Traditional Chinese Medicine by Barbara Hezelgrave

Barbara Hezelgrave originally trained as a dentist but became so interested in acupuncture as used in dentistry that she abandoned the latter in favour of Traditional Chinese Medicine - which she has now been practicing for nearly 30 years.
She explains how relevant its philosophy and practice may be to those suffering from food allergy, food intolerance and digestive disorders.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal medicine) is a system of healing which has been practiced in China and other Eastern countries for thousands of years. Although often thought of as a means of pain relief, it is, in fact used to treat people with a wide range of illness. Its focus is on improving the overall well being of the person, rather than the treatment of isolated symptoms.

Chinese Medicine maintains that preserving the strength and integrity of the body as a whole is the most important defense against the development of disease. This means that whilst efforts are made to relieve symptoms an equal emphasis is placed on restoring the body’s balance and coordinating the activity of the body’s primary organ systems. It is the ability of the organism to sustain it’s own defensive capability and regenerative potential that enables it to remain adaptable and well.

The essential element in this co-ordination (as in Chinese philosophy in the broader sense) is the restoration of balance and equilibrium within the body systems - hot must be balanced with cold, wet with dry. Only when this balance is achieved can energy (what is known as the Chi or ‘life force’) flow freely through the body and body function properly.

Many people come to Traditional Chinese Medicine for help with specific problems such as depression, insomnia, joint pain, hypertension or digestive complaints. However they find that the treatments not only relieve their particular symptoms but lead to higher energy levels, a feeling of well being, better sleep and relaxation. Some people go on to use acupuncture as a preventive measure to strengthen their constitution, or when they feel ‘out of sorts’ without being ‘ill’ in the conventional Western sense.
From the perspective of Chinese Medicine an allergy occurs when the immune system mal-functions. Chinese medicine treats allergies by regulating the immune system and is often highly effective in eliminating its tendency to over-react. It is especially effective when combined with appropriate dietary and life style changes.

Eczema, from a very early age often accompanies or precedes the development of allergic asthma. That asthma and eczema have the same allergic root is demonstrated by the whealing skin reactions occurring on inhalation of allergen in individuals suffering from extrinsic asthma. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, eczema is caused by an underlying deficiency or imbalance in the Lung and Kidney defensive energy systems. The Lung and the Skin in Chinese Medicine are closely related and often one condition will appear as the other improves. For example, eczema often appears first at an early age to be followed later by asthma when the child is around 4/5 years. This pattern is more likely to occur if the eczema is suppressed by the application of a steroid cream. Similarly asthma, if suppressed, may manifest later as eczema. Chinese Medicine uses many safe treatments which are suitable and successful even for young children. Certain dietary changes should also be considered - avoidance, for example, of shellfish, spinach, mushrooms and dairy products.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine illness is the result of a depletion, obstruction or unnatural alteration of the body’s constituents and derangement or imbalance of the functions of it’s organ systems. So poor digestion or food intolerance will be the result of a disruption or insufficiency in the digestive system - the ‘Stomach/Spleen’ network responsible for processing food and nutrients.

With the advent of the spring season, warmer weather and the new growth of plants, flowers and grasses, many people will be afflicted by hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Chinese Medicine works well in relieving distressing symptoms of seasonal allergy without inducing the side effects, such as sedation that are often produced by western medication. But it also addresses underlying constitutional imbalances to prevent recurrence.

Chinese Medicine has proved helpful for those attempting to overcome drug, tobacco and alcohol addictions and in coping with withdrawal symptoms. It has also proved effective in pregnancy management and for pain relief in labour !

Practiced by a qualified and experienced practitioner, Chinese Traditional Medicine is a totally safe and very effective treatment for all ‘dis’-ease.
To find a qualified practitioner in your area contact the British Acupuncture Council, 63 Jeddo Road, London W12 9HQ Tel. 020 8735 0400

Barbara Hezelgrave practices in north London and you can contact her at

First published in 2003

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