise this curious therapy!
I initially studied acupuncture at the College of Tradional Acupuncture at Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. The licentiate qualification obtained there is accredited by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, the body which regulates training in traditional acupuncture in the UK.
Since then, I have extensively investigated acupuncture further, particularly the way it is practised in Japan. My treatments today are primarily planned around principles adapted from this style of treatment, after seeing how quickly and easily people improve with these gentle techniques, and I continue to study and develop these methods in the light of my own clinical experience.
Steve Birch Junko Ida
Since 1998 I have been regularly studying, both in the UK and Holland, with Stephen Birch, one of the most articulate exponents of acupuncture in the West, and with his wife Junko Ida, both of whom are recognised authorities on Japanese methods and are extraordinary teachers. This training enabled me to become a member of the Toyohari Association. It has also given me the opportunity to study with some of the gifted senior Toyohari practitioners in Japan itself, a true privilege since some of them are undoubtedly masters of their art. I am also now a registered "academic" member of the Association having completed extra study of the theories and techniques.
It's probably worth mentioning that Japanese acupuncture, if it can be said to be authentically practised at all, should be practised by Japanese practitioners on Japanese patients most probably in Japan! And here I am, a European, practising in the UK on anyone who walks through my door....
Well, I still take delight in finding how well these methods can work in the modern western world.
Whilst both European and Japanese modern societies can boast similar marvels in terms of technological progress, they also share some of its consequences (consequences which traditional medicines actually never had to contend with - including insidious environmental pollution, modern diet and lifestyle, and illnesses arising from allopathic medication and modern surgery). The contemporary master practioners in Japan have embraced these new challenges by painstakingly and practically investigating and synthesising what works best in their treatment rooms; I feel privileged that my treatments can benefit from their insights. This challenge, of course, is now my challenge too, and its an ongoing one.
Both inside and outside my treatment room the care, comfort and well-being of my patients is paramount for me. I only use the finest-quality and thinnest pre-sterilised and disposable stainless-steel, silver or gold-plated needles. I abide by the codes of ethics and practice laid down by the British Acupuncture Council, of which I am a member, and through which I am fully insured.
Since 2007, with my friend and colleague Jenny Craig, I have been investigating the possibility that moxa might possibly help combat the deadly scourge of TB in the developing world. To this end we co-founded "Moxafrica" a charity with the aim of appropriately investigating this using action research.
In 2011, I published "the Moon over Matsushima - Insights into Mugwort and Moxibustion". It is (I dare to suggest!) currently the most comprehensive text in English on Moxa and Mugwort.
One of my teachers, however, once said to me that, whilst you should take what you do with your life with the utmost seriousness, you should never take yourself seriously (otherwise you will be destined for a sad and unhappy life!). This is good advice for any of us, I think.
My hope is that each of my patients encounters in me a practitioner who is capable of understanding their pain or discomfort as well as being able to help their condition. In this process, my intention is also to create a space in which we can share our humour and humanity. Experience teaches me that we can thus often discover we are no longer so defined and restrained by our complaints (as it so often feels), but that we can be liberated by them.