Bringing the body, mind and spirit back into harmony without the need of drugs. According to industry professionals Traditional Chinese Medicine and in particular acupuncture could be the key to reconnect with your own-self in the disconnected and fast-paced society of 2020. I discussed this holistic technique with expert, physiotherapist and acupuncturist Gerrit Bijlsma.


In a serene little practice in Amstelveen, Bijlsma performs his acupuncture treatments on his clients. Going back in time to his study period as physiotherapist, he accidentally discovered the given ‘acupuncture’ during a physical lesson from his professor. He noticed that pain complaints from a client removed quickly in a holistic way without the use of medication. That was the point when he realized that he really had to do something with this method. He continued to deepen and develop himself first in Traditional Chinese Medicine. After that, he started to specialize himself in ‘Tan-Acupuncture’ and ‘Neuro-Acupuncture’.

Balance the Imbalance

Scientific research carried out by the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy shows that acupuncture has remarkable effects on the pituitary gland and adrenal cortex system, the sympathetic nerve and adrenal medulla system, which have a good effect on restoring balance in spirit, mind and body. Bijlsma says that acupuncture helps people who experience an imbalance between their body and mind, for example due to emotions, trauma or a wrong posture. With acupuncture you look for the core of what causes your imbalance. With the treatments you make sure that the balance is restored without side effects of, for example, medication.

Bijlsma tells me during my treatment which forms of acupuncture he finds most interesting. ‘’There are eleven types of acupuncture and two of them really stand out to me, namely the TAN method and the NOGIER method”, says Bijlsma. He tells me that the TAN method is a logical and reproducible method. The Chinese Mr. Tan studied structural engineering and mathematics in America, which he later applied to the two thousand year old acupuncture method TCM. He then invented a new technique, the TAN method. ‘’Mr. Tan sees the body as a building, a construction with the foundation, acupuncture helps to maintain it’’, says Bijlsma. Bijlsma tells me that you have to look at the right meridians. ‘’When we look at your neck complaints, we look at the meridian that runs around your neck, that’s the bladder meridian. In your ankles you can find the kidney meridian, which helps the bladder meridian. By puncturing one meridian you help the other, the stronger meridians help the weaker meridians. That is why you can feel your neck complaints disappear immediately by puncturing your ankles’’, says Bijlsma. ‘’Funny how your ankles are connected to your neck, right?’’

‘’Mr. Tan sees the body as a building, a construction with the foundation, acupuncture helps to maintain it.’’

‘’The NOGIER method is another method that I find very interesting, this is neuro acupuncture in the ears’’, says Bijlsma. He tells me that the ear is an inverted fetus that affects brain functions. There are five nerves connected to your ear and brain and each point in your ear is connected to a specific point in your brain. ‘’I am using the NOGIER method against your panic attacks’’, Bijlsma tells me. We all have an adrenal cortex that produces cortisol, which is a stress hormone. If it gets very high, it affects the prefrontal cortex: your personality. If the cortisol level becomes too high, it affects your limbic system and your amygdala. The amygdala causes emotions such as fear, anger and sadness. If we see the prefrontal cortex as a rider and the limbic system as the horse, the horse takes over the rider in case of a panic attack. By puncturing an ear point, you immediately see that the amygdala becomes less active, the cortisol drops and the rider can take back the power from the horse again. In this way your panic attacks decrease and your body and mind become more balanced.

Acupuncturist Gerrit Bijlsma performs the TAN method on me

The Perfect Antidote

Sam Harris, neuroscientist, tells in the documentary ‘Minimalism’ that we have the capacity to focus but we live in a context where we constantly move from one stimulus to the next in search of the dopamine experience we get from the next email or the next retweet or the next thing that appears on your phone. The holistic therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture is a good antidote to today’s fast-paced society that is always on. In line with Sam Harris’ words is the answer of Bijlsma. According to Bijlsma, the corona pandemic brings many drawbacks with a lot of consequences, but it also creates great opportunities and advantages. It is now a time for reflection; Who am I? Where am I? Where do I come from? Where do I want to go? ‘‘Today’s self-awareness is a big step into the right direction.’’ Bijlsma says that with last year’s insane speed, the fast-pace society meant that people simply didn’t have time for their self-care. Now that there is more time, people are more aware of themselves and read more about, for example, holistic healing methods as acupuncture. This is a positive phenomenon that arises from the negative time of the corona crisis. ‘‘It’s now  the time for self-realization.’’

‘’It’s now  the time for self-realization.’’

Bijlsma explains to me that it’s now an enriching time because you can only ask yourself questions when there is peace and silence, like there is now. Normally you bump into what you always do, now you can think about complex personal questions. Your personality has multiple sides, your creative side, your rational side and your affective side, a balance has to be found in this. Everything that used to be commonplace as large companies is now in jeopardy. A good example of this is ‘The South Axis’; the people who work there give themselves away when it comes to work. ‘‘Too much work is often at the expense of personal development and relationships. So now that everything has slowed down through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to change this behavior’’, says Bijlsma.

A Modern World

According to Bijlsma, the established health care system in the Netherlands should consider acupuncture in a different way. The health care sector sees acupuncture as some kind of alternative method. ‘’They shouldn’t see it as just an alternative, but as thé alternative’’. Bijlsma says that acupuncture is much more suited to our times than medication and drugs. ‘‘Acupuncture suits this modern world because it is natural. It fits the story of sustainability, organic products and rethinking’’, says Bijlsma. If you don’t think, you just use what’s on the shelf full of preservatives, sugars and E-numbers. Many people in our modern society don’t want this anymore, they read and focus more on organic products. This also applies to clothing: you don’t want clothes that contain child labour. ‘‘In conclusion, you want honest food, without junk, you want honest structures and materials and you don’t want chemical gang like medication. You want it in a natural and honest way, that’s why acupuncture fits in. It all belongs together’’, says Bijlsma.

‘’Acupuncture is for people who look over the fence to see what else there is to offer. Scientific research carried out by the health insurance shows that 70% of people who use acupuncture are the highly developed women’’, says Bijlsma. Bijlsma continues by telling me that women read more than men about topics such as lifestyle, habits, functioning and also read a lot about other women. Men work differently, they read about cars, soccer and economics. Men don’t easily read about other men and their feelings, men are less interested in self-development than women. So if you have a powerful woman like Penelope Cruz, who uses acupuncture, other women start to wonder why she does that. It’s the strong, smart, independent women who look beyond medication. They don’t want a pill, they want something natural to get back into balance. Those are the women that look over the fence.

Bijlsma sees a bright future for acupuncture. He sees a growth in clients, people are becoming more and more open to acupuncture. There are a lot of people with different complaints and then they start looking, looking for alternative methods. According to Bijlsma, acupuncture is very much in motion, it is a finite therapy with many combinations, more and more research is being done to apply it into our disconnected modern life. ‘‘Balance, that’s what we are looking for, and sometimes we get out of balance by working too much or by certain emotions, then acupuncture works to go back to basics, to straighten everything out and to reconnect with your own self again.’’

The NOGIER method on me by puncturing ear points to lower my cortisol & panic attacks


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