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.

food, food allergy, health, recipe

Mum’s Hi-Fibre Apple Slice

Yesterday, I caught up with an old friend who, with the enthusiastic help of her gorgeous five-year old daughter, was telling me about the cake they were going to bake for said daughter’s ‘wobbly tooth party’, in celebration of just-about-losing her first baby tooth.  It got me thinking about the many happy times I shared with my Mum baking in the kitchen when I was growing up.

I want to share with you a recipe Mum and I used to bake fairly often, as it was on the healthier-side of baking and not too sweet.  My job was usually to peel and cut the apples, which usually resulting in me eating them and then re-peeling and cutting more.  Cut up apple is just so delicious – and this recipe makes good use of them. (Interestingly, I had the same disappearing apple problem today when I baked this recipe).  Also, I have adapted the recipe a little to be gluten-free and have added a few new ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 300g butter (or dairy-free alternative)
  • 3/4 cup xylitol (if unavailable you can substitute for 1 1/2 cups sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 3/4 cup  desiccated coconut
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 green apples (peeled and cut into 5mm slices)
  • cinnamon

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease and line a lamington tin.
  3. Cream butter, xylitol and molasses until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and beat.
  5. Mix in dry ingredients until well combined.
  6. Divide the mixture in half and press one half of the mixture into the base of the tin.
  7. Cover mixture in the tin with the sliced apples.  Sprinkle cinnamon over apples.
  8. Add water to remaining mixture until in forms a spreadable consistency.
  9. Spread mixture over apples.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Decorate with blanched almonds if desired.
  10. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden on top.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

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.

beauty, Diet, food, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Nourish your dry winter skin

As I have been treating my patients this winter, I have noticed many of them have had very dry, often flakey, skin – some even to the point of having significant scratches from the itchiness that can accompany dryness.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dryness is usually attached to the season autumn, however in Brisbane this year, we are experiencing the dryness right now.

According to TCM five element theory, dryness is characteristic of the metal element and is also matched up with the lungs and skin.  Our lungs are responsible for creating a mist of the (good, pure) fluids in our body and spreading them to our skin and mucous membranes, to keep them well-nourished.  When this function goes wrong, we might experience situations where we accumulate too much fluid in places that we don’t need it (such as a phlegmy cough and runny nose) and not enough moisture where we do need it, leading to dry, itchy skin.

So, how can we bring the moisture of our skin back into balance?

  • Inside out:
    • Choose foods to be used in nourishing meals that will moisten dryness such as soy-based foods, apples, pears, most nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil and honey.  Add a few pungent foods to these meals (such as onions and garlic) to aid in the dispersing of the fluids).
    • Make sure you are also consuming enough water – are you drinking two litres?
  • Outside in:
    DIY salt scrub
    • Choose a good natural moisturiser to apply to your body after showering. (Long hot showers in winter, whilst being lovely, tend to dry out your skin).  You may need to upgrade your facial moisturiser during the dry months (and even use a night cream or facial oil) – again look for a good one free of synthetic chemicals.
    • Use my favourite DIY salt scrub recipe when you have dry skin (it’s very versatile being great for sticky, congested skin in summer and dry, itchy skin in winter).  You may need to do this 2-3 times per week until your skin is soft and silky 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, food, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The art of war: Your Defences v The Common Cold

There’s nothing worse than being stuck on public transport and the person behind you is sneezing constantly and coughing up something repulsive at the back of your head.  You can almost feel the ‘goobs’ sinking into your skin and infecting your body.  This could happen anywhere though, in the office or even in your own home – think: kids – they seem to take the ‘sharing is caring’ sentiment a little too literally!

With the cold and flu season upon us, how can you prime your body’s defence force (or wei qi as it is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine) to be ready for combat at the first sign of an invading enemy virus?

  • Keep your lungs strong
    • Not such a crazy idea when you consider that the common cold attacks the respiratory system.  This means avoid smoking, manage or resolve any ongoing respiratory conditions (e.g. asthma, cough, post-nasal drip) prior to cold and flu season and practice good posture that allows you to open your chest so that you breathe deeply and well.
  • You are what you eat
    • We need a strong army of wei qi (immune system) to fight off any invading bugs and the army need to be fed well to do their job – chips and pizza just won’t cut it.  Make sure you are getting your five serves of vegetables each day, preferably stir-fried, steamed or made into soup.
    • Choose pungent foods (such as onions, ginger and garlic) that force your wei qi to the surface of your body.  A great example is a Vietnamese noodle soup.  And don’t forget to sip on some spiced tea or chai. Avoid cold, raw, excessive oily and fatty foods that bring your qi inwards (or encourage your army to become cowardly, retreating and surrendering territory to the lurgy.)
  • If you are in need of some additional weapons – then some astragalus (huang qi) is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb of choice to build wei qi as a cold and flu preventative.  Western herbalists favour echinacea for the immune system.  It’s best to discuss your concerns with a herbalist to ensure you are taking the right herb/s for your situation.  Acupuncture may also be useful to those who are highly susceptable to every bug around, start treatment just prior to the cold and flu season.

Now is the time to show action and put these plans into play to give your defences a boost.  Attention!

If you have already been bitten by a cold or flu and symptoms are manifesting here are some tips:

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, health

I want my bath…and the essential oils!

I love baths.  There’s nothing like a long soak in a warm bath for your health and happiness.  And in Winter, I think baths are even nicer.

There are endless reasons to justify having a luxurious bath.  It could be because you:

  • Had a bad day
  • Had a good day
  • Had a hard workout
  • Have body aches
  • Picked up a cold or flu
  • Need a good sleep
  • Feel cold
  • Are feeling grumpy
  • Think everyone else is being grumpy
  • Deserve to be spoiled
  • Have some new bath oils
  • Are preparing for a night out
  • Are preparing for a night in
  • Are feeling like romance
  • Just like baths!

Here’s some simple steps to create your perfect mind-relaxing, muscle-soothing and health-promoting bath.  Be careful, like anything that creates a sense of euphoria, baths like these can be addictive!

  1. Remove all unpleasant noises from earshot of your bath (eg. phones, children).
  2. Replace those sounds with your chosen selection of chill out music (perhaps some jazz or classical?)
  3. Run the bath with the perfect temperature water for you.
  4. Add 1-2 cups of epsom salts to soothe your muscular aches away.
  5. Assemble fluffy towels in easy reach of your bath.
  6. Light some candles.
  7. Will you be in the need of a beverage?  A nice cup of herbal tea goes down well, but sometimes a glass of wine fits the mood.
  8. Choose the right essential oils to set the mood for your bath.  Just before you hop in, add 4-6 drops of pure essential oil (that’s the plant-based ones not the artificial oils known as fragrant oils) to the bath and agitate the water to disperse them (or you can add the essential oils to a tablespoon of oil or teaspoon of vodka first).  Here’s some essential oil suggestions:
    • relaxation blend: lavender (3 drops), orange (1 drop), chamomile – often sold as a 3% dilution – this is ok (2 drops)
    • balance blend: geranium (2 drops), rosewood (2 drops), lavender (2 drops)
    • uplifting blend: bergamot (2 drops), lemon (2 drops), geranium (2 drops)
    • romantic blend: ylang ylang (1 drop), geranium (2 drops), orange (1 drop)
    • muscle-relax blend: lavender (3 drops), rosemary (1 drop), marjoram (1 drop)
  9. Sink into the bath, relax and enjoy.

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.