Children’s health and well-being with acupuncture & Chinese medicine

Children’s health and well-being with acupuncture & Chinese medicine

Children’s physiology is very different to adults because they are still growing and developing. In Chinese medicine, we consider the digestive system of a child as a very important part for overall wellbeing. Why is that so? Because the post-natal qi (energy force) is formed from air, food and water.

Lets look at allergies first: According to Chinese medicine, we can consider allergies being caused through a deficiency of the defensive energy, a thin layer that surrounds the body and protects it. Through the failing of the protective energy, foreign particles upset the system and develop various symptoms. In Western terms, it’s called immunity. Interestingly the spleen organ is part of the immune system in the western medical context as well.

In Chinese medicine, the spleen is the principal organ system of digestion. In this role it assists the body in energy production by transforming food and water. With the help of air (oxygen) that is inhaled by the lungs, it refines the energy into a yin energy (blood) and a yang energy that has a gaseous structure. This way, the body receives protection power from those two forms of energy.

These explanations are not always easy to comprehend. But by looking on how allergies arise, it makes a lot of sense because by treating the spleen, particularly in children, we can address the allergies, the digestion and the state of energy as well.

Treating the spleen is achieved through assessing the diet, working with the spleen meridian and also involving it’s partner organ, the stomach. With herbal formulas in liquid extract form, particularly popular with children, we correct deficiencies and improve the defensive force.

Because children are mostly unburdened by concepts of life and expectations of society and because their energy system is uncontaminated by toxins such as alcohol and drugs, they respond tremendously well to treatment.

If you feel that your child is not thriving, please contact Safflower Chinese Medicine clinic for an assessment

Summer and the Festive Season

Summer and the Festive Season

Welcome to Summer!  The sun’s out, the days are longer, we can finally get Vitamin D from the sun again! However, whilst it may feel as though we should be relaxing, it’s likely we’re doing everything BUT sitting with our feet up in the garden, or lazing on the beach.

Even us practitioners approach this time of year with bated breath. Year in and year out, we watch ourselves storm out of the depths of winter at a sprint – racing to the end of the year, packing it full of social events, extra work, extra jobs around the house; eating, drinking, indulging. We take on too much, and then collapse into a stupor during those 1-2 weeks off over Christmas/New Year – if we’re the lucky ones to have this time of year off. The end-result is fatigue, overindulgence, and a pre-disposition towards choices that aren’t particularly healthy. Unfortunately, we will pay for it later, usually in winter.

So, this year, the practitioners at Safflower are going to challenge everyone to think about summer differently. Try to forget that Christmas and all associated indulgence is upon us. Ignore the calendar, and the subconscious frenzy we are prone to when pondering the concept of “December 31!”. We would like you to relax, and enjoy yourself.

Summer is three months long. It’s a time of enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) the abundant sun has so kindly given us. It’s a time for reconnecting with others, enjoying nature and the beautiful environment around us. It’s a time of siestas in the heat of the afternoon, and quiet moments at sunrise in the morning.

In Chinese Medicine, summer is related to joy and love, as we recharge in the sun and share the warmth we have with others. We can also use this warmth to bring some light into the lives of those who may be experiencing sadness or loneliness. Giving love and warmth, as the sun gives us, will fill us in a way the sparkling shiraz and mince pies probably won’t.

Happy Summer everyone, and much love and light to you all.

Hay fever Relief with Chinese Medicine

Hay fever Relief with Chinese Medicine

Spring has finally sprung, and for most of us, warm spring weather signals a welcome change to the winter just gone. However, if you are one of the 18% of Australians who suffer from Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (Hay fever), the increased pollens in the air this time of year might leave you feeling less than enthusiastic.

Allergic rhinitis is due to an overreaction of the immune system to an allergen (often pollen). The allergen binds to immune cells that release irritating compounds, such as histamine. This can result in sneezing, watery eyes, itchy nose, chills, sweating, asthma, and malaise. Hay fever can be incredibly debilitating. Apart from living on antihistamines, many sufferers aren’t aware they can take other steps to improve their symptoms.

  1. Look after your liver: Histamine is the main irritant in the allergic response, and is broken down in the liver. If your liver is overworked, you can have an overabundance of histamine in your system. Thus, when an allergen is present, the reaction is far worse.
  2. Avoid histamine rich foods: Histamine is present in higher concentrations in aged foods. Alcohol, aged cheese, preserves, processed meats, and fermented foods all have high concentrations of histamine. Eating fresh, unprocessed foods will help reduce your histamine load and severity of your symptoms.
  3. Reduce stress: healthy adrenal function can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Prolonged stress and subsequent burnout can stop the adrenal glands from properly protecting our bodies from stress, including allergic reactions.
  4. Heal the gut: an overabundance of certain strains of gut bacteria can increase the amount of histamine in your blood.
  5. Have a series of Acupuncture treatments and take Chinese herbs. Acupuncture for Allergic Rhinitis is an excellent, evidence-based treatment strategy to reduce the symptoms of hay fever. Chinese herbs help in restoring balance to the system to prevent future attacks. Our treatments can help your liver function, your adrenal health and assist your gut, whilst making you feel calm, relaxed and sneeze free.

Enjoy Spring again!

If you want to speak to one of our registered practitioners, please call 03 5956 7011 or book online!

Embrace the (menstrual) flow

Embrace the (menstrual) flow

Chinese Medicine has long focused on the female reproductive cycle as measure of a woman’s good health. It’s important for all women to understand what is a good, normal cycle for them, and what may need attention.

The start of the menstrual cycle begins on day 1: the first full day of bleeding. It should begin without pain, or spotting in the lead-up, and flow should be dark red with very little clotting. It is normal to feel a bit tired for the first few days of your period. Clear the schedule as much as you can; stay warm and rest during this time. After a few days of full flow, your period will lighten, and your energy will start to pick up. Bleeding should end after about 4-5 days.

Day 4 or 5 the lining of your uterus starts to build up again in preparation for ovulation. You will generally feel quite good in this phase of your cycle – eating healthily, and exercising comes easily. Oestrogen is the dominant hormone. Hormonal changes in the lead-up to ovulation improve vaginal lubrication and sex drive. This is the time to take on the world – you have energy, clarity, and magnetism!

Ovulation, (approx. day 14) requires a good flow of hormones to undertake the cascade of hormonal changes required to release an egg. Bloating, pain, fatigue, and irritability are signs your body isn’t transitioning through it well.

Post-ovulation you might feel a bit slower. Progesterone is now the main hormone, and will be released from your ovary to protect an early pregnancy. If no pregnancy, progesterone production reduces after 11-14 days you will get your period. Progesterone levels are sensitive to stress, so it is important to exercise, reduce coffee, sugar and inflammatory foods to ensure a smooth pre-menstrual week, and calm start to your period.

Combating the Anguish of Depression & Anxiety

Combating the Anguish of Depression & Anxiety

Did you know that tapping into the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine is a great way to overcome the negative patterns and life altering effects of both depression and anxiety? There is no doubt about the crippling effects that mental health issues have on the lives of those caught up either personally or through affected loved ones. “According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, major depressive disorder (MDD) was ranked the second leading cause of years lived with disability, after low back pain, accounting for 8.2% of all years lived with disability (Ferrari et al., 2013). Although rates of depression and anxiety are about twice as high amongst women than men, overall incidence is on the rise. The subsequent increased burden upon global healthcare systems because of these two conditions is significant. With a nearly 50% relapse rate among the population (Sniezek & Siddiqui 2013), these conditions are notoriously difficult to overcome.

Pharmaceutical medications commonly given to treat depression can lead to weight gain, loss of libido, nausea, headaches and insomnia and medications for anxiety such as benzodiazepines are highly addictive. In some cases, the extensive side effects lead to a drop in the number of people willing to continue taking pharmaceuticals.

Current and past research into the use of Chinese medicine treatment including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for anxiety and depression is highly positive and promising. The World Health Organisation (WHO) advocates the use of acupuncture for depression as well as anxiety in which WHO states that it can be more effective than conventional medicine given that it is safe, non-toxic, non-addictive, cost effective and having only minor side effects such as mild discomfort associated with needle insertion (WHO, 2002; Goyata et al, 2016).

There are over 300 clinical trials that have been carried out to study the effectiveness of Chinese medicine treatment for depression and anxiety. These studies all universally yielded positive and encouraging results.

For example, one of the most recent studies, published this year in 2017, looked at the effect of acupuncture for 755 participants with depression. The result was expectedly positive with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms leading to the conclusion that acupuncture is clinically effective and cost effective even for severe cases of depression (MacPherson, 2017). There are also laboratory studies which looked into the mechanisms for how acupuncture is effective for relieving anxiety and depression. These studies found acupuncture’s effect may be related to its capability in releasing serotonin and regulating cortisol level within the body (Sarris et al 2012) as well as exerting anti-inflammatory effects (Lu et al 2016).

The use of Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) has been extensively researched since the 80’s and even before then Chinese medicine doctors have had a strong interest in treating anxiety and depression; as a result they have developed almost 100 different formulae for the condition. The vast varieties in the formula reflect the holistic nature of this medical system; the herbal medicine prescription is tailored for each person according to his or her unique presentation of signs and symptoms, root problem and the pattern of bodily disharmony.

All the published clinical trials have consistently shown effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression, particularly when combined with other therapies. A recent study from 2012 shows CHM shows a significant reduction in recurrence of the symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder when combined with cognitive therapy (Wang et al, 2012). Other studies have shown that the combination of CHM and antidepressants significantly relieves depressive symptoms as well as reduces side effects of the antidepressants (Sorbero et al 2016; Yeung et al 2014). In terms of neurophysiology, Chinese herbal medicine was found to exert mood modulating effects by regulating the function of the hippocampus and amygdala leading to relieving of symptoms and signs of anxiety and depression (Zhu et al 2016; Sarris et al 2012).

If you suffer from depression and anxiety and would like to explore your options with the help of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines, make an appointment to see one of our registered practitioners today by calling 03 5956 7011 or booking an appointment online!

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