Women with Period Pain, Please Stop Eating Acai Bowls, here’s why…

Women with period pain, please stop eating Acai bowls…

A major cause of period pain in Chinese medicine is cold. Our bodies are designed to work best when warm. This means eating warm foods and keeping warm.

Your metabolic energy – the energy required for your body to function relies on this warmth. Kind of like a steam train relies on warm coal. Imagine putting ice in the engine firebox instead of coal.

Eating cold foods, being cold, not wearing clothes to cover your feet, back and low abdomen all contribute to reduced pelvic blood flow and pain.

Cold causes the body to constrict blood vessels and slow blood movement. When your period is due to start and this blood needs to move, it’s like the blood is ‘stuck’ and causes pain when it starts to move.

If you find putting a hot water bottle or a wheat heat bag over your abdomen helps with period pain, you mist likely have some type of cold stagnation in your pelvis.

We don’t notice this cold in our abdomen during the rest of the month because blood doesn’t need to move as much in the pelvis…until your period is due.

Imagine it like a delayed ice-cream headache…but in your pelvis. 

One of the worst ‘health crazes’ is Acai bowls. I seriously think they are a serious risk to women’s menstrual health. I cringe every time I see a young women sitting out the front of a popular Gold Coast cafe in winter with ugg boots on and a jumper….and eating an Acai bowl.

Do you know, that the main ingredient in Acai bowls is actually sugar filled sorbet? You are literally eating ice cream (plus some frozen berries) for breakfast. Not only are they incredibly high in sugar, but the cold is having an impact on your health.

If you suffer from period pain, you really need to stop eating these, especially in winter. You need to look at warm porridge, cooked eggs, warming broth, even soup for breakfast. Try this for a few months and you could notice an improvement in your period pain.

I wonder if a craze of warming breakfasts could take over the Gold Coast…

In Chinese medicine, I use acupuncture, moxibustion (a type of warming herb) and heat lamps to remove this cold and warm the pelvis to help with period pain as well as improve fertility.

Remember, a baby doesn’t want to grow in a cold environment either. It needs warmth.

So eliminate Acai bowls and any cold breakfasts and see how your menstrual health and your fertility changes.

I always love hearing from you, so if you want to let me know how you went with making these changes, please let me know!

 

Registered Acupuncturist and Owner of The Point of Wellbeing, a Gold Coast acupuncture clinic focused on improving women’s health, fertility and pregnancy…naturally.

Acupuncture Relieves Period Pain

Acupuncture relieves period pain…

I need to start this post with a sentence that might shock many women.

Period pain is not normal. It might be common, but it is not normal. 

Pain of any kind is a type of body signal, telling you something is wrong.

If this was understood more clearly, it wouldn’t be taking on average 11 years to diagnose endometriosis, a pelvic pain condition that is characterised by period pain.

The thing is though, period pain is not usually fatal. Women can and have lived their whole lives with period pain.

Unless you’re quality of life is severely diminished or you are having trouble conceiving, there aren’t a lot of mainstream treatments available to you, other than pain medication or the oral contraceptive.

Both have side effects and aren’t ideal if you’re trying to conceive.

 

From a Chinese medicine point of view, the arrival and the flow of your period occurs due to a number of carefully orchestrated blood and energy movements.

Anything that affects these blood and energy movements can result in pain.

There are a number of patterns of period pain we treat depending on your pain presentation.

For example, a cold, twisting type of period pain that comes on with your period, which is alleviated by a warm shower or wheat heat bag is a cold type of period pain. The cold constricts blood vessels, causing pain when blood tries to move.

Another example is a type of dropping, severe ache type of period pain, which worsens a day or two after your period. You have a blood deficient type of period pain. Your body doesn’t have enough vital essences and is aching in pain with the loss of more blood.

Last one, a stabbing, severe fixed pain that comes and goes even starting the day before your period is due is a type of blood stagnation pain. Blood is not moving as it should through your pelvis and so when it needs to move for your period to arrive, it gets stuck and causes pain.

There are others, but these are the main patterns I see. There are treatment methods for each of these type, depending on the rest of your presentation.

Acupuncture, used with a type of warming herb can warm the pelvis, alleviate pain, improve pelvic blood flow and circulation to alleviate period pain.

Some patterns respond really quickly and some take time. Dietary factors make a big impact too, as does your level of exercise and emotional wellbeing.

Research has found that acupuncture and moxibustion are effective, safe and cost effective treatment options for period pain with long term health changes.

Besides acupuncture, there are a couple of natural things you can do to treat period pain:

  • Warmth – a bath, wheat heat bag, hot water bottle
  • Keep your feet warm – warm feet helps pelvic blood flow
  • Keep your abdomen and low back warm (avoid midriff tops and layer up with singlets)
  • Take a good quality, practitioner brand magnesium, zinc and fish oils – all show great results in reducing period pain
  • Eat really good quality, warm, cooked nourishing foods
  • Castor oil packs
  • Eliminate cold breakfasts, cold smoothies, ice cream, juices and sorbets from your diet for at least 6 months
  • Eliminate dairy – dairy has been found to cause inflammation that worsens period pain

Keep in mind that your period acts as a kind of report card for your month of health.

If you’ve been eating a sugar loaded, alcohol filled, fatty food filled, dairy filled diet, sat on the couch all month and neglected your health, you will experience a worse period.

Give the healthy tips a go. If they don’t make a change within three months, get in touch with me and we’ll start making some more specific changes.

You may in fact have endometriosis, which could require surgery. You can still implement these health tips and seek acupuncture treatments for pain management and support as well as seek medical care from a medical specialist.

Don’t accept that you will forever experience period pain.

With love,

Registered Acupuncture and Owner of The Point of Wellbeing, a Gold Coast acupuncture clinic dedicated to supporting women’s health, fertility and pregnancy…naturally!

 

Acupuncture Support in Early Pregnancy

Acupuncture support in early pregnancy can be a great alternative to ‘waiting and seeing.’

So you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant. Congratulations! You might only be 4 weeks along with your embryo no bigger than a chia seed.

You may have waited for years or months or it’s a complete surprise.

You’ve might have had your beta HCG tested and booked in your first scan, but it’s not for 3 more weeks…seems like a lifetime away.

You may have already read what seems like thousands of articles about women who have experienced miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies and you’re so scared about wondering what could happen in your pregnancy.

You’re feeling lost as to what you can do to support your pregnancy but there are a few natural things you can do.

First, take a breath. At this moment, all you know is that you have created the beginnings of a tiny human. This is wonderful!

Also plan to rest a little bit more than normal.  This doesn’t mean sleeping 10 hours per night or napping for 2-3 hours during the day. It just means slow down, pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Plan to eat warm, healthy foods while you don’t feel queasy just yet. This may change soon so enjoy.

You can of course start to read about what your body is going through and know what foods to be mindful of eating.

If you’ve experienced a miscarriage before or can’t stop negative thoughts, try replacing those thoughts with positive affirmations. Some examples:

  • I got this
  • I set my worries aside and I allow my body to do its job
  • I have within myself all the necessary resources to grow a beautiful, healthy baby
  • I trust my body
  • I am relaxed and calm (this one may need more repeating than most!)
  • I have complete confidence that my body is working perfectly

Another thing you can do, is make an appointment with an experienced acupuncturist, as early as 4-5 weeks.

“Acupuncture has been used for centuries to help women conceive, grow and give birth to healthy babies, naturally.”

Treatments are based on preventative care and support. They work to ‘uplift’ pregnancy energy which can help to hold a pregnancy in place. It can work to strengthen digestive energy to alleviate pregnancy sickness and can help you improve hormonal symptoms like headaches, constipation, low back pain  and emotional volatility – all common in early pregnancy.

Seeing an experienced healthcare practitioner in early pregnancy can also help you with reassurance. This doesn’t seem big…until you’re in your first trimester and you’re overthinking every single symptom and wondering whether you’re doing all you can to make sure your embryo becomes a healthy baby.

Gaining confidence in your body’s ability to nourish and support your  can make a difference for how you experience your first trimester.

So enjoy your positive news and please get in touch if you have any questions about your pregnancy.

Registered Acupuncturist and Owner of Gold Coast Acupuncture Clinic – The Point of Wellbeing

Does Relaxing Help You Fall Pregnant?

It’s one of the worst things to be told by someone when you’re trying to fall pregnant. “Just relax! It will happen when you’re relaxed.”

As annoying as this is to hear, they might actually have a point.

Of course if you’ve been trying to conceive for over 12 months, please see a GP to have any medical concerns eliminated before assuming it’s just stress.

Stress is a physical response to a perceived threat. It’s like a complex natural alarm system.

When your body feels threatened, a surge of hormones are released from the Kidneys to help the body manage this.

Adrenalin and cortisol are the two major hormones released and they both have impacts on your health if they’re surging for too long.

Adrenalin increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and starts moving your stored energy, ready to help you deal with stress.

When you’re trying to fall pregnant, this means there will be less energy stores to support your pregnancy and the high blood pressure and heart rate can put your health at risk before and during pregnancy.

Cortisol is the main ‘stress’ hormone released in response to stress. High levels of cortisol causes an increase in blood sugar (has a major impact on women with PCOS) and works to switch off all the non essential functions of the body.

These non essential functions include the immune system, the digestive system and of course the reproductive system. These are not seen as important body systems in times of high stress.

If stress lasts long enough, these systems can become quite unresponsive. Hormones can become imbalanced, ovulation can be affected and your ability to nourish a growing baby can be affected.

When the stress is removed, these systems can go back to normal. And it can happen surprisingly quickly. Which is why so many women report being able to fall pregnant when they go on holidays.

However, most couples can’t plan a holiday every month around ovulation so what else can you do to reduce stress and improve your chance of pregnancy?

Exercise – moderate, regular exercise helps manage the body’s response to stress. Walking, yoga, pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Qi – all really good to help with breathing which can reduce cortisol levels almost immediately. It’s easy to avoid exercising on days you feel really stressed, but make the effort to do something small, even if it’s just some deep breathing, you will feel much better.

Managing your stress – discuss your workload with your boss, plan more regular holidays, rearrange your social schedule, ask friends and family for help, hire a cleaner or food service to reduce some of the stressors affecting you. Of course, you can always see a psychologist for any specific  stress management techniques.

Eat a warm, balanced diet – a healthy diet will keep you nourished for times of stress. For women, this includes grainfed meat with some fat, loads of fruit and vegetable, nuts, seeds and grains (unless intolerant).

Mindfulness – encourages you to sit for 10-15 min per day and slow your mind down. Research has found it is a great natural support for lowering cortisol. It can take some time to master this but worth it!

Acupuncture – acupuncture reduces adrenalin and cortisol. Because of this, it can help to regulate your hormones, improve ovulation and support your natural pregnancy experience.

Try and include all of these in your general wellbeing routine, not just when trying to fall pregnant and if you haven’t been on a holiday for a while, plan one!

Chinese Medicine and Grief after IVF

The entire IVF rollercoaster can pretty much cover every type of emotion possible. From joy, hope and happiness to anger, sadness, loss and grief.

Experiencing negative emotions in intensity, for long periods of time or not acknowledging them or expressing them can result in long term health concerns.

Chinese medicine has a different way of looking at emotions. We see pathological negative emotions as a cause of disease, similar to a poor diet and lack of exercise.

Each emotion has a particular affect on the body’s energy. For example, worry and anguish ‘knots qi’. Worry specifically affects the stomach, which is why you can feel that knotted feeling in your abdomen when you’re worried or anxious.

Anger causes your Liver energy to tighten and heat up, sending heat up to your head. The old saying of ‘steam coming out of your ears’ exactly describes what anger does to the body. Alcohol can worsen this reaction in some people because it adds heat to your Liver.

But sadness and grief has a strong affect on the Lungs. In Chinese medicine, healthy Lung energy works to pull the breath into the body, manage the rhythm of all of the body’s processes and is the first line of defence in protecting the body against pathogens.

Sadness weakens Lung Qi. After loss, you can experience a tight chest, shortness of breath, hyperventilation and general tiredness. You may even develop a cough within a couple of days.

I see in clinic many women suffering from the effect sadness and grief has on the Lungs after an IVF failure or miscarriage. But I also see lots of women who haven’t expressed their grief or sorrow. So below are some health tips for helping deal with grief and sadness…naturally.

Natural Health Tips for Dealing with Grief, Sorrow and Sadness

Breathing – spend time each day to breathe. Mindfully concentrate on deep inhalation and exhalation – even pairing this with yoga if you feel up to it. You will noticeably feel better

Crying – don’t be afraid to express your grief with tears. Crying moves qi and helps you to ‘let go’ of sadness. Holding on to tears can actually cause accumulation in the lungs and I often see bronchitis or pneumonia develop after experiencing loss because of this.

Keeping warm – this prevents you from getting sick. Because the Lung’s defence is weakened during grief, make sure you keep your neck, abdomen, low back and feet warm.

Talking to someone – if it’s your partner, a good friend, your mum or even a professional, talking again keeps Lung energy moving. It helps with the process of ‘letting go’. I find as an acupuncturist, seeing women after their IVF has been unsuccessful, this appointment is really important for expressing feelings.

Massage – a great way to unknot stuck energy. I would advise telling your massage therapist about your loss as massage during grief can result in huge emotional releases. You could be sobbing the whole way through your treatment….which is ok!

Acupuncture – we have specific points and treatments to improve the function of your Lung energy after experiencing grief and sadness. We can use acupuncture to strengthen Lung Qi, move accumulation and improve the Lung detoxification process. Similar to massage, acupuncture can result in a big emotional release.

Grief, loss and sadness are unfortunately an inevitable part of life. Our bodies are great at managing negative emotions when give the opportunity to do so. Be kind to yourself and let your body process your grief in it’s own time.