health, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to live well this winter

Well! Winter is certainly packing a punch this year. My weather app says we’re due for -4 degrees Celsius tonight. Brrrrrrrrrrr.  Note to self: I need to refresh my winter wardrobe.Winter leunig

But what about winter and your health? Winter has a bad reputation for ‘catching a cold’ and cops the flack for setting the scene for ‘flu season’.

Here in Launceston, we certainly notice the seasons in a big way particularly as the days are much shorter and the temperature is much cooler. And those frosts!

In keeping with my other seasonal living guides (summer and autumn), here is your guide to living well in winter.

Winter is all about the Water element (in which we find the Kidneys and Bladder). It is when the Yang (hot, energetic Qi) is hidden by the Yin (cool, peaceful Qi) accumulation. And so we crave:

    • Comfort and being cosy
    • Embracing the indoors, or well warmed outdoor spaces
    • Introversion
    • Getting more sleep (earlier to bed, later to rise – just like the sun)
    • Using the warm quilt and/or flannelette sheets
    • Getting crafty (crocheting or knitting? I heard they are the new yoga!)
    • Comforting foods – soups, stews, curries, apple cinnamon crumble

Continue reading “How to live well this winter”

acupuncture, Diet, emotional health, fertility, health, IVF, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

We’re speaking at the Woodford Folk Festival 2018/19 on fertility and postpartum care!


Woodford 2011-12 KM SG children festival
Kathleen and I teaching acupressure at the Woodford Folk Festival Children’s Festival (2011/12)

Hello again! I’m very happy to break this exciting news to you.

My fantastic naturopath-acupuncturist (and MamaCare) pal, Kathleen Murphy, and I will be teaming up again to speak about two of our favourite topics this year at the Woodford Folk Festival – Fertility (and Chinese Medicine) and The Fourth Trimester (or postpartum) care with Natural Medicine.

We’re super excited to be bringing discussions on traditional practices and evidence based care combined with our own clinical experiences to the good people of Woodfordia.

It’ll also be wonderful to be joining the great team at The Blue Lotus venue once again (where you’ll find the best of yoga, meditation and health speakers at the festival).

You can find us on the programme here.

DSC00608
And here we are speaking about Gluten and Grain Intolerance at the Woodford Folk Festival (2012/13)

Stay tuned for more info on when we’re speaking and details of what we’ll be speaking about!

We hope you can come and join us and the rest of the great lineup that the festival brings this year!

To book an appointment at the Launceston clinics or for further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, food allergy, health, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

New Launceston workshop: Cook Healthy Japanese Food

Hello! It’s been a little while since my last post (I’ve been busy) but I’m here to say that the great Sam Seghers from Mindful Menus and Redcliffe Yoga & Massage is coming to Launceston (from Redcliffe, QLD) to team up with me for a fun and informative workshop!

Cook Healthy Japanese Food – Saturday 11th August (1pm-3pm)

Header Cooking Healthy Japanese Food

So Sam is a whizz with Japanese cookery (having lived there for 14 years). She is going to take some great Tasmanian fresh produce and create several tasty Japanese dishes. And she’ll be able to answer all those tricky questions you have about ingredients like:

  • the seaweeds (e.g. wakame and kombu – what on earth do you do with them?)
  • tofu (how do you cook it so it doesn’t taste like a sponge?)
  • mushrooms (e.g. shiitake, king oyster – what do you do with them?)
  • green tea (e.g. what to look for in a good Japanese tea and how to brew it)
  • miso (everyone is talking about it – what is it and what do you do with it?)
  • And many more…

All food prepared on the day will be gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian and vegan although we are also happy to discuss substitutions for other diet styles, food allergies and intolerances.

My job in all of this is to introduce you to the exciting world of Chinese Dietetics. This will change the way you think about food in a very healthy and balanced way.

In Chinese dietetics we talk about the thermal nature of a food (e.g. cold, cool, neutral, warm, hot), the flavour (bitter, sweet, pungent, salty, sour) and the organs that each food has an affinity with. You’ll discover that no wholefood should be considered good (eat tonnes of it) or evil (avoid it at all costs) for every person in the same way. We’ll talk about balance of thermal nature and flavours in your meal. And we’ll go through the Chinese dietetic properties of each food we use in the recipes on the day and the over all benefits of the dish (including the cooking methods) so that you know which ones will benefit you most.

During this time you’ll also enjoy the most amazing healthy Japanese afternoon tea banquet of all the dishes we have created on the day.  Having been lucky enough to have attended several of Sam’s Japanese banquets in the past I assure you that these dishes are delicious!

If you’re interested in learning a little more about Chinese Dietetics here’s a post I wrote a while ago on balancing the five flavours in a meal.

To book tickets to Cook Healthy Japanese Foods visit our Eventbrite page.

For further information on the event visit the event on Sarah George Acupuncture on Facebook.

To book an appointment at the clinic or for further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, health, pregnancy

The acupuncture evidence is in and it’s good news for sufferers of chronic low back pain, headaches, migraines, knee osteoarthritis and many others…

Sarah George fertility acupunctureDon’t let anyone tell you that there is no evidence to support acupuncture.

Firstly, it’s a stupid generalisation to make for the reasons listed here and secondly, well it’s just plain wrong.

Australian researchers, Dr John McDonald and Stephen Janz, have recently published the Acupuncture Evidence Project. This huge comparative literature review has identified 46 conditions with strong or moderate evidence to support the use of acupuncture as a treatment. It is the largest piece of work of it’s kind in relation to acupuncture evidence and has been embraced world-wide.

The authors concluded “it is no longer possible to say that the effectiveness of acupuncture is because of the placebo effect, or that it is useful only for musculoskeletal pain”.

So you’re probably wondering which conditions is there strong evidence for… here’s the list:

  • Allergic rhinitis (perennial & seasonal)
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (with anti-emetics)
  • Migraine prophylaxis
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Postoperative nausea & vomiting
  • Headache (tension-type and chronic)
  • Postoperative pain

And then there’s another 38 conditions with moderate evidence including pelvic pain in pregnancy, constipation, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, neck and shoulder pain, and anxiety.

For some of the conditions reviewed that did not make it into the strong or moderate evidence category, acupuncture may just not have had enough high quality trials published yet – so do watch this space. Good quality acupuncture research is currently experiencing a growth spurt.

To read a plain English summary of the Acupuncture Evidence Project click here. Or for the full review click here.

If you’d like to try acupuncture for a health condition do be sure to choose a registered acupuncturist (and no, dry needling is not the same thing – it is not held to the same high standards of training or regulation to ensure safety.)

And go on… share this about. It’s worth counteracting the fake news and alternate facts with some good old scientific evidence.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

food, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

Do you know these herbs and spices?

Sri Lanka AHG cardamom tea
Cardamom black tea

So a lot of us use a range of herbs and spices in our cooking and medicines and yet we may not have a clue what they actually look like when they’re growing on the bush or vine or tree. (I also know some of you grow an extensive range of herbs in your gardens and very much know what they look like and how to use them.)

By definition herbs are plants of a particular type (soft, succulent and mostly grown from seed) but this doesn’t truly capture all of the plants we use as herbs. Broadly speaking, herbs can be any plant we use in medicine, food, flavouring, for fragrance or even as a dye.

While I was in Sri Lanka late last year I wanted to visit as many Ayurvedic herbal gardens as I could to learn more about these medicinal plants. Here are some photos I took at the Ananda Spice Garden (near Koggala Lake) of some herbs you may use on regular rotation in your kitchen or even in a medicinal brew:

Sri Lanka AHG aloe vera
Aloe Vera
Sri Lanka AHG cinnamon
Cinnamon
Sri Lanka AHG ginger
Ginger
Sri Lanka AHG red ginger
Red ginger
Sri Lanka AHG vanilla
Vanilla

Aren’t they gorgeous?

And if you are interested, here is a east-west fusion (read: not Classical Chinese Medicine but still really interesting) of the Five Elements of herbs I found in one of my favourite, old herb books – Isobell Shiphard’s How can I use herbs in my daily life?

Isabell Shipard 5 element herbs

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, health, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

How do you make tea?

Sri Lanka Tea Pedro BOPHow do you make tea? Well not how do YOU make tea, but how is tea actually made?

Firstly I have an image warning! You are in for some damn fine images of tea porn here – hot, steamy, bushy and breathtakingly gorgeous. 😉

I love tea in pretty much in all its forms (well maybe except for the black tea bag variety with cow’s milk poured in – but that’s mainly because I don’t tolerate dairy and didn’t ever develop a liking for it).  In fact it’s probably the beverage we love most in Chinese Medicine. I’ve been to China and learnt a lot about the various forms of green teas, I’ve even done a tea appreciate course but I’d never seen how this delicious, medicinal and incredibly popular drink was actually made to give us those medicinal qualities (from bush to cup that is). Just so you know whatever research says I don’t believe a microwave forms part of the tea making process. So I trotted off to Sri Lanka, where some would say is the source of the best black tea in the world (Ceylon tea anyone?), to find out. I visited no less than four tea plantations and their factories to try to get an understanding of how the cammelia sinensis leaf is transformed to make a delightful cup of tea. (For those not in the know, all true tea comes from the leaves of just one plant – cammelia sinensis – be it black, green or white. (Herbal and rooibos teas are made from different plants altogether.)

So here is a photographic journey of the tea making process from the Handunugoda Tea Estate, at Ahangama in the south, where they produce their tea with beautiful, old machinery. They are also famous for their virgin white tea and a range of flavoured teas.

Sri Lanka Tea factory 1 picking
Tea leaf picking
Sri Lanka Tea factory 1 drying
The moisture is dried from the fresh leaves – smells good

Rolling the leaves in the heavy rolling machine.

The rolled leaves further ferment and then are heated as part of the firing process (the leaves turn black at this stage).

Ungraded leaves are put through the grading machine. Four grades are produced – from small pieces to large pieces. Small pieces are used for tea bags and large for the loose leaf tea. The small pieces produce a stronger black tea and the larger pieces a lighter black tea. The size does not indicate quality. This tea making process is followed to maximise the medicinal benefits and flavour of the tea.

The finished product – black tea ready to be sold at the Colombo tea markets to the big brand names.

I mentioned earlier that I visited four tea factories. Handunugoda Tea Estate was the first. Later, I visited the towns of Ella and Nuwara Eliya which are in the high country. The area is famous for tea and the scenic railway that shows off the tea plantations.

Enjoy these images from the  Newburgh Estate Green Tea Factory (Finlays) (Ella), Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory (Ella) and Pedro Tea Estate (they pride themselves as an ethical tea producer) (Nuwara Eliya) and the railway trip between.

Newburgh Green Tea Factory (Ella) – the process is similar without the ‘firing’ part of the process that black tea goes through. This factory was small and cute; it smelled fantastic!

Halpe Tea Factory (Ella) – these images do not do this factory justice. It is the largest tea factory (or so I was told) and has sweeping views of the local tea plantations. They have a lovely variety of flavoured teas also.

Pedro Tea Estate (Nuwara Eliya) – This factory produced my favourite cup of broken orange pekoe of the trip (the gorgeous orange cuppa pictured above as the very first image of this blog). The factory tour was interesting and the plantation is incredibly beautiful.

And here is one of the most beautiful railway journeys you might take (from Ella to Nuwara Eliya and just beyond) and those magical leaves:

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, emotional health, health, herbal medicine, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Learning about Ayurveda in the healing heart of Sri Lanka

sri-lanka-dg-spices.jpgLate last year I visited Sri Lanka to learn about an ancient healing system with some similarities to Chinese Medicine – ‘Ayurveda’. Interestingly, Sri Lanka is home to what is believed to be the world’s oldest hospital (3rd Century BCE), so it seemed like a pretty good place to discover an ancient medicine system.

‘Ayuervda’ is roughly translated as the science of life. It is the predominant traditional healing system of the Indian subcontinent. Sri Lankan Ayurvedic medicine differs somewhat from Indian Ayurveda particularly in relation to herbal medicine which takes on a local variation. Ayurveda, like Chinese Medicine, involves supporting the body to attain balance. There are also Five Elements that are fundamental to this system however they are not exactly the same as those in Chinese Medicine. According to Ayurveda, there are three basic diagnostic types (dosha) based on their Five Elements: pitta, kapha and vata. Find out your dosha by doing this quiz.

My trip took me to the Dalmanuta Gardens Ayurveda Resort and Restaurant, a peaceful oasis on the Bentota River. Most people attend Dalmanuta Gardens to learn about Ayurvedic principles to improve their health and/or to correct imbalances in the body; some patients are long term guests with serious health concerns. Patients are treated through a regime of yoga, specific dietary considerations (food cooked to balance out your ‘type’) and a range of herbal and bodywork treatments. Each patient has their treatment plan guided by an Ayurvedic doctor; in my case, Dr Vimukthi. Body palpation and pulse diagnosis form a major part of forming a diagnosis, in addition to questioning. I cannot speak more highly of my two Ayuredic therapists who carried out the prescribed treatments: Gayan Sameera Samaranayaka and Jeewani Champika. Sameera was a master of deep tissue massage and Jeewani gave the most soothing shirodhara treatment. Both were extremely professional and happy to teach me about their medicine.

Each day at Dalmanuta Gardens goes something like this:

  • Morning yoga
  • Breakfast (cooked for your type) served in a little hut on the Bentota River. It included a green herbal soup which looked ‘interesting’ but was actually quite tasty.
  • Treatment time: for me this lasted two and a half hours and involved a range of massage including deep tissue, herbal compresses, herbal facial steam and shirodhara (that wonderfully calming technique of having warm oil poured over your forehead. It involves the acupuncture point, Yintang, in Chinese Medicine known for it’s calming function.)
  • Lunch (cooked for your type, again served in the river hut while you are still in your treatment robe soaking in the good oils and herbs. Sri Lanka DG curries
  • Relaxation after lunch (it’s a nice opportunity to explore the magnificent ayurvedic herbal garden or sit in the meditation garden.
  • Dinner – here you have the opportunity to join the chef to learn how he cooks the foods that have been prescribed for your dinner. I had a one-on-one session and learnt to make several Sri Lankan curries from scratch (including with milk straight out of the coconut) and coconut sambool. The fresh ingredients are mostly grown organically on the property. Once again dinner is served in the river hut where you can hear the aquatic life swimming below, nocturnal animals moving around on the opposite river bank and prayers from the nearby mosque. Sri Lanka DG cooking class
  • Bedtime. I probably don’t need to point out that I slept very, very well here.

I left Dalmanuta Gardens far the wiser (although certainly no expert) about Ayurvedic medicine, treatments and dietary medicine as well as having glowing skin and a hard, old, hip injury that was feeling a lot more supple.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.