acupuncture, fertility, pregnancy

4 things you always wanted to know about acupuncture in pregnancy

Kathleen and I presenting at the Woodford Folk Festival's Blue Lotus stage.
Kathleen and I presenting at the Woodford Folk Festival’s Blue Lotus stage.

So my gorgeous friend and one of Sydney’s finest naturopaths, Kathleen Murphy, asked me some questions last week about the use of acupuncture in pregnancy.

The questions were all about those things you’ve always wondered about:

  • Is acupuncture safe?
  • What can it do?
  • What about those acupuncture inductions?
  • Can it really help a baby to turn into a good position for birth?

Well I’ve answered all these and more… check out my answers here.

And check out Kathleen’s blog too – she shares some fantastic ideas on healthy living. Kathleen consults with patients at a clinic in Double Bay.

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, 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.

acupuncture, fertility, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Can babies and children have acupuncture?

acu child
I saw this little guy in China having acupuncture everyday to improve the strength of his arm. His father controls the strength of the electro-acupuncture stimulation. As you can see he’s not overly bothered by the whole experience.

I’ve treated a lot of pregnant women with acupuncture. Acupuncture is well known (and even supported with some good research now) for a range of infertility and pregnancy related conditions.

But something that most people don’t know is that babies and children can also be treated with acupuncture. Yes, with needles. Very fine ones.

During my studies in China I observed the treatment of many children with acupuncture. In the hands of a well-trained acupuncturist this form of therapy can be beneficial to a child and her parents alike.

But doesn’t it hurt them?

For the most part babies and small children barely even notice the needle going in and rarely show signs of pain.

We use very fine needles on children and usually only up to about six insertions or points, although a ten year old who is comfortable with acupuncture may have more insertions if necessary.

Treatments on children are usually shorter than those on adults. We use a technique called ‘non-retention needling’. This means that we pop the needle in, give it a tiny twiddle and remove it immediately. The treatment time is therefore very short. Older children may have a lie down with the needles still inserted if this is comfortable for them and relevant to improving their treatment outcome.

Here’s what acupuncture looks like on babies:

The biggest factor for keeping children calm during an acupuncture treatment is having a relaxed parent come along to assist with familiarity, comfort and distraction methods. I’m happy to needle children while they are getting cuddles from their parents. We can easily get to the points that we need if we work together as a team.

If a child really does not want to have needles inserted then we can stimulate the acupuncture points with a laser or by applying pressure with massage techniques. There is always a plan B to ensure that the patient is comfortable with treatment.

Does acupuncture hurt for adults anyway? Here’s what I think.

Why would a baby or child get acupuncture?

Children may gain many of the same benefits from acupuncture as adults do. Often children are treated for digestive disorders (eg. colic, chronic diarrhoea or constipation, reflux), respiratory conditions (eg. coughs, recurrent colds, phlegmy chests) and symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness and poor concentration.

To ensure the best outcome for your child sometimes I may vary a child’s (or breastfeeding mum’s) diet, lifestyle or prescribe herbs or supplements in addition to the acupuncture if necessary.

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.

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.

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, health, herbal medicine

Get your free Herbs, Health & Acupressure ebook

ebook cover HHAThe fabulous naturopath Kathleen Murphy and I co-authored a little gem of an e-book a short while ago. It followed on from a presentation that we gave at the packed Blue Lotus tent at the Woodford Folk Festival.

We wanted to teach some simple self care techniques we often talk about in our clinics for these common health complaints:

  • Digestive disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Pain

Kathleen covered the easy homemade herbal remedies and I taught some simple acupressure techniques.

To thank you for following or subscribing to my blog (you can subscribe using the link on the right side of the page) I wanted to offer you a free copy of the e-book: “An introduction to health, herbs & acupressure: simple tips and home remedies for good health.”

Click here to download the ebook – herbs health acupressure 2013 for free!

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.

fertility, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Listening, thinking and talking about mothers and babies

capers cam 15 mayThe last few weeks have been crammed with several great professional education seminars.

Of note, was the Womens Health Conference held on 20th April 2013. I was privileged to spend the day in the company of a roomful of general practitioners (GPs) as we all learnt from obstetricians, paedatricians, gynaecologists and fertility specialists on topics including:

  • Childbirth and the pelvic floor
  • Prolapse and stress incontinence
  • The role of counselling in infertility
  • Tumour markers
  • Menorrhagia and dysmenorrhoea
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH)
  • Obesity and pregnancy

This also included several question and answer sessions in small groups with the specialists.  Here is where we got to ask all of those burning questions we store up from practice.  It was a valuable day of adding to my knowledge of obstetrics and gynaecology from a western medical viewpoint.

And next month on Wednesday 15th May, I am excited to say I get to share my Traditional Chinese Medicine knowledge on some of these topics (including acupressure techniques for birth) at the Capers Bookstore Complementary & Alternative Medicine in Pregnancy, Birth & the Early Postnatal Period.  This is a seminar attached to the The Passage to Motherhood Conference that is targeted to midwives , obstetricians, paediatricians, general practitioners, lactation consultants, therapists, nurses, childbirth educators, physiotherapists and doulas.  I’ll be speaking among  brilliant professionals in the obstetrics and birth world including Michel Odent, Thomas Hale, Michael Woolridge, Catherine Watson Genna, Allison Barrett, Sarah Buckley and Rachel Reed. Here is the program. It looks amazing and I’m so pleased to be invited to speak at this great conference again.

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.