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

Do you know these herbs and spices?

Sri Lanka AHG cardamom tea
Cardamom black tea

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

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

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

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

Aren’t they gorgeous?

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

Isabell Shipard 5 element herbs

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

acupuncture, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

What is acupuncture college like in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka Acu college noticeboardOne major reason for my trip to Sri Lanka was to visit the Sir Anton Jayasuriya International Centre of Acupuncture. I have good friends who have studied there, under the direction of the late Sir Anton Jayasuriya, and there are students from my college who would like to do a study trip here.

I was lucky to be put in touch with Dr Amila, a lecturer at the college. She showed me around the college so I could see their classrooms and the students treating their patients.

The college clinic has a lovely, breezy feel to it (which is rare in steamy Colombo). The patients are people in need so treatment is paid for by donation. Patients are treated for a range of chronic illnesses and pain-related conditions however the college also offers cosmetic acupuncture treatments. Interestingly, while acupuncture is the primary treatment method here, Chinese herbs are replaced with Ayurvedic herbs. Herbal medicines may be prescribed but prescriptions are filled by independent herbal dispensaries. The college accepts students from overseas to do study programs and train in their clinics. It’s always interesting to see how other acupuncture colleges operate and meet my international colleagues. (Here’s a college I visited in Japan).

I’m really grateful to Dr Amila, the staff and students for taking the time to introduce me to their college. I’d love to visit again. It is obvious that this college and its clinic helps a lot of people through acupuncture treatment.

Here are some photos from my visit to the college:

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

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

Learning about Ayurveda in the healing heart of Sri Lanka

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

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

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

Each day at Dalmanuta Gardens goes something like this:

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

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

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

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.