Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Traditional Chinese Approach to Period Pain

Amongst the multitude of treatment options for those experiencing primary dysmenorrhea (period pain which is not attributed to any other pathology such as: endometriosis, fibroids etc.), traditional Chinese medicine and the complimentary medicine approach excels in the management and treatment of symptoms.

From the western perspective, primary dysmenorrhea is one of the most prevalent and disabling gynecological disorders with no identifiable aetiology. It is a disorder which is said to incur an economic impact on a global scale, with an estimated 600 million work hours and 2 billion dollars lost annually in the USA alone. One study recorded as many as 50% of women were affected by primary dysmenorrhea and another 10% experiencing symptoms severe enough to render them incapacitated.

Despite this, other than ruling out secondary dysmenorrhea, the conventional medical approach can offer little insight to its origin. The level of understanding with regard to causative factors from a TCM point of view is more comprehensive in comparison.

In TCM gynecology, the Liver organ and Penetrating vessel, also known as the Chong Mai, are crucial in the free flow of Qi and Blood. Free flow = a painless existence.

The Chong Mai flows through the uterus and is also known as the sea of blood.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture reduces pain in women with dysmenorrhea

Acupuncture, Tui Na (Chinese remedial massage) and Chinese herbs work to harmonise the flow of Qi and Blood in the uterus by treating meridians on the body. There are however, plenty of things that we can do to ensure free flow without even getting to the point of disease! A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, an abundance of physical activity and relaxation exercises, nourishing sleep habits and an avoidance of drugs and alcohol will all benefit the Chong Mai and help to keep the menstrual cycle in balance. This also applies to the treatment of subfertility with Chinese medicine. A healthy cycle is a good way to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Many women are led to believe that it is quite normal to have a huge amount of pain during menstruation and that it is normal to pop a few pain killers or take oral contraceptives to avoid this. According to the old Chinese texts, this is only a modern pathology. Normal periods are pain free and regular in length.

Conventional medicine, although efficient in its pharmacotherapy, lacks the availability of a lasting solution for primary dysmenorrhea and a youth of periods spent fighting pain with prescription medication or pain killers, often leading to undiagnosed complications with fertility, is pretty common unfortunately.

There is a stack of research out there that shows the efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese herbs in dramatically improving the quality of life and level of pain that women are experiencing. Generally, studies show the best results are had over a 3 month treatment regime for chronic cases. The added benefit of an individualised diagnosis and treatment, is that the effects are seen on a more than symptomatic level. Accompanying symptoms such as referred lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, fatigue, anxiety, and dizziness were also alleviated from acupuncture. TCM treatment is also found to have lasting effects on pain relief of up to a 3-6 month follow up period.

Hugh Hayward – Chinese Medicine Doctor, Acupuncture & Chinese Herbalist, An Mo Tui Na and Qi Nei Tsang

Which juicer is best?

Fresh juices introduce a very high yield of nutrients and phytochemicals and they come with their own enzymes for fast assimilation. They also assist those with an impaired digestion where nutrient absorption from whole foods is impaired. Fresh juices can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream so are a fast way to deliver nutrient dense energy. Fresh juice is far superior to store bought juice, which is why having a juicer is beneficial.

Fresh juices contain enzymes that are beneficial for digestion. Juices that are not made fresh, which are bottled or canned will not oxidise.  This is because the juice has been heated to deactivate all the enzymes by a process called pasteurisation. Juicing allows you to enjoy a wide variety of vegetables that you may not enjoy eating whole and also a good way to consume the recommended daily serving of vegetables.

There is not one perfect juicer for everyone because fruits and vegetables have vastly different properties.  The juicing method that is effective for one may not work while juicing the other.   Fruits, have soft cell walls, and therefore require a gentle extraction method. Apples, pears, watermelon, rock melon and pineapple are some of the fruits that can be juiced with the peels intact.  Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, mandarines, lemons) have a bitter outer rind, and juicing them whole would be too bitter to drink and also contains indigestible chemicals. You can grate away the outer rind (coloured part) while leaving the pith (white part).

Vegetables have fibrous or tougher cell walls that requiring more mechanical juicing action than fruit.  Due to their low acid content, it is recommended that vegetable juices be consumed within 15 minutes of their preparation. It has been demonstrated that enzyme activity in juice 30 minutes old is one-half that of freshly made juice. When apple or carrot juice turns brown, it has oxidised.  Ideally juices are made from raw organic fruits and vegetables.

General factors to consider when looking for a juicer

Purpose: What will you be using the juicer for? Mostly fruit, mostly vegetables, grasses and leafy greens, or everything?

RMP rating: A low RMP is considered preferable. Juicers with higher RPM ratings create heat and impact shock, destroying enzyme and nutrient content in the juice.

Powerful motor: A low-powered motor will vibrate, make noise, sometimes overheat, and eventually burn out.

Quiet operation: Some juicers can be very loud depending on the RPM and motor quality.

A range of juicing abilities: It is important to select a juicer that will process the widest range of health-promoting herbs, plants, vegetables and fruits, or is specific for your individual requirements.

Parts: What materials are the components made from? Can they be cleaned in a dishwasher?

Health benefits: Enzyme and nutritional content, shelf life, yield.

Easy to operate: Not all juicers are the same when it comes to ease of operation and cleaning. High RPM juicers need more frequent juicing and cleaning sessions are required because their juice rapidly loses nutritional value and has to be consumed immediately.

Additional benefits to consider: What else can it do? Does it have useful accessories and attachments included? Can it make other things like pasta, nut butters, desserts, baby food etc.? Does it come with a warranty?

Type 1: Twin Gear

These juicers have two gears that press the juice out of the produce. The screws (also known as augers) turn at 90-110 rpm. The produce is pushed into the two gears, which first shreds, and then squeezes the produce. These are best for juicing vegetables since these machines rely on the fibrous cell wall to push the pulp through the machine and they will also juice wheatgrass. These machines require some pressure to feed the produce into the machine. Some brands are also able to homogenise. This is important if you wish to make things like raw apple sauce, fruit sorbets, nut butters, or baby food.

 

Twin Gear Juicer

Twin Gear Juicer

 

Pros

  • Well-suited to juicing leafy greens, grasses, sprouts and herbs
  • Higher juice yield
  • Juice lasts longer with enzyme integrity keeping for up to 72 hours
  • Lower speeds means less heat is generated, preserving more nutrients and enzymes
  • Minimal juice separation and foaming
  • Some models offer other food processing functions, such as being able to make nut milk, nut butter, sorbet, pasta and ice cream
  • Pressing action is quiet.
  • Cold pressed juicers extract 35% more juice out of produce

Cons

  • Higher initial cost
  • Longer food preparation, as smaller food pieces are required for their narrow chutes
  • Slightly higher pulp in juice

Type 2: Masticating (single gear)

It operates at lower speed via a masticating or cold press method which doesn’t disrupt cellular structure. This slowness preserves enzymes and nutrients and reduces oxidation. Juice yield is higher than with centrifugal and makes drier expelled pulp.

In contrast to the rough extraction and high speeds of centrifugal juicers, cold press juicers operate at lower speeds and gently compress fruit and vegetables to squeeze out their juice. While more costly, their slower and more thorough extraction rates produce a higher-quality juice, and higher yield. Cold pressed juicers operate at lower speeds (usually around 70-80 rpm), keeping heat generation to a minimum. This produces a better tasting juice with minimal foam and separation and also means that the beneficial enzymes and nutrients are retained.

 

Masticating Juicer

Masticating Juicer

 

Pros

  • Well-suited to juicing leafy greens, grasses, sprouts and herbs
  • Higher juice yield
  • Juice lasts longer with enzyme integrity keeping for up to 72 hours
  • Lower speeds means less heat is generated, preserving more nutrients and enzymes
  • Minimal juice separation and foaming
  • Some models offer other food processing functions, such as being able to make nut milk, nut butter, sorbet, pasta and ice cream
  • Pressing action is quiet.
  • Cold pressed juicers extract 35% more juice

Cons

  • Higher initial cost
  • Longer food preparation, as smaller food pieces are required for their narrow chutes
  • Slightly higher pulp in juice

Type 3: Centrifugal

Centrifugal juicers are commonly available and are the cheapest type to purchase. These machines initially extract juice by pulverising fruit and vegetables against a round cutting blade that spins very quickly against a metal strainer. The centrifugal force generated by the spinning motion of the cutting surface separates the juice from the pulp. It uses a grater or shredder disc and a strainer basket with straight sides to hold the pulp in the machine.  The shredder disk is at the bottom of the basket, which revolves at a high speed (3600 rpm). Produce is put into the top of the machine, and it pressed through a chute, hits the spinning shredder disc, while the produce is being shred, juice is released.  The basket spins at a high speed and force pushes the juice through the strainer basket and then out of the front of the machine while the pulp stays inside. This style of juicer can make 500ml before the juicer must be stopped, and the pulp must be removed before further juicing can take place.  This is not a continuous juicing appliance. This juicer is good for juicing most fruits and vegetables.

 

Centrifugal Juicer

Centrifugal Juicer

 

Pros

  • Fast juicing time
  • Cheaper to purchase
  • Easy to use
  • Reduces food preparation time as many accept larger fruit and vegetable pieces

Cons

  • Not well-suited to juicing leafy greens, grasses, sprouts and herbs
  • Yields less juice (produces a wet pulp)
  • Reduced juice quality due to fast spinning blades producing heat that destroy beneficial enzymes
  • Higher juice separation and foaming
  • Noisy because of the grinding and cutting action

Additional Information

In between juicing you can run some water through the juicer to rinse it. It is recommended that you rinse and clean your juicer as soon as you’ve finished using it. When you get into a routine of cleaning your juicer it’s quite easy to keep clean and ready to use.

Alkaline forming fruits and vegetables should form the largest part of your juicing produce. Alkaline fruits are: lemon, lime, avocado, tomato, grapefruit, and rhubarb. Watermelon is neutral. All other fruits are acid forming.

Alkaline vegetables are: asparagus, artichokes, cabbage, lettuce, onion, cauliflower, radish, swede, peas, zucchini, red cabbage, leeks, watercress, spinach, turnip, chives, carrot, green beans, beetroot, garlic, celery, grasses (wheat, straw, barley, kamut etc.), cucumber, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, sprouts (soy, alfalfa, mung bean, wheat, little radish, chickpea, broccoli etc.).

After regularly consuming freshly pressed vegetable juices, which are highly alkalising, you will experience improved energy levels, digestion and mental clarity, clearer skin, and an overall sense of wellbeing.

Blending and Juicing

The difference between juicing and blending is a juicer extracts juice without the pulp, where a blender blends everything into a purée. Pulp is the fibrous content of the produce which slows down digestion time and is beneficial for the colon microbiota as this feeds the good bacteria which in turn benefits your immune system. Slower digestion time reduces the glycemic index or GI and this is going to be beneficial for diabetic or pre-diabetic conditions.

The fibre or pulp content reduces nutrient absorption however, and requires enzymes to digest it which in turn consumes more energy. Blended foods will also include chemical pesticides unless organic food is sourced. For foods not able to be organically sourced it is best to peel them (particularly waxed fruit or veggies). For root vegetables (e.g. carrots, beetroot) trim the above ground ends and they can be cleansed by blanching prior to juicing (blanching= dropped into boiling water for a minute or so). Blenders use high speed spinning that causes oxidation and can destroy enzymes. They are not the best for high iron content foods that oxidize quickly. Lemon can be added to reduce this but you will need to consider taste.

Juicing produces very high nutrient availability and this promotes healing but may also give healing crisis during juicing detoxes. Detoxification also known as ‘healing crisis’ may be a side effect of juicing for people new to juicing. While for some people this sign of impending good health is wonderful, others may not have the time needed to allow for this process. The process is where old symptoms or patterns of the past may arise transiently or you may experience new symptoms. As healing happens from the inside out, from the top down and from major to minor organs/systems or in reverse order of symptom pattern, you can observe the transition.

To limit or reduce the experience of a healing crisis (for the time challenged) smaller measures are taken over a longer time. You may consider combining your juices into a blender to get benefits of both.

Other important things to remember are to include plenty of water when juicing. Water helps to cleanse and remove wastes from our system. Lemon will loosen and bring out mucus and is good for liver cleansing. Lemon is not acidic to the body, it is alkaline.

Fasting

You may want to consider a juice fast. Fasting causes the liver to convert glycogen stores to glucose and energy. Body fat can be used to ATP but it cannot generate or reform glucose which is needed to supply the brain and central nervous system. Proteins are broken down and used to produce this glucose. In order to prevent protein catabolism, juicing can supply the glucose needed instead. With juice fasting there is less ketosis (byproducts of fat metabolism) which can prevent toxic build up during the fast.

When NOT to fast: pregnant, nursing, underweight, fatigue, low immunity, low blood pressure, colder weather, nutritionally deficient.

Raw foods are very yin and so an excess of this is not recommended for people with excess yin conditions. Ensure in this case to include plenty of cooked warming foods in the diet to balance out the raw food intake. You may use your blender to make purée soups for example.

Certain types of fruits and vegetables can also assist with particular health conditions or be used for target specific organ cleansing.

Fruit juices:

Apple – liver, intestines

Black cherry- colon, menstrual problems, gout

Citrus – cardiovascular disease, obesity, haemorrhoids, varicose veins

Grape – colon, anaemia

Lemon – liver, gall bladder, allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, colds

Paw paw – stomach, indigestion, haemorrhoids, colitis

Pear – gall bladder

Pineapple- allergies, arthritis, inflammation, oedema, haemorrhoids

Watermelon – kidneys, oedema

Vegetable juices:

Beetroot – blood, liver, menstrual problems, arthritis

Beetroot greens – gall bladder, liver, osteoporosis

Cabbage – colitis, ulcers

Carrot s- eyes, arthritis, osteoporosis

Celery – kidneys, diabetes, osteoporosis

Comfrey – intestines, hypertension, osteoporosis

Cucumber – oedema, diabetes

Garlic – allergies, colds, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, high fats/high cholesterol, diabetes

Jerusalem artichokes – diabetes

Leafy greens – cardiovascular disease, skin, eczema, digestive problems, obesity, breath

Parsley – kidneys, oedema, arthritis

Potatoes – intestines, ulcer

Radish – liver, high cholesterol, obesity

Spinach – anaemia, eczema

Watercress – anaemia, liver intestines, breath

For weight loss include:

More of: grapefruit, lemon, cucumber, greens, parsley, spinach

Less of: apples, grapes, oranges, carrots

 

Makensi Caldwell – Certified Bodytalk & Holographics Practitioner, Bachelor of Nutritional Medicine

Cleansing Summer Salad for Post-Holiday Overindulgence

This is a modified version of a recipe that my sister and I created.

If you’ve let yourself go a little too loosely over the Christmas feasting period, and are keen to break free of that sluggish bog before the New Year has taken over, this is the recipe for you.

The Chinese medicine pathology is labelled as food accumulation in the middle burner, and more than likely, if the break was accompanied with excessive alcohol consumption, damp-heat in the stomach and large intestine.

Based on what we know about the enteric nervous system and the chemistry of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), eating to excess will generally leave you with a feeling of slackness. It can also cause symptoms such as reflux, indigestion or heart burn, nausea, bloating and sensitivity to certain foods. Excessive food consumption can also give you a generalised feeling of inflammation such as aches and pains, loose stools, pain or burning on passing, phlegm or cold and flu symptoms. All of these drawbacks are exacerbated by drinking large amounts of alcohol and can even feel similar to a week-long hangover.

 

Eating to excess will generally leave you with a feeling of slackness.

 

This recipe helps to re-establish the gut health and move the accumulated gunk through to the other end. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) terms, we are looking to alleviate this accumulation, clear the heat (inflammation), and moisten and nourish the Middle Burner (GIT).

Ingredients (roughly 6 servings)

2 cucumbers

1 large bunch of coriander

1 or 2 fresh chilies

1 small handful of sesame or sunflower seeds

2 cups sprouted lentils or sprouted mung beans

Dressing

1 nub of fresh ginger

As much garlic as you like

Juice of 1 or 2 limes depending on taste

2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. soy sauce or Tamari

1 teaspoon of raw sugar or coconut sugar

(This recipe is great with boiled quinoa as a protein addition if you are so inclined)

How to sprout lentils and other beans 

  1. Buy whole green lentils or mung beans, rinse them and let them soak in a large jar or container for 12 hours or maybe a little longer for mung beans. (Make sure you leave a little excess room in the jar because they expand to about double the original volume).
  2. Drain the water and cover with a tea towel or breathable membrane to keep the air flowing and the bugs out.
  3. Repeat the rinse and drain about 3 times per day to keep them moist and your lentils should be well and truly sprouted by day three. They are edible at any stage after the soak but I prefer to leave them to get a nice long sprout.

Cleansing Summer Salad

Cut cucumbers into small cubes, then finely chop coriander and chilies. Add to a large salad bowl together with the sesame seeds and sprouted lentils.

Salad Dressing

Finely chop or blend the ginger and garlic and place into a small bowl or jar. Add the juice of a lime, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar to the ginger and garlic, and stir or shake.

Note:

The longer that you let this dressing sit before adding it to the salad, the garlic and ginger will lose its spice so depending on how you like it, you could let it soak for a day or just eat it fresh. Adding the chilies to the dressing rather than to the salad will have a similar effect, so if you like it mild let it soak!

Hugh Hayward – Chinese Medicine Doctor (CMD), Bachelor of Health Science, Diploma An Mo Tui Na Massage

Headaches and Remedial Massage

Headaches and remedial massage

The most common headaches are vascular and muscle tension headaches.

The presence of throbbing or pounding pain is often the result of swelling and constricting blood vessels.

With muscle tension headaches, it is common to find a dull, constant ache due to the tense muscles.

The use of drugs is not always effective and can cause irritating side effects and sometime serious ones if not used correctly.

A fantastic and effective solution for headaches is remedial massage. It relieves pain by relaxing the tense muscles, causing them to place less pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that supply them. The German magazine “Vital”, after a survey conducted among experts of the health sector, came to the conclusion that remedial massage therapy can be more effective than analgesics or pain relieving medication.

 

Massage for headache relief

A fantastic and effective solution for headaches is remedial massage.

 

Remedial massage, used in conjunction with stretching and targeted exercises, minimizes the discomfort caused by headaches without side effects.

Scientists argue that trigger points massage – a technique in which localized finger pressure is done on the painful area on the body – could bring important benefits to people who suffer from headaches and migraines. A self-trigger points massage can be taught for use when the patient is not able to get to the clinic for a massage appointment.

To optimize your massage treatment, it is important to drink a glass of water before your massage session and keep your body hydrated for 24 hours immediately after the treatment. Water helps flush out the toxins that are released during your massage.

Norman Sossi – Adv. Diploma Remedial Massage, Italian Masters Degree in Physiotherapy, French Masters Degree in Osteopathy

 

Why see a hypnotherapist at BNH?

If you are trying to make changes without the power of your subconscious mind then you are making your life a whole lot harder than it needs to be!

Your subconscious mind makes up 95% and your conscious mind is just 5% of your mind! If you can access the power of your subconscious mind why wouldn’t you? Working with the subconscious is a holistic, safe and powerful way to make lasting change.

We consciously use 5% of our minds and 95% is subconscious. Changing the subconscious has a huge impact on how you feel.

About the Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind uses a different language to the conscious mind. The subconscious is the habitual mind where patterns are laid down – and played back whenever they are needed or triggered. The conscious mind is the analytical mind.

It is the subconscious mind that keeps you alive. So that when you sleep at night you remember to breath and all those other vital functions. Believe it or not your subconscious mind LOVES you & just wants the best for you.

But the subconscious speaks a different language to the conscious mind, so you need to speak the language of the subconscious to be able to update any limiting beliefs or undesired habits. Otherwise your message doesn’t get through to the subconscious or worse still it can be heard as the opposite of what you meant!

All your subconscious wants is for you to be safe and happy and alive. But it doesn’t analyse your beliefs and habits. Sometimes things happen in life and the emotions, patterns and beliefs that form your response can get stuck in your body or your subconscious. Most likely they served you at the time…but they may have out stayed their purpose.

The good news is that change doesn’t need to be difficult! There are several ways to access the power of your subconscious mind and update the software that no longer serves you. Our hypnotherapist Jan Sky has over 20 years experience in ‘subconscious whispering’, helping to identify what is driving your thoughts and behaviors so you release what you don’t need and move forward with your life.

As well as using hypnotherapy Jan can use counseling or coaching in her sessions with you. It’s about identifying what will give you the best results and developing a treatment pathway to get you there.

It really doesn’t matter what you want to change, working with the subconscious can literally empower anything! The more well known reasons for using hypnotherapy include:

  • Weight management
  • Fears and phobias
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low self confidence
    …but the list is limitless!

If you’re ready to change your mind to change your life, call us on 3367 0337 to book a hypnotherapy appointment at our Brisbane clinic today.

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Posted by Hugh Hayward – Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and Acupuncturist 

I am writing this article because I figured that there must be a number of people who shared the same confusion I had when first exposed to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I am aware that it works, but how does it work?

The conventional use of medical lingo is not available in TCM and everything has to be translated for those who can’t just accept the shrugging off of questions by ancient gurus time and time again. “It is as it is, don’t complicate things with an explanation”. One part of my brain can deal with this. The other part cannot.

When I am receiving a treatment and putting my time and funds into that therapy, I like to understand it as best as anyone can without being obsessive, and I expect that our patients probably feel the same way. This is one aspect of holistic medicine which separates us from western medicine. The practitioner is the educator and the patient is also the student.

Thankfully, when you get your head around TCM, it is far simpler than most medical systems and when you start to see life in light of this, the subtle aspects of your own health and others around you become obvious. This is ideal in preventative medicine because it pays to know the signs. Why wait until you are crippled by some illness to receive the treatment? TCM is based on the Tao (or Dao) and the Tao is all encompassing. It is not something you receive when you go to the hospital – it is a way of life. People treat wellbeing as something to cross off their list, but being is an expression of existence. Only a sick person would choose to exist any other way than in wellness.

TCM is one of the oldest healing systems on the planet.

The TCM Theoretical Diagnostic Construct

The best way, I think, to view Chinese Medicine is as a theoretical diagnostic construct. It began with herbal medicine, moxibustion and qi gong (a form of exercise which promotes wellbeing) before acupuncture needles or even acupuncture points were ever used. They started with the knowledge of ‘qi’ and an understanding of channel pathways on the body – that when manipulated with massage and heat would give a therapeutic effect. It is my opinion that TCM as we know it today is the result of a meticulous system of trial and error. The medicine came before the explanation, and the results came before the research and thus an ideology was born to aid diagnosis and treatment. Acupuncture points and meridians then evolved with this set of guidelines as a basis and continues to develop today.

To appease the analytical mind, and to create a catalogue of symptoms and indications, a few ideas were employed.

The theory of yin and yang and the origin of the Tao.

The theory of the Tao is not to be mistaken with the religious following of Taoism. Taoist philosophy and religious beliefs are thought to have originated much later, as collaborated from ancient literature and teachings by the renowned Lao Tzu.

Fu Hsi, while never staking a claim in the origination of the Tao, was around much earlier than Lao Tzu. In any case, wondering where the Tao came from is as pointless as wondering about the birth of the cosmos. The Tao, being all encompassing, does not have an origin. It is a description of the reality of change and the balance of nature in all aspects of existence. The where, how, why and when is inconsequential to the Tao. We have a habit in trying to quantify everything in order to make sense of it. The theory of yin and yang helps us to grasp what is infinite in nature.

Yin and yang is a symbol of opposites – you can not have something without the other side balancing.

Yin and yang is a symbol of the concept of balance and the duality of existence. There is a little bit of something in everything else. The light of day and the darkness of night can only be quantified by their relative comparison. They only exist in our minds because of the other. This basic concept can be realised in every aspect of life. Everything is subject to change and thus everything is bound to become balanced. For example, night and day, substance and mechanism, stasis and movement, rest and work, passivity and aggression, cold and hot, empty and full, solid and hollow: all can be compared against their yin and yang counterpart.

The human body is bound by the concept of yin and yang and it is used to diagnose and treat disease in allowing the practitioner to work towards the ultimate balance of homeostasis.

What is Qi?

The concept of qi in Chinese medicine is rarely discussed but its importance lies in the core of the therapy and most patients don’t even know of its existence. Many modern TCM practitioners don’t even give it recognition beyond its symbology. Qi is often regarded as diagnostic terminology. It has become a name given to a specific pathology. Blood follows the qi, less qi is weakness and more qi is strength. This definition is watered down. It sets a limit for something which is not quantifiable and aims to measure it.

Qi is in everything. Yin and yang and the Tao are all forms of qi. Qi is not energy in the sense that we know it. When we think of energy, we think of a substance that can be spent and used like currency, when it is actually only ever redirected or converted, and like qi, neither can be destroyed. Energy is measured in force, heat and charge but now we know that it exists in all things and even in those that would appear to be stagnant. Magnetic, thermal and gravitational forces exist all around us, but we are in the habit of not feeling this.

Similar to quantum theory, qi exists as the expression of life force, but not just in all things living, but in patterns of vibrational changes which no space or matter is devoid. Electrons shift and bounce between molecules in a seemingly stagnant or solid object, while the core molecular recipe ripples outwards, creating the forms which we perceive.

This is significant in every aspect of existence and we use it in Chinese medicine. In recognising the manifestation of a microcosm, the practitioner is able to see into the body and treat the whole body macrocosm.

TCM as we know it today

The theory of Chinese medicine is becoming lost in the facts. In evolving with the modern world of research and evidence based medicine, TCM now has to comply or become lumped into the category of quackery. The evidence is there! TCM has been used to effectively treat disease for ages. While the science based advancement of acupuncture in the west benefits its exposure, many believe that this movement is a movement away from the Tao. Research based medicine is designed to gauge efficacy when compared with a placebo or a control. Comparing something that we are trying to understand (TCM), to something that we don’t understand (placebo) doesn’t have the clearest results.

The issue is that research has been structured like this based on the principle of western conventional ideologies and the two medicines could not be more different in their approach. When we apply an ancient medicine in the West, the danger is in adapting it to suit us. So instead, we need to adapt to suit the medicine.

So, the answer is, we don’t know how it works! We know what it does and we have a collection of theories about how and why, but more research needs to be applied to the mechanism of acupuncture when used in line with TCM theory, rather than efficacy and point prescription. We are taking something that when used as a whole is complete, and separating it into tiny pieces to be looked at under a microscope, all the while forgetting to see the big picture.

7 Tips To Avoid Antibiotic Use

This week is International Antibiotic Awareness week – where the importance of not using antibiotics unless absolutely necessary is promoted. Antibiotic overuse has lead to drug-resistant bacteria which is unable to be treated, and therefore is very dangerous to the population. Studies have also found that antibiotics promote the formation of biofilms, a coating created by the bacteria which shields it from the immune system and treatment only to be released later and re-infect the host.

It goes without saying that the less antibiotics we use the better. The WHO are now recommending that antibiotic use be restricted, but just 10 years ago antibiotics were given out to most people with any decent sort of cold or ailment. Not only do antibiotics kill bad bacteria, they destroy your beneficial gut bacteria and can lead to dysbiosis, where there is a bacterial or fungal imbalance in the gut.

There are many ways to avoid antibiotic use, with most of them coming down to your own natural ability to ward of illness. Here are our top 7 tips…

  1. Curb your stress

Stress directly depletes your immune system. We all would have experienced getting run down then catching a cold during times of stress or high pressure. When we treat immune dysfunction, we always need to look at the nervous system; otherwise you are only addressing part of the picture. Ways to reduce stress include making sure that you have time off work, including exercise and relaxation in your daily routine and practicing deep breathing exercises. Naturopathy and acupuncture are great for helping your body cope with stress more effectively, and hypnotherapy or counselling can help to give you some tools to cope with stress better on a day to day basis.

 

  1. Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep deprivation is the second largest cause of immune dysfunction. It can often follow stress, as high stress can lead to insomnia and can wake you up during the night. You need to sleep for a solid 8 hours, uninterrupted, in order for your immune system to function at its peak. If you have issues with sleep, try avoiding stimulation one hour before bed, keep the lighting down low and go to bed the same time every night. Naturopathy works well to fix sleep problems, so consider making an appointment if your sleep isn’t ideal.

 

  1. Avoid sugar

Sugar depletes your immune system, so if you’re hitting the sweets it could leave you more susceptible to infection. Cut out sugar from the diet in the form of soft drinks, fruit juice, yoghurt, biscuits, cakes, canned food, sauces and spreads. Natural, raw honey would be a great sugar substitute because it contains natural antibacterial properties and is immune enhancing.

 

  1. Eat an onion

Onions and garlic have both been shown to have significant immune boosting properties. Including these foods in your diet can help to ward off colds and flus and leave you in a better place to respond if you do come down with something. Try eating a clove of garlic each day during the cold and flu season and use onion liberally in cooking.

 

  1. Eat probiotic foods

Did you know that over 80% of your immune system is in your gut? We need to include lots of good probiotic bacteria through the diet to support the natural gut immunity. Probiotic foods include yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and miso. Check out this article to learn how to make your own probiotic foods.

 

  1. Boost up on berries

Berries are one of the most widely studied immune boosting foods. They are high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which help to support your own natural immunity to ward of infection. Eat them on their own, put them into smoothies, sprinkle them over cereal or have with some good quality probiotic yoghurt. Berries can be high in pesticides, so try to eat organic if you can (fresh or frozen are fine).

 

  1. Get help early on

The best way to avoid getting put on antibiotics when you are sick is to get help early. There are many herbs and nutrients that are clinically proven to help prevent colds and flus, reduce the severity of illness and bolster your immune system. Ultimately, it is your immune system that will be the one to resolve the illness, whether it is with the help of antibiotics or not. Herbal medicines and nutritional supplements help to enhance your own natural immunity so that it can kick the butt of whatever pathogen it is exposed to. If you know you get sick easily, naturopathy can help to get your immune system back on track so this stops happening. If you get a cold or flu that you think is a bit nastier than usual, come and see our naturopaths as soon as possible and they will give you something to help you get better sooner, and without antibiotics. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is also very effective for immune boosting and can help get you back to your life sooner.

 

We hope these tips will help to reduce your chances of ending up on antibiotics, as we know just how detrimental these are for you. If you have had a lot of antibiotics, we can also help with gut healing and recovery to get your body back in balance. Call us on 07 3367 0337 with any queries.