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.

Diet, food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Warming, curried butter bean and vegetable soup for chilly nights

curried soupWhoa Brisbane! What’s with the suddenly freezing nights and mornings? I thought we were done with the chilly temperatures. (NB. Yes, I am soft. I live in Brisbane and anything below 10ºC is unbearably cold to me! And here is how I use spices to cope and here are some general ideas for staying warm.)

To survive winter’s last hurrah in the form of this recent cold snap I made this delightfully fragrant and delicious soup.

The root vegetables, beans and spices gently warm and nourish the body and digestive system (Spleen and Stomach) and boost energy according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Even the yellowy colour of the soup supports these organs and their corresponding Earth element.

Curried butter bean and vegetable soup

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 3 cups pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower, diced
  • 1 cup of cooked butter beans (or 400g canned)
  • 1 1/4 litre vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • handful of green beans, sliced
  • coriander, chopped, to garnish

Method:

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Fry onion, garlic, carrot, cumin seeds and mustard seeds until browned and crackling.
  2. Add turmeric and curry powders.  Fry for a minute.
  3. Add potato, pumpkin, cauliflower, butter beans, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  4. Allow soup to cool a little, add half of soup to food processor and blend.
  5. Return blended soup to the pot. Add green beans stir over heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls topped with coriander.

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, emotional health, herbal medicine, mental health

Three herbs a Jedi Knight may be prescribed to develop the Force within.

In conjunction with herbal medicine, meditation and training, slow cooked soups and congee would help to maintain a Jedi Knight’s strength.

Someone once suggested on my facebook page that I should write a blog combining herbal medicine and Star Wars.

GEEK ALERT! (Although, if you read between the lines this post may also be useful for regular civilians just like us.)

So the proposed topic was this:

“Which three herbs would Jedi Knights use to grow, develop and manage the Force within?”

I imagine that the scenario would go like this. A Jedi Knight has come for a consultation with me at my clinic. He or she is in need of:

  • increased physical energy (to keep up with extensive light saber dual training),
  • good mental clarity (for maintaining peace and justice in the galaxy), and
  • to be able to keep one’s cool in stressful dispute and battle-style scenarios involving moral and ethical dilemmas. And to definitely not give in to anger.

Sounds familiar to what we all need to prosper in a busy, modern life doesn’t it?

The herbs that immediately spring to mind for this patient are:

  • Siberian ginseng – this herb is one of the physical endurance greats! One study showed that it could enhance  endurance by 23% and that participants could tolerate a greater cardiac requirement during exercise when compared with placebo.
  • Ginkgo biloba – the extract of the leaf of the gingko tree has been associated with improved cognitive function.  Memory response times were improved in this study of middle aged women after taking ginkgo biloba in this study.
  • Kava – when extracted in water, this herb is excellent for reducing stress and anxiety. Interestingly, a systematic review found that kava taken at regular doses also either improves cognition or at least has minimal negative effect. So, that means our Jedi is relaxed without compromising performance.

Of course, the actual herbs I would prescribe for the Jedi Knight would be based on their individual health history and may differ from the above. I’m sure that a Jedi Knight would also make use of acupuncture for the above treatment goals and to aid injury repair.

This post is for a bit of fun but don’t forget that herbs are still medicines. And they should be treated with the same respect as any other medicines in regards to safety and dosing. For best results, see a practitioner for an individualised herbal formula that bests suits your needs.

If you need a Star Wars related tasty treat now, here’s a recipe for darkside decadence: the gluten-free biscuit.

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, exercise, mental health, motivational, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The case of the stuck Liver

You wake up, slowly, you’ve already pressed snooze twelve times and still aren’t ready to face the day despite getting a good eight hours sleep. But the day cannot be delayed any further and so after a coffee and a hot shower you’re beginning to lose the grumbles and may actually be able to hold a civil conversation with another human being.

At work, you can’t believe how everyone else is wrong and can’t see how right you are. And on top of that technology is failing and it’s all just so damn FRUSTRATING, you could cry or maybe tear someone’s head off, or maybe both at the same time.

You’ve partially lost your appetite, except for chocolate, coffee and chips which temporarily provide comfort after skipping meals. Trouble is, when you do eat you either get nausea, bloating or some sort of bowel irregularity. You’re also feeling stiff and tight (your neck and shoulders have become a solid block), there’s the feeling of a lump in your throat and you can’t remember the last time you took a decent deep breath although you have done a helluva lot of sighing lately. And this is all made worse the more frustrated and irritated you get (and if you are a lady of reproductive age, just prior to your monthlies). At least you know there’ s a glass of wine/scotch/beer waiting for you at home. You wonder how you got stuck in this mess anyway: the job, the house, the relationship, the debt. Yep, stuck. And tired. And down. That sums it up.

Perhaps it looks a bit like this classic example of frustration:

Welcome to a classical (and slightly over-the-top) presentation of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pattern of Liver Qi Stagnation.  It is a remarkably common syndrome in the modern world and I see a range of these symptoms presenting in patients. You can have one, some or all of these symptoms to be given this TCM diagnosis.

So, what can be done to return you back to your old easy-going self? You can choose one or more of the suggestions below. Addressing the emotional cause is essential to a longer term fix, however the other suggestions can support you through this and make you feel better.

  1. Address the cause of your ‘stuckness’.  If something or someone is bothering you, work it out.  Whether this is through discussion, a new plan or seeing a counselor – find a way to move past or remove your obstacle mentally. The idea is to express yourself and not to bottle everything up. Your aim is to be a ‘free and easy wanderer’ or like a gently bubbling stream meandering through the path of least resistance.
  2. Move your body. Exercise is an excellent way to physically move your stuckness (or stagnant Qi/energy). It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you are physically moving and feeling better for it. A mix of cardiovascular exercise (think runner’s high) and stretching (enhance flexibility of body and mind) might be most useful.
  3. Breath deeply. When we are frustrated or angry our breathing becomes fast and shallow. In an effort to get a decent breath out, we often sigh. Take the time to assess your own breathing and if necessary slow the rate down and fill your chest with air right down to your diaphragm. There is research to support that 15 minutes of deep breathing exercises at a rate of <10 breaths per minute with slower exhalations may even have an effect on lowering blood pressure (if it’s high).
  4. Laugh. Laughter, like exercise, physically moves your body. It also promotes a happy feeling and while you are laughing it’s hard to obsess over your frustrations. So go and support your local stand up comedy venue or put on your favourite laugh-out-loud comedy series. Or better still, spend some time with someone you know who makes you giggle – some people just have that knack.
  5. Be creative. Get those creative juices flowing – and the key word here is flowing. Express yourself. Even learn a new creative skill. Whether this is through visual art or writing, starting a crafty project, picking up your guitar or singing your heart out, it will help to coerce that stuck Qi along.
  6. Spice up your life. Okay, this doesn’t come back to the singing point again, what I mean here is to liven up your meals with some light, fragrant and pungent foods – in moderation. Think garlic, onions, ginger, chilli and fresh herbs to boost your circulation.  Of course, eating a diet based on whole foods which are tasty and nutritious will add to your sense of wellbeing.
  7. Take a break. Get away and have a change of scenery and routine for a fresh perspective. Here’s more ways a break can help.
  8. Release the pressure gauge with a treatment. Acupuncture is an excellent way to help you through stuck times. This treatment is excellent for an almost instant feeling of relaxation. Often when you know what have to do but lack the motivation to do them an acupuncture treatment and a few herbs can give you the kick you need to ‘get the ball rolling’.

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, exercise, health, martial arts

Karate: unlock the free flow of Ki

Believe it or not, traditional karate (such as Goju Karate Australia) has a lot in common with acupuncture. Each places great importance on the breath, focus/intent and flow of Qi (or Ki or vital force). They are considered both an art form and a science, being constantly questioned, refined and developed by the practitioner and their peers and mentors.

Even the acupuncture points and meridians are used in karate.  The acupoints and channels influence the flow of qi in the body, depending on how they are stimulated determines the result of their use.  In acupuncture, the acupoints are carefully selected and manipulated for their healing influence, in karate they become strike points or reflect body positioning and movement.

I find that practising karate improves my acupuncture through experience with energy flow (e.g. posture and breathing) and that knowledge of acupuncture points and channels benefits my karate. That’s why I love immersing myself in both!

Practitioners of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Aikido and other traditional martial arts all experiment with utilising this flow of Qi or Ki in their training but also in other aspects of their lives.

How do you unlock your Qi, Ki or Life Force?

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, exercise, food, health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Spring into good health!

Finally! It’s September and spring is here. You can feel it in the air – the sun feels warmer, the days are longer and even the water dragons have emerged from hibernation to sunbake around Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point cliffs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes the change of season and its effect on your health quite seriously. We see the transition to be a time when your energy is shifting and if it is not managed well, can make you more susceptable to ill-health and picking up allergies, colds and flus, and generally not feeling at your tip-top best.

So in spring, like the water dragons, we emerge from the cold of winter.  Many of us find winter the hardest time to get motivated and active.  This is because it is natural for us to want to stay indoors wearing our ugg boots and eating casseroles to stay warm during the cold weather.  Cold contracts and has an inward nature, reflected in our winter behaviour.

But as the season changes, spring arrives and so the Yang, the aspect of our body that warms and gives us energy, rises letting us know that it’s time to get moving.  Like a seed that is sprouting we too need some sunshine (think of it as a vitamin D hit) and a clean environment with fresh air (hence the term ‘spring’ clean) to be invigorated.  Add to that some exercise and some lighter foods (think stir frys with lots of fresh seasonal vegetables).  You can even take the spring clean further and do a short detoxification diet. Spring is the best time of year for this and it may help you to shed a few extra kilos you added to keep you warm over the winter.

Spring is a great time to shift your exercise program outdoors.  Think about walking, hiking, jogging, cycling (here’s a great website for finding safe cycling routes around Brisbane), canoeing or even personal training in a park.  Research has shown that exercising outdoors and in amongst greenery is good for our mental health too.

A word of caution for spring, whilst the weather is warmer, the summer has not arrived yet, so be prepared with clothing to protect you from drafts or cold winds that may still be lurking around.

And by following this advice you should be radiant and full of vitality for enjoying the delights of 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.