When suffering from hay fever, insomnia or migraines, many of us reach for the pill packet, but there is an older, non-drug related system of medicine - one that has been practised in China and other far Eastern countries for thousands of years.

Living in harmony with the Universe is essential to the Chinese. Acupuncture is about keeping all the body's systems in balance. Balancing times of quiet with times of excitement. Balancing Yin Yang.

"'Qi' is the life force or vital energy'," explains Brighton-based acupuncturist Mark Hire. "For health to be maintained there must be a balance of qi, neither too much nor too little. Different types of qi relate to different parts of the body.

"When we are healthy, all forms of qi interact harmoniously. In illness, specific types of qi may be deficient or in excess. This will lead to physical, emotional, or psychological symptoms. Qi flows in the Jing-Luo, the network of channels that integrate the whole energetic functioning of the body. Acupuncture works by regulating qi via needles inserted into points along these channels."

A male in his forties came to see Mark suffering from insomnia, which had started six weeks previously. He had been suffering from a lot of stress over the last two years, having palpitations and tightness in his chest.

On meeting the patient I noticed his face was flushed. He said he had difficulty getting off to sleep and would wake in the night. He also experienced vivid dreams. He said he was generally hot and felt hot at night. His eyes would get dry and sore and had floaters. On inspection, his tongue was quivering, had a red tip, with cracks at the sides and a deep crack down the centre. His pulses felt wiry - like a guitar string.

The stress that he had experienced over the last two years had caused stagnation of qi that lead to heat, which affected his Heart and Liver. I treated the patient using points from the Heart, Pericardium, Liver and Spleen channels to calm his Mind and nourish his Heart and Liver.

The treatment had an instant effect.

"I was just hoping for any sort of improvement," said John, "but after only one treatment my insomnia completely vanished. My life returned to normal again."

Another patient, a female in her fifties, came to Mark having suffered from migraines for 18 years. A wide variety of medications had failed to alleviate the problem.

When the migraines started, the patient had been going through an emotional time and had not been eating properly, resulting in drastic weight loss. She generally experienced light headedness, had palpitations in the evening and had difficulty staying asleep. She described herself as anxious, but more on behalf of other people. On inspection, her tongue was pale with a thick pale coat at the back. Her pulses were generally weak, but the Heart pulse felt choppy - as if it had a jagged edge and the Liver pulse felt wiry. She also had longitudinal ridges on her finger nails.

The emotional time experienced by the patient initially, caused qi stagnation in the Liver and Gall Bladder channels. Combined with not eating, this would have led to qi and blood deficiency which would have made the migraines worse. I have been treating the patient by using points on the Bladder and Stomach channels to tonify qi and blood and the Gallbladder and Sanjiao channels to bring down excessive rising of Liver yang.

"Mark has been an absolute life saver," said Jenny. "Not only does he treat physical problems but also underlying emotional problems that may or may not contribute to the ailment. Acupuncture has reduced the number and severity of my headaches. As other sufferers will know, migraines take hold of your life from day to day and Mark has now given me a future to look forward to without pain.'

Details: Mark Hire trained at the University of Westminster, gaining a BSc (Hons) degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture and is a member of the British Acupuncture Council. He has worked in the teaching clinic attached to the University of Westminster and currently works from clinics in Brighton and Haywards Heath. To book an appointment please call 01273 700030 or 07774 458556 or you can email

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