I believe that in order to remain healthy and well, we have to be proactive and that includes seeing truly experienced professionals, rather than following recomendations by TikTokers and influencers whose main skill is to sell themselves online. I have known TCM practitioner Dr John Tsagaris for a very long time, but due to the pandemic we haven’t seen each other in person for over two years.
John kindly invited me to Harrod’s Wellness clinic (where he is currently based two days a week plus two Wednesdays a month) to experience his new, multi-dimensional and multi=disciplinary treatment for the body. Suffice to say I gladly jumped at the chance to see him and to try the new body protocol that John developed especially for Harrods Wellness Clinic. John is an intuitive body work practitioner and acupuncturist, but I didn’t know that John originally started his training in shiatsu and only then moved on to acupuncture. It’s always nice to discover something new about someone who you’ve known for years, as it keeps a professional relationship both fresh and surprising. John is also a skilled in facial acupuncture, but his laser focus on the body is not only very timely, but much needed (and I am sure appreciated) by his clients.
The treatment starts in John’s wooden-panelled treatment room, where he gets to know you by gently probing questions about your health, emotions, medical history, current symptoms, sleep patters, digestion, as well as the effect pandemic had on you personally. Bear in mind that whatever you might hold back, John will discover through his diagnostic methods, which range from examining your tongue (mine didn’t make a favourable impression on this occasion), to your pulses which are quite different to the ones your GP might take at the surgery. He will also examine your posture, by asking you to stand with your back to him at a distances.
Once you take your shoes and socks off ( John recommends comfortable clothing, so he can apply correct pressure through the clothing and be able to stretch you in different directions and angles ) and lie down, he will examine your stomach and get down to doing what he does best – sharing his knowledge through his hands and helping your improve your current state of health, as well as address the emotional state of your body. The combination of shiatsu bodywork, cupping and acupuncture embodies the very essence of traditional Chinese medicine, where observation evolves into the diagnosis and results in an appropriate and individualised treatment simultaneously. The movement of the treatment from one point on the body into another is finely tuned and done in a rhythmic sequence, easing the body into a truly relaxed state. This treatment is particularly good at addressing tight muscles, especially in the neck and shoulder area, as well as general state of your muscles and spine, helping the body not only feel, but look re-aligned. It’s also worth noting that while the treatment in itself is very relaxing, it stimulates body’s multiple meridians, which in turn is conductive to the improvement of overall movement of energy within the body.
My own treatment was incredibly relaxing, even when John extensively focussed on my back – quite a difference between my upper and lower back, as well as tension held in the left and right sides of the body. When a certain muscle ‘pull’ felt stronger, I somehow eased myself into a happily relaxed state and sunk deeper into the treatment bed, like a bear in its den during the winter months. After John stretched and pulled, as well as re-aligned my shoulder blades, he did cupping on my back – the image below might make you apprehensive .) but I assure you that not only was the cupping masterfully done (please don’t try it at home !), but within minutes of John applying them and adjusting the suction pressure, I felt the energy spread and travel all around my body in a completely different way. An interesting fact about the colour of bruising after the cupping session: the darker the bruise, the more long-term and stagnant the nature of the ‘problem’; if it’s lighter, according to John, the more current the problem or issue is and the easier to treat.
There is supportive evidence of cupping ‘healing potential’ to treat several conditions, according to Dr John Tsagaris, including arthritis, back, shoulder and neck pain, headaches, breathing problems, as well as sports rehabilitation and performance recovery (cupping has been used by Russian and Chinese athletes for decades for example). There are different ways to perform cupping in clinical practice, including wet and facial cupping, and the treatment can also involve sliding cupping to stretch and massage the area, using a therapeutic oil to facilitate the technique. The most appropriate method of treatment depends on the needs of the patient at the time. John may also place multiple cups on the treated area depending on the treatment. In this particular type of treatment John can create heat inside of the cup with a wet cotton ball to set a flame and the heat sends oxygen out of the cup, creating a vacuum. In my treatment John used a mechanical suction without fire, by utilising a special tool. Once placed on your skin, the vacuum force pulls the skin up into the cup. Interestingly enough the marks from the suction cups were much more visible and prevalent on the left side of my back for a few days, when compared to the right where they were less visibly noticeable.
There were also acupuncture needles applied to the base of my scull and lower body, the effect of which was enhanced by electro-stimulation – a gentle electric current that activates acupuncture – so with John’s spare hand ‘grounding’, you really do feel the currents dance around the areas where needles are. It’s truly riveting to be warm, comfortable and feel like you are in the ‘live’ scientific experiment, which relaxes and energises the body at the same time.
There was also some gentle stomach work with needles and electro-stimulation, as my digestion felt sluggish, according to John’s diagnosis, and needed a boost. Like with dogs or horses only exposing their tummies to those they trust, I think this treatment is certainly very personal and has to be performed by someone who is not only knowledgable about body, energies, meridians and a multitude of other things, but who makes you feel comfortable at the same time. Nowadays there are many practitioners in alternative wellbeing modalities, but I think the quality of the treatments varies significantly and so I would always recommend checking the credentials of the practitioner, when seeing someone for the first time. With John not only you get over two decades of practical experience under his belt, you can be even more reassured by the fact that he also teaches the new generation of practitioners and shares his knowledge directly with clients during the consultation and treatment, as well as via his social media.
Next stage of the treatment also involved ear acupuncture that is a different modality to face or body acupuncture. John uses EarSeeds that look like like tiny studs inside your ears – my daughter actually thought I got multiple ear piercings when she saw me later in the day. As ears are delicate areas of our body and contain cartilages, which require careful attention, John gently tests things before applying EarSeeds (I even got a couple of Swarovski ones that wouldn’t look out of place on the red carpet). EarSeeds continue to work on the points on which they are placed for a week or so. They come as small stickers, so you gently peel them off once their cycle of work is complete but they look so appealing, I see them becoming a ‘trend’ in the wellness space.
The main difference between body acupuncture and ear acupuncture is that they work in very different ways.
“Body acupuncture is based on Chinese medicine principles of facilitating energy flow and addressing Organs and Meridian imbalances according to the Chinese medicine principles(TCM) where ear acupuncture, even though it was originated in ancient China and recorded in Chinese medical literature, was rebranded in the West as a scientific, westernised medical intervention by Dr Nogier, a French doctor.”Dr. John Tsagaris
Auricular acupuncture is simultaneously a diagnostic and treatment system based on treating health concerns and
normalising the body by stimulating specific ear points. The treatment is an effective solution for various health
issues, including anxiety, stress, weight loss (John says he treats it very effectively with auricular acupuncture), hormonal concerns and digestive imbalances. Equally it can help treat allergies, migraines, sleeping problems, acute or chronic pain and digestive issues. The method involves the delicate placement of tiny, ultra-high-quality needles at strategically reactive points on the ear to address the specific health concerns individually. The needles, removed after twenty or so minutes, get replaced by tiny seeds in a variety of forms, as I described above. According to the patient’s needs, the virtually invisible seeds may stay on the ear for a few days, but point selection is revised at every session/treatment.
Since I saw Dr. John Tsagaris, I have actually seen a few of such products being advertised to me via Instagram, but at the moment I would recommend using them only under a knowledgable practitioner’s guidance. Not many people know it, but our ears contain many vital points and energy meridians, so even piercings have to be done in a way that don’t disrupt the energy flow in your body.
I left John’s treatment room (the moon crater above the treatment bed is a riveting focus point when you are lying on your back) completely realigned, lighter on my feet, re-centered and more agile, as if I turned into a cat. A couple of days later a cold that has been lingering, became a full blown one, with my nose streaming like a river during heavy rainfall, a sore throat and a chesty cough (and no, it’s not Covid, nor flu!). Yet at the same time I felt clear-headed, calm and in my own inner space in the world, my body as if clearing a heavy toxic load away. The lightness of being was unlike anything I have experienced in a while. My emotions are more like a calm, rather than a stormy sea, my workouts somehow more effective. My daily movement of the whole body feels easier and more open, muscles somehow even more flexible than usual and that can’t be a coincidence, but rather a result of John’s treatment.
Something tells me that 2022 will be the year when many people will finally shift their sole focus from the face and direct more of it towards their bodies, because pandemic or not, if we don’t look after our bodies properly, they will not only creek and then groan, but break under pressure. And while the price of John’s treatment is certainly Harrods worthy, he is an exceptional practitioner in his own right and his body treatment is something one needs to experience to truly appreciate the depth of the effect on your overall state of wellbeing.
Shiatsu Bodywork & Health Acupuncture Treatment with Dr. John Tsagaris is 90 minute long and available exclusively at Harrods Wellness Clinic. The price of a single treatment is £500; a course of four treatments costs £1050; a course of six £1750