acupuncture, Diet, fertility, food, martial arts, nature, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

10 things you should know about Chinese Medicine

I’ve spoken at a few Endeavour College of Natural Health open days now. Prior to presenting to the prospective students I always get to thinking about all of the things I love about acupuncture and Chinese medicine. This medicine really has been a great lifetime passion of mine. (“Really?” You say.)

So here are the top 10 reasons why I love acupuncture and Chinese medicine:

  1. Diagnosis and treatment are completely individualised. It doesn’t matter if you have osteoarthritis, endometriosis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), in Chinese medicine we are interested in your unique signs and symptoms and we may give you a Chinese medicine diagnosis which is completely different from that of another person with the same disease name but a slightly different presentation. Your treatment will be individualised just for you.
  2. Yin yang cupcake iced solo webThere are no super foods. Or good foods. Or bad foods. Or fad diets. I know that goji berries and shiitake mushrooms are seen as foods of the gods, and soy has a reputation as the fruit of the devil for every single person on the planet (according to nutrition in the media) but in Chinese medicine we just don’t see it that way. All foods have different energetic properties (eg. cooling, heating, move upwards or downwards, drain damp, nourish blood or open the pores) and so they are used to bring your body back into balance when it isn’t already. For example, if it’s hot it needs cooling and if you are carrying excess fluid you need to drain damp. Of course your body’s needs change as you age, with the season and with illness or regaining health. As this happens your diet also needs to change. It’s not black and white. Which is exactly what the taiji (yin yang) symbol represents: there is always some black in the white and vice versa. Be sensible with your eating, strive for balance and pay attention to how foods make you feel.
  3. 5 elementsThere is a strong connection to nature within the medicine. Five element theory is a way of applying the principles of nature to our bodies. It’s based on thousands of years of observation. We can describe and diagnose people’s temperaments and body conditions according to Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. Each element relies upon and is interrelated to the others to keep delicate balance. Just like nature is. For example too much Earth can make us heavy, too much water can create fluid retention and too much fire can make us overheated. It’s a more complex system them this but those are just some simple examples.
  4. It can be an outright treatment, an alternative or a complementary medicine. So we all know that acupuncture alone is sometimes great for sorting out that sore shoulder or helping you sleep better. Other times acupuncture can work very well alongside other western medicine treatment. Some conditions that spring to mind are when we use acupuncture with IVF treatment or alongside chemotherapy which may reduce some of the side effects like nausea. As acupuncture does not involve ingestion of herbs or medicines it is rarely contraindicated with other therapies.
  5. Most people feel relaxed and emotionally ‘like a weight has lifted’ immediately following an acupuncture treatment. Patients often comment that they can fall asleep during an acupuncture treatment when they can’t take afternoon naps at home. It is a relaxing treatment and believe it or not – no the needles don’t really hurt most of the time. In fact relaxation has been described as a side effect of acupuncture in this study.
  6. ear acupuncture modelHaving a knowledge of acupuncture and acupressure is like having a first aid kit with you wherever you go. Symptoms like nausea and headaches can often be relieved if you know the right spots to push. I often take some ‘ear seeds’ with me when I go camping or hiking to manage musculoskeletal pains (these little seeds apply pressure to parts of the ear that correspond to other parts of your body – like acupressure. Anyone who has used a Sea-Band on their wrist for seasickness is doing acupressure – you place the hard bit of the band onto an acupuncture point! Of course, it can’t do everything and it’s always handy to have a regular first aid kit too.
  7. Energy flow is fundamental to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Learning good posture and effective breathing is essential not only to good health but also being a good practitioner. Think of tai chi, Qi gong, yoga and martial arts. We apply these same postural and breathing techniques when inserting needles. But really, you can apply good posture and effective breathing to everything that you do.
  8. The history of Chinese Medicine is decorated with beautiful stories, poetry and artworks to document and share the medicine. An appreciation of the arts is also considered a part of holistic healthcare. I often describe to my fertility or pregnancy patients that one of the acupuncture points is called ‘zigong’ or ‘the palace of the child’. How gorgeous is that? We can incorporate these beautiful descriptions into meditations or visualisations during treatment.
  9. The future of Chinese medicine is bright as we are now seeing higher quality clinical trials to highlight traditional and new uses for our medicines. For example the research using fMRI to understand the effect of acupuncture needling on the brain is fascinating. Check out this BBC documentary for a look at this research. (It’s an hour long but it’s well worth it.)
  10. In Australia we are now a registered profession (just like physiotherapists and dentists). This means that acupuncturists, Chinese herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners now have to comply with AHPRA regulations under the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) including a minimum level of education (bachelor degree) and other professional and ethical standards. So in the interests of public safety and getting the most effective treatment for your condition always seek treatment from a CMBA registered practitioner. (For the record, dry needling is not registered in this way.)

Just a word of warning: nowhere here have I said Chinese medicine is a cure all. I just wanted to highlight the things that Chinese medicine does really well. For information about your own health please speak with a registered Chinese medicine practitioner.

What is it that you love about acupuncture and Chinese medicine? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know.

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.

massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is TCM remedial massage and who can it help?

Massage pushing web2Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedial massage, otherwise known as tui na, is a therapy that dates back two thousand years ago to ancient China. The words ‘tui na’ translate to ‘push grasp’ which describes this style of massage with its assorted techniques including kneading, tapping, rubbing and pressing. The pressure used is suited to the individual patient and can be light on the skin or firm for deep tissue techniques. Pressure is applied to acupuncture points to stimulate them for specific conditions.

This form of massage is part of the greater system of TCM, a diverse system of medicine that covers all major systems within the body; which means it can be used for a wide range of acute and chronic ailments. TCM is focused on treating the underlying cause of disease as well as the presenting symptoms. This involves a holistic approach linking the body, mind and emotions in both the cause of disease and its treatment. TCM remedial massage may also be used to optimise overall wellness.

How does TCM remedial massage work?

By using a range of massage techniques your massage therapist will aim at best treating the particular condition you wish to have treated – whether that’s pain relief, reducing tension, healing injury or just making you feel better.

Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that massage techniques may provide:

  • Pain relief – For musculoskeletal injuries, tension headaches and back pain.
  • Mental alertness – After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression – Massage nay reduce subclinical depression.
  • Detoxification – Massage may stimulate the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage.
  • Muscle recovery – Massage may help to 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 may separate fascial fibres, prevent adhesions and reduce inflammation and oedema.
  • Relaxation – The release of endorphins and serotonin inducing a relaxed, ‘feel good’ state may improve sleep, reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Healing – Massage may increase circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

Traditionally, acupressure is explained by influencing the flow of Qi (energy or life force) within the body. For example, someone with throbbing headaches has too much Qi moving upwards, or someone with pain that is worse for rest has Qi that is ‘stuck’ or not circulating well. Researchers have identified that stimulating an acupuncture point (with a needle or acupressure) can create measurable changes in the body. Acupuncture points have an influence over the area that surrounds them. An acupuncture point can also have an influence over areas far removed from the actual point being needled.

Who can benefit?

TCM remedial massage is ideal for most musculoskeletal pain. It can also be beneficial for other health conditions, particularly when combined with acupuncture and/or other techniques such as cupping or herbal medicine.

People who can benefit from TCM remedial massage include those with specific pains such as stiff neck, tight shoulders or lower back pain; as well as anyone who suffers from chronic stress or general muscle tension.

I have many clients who choose to book regular monthly massages to promote wellness, reduce stress and prevent injury.

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

Acupuncture: do the needles hurt?

Sarah George fertility acupunctureAs I conduct a consultation with a first-time acupuncture patient I often notice a sense of fear masked by a shy smile. After discussing the patient’s health concerns and providing some education on how I may be able to assist them, we get to the point where it’s time for the patient to jump up onto the table for the treatment. And I often see the look in their eyes – “Will the needles hurt”? I often beat them to asking the question, explaining where I am going to place the needles and what they should expect to feel – and then follow it with “no, acupuncture isn’t painful but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel any sensation. Not all sensations are painful”.

Yes, there’s a difference between pain and sensation. Pain is a sensation, but it’s not the only type of sensation. Some sensations are in fact very pleasurable. Generally in acupuncture we try to avoid any sharp, needle-like sensation. Acupuncture is nothing like having an injection or blood test. As acupuncturists we aim to perfect our technique so the needle glides almost undetectably through the layer of the skin, although sometimes you may feel a mild prick. An acupuncturist with a good technique can use a fine or thicker gauge needle relatively painlessly. As humans, we are all different and some patients are more sensitive than others so may be more aware of needle insertions, but this is less common in my experience. Many beauty therapists will tell you that women are more sensitive to pain prior to their menstrual period and waxing is often discouraged at this time. Skin texture varies on different parts of the body so sensitivity may be more pronounced in different locations. However, acupuncture shouldn’t be characterised by strong needle ‘prick’ sensations.

In fact, most first time acupuncture patients say to me after their first needle has been inserted, “Was that it? If I’d known it was like that I would have come ages ago!”

So, the needles should glide through the skin with minimal discomfort. But after this a sensation may be felt. Acupuncturists refer to this as ‘de qi’meaning that your body has recognised that the needle has been inserted into an acupuncture point or qi/energy has come to the needle. There are many schools of thought on what and how much sensation is needed to stimulate an acupuncture point with a needle. During my observations in China I noticed that many of the patients complained if they didn’t feel enough sensation from each needle! Some research has shown that obtaining needle sensation or de qi has a different effect on the brain, than when no sensation or a sharp sensation has been felt. Classical texts report that a range of sensations may be beneficial, (note that sharp is not one of them):

  • aching
  • numbness or tingling
  • fullness, distention or pressure
  • heaviness

Once a sensation has been provoked your acupuncturist may further manipulate the needle.

Let your acupuncturist know what you are feeling during needling, especially if a needled point has a sharp, electric or burning pain.

After your acupuncturist has inserted and manipulated the needles you may still feel some sensations during your treatment but again, these should not be sharp or overly painful. And of course, movement and needles don’t mix, so keeping any body part that has been needled still during your treatment will reduce sharp sensations too!

Keeping still isn’t usually a problem. When I enter a room at the end of a patient’s acupuncture treatment most people look incredibly relaxed or have just woken up from a nap. Acupuncture is a fabulous way to enjoy some rest and relaxation during a busy day and most patients treasure their acupuncture treatment experience.

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, mental health, motivational

There’s nothing like a break

GBR anemone fishHello!  It’s been a little while, but I’m back to you bursting with good health and wellbeing tips after a lovely little break.

Last year was a huge year filled with so many wonderful things including big days at the clinic with my lovely patients, teaching my eager beaver students about acupuncture at the Endeavour GBR clamCollege of Natural Health and recommencing my own studies with the Master of Health Science (Traditional Chinese Medicine) at the University of Western Sydney.  I spent the break between Christmas and New Year having an incredibly super time at the Woodford Folk Festival spreading the word on Traditional Chinese GBR sunsetMedicine dietary health at the Blue Lotus stage.  Add this all together, and well, I was feeling the need for some slow down time in the shape of a break come February.

So, off I took, to tropical North Queensland where the air is warm and the vibe is slow and relaxed.  I jumped onto a dive boat and spent the best part of three days underwater scuba diving with the fishes.  And those three days, well they felt longer.  They felt good and were just what I needed to unwind and relax.  Why is scuba diving so relaxing?

So, my message to you is this.  A holiday doesn’t need to be long or expensive or take you to far away places to have that refreshing effect. Short bursts in different surroundings (that do it for you), regularly, may be just what you need. Got one planned?  Pull out your diary/iphone calender now and block yourself out a short break or two to get you through to mid year.  A long weekend here and there can work wonders.

I’ve included a few photos of the underwater adventure land that we are so lucky to have only two hours flight from Brisbane.  The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living structure and needs to be explored to be really appreciated.  Do it!

And if you need another somewhat weather appropriate message of how a good break can pick you up, then this gem is it.  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.

Diet, food, food allergy, health, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Happy new year! And highlights from the Woodford Folk Festival

DSC00608Happy new year to all of my lovely readers!  I hope your 2013 is shaping up just dandy so far.

I have been lucky enough to spend the 2012/13 transition at the Woodford Folk Festival.  Again this year I was speaking at the fabulous Blue Lotus health and healing venue with my wonderful naturopathic colleague, Kathleen Murphy.

We spoke on “Gluten & Grain Intolerance” and “Vegetarian v Omnivore diets”.  Kath gave the nutrition essentials and I was able to give the Traditional Chinese Medicine spin on each of these.  Both talks were well attended with a great crowd who asked lots of excellent questions.  If you were there, thanks for being such an awesome audience – especially if you came to our New Year’s Day morning talk.  Good health vibes to you!

DSC00639Additionally, we ran a new workshop in the Children’s Festival this year – “Bath time – soothe time”.  In essence it was all about calming babies and small children before bed.  We chatted about good digestion tips, essential oils, herbal teas, acupressure and massage.  The highlight for me was giving a four-year old her first massage – she just about melted into her chair.  See, massage is for all ages, and kids (big and little) love ’em!

I’ll write more on the gluten and diet talks on this blog in coming days.  So stay tuned.

So, as usual, I have returned to reality, still with my post-festival glow (why do I love Woodford? – find out here) and hit the ground running at HealthWise Clinic practicing Monday to Friday for all of January.  If you are in need of re-stoking your glow for 2013 come and see me in the clinic.

May 2013 be your most radiant year yet!

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, exercise, food, health, herbal medicine, massage, mental health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Make next year the start of your healthy ageing program, no matter how old you are.

tai chiLike it or not, we’re all ageing.  But what is most important is how we age.  We want quality of life as we grow older so that we can keep up with our hobbies, sporting interests, working commitments, social life and family. The reality is however, we are living longer but our older years are spent in poor health.  It is up to us as individuals to be the exception to the rule.

In practice, patients often seek help when the symptoms they have begin to negatively impact on the things they like to do. Most of us can tolerate pain or slight inconvenience but having the things we love out of our reach, well no one wants to let that happen.  And so it is then that we are most motivated (by desperation) to make the changes needed to return to good health.

My advice: don’t wait for your health to get that bad!  Seek help as soon as things feel ‘out of balance’.

The Harvard School of Public Health has just reported on a study highlighting the “need for greater attention to non-fatal consequences that limit people’s physical and mental function, including mental health conditions and musculoskeletal disorders.”

So, if you are looking for a new year’s resolution, why not use next year as the beginning of your lifetime of good health. It doesn’t matter whether you are 15 or 95 years old, it’s never too early, or late, to start your health-promoting lifestyle:

  • Reduce your chronic disease risk factors (E.g. stress, obesity, substance abuse, processed/fatty/sugary foods and exposure to environmental toxins).
  • Increase what makes you feel well (E.g. laughter, meditation, exercise,  7-8 hours sleep, wholesome home-cooked meals, learning new skills, spending time in nature and nurturing connections with positive, like-minded people).  Here are some ideas.
  • See a practitioner early in the year (as early as you can while this thought is at the forefront of your mind) to get you on track, set goals and make a plan you can stick to. Perhaps some acupuncture, massage and herbs can kick-start your new year of good living (and help you tackle any of the tricky stumbling blocks that you’ve had in the past)?

This isn’t a new idea at all.  The concept of healthy ageing and longevity has been ingrained in Traditional Chinese Medicine for around 2000 years – and here’s how they did it.

Let’s make 2013 our most radiant year yet which will set us on a path of healthful ageing for our lifetime to come.

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.

massage

It’s on again: learn to massage for wellbeing

BL massage courseThe great people at Bright Learning are repeating the Massage for Wellbeing one day course and I’m delighted to be asked to teach it once again.

Last year we had a lot of fun and at the end of the day I had a roomful of very relaxed people.  Think of how you feel after one massage and then times that by 3 or more! It was a Saturday well spent. This is what one of my last students said.

So, the course will teach you everything you need to know to give a partner, friend or family member a really good seated massage.

Why should you learn to massage?  Here are five good reasons.

Actually, this would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone you want to receive a good massage from!

The details:

  • Date: Saturday, 9th February 2013
  • Time: 10am – 4pm
  • Place: Bright Learning HQ, Teneriffe
  • Early bird rate applies until 19th January!

Book here through Bright Learning.

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.