Category: Acupuncture

Acupuncture

TCM and Acupuncture Facts

1. Chinese Medicine has been around for over 2100 years!

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) involves a range of medicine practices that were developed in China around 2000 years ago. The earliest known record of Chinese Medicine is in the Huangdi Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) from the 3rd Century BCE.

2. You can fit 20-30 acupuncture needles inside a hypodermic needle/medical syringe.

Many people fear that acupuncture is a painful treatment, however, acupuncture needles are very small and often painless- some are the size of a human hair! Commonly used sizes range from 0.12-0.25mm, so you can actually fit 20-30 acupuncture needles in the opening of a medical syringe! (1)

3. Acupuncture doesn’t only help pain.

Although acupuncture has been found to be effective for pain conditions such as chronic low back pain and headache (2), acupuncture has been used for centuries for a wide range of conditions. I have seen great results in the clinic in areas of women’s health and fertility, mood disorders, sleep issues, digestive health, skin conditions and much, much more! Chinese Medicine is a holistic, complete system of medicine that focuses on providing balance to the whole body, which means TCM practitioners are trained in assisting all of your health concerns.

4. Chinese Medicine treatments are completely tailored to you and your body!

Traditional Chinese Medicine is highly individualised, meaning that two people with the same symptom may receive very different acupuncture points, physical therapies and/or herbs. A comprehensive health history and understanding of your body is needed to make a diagnosis in TCM, and treatments will differ to address what your body needs.

5. TCM Practitioners undergo extensive professional training.

To become a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, you must complete a four to five year full-time Australian bachelor degree program in acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine. These courses provide a comprehensive knowledge of both Traditional Chinese Medical and Western Medical theory and practice. All Australian acupuncturists are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and accredited by another independent Health association.

Acupuncture

Living in accordance with your menstrual cycle- Chinese Medicine

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Why should I care about my menstrual cycle?

Understanding your cycle and reproductive health as a woman (or person with female reproductive organs) is a form of empowerment, and provides a level of deeper understanding and connectedness to your body that is not always taught in schools. Chinese Medicine understands the period as a vital sign, where changes and irregularities indicate an imbalance in the body and/or disease.

How does Chinese Medicine understand the menstrual cycle?

In Chinese Medicine (TCM), the menstrual cycle is a complex ebb and flow of the Yin and Yang energies within our bodies. In Western Medicine, we understand this as hormonal fluctuations that enable the development and release of matured follicles for either conception or loss via a period on a monthly basis.

Yin and Yang are interdependent energies that act as complementary opposites which create a whole. Yin is more related to stillness, night-time, cooling and calmness. Yang, on the other hand, relates to movement, day-time, warmth and expressiveness or exuberance. Within the body, the Yin is understood as the structure; the body itself, whilst the Yang is the energy and physiological action that drives its functions.

What TCM also understands is how we can complement these Yin and Yang fluctuations by living in accordance to our cycle. We can change the way we eat, move and live to help ensure our bodies support our menstrual cycle each month.

 

Our bodies throughout our cycle: Western vs. Chinese Medicine

 

Phase 1: Period

Hello menstruation! This first phase occurs from day 1 of bleeding. Most women will bleed for around 3 to 5 days, however, anything up to 7 days is considered normal. During our period, the pituitary gland in the brain begins producing luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the growth of new follicles (small sacs produced by the ovaries). We lose blood due to our uterine lining sloughing off. Blood is believed to be Yin in nature and therefore, we are losing Yin. This is thought of as a more Yin-type phase of our cycle.

How should we live during menstruation?

As highlighted, we need to replace the Yin we lose, and to do this, we need to stay hydrated, warm, and avoid doing vigorous exercise.

  • Don’t deplete your Yin! Enjoy restful activities such as reading, meditation, journaling, cooking and seeing friends and loved ones. If you feel you need to exercise, do some yoga (ideally Yin Yoga) or walking to rebuild your energy gently.
  • Drink lots of tea and water during your cycle. Avoid ice-cold or refrigerated drinks.
  • Stimulate blood circulation through foods like ginger, eggplant, turmeric, seaweed and apple cider vinegar!
  • Eat nourishing, warm and cooked food. Stews, bone broths and soups with veggies, protein and wholegrains are ideal to nourish the blood. Avoid raw, cold foods as these are thought to impede blood flow and create stagnation.
  • Keep yourself warm by placing a hot water bottle or heat pack on your tummy. This can help reduce pain in some women, and also assists blood circulation.
  • Check out my other blog post on period pain to find out ways that you can manage this naturally with acupuncture and more! Here's an article showing good evidence for acupuncture in reducing this pain.

 

Phase 2: The Follicular phase
(end of menstruation to pre-ovulation)

This phase begins at the end of menstruation, when the follicles produced in phase 1 begin to grow until one becomes the most dominant. The uterine lining (endometrium) also thickens and grows. After menstruation, Blood and Yin need to be replenished and nourished. Yin is depleted by stress, overwork, over-exercising irregular eating, so allowing time for rest (both emotional and physical) is key! This is also a Yin-type phase.

How should we live during our follicular phase?
  • In this phase, many begin to feel more energetic and open. Enjoy having more sex during this time. Light to moderate exercise is recommended, and if you prefer vigorous exercise, make sure you take the time to stretch and refuel, so as not to overdo it.
  • Many feel more extroverted during this phase! So, try new things and meet new people!
  • Ensure you get enough sleep, which helps us to restore our Blood, Qi, Yin and Yang.
  • Eat seasonal fruit and veg and avoid sugary, fried and processed foods. Eat high-quality proteins and lots of good fats to nourish the Blood and Yin. Great foods to eat include dark leafy greens, fish, meats (both white and red), berries, avocado, tahini and nuts/ and seeds.
  • Keep your water intake up.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee and smoking.

 

Phase 3: Ovulation

Ovulation generally occurs on day 11-16 of women’s cycles (not only day 14 as commonly thought!), and is affected by a range of factors, including cycle length and physical and mental health.  A surge in LH triggers the release of an egg from the dominant follicle (the one we talked about in phase 2). Yin and fluid levels are at an all-time high, which brings about the appearance of stretchy, fertile mucus (which may look like egg white). This mucus appears to enable sperm to travel to the egg faster. This part of the cycle is thought of as more Yang: warmer and motive, which promotes the release of the egg from the follicles, and allows smooth passage through the fallopian tubes.

This is a transitional phase where we move from Yin to Yang, so live in a more Yang manner!

How should we live during our ovulatory phase?
  • Get moving! Perform exercises that promote blood flow through the hips and pelvis. Moderate to vigorous exercise is recommended here, but make sure not to exercise too excessively, which may disrupt your hormonal balance- always listen to your body. Try activities such as jogging, swimming, cycling, Pilates and resistance training.
  • Avoid emotional stress and bottling emotions up- verbalise your feelings or journal. It is ideal to avoid repressing our emotions at this time to avoid the occurrence or worsening of PMS during our period.
  • Eat lighter foods- enjoy warm salads, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, chicken, beans, eggs and smaller portions of whole grains or carbohydrates. Use mild spices such as ginger, garlic, onion, shallots and cumin in your cooking to move fluids and promote good circulation. Avoid excessive sugar and dairy.
  • As always, stay warm and stay away from overly cold food and drinks. Avoid alcohol, coffee and smoking
  •  Chinese Medicine and acupuncture are often used to promote ovulation for those with ovulatory issues such as anovulation and infertility. Check out this article on acupuncture for promoting ovulation in women with PCOS.

 

Phase 4: Luteal phase
(post-ovulation to pre-menstrual)

Here, the follicle that released the egg during ovulation becomes the corpus luteum, a temporary hormone-secreting structure. This structure begins to break down when pregnancy does not occur, and releases progesterone. This is the most Yang phase of your cycle, and (basal body) temperature increase is expected here with all the extra warming energy present! If you do become pregnant, Yang is needed here to provide energy and security to grow and hold the fetus.

As we draw closer to our period, many women begin to experience pre-menstrual symptoms, and may begin to feel more introverted and withdrawn.

How should we live during our luteal phase?
  • Perform light exercise to promote the movement of Qi and Blood to prepare for a smooth period. Opt for walking outside, pilates, yoga and other lighter activities.
  • Treat yourself to a massage or acupuncture session to relax and promote blood circulation.
  • Many women begin to feel emotionally sensitive at this time. Feeling down, agitated and upset are messages from your body, telling you to slow down. Journal your feelings and thoughts or get outside to reduce stress.
  • Eat plenty of the warm, cooked foods that you would during your period. These will help to boost the Yang to get everything in order for menstruation. Slow-cooked meats, stews, soups and broths with vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, peas, onion, and garlic, as well as herbs and spices such as ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Steam some green vegetables such as bok choy, green beans and broccoli.
  • Avoid raw and cold foods and drinks, as well as too much sugar, dairy, alcohol and coffee.
  • If PMS symptoms such as insomnia, pain, depression and digestive problems are bothering you each period, try acupuncture!

Is your cycle irregular; too short or too long?

Have you lost your period?

Do you experience PMS symptoms such as pain, depression, headaches or digestive upset?

Are you preparing to conceive and are unsure how to promote fertility or live with your cycle?

Book in for an acupuncture session today to balance your hormones, restore a smooth menstrual cycle, and look forward to your monthly period rather than dread it!

Acupuncture

Colds & Flus

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You know the feeling: you wake up with your head pounding, nose stuffy and running, on fire one minute and shivering the next. Colds and flus are contagious infections caused by viruses that affect the respiratory tract.

In Chinese Medicine, we believe that if you take care of your body optimally, it should be strong enough to fight off these viruses when they attack. It is only when your immune system, or Wei (defensive) Qi is weak that we become sick.

Although Chinese Medicine (which is thousands of years old) did not have the technology or advancements available nowadays to identify and understand viruses better, they did understand that these sicknesses were caused by the invasion of foreign pathogens in to the body. Colds and flus are spread mainly by droplets made when people cough, sneeze and talk, which contain the virus.

Because the weather in autumn and winter is cooler and windier, a correlation must have been made between the weather and illness. In particular, these weather conditions, or ‘Wind-Cold’ (a disease name in TCM) were more prevalent in the colder months, and so were respiratory disorders such as colds and flus. Here ‘Wind’ not only relates to the physical, blowing force of the environment, but also to the pathogens found in the air at this time of year.

Wind-Cold is usually diagnosed where a disease that causes symptoms of chills and fever (yet more chills/shivering than fever), headaches at the base of the skull, stiffness of the neck, sneezing, clear mucus, a runny nose and body aches occur.

Wind-Heat is then related to conditions where there is more fever than chills, a sore throat, cough, stuffy/runny nose, yellowish green mucus, headaches at the forehead, red, sore eyes, sinusitis and earaches. Heat is generally considered more intense and aggressive of a sickness than cold-types. This kind of illness is particularly prevalent in Australia.

 

Here are some tips to keep infection away this flu season!
  • Dress warmly: cover your skin with warm clothing. Scarves are great to protect the neck, which is considered vulnerable to Wind.
  • Incorporate acrid foods such as onion, shallots, ginger, cinnamon and garlic in to your diet to nourish and support the Lungs.
  • Drink teas! I love ginger, cinnamon, green tea and chai when I am sick. Check out my post about the benefits of different teas.
  • Eat warm, cooked foods to support digestive system and keep your body at optimal function: think soups, stews, grains, and lots of veggies!
  • Rest: allow yourself the time to get adequate amounts of rest throughout winter. This is the ‘Yin’ time of the year. Exercise to stay fit but don’t overdo it. Yin Yoga, mat Pilates, walking and meditation are great options.
  • Get acupuncture! Build up your immune system and prevent infections throughout the cold seasons, or come in when you first get sick for some amazing herbal remedies and needling to support the body’s immune response and get you back on your feet!

And if you do feel a cold coming on, my number one advice is to sweat it out! We believe that the best way to eliminate the beginnings of a cold or flu is to release the pathogen and sickness through the exterior (the skin). I like to rug up, drink a cinnamon or ginger tea and go to sleep in lots of blankets, or dress warmly and go for a run.

Feeling unwell?

Or need an extra boost this cold and flu season?

Acupuncture

Period pain

Why do we get it? How can an acupuncturist help?

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Period pain, or dysmenorrhoea, is experienced by almost every woman I know, and it’s something that many women just accept as a normal part of their life. Menstrual cramps and pains are usually experienced around the stomach area, but many also feel it in the lower back and thighs. Every person who bleeds monthly is different, and the severity of dysmenorrhoea differs between individuals. For extremely severe pains, one may begin to consider the possibility of endometriosis or adenomyosis.

Why does pain occur?

So why does this pain come on? The uterus contracts all of the time, and especially around the period, but these are usually mild and go by unfelt. Before and during the period, the muscular walls of the uterus contract and tighten quite strongly to shed the inner lining monthly, which causes our bleeding.

The pain that we experience occurs when the local blood vessels are squeezed or compressed during the process of shedding this lining, cutting off blood supply to the uterus, resulting in a release of chemicals which trigger pain. Pain-triggering chemicals stimulate the release of prostaglandins, which only influence stronger contractions, more pain and inflammation.

Chinese Medicine is here to help!

Normal period pain usually responds well to natural treatments and Chinese Medicine. For my own dysmenorrhoea, I find that it completely disappears for months with TCM treatment, and comes back only if I become slack with my diet, stress levels or exercise. I will usually use a combination of acupuncture, lifestyle advice, supplements and herbal medicines for my clients with period pain.

Acupuncture has been found effective for alleviating period pain!

Here are some common natural supplements and herbs that I prescribe clinically:

Sheng Jiang (Ginger): ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain killer for dysmenorrhoea, found as effective as ibuprofen.

Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis): this herb has been found useful in reducing inflammatory pain linked to menstrual cramps.

Jiang Huang (Turmeric): ginger’s cousin! Found to reduce prostaglandins and therefore assists in lessening pain.

Magnesium: reduces those pain-increasing prostaglandins and relaxes the uterus.

Zinc: prevents cramping and pain by also reducing prostaglandins and inflammation.

Fish oil: the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation and prostaglandins.

Note: The above herbs and supplements should be prescribed by a health practitioner to ensure you receive a safe and effective dosage for your condition.

Your periods should not be a monthly nightmare!

Book in with me today to manage and prevent period pain naturally

Acupuncture

Cosmetic Acupuncture: the natural alternative to botox

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What is Cosmetic Acupuncture?

Cosmetic Acupuncture is a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to enhance beauty and skin health, dating back almost 2000 years. In modern times, Cosmetic Acupuncture is gaining popularity amongst beauty gurus and celebrities as more people begin to turn to natural alternatives for anti-ageing treatments. It involves the insertion of specialised, thin needles into the face to stimulate the skin and muscles and address concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, puffy, sagging or dark eyes, dryness, pigmentation, scarring, acne and more!

How does it work?

The needles cause a 'micro-trauma' in the facial skin, increasing blood and lymph flow to the face, which improves cell oxygenation. Cosmetic Acupuncture also stimulates collagen and elastin production, enabling facial rejuvenation. This leads to a variety of amazing benefits, including:

  • Improving the elasticity and firmness of the skin
  • Brightening the complexion and eye area
  • Increasing hydration of the skin
  • Softening scarring and discolouration
  • Lifting areas of sagging and drooping
  • Reducing the depth and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

What can I expect from treatments?

Most people will experience a quick pinch or dull pain upon needle insertion that goes away after a few moments. However, different people are sensitive to different things, so this sensation cannot be guaranteed to all people. Along with acupuncture, I offer facial cupping, gua sha, jade rolling, facial massage and some herbal masks as a package within my Cosmetic treatments. As the skin replaces itself approximately every 28 days, around 1-2 months of treatments are needed to see the lovely changes happening, depending on your skin concerns and constitution.

Rather than injecting your skin with chemicals, Cosmetic Acupuncture is a wonderful way to achieve a more youthful and glowing complexion naturally. As Traditional Chinese Medicine is quite holistic, extra acupuncture points, known as 'grounding' points found on the body will be needled to address your entire state of health. By addressing other health conditions, such as digestive issues, emotional stresses and hormonal imbalances (which can all contribute to the appearance of our skin!), we can ensure your skin, mind and bodily health are balanced, to achieve a holistic harmony.

Get glowing!

Make an appointment with me for some Cosmetic Acupuncture!

Acupuncture

What to expect from an appointment with me

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Yay! You've decided that Chinese Medicine is for you and maybe you've even booked your initial appointment with me. Now what?
1. Making your appointment and arriving at the clinic

If you haven't already made an appointment, send me an email at kiah@healthspaceclinics.com.au or call one of the clinics that you'd prefer, and our lovely receptionist will book you in!

On the day of your first appointment, eat a good breakfast and don't brush your tongue (I'll explain this in the next part!) in the morning. Please arrive 15 minutes early to fill out a 'New Client Form' (unless you have done so online), which can be quite comprehensive and long, but helps me to understand the full picture of your health and you as a person.  After this is completed, I'll greet you and bring you through to our treatment room. We will then sit down and the interview process will begin.

2. The interview process

Now one thing that you should know about Chinese Medicine- our initial interviews are long. We are holistic- and this means that we consider the whole body to make a diagnosis and design a treatment plan that addresses the root of your disease- rather than just one symptom. TCM sees the human body as a system, and when one part of that system is affected, many others become affected too! Together, we will go through your New Client Form, your main complaints, and then a general questioning is performed. These questions include pain, fever or chills, urination, bowel motions, sleep, mental health, gynaecology, digestion, thirst, diet and more.

You may think "Why are you asking me about all of this, if I'm just here for one thing?". Well, we see everything as interconnected, and many times two completely different symptoms may have a deep connection that makes sense to us. All factors of your health help us reach our diagnosis.

3. The tongue, pulse and palpation

In TCM, we use the tongue and pulse diagnostically. The tongue is an interior indicator that we are able to view from the exterior- it tells us about things like heat and the state of your Qi and Blood in your body. The pulse is similar, and we study many  aspects of it to help our diagnosis: the strength, tautness of the artery, beats per minute (BPM), and more. We will also touch (palpate) areas of concern, for reasons such as identifying masses, tightness or other textures.

4. Treatment

After the interview, I will ask you to get ready on the bed while I wait outside, and then cover you with towels. I'll put a few drops of a lovely essential oil in the diffuser, and may heat up a heat pack for you if it's cold. Maybe I'll perform a little Chinese massage, gua sha, or cupping to prepare the area for acupuncture if I think you're needing it. Then, once you're all ready, I'll pop some acupuncture needles into a special selection of points chosen just for your condition.

Acupuncture can feel a little strange for first timers. Upon insertion, you may feel a little pinch or pain that will go away in a few minutes. I'll manipulate your needles gently to achieve a De Qi sensation that may be like tingling, pressure, warmth, pulling or achiness. You may feel emotionally vulnerable or sensitive- this is normal as the needles release physical and emotional stress. You're meant to feel relaxed and comfortable, so let me know if I need to adjust anything before leaving you to relax alone for around 20-30 minutes. When the needles are in, try to relax your mind, meditate, or even take a nap!

5. After your treatment

After checking in with you, I will take out the needles and dispose of them. There may be a little bruise or bleeding, which is normal as we have penetrated the skin, but these will go away.  You may feel a little sleepy or spacey after treatment. Take it easy and don't do any vigorous exercise for the day, acupuncture can be draining and we don't want to overload your body. Also, don't take a shower or swim for at least 3 hours after, as we've opened up your pores and left you vulnerable, so stay cozy!

Acupuncture works best cumulatively- that is, when treatments are regular and results build-up upon one another with each session. We will design a treatment plan that outlines what you want to achieve, how we are going to achieve it, and how long we will aim for to reach your goals. Your next appointment is a review of these findings and our plan. Chronic conditions can take a while to tackle, but with long-lasting results. Usually 6-8 treatments is a good place to start. After six treatments, we will review your progress. At this stage, if you're not completely finished with your healing journey, we will continue and try new approaches. If we both agree that you have healed well, we will plan for (usually monthly or bi-monthly) preventative treatments to keep you on track.

Make an appointment today!

Still unsure? Have any questions?