motivational, Traditional Chinese Medicine

2013: what can The Wellness Ninja do for you?

Wowzers!  While seeing patients today I’ve realised we are well on the way towards the end of January and I’ve been so busy in the clinic that I have been neglecting The Wellness Ninja updates. Apologies!

The Capricorn in me is trying to manage the situation with a level of careful thought and organisation right now starting with some reflection and planning for the future – which has involved a carefully written list that may be further developed into a very nerdy excel spreadsheet!

Many of us are also taking this approach to optimising various aspects of our lives with the new year (eg. health, finance, relationships, fun and relaxation).  I’ve seen many patients this month wanting to start detox and weight loss programs, and others who are motivated to tackle old injuries and chronic health problems. However,  if you feel as though you have missed the new year bandwagon, never fear, there’s always  the Chinese New Year in just a few weeks – another new beginning and fresh start!

So, on reflection, I thought I’d share a few of the posts that have been most popular since I started this little blog a few years ago:

  1. Bruise remedies for martial artists, athletes and the accident prone
  2. The acupuncturist and the broken heart
  3. Summer skin treat – the DIY salt scrub
  4. Scuba diving: extreme relaxation
  5. The natural medicine guide to surviving the Kokoda Challenge ( or other 100km hike)
  6. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): can natural medicine help?
  7. Karate: unlock the free flow of Ki
  8. Darkside decadence: the gluten-free biscuit
  9. A treat to settle a sick tummy
  10. How to have breakfast like an emperor (or empress) everyday

I have had a few requests for some blogs on topics such as:

  • What would be the top three herbs a Jedi Knight would take?
  • How does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view different types of alcohol beverages? (After all, medicinal wines are a TCM treatment method.)

Have you got a burning health question you think The Wellness Ninja needs to tackle?  Let me know!

This year will be jam packed with some excellent seminars and of course further Traditional Chinese Medicine masters study at UWS. Fertility, digestion and paediatrics are all on the schedule, and yes, you’ll be reading all about it.  So stay tuned for a wealth of interesting bits and bobs on health, natural beauty, fitness and martial arts.

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.

 

exercise, fertility, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Yin and Yang of Yoga

A very great friend of mine and fellow Ashtanga yoga devotee recommended Chandra Krama:  The Moon Sequence DVD by Matthew Sweeney to me. And I have to say that I absolutely love it.

The sequence is similar in style to traditional Ashtanga practice – it begins with a salutations-type routine, flows between postures with the breath and draws on many familiar postures.  However, The Moon Sequence is different. It’s all about Yin (softer, quieter, slower and more grounded). The emphasis is on not pushing yourself too hard (although the DVD is still quite physically challenging) and has a much greater focus on the hips and lower body.  This sequence is said to be beneficial to women in promoting a healthy menstrual cycle.  It is also very good for anyone with lower back, hip, buttock and leg tension, tightness and weakness.  After doing this sequence my hip flexors feel stretched, my butt has worked hard, my lower back feels warm and relaxed, and my mind quiet and peaceful.

Many people today lead busy, stressful and fast-paced (Yang) lives.  Many of my patients find it difficult to fit in some quiet time for themselves between their other commitments.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine we value a balance of Yin and Yang for optimal health.  Restful activities nurture our Yin.  You may nurture your Yin through meditation, relaxation, massage, acupuncture, reading or taking a bath.  Some types of yoga are also beneficial for nurturing Yin.  The Moon Sequence is one of these.  Hot yoga schools may be Yin depleting (hot room with the goal of producing sweat) and should be minimised if nourishing Yin is your priority.

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, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

A traditional Chinese medicine guide to winter warmers

Winter is here.  And for soft Brisbane-ites like me, it’s cold.  Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) places great importance on eating with the seasons to maximise your health and vitality.  Winter is one season when changes to your diet can make a great impact on how you feel almost immediately.

A few must dos for anyone who feels the cold in winter:

  • Ditch any meal made largely of raw or cold food.  That means no salad, limited raw fruit, muesli or cereal with dairy or soy, sushi, and leave the smoothies and juices ’til summer.  These foods definitely will not warm you up, and are actually likely to make you feel colder.
  • Eat warm.  The nice flip side from the first point is that you can replace cold, raw meals with nourishing soups, casseroles, curries and roasted foods. (These don’t have to be fattening by the way – if you make them yourself, you control the fat/carbohydrate content.)  Porridge is an excellent warm start to the day – here’s some warm breakfast ideas.
  • Dress to be warm.  Your grandmother’s advice will be useful here.  Keep your neck wrapped up if out in the wind or cold, always have something on your feet and make sure your lower back is covered.

Some specific foods to keep you warm:

  • Spice up your life.  Add a sprinkle (or spoonful) of cinnamon,  nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, garlic, black pepper, cloves, cayenne, star anise, rosemary, fennel seeds or turmeric to each meal.
  • Fruit is still in (1-2 pieces).  But stew it.  Grate it into your porridge while it’s cooking or add it to curries or casseroles.
  • Warm vegetables.  Vegies that are good in soups or roast well are a good rule of thumb for warming foods – think sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, parsnip, leek, onions and chives.  See what is in season.
  • Protein sources.  Walnuts and pistachios are great winter warmers in meals or as a snack.  Peas and beans can be used in curries and casseroles (not soy based products though, these are too cooling).  If you include animal protein in your diet then lamb, beef, chicken and prawn are warming (just be sure to choose non-processed, non-smoked sources and consume less than 300g red meat/week).
  • Drink up.  Peppermint tea and green tea can be limited and replaced with chai (make your own), ginger tea, and small amounts of good quality black coffee.

This advice can also be applied to people who feel cold in air conditioning.  A warm breakfast and lunch will keep you toasty in the office.  If you have a tendency to feeling cold generally eating warm may be of assistance to you too, but make sure to also see your acupuncturist or health practitioner for more specific help.

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.

health, massage

Take a course in massage for wellbeing

Come and learn to massage with me on Saturday 18th February 2012.

Massage for Wellbeing

Start as you intend to go on! Begin 2012 loving and caring for your body by learning how to give a proper head, shoulder, neck, arms & hands massage.

In this one day course, I will not only teach you how to massage to another person, but will also cover off self-massage techniques for wellbeing.

Details and booking info here.  Early bird rate finishes on 13th January 2012.

You’ll learn from this course:

  • The benefits of massage
  • Common sore points
  • Basic massage techniques and when to use what
  • How to assess tense areas
  • When NOT to massage and practicing safely
  • Learning a simple self massage sequence
  • Basic acupressure points
  • Creating a simple massage sequence to give to another

The course will run in seated positions and fully clothed.

This course is suitable for those who would like to learn how to massage friends and family, as it does NOT lead to any formal qualifications.

Read five reasons why you should learn to massage for fun!

Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, health, massage, mental health, motivational, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

The Woodford Folk Festival guide to a happy, healthy year

Teaching acupressure at the Children's Festival

Firstly, a very happy new year to you!  As many of you know, over this new year period Kathleen Murphy and I presented our popular “Herbs, health and acupressure” workshop at the Woodford Folk Festival.  We were also invited to speak on the Woodforum raw food panel which attracted a crowd that packed the impressive Blue Lotus venue.  I, of course, promoted the Traditional Chinese Medicine view-point that a little raw food is ok, but that generally speaking, a healthy diet should consist of mainly warm, cooked meals.  (It should be noted that cooked foods don’t need to be unhealthy.  For example, they don’t have to be laced with saturated fats, excessively meat or refined carbohydrate based, burnt to a carcinogenic crisp or boiled to nutritional oblivion.  But more on that topic in another blog.)  Thanks to those who came to see us speak and ask questions.  It was an absolute delight to share our knowledge with you.

Here’s some health and happiness promoting lessons I picked up at the Woodford Folk Festival to apply to your everyday life for a happy, health year ahead:

  1. Starting each morning with yoga is a great way to wake up, stretch your muscles and align your spine (particularly after several nights on an air mattress).
  2. Queues are a way of meeting new people and learning new things. (For instance, I learnt from a volunteer S-Bend Warrior that festival punters were expected to go through 15,000 rolls of toilet paper in total for the week – that equated to an eighth of a roll per person – quite interesting). And it’s nice to say hello to people you don’t know.  Just like the good ol’ days.
  3. Learn a new skill on a regular basis.  At the festival I had the pleasure of crocheting a sandal, taking a dance workshop and giving a burlesque life drawing class a bash – each activity was great fun with good company (mostly new friends) and involved lots of laughs.  If the new skill you’d like to learn is massage, I can help you.
  4. Be creative on a daily basis.  Whilst chatting to a wise friend at the festival she floated the idea that creativity involves anything that allows you to express yourself in some way.  It could be music, dance, art, sport or fitness, food, the way you dress, be computer-related or really anything at all that ignites your inner artist.  She’s right.  Grant yourself time each day to get creative, even if it’s just the way you arrange food on your plate.
  5. Be involved in your community.  Our relationships and connections within our community contribute to our level of happiness.  Communities give us a sense of belonging and provide a place for us to give and receive, and to share.  Your community could be online or offline, related to your work, hobbies, education, family or place of residence.  Volunteering might be a great way to get involved with your community, or you could join a club, take a class, support local markets or music venues, or get to know your neighbours.  Endless possibilities.

May 2012 be your happiest and healthiest year yet.

acupuncture, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Learn acupressure at the Woodford Folk Festival

Today it’s five sleeps ’til my birthday and six sleeps ’til Christmas, which means it’s just eight days until the best time of year: the Woodford Folk Festival. I’m bursting with excitement!  But this year it’s going to be extra fun because together with my HealthWise Clinic naturopath extraordinaire colleague, Kathleen Murphy,  I’m on the programme presenting about the stuff I love – Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Kathleen and I will be presenting several talks titled ‘Herbs, Health & Acupressure’ which are designed to give you quick, easy and effective ways to treat common health problems at home.

I’ll be sharing some acupressure techniques you can use for several unpleasant symptoms including nausea, headaches and insomnia.  Kathleen will have some dietary and herbal remedies to share. 

You can catch the Kathleen & Sarah Double-Act on:

  • Thursday 29th December 5pm @ Blue Lotus (Woodforum: raw food panel discussion)
  • Friday 30th December 11am @ Blue Lotus
  • Sunday 1st January 11am @ Big Ideas (Children’s festival)

It will be a lot of fun.  We hope to see you there.

Diet, food, food allergy, health, recipe

A treat to settle a sick tummy: cardamom & ginger biscuits

cardamom biscuitsIn recent weeks, I have been visiting a sick relative in hospital.

Aside from having some nasty infections, she was suffering from nausea and vomiting related to codeine, and other digestive upsets from antibiotic treatment.

To brighten her days there, and give her a slightly therapeutic treat, I made some cardamom cookies for her.

I altered the original recipe by using a 50:50 mix of dried, ground ginger and cardamom.  The biscuits were also made with almond meal (instead of cashews), upping their protein content for someone who wasn’t eating much at all at that point in time.  The cookies are sweetened with honey and rolled ever so gently in some icing sugar.  There is no egg, soy, gluten or dairy in these so they should be kind to most people with weak digestion.

She loved the cookies, the nausea subsided and I’m happy to report that she is now back at home, enjoying her blossoming garden and home-cooked meals.

Cardamom and ginger biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw almonds, blended into a fine meal
  • ½ cup butter or dairy-free alternative
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • ½ cup icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Beat butter, honey, vanilla extract and lemon zest together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour, cardamom and ginger, stir well.
  4. Add almond meal and mix well.
  5. Roll mixture into teaspoon size balls and place on lined baking tray.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then while still warm, roll each biscuit in icing sugar.

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, health, massage, mental health

Five reasons why you should learn to massage for fun

  1. Everyone loves a massage.
  2. Massage has lots of health benefits:
      • Pain relief – For musculoskeletal injuries, tension headaches and back pain.
      • Detoxification – Massage stimulates the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage.
      • Muscle recovery – Massage helps 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 can separate fascial fibres, prevent adhesions and reduce inflammation and oedema.
      • Healing – Massage increases circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
  3. Massage promotes a sense of wellbeing:
      • Mental alertness – After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations.
      • Reduced anxiety and depression – Massage has been shown to reduce subclinical depression.
      • Relaxation – The release of endorphins and serotonin inducing a relaxed, ‘feel good’ state can improve sleep, reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
  4. Helping someone else to relax and feel good, also makes the giver of the massage feel good too.
  5. There’s a good chance if you give a massage, you might get one on return, which is always nice. ( To increase your odds of this, make sure to encourage your partner/friend/family member to learn to massage with you).

Fancy learning to massage just for fun?  I’ll be teaching a “Massage for Beginners” course through the lovely people at Bright Learning on Saturday, 19th November, 2011.  We’ll also be touching on some useful acupressure skills too.

For more details or to book – click here.

 

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.

aromatherapy, beauty, health

Lemon myrtle: the true Aussie Battler of the herbal medicine kingdom

If the definition of an Aussie Battler is someone who is considered working class, struggles against hardship and yet still earns some due respect, then the Australian herb, lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), can rightly claim this title in the plant kingdom.

Lemon myrtle is an Australian native subtropical plant that is gradually gaining recognition for the great work it is capable of.  It has always played second fiddle to tea tree in the herbal medicine world and has struggled to take its rightful place in the medicine cabinet. In fact, how many of you have even heard of lemon myrtle?  As it’s fairly cheap to produce, it’s often anonymously used in cleaning and food production for its lemony characteristics (it’s even described as being more ‘lemony’ than lemon) but beyond this, it’s largely ignored.

I actually love this lemony herb with its beautiful leaves and uplifting aroma.  It makes wonderful herbal tea (just take a few leaves, crunch them in your hand, add hot water, cover and allow to steep), personal care products and the essential oil itself can be used in many ways.

Probably the area where it really shines, and this comes back to it being a hard worker, is as an antimicrobial agent.  Lemon myrtle has been shown to be superior to tea tree as an antiseptic.

This hard-working Aussie does have a downside though.  It can cause damage to the skin if used undiluted.  However, studies have shown that a 1% dilution can give you the antimicrobial results you desire without harming your skin.  To make this dilution, add 1 drop of 100% pure lemon myrtle oil to 5mL of your preferred carrier oil.

But, the upside far outweighs the downside.  Lemon myrtle has a delightful fragrance.  In my opinion, it is much more appealing than that of tea tree.  Lemony fresh, it clears the mind and uplifts the heart.  It is perfect for adding to the wash with your dirty clothes (think socks, sweaty exercise clothes, sheets and towels). It makes fabulous soaps (the crushed leaves can even be used to exfoliate the skin) and hand wash. I add the essential oil to steam inhalations when I have sinus congestion or clogged pores.  Why, it can even be added to my DIY Salt Scrub recipe.  I like to source my lemon myrtle essential oil from Refreshed Lemon Myrtle, a little company in Byron Bay committed to sustainable production of lemon myrtle products.

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.