Interview with Ross J.Barr : The UK's Leading Fertility Specialist & Acupuncturist
A leading expert in natural fertility treatments and holistic health and wellness, London-based Ross J. Barr is a seriously sought after acupuncturist whose results really do speak for themselves. From women’s health and fertility to stress management and grief support, he has become one of the most celebrated practitioners in his field and garnered glowing reviews from the likes of Alexa Chung and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.
A member of the British Acupuncture Council and a graduate of the renowned College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, Barr (BSc Hons, MBAcC) studied Japanese Seitai Chiropractic Body Therapy under the renowned Master Tatsuo Nakamura and specialised in Five Element Acupuncture. According to the ancient Chinese theory, mind, body and spirit are all made up of the five elements, and it’s up to the practitioner to keep these energies in perfect balance for the patient’s wellbeing, which is exactly what Barr strives to do in four different locations all over London, including the gorgeous Claridge's in Mayfair.
In 2020, unable to see patients during the first lockdown, Barr channelled his expertise into a range of high-quality supplements and patches that we’re proud to carry right here at Dandy. The patches are a convenient, effective and natural way to ease everyday aches and pains while optimising the individual’s immunity, fertility, healing, sleep, and calmness. His easy-to-absorb fertility supplements are made from food state ingredients and packed full of everything both women and men need in the lead up to conception, as well as the nutritional extras every expectant or new mother could benefit from.
As he teased during our interview, Barr has new products coming out really soon… stay tuned, you’ll be able to find them right here at Dandy!
I’d love to start by talking about the connection between our body and our emotions. It took me, personally, a long time to realise that my chronic shoulder pain was a lot more than just shoulder pain, emotionally speaking, so I’d love to know how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees the mind-body connection.
What the Chinese have done very well, for thousands of years, is to never separate symptoms into categories ––emotional, physical, physiological, spiritual, each one is just as important as the rest. So when we’re doing a diagnosis, a physical symptom is just as pertinent as an emotional one. They figured out what long term, sustained and unexpressed emotions would do to the body, and how that would be represented physiologically. For example, if someone is going through a period of feeling stuck, stagnant, and frustrated, you’d often see it represented in something like tight shoulders or clotted period blood, because in TCM those emotions affect a particular organ, the liver, and that organ regulates specific physiological aspects.
And that’s because all sorts of things can throw our life energy, or Qi in TCM, off balance?
Definitely! Different emotions will affect the Qi differently. For instance, worry will often knot the digestive system and cause an upset stomach, whereas too much adrenaline and cortisol can cause anxiety. Grief and heartbreak are more felt in the chest, and you can’t deny that heartbreak is always felt cerebrally and emotionally at the same time, right? If you sustain certain emotions for a period of time, they will lead to physical symptoms.
Speaking of heartbreak, I’ve read that it was your own personal season of grief that led you to acupuncture, is that right?
One of the nicest parts of my job is that I’m now treating the things that someone helped me with all those years ago. I treat a lot of grief and heartbreak, and it’s a really rewarding aspect of my job. Lots of practitioners end up doing something because of how it’s affected them, it’s quite common because you hope you can do for others what someone has done for you.
That’s a beautiful way to see it, I definitely agree. And how does the Five Element method that you use differ from traditional acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is much more concerned with physiology and the physical symptoms, whereas Five Element Acupuncture is more interested in the emotional makeup of the individual. It’s about treating someone constitutionally. It's tailor-made to the individual, and the aim is always for you to come out of a session as your very best self. We all have those sides of our personality that we prefer and those we see when we’re tired, or hungover, not our best.. in Five Element Acupuncture, you should see less of the imbalance symptoms, and instead more elements of what you recognise as your best self. For the 24-48 hours after I’ve had a treatment, I’ll just give less of a shit about stuff that doesn’t matter ––that’s the experience we strive to give everyone. I love Five Element Acupuncture’s ability to give people peace. We lose our peace very quickly these days, peace is a very rare commodity among many of my patients, and that’s something we want to help people find.
Are there certain ailments you see more than others among your patients?
You see seasonal trends, for sure. I’ll get groups of individuals coming in for certain things at certain times of the year, or returning patients. Every winter-to-spring turn, for example, I see a lot of people who feel very stagnant and want some change in their lives. It’s the old adage, “There’s no wrong season, just wrong clothes.” With the right treatment, with Five Element Acupuncture, you can tune in to what’s good about each season.
Let’s talk about your famous patches. Is it true that they started because you couldn’t see clients during lockdown?
Yeah! It was at the start of lockdown when I wasn’t able to see patients, so I was doing free online consultations with those who needed it. Patches have been common in Eastern Medicine for many years, we just adapted the concept so I could help people with different aches and pains from where I was, in whatever way I could. They were launched with Victoria Health, who were very supportive of both the patches and the fertility supplements I’ve been using in the clinic for a couple of years. You know, I’m an acupuncturist and a counsellor, I didn’t necessarily ever want to have a business, but the products have been a lovely surprise and have done really well. I get letters and DMs from people who use them and want me to know how well they work, it’s really nice.
You must have seen some truly incredible things, are there any specific cases you can talk about?
I still get surprised on a weekly basis by how amazing (acupuncture) is, even though I’ve been doing it for fifteen years. When someone tells you they’ve started painting again, or reading, or they’ve just had the best night’s sleep of their life, or they just feel more connected to their family, or the environment… if they’ve rediscovered joy… that makes it really worthwhile. I’ve seen quite a few really cool things that tell you how effective this medicine can be. I once was in a village in Cambodia where they had zero healthcare, and I remember a 43 year old lady who couldn’t use her arm as a result of a stroke ––she’d lost her job, her house, her husband had left and she was sleeping on a friend’s sofa, because she couldn’t access the health care she needed. I treated her every day for 10, 11 days, and every day she would get more movement in her arm. With acupuncture, you can reconnect the necessary neurological pathways, and by the end of it, she had 60% of her movement back. You don’t often get to treat someone that intensively, daily, in a normal clinical environment, but I got to see how it’s hugely effective in such a short time. Another time, I was treating kids at an orphanage in Thailand, and there was a girl who had been burping every fifteen seconds for about a year. The orphanage was feeding the kids chilli flakes on every meal, and she’d become really inflamed because of it. We worked on some points to help with regurgitation and to turn down all the heat, and when she came back to see me, she was grinning ear-to-ear and not burping once. It’s really incredible.
I’ve heard you explain the benefits of acupuncture in very simple terms: “nothing remains in circulation for that amount of time unless it works,” as TCM has been around for so long. It really is true.
It’s not just that it’s old. It’s 3000 years of scholarship, of study, of practice and trial and error. I’m just borrowing it all and applying it to modern-day life. I’m just standing on the shoulders of giants.
Let’s give credit where credit is due, absolutely. Last question, do you have any new products on the horizon?I do, actually! We’ve got a really great sleep support formula coming, it should be out in a couple of weeks. We’ve got a couple of products out already, the Sleep Patches and the Adrenal Calm Formula that you can find here on Dandy. They were great at helping people during the angst of lockdown, targeting things both internally, through the formula, and externally, with the patches. Now we’re adding a formula with a really, really great blend of minerals, herbs and vitamins that were designed to help with the induction and depth of sleep. It will be launching in the coming weeks, you will find it all right here on Dandy.