Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, mental health, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Living well in Autumn

From the cartoon genius that is Michael Leunig. I thought this was incredibly cute.

Many people say that autumn is one of the most delightful times of year in Brisbane with beautiful clear skies and moderate temperatures. Autumn is the time when the heat and humidity from summer dissipates gradually and we begin to dry off and cool down in the transition towards winter. Here’s something to put you in the mood: Tchaikovsky’s Autumn (or October in the northern hemisphere) – the inspiration for Leunig’s ‘The Autumn Circle of Magpies and Ducks’ perhaps?

As a follow up to my summer livin‘ post I thought I should introduce you all to good living tips for autumn too. The following are a collection of ideas (in no particular order) associated with autumn:

  • Gathering
  • Harvest the mature
  • Build storage for winter
  • Yang Qi (energy) falls and Yin Qi (energy) rises gradually
  • Qi (energy) moves inward and downward
  • Bright and crisp
  • Cool and dry
  • Clarity and simplicity
  • Reflection and reconnection
  • Slowing down
  • Lungs, large intestine and your skin
  • Preserving a harmonious mood
  • Pungent flavours and aromas
  • The colour white
  • The metal element

Gradually add even just a few of these tips as the weather changes to maximise your health in the autumn:

  • Lifestyle:
    • Get more sleep. Go to bed earlier than in summer and rise a little later.
    • Don’t tire yourself out physically or sweat too much.
    • Feel the weather getting cooler but don’t feel the need to rug up to be ‘over’ warm until the weather gets colder. Layers are good! On the other hand, be prepared with some warm clothes and bedclothes in the case of a cold snap.
    • Exercise should be more about building strength than sweating it out in the autumn. This relates to gathering muscle and preserving body fluids. However, if you wish to lose weight, Chinese medicine considers autumn a good time to exercise more to prevent further ‘storage’ over the winter.
    • Look after your skin. Find yourself lovely aromatic, natural facial and body moisturisers/oils to keep your skin nourished in the drier climate. Don’t forget to moisturise after a bath too.
    • This is also an excellent time to pull out some books, cards and board games for a little bit of inside time with friends and family in the evenings.
  • Emotional health:
    • If you love summer then autumn can be a sad time. Make the most of bright and crisp autumn days, getting some safe exposure to sunlight. This could involve a walk in nature, exercise in a park, and sightseeing around mountains, rivers or lakes.
  • Foods:
    • More substantial meals than in summer, yet not as heavy as in winter – simple and sumptuous!
    • Savour the deep, complex flavours of autumn.
    • Moisten dryness with foods such as pears, spinach, nuts, seeds, avocado, milks (if they agree with you, including soy) and honey. Porridge with honey and banana can be very moistening.
    • Eat some pungent and warm foods (Eg. leeks, radishes, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, onion and chilli) but not until you sweat.
    • Also gradually include sour (preserve fluids) and bitter (descends to store) flavoured foods.
    • Make the most of: wild mushrooms, garlic, leeks, onions, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, swedes, beetroot, broccoli and borlotti beans. A lot of these foods are naturally white in colour which is synonymous with the metal element.
    • Avoid excessive cool/cold/icy foods and drinks.
    • Use cooking methods which will maximise food aromas such as baking (warming) and saute (preserving moisture content). Use your slow cooker to gently warm and keep the moisture in your food – plus you will come to the aroma of a home cooked dinner!

If you find that autumn brings out the worst in your health (eg. moodwise, asthma or respiratory symptoms, skin conditions, constipation or other digestive orders) talk to me about acupuncture, herbal medicine or other lifestyle methods which may benefit your condition.

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, herbal medicine, nature, Uncategorized

Five natural beauty products I cannot live without

Patients often ask me for advice on natural cosmetics and skincare products.   The kind of products I choose personally must be naturally fragranced, free from as many artificial chemical nasties as is possible and actually work.  When you tick these boxes, these products are also an absolute delight to use and way  more luxurious than their big brand name, highly artificial cousins.  Cleopatra herself, may have been tempted by these natural and luxurious essentials.

So, here are my top five natural beauty products:

Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup

This is the most lovely makeup I have ever used.  In fact, I’m surprised how often people comment on my skin when I’m wearing it, the minerals give you a healthy glow.  And they won’t block your pores but they will give you sun protection.  The makeup is actually good for promoting healthy skin.   That’s a far cry from traditional foundations which contribute to blocked  pores and breakouts!  Some of their products contain essential oils and their lip and eye colours are very pretty too.  Jane Iredale is on the more expensive side but a little goes a long way and it is well worth the price.

Alchemy Shampoo and Conditioner

Alchemy is a great range off Australian made and owned hair care products.   They don’t use parabens or sulphate in their products.  What is great about their shampoo and conditioners is that they contain herbal extracts and essential oils so that not only does your hair smell amazing, but it will look and feel great too!

Uspa Skincare

This line of skincare is perhaps the best I have ever used.  Uspa products are made in Australia from organic plant-based ingredients where possible.  The difference between Uspa and other natural cosmetic brands is that Uspa is mainly used and sold by beauty therapists, not health food stores and pharmacies.  The level of quality and the results they deliver for your skin are beautifully noticeable.  I’m a devotee of their Awaken Foam Cleanser, Bamboo Polish and Moisture Control Lotion with Vitamin C.  Did I mention that these products also smell amazing?

MiEssence Aluminium-free Deodorant

Now, I’ve tried a lot of aluminium-free deodorants and I can say that many of them, with the best intentions and theory behind them, just don’t work.  But this one does!  It’s the only one that I have found that really does work.  It comes in fragrance-free, ancient spice (for the boys) and tahitian breeze (a delightful natural floral fragrance).  The company behind this product source organic ingredients and are another Australian natural cosmetics success story.  You can usually find this one at your local health food store.

Sunspirit Essential Oils

This range of 100% pure essential oils has long been my favourite and most trusted aromatherapy brand.  I love using these essential oils in salt scrubs, face masks, body oils, bath blends and in spritzers.  Sunspirit is another Australian brand who have been committed to sourcing and supplying high quality, therapeutic grade essential oils for over 35 years.  I was lucky enough to tour the laboratory facility that undertakes the testing of their essential oils last week.  The state of the art facility has a high commitment to quality control.  What that means is the herbs are tested for chemical markers to ensure they are the correct plant, that the quality of the herb is good enough to have a therapeutic effect (desired markers in the plant’s chemical profile are present and in the right amounts) and the essential oil will be stable and therapeutic for the whole of its life up to its expiry date.   Sunspirit essential oils are mid-priced which makes them exceptional value given their gold standard commitment to quality.

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.

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.

aromatherapy, beauty, health

Summer skin treat – the DIY salt scrub

I am going to share with you my favourite skin treat – the do-it-yourself salt scrub.

This easy and cheap to make (unlike it’s shop bought cousins) salt scrub will leave your skin smooth, soft and glowing. And if you like, you can take your salt scrub experience up a few notches to ‘day spa’ level by adding a few drops of essential oils for their luxurious fragrances and skin enhancing qualities.

Sarah’s Salt Scrub Recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons (approx.) table salt
1 tablespoon (approx.) carrier oil (natural and unfragranced eg. sweet almond oil or olive oil)
5 drops of essential oil of choice (see below for suggestions – you can mix a few together to make up your 5 drops.)

Method

1. Pour the table salt into a small bowl (like the Chinese dipping sauce ones).
2. Mix in the carrier oil gradually until the salt is sticky but not runny.
3. Add essential oil and mix well.
4. Jump in the shower (so you don’t make a mess) and apply small amounts of the salt mixture to your body (chest, back, arms, legs, feet, hands and only very gently on the face) in small circular motions. Avoid any delicate or broken skin.
5. Wash off the salt mixture under the shower.
6. To remove any greasy residue, immediately wash with a natural cleanser or vegetable oil based soap.
7. Jump out of the shower with your new radiant skin.

Depending on your skin type you might like to do this treatment once or twice per week. During hot, humid weather you can increase this to every second day or as required.

A quick note on essential oils
I love essential oils. They are extracted from flowers, leaves, fruits and other parts of plants. The essential oils carry the therapeutic properties of the plant from which they were sourced. Essential oils are different to ‘fragrant oils’ which are synthetic chemical fragrances lacking in therapeutic value. When purchasing your essential oils be sure the bottle reads “100% pure essential oil”. Most essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin and are best diluted in a carrier oil.

Essential oil suggestions to enhance your salt scrub:

  • Tea tree oil – if you skin is prone to acne or fungal infections
  • Lemon myrtle oil – similar to tea tree but I think it smells nicer
  • Lavender – calming, relaxing, antiseptic
  • Geranium – balancing for oily skins
  • Lime – refreshing
  • Grapefruit – has a detoxifying effect, great for use over cellulite

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.