A Chinese health MoT complete with acupuncture prepares Diane Parkes for the challenges of the year ahead.
We are used to taking our cars to the garage for their annual MoTs.
But how much more important is it to ensure that our bodies are up the challenges of the next 12 months ahead?
With the recent Chinese New Year celebrations turning our thoughts to the mysterious east, it seemed an an ideal time for a health MoT... Oriental-style
So off I head to Moseley to the home of therapist Katie McCorkindale.
A trained acupuncturist who lived in Japan for ten years, Katie has devised the MoT.
She explains: “It goes back to the time of the Chinese emperor. In those days he had lots of physicians whose health depended on the emperor’s.
“If he became ill, they were likely to lose their heads so they did everything possible to keep him well. This meant a health check every day.”
While a daily MoT is excessive, Katie believes a quarterly check can help fend off problems. It all begins on a very relaxing note as we sip green tea and Katie asks a mountain of questions in an attempt to ascertain my element.
According to Chinese medicine each of us has a dominant element – wood, water, earth, fire and metal – which can determine the health problems we are most likely to suffer.
Armed with the knowledge that I am heavy on the metal and the earth side, Katie is then able to delve further.
This involves a tongue inspection.
Luckily I am told mine is not too bad, although it is showing tell-tale signs of stress.
Diagnosis continues with Katie checking my back’s acupuncture points for signs of imbalance.
According to Chinese medicine, the body is a field with energies known as chi and blood and if either of these are out of balance it can lead to a host of health problems.
By placing acupuncture needles into the various points on those energy channels, Katie is then hoping to restore that balance.
Bearing in mind I was only recently over a hideous bout of flu, I had expected my energies to be totally deflated but Katie offers the cheerful news that my chi is just fine. However, she is less pleased with my blood which is a little down.
She double checks this on my pulse which confirms Katie’s initial diagnosis – although she does stress the inactivity of my blood energy may be a leftover from the flu.
She now plans to combat this by inserting needles at the various pressure points.
Acupuncture needles are incredibly fine, nowhere near the chunky things we are used to for injections, so the treatment is pretty much painless.
In each case the needle is inserted and I am asked to say when I begin to feel it.
That means it has hit its point and can stay. This can then be given a helping hand by moxibustion – burning a fragrant stick close to the needle to warm up a particular spot.
I am not sure I appear at my best – the pin cushion look does not suit me, but it certainly isn’t uncomfortable.
After a few minutes I change on to my back and the process is repeated, this time inserting needles in my wrists and toes. Aiming to instil a bit of peace into the hectic nature of our lives, Katie also recommends meditation so leads me through a short relaxing meditation while I lie there. This is rounded off with a hand massage just to finish the treatment.
In all I have been with Katie for 90 minutes and am feeling relatively pleased with the results.
Generally she says I am in good health although she will send through some recommendations of ‘blood rich’ foods to help me build up that energy channel.
* A Chinese Health MoT with Katie costs £40 for a first session and £35 for follow-ups.