Are You Getting the Most out of Your Acupuncture Treatment?

There’s a reason I spend so much time talking to you about diet and lifestyle factors as a part of your acupuncture treatment. It is to let you know that you are solely responsible for looking after your body. Whilst acupuncture can make immediate improvements in energy and blood flow, what you do to maintain these changes is up to you. Even if you had acupuncture every day, you will still not get the maximum benefits unless you change some diet and lifestyle habits.

An acupuncturist is to humans, what a mechanic is to a car. You bring yourself in for a ‘service’ but once you leave, if you put in poor quality petrol, don’t maintain the oil or leave it too long between services, you could be up for a huge repair bill and days without your car.

To get the most out of your treatments you need to:

  • exercise – include a mixture of stretching, strength, cardio
  • eat a balanced, healthy diet – warm, nutrient dense foods
  • reduce stress – manage your days in a way that reduces stress, say no more, start mindfulness
  • drink fluids – water, mineral water, herbal teas all improve water metabolism
  • get outside – 20-30 min per day
  • breathe – seems obvious but not many of us breathe correctly, try to take deep long breaths when you can

In saying this, if there is a physiological reason for your health complaint, it’s ideal to see to this as soon as possible. In the car example, it makes no difference filling up your car with good quality petrol if your tyre needs replacing.

What could you do, to get the best results out of your acupuncture treatments?

car service

Why is the Liver Always to Blame?

Why does every acupuncturist you see tell you there’s something going on with your Liver regardless of your complaint?

In truth, it is easy to blame the Liver because in Chinese medicine, the Liver has a really important but non specific function. To move energy (or Qi).

As our entire body is continuously moving with Qi, anything which could affect the free movement of Qi will ultimately affect the Liver. And vice versa. Anything you do to your Liver (alcohol, diet, stress, medications) will affect energy movement which could affect all other physiological processes.

When Liver energy is stuck, it can cause digestive complaints, headaches, period pain, emotional upset, anger, breathing difficulties, morning sickness, constipation, sinusitis and tight muscles.

To keep your Liver happy (and therefore your whole body), you need to drink water, move, reduce stress and eat well….easy ;-)

Of course, acupuncture works really well to keep your Liver energy moving!

The Importance of Breakfast

Something that continues to surprise me, is the number of people who do not eat breakfast. For some, it’s because they don’t have enough time, for others, it’s ‘can’t be bothered’ and for some others they just don’t get hungry until almost lunch time.

To understand the importance of breakfast from a Chinese medicine view point, you have to understand the thermal nature of the body. Your body is similar to the earth in the way your temperature (and therefore energy) rises and falls with the sun. Between waking and lunch, your metabolic heat is the most active. It then starts to slow down after lunch and towards night time to allow your body to rest at night. If you don’t eat breakfast, you are not adding any ‘fuel’ to the metabolic fire and in theory are allowing it to dampen your digestive energy and therefore your energy in general. This is also why I don’t suggest cold breakfasts like smoothies, juices, acai bowls etc for breakfast.

It is also important to note that between 7 and 11am is the time of the Stomach and Spleen, according to Chinese medicine organ theory. This is when they are energetically at their peak, ie work the best. As they are responsible for processing your food and drink into the energy you need for daily activities, leaving them with nothing to digest, will leave you feeling lethargic. For women, it can start to affect hormone balance as your body isn’t receiving the best quantity of nutrients to make and move hormones through your body.

So here are a couple of things you can do to start including breakfast in your daily routine:

  • start with something small so it’s more digestible
  • have a small cup of warm water with half a squeezed lemon as soon as you wake up – this will get your digestive enzymes ready
  • go to bed earlier so you can feel refreshed when you wake
  • leave enough time (approx 30 min) to make and eat breakfast each morning, get up 30 min earlier if you need to
  • plan to have exciting breakfasts so you feel motivated to eat it
  • change up your breakfasts so you’re not uninspired
  • make your breakfast the night before if you often run out of time in the morning, eg. boiled eggs can be made and heated up
  • always keep an avocado, fresh ham and a boiled egg in the fridge – easy breakfast option on toast with minimal fuss

After 3 weeks of including breakfast in your diet, you will start to feel more energetic!



Acupuncture for Period Pain

Period pain in Chinese medicine can generally be caused by two things; stagnation or deficiency.

Stagnation is the easiest to understand as it is when the blood or energy in your body slows down or stops completely. It causes pain because blood and energy cannot flow freely. You will get symptoms of clots in your bleed, extreme focal type pain or stabbing pain on the first day of your period (because blood is trying to move and this causes you more pain) and increased mood and energy after your period has finished. That is, until your lining starts to build and the blood stagnation worsens before your next period. This is often how we diagnosis for endometriosis in Chinese medicine.

Deficient pain can be understood by thinking of a river run dry. There is not enough fluid, blood or energy to fill and nourish your body. Then, when your body needs to eliminate more blood at menstruation, it aches in pain at losing important substances. Symptoms of deficient type period pain includes feelings of ’emptiness’, dropping pain, a dull but persistent low abdominal ache or tiredness and muscle weakness during your period. This is often diagnosed when a woman suffers from thin lining.

So what can be done? Acupuncture is great, especially at moving stagnated pain. Treatments leading into your period can really help with reducing pain naturally by moving blood and energy in your lower abdomen. In the case of deficient pain, a well balanced diet including good fats and protein, along with some acupuncture and warming moxibustion to build your system of energy and blood will reduce your pain. This will take time though…but will be worth it. Other things you can do to help is yoga or stretching, light walking, anything which reduces stress, add in some supplemented magnesium support and keep your abdomen, low back and feet warm.

Remember that period pain is not normal, you don’t have to just ‘put up with it’!

Period pain

My One Word New Year’s Resolution

Today may be your first day back to work. Did any of your New Year’s resolutions include anything about ‘doing less’? I was writing down my goals for the new year and next minute my list was at 2 pages! It included business goals, personal goals, health goals….it made my head hurt just looking at it. And as I looked at the list, everything was about achieving something that would mean I needed to work harder, read more, be a better wife, daughter, sister, friend or about fitting more into every day. So I decided to simplify it…to one word. My new word for 2016 is SIMPLE. I have a tendency to overcomplicate everything so I hope to learn how not to this year. The best thing about such a ‘simple’ (pun intended) goal, is that is so broad and the measurement for success leaves lots of room for improvement and measurement. I know all the ‘goal setting experts’ tell you that goals need to be measured, specific and time focused, but I disagree.

So in the interest of starting with this post, by keeping it SIMPLE, what is your 2016 word going to be?

start simple