Local acupuncturist Mary Dohnal performs acupuncture in her Kensal Rise home clinic, working to heal a variety of conditions from aches and pains to treating infertility.
Blogging for Park Life has had me trying out a range of alternative therapies – reflexology, yoga, cupcakes (they count) – and now, after listing to friends sing the praises of acupuncture, I pay local acupuncturist Mary Dohnal of Kensal Rise Acupuncture a visit to find out what all the fuss is about.
“Acupuncture is like tuning a piano,” Mary explains when I turn up at her clinic, located next to her house in Kensal Rise. “Sometimes the body needs a bit of tuning to get it back to its intended state of health.”
After a background in Western medicine, Mary trained as an acupuncturist and set up her clinic in 2009. “I’m interested in the marriage between art and science,” she says, something that traditional Chinese medicine builds its philosophies around.
“I used to be scared of needles,” Mary says, “So it’s funny that I’m now using them as part of my daily practice.”
As anyone who has had acupuncture will know, a fear of needles shouldn’t stop you from appreciating the benefits of a session. Mary shows me the hair-fine needles she uses for a normal treatment – they are so tiny I wonder if you can feel them at all.
“When done properly, you’re meant to feel the sensation of the needles,” Mary explains. This sensation, known as de qi, is a gentle pulsating that indicates that the needle has activated the healing energy in the body.
Mary begins her sessions with a one-hour diagnosis consultation. She asks a series of questions to look at all aspects of a patient’s health and medical history. She studies the patient’s pulse and tongue to assess his or her condition, and tailors the treatment to individual needs.
“Most people come to acupuncture knowing what they want,” Mary tells me. “Whether it’s to ease back pain or help with fertility treatment. The general rule of oriental medicine is to treat what you see.”
Acupuncture is highly sought after by women undergoing IVF because of its links to fertility. Approximately 50% of Mary’s patients are seeking fertility treatment. But she sees a variety of people of all ages, seeking relief from aches and pains, stress, IBS and help with quitting smoking.
“The area of teenage health is something I want to develop,” Mary says. “Acupuncture is great for teens dealing with stress and hormones.”
I lie on the table and Mary places five needles in key areas: on the inner side of both legs above the ankle (the spleen meridian), my hands between my thumb and index finger, and between my eyebrows.
I can immediately feel the gentle throb of the needles in my right hand and foot, while my left side goes unnoticed. This is normal, Mary explains, “At first, many patients will feel the needles in one side and not the other.”
The first consultation will usually involve 20 minutes of letting the needles do their work, and, depending on your condition, Mary will tailor a treatment plan to suit you.
In addition to traditional acupuncture, Mary also works with electro-acupuncture, moxa heated pads, cupping and a sensitive probe for children.
You can book sessions at Mary’s clinic on Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays, including evenings. Initial consultations are £50 and sessions are £40 thereafter.
Call Mary on 07801 569 425 or visit kensalriseacupuncture.co.uk