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.

acupuncture, health, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

My clinic turned 1 this week!

Yin yang cupcake iced solo webCan you believe it? My little Broadbeach clinic, Sarah George Acupuncture & Natural Health, has celebrated her first birthday this week.

A birthday is not complete without cake – so here’s one of my recipes: Yin Yang cupcakes (gluten free)

It’s been a lovely year in the clinic, growing from helping just a few patients to now seeing a lovely group of people in need of holistic acupuncture and natural health care treatment for a range of women’s health, pregnancy and fertility conditions, chronic pain and illness and neurological disorders. Thank you to my patients and anyone who has referred someone to me.

After working in busy, multi-room clinics for most of my career it’s nice to slow things down and provide other Chinese Medicine therapies as needed, like tuina (Chinese massage), gua sha (scraping – not as scary as it sounds), moxa and cupping (there are so many different ways of having cupping done).

Next week I’ll be announcing an exciting new therapy in the clinic – stay tuned!

So thank you for being a part of my clinic’s first year whether you’ve been a patient or just followed along on this blog, facebook, twitter or instagram with the idea of one day coming in for a treatment.

Here’s to another great year! See you in the clinic. Call 07 5526 8632 to make an appointment.

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.

acupuncture, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The clinic is now open on Tuesdays and Fridays!

Well due to popular demand and a tweak in my lecturing work schedule I have been able to open up two afternoons per week for acupuncture and massage bookings.

So that means you can book in for a treatment on:

  • Tuesday 1-5pm (last appointment at 4pm)
  • Friday 1-6pm (last appointment at 5pm)

This will make it really easy for those of you who might need treatment twice per week too – that is if you have acute pain, want a faster result (more frequent dose of acupuncture) or if you want a few different conditions treated over the same time frame (for example, back pain and digestive problems).

What can acupuncture treat according to the latest medical research? What is acupuncture point injection therapy? And what is tuina massage and how can it help you? I offer all of these services and also cupping and guasha.

To make an appointment or to find out if I can help you call 07 5526 8632.

Looking forward to seeing you in the clinic soon.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

My clinic times are changing and there are only two Thursdays left

Times they are a-changin’ at Acupuncture Emporium & Natural Therapies Centre this December and January. We are having a shuffle of appointment times.

So here’s what is happening: by mid January I will have changed my Thursday morning appointment times (7.30am – 12.30pm) over to join up with my Friday appointment times (normally 12.30pm-5pm). So effectively that means I won’t be available on Thursdays but will have a whole day of appointments on Fridays (7.30am – 5pm). I’ll have exactly the same amount of appointment time it will just be in one day rather than split over two days.

Here are the dates you need to know:

  • November 2014 (same as usual)
    • Thursday 7.30am-12.30pm and Friday 12.30pm-5pm
  • December 2014 – Friday 16th January 2015 (no Thursday appointments)
    • Friday 12.30pm-5pm
  • Friday 23rd January 2015 and on wards (all day Fridays)
    • Friday 7.30am-5pm

So what better way to wind up your week than to have a Friday acupuncture or massage treatment? TGIF!

Early, midday and late appointments traditionally fill up fast so if you want any of those new Friday morning appointments I suggest you book them early.

And if you are after an appointment on one of the last two Thursday mornings then book that in quickly too.

After all don’t we all need some treatment at this time of the year?

The number to call for acupuncture and massage bookings is: 07 3844 2217.

To my Thursday morning patients, I really hope that the Friday times will be convenient for you but if they aren’t our clinic has another three acupuncturists and is open from Monday to Saturday with early and late appointments most days. Please contact me and I’ll help you find a practitioner to ensure your treatment is continued and you are cared for well.

See you in the clinic soon.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Want to learn to massage? My course is running again!

BL massage courseHave you ever had a bad massage from a friend or family member? Or have you ever given one? I think we’ve all experienced someone roughly squeezing our shoulders or rubbing over our backs so softly it barely makes a difference. It doesn’t have to be like this!

Here is your chance to learn all about giving a *sublime* seated massage when next the opportunity arises. And I assure you, once you know how to give a good massage you won’t be short of people to massage. My advice: bring a friend or family member along so you will get massages from a set of well-trained hands too!

What you need to know:

  • It’s called: Learn to Massage the Pain Away.
  • Date and time: Saturday 12th July 2014, 10am – 4pm
  • Venue: Bright HQ at Teneriffe
  • To book and for more details: Click here.

We’ve had a lot of fun teaching this course in the past. Here’s a review from a previous course.

And here’s what you’ll learn on the day:

  • The benefits of massage
  • Common sore points
  • Basic massage techniques
  • How to assess  tense areas
  • When NOT to massage and how to massage safely
  • A simple self-massage sequence (this is great by the way!)
  • Basic acupressure points
  • A simple massage sequence to give to another.

And here are five good reasons why we all need to know how to give a good massage.

To book a massage or for further information on massage contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMRB registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

health, martial arts, massage, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Have you ever been in a float tank?

Floating on the Red Sea

I’ve always been curious about float tanks. But it wasn’t until last week that I actually took the… plunge.

After getting back into cycling, hiking and karate training for the year, my body has been a little achy and tight. My massage therapist told me, “you know what you need? A float. Go on, ring up now!” Well, there’s nothing like the power of now. So I called the place she recommended. They’d moved. But I tracked them down and was booked in for my first float two hours later.

Prior to taking the float I chatted to a friend online. “What about claustrophobia?” we wondered. “Can you leave the lid open?” I also wondered how clean the float tank would be and what the hygiene standards were like.

Well. When I arrived at the float centre I was asked to shower and shampoo my hair before getting into the tank (towels and shampoo were provided). The float tank was heated to luke warm temperature, so a shower cooler than skin temperature is recommended before you jump into the tank. I thought I’d get cold in the tank (as I’m a bit of a cold frog) but I had no problem with the temperature at all – I was completely comfortable. And yes, you can leave the lid ajar if you wish. I had my eyes closed and was perfectly happy to close the lid completely. You are also given ear plugs to prevent the water filling up your ear canals. And soft relaxation music plays for the first 20 minutes of your session.

The tank looked very clean and the water was crystal clear. The water has had 350 kilograms of epsom salts dissolved into it. Okay, so that’s a tad more than the 1-2 cups I’d normally use in the bath. This strong epsom salts solution makes you float – just as you would in the Red Sea. The massage therapist had warned me not to hold my head up, “your head won’t sink – make sure that you completely relax your neck – you won’t drown.” And she was right. It was great advice. In fact, I relaxed so much I fell asleep while floating in the heavily mineralised water. It wasn’t until the relaxation music that is played in the last ten minutes of your one hour session came on that I woke up.

After showering the salts away and drying off, I experienced a deep sense of relaxation. I don’t think I would have been in a position to operate heavy machinery or rely on any sharp mental function that afternoon. I also slept very well that night. And yes, my tight (just about rock-hard) neck and shoulders were looser, allowing my massage therapist to work deeper on me in my next treatment.

In Chinese medicine this translates to my Shen (spirit) being calmed, the excess Yang had descended and the Qi was flowing smoothly in the channels. And in fact, salt is used in our medicine for its softening, loosening, cooling and downbearing actions. Makes sense.

If you’re in need of some relaxation or a good night’s sleep a float session might be just up your alley. Combine it with some acupuncture and/or massage and you would surely be taken off to a soft, white, floaty, cloud heaven.

Are you a float tank enthusiast?

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.

acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

One week ’til the Christmas break

Woodford Folk Festival 2013-14

Where did 2013 go? Can you believe that it is only a week until Christmas?

I only have one last week of acupuncture and massage appointments in the clinic before I take a short break. My last days are:

  • Thursday, 19th December: 7.30am – 12.30pm
  • Friday, 20th December: 12.30pm – 5pm

I’ll be back at the clinic in the new year on Thursday, 9th January 2014.

Call Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre to make an appointment on 07 3844 2217.

Thanks to all of my patients, mentors, friends, family and blog followers for your support this year. It has been a big year of change. And some nicely laid foundations pave the way for a wonderful year of healing in 2014. I’ve already decided to attend two excellent masterclass seminars next year: one on western herbal medicine in pregnancy and another on Chinese herbal medicines for your constitutional type. I’ll also be continuing my Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine study.

I’m looking forward to recharging at the Woodford Folk Festival over the break – music, dance, good company and food for the soul. More about why I love this festival here.

If I don’t see you before or during the Christmas/New Year break, I wanted to wish you all a very happy and healthy time with friends and family. May 2014 bring plenty of health and happiness to you all. It’s been a pleasure to have been a part of your healing journey this year.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is TCM remedial massage and who can it help?

Massage pushing web2Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedial massage, otherwise known as tui na, is a therapy that dates back two thousand years ago to ancient China. The words ‘tui na’ translate to ‘push grasp’ which describes this style of massage with its assorted techniques including kneading, tapping, rubbing and pressing. The pressure used is suited to the individual patient and can be light on the skin or firm for deep tissue techniques. Pressure is applied to acupuncture points to stimulate them for specific conditions.

This form of massage is part of the greater system of TCM, a diverse system of medicine that covers all major systems within the body; which means it can be used for a wide range of acute and chronic ailments. TCM is focused on treating the underlying cause of disease as well as the presenting symptoms. This involves a holistic approach linking the body, mind and emotions in both the cause of disease and its treatment. TCM remedial massage may also be used to optimise overall wellness.

How does TCM remedial massage work?

By using a range of massage techniques your massage therapist will aim at best treating the particular condition you wish to have treated – whether that’s pain relief, reducing tension, healing injury or just making you feel better.

Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that massage techniques may provide:

  • Pain relief – For musculoskeletal injuries, tension headaches and back pain.
  • Mental alertness – After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression – Massage nay reduce subclinical depression.
  • Detoxification – Massage may stimulate the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage.
  • Muscle recovery – Massage may help to clear muscles of lactic and uric acid that build up during exercise.
  • Muscle tone – Improving muscle tone and delaying muscle atrophy resulting from inactivity.
  • Prevent injury – Deep massage may separate fascial fibres, prevent adhesions and reduce inflammation and oedema.
  • Relaxation – The release of endorphins and serotonin inducing a relaxed, ‘feel good’ state may improve sleep, reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Healing – Massage may increase circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

Traditionally, acupressure is explained by influencing the flow of Qi (energy or life force) within the body. For example, someone with throbbing headaches has too much Qi moving upwards, or someone with pain that is worse for rest has Qi that is ‘stuck’ or not circulating well. Researchers have identified that stimulating an acupuncture point (with a needle or acupressure) can create measurable changes in the body. Acupuncture points have an influence over the area that surrounds them. An acupuncture point can also have an influence over areas far removed from the actual point being needled.

Who can benefit?

TCM remedial massage is ideal for most musculoskeletal pain. It can also be beneficial for other health conditions, particularly when combined with acupuncture and/or other techniques such as cupping or herbal medicine.

People who can benefit from TCM remedial massage include those with specific pains such as stiff neck, tight shoulders or lower back pain; as well as anyone who suffers from chronic stress or general muscle tension.

I have many clients who choose to book regular monthly massages to promote wellness, reduce stress and prevent injury.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

My new clinic

peony red webAs you will have seen in my last post I have been offered and have decided to accept a permanent Chinese Medicine lecturing position at the Endeavour College of Natural Health. I’m excited about embracing this new challenge but as a result I will be moving on from a position I have very much enjoyed at the HealthWise Clinic.

My last day at HealthWise Clinic will be Wednesday 6th November 2013. Call (07) 3839 1077 to make an appointment.

But I’m not giving up clinical practice altogether. I can’t. I love what I do too much.

Your future health care

As a Chinese Medicine Board Registered Acupuncturist, it is important to me that you are well looked after for your health care needs and I will do my best to make sure they are met for your individual situation.

For those of you who have been seeing me at the HealthWise Clinic over the last (almost) six years I’d like to recommend the acupuncture services of my HealthWise colleagues, David McLeod and Zam Martin.

If you are a massage patient please contact me and I can refer you to a massage therapist who is convenient to you.

Or if you prefer…

New clinic contact details

Although my appointment times will be limited due to accepting a permanent lecturing position, I will continue to practice acupuncture and massage from this clinic:

Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre
26 Thomas Street
West End  QLD  4101
Ph: (07) 3844 2217

My first day at this clinic will be Thursday 7th November 2013.

If you wish to contact me

Please feel free to contact me to discuss your future health care options. And please know that you are always welcome to stay in touch. You can:

  • ‘like’ my facebook page
  • ‘follow’ me on twitter
  • ‘follow’ this blog by email (link close to the top of the right hand column)
  • email me directly

Thank you for placing your trust in me to provide your health care. I am truly honoured to have shared your healing journey with you.

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.

acupuncture, Diet, emotional health, food, food allergy, health, herbal medicine, massage, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Irritable bowel syndrome: feeling better with complementary medicine

I see many patients each week who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The good news is that I often find that with some good questioning and an individualised treatment plan covering the multiple aspects of this condition, a patient’s abdominal pain and bowel habits often respond for the better.

IBS is the most common digestive condition that patients seek help for and, believe it or not, accounts for up to a third of visits to gastroenterologists.

IBS is diagnosed by eliminating other disorders through medical testing.  An IBS diagnosis is made when a patient has recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort for at least three days of the last three months and at least two symptoms from the following:

  • Improvement of pain with bowel movement
  • Onset associated with a change in the stool frequency
  • Onset associated with a change in the stool consistency

The causes of IBS are poorly understood and so this means that conventional treatment is targeted towards reducing the symptoms. Interestingly, it is antidepressant medications that seem to offer the most relief to IBS patients from the pharmaceutical model.  Additionally, antispasmodics and anti-diarrhoeal medications are often trialed.

There are many natural therapies that have been used traditionally for digestive conditions and some of these treatments have shown statistically significant results in clinical trials.

  • Herbal medicine and nutrition therapy do have plenty to offer a patient with IBS and this is backed by clinical trials. One of the most effective herbal remedies tested in double blind clinical trials is a herbal formula known as Iberogast. A study found that Iberogast significantly reduces abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms. I use a lot of Iberogast with my IBS patients when I feel that the formula fits their pattern and it usually brings excellent results.
  • Probiotics have also been the subject of several clinical trials and there is good evidence for their use in IBS.  They are particularly useful in patients who suffer from bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. Probiotics enhance the gut barrier function and inhibit pathogen binding. Many probiotic strands are available, so you need to work with a practitioner to get the correct strands and dosing. In addition to supplementing with probiotics, increasing probiotic rich foods (such as yoghurt, keffir, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut) may be beneficial.
  • Fibre, particularly soluble fibre such as psyllium husks, is also supported by research for use in IBS, particularly where constipation is a predominant factor. Soluble fibres should be taken before meals for a greater impact on the lower digestive system.
  • Dietary causes play a part in IBS. It is worth having your diet assessed by your practitioner to identify if there are any foods that are aggravating your system. I often refer patients for food sensitivity testing which takes some of the guess work out of finding out which foods aggravate your symptoms and diets based on this testing have significantly reduce symptoms in clinical trials. Not all patients need to follow a dairy and gluten free diet – however this does work well for some – testing helps us to identify which foods are causing your problems.
  • One of the most important factors in treating IBS is managing stress and anxiety. Seek assistance in resolving ongoing life stresses or anxieties. Hypnosis is well supported in research for managing IBS. Additionally, choose counselling, meditation, yoga, massage and relaxation techniques to help you feel more relaxed. Acupuncture is excellent for enhancing relaxation and has been used for thousands of years for alleviating digestive pain and bowel disorders too.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has several diagnostic patterns for IBS. One of the most common is known as “Liver invading the Spleen”. Basically, this means that when feeling emotions such as frustration, resentment, irritability and anger your digestion system is weakened and your symptoms are worse. If you have this pattern you may suffer from alternating constipation and diarrhoea, and it is hard to pinpoint any foods that make your condition worse. (Here’s a little more on Liver Qi Stagnation, the precursor to Liver invading the Spleen.) It is no surprise then that it is the antidepressant medications that have shown the greatest improvement in this condition from a pharmaceutical point of view. There are many drug-free stress reduction options, and these are listed in the last bullet point above. This brain-gut connection highlights the importance of an holistic strategy in the management of IBS.

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.