Avoiding Getting Sick with the Change of Seasons

A cool shift has already started as early as this morning. Summer is almost over.
The body is really great at adapting to seasonal changes when you feel healthy. However, if you feel run down, stressed, exhausted or feel like you’ve been fighting off a cold for the last couple of weeks, the change of seasons can really upset it’s ability to adapt.

In Chinese medicine, you have this incredible type of energy called Wei Qi, translated as Defensive Qi, that circulates in the outermost layer of your body. It’s kind of like the security guard to pathogens entering your body.

When you are really healthy, this energy is thought to extend further than the skin, kind of like a protective shield around your body.

It is continuously fighting off pathogenic attacks but if it can’t match the strength of the pathogen, you unfortunately get sick.

The change of seasons is almost like the ‘shift change’ of one security guard to another. There’s a little gap of time where immunity is not as strong as the body adapts to changing environments.

However, you can strengthen this immunity by improving your general wellbeing. A balanced lifestyle and diet is the ideal way to improve your Wei Qi and protect your body against pathogens.

So over the next week or so, aim to do some of these things:

  • ensure you get 8-9 hours sleep each night and be asleep by 11pm (Wei Qi needs time to be nourished)
  • have a big glass of water first thing in the morning, before you doing anything else – with lemon if you can
  • ensure you are eating 5-7 serves of vegetables per day
  • avoid cold foods – especially for breakfast
  • drink peppermint tea and ginger tea – great for boosting immunity
  • enjoy low intensity aerobic exercise and yoga/tai chi or qi gong
  • practise mindfulness to help slow down your body, save energy for immunity instead of stress
  • keep with your regular acupuncture treatments – all acupuncture treatments strengthen qi, including Wei Qi. Many people notice they stop getting as many colds with their treatments, even if I’ve been treating their back pain!
Lastly, and most importantly, RUG UP – this is a big problem on the GC, going from summer to winter. Start getting out your closed in shoes, slippers, cardis, jackets and scarves. Start wearing singlets under your work shirts and keeping your slippers on around the house. Keep your neck, low back, low abdo and ankles warm as this is where pathogens enter your body. Let your clothes protect you first so your Wei Qi doesn’t have to work so hard.

If you do think you are starting to feel sick, pop in for a treatment. Acupuncture works so well in the very early stages of getting a cold. It actually supports your Wei Qi to push invading pathogens back out instead of just masking symptoms. Kind of like improving the strength and training of your ‘security guard’.

I can honestly say I do this. If I wake up with a sore throat, I make an appointment with my acupuncturist that day. This has happened twice in the last month as my exposure to people being sick is increasing. I haven’t taken a cold and flu tablet for at least 10 years now. They don’t help very much anyway.

Acupuncture, rest and nourishing foods is the best cure for a cold :)

The Yin and Yang Balance of the Menstrual Cycle Part 1

The easiest way to understand the menstrual cycle in terms of Yin and Yang, is to compare the body to day and night.

Yin is night time. The cooling, resting, nourishing part of the day.

Yang is day time. Energetic, warming, increased metabolic energy part of the day.

The menstrual cycle is the same, but over a longer period (no pun intended!) of time. From your period until ovulation or your follicular phase is your Yin time.

This is when an egg is being nourished, your lining is growing and your body is being nurtured to produce a good quality egg for possible fertilisation. 

Your body temperature is actually lower, your body needs more rest, increased nutrition, more meditation and less stress to nourish your Yin and fertile energy.

From ovulation to the end of your cycle, is your Yang phase or your luteal phase. This is where progesterone, your warming hormone takes over.

Your body temperature noticeably increases. This energy helps a fertilised egg expand and grow.

If no fertilisation occurs, you move back into your Yin phase, ready to start the Yin/Yang dance again.

The very cool thing about this ebb and flow of energy, is that each phase is dependent on each other.

If you don’t have enough Yin (high stress, poor diet, poor sleep, increased age), it is hard for the body to switch from Yin to Yang. Ovulation may not occur and your development of progesterone (or Yang) may be impaired.

You end up with a very long Yin phase while the body tries to nourish an egg. This can happen in women with PCOS.

Imagine having too much night and not enough daylight…plants don’t grow, we don’t warm up, we would lack nutrition from the sun and have less access to nutritious food. We’d be like a poorly nourished egg!

When something upsets this important Yin and Yang balance, women’s health can suffer and not just in regards to falling pregnant.

Yin is needed to nourish all of your organs, not just your uterus. Yin supports all of your body fluids, blood and mucous membranes.

Yang is needed to maintain your digestive metabolic energy as well as your progesterone. Yang drives your digestion and your elimination of wastes. It looks after your water metabolism in the body and your daily energy.

So it is important to balance this Yin and Yang energy. Every single women’s health complaint comes down to an imbalance in this cycle.

It is as simple and as complicated as that!

Prenatal Vitamin Comparison Chart

Prenatal vitamins can be such a contentious subject and for some reason, this has been a project of mine for a little while. Whilst I have plans for finding the source of each brand’s ingredients, the recommended daily dosages, the additional fillers added and any research supporting each. I think I need to send something out in the meantime. And here it is (below).

Firstly, I need to make this very clear, that no single prenatal vitamin is going to be perfect for everyone. It is suggested for all women to take prenatal vitamins because we are lacking certain minerals and vitamins – due to our diet or digestive systems and the quality of foods available. Although unless  you have had this investigated through blood tests, you won’t know your state of mineral, vitamin and nutrient status.

Some brands have been particularly great at marketing their product to us and to doctors, but does that mean they are the best? Maybe yes, maybe not. The chart helps determine this for you.

I think it’s important when choosing the best vitamin for you too, you understand more about your diagnosis and health. If you have no deficiencies in minerals, vitamins or nutrients you may not need a prenatal vitamin. However, if you’re iron deficient, you’ll need a vitamin with iron. If you have some signs of PCOS, inositol may be helpful. If you’re tired and have other signs of B vitamin deficiency, maybe you need more of those.

Of course there is the option of adding other supplements on top of your prenatal vitamins. Which is something you can consider as well. Keeping in mind the added cost.

I just like you to be informed and then you can make your own decisions about your health. I also want to be able to make a recommendation based on your individual health status when asked.

I am really happy to hear any feedback (positive or critical), suggestions or even another brand to add.

Paige.

tpow-prenatal-vitamin-comparison

 

The Body Doesn’t Lie

Do you remember the television series ‘House’ with Hugh Laurie. The sarcastic, grumpy but brilliant doctor who consistently claimed that ‘all patients lie’.

After almost 5 years in clinical practice, I would definitely agree….however (and this is important) very rarely is this intentional or deliberate.

hugh-laurie

As a side note, I don’t like calling people who come in to see me ‘patients’. I feel like it implies that you are unwell and that’s not always the case.

Back on track – in the times where we are taking many types of pain relief, antibiotics, hormone therapy and indigestion medications, we really don’t know our bodies very well.

But one of the most wonderful things about Chinese medicine, is body symptoms don’t lie. Pulses and tongues can’t lie ;-) So even if you’re unsure about your body symptoms, I can still work out what is going on and what we need to do to fix it.

Whilst I spend time asking you questions about your health and your symptoms. I am also checking these answers with specific signs I can read from your body.

The tongue is a great example – I can see how you digest your food, how you handle stress, how your fluid metabolism is working and your level of energy by having a look at your tongue. I can also see how you respond to treatment by assessing your tongue prior to treatment and after treatment.

tongue-map

Your pulse can also confirm these findings. I can feel your quality and quantity of energy in each organ and how they relate to your specific complaint.

Palpating specific areas of the body can give me an incredible amount of information too – the stomach can help diagnose infertility complaints, digestive complaints and general wellbeing. The tightness of specific meridians can give me information about how that particular organ is functioning and individual points can give me an incredible amount of diagnostic information about your body. Some points can be tight, can feel like there’s a bubble underneath, can feel soft, can feel ‘sluggish’ or be really tender for you.

The beauty of Chinese medicine and acupuncture is that we use all this information together to get a clear pattern of disharmony so we can treat your complaint uniquely for you. No one method of diagnosis is more important than others.

If you would like to know more about how Chinese medicine can diagnose and treat your particular complaint, please don’t hesitate to email me at info@thepointofwellbeing.com.au.

Paige x

CoQ10 and it’s Role in Reproduction and IVF

There is a fair bit of confusion surrounding CoQ10 and what its role is in reproduction. The confusion is because good quality evidence for dosage and length of time taking this supplement aren’t easy to find. Another reason for the confusion, is that there are two types of CoQ10 – ubiquinol and ubiquinone. They are both important but Ubiquinol is more readily used by the body.

A brief biology background on CoQ10. Within each cell in the body, there exists a small organelle called mitochondria. This part of the cell houses the energy required for that cell to function. It uses that energy for metabolism, transport and division. Mitochondria are similar to your petrol tank in your car and CoQ10 is like your petrol.

Each egg cell and each sperm cell has a mitochrondria and therefore requires CoQ10 for energy. The egg needs the energy to keep it moving through the fallopian tubes and a sperm cell needs energy to swim towards the egg, as well as the energy to fertilise an egg. The egg and sperm combined also need energy to continue cell division so they can form a healthy embryo and hopefully a viable fetus and then beautiful baby.

Even though this process is incredibly microscopic, it involves a huge amount of cellular energy to work. I suppose it would be similar to running a marathon….but for cells. If they don’t have enough energy, any stage of the fertilisation process could be affected.

So dosing CoQ10 can help with this process. There are very few contraindications for taking CoQ10, so it appears safe for most people. Those on warfarin do need to consult their specialist before taking it. I always recommend both male and female partners to take the supplement if possible and I generally suggest three months of taking it to make any significant changes. This advice is based on very preliminary research which can be updated when we have more information available. The dosage does depend on the person and their age.

For some people, taking it at night can keep them awake, so it is often best to take first thing in the morning.

Clinically, I have seen some great results with this supplement. It is safe and effective and has very few side effects. I would have difficulty not recommending this supplement for couples going through fertility treatment, especially if they are over 40 years old.

Image result for bioceuticals ubiquinol 300mh

Complementary Therapies for Labour and Birth – New Study

When it comes to complementary medicine, the scientific results for what to use to assist with a safe and natural labour, are very hit and miss. The reason for this, is that complementary medicine usually treats individuals and research studies look at large groups. So it’s hard to say for sure what single therapies work best on their own in large studies. Unfortunately small studies aren’t able to give enough weight to the result either – a constant problem with complementary medicine research and evidence based medicine.

However, with a rise in the rates of intervention in labour, particularly in Australia and other developed countries, more information is desperate.

So earlier this month, there was a new Australian study published looking into the effect of an integrative antenatal education programme to assist pregnant women through labour. The integrative part is the bit I like best. They looked at six different techniques including; acupressure, visualisation and relaxation, breathing, massage, yoga techniques and facilitated partner support.

They were looking to see what effect these therapies combined would have on the rate of epidural use, onset of labour, augmentation (added methods to bring on labour like manual membrane rupture or oxytocin medication), mode of birth and newborn outcomes.

They found that the implementation of these techniques together significantly reduced epidural use and caesarean section.

Other findings – although not significant, they also found that there was a reduced rate of augmentation, length of second stage labour, perineal trauma and resuscitation of the newborn.

For full disclosure – there were no differences found in spontaneous onset of labour, pethidine use, rate of postpartum haemorrhage, major perineal trauma or admission to intensive care unit. However, these may have been more physical or functional concerns associated with existing conditions and not able to be assisted with complementary methods.

Something they noted, is that the study did include a high number of ‘relatively wealthy, well educated women’ but it was also followed up with the discussion point that the highest rates of epidural use and caesarean section are amongst this same population.

Any complementary therapies that can help reduce epidural use and caesarean section numbers are a worthwhile investment in my opinion so it’s some exciting news. Not so much for the people already using these therapies because you’re already benefiting. But it will mean more women and families could be directed towards this style of protocol.

I do recommend all of these therapies with all of the pregnant women I see. Usually prior to 36 weeks because I find it can take some practice for some of the visualisation, yoga and breathing techniques. The great thing is, all of these therapies are safe. Safe pregnancies with healthy mums and bubs is the most ideal outcome.

For a link to the original article, click here.

Wonderful news!

Details of the techniques if you’re interested…

The protocol started prior to 36 weeks in combination with their usual hospital care and included:

  1. Visualisation – four guided visualisations rehearsed through the courses and given to participants on a CD to practice at home
  2. Yoga postures – five postures and movements practiced to encourage relaxation, physiological position for labour, opening of the pelvis and downward descent of the baby
  3. Breathing techniques – four breathing techniques were introduced: soft sleep breaths for relaxation between contractions; blissful belly breaths (BBs) which were used during contractions for pain relief; Cleansing Calming Breaths used following contractions during the transition period of labour; and the gentle birthing breath (GB) which was for use during the second stage of labour and encouraged descent of the baby avoiding active pushing and protection of the pelvic floor
  4. Massage – two techniques were shown to partners: the endorphin massage used between contractions, which is a soft technique and encourages endorphin release; and the stronger massage which is used during contractions for pain relief and focuses on squeezing the buttock, especially the piriformis muscle, to interrupt pain perception
  5. Acupressure – the use of six main points for use during labour selected from a previously published protocol. These focus on hormone release for labour progression, augmentation of contractions, pain relief, nausea and positioning of baby. For a free booklet on these acupuncture points and how to use them, head to Debra Bett’s website here.
  6. Facilitated partner support – used concept of working with pain and instructs partners to advocate for the labouring woman, promoting her oxytocin levels and minimising her stress with actions and techniques which are supportive for the birthing woman, and gives time for facilitated discussion and rehearsal by couples during the course.

pregnancy picture