Tag: chinesemedicine

General Health

Understanding and helping stress with Chinese Medicine

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How stress affects the body

In biomedicine:

Life is stressful, and stress is almost unavoidable in the fast-paced, demanding lifestyle of today. The body naturally responds to stressful situations through releasing the hormone cortisol, and initiating the ‘fight or flight’ response, which helps us to make decisions in these situations. However, when stress occurs for long periods of time, and our bodies are constantly in this state of ‘fight or flight’, this can develop in to other conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, anxiety and depression.

In Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, stress slows and disrupts the circulation of substances through the body, namely Qi and Blood*. The Liver* is responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of Qi, which is why Liver Qi Stagnation is one of the most common diagnoses we make when we see patients with stress. Common physical symptoms we will see for Liver Qi Stagnation include muscular tension (especially of the neck and shoulders), headaches, discomfort in the sides of the ribs and chest tightness. Other symptoms occur as a result of secondary damage to other body systems, which all become affected when our Qi is not circulating as it should. Digestive symptoms such as loose or hard bowel motions, as well as sleep problems, a lack of energy, depression, anxiety and feelings of heat may also occur with excessive stress.

The relationship between stress and these other symptoms is through the organ-channel relationships and interconnectedness of the body’s systems that is seen throughout Chinese Medical theory. This ancient, holistic view of the body only makes more sense as stress and mood disorders become more prevalent in modern society. Many are beginning to opt for natural relief alternatives such as acupuncture and herbs to relieve symptoms of stress and relax the body and mind.

How can Chinese Medicine help?

Scientific research has been performed to investigate the calming effect that many people experience with acupuncture. It has been suggested that acupuncture stimulates the release of and alters the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which assists in emotional regulation. A study performed in 2015 by Bosch et al. found that acupuncture is effective for improving quality of life, sleep and mood in people suffering from depression. In my treatments, I work with my patients using a combination of acupuncture, herbs, auricular acupressure and lifestyle advice to help them through the hard times and back on their feet.

 

*Note- Organs and substances mentioned in this report relate to the Chinese Medicine understanding of Blood or organ-channel system function, not the Western biomedical concepts. As such, unless there is a Western Medical problem, the organs mentioned in this report are unlikely to show up in blood tests or ultra sounds showing dysfunction.

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The mind is just as important as the body in health.

Diet & Digestion

Top TCM tips for healthier eating

Top TCM tips for healthier eating

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Supporting the Spleen and Stomach

TCM believes that the Spleen and Stomach are majorly responsible for our digestion and the break down of food/drink. There are many ways we can support these organs so that our digestion works best.

Here are my top Traditional Chinese Medicine tips for optimal digestion:
 

1.    Eat 80% warm and cooked foods and warm/hot beverages
The body has to work harder to warm up and break down raw and cold foods and cold drinks, so eating foods that are warm and cooked ensures that your Spleen and Stomach can work faster and more efficiently to extract nutrients from what we eat.

2.   Practice moderation; eat until you are around 70-80% full.
When we overeat, our bodies are forced to work harder and faster to try and digest the excess food we eat. A lot of the time, our bodies struggle to handle this extra workload, and this leads to Qi Stagnation. Symptoms of Qi Stagnation include bloating, abdominal pain, gas, indigestion and reflux.

3.    Eat at regular intervals during the day
The Spleen and Stomach work best with a repetitive schedule. If we aim to eat our meals at similar times each day, our body is able to prepare by producing essential enzymes and other substances which help to make digestion that much easier, and run more smoothly.

4. Focus on your meal
When we eat, our minds should be relaxed and focused on our meals. Try to avoid eating when in a rush or on-the-go, stressed, angry or busy. Sit down and appreciate your meals without the distraction of mobile phones, TV, and life's stresses. This will help your organs to digest and absorb the nutrients from your food, and avoid stagnation.

5. Avoid excess greasy, oily, fried and spicy foods
In TCM, too much greasy, oily and fried foods can lead to the formation of what we call Dampness. This is excess fluid that can result in symptoms of loose bowel motions, heaviness of the limbs and bloating. Too much spicy and hot foods such as lamb, chilli and curries can lead to the formation of Heat or Fire within the body. The key is balance.

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?