Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Colds and Flu, Prevention, Tiredness.

Blog Warm and Healthy

 

The latest bout of snow has reminded me that we are fully into the seasonal phase that the Chinese call the Major Cold. Its name comes from the fact that this last part of the year, just before the Chinese New Year, is often the coldest part of the year. Consequently, many people are arriving at the clinic suffering from coughs and colds to sinus infections. So what can we do the look after ourselves during that time of the year?

 

1-      Looking after our digestive system.

This is essentially about eating easily digested foods so we can build up our energy and be ready for the Spring.

Easily digested foods are nice warm, cooked foods such as soups or stews.  Rice, soups such as chicken soup, cooked vegetables are all beneficial, especially when they are teamed with warning spices such as fresh ginger or nutmeg.

In addition, you might want to avoid cold and raw food as well as foods that are overly sweet or greasy (eg greasy meats or sweet deserts/cakes).

Adequate hydration is also important so sipping a nice, warm herbal tea throughout the day will also be beneficial. Ginger tea is a good choice to stimulate digestion.

 

2-      Bone broth

Bone broth has been used in Europe and in China for generations to keep people healthy. I am always trying to make a big pot of bone broth in the week, drinking a cup in the morning with my breakfast.

Here is how to make your own bone broth

 

3-      Soaking your feet

Soaking your feet in warm water was once a daily habit for many people in China and as a TCM practitioner, this is something I would also recommend as it is surprisingly effective. One recipe for a foot soak, especially good for those of us who tend to have cold extremities in winter, is:

About 50g of ginger, sliced

Half a cup of Epson Salt

Boil the ginger in water for a few minutes.

Take a basin big enough to put both feet in and high enough that you can cover your feet with water, up to your ankles.

Put the boiled water in the basin and add enough water so your feet will be covered. The water should be around 40oC (Please check the temperature before putting your feet in. You don’t want to burn yourself but nor do you want the water to be too cold). Add the Epson Salt.

Soak your feet for about 20mins, adding some boiled water if the water in the basin gets too cold.

It is best to do the soak just before going to bed as it will help you stay warm and get a good night rest.

 

4-     Socks and scarves

It sounds quite obvious but protecting yourself with warm clothes when you go out, including covering your neck (with a scarf for example) is essential. This is also about keeping yourself warm at home by wearing slippers in the house (so your feet don’t get cold) or using bed socks in bed if you tend to be easily cold or have cold feet.

This will help you protect yourself from the cold around you as well as from all these colds and coughs.

It is worth noting that science has found a possible explanation as to why getting cold could lead to getting a cold. It’s all down to the fact that our immune system isn’t as strong when we are cold!

 

Over to you

What are you doing to keep you warm and healthy during the winter? Do you tend to get ill or tired quite easily or do you waltz through it all?

 

Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and you might find that you need a bit more support. If you find that during the winter you don’t seem to shake those coughs and colds or you are getting particularly tired, come and see us. Simply give us a call on 01642794063 and we will help you put those under control.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Prevention, Stress, Women's Health.

New Year New You

New Year, New You.

 

How often have we decided at the start of the year that we will get healthier this year? Probably many, many times and just as often, we have also ‘failed’ to keep up with our new year’s resolutions to lose weight and go to the gym 5 times a week….

So, this year, where should you begin?

 

First of all, I think it’s worth remembering the Chinese idea of ‘Nourishing Health’ rather than starting to start doing something because that’s what you ought to do (as per the numerous articles appearing at this time of the year). Part of that routine should be to look after our own body so that it works well, keeps us well and makes us feel great. After all, we only have one body!

Below are 3 simple steps to  help you create positive habits that will make a real difference.

1- Fix your sleeping hygiene

It seems a simple problem to fix. Get more sleep.

But actually we are easily getting distracted by the latest film, the Social Media we are on (and its endless browsing of websites we had never heard about!) or the latest game on our phone. And then we often struggle to fall asleep.

This is why a good routine helps. That routine should include

  • Being asleep before 12.00am to get a good restorative sleep.
  • Getting enough sleep. We need 7 hours minimum but some people will need more. If you are feeling tired during the day, long for a nap or feel like falling asleep as soon as you get back home, then maybe you need more sleep than what you are getting.
  • Keep the room cool enough so you don’t overheat during the night.
  • Avoid blue lights (that’s your tablet, phone and any other electronic gadget) at least half an hour before going to bed.
  • Go to bed at about the same time every night.

 

2- Look at your diet.

 

There is plenty of advice out there about nutrition and what we should eat. Some of it is quite complicated, involves removing some food from your diet and eating things that you’ve never heard about. Whilst some of that advice is very sound, I have found with my patients that two things really make a huge difference.

  • One is to eat plenty of vegetables. Try and aim to have your plate half filled with vegetables, the more varied the colours are, the better.
  • The second is to drastically reduce sugar. Sugar is a hard one because it’s everywhere as soon as you start buying food that is produced in a factory. Sugar is added to tomato sauce, salad dressing and take away meals as well as, of course, biscuits, sweets etc…. but being mindful of that and planning some snacks during the day that aren’t filled with sugar will already make a huge difference.

 

3- Take some time off for yourself.

 

Once in the day if possible, book some time with yourself and do something that you enjoy and makes you happy. This will help reduce your stress as well as help you noticing all the good things that are happening every day. Have a look at this previous post to get some ideas of what you could do.

 

Finally, some of my patients are finding that getting some regular top ups is another way to ‘Nourish their Health’. They come for a tune up every 6 or 8 weeks, a bit like you would take your car to the garage for a service. When someone is suffering from a chronic issue (such as recurring headaches or digestive issues), this helps keeping the symptoms at bay. And when you don’t have any chronic issues, it helps keeping your body in tip top condition so that you don’t get ill in the future.

 

Over to you

Is there anything that helps you keep well and healthy throughout the year? What’s working well for you? What are you going to do differently this year?

 

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a health . Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Stress.

8 ways to beat stress

 

Stress is the cause of most illnesses according the latest research. [1] Chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system, increases risk of diabetes, can lead to peptic ulcers or ulcerative colitis and the correlation between high level of stress and mental health is quite well known too.

In my practice, I have found that stress and its effect on the body has a big part to play on how well people are feeling. From digestive disorders to fertility, from pain (such as back or knee pain) to insomnia, symptoms are often made worse by stress.

It is also clear that the question ‘so what do you do to relax?’ is taking some people by surprise. It is rarely an activity that we consciously seek out, nor do we see it as an essential thing to do but more as an indulgence that can happen when all the important things have been done (which often means not that often!)

Seeing the effect of stress on the body as well as its effect on our general wellbeing, it really makes sense to take particular attention on taking some time off at the end of the day to finally relax and destress.

 

Here are 8 quick ways to relax at the end of the day

 

- Do a quick 10~15 mins meditation.

That’s probably the one a lot of acupuncturists will favour because it does have profound effects, even modifying our brain after a few weeks of practice. There are some great apps around now. Headspace and Insight Timer are the two apps I prefer.

- Pick up a physical activity.

It doesn’t have to be something complex, a simple walk around the block will work just as well as going to the gym. But moving your body is a great way to make that energy move in your body and reduce your stress. Remember how energised you can feel after a nice workout? That’s the effect of destressing.

- Laugh

Whatever makes you laugh. It can be a special type of comedy, a cute YouTube video of kittens, spending time with some friends. Just spending some time every day laughing will lift your mood up.

- Practice some yoga.

This one is a favourite of mine because it mixes the physical side (moving the body and stretching) to the more meditative side (by concentrating on your movements and on your breathing). See whatever works best for you, a class, a video or just doing the movements that you know work best for you.

- Sing you heart out.

Singing has been found to reduce the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body). It is excellent for calming anxiety down both due to the concentration needed (which helps you relax the mind) and the deeper breathing (what we call abdominal breathing) involved. And if you feel self-conscious about it, try singing in the shower or when you are alone.

- Take a bath.

Make that time a nice relaxing time, add some Epson salt (which are great at relieving stress) as well as some essential oils such as lavender. Maybe add some candles if you feel like it and/or some nice music in the background.

- Be grateful.

Everyday think about how the day went and make a mental note (or even better write it down!) of you can be grateful for. It can be things such a remembering the person who left you pass at the junction to thanking the opportunity to meet up with friends or for the meal in front of you. This will help you shit your focus from all the negative thoughts to all the positive and beautiful things happening around you.

- If you still feel that nothing is quite working for you,

Have a look at this list of 50 things you can do to relax for some more inspiration.

50 ways - stress

(Many thanks to Action for Happiness for this fantastic diagram. You can find more information about what they do at www.actionforhappiness.org)

What about you?

Do you have a special time planned in your day to relax? Are you finding that those methods are enough to help you deal with everyday stresses?

Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and you might find that you need a bit more support. If you find that your symptoms flare up with stress and whatever you do isn’t quite working, come and see us. Simply give us a call on 01642794063 and we will help you put those under control.

 

[1] Life event, stress and illness. Malays J Med Sci. 2008 Oct; 15(4): 9–18.

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Pregnancy, Women's Health.

Acupuncture IVF

 

This is a story that I see regularly in my clinic. A woman comes to see me because she wants to get pregnant. She usually has been trying for several years, often has one or two failed IVF already. And she is desperate.

Desperate to finally get pregnant, desperate to see that last attempt work, to finally see her dream becoming a reality. And often she is heartbroken by the multiple failures. The periods that arrived every month. Again. The IVF cycle that didn’t work.

Most of the time, I am the last resort person. The one last thing that women try because they have nothing to lose and they are willing to try anything. And you know, it might help a little bit.

But does it work? Does acupuncture make any difference at all in the outcome of an IVF?

In my experience, yes it does and research is there to back it up too.

 

1. Acupuncture makes a difference to the number of live birth after IVF

 

A number of studies have shown that acupuncture is improving outcome among women undergoing IVF [1]. The latest study is reporting that acupuncture can increase the success rate of an IVF cycle by up to 60%!

Another study is showing that receiving acupuncture around embryo transfer improves rates of live birth [2].

 

2. Acupuncture before the IVF helps regulating hormones, improves the oxygenation towards the uterus as well as the quality of the eggs.

 

For an IVF to be successful, its often worth spending the time to prepare the body before. It takes about 3 months for the follicle to grow into a mature egg. That’s 3 months when it’s possible to have any influence on the egg by ensuring the environment is the best possible during its development. 3 months to ensure that the lining of the uterus is just what it needs to be.

The aim is to boost fertility by improving the blood flow around the uterus and the ovaries, regulating hormones and the overall cycle and reducing inflammation, all of which has an influence on fertility.

And this has also been confirmed by research. For example, Doppler imaging has shown that acupuncture can affect the flow of blood in the body [3].

 

3. Acupuncture helps calming down the stress and the anxiety.

 

This, in itself, may or may not help the outcome but it certainly is making the whole process much easier. IVF is a very stressful treatment emotionally.

Because of the drugs and the effect of the hormones on the body but also because of the constant uncertainty. How is the cycle going, are the follicles developing? Are there enough follicles to go ahead with the collection? How good are the eggs, have they fertilised? How many have fertilised? How good are the embryos? Etc..

Each step of the IVF process opens up new questions, new uncertainties and new worries. Being able to get support and being heard during those times is essential.

 

Over to you, are you struggling with fertility issues?

We are offering a free 15 minutes consultation to learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey to a healthy pregnancy. Simply give us a call on 01642 794063 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

 

 

[1] Therapeutic effect of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet 2017 March
[2] Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and life birth amongst women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a systemic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2008 March
[3] Evaluation of the Effects of Acupuncture on Blood Flow in Humans with Ultrasound Color Doppler Imaging Evid Based Complement Aternt Med. 2012, 2012:513638

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Women's Health.

Painful periods

 

Period pain or period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, is actually a common condition. Over half of women experience painful periods. Some women will have a diagnosis, for example of endometriosis. But most of the time, there is no ‘reason’ for the pain and a lot of women just consider the pain as inevitable.

Often, when I ask women about their periods and if they experience cramps and/or pain, the answer is often along the lines of ‘Yes I do have some cramps, like any other woman. Pretty normal, isn’t it?’ And just as often, these women aren’t coming to see me to help alleviate the discomfort but for another unrelated reason because they are totally unaware that this is something that can be helped.

Well, according the Chinese Medicine, painful, crampy periods are not ‘normal’. The pain that some women experience is the sign of some imbalances that can be corrected.
This has recently been confirmed by a study from the Western Sydney University. The results from this study have shown that acupuncture leads to significant reduction in the intensity and the frequency of menstrual pain after 3 months of treatment.

 

So, what can someone do to help alleviate the pain?

Stress is often making that sort of pain much worse.

So, the first step is to include some stress reducing techniques in your life. You can try to get some exercise, have a nice relaxing bath (with some Epson salt and some essential oils such as lavender), gentle exercise, reading, singing etc etc

Keep your abdomen warm.

The first thing is to ensure that your abdomen (and lower back) is always covered and kept nicely warm. During your periods, using a wheat bag to keep the area warm can be very helpful too. But another less know way is to ensure that your feet are warm too. So use some socks in bed, don’t walk bare foot on a cold floor but use sleepers instead!

Get a balance diet

Ensure that you have a balance diet with some warming foods such as dry ginger, cinnamon or turmeric. Some foods high in omega 3, such as oily fish (mackerel, sardines …) or nuts and seeds can be very helpful too thanks to the anti-inflammatory nature of omega 3s.

Get some acupuncture

In particular, in the week just before your period and during your period. Acupuncture will help the Blood circulate more freely thus reducing the amount of pain.

How about you?

What is working for you when you get these crampy, colic spasms? Do you get other symptoms as well, such pain radiating down your thighs, lower back pain, diarrhoea or even nausea and vomiting?

Are you silently struggling with painful with periods?

If you have noticed that painful periods are part of your life and standard treatments aren’t quite working for you, contact me to see if I can help you.

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Diet, Digestion.

What to do when you have loose stools

 

 

Maybe this is something familiar to you. You are nicely going about your daily activities, maybe you are sat down having a meal or you are walking around with a friend and then, suddenly, without so much of a warning, it strikes. You look frantically for the nearest toilet. You need to get there. F.A.S.T. One of my patient likened it ‘having a volcano in your belly that is ready to explode at any time’.

You are finding that your stools are at best loose, quite often explosive. You may feel bloated and/or tired. You might have had a diagnosis, for example of IBS. But I’m finding that more often than not, my patients are coming for something completely unrelated and this is just part of their symptoms. Many of them have just resigned themselves to the symptoms and are just trying to manage the urgency the best they can.

 

Loose stools, bloating, tiredness, all these symptoms are the sign that your digestive system is struggling so the best thing you can do is to make it as easy as possible for it to do its job.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Holistic Therapy, Prevention, Stress.

Broken Chain Link - Under Stress

You’ve just had enough. You are just managing to cope with your symptoms and get through the day doing the one thousand things that need to be done. And then, your train is late, your boss wants to have a meeting with you and on the top of it, your computer is refusing to behave.

You can feel all the tell tale signs that you are going to have a flare up, that your symptoms are going to get worse and worse. For some of my patients, it’s a headache or a migraine that rears its ugly head or it might be joints aching to an unbearable level or feeling more and more fatigued.

Sounds familiar? You are not alone to find that stress is making your symptoms worse.

On the top of it, the conventional advice is to ‘just stop stressing’ as if you could just do that by the flick of a switch. I know… they haven’t a clue, have they?

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Insomnia.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours sleep each night in order to function properly during the day. Insomnia is sleep disorder characterised by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for as long as desired, without the presence of an underlying problem like sleep apnoea or depression. It is thought that up to one in three people will suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives.

Severe sleep deprivation can have a significant and detrimental effect on the health. Insomniacs are four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, more likely to have a serious illness, more likely to have an accident at work, home, or on the road, and are more likely to miss work and have lower productivity than well-rested colleagues.

If you’re reading this whilst stressing about the prospect of yet another sleepless, unfulfilling night tonight then read on and follow some of these natural remedies and lifestyle changes that could help you to get the restful sleep you need…

Set a sleep routine

Try to get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekend. It might take a few weeks or more before your body and brain get used to what’s going on but try to stick with it and you should hopefully start to notice yourself getting tired at the same time in the evening and naturally rising at the same time each morning.

Cut down on caffeine

If you’ve suffered with insomnia for a while you might have come to rely on caffeinated drinks to keep you going throughout the day, but these could actually be worsening your situation. One or two cups in the morning is fine, but after noon you should say no to caffeine. Try it for a couple of weeks, in line with your new sleep routine and see if it helps.

Get some exercise

Some people believe that exercising in the evening causes the body to produce adrenaline, inhibiting sleep. However, studies have found that exercise does actually improve sleep. Insomniacs who adopted a regular exercise routine were found to sleep better, feel less depressed, and have more energy than those who avoided exercise all together. Fit it into your day wherever you can and you should start to see an improvement soon.

Cut down on alcohol

It might be tempting to have a nightcap to help you drop off to sleep, but alcohol can actually ruin your chances of a good night’s sleep. Sure, being a little tipsy will help you to drop off more easily, but you’ll wake more in the night and you won’t fall into restful REM sleep so you’ll wake feeling more tired.

Unwind in the evening

Try and start the relaxation and unwinding process as early as possible in the evening. It’s impossible to avoid opening your mail when you get home, or preparing dinner for a hungry family, but once that’s out of the way make sure you schedule in some ‘me’ time. It could be as simple as reading a book with a soothing cup of camomile tea, or taking a nice warm bath with a drop of lavender essential oil to help relax you.

Leave your devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones out of the bedroom. They stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall asleep. Try reading a book under a low light instead, just try not to get so engrossed that you stay up late to read it! You could also try some meditation or yoga before bed to help you unwind and get into sleep mode.

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Digestion, Exercise, Prevention, Tiredness.

The story always starts the same way. As a child, you probably have been told that being selfish is a bad thing. And also very probably that helping others is a good thing to do. So you go in your life trying to support those close to you. It might be your parents, your children or close friends. You want to do your job well too and when your boss tells you that this work needs to be handed out tomorrow and please could stay for another hour to finish it, you don’t say ‘No’ either.

You sacrifice yourself to be able to care for your parents, your children, your work. And very quickly, there is no time left in your life to just look after yourself. You come back home exhausted, do whatever needs to be done and collapse on the sofa. Your health and wellbeing suffer and soon you find yourself complaining of backache, recurring migraines or just plain exhaustion.

The problem is

If you are not healthy, you cannot care for those who need and depend on you.

 

my way

 

To be able to look after others, to do your job well, you need to look after yourself. That means:

Knowing where your limits are energy wise

Overdoing things some time to time isn’t an issue, but do it daily and you’ll soon find yourself exhausted. Deciding how much exercise you are going to do today, if you can tackle the big tidying up of the spare bedroom or if staying at work another hour will really help tomorrow’s presentation, all of those are about measuring your own energy levels against how much energy that activity will cost you. If you don’t have the energy for it, don’t do it!

Eating to right foods and taking the time to prepare them

First thing first, try and eat nourishing foods. Avoid cold/icy and raw foods such as ice cold water, ice cream and raw vegetable like cucumber and lettuce. Slow cooked foods such as soups and stews are always easier to digest. You might even want to try our simple recipe to beat tiredness

Going to sleep at a decent time

so you can feel rested in the morning. Very simply put, you need to be asleep before midnight to get the best rest possible.

Having some time in your day to relax

It’s really just about having 10~15 minutes just doing something you enjoy. For some people it’s doing a bit of gardening, others it’s cleaning the house and for others again it’s listening to music or doing some meditation. Taking time out in the day is essential to reduce our stress levels. It’s essential to restore our energy levels too.

 

And finally, don’t forget to give as much importance to your health as you do for the ones of others. Make looking after yourself a priority, take the time to do what makes you feel better, what gives you energy so that you can give back to other afterwards.

Posted by & filed under Stress.

Stress affects people differently. Some people manage to cope with the mental and emotional pressure fairly easily. Others have difficulties coping with stress, it affects the way they feel and it has an impact on the way they behave.

Signs of stress vary. They can include:

  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of temper
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feelings of anxiousness
  • Low self esteem
  • Unreasonable behaviour

Experience any or all these signs at once and there’s a good chance you need help and support through this stressful time in your life.

To help you, we’ve thought of a few stress-busting suggestions at Sabine Acupuncture.

Give these ideas a shot if your stress levels are on the rise…

Find out why you are stressed

Before you can tackle those stress levels you need to establish what’s causing the problem in the first place.

Sometimes this is easy. It could be differences of opinion at work, trying to juggle too many projects at once, a lack of time to get everything done could be the root cause of the pressure.

Make a note of your daily routine, try to identify the times when you feel more stressed than others, once you spot a pattern you can take positive actions to address the issue.

Try exercising a little

When you feel stressed, hit the gym, go for a jog, spend 30 minutes on exercise equipment and feel the tension leave your body.

Exercise releases ‘good’ energy, it puts you in a positive mood and it’s great for lowering stress levels.

Plus it should help you sleep a little better at night if you’re tired after a positive workout session.

Take time out

How often do you spare time to chill? If your home life is hectic and work is manic at the moment, it’s no wonder you feel so stressed.

Spare a few moments each day for simple relaxation techniques. This could be something as easy as deep breathing at your desk, stretching the muscles in your neck by moving your head side to side, or simply shutting your mind down for a few minutes.

Take time out and let that negative energy leave your body.

Avoid using substitutes   

Try to avoid unhealthy ways to cope with stress, some people turn to alcohol or they smoke more as a way to manage rising pressure levels.

Look for healthier solutions instead.

Drinking and smoking will only add to the problem, it’s a short-term solution that could lead to other health complications.

Acupuncture is good for calming stress symptoms. Give it a try if you are experiencing tension headaches!