acupuncture, Diet, food, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Traditional Chinese Medicine word on GORD

yinyangfoodsLast semester I researched gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) for my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) masters program. Here’s a summary:

What causes GORD?

GORD affects around 25% of the adult population on a regular basis. The disease is characterised by heartburn and gastric acid reflux. Standard care for GORD includes medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and prokinetic drugs although their success rate is relative to the cause of the individual’s condition and these medications are often associated with complications from long term use.

GORD has been linked to a variety of genetic, dietary and lifestyle factors. An Iranian study identified that GORD was significantly more likely to occur in individuals who had:

  • a higher pickle consumption
  • psychological distress
  • dyspepsia
  • halitosis
  • nightmares
  • restlessness
  • took aspirin
  • a family history of GORD.
  • smoking caused an increase in the prevalence of GORD however this was not significant (p=0.055).
  • Other studies have shown that a high body mass index (BMI) can increase the risk of GORD.

Factors that significantly decreased an individual’s risk of GORD included having a higher fruit and vegetable (fibre) intake and interestingly, a higher fried food intake.

Descending the rebellious ‘reflux’ Qi

TCM places particular importance on eating meals at regular times, in moderate quantities and at a relaxed pace so as not to disturb the downward flow through organs of the digestive system, particularly the Stomach.

In TCM, it is the Stomach that is the first organ to receive the food to be digested. It is known as ‘the origin of fluids’ and is said to prefer foods which are moist to assist in the lubrication of the digestive system and a general function of providing moisture for the body. The energy (or Qi) that is extracted from the food strengthens the whole body but is particularly reflected in the limbs. The process of worrying or overthinking while eating will stagnate or drain the energy of the digestive system, disrupting good digestive processes.

Primarily GORD is classified as a disorder of the descending function of the Stomach Qi resulting in Rebellious Qi. The rebellious Qi moves in an upward direction causing the characteristic burning sensation in the epigastrium and acid regurgitation. There are various reasons why your gastric acid may move upwards rather than staying in your Stomach where it belongs.

How to put out the fire of heart burn

Discuss your condition with your practitioner. They will be able to assess your individual condition and offer an individualised treatment plan which may include:

  • Acupuncture: Several acupuncture studies have shown promising results and some acupuncture points have been studied to identify a mechanism of action for GORD treatment. Acupuncture has been shown to increase the effectiveness of PPIs when used concurrently in the treatment of GORD.
  • Herbal medicine: TCM and Kampo herbal formulae may offer relief for GORD. Meadowsweet and slippery elm powder are often the western herbalist’s herbs of choice for GORD.
  • Reduce your risk factors: decrease pickles in the diet, address psychological stress and dyspepsia, discuss your aspirin use with your doctor, stop smoking and maintain a healthy BMI. Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • Mindful eating: eat regular meals in a relaxed manner until you are about 80% full.
  • Relaxation: Find ways to eliminate the causes of stress (where you can) in your life and learn to ways to unwind. This may include meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture or seeking psychological counselling.

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.

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.

acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Even your pet can benefit from acupuncture

dog acupunctureI spent today with a gorgeous friend, her incredibly clever and kind seven-year old daughter and their adorable devon rex cat.

Miss Seven was over the moon to be able to demonstrate her new vet kit to me.  The vet kit was a little basket of goodies she had put together to treat her animals. It included freshly pressed basil oil, some raw ginger, eucalyptus leaves, a sewing pin and her own written notes on pet medicine.

We started by treated the toy dog. He had a sore back and irritated eyes. With our combination of herbal rubs and sewing pin acupuncture we cured him.

But you know, pets (of the living, breathing variety) really can benefit from complementary medicines just as well as people can. Acupuncture, acupressure, herbal medicine, nutritional medicine (such as omega 3 fatty acids), homeopathics and aromatherapy can work a treat for our furry friends for their physical and mental ailments. Some good vets include these therapies in their practice – it’s always worth asking about.

Today’s work with the seven-year old complementary medicine veterinary doctor reminded me of this fabulous video showcasing the effect of acupuncture on the most adorable little pug puppy who suffered with paralysis from a car accident. Her recovery is remarkable.

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, exercise, food, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Drying the damp: feeling well in humid climates

This week in Brisbane the heat and humidity have picked up and it’s no surprise that summer is just around the corner.

Humidity has a tendency to make many of us feel:

  • Heavy
  • Lethargic
  • Fluidy
  • Sweaty and sticky (a skin nightmare!) – use this scrub recipe
  • Unmotivated
  • Irritable or melancholy
  • Foggy headed
  • Not hungry, and yet still craving comfort foods and drinks
  • Nauseous and/or prone to loose bowels

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we refer to this syndrome as ‘dampness’.  That is, humidity from the environment, our lifestyle and diet has accumulated in our body and become stagnant, making us feel… bleh.

So, if this sounds like you in humid weather, what can be done?

  1. Keep moving – keep up the exercise even when you feel heavy and unmotivated, it will help you feel better.  Don’t sit for too long, get up regularly.
  2. Stay dry – don’t sit around in sweaty clothes or wet swimsuits.  Towel off properly and get changed.  Also be aware of your living, working and playing environments – are they well ventilated and dry?
  3. Keep up your fluids – it may sound counterproductive to drink more water (2-3L) but we need to promote urination to pass the excess fluid from your system.  That is, clean fluids going in so we can wash away the stagnant ones.
  4. Eat small meals, regularly, and make your lightest meal in the evening.  Don’t overeat.
  5. Reduce sweet, oily, rich and dairy foods – An icy soft drink, creamy gelati or fresh mango may seem like just the treat to give you a refreshing pick up but it will probably have the opposite effect, making you feel heavier and more lethargic than you were before.  Steer clear of  soft drinks, fruit juices, milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream, excessive high-sugar tropical fruits (eg. mangoes and bananas), fatty meats and greasy fried foods.  Before you get upset that I have taken your mango away (because let’s face it, they are delicious), a slice or two after a meal with a slice or two of pawpaw or pineapple is fine for aiding your digestion, we just shouldn’t go crazy on them.  While we are at it, an excessive intake of grains (eg. pasta dishes) will add to the damp feeling.
  6. Eat more light, bitter and pungent foods – these are what you can eat and will help your body reduce excessive fluids that are being held.  Make sure to eat small, light meals that include some ginger, garlic, onions, chili, caraway seeds, aduki (red beans) beans, mung beans, bitter leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, celery and rye (if gluten is ok). A squeeze of lemon or lime in your food and water will be refreshing. Diuretic teas – nettle leaf,  dandelion, corn silk (here is a recipe on how to make it) and green teas are useful – drink them like they are water.  Barley water can also make for a refreshing diuretic drink, although not for the  gluten intolerant.
  7. Herbs and acupuncture – if the humidity is still knocking you around and the thought of doing anything on this list is beyond you, get some professional help from a herbalist or acupuncturist.  They will choose the right herbs (often bitters) and acupoints to kickstart moving the dampness so that you can then get back on track with the lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

If it’s more the heat than the humidity that is getting to you – here’s some ideas to help you feel cooler.

Eating a diet to resolve dampness isn’t fun.  But neither is feeling heavy, lethargic and unmotivated.  So, do what you can, keep moving and if you can make even just a few of the dietary recommendations you should feel lighter and brighter to enjoy this summer.

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, emotional health, herbal medicine, mental health, motivational, Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to stress-less: create happy habits

Stress is something that we all encounter on a daily basis.  There is good stress (eustress) that promotes us to grow and change and bad stress (distress) which is counterproductive and wears us down in the long-term.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is not so concerned with ‘stress’ as such, but more about exactly how it affects you.  Does it involve:

  • Busy, anxious mind (maybe panic attacks) with disrupted sleep?
  • Dwelling on thoughts, obsessing and then loss of appetite or change in bowel function?  Often accompanied by bingeing on sweet foods.
  • Sadness and grief.  Perhaps a decline in your immune function as you pick up every bug going around.
  • Fearful of the future.  Often this type of stress is centered around job loss, financial concerns or fertility problems.  This stress can trigger intense fatigue, premature ageing and reproductive disorders.
  • Frustration and feeling stuck in a situation.  Your stress goes straight to your neck and shoulders, with the tension resulting in headaches and grumpiness.

Your exact type of stress helps us to discern an appropriate treatment for you, and each of these types of stress will have considerably different treatment plans.

So what can you do to manage stress – here’s a general stress buster plan:

  • Get good sleep – if you don’t already sleep well, get help to make this happen
  • Eat a healthy diet – no processed or high sugar foods, focus on whole foods (colourful vegies, good quality protein, good fats and whole grains)
  • Exercise – it’s an excellent stress buster – do a form of exercise that you like.  Where possible do it in a green space (outside in nature) – studies show it will make you happier.  By just adding exercise to your routine, you’ll find you’ll automatically improve other factors in your life, so it’s a nice place to start.
  • Lose bad habits – quit smoking and recreational drugs, quit or at least reduce alcohol consumption (if you don’t know what the healthy range is click here).
  • Find pleasure daily – do something that you really enjoy every day.  This can be a creative pursuit (e.g. dancing, dreaming, painting, writing, baking, playing or appreciating music) or other nice things (e.g. massage, acupuncture, take a bath, give yourself a facial, inhale your favourite essential oil, give someone a hug, laugh, cook for someone).
  • Enhance your relationships – a support network is your safety net and your source of giving and receiving which has shown to add to your happiness.  Actively develop your relationships with family, friends and/or people within your community.
  • Meditation – People who meditate as little as twice per week have been shown to have a better state of mental health than the general population.  Find a teacher, read a book, find a site on the net like this  or this, get a CD or download an app – but whatever you do, get started on reducing your mind chatter now.  In fact why not meditate in one moment like this:

A study on acupuncture side effects discovered that major side effects were extremely uncommon from the therapy but one of the most common ‘minor’ side effects was relaxation!

Herbal medicine also has a lot to offer people who are stressed.  It’s best to see a herbalist who can make up an individualised formula for you that can help to shift the way you deal with stress.  Some herbal medicines interact with medications so getting professional advice is recommended.

If you are really not coping and need help immediately then please contact Lifeline.

So, if you need some additional stress management help, you know what to do, pick one of the above mentioned tips and start now – seize the moment and release that pressure valve!

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, fertility, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Improving sperm quality with acupuncture

“Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great”, proclaimed the great Monty Python, but in the interest of fertilising a woman’s egg, are all sperm great and if not, should they be?

Firstly, no, not all sperm are great.  An increasing number of men are demonstrating sperm analysis results that indicate a natural conception with their partner is either unlikely or almost impossible.  Male infertility accounts for around 30% of infertility in couples, with around 50-60%  of infertile couples experiencing a degree of subfertility with both partners.

Male fertility cannot be ignored.  And, it is not limited to only sperm quality.  Varicocele, cysts, infections, hormone imbalance, genetic disorders and erectile problems can also play a part.  These can be investigated with a physical examination, sperm analysis and blood test.

But back to the sperm, which is the most common area for problems in male fertility.  Sperm need to be motile (their swimming power) to find and fertilise the egg, there needs to be enough of them to statistically survive the ‘hostile’ environment on the way to fertilising the egg (many also get lost along the way), they need to have healthy DNA in their heads and they need to be formed correctly in order to fertilise the egg and provide healthy genetic information for the formation of the new life.  Recurrent miscarriages, which used to be pinned solely on the female partner, are now known to often be due to DNA fragmentation in the sperm.

So, should all sperm be great?  No, again.  They just aren’t designed that way.  If a man is ejaculating every 1-3 days his semen analysis to achieve a natural conception, (providing his female partner is also in good fertility health), should look more like this:

  • Volume (ml): 3.7
  • Count (106/ml): 64
  • Total motility (%): 61
  • Morphology (%): 15

These figures are based on the semen analysis results from a WHO report averaging the results of over 1700 men whose female partners became pregnant within a 12 month period. This is a good indication of the minimum levels that any man wishing to conceive should be aiming for, after all, you want to conceive easily, have a viable pregnancy, with a live birth and a healthy baby.

Note: these values are higher than the standard reference ranges on a sperm analysis.  This is because we are interested in a healthy, natural conception. The reference ranges used for the sperm analysis refer to sperm parameters that show the sperm are suitable to be used for ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), an assisted reproductive technique where a sperm that looks healthy is taken from the ejaculate (usually with sperm of low quality and count) and injected into an egg rather than fertilisation occuring naturally.

So, if you are staring at your (or your partner’s) semen analysis and it doesn’t look up to scratch, what can be done?  See your general practitioner or fertility specialist, perhaps additional testing is needed (e.g. repeat semen analysis or blood testing).  If no cause is found, many men are encouraged to use ICSI (described earlier) to produce a pregnancy as no other medical option exists to address the health of the sperm.

Here’s the good news. There is another way. For unexplained male infertility and low sperm parameters, natural medicine has some modalities that may help.  Given spermatogenesis (the process of making sperm) occurs in a period of around 3 months, your minimum treatment time should be three months.

Firstly, your practitioner will recommend some lifestyle advice which should include:

  • Do not overheat the scrotum (this means no computers on the lap, phones in pockets, tight underwear, excessive overheating exercise or spa/sauna use and limiting the amount of hours spent consecutively on a bicycle – whether stationary, push or motor).
  • Maintain a healthy weight – studies have shown men with a body mass index that is either too high or too low affects their sperm.
  • Avoid or at least limit alcohol.  This may be hard, but the results will be worth it.
  • Don’t smoke. No butts about it.  And that goes for marijuana and other recreational drugs too).
  • Include walnuts (handful per day), oily fish (salmon and sardines), zinc rich foods (oysters, lean meat, nuts, greens and pumpkin seeds) and of course your vitamin C and antioxidant rich 5 serves of brightly coloured vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day.  Plus get your two litres of water each day to keep your body hydrated and the water works working.

Through a consultation with you, your practitioner will also ascertain any other areas of your health that are under par that may be affecting your fertility and then make recommendations to resolve them.  This may include additional dietary and other lifestyle recommendations.

Acupuncture has been the focus of some male infertility studies in recent years and has shown promising results in the areas of sperm count, morphology, motility and fertilisation rate.  In practice, we often see significant changes to a man’s semen analysis following treatment.

And just because you are wondering (and I know that you are), we don’t stick any needles in the man’s bits.  So you can relax.  In fact, acupuncture treatment is relaxing.  To get optimal results, acupuncture treatment should be as frequent as 1-2 times per week, for three months.

Nutritional medicine and herbal medicine also have plenty to offer men with low sperm parameters.  These will often be selected to suit each man’s individual health profile to enhance the effect of their acupuncture.

A Danish study showed that a man’s sperm analysis was indicative of his overall health and longevity.  So, with acupuncture, natural medicine and some dietary/lifestyle tweaks, not only may your fertility get a boost but so too may your overall vitality.  Win, win!

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, herbal medicine, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Nourishing the blood with TCM and whole foods

Blood deficiency (xue xu) is a diagnostic term we use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for someone who is showing signs and symptoms of inadequate nourishment of the blood to the body. It is not uncommon for the women I see for pre-conception care, fertility treatment and pregnancy support to have an element of blood deficiency as part of their diagnosis.  Although, blood deficiency is not limited to women in their reproductive years and can also be present in men.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • lightheaded
  • poor memory
  • mild anxiety
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • pale (face, lips, tongue, nails, eyelids)
  • weak nails
  • hair loss or premature greying
  • low energy
  • blurred vision or floaters in the vision
  • dry eyes, skin and hair
  • tics, tremors and numbness
  • women: light or absent periods (maybe after a history of heavy periods)

A lot of these symptoms are consistent with those of iron deficiency anaemia.  TCM blood deficiency is more than iron deficiency however.  It does describe a condition involving a lack of protein building blocks, vitamin B12, folic acid and other nutrients, but more so, blood deficiency, in its TCM sense, is to do with the whole substance that is blood – that is, there is not enough good quality blood in its entirety to nourish the body.

To correct a blood deficiency, we look for possible causes of the blood deficiency.  The three most common are:

  • excessive bleeding (often menstrual, but not limited to this)
  • poor digestive function (not absorbing nutrients)
  • poor diet which is lacking in nutrition (nothing worth absorbing)

Acupuncture alone cannot nourish the blood but it can improve digestive function to enhance absorption.  Blood is a substance and we need good foods ingested so that we have the building blocks to be absorbed by the body to manufacture it well.  The two best ways to build and nourish blood are:

  • Diet: Plant sources include dark green (purple/red) leafy vegetables, seaweeds, spirulina, sprouts, legumes and whole grains. Richly coloured foods (often red) are valued for building the blood including goji berries (Chinese wolf berries), dried apricots, dark grapes, blackberries, raspberries and black strap molasses.  Additionally, animal sources include organic meat, eggs and liver (although it is not healthy to exceed 300g/week in the long-term) and soups based on meat bone broth. Support your digestive system with lightly cooked and warm foods and add some spices to aid digestion such as ginger, cumin, fennel and cardamom.
  • Herbs & supplements:  To nourish the blood more efficiently an herbal formula may be developed for your individual situation.  This may include herbs such as dong quai (dang gui), rehmannia, withania and nettle leaf.  Supplements may include iron, vitamin B12, folic acid and to enhance iron absorption vitamin C may be also taken.

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, emotional health, mental health, motivational

The happiness web: how to get in it.

As many of you know, I have an interest in the area of positive psychology which focuses on promoting everyday happiness and resilience to survive and grow from the challenging times that life may throw at us.   That is, how you or I manage our journey through this life for the better – changing attitudes, beliefs and values to maximise on our strengths and treasures (whether they be material, mental and spiritual).

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition and exercise all play a role in enhancing the enjoyment of life. They can be the kick-start when you feel as though life is tough and can’t muster the strength to turn the ship around yourself.  Check out these excellent natural tips from my wonderful naturopath colleague, Kathleen Murphy.

I have used these therapies to excellent effect in many patients (improving sleep and getting moderate exercise also forms part of treatment).  But this is not the whole answer (and that also goes for medications or forms of self-treatment including drugs, alcohol, food and sex too).  A shift in the way you see, feel and think about your everyday life is essential for a significant shift in your emotional health.  Counseling and psychotherapy are most useful for a one on one mental/emotional health analysis and to develop a program to make necessary change.

There are also many excellent online resources (not to replace counseling when needed, but rather to enhance it) to which I often refer my patients for inspiration and motivation in conjunction with their acupuncture, herbs and lifestyle modifications.  Here are my happiness web picks:

  • This is a War: This site has a collection of inspirational resources for people of all ages and spiritual beliefs for mental and emotional self-help.  In particular, this site focuses on lighting the way in tough times including grief, suicide and depression, however, there is something for everyone here (including some Monty Python scenes for a good laugh).
  • The Happiness Institute: I was lucky enough to see Dr Timothy Sharp (aka Dr Happy), who specialises in positive psychology, speak at the Woodford Folk Festival one new year’s eve.  He outlines simple, easy to follow strategies to make changes to the way we perceive events and situations in our lives.  He has an excellent free resource page on his website and a free newsletter which is emailed out on (manic) Mondays.
  • The Chopra Center: Deepak Chopra has an excellent meditation resource component to The Chopra Center website.  Here you will find information about meditation, books, cds and they run a free 21-day meditation challenge several times per year.  You can subscribe to their free newsletter.
  • Ordinary Courage: Brene Brown is a social work researcher.  She specialises in exploring and teaching shame resilience strategies, a key component to improving self esteem.  Her blog has a steady stream of inspirational and positive ideas to use in daily life.  You may have seen her TED video – ‘you are enough’ (but if you haven’t – click here.

If you are not coping and need mental health support immediately please contact Lifeline.

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, exercise, herbal medicine

The healing arts of the samurai

I have recently returned from my first (of many, I hope) trip to Japan.  It was my passion for karate that enticed me to visit this country, however I was fortunate to encounter some traditional medicine as I was taking a break from training in the dojo.

We visited the preserved samurai village, Kakunodate.  Here we were guided around one of the most impressive old samurai houses.  The house belongs to the Ishiguru family.  During the time of the samurai, this family obtained the first edition of Japan’s first anatomical text.  The family studied and practiced herbal medicine and acupuncture to treat illness and recover from injury.  The museum displayed their acupuncture needles, herbal medicine preparation tools and medicinal texts.

On returning to Tokyo, I had the opportunity to visit the Nihondo Kampo College.  Kampo is medicine system predominantly focussed on herbs.  It has its basis in Traditional Chinese Medicine but has been adapted by the Japanese to become a unique style of medicine.  Kampo medicines are part of Japan’s national health system.  The Nihondo Kampo college included a small but beautiful herbal medicine museum and many Five Element Theory displays.  (I’ll discuss some of these theories in future blogs.)  Their little shop sold medicinal herbal teas and soup stocks.  I could observe the student practitioners (in their white clinic coats just like in Australia) consulting with their patients and herbal medicines being prepared in their immaculate dispensary.  The college also boasted a vegetarian restaurant with meals cooked for the health of the patient.  Needless to say I was in my element!

These were just two highlights from my trip to Japan.  I look very forward to visiting this wonderful country 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.