health, martial arts, massage, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Have you ever been in a float tank?

Floating on the Red Sea

I’ve always been curious about float tanks. But it wasn’t until last week that I actually took the… plunge.

After getting back into cycling, hiking and karate training for the year, my body has been a little achy and tight. My massage therapist told me, “you know what you need? A float. Go on, ring up now!” Well, there’s nothing like the power of now. So I called the place she recommended. They’d moved. But I tracked them down and was booked in for my first float two hours later.

Prior to taking the float I chatted to a friend online. “What about claustrophobia?” we wondered. “Can you leave the lid open?” I also wondered how clean the float tank would be and what the hygiene standards were like.

Well. When I arrived at the float centre I was asked to shower and shampoo my hair before getting into the tank (towels and shampoo were provided). The float tank was heated to luke warm temperature, so a shower cooler than skin temperature is recommended before you jump into the tank. I thought I’d get cold in the tank (as I’m a bit of a cold frog) but I had no problem with the temperature at all – I was completely comfortable. And yes, you can leave the lid ajar if you wish. I had my eyes closed and was perfectly happy to close the lid completely. You are also given ear plugs to prevent the water filling up your ear canals. And soft relaxation music plays for the first 20 minutes of your session.

The tank looked very clean and the water was crystal clear. The water has had 350 kilograms of epsom salts dissolved into it. Okay, so that’s a tad more than the 1-2 cups I’d normally use in the bath. This strong epsom salts solution makes you float – just as you would in the Red Sea. The massage therapist had warned me not to hold my head up, “your head won’t sink – make sure that you completely relax your neck – you won’t drown.” And she was right. It was great advice. In fact, I relaxed so much I fell asleep while floating in the heavily mineralised water. It wasn’t until the relaxation music that is played in the last ten minutes of your one hour session came on that I woke up.

After showering the salts away and drying off, I experienced a deep sense of relaxation. I don’t think I would have been in a position to operate heavy machinery or rely on any sharp mental function that afternoon. I also slept very well that night. And yes, my tight (just about rock-hard) neck and shoulders were looser, allowing my massage therapist to work deeper on me in my next treatment.

In Chinese medicine this translates to my Shen (spirit) being calmed, the excess Yang had descended and the Qi was flowing smoothly in the channels. And in fact, salt is used in our medicine for its softening, loosening, cooling and downbearing actions. Makes sense.

If you’re in need of some relaxation or a good night’s sleep a float session might be just up your alley. Combine it with some acupuncture and/or massage and you would surely be taken off to a soft, white, floaty, cloud heaven.

Are you a float tank enthusiast?

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, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The perfect balance: Yin Yang cupcakes (gluten-free)

Yin yang cupcake iced solo webWhen I was studying acupuncture at college my sister and her partner made me the most decadent Yin Yang, liqueur infused, white and dark chocolate mud cake for my birthday. It was incredible! So when I knew that two of my Traditional Chinese Medicine Masters course buddies were celebrating their birthdays around the time of our latest on-campus workshop at the University of Western Sydney, I knew just what to make for them – Yin Yang cakes, but this time mini ones, to survive the journey from Brisbane to Campbelltown.

Like everything I bake, these were gluten and dairy-free (with one small exception that is easily removed, the white chocolate chip on top that makes the Yang in the Yin). I won’t pretend that these are in anyway healthy, just a suitable treat for people with dairy and gluten intolerance. They are high in fat and sugar. But they are a birthday treat and the eight or so people who ate them seemed to really enjoy them, so eat one, enjoy it and share the rest.

Yin Yang Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80g nuttelex or coconut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour, extra

Icing ingredients

  • 1/2 container of tofutti (soy cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup nuttelex or butter alternative
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, extra
  • 12 dark chocolate chips
  • 12 white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare 12 hole cupcake tray with cupcake papers
  3. Mix flour, sugar and sifted baking powder together.
  4. Mix in vanilla, nuttelex or coconut butter, eggs and water, beat well.
  5. Divide mix into evenly into two separate bowls.
  6. Add in sifted cocoa to one bowl and extra flour to the other. Beat each bowl until mixed well.
  7. Spoon mix into cupcake tray with chocolate on one half of the cupcake hole and vanilla mix on the other, until all holes are half full.
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  9. Allow cupcakes to cool.yin yang cupcake uniced web
  10. To make icing: mix tofutti and nuttelex together, then sift in icing sugar and mix well. Divide mixture evenly into two bowls. Sift the cocoa into one bowl and the extra icing sugar into the other. Mix each bowl so ingredients are combined well. To make a thicker icing add more icing sugar.
  11. Decorate each cake with white or chocolate icing on the appropriate half of the cupcake in a Yin Yang pattern (as in the photo). Finish the design off with a dark chocolate chip on the white side and a white chocolate chip on the cocoa side. Then refridgerate to set the icing.Yin yang cupcake iced web

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, fertility, food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Vegetarian quiche: a tasty gluten & dairy-free recipe

quicheOn the weekend I gave this paleo quiche recipe a whirl. I have to say that I was mightily impressed.

The great thing about the paleolithic diet is that they don’t use grains or dairy and so us gluten and dairy-free people can borrow their recipes.

Even though you have to make the base (which is made from almond meal, eggs and fresh herbs), it’s still quite a quick and easy recipe.

I doubled the zucchini and onion in the recipe – but would love to try this recipe with some sweet potato and maybe some olives to add  sweet and salty flavours to the recipe, plus some extra colour. I’d also add another one or two eggs to the filling to have it rise a little higher on the base when cooked. Use coconut oil instead of butter in the base if you are doing the dairy-free version.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, this quiche is a Yin and Blood nourishing dish. The almonds are moistening for the digestive system and lungs, and the eggs nourish the fluids and blood of the body (particularly they are noted as a female reproductive organ tonic). If you want to nourish the Blood further, add spinach or kale to this recipe.

The base was delicious and minus the savoury herbs would make an excellent base for a sweet fruit tart. This will be my next cooking experiment and I shall report back! Watch this space…

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, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Delicious vegetarian nachos (gluten and dairy free)

nachosOne of the areas my patients seem to struggle with is how to eat well when life is busy. Limited time means that eating wholesome, healthy, homemade food can seem out of reach and so it becomes that fast food is an easy replacement if the meal isn’t skipped altogether.

I’d suggest having a few quick and easy recipes up your sleeve for busy nights when you don’t have time to cook your ideal healthy homemade meal.  (Here‘s some other ideas for anyone who finds being busy and healthy mutually exclusive.)

My first fall back is an omelette packed with veggies. It’s fast and nutritious. Here’s my recipe.

Another quick meal is vegetarian nachos. I try to squeeze in as many nutritious foods as I can into these. I’ve ditched the dairy (no sour cream or cheese here) and well, these nachos are bulked up with so many other great ingredients that you just don’t need it.  Plus, they are so much tastier than any nachos I’ve had anywhere else.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective I see this as a yin and blood nourishing meal.  The red kidney beans, spinach and tomato mix support the blood. Avocado provides good oils for the body and nourish our yin. The chili and onion are pungent and warm aiding the digestion of the richer, cooler and more nourishing ingredients.  From a nutritional perspective, this meal is full of fibre and contains a good serve of vegetarian protein.  The lycopene in cooked tomatoes are particularly good for prostate health in men.

Ingredients

  • Organic corn chips
  • Kidney beans (best case scenario: soaked the night before and cooked, otherwise 1 can of organic canned kidney beans)
  • Cooked tomatoes (here’s a nice way to replace canned tomatoes to avoid the BPA lining in the can, otherwise 1 can of organic diced tomatoes)
  • Organic salsa (as hot as you like it), 1 jar
  • Avocado
  • Half a lemon
  • Half a red onion, finely diced
  • Baby spinach leaves

Method

  1. In a small saucepan mix and heat kidney beans and tomatoes.
  2. Mash avocado with onion and squeeze lemon juice into mix.
  3. Spread half the corn chips onto a large plate and top with spinach leaves.
  4. Spoon half of the hot tomato and kidney bean mix over the corn chips.
  5. Top with half a jar of salsa.
  6. Lastly, serve with half the avocado mix on top.

You should have enough of the corn chips, bean mix, salsa and avocado mix to make a second serve.

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.

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.