A Brief Biography

A respected authority in my field with 30+ years experience I am currently Chairman of The British Acupuncture Council, the UK's lead body for professional acupuncture.

Loving science since childhood I was taught science from the age of seven under the mentorship of Donald Clarke, head of Chetham’s Hospital School in Manchester (UK), who also gave me a subscription to New Scientist Magazine. In my teens I discovered Daoism, Buddhism and the Yijing which gave me an inkling of oriental thinking.

In 1977 I gained an honors degree in physiology from Bristol Medical School. Interested in neurophysiology I conducted brain research into the control of movement and posture by the cerebellum. In 1975 I asked a professor what he felt was the most interesting new research area, his reply surprised me - “acupuncture – definitely!” he said. This outlandish idea stuck in my mind. Later I discovered that, even at that time, work was already underway into how acupuncture works.

Travels for a year in remote parts of the East in the late '70's took me through Nepal and up onto the Tibetan plateau. Villagers often asked me to help with their ailments and this led me to reflect on medicine's dependence on technology and industrial chemistry. Take away the lab test, scanner and prescription pad and medicine becomes near powerless. It dawned on me that, today, our doctors' healing skills some mainly courtesy of the chemical corporations. Sitting in the village of Muktinath on the edge of the Tibetan plateau in 1979 I wondered what if acupuncture or herbal medicine actually work?.

I decided to investigate.

Back in the UK, the few books I could find on acupuncture were disappointing. Although charmed by oriental thought, my science head needed convincing before I could commit to 3 more years of study and financial hardship. Then, after stumbling across a collection of 550 research papers into acupuncture I knew for sure that there was something really important to be found in this venerable medicine and soon signed up for the only full-time, degree-level acupuncture training then available in the UK.

In my 2nd year at acupuncture college I shared a flat with a colleague from Portugal who had collected rare books on Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) – a subject then unheard of outside of a few pharmacies serving the insular Chinatown communities. With the benefit of Henrique’s library I added CHM study to my acupuncture studies and so, thanks to him, and another pioneer Mazin Al-Khafaji, in 1983 I became one of the very first in the EU to seriously study CHM.

In 1984 I was introduced to Stephen Tang in Manchester’s Chinatown who helped me stock my CHM pharmacy. There I also found pill-form medicines were labelled entirely in Chinese. There were no reference texts on these so I learned to read and translate the information on the bottles and product inserts and passed this knowledge on in seminars to my colleagues. Then, '86 to '88 I studied with the eminent US CHM physician Dr Ted Kaptchuk and followed this with a clinical internment at Shanghai TCM University. For 30 years I have continued my studies and clinical work and, in the process, gained a Masters degree in TCM and have been honored with numerous academic positions including setting up the UK's first college-based training in CHM. In 2012 I was elected as Chairman of the British Acupuncture Council, Europe's largest and most esteemed organisation for professional acupuncture practitioners.