Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Our experienced Chinese medicine practitioner Bernice Lowe joined WHRIA in 2007. She has now moved to Canberra and can be contacted via Deakin Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Centre.

Bernice can recommend an acupuncturist near WHRIA for your ongoing treatment. 

She is dedicated to holistic healthcare, patient education and in working together with you to achieve your health goals and to help you effectively self-manage your health issues.  Bernice has an interest in women’s health and pelvic pain and also provides general treatments for both men’s and women’s health and by working closely with the team at WHRIA, patients are offered best practice in their healthcare management.

Bernice is a registered Acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with AHRPA and CMBA, and a member of AACMA

Why a holistic approach?

As we come to understand disease in the 21st century, our old ways of defining illness based on symptoms is not very useful. Instead by understanding the origins of disease and the way in which the body operates as one whole, integrated ecosystem we now know that symptoms appearing in one area of the body may be caused by imbalances in an entirely different system.

The wisdom of Chinese Medicine diagnosis understands that an under-functioning organ or system can cause an imbalance within the whole system. Some clients will simply choose treatment for symptomatic relief and others prefer a holistic approach to address the underlying imbalances to manage their symptoms.

Chinese medicine has evolved over thousands of years, and is still one of the oldest and continually practiced holistic medicines in the world. It recognises that health is more than just the absence of disease, it focuses as much on the prevention of illness, as on the treatment of disease.

What conditions can acupuncture effectively treat?

  • Post-operative pain
  • Post-operative nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Knee osteoarthritis pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV)
  • Allergic rhinitis

In 2017 “The Acupuncture Evidence Project” was commissioned by AACMA, it is the most thorough review of acupuncture that exists.

Of the 122 conditions treatable with acupuncture, it found:

  • strong evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 8 conditions
  • moderate evidence supporting acupuncture for 38 conditions
  • weak positive/unclear evidence for acupuncture in 71 conditions, and
  • little or no evidence for 5 conditions. 

For more detail please see this information sheet.

Our acupuncturist has an interest in treating both acute and chronic pain, pelvic pain, fertility support, immune regulation and gastrointestinal conditions. There is still a great deal to learn about what conditions respond to acupuncture, if you have any inquiries please contact our acupuncturist.

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What is acupuncture?

Modern research has shown that acupuncture is an effective and safe way to promote the body’s remarkable self-healing abilities. An acupuncture treatment involves the insertion and gentle manipulation of flexible, ultra-thin needles at specific points on the body. Most patients find the sensations produced by acupuncture treatment to be deeply relaxing, both mentally and physically.

How does acupuncture work?

Although acupuncture has been used for two thousand years, scientists are still trying to explain how it works.  To date, a huge body of acupuncture research exists, and as typical of most research the standards of the papers vary from poor quality to in-depth systematic reviews. Such variation has caused confusion amongst the population leading to various opinions on its effectiveness.

Acupuncture is based on the premise that all living things have a vital energy called “Qi” and optimal health occurs when Qi flows abundantly through the twelve acupuncture channels. Any disruptions impeding the movement of Qi along the are believed to be responsible for disease.

The insertion of fine sterile needles creates a mechanical regulatory stimulus that moves Qi throughout the body, relaxing muscles, stimulating blood flow, supporting the lymphatic system and releasing biochemical substances. This helps to regulate the nervous, hormonal and immune systems, which can stimulate organ function and the body’s innate ability to heal.

Since acupuncture was introduced to the western world a number of theories explaining acupuncture have been proposed.

For more information please see this information sheet.

Is acupuncture safe?

The Acupuncture Evidence Project” found that acupuncture was found to be safe when provided by a well-trained practitioner.

Does it hurt?

Bernice has studied both TCM and Japanese acupuncture styles (Kiiko Matsumoto Sensei, Manaka style protocols). She prefers the gentler style of Japanese acupuncture using fine light needles, which patients find more comfortable.

How does acupuncture work for pain?

It may seem counter-intuitive to have needles stuck into your body when you are already in pain, but many patients who have tried   acupuncture do experience some pain relief after a treatment. The majority of conditions respond best to a course of regular treatments, this can be discussed in your initial consultation.

Acupuncture has been demonstrated to activate the body’s endogenous opiods as well as enhancing the brains sensitivity to opiods[i] [ii].

Biochemical substances involved in pain reduction, such as ATP, substance P, adenosine and GABA are regulated or released by acupuncture stimulation[1][iii] this helps to reduce inflammation, regulate hormones, regulate the nervous   system, stimulate immunity, accelerate healing after surgery, injury or trauma.

Painful trigger points found in painful muscles can be deactivated with an acupuncture needle using a technique called “dry needling”, pain relief from a deactivated trigger point can be instantaneous.


[i] Longhurst, J., Chee-Yee, S., & Li, P. (2017). Defining Acupuncture’s Place in Western Medicine. Scientia, 1–5

[ii] Zhang, Z.-J., Wang, X.-M., & McAlonan, G. M. (2012). Neural Acupuncture Unit: A New Concept for Interpreting Effects and Mechanisms of Acupuncture. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012(3), 1–23.

[iii] Zhao, Z.-Q. (2008). Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia. Progress in Neurobiology, 85(4), 355–375.

What is Chinese herbal medicine?

Chinese herbal medicine is one of the great herbal systems of the world, a tradition that can be traced back over 3,000 years. It belongs to a holistic system of Chinese medicine that incorporates acupuncture, dietary therapy and exercises such as tai chi or chi gong.

Because of its systematic approach and clinical effectiveness, Chinese herbal medicine has exerted a wide influence on the theory and practice of medicine in the East for centuries. It still forms a major part of healthcare provision in China and is provided in state hospitals alongside western medicine. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of herbal medicine and it is growing rapidly in popularity in the West. Many modern pharmaceuticals have been modelled on or derived from chemicals found in plants.

Helpful resources

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