Diet, food, herbal medicine, pregnancy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Preserved lemons: traditional Chinese use and a recipe

lemons preservedA couple of months ago I put on my very first batch of home made preserved lemons. I did a deal with my parents. They supplied the homegrown organic lemons and two big jars, and I’d do the hard work of slicing, juicing, salting and storing – we’d end up with a big jar of the finished product each.

Well, as it turns out they are as delicious as any I’ve ever bought and well worth the two month wait. I followed the Poh’s Kitchen recipe but I left my lemons in halves split down the middle (as if quartered) but still attached by the rind. I stuffed the salt into the split.

Preserved lemons are often associated with Moroccan cooking, in particular tagines. But they also have been used in parts of Asia.  When I was teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dietetics class last semester our very traditional Chinese text mentioned the preserved lemon. This salty and sour delicacy was said to be useful for “vomiting and loss of appetite or threatened abortion.” Which makes it a good food for relieving morning sickness. In fact, many women find that lemon or lime juice added to water does ease nausea associated with pregnancy. As for preventing miscarriage, well there are no clinical trials to back up this claim (and if you suspected that your pregnancy was at risk I’d be recommending a medical check up). But this traditional use relates to the the sour flavour which has an astringent, constricting quality and the salty flavour which benefits the Kidneys (the organ in TCM responsible for reproduction and birth, among many other functions). Another text recommends them for Phlegm-Heat disorders including bronchitis and sinusitis and Liver Qi stagnation (if you don’t know what that is click here).

The other interesting thing about Chinese preserved lemons is that they are said to be a specialty of around the city of Nanning in Guangxi province, China. It was in this region that I completed my acupuncture internship at several teaching hospitals. The Zhuang people, an ethnic minority, used preserved lemons in their congee (Chinese rice porridge). Their preserved lemons are stored for far longer (eg. years) and look quite different. Here’s some more information and a recipe. Interestingly, during my studies in Nanning I also learned some traditional medicine techniques of the Zhuang people.

lemons lemons juiced lemons halved

I think they are simply delicious. If you want some recipes that feature preserved lemons as an ingredient, click here.

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, 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

In 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.

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, pregnancy, Uncategorized

Acupuncture, pregnant ladies & babies

229549_10150185588607617_152021272616_7156020_3381291_nIt was my absolute pleasure to present to a lovely group of midwives at the Passage to Motherhood Midwifery Conference last week.  Not only did I get to have a chat to many midwives and hear about their experiences with acupuncture, acupressure and moxa, but I was also able to learn more from an osteopath, aromatherapist and homeopath, and massage therapist on the techniques they each use through pregnancy, birth and lactation support.

The HealthWise Clinic, where I practice from, is surrounded by three fertility clinics who often refer their patients to us for acupuncture support (yes, research was published in the British Medical Journal in favour of acupuncture increasing IVF success rates).  We also see many patients who are looking for pre-conception care or natural fertility support.  And upon those positive test results, I have the wonderful opportunity to assist many women through the ups and downs of their pregnancy to birth journey.

During an acupuncture treatment for a pregnant lady, I would usually focus on the following as needed:

  • promote relaxation (not just the treatment itself, the treatment room is also a calm oasis away from husbands, bosses and housework)
  • bring the woman’s body into balance (Qi or lifeforce, Blood, Yin & Yang, Hot & Cold)
  • support the pregnancy
  • address any other health concerns (eg. morning sickness or back pain)

There is research to support acupuncture as a safe therapy in pregnancy (of course, this is when performed by a qualified acupuncturist).  Other research supports the use of acupuncture in:

  • morning sickness
  • musculoskeletal pain (including pelvic pain)
  • turning breech position
  • shorter labour times
  • promoting birth sooner once the due date has passed.

And pregnant ladies, if you have an opportunity to learn some acupressure techniques for use in labour for pain relief, do.  During a longer consultation appointment, I make sure to have the woman and her birth partner together and we do a practical training session for both partners on the location and use of the acupressure points.

I really enjoy working with pregnant women.  Acupuncture has a long history in gynaecology and obstetrics care.  It’s an honour to be able to continue to offer these thousands-of-years-old techniques, which have now been subject to scientific research, to the modern woman.  And then, as an added bonus, it is absolutely delightful when a patient brings in her new little bub to the clinic for cuddles.

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, health, herbal medicine, mental health, motivational, nature, Uncategorized

A new year – a new Kokoda Challenge

On the eve of registering a team for this year’s Kokoda Challenge, I take a look back at last year’s achievement…

At 3.45am on Saturday 17th July my alarm beeped, forcing me to get up and face The Kokoda Challenge, an event we had been training hard for since February.

The Kokoda Challenge is Australia’s toughest endurance event.  It involves walking (or running for those who are that way inclined) 96 km through some of the steepest sections of the Gold Coast Hinterland within 39 hours without sleep (that’s more than double a marathon, non-stop and over hills).

My team, known as the M&M’s (for Michelle, Melissa, Sue and Sarah), wondered as we headed towards the starting line just before 7am with our little ninja M&M mascots hanging from our packs: “Had we done enough hill, night and distance training?”  “Would our niggling injuries behave themselves?” and “Would we make it to the finish line as a full team as is the spirit of the event?”

Armed with a supply of energy tonics, anti-inflammatory herbs and some nutritional supplements that I had put together from my natural medicine clinic plus some acupressure knowledge for nausea, anxiety, pain and fatigue, the M&M’s (a determined bunch of ladies) survived the high and lows of the track.  The steep up-hills, the steep down-hills, the creek crossings in the dark, the times when your body struggled, the times when your mind struggled – these were all balanced out by some very memorable moments.  Looking behind you in the dark to see headlamps twinkling in the distance like little fairies, or seeing the gold coast lights shining from a peak we had just climbed, and even the many hours we passed through the night thinking of and singing any song with the word ‘night’ in it.

Yes, our feet hurt more than we could imagine.  Yes, injuries were aggravated – but luckily no new ones were sustained.  And yes, there were many quiet, contemplative moments overnight where we all were thinking “I could be fast asleep in a warm bed right now”.  But these thoughts were all overshadowed when at 32 hours and 8 minutes the M&M’s crossed the finish line – there were tears, there were smiles, there were hugs and there were yawns.  And despite taking a fair amount longer than we had planned on, we were in the 50% of teams who made it across the line as a whole team within the time limit of 39 hours.  Not only that, we also adopted two honorary M&M’s who had lost half of their team to injury and needed another team to walk with.  The more the merrier I say!  And not bad for a first effort, either.

If you have an opportunity to be a part of this event in the future – do it!  The event (and training leading up to it) is hard, yet incredibly rewarding.  You will employ each of the Kokoda Challenge’s values just to make it to the finish (even if you don’t think you will beforehand): endurance, courage, sacrifice and mateship.  The event supports young Australians (The Kokoda Kids) to develop these qualities through physical endeavours and charity work in Papua New Guinea.  The Kokoda Kids that I met on the track were a credit to the organisers – I’m proud to have been involved and support this event.

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.