Pinpointing the problem

Jing-an; The Asian Wellness Experience

Dr Michael Lan is staring deeply into my eyes. I stare back. Seemingly satisfied he asks me to stick out my tongue. Nodding, he then grabs my wrist and feels for my pulse.

“You’re very active,” he says. “Maybe a bit too much. You must be careful or you’ll burn yourself out.”

Hmm. Note to self; lay off the coffee, because it’s certainly not the exercise. My assessment over he asks me to lie back on the white treatment bed. The evaluation was to pinpoint which kind of acupuncture the good doctor should administer; apparently I qualify for a rejuvenation session.

Showing me a thin copper needle he inserts it in the middle of my forehead. “This is your third eye meridian, it promotes calmness and tranquillity.”

I feel a slight prick, nothing more. Dr Lan has been practicing traditional Chinese medicine for over 14 years and has plans to set up a practice in Johannesburg too. He’s wearing a white cotton uniform and he’s slight of build, wiry and athletic.

Holding my right wrist he inserts another needle. This time I do feel something—heat, pressure. The response is much milder for my left.

When quizzed about the odd sensation, Dr. Lan replies: “You must be right-brained. This is the body’s response to the acupuncture. The opening of the chi (energy).”

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, it works by channelling and balancing chi and blood flow. The insertion of needles into various anatomical points moves vital energy along the body’s meridians.

The wrist meridians belong to the heart. “These points will encourage blood flow and pacify the spirit,” says Dr. Lan

He’s moved down to my feet. Now I’m getting nervous. Again I feel a sharp pressure as he inserts a needle into my left ankle. The pathways of my liver, ‘to open the chi and promote circulation’.

“Alright, now just relax and enjoy,” says Dr. Lan twisting the handle to the door of the room. 

Left to my own devices I start to drift off, helped along by a heady scent in the air. I later find out that it’s a herb called mugwort.

The scent is so pervasive because it’s being burnt for a treatment known as moxibustion: which is said to dispel cold and damp from the body. It’s apparently good for everything from flu to sexual dysfunction.

Dr. Lan pops his head into the room, “Stick out your tongue,” he says walking over to me. I do as he asks and he nods, looking satisfied.

“The blood flow has improved, making your tongue more red,” he explains.

Acupuncture reminds me of attaching jumper cables to a stalled car. The copper conducts the electricity and ‘jump starts’ the engine; much like these thin copper needles conduct the chi.

Acupuncture; fertility, stress, smoking & anti-ageing

After my treatment I sit chatting to Dr Lan in his white office, in fact everything is white in this Asian wellness centre.

People have acupuncture for a variety of reasons, some of the most popular are; to quit smoking, for fertility and anti-ageing.

“Some of the treatments you can claim back on medical aid,” says Dr. Lan. “It was a hard won fight to get that right. So before you opt for the knife, come to me first.”

Nicotine addiction is treated with auricular acupuncture. Tiny needles are inserted into the ear and left there for two to three weeks.

“You already start feeling the difference in five days,” says Dr Lan. “It works by targeting certain nerves, tapping into bad habits and reprogramming them. I have a success rate of up to 80 percent.”

He also boasts high rates of success, between 70 – 80 percent, with his fertility patients. The number’s lower than that of the smoking he says because some women come to him after having IVF and, ‘their bodies are so stressed, it makes it really difficult.’

“The acupuncture helps the channels to flow freely, and the chi goes where it’s supposed to,” he continues.

The anti-ageing treatments work much in the same way: the needles go into the facial tissues and tone the muscles, promoting blood flow.

“Wrinkles disappear,” enthuses Dr. Lan.

I’m feeling very relaxed as I get up to leave. Before I go I ask Dr. Lan what his tips are on living a peaceful life, ‘sleep, tea, acupuncture and tai chi,’ is his answer.

By Malu Lambert

Unit 5 | Buitenkloof Studios | 8 Kloof Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 5608

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 8.30am - 5.30pm

Jing-an the Asian Wellness Experience is all inclusive of traditional Chinese Medicine practices. Dr. Lan can tailor a package to your medical needs, one that can include; acupuncture, moxibustion, bonesetting, Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes as well as Tui Na massage.


Immerse yourself in the beautiful arts of Taichi and Qigong at the World Taichi and Qigong Day.

Learn how to reconnect with nature at the Grow Your Medicine Workshop.  

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