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, herbal medicine, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Goodbye to the Gold Coast but what is next?

Tasmania lavender close up
Lavender flowers at Bridestowe Lavender Estate

So there are big changes here at Sarah George Acupuncture & Natural Health. The clinic is moving… quite a long way away… to Launceston, Tasmania.

The reason for this is that I am taking a step away from permanent academic life to focus more on providing one on one care to my patients combined with running a few courses, doing a little teaching and writing more about Chinese Medicine for good health in a clean, green environment close to beautiful fresh produce and herb farms including Bridestowe Lavender Estate and 41º South Ginseng Farm.

To my patients, I wanted to thank you for choosing Sarah George Acupuncture Natural Health (in Brisbane, West End and Broadbeach) for your health care over the past few years. It has been an honour to be your acupuncturist in this time and I am grateful for you in trusting me to help you towards reaching your health goals.

Stay tuned… I will be setting up as an acupuncturist in Launceston, Tasmania… feel free to share this news with anyone you know living in Launie who might be looking for an acupuncturist.

Tasmania Cataract Gorge
Cataract Gorge, Launceston

And you can always follow me here on the blog and/or on facebook, instagram and twitter.

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.

food, health, herbal medicine, motivational, nature

Discovering the traditional medicine of Sri Lanka

rooster-year-of-qing
Year of the Rooster: this cocky fellow is a Chinese incense burner crafted in the Qing Dynasty.

Hello! Happy new year! And happy Chinese new year too! May the Rooster be good to you all.

It seems like it has been such a long time since I have written a blog. The good news is that I’m excited to get back into it and share so many interesting regarding acupuncture, Chinese medicine, traditional medicines, good food (and recipes) and all things wellness related.

Some of my patients will know that in December I closed the clinic for a month and headed to Sri Lanka for a study tour of traditional medicine, yoga and learning about that fabulous medicinal drink, tea.

I’m going to walk you through what I’ve learnt about traditional Sri Lankan medicines and what one might have to gain by visiting an ayurvedic retreat. We’ll visit herb gardens and farms, discover some delicious traditional Sri Lankan recipes, several different types of tea plantations and factories (so that we can understand the process of making tea and how that process changes the flavour and qualities of the tea), visit some stunning natural scenery to remind us of the power of green spaces and finally visit an acupuncture college where students treat patients in desperate need of good care.

I’m looking forward to sharing this with you all over the next few weeks and months. But until then you can find me at my Broadbeach clinic every Friday.

Also if there is a topic you think I should write about this year feel free to leave it in the comments.

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, fertility, food, martial arts, nature, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

10 things you should know about Chinese Medicine

I’ve spoken at a few Endeavour College of Natural Health open days now. Prior to presenting to the prospective students I always get to thinking about all of the things I love about acupuncture and Chinese medicine. This medicine really has been a great lifetime passion of mine. (“Really?” You say.)

So here are the top 10 reasons why I love acupuncture and Chinese medicine:

  1. Diagnosis and treatment are completely individualised. It doesn’t matter if you have osteoarthritis, endometriosis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), in Chinese medicine we are interested in your unique signs and symptoms and we may give you a Chinese medicine diagnosis which is completely different from that of another person with the same disease name but a slightly different presentation. Your treatment will be individualised just for you.
  2. Yin yang cupcake iced solo webThere are no super foods. Or good foods. Or bad foods. Or fad diets. I know that goji berries and shiitake mushrooms are seen as foods of the gods, and soy has a reputation as the fruit of the devil for every single person on the planet (according to nutrition in the media) but in Chinese medicine we just don’t see it that way. All foods have different energetic properties (eg. cooling, heating, move upwards or downwards, drain damp, nourish blood or open the pores) and so they are used to bring your body back into balance when it isn’t already. For example, if it’s hot it needs cooling and if you are carrying excess fluid you need to drain damp. Of course your body’s needs change as you age, with the season and with illness or regaining health. As this happens your diet also needs to change. It’s not black and white. Which is exactly what the taiji (yin yang) symbol represents: there is always some black in the white and vice versa. Be sensible with your eating, strive for balance and pay attention to how foods make you feel.
  3. 5 elementsThere is a strong connection to nature within the medicine. Five element theory is a way of applying the principles of nature to our bodies. It’s based on thousands of years of observation. We can describe and diagnose people’s temperaments and body conditions according to Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. Each element relies upon and is interrelated to the others to keep delicate balance. Just like nature is. For example too much Earth can make us heavy, too much water can create fluid retention and too much fire can make us overheated. It’s a more complex system them this but those are just some simple examples.
  4. It can be an outright treatment, an alternative or a complementary medicine. So we all know that acupuncture alone is sometimes great for sorting out that sore shoulder or helping you sleep better. Other times acupuncture can work very well alongside other western medicine treatment. Some conditions that spring to mind are when we use acupuncture with IVF treatment or alongside chemotherapy which may reduce some of the side effects like nausea. As acupuncture does not involve ingestion of herbs or medicines it is rarely contraindicated with other therapies.
  5. Most people feel relaxed and emotionally ‘like a weight has lifted’ immediately following an acupuncture treatment. Patients often comment that they can fall asleep during an acupuncture treatment when they can’t take afternoon naps at home. It is a relaxing treatment and believe it or not – no the needles don’t really hurt most of the time. In fact relaxation has been described as a side effect of acupuncture in this study.
  6. ear acupuncture modelHaving a knowledge of acupuncture and acupressure is like having a first aid kit with you wherever you go. Symptoms like nausea and headaches can often be relieved if you know the right spots to push. I often take some ‘ear seeds’ with me when I go camping or hiking to manage musculoskeletal pains (these little seeds apply pressure to parts of the ear that correspond to other parts of your body – like acupressure. Anyone who has used a Sea-Band on their wrist for seasickness is doing acupressure – you place the hard bit of the band onto an acupuncture point! Of course, it can’t do everything and it’s always handy to have a regular first aid kit too.
  7. Energy flow is fundamental to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Learning good posture and effective breathing is essential not only to good health but also being a good practitioner. Think of tai chi, Qi gong, yoga and martial arts. We apply these same postural and breathing techniques when inserting needles. But really, you can apply good posture and effective breathing to everything that you do.
  8. The history of Chinese Medicine is decorated with beautiful stories, poetry and artworks to document and share the medicine. An appreciation of the arts is also considered a part of holistic healthcare. I often describe to my fertility or pregnancy patients that one of the acupuncture points is called ‘zigong’ or ‘the palace of the child’. How gorgeous is that? We can incorporate these beautiful descriptions into meditations or visualisations during treatment.
  9. The future of Chinese medicine is bright as we are now seeing higher quality clinical trials to highlight traditional and new uses for our medicines. For example the research using fMRI to understand the effect of acupuncture needling on the brain is fascinating. Check out this BBC documentary for a look at this research. (It’s an hour long but it’s well worth it.)
  10. In Australia we are now a registered profession (just like physiotherapists and dentists). This means that acupuncturists, Chinese herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners now have to comply with AHPRA regulations under the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) including a minimum level of education (bachelor degree) and other professional and ethical standards. So in the interests of public safety and getting the most effective treatment for your condition always seek treatment from a CMBA registered practitioner. (For the record, dry needling is not registered in this way.)

Just a word of warning: nowhere here have I said Chinese medicine is a cure all. I just wanted to highlight the things that Chinese medicine does really well. For information about your own health please speak with a registered Chinese medicine practitioner.

What is it that you love about acupuncture and Chinese medicine? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know.

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.

emotional health, food, health, mental health, motivational, nature

Taking a break

There's nothing like dipping your toes in to the ocean.
There’s nothing like dipping your toes in to the ocean.

I escaped from Brisbane this week just gone and thoroughly enjoyed a refreshing break.

I’ve written several times about why taking a break is important, how I like to relax and why the great outdoors is good for us.

This break started out in Campbelltown, Western Sydney. I’d just finished my Master of Health Science (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Women’s Health workshops for the year. (I’d like to add that these workshops were excellent – we had speakers on the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine for PCOS, IVF support and male infertility.)

This is Nicola Macdonald (the owner of the clinic) and I enjoying breakfast on our last day there:

Nov 14 UWS

I then jumped on a train to the NSW Central Coast to visit my cousin and his partner. And on the day I arrive their ducklings hatched out of their eggs. One of them will be called Sarah. 😉

Nov 14 ducklings
Ducks aren’t very clucky so this hen was happy to lend her services.

This couple are interested in sustainable living. In addition to the ducks, they have a very impressive veggie garden which is helped along by rotating their chooks around the beds. Further down the backyard are the horses. Meals always include a good helping of fresh veggies from the garden. Oh! And I also tried my first duck egg – scrambled with fresh herbs.

The duck pond with just the edge of the veggie garden in the background.
The duck pond with just the edge of the veggie garden in the background.

My next stop was Nelson Bay in Port Stephens. This place is a sleepy little coastal town. My drawcard was that I had read that the scuba diving was up there with some of the best that New South Wales has to offer. We headed out on the boat to Broughton Island. This was my first dive in a while and I was lucky enough to see a Grey Nurse shark at around 2.5-3m. She was a biggie! I also met some lovely new friends on the boat. I’ll be back to Nelson Bay for some shore diving sometime, it is supposed to be spectacular!

Nov 14 Nelson Bay

After these adventures I gradually made my way back up to Brisbane. Relaxed, refreshed and inspired. 🙂

I’m back in the clinic this Thursday and Friday.

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.

Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, health, mental health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

A Chinese medicine guide to living well in Spring

I’m a bit slow on getting my spring living post out this year! Apologies to all of you who have been wondering what to do since the turn of the season, you can now relax with the information contained within this post.

Here’s a little song to get you out of winter and into the spring mood.

In Chinese medicine the season of spring is all about these:

  • Moving from the cold and slowness of winter into a warmer, more energetic state as our Yang Qi predominates.
  • There is an upward energy.
  • The mood picks up, life feels lighter.
  • And there is a need to move more and get active.
  • We need to stretch out and get flexible after the rigidity of winter.
  • Plants are sprouting fresh green shoots.
  • This is the time of the Wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder need care.
  • The wind picks up. This has been particularly noticeable in Brisbane in the afternoons especially earlier in the season.
  • There is more light and longer days giving us a good supply of vitamin D to support our yang Qi. Safe levels of sun exposure depend on where you live and are outlined here.
  • The colour is green in keeping with those fresh sprouts.
  • The flavour is sour which again brings a feeling of lightness and freshness.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.

If you don’t naturally feel this shift to spring or you want to maximise your spring energy to live in harmony with the seasons then here are some tips:

  • Go to bed a little later and wake a little earlier (just like the birds)
  • Get some outdoor exercise (eg. walking or qi gong) and sunlight in the morning before you start the serious stuff in your day.
  • Wear loose clothing and don’t tie your hair back tightly. Let everything flow.
  • Focus on relaxation and flexibility of your mind and body. Now is an excellent time to get into some meditation and/or yoga.
  • Sing, dance or do activities that lighten your mood.
  • Work within your limits so as to enjoy the movement and longer days but not to overtire yourself.
  • Be prepared for changes in the weather, so while most of your summer clothes are coming out, have a spare layer handy to protect yourself from a sneaky cold snap or some breezy conditions.
  • Do a spring clean. Get rid of the clutter and excess that might have been stored away during winter  (or the rest of the year). A spring clean can be in your house, body and/or mind. Make room for the new.
  • Open the windows. Get good ventilation in your space. Get some indoor plants.
  • Focus your attention to being positive, optimistic, open minded, tranquil, happy and friendly.
  • Enjoy nature. Go hiking, camping or anything you enjoy that takes you into the great outdoors.
  • Generally eat fresh, clean and crisp foods that are in season. Some Chinese medicine dietary tips include benefiting the:
    • yang qi through pungent foods (eg. onions, garlic, ginger, paprika, chives, mint and mustard)
    • liver through some sour foods – just enough to make you feel well but no need to over do it. A squeeze of lemon in your water or some natural yogurt can be beneficial.
    • wood element through green coloured foods eg. green tea, green leafy vegetables (kale, broccolini, baby spinach), peas, beans, asparagus, sprouts and celery.
    • Avoid very spicy and fatty foods at this time of year and don’t overdo the sour flavour.

For another post about spring health read here.

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.