– by Bing Qian
Depression, anxiety, stress… these themes seem to emerge everywhere I look and they’re certainly in the news, so I thought I’d talk about it here too. So often we look for a quick fix, something that makes us feel better right away, but the reality is that we need to take a longer view of what it takes to work through these struggles, which are very real.
Your sense of well-being and your moods are affected by circumstances… whether that is your own health struggles and hormonal imbalances, or the grief we experience when those close to us are suffering and we anticipate (or experience) loss. Soul nurture is a very personal thing. Our needs are shaped by our personality, our beliefs, and our choices, so it’s virtually impossible to say that someone’s decision on how to face it is ‘wrong’ even when it is not the decision we would make. The key is looking inside ourselves, and deciding what we need.
I recently read “The River” by Paul Mutimer, a personal friend of mine, whose 4-year cancer journey I’ve been privileged to witness. He talks about how, as a psychologist, he really didn’t want to take medications, but recognised the need for chemotherapy. He also explores the mental and emotional causes of disease and the need to complement his medical treatment with reflection: looking inside yourself to release your own stress and traumatic memories to accelerate healing.
While Paul chose to submit to chemo, he emphasises the importance of the inner work in his journey. It is so important to acknowledge how we are feeling, and what our needs are, rather than to suppress them and pretend that we are doing just fine. I suspect that a lot of the anxiety and depression we see in society is the result of a culture which expects instant results, and teaches us to focus our attention externally, rather than taking the time to be kind to ourselves.
We’re all different. Another friend’s husband recently passed away from cancer. He chose not to undergo chemotherapy for many reasons and she supported him through his decision, despite her natural desire to fight to keep him longer. From the time of the diagnosis she struggled with her own grief, and found ways to nurture her soul, patiently walking through the difficulties and emotions and reminding all of us that soul nurture is not a ‘quick fix’ band-aid solution, but the work of time, persistence, and perseverance.
Soul nurture is very much like a fruitful tree. It can take several seasons (including the winter chill and apparent deadness) to finally produce the sweet, ripe fruit. However, when the fruit comes, it is all worth it.
Mindfulness: A Rewarding Challenge
Being Pregnant with TCM
During pregnancy your body is going through many changes. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can support you and help you to manage being pregnant more comfortably…
What Is Going On? Pregnancy releases a cascade of hormones that affect your emotions, your muscle tone, and your energy levels. There is no time in your life when it is more important to take care of yourself than when you are pregnant so we recommend that our pregnant ladies see us regularly during the first 3 months even if they are feeling fine, monthly during the second trimester, and weekly during the final trimester to help you cope with the increasing discomfort as the baby grows, and to help your body prepare for the birth.
Morning Sickness: Pregnancy is a cause for celebration, but it’s hard to remember that when you are feeling nauseated, and the sight and smell of food conflicts with the need to eat for yourself and your baby. Pregnancy acupuncture is extremely effective in alleviating these symptoms and helping you cope better. Depending on the severity of your symptoms you can come as often as you like, we even have ‘press tacks’ – tiny acupuncture needles which we leave in to continue to mitigate your symptoms – they are not as effective as regular acupuncture needles, but they do provide on-going relief between sessions.
Stress, Anxiety, and Fatigue: Pregnancy can be stressful for many reasons. Talk to your practitioner about how you’re feeling and they will probably recommend a mixture of herbs, acupuncture, and massage to stimulate your energy and calm your emotions. You’ll be surprised how much brighter life looks after a visit to BnH.
Final Trimester: During the final trimester TCM can be used to alleviate the swelling and back pain that frequently occur at this stage of pregnancy. Moxa (applied to the big toe) is also extremely effective at turning breech babies thereby increasing the likelihood of safe natural delivery. Western doctors frequently recommend this if a breech baby is showing no sign of turning.
Safe Labour: During the final weeks of pregnancy your practitioner will use acupuncture on certain points that have been avoided during most of your pregnancy. These will trigger a hormonal cascade that will soften your ligaments and help your body prepare for labour. This is much kinder to both mother and baby than a standard induction because it is merely stimulating the natural processes.
– Nadia Gazzi
When you plan ahead for a healthy pregnancy and make sure both partners are in optimal health, you give your unborn child the best possible start in life… and every one wants that, don’t they?
Most couples fall into one of two groups: healthy couples who are not anticipating any difficulties falling pregnant or carrying a baby to term; and couples who know that there is a potential problem due to past history or an existing condition. We’re not miracle workers, but we can help you create the perfect environment for a healthy pregnancy, so let’s look at both groups separately.
The healthy couple: Experience tells us that when it comes to fertility the common definition of “healthy” does not guarantee an easy and immediate conception. We find people are delaying having families, which is a lot later than the biological clock warrants. Modern lifestyles are also making it harder than what you may realise. And men’s health at this stage of the process is extremely important. This is why it is advisable that both partners are working on their health with exercise, nutrition, and stress management. Regular acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbal supplements have a good reputation for fertility support.
The problem pregnancy: Even when the woman presents with a history of miscarriages, Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or unexplained infertility, we like to treat both partners, because good sperm quality will help immensely to improve the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
If you have a western medical diagnosis, we begin with that. We will also look at your overall health in our Chinese medicine way, suggest lifestyle choices, and try to work out where your system is blocked. The blockage can be caused by an emotional energy such as stress, fear and anxiety or physically, such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts. In either case, it’s a good time to talk to us.
Two women, same problem, different treatments: Because our body constitutions are so varied, we often find that similar symptoms have different causes and therefore require different treatments. Interestingly, we find we have a higher success rate in treating unexplained infertility – it usually takes 3 months for your body to get ready for pregnancy. So please be patient and give your body a chance.
Please refer to our fertility page for more guidance, advice and information.
Because the abdomen is the seat of most major organs, abdominal palpation can reveal the precise areas which are sapping energy and causing pain, discomfort, and loss of function.
George was 45 and came to us because he felt highly stressed, had constant bloating of the whole belly, and reduced energy levels. Abdominal palpation revealed tightness under his ribs. I treated this immediately with acupuncture and shiatsu; and by the end of the first session the tightness under his rib cage had significantly decreased. He went home with a Chinese herbal formula and some dietary modifications. A week later, George reported that his energy levels were improving and bloating was now intermittent. There was still some tightness under his rib cage and this reduced further at the end of the next treatment session. I changed his herbal prescription and he continues to work on dietary changes and having regular treatments. These days he’s noticed improved energy and moods, no more bloating, less stress, and increased libido.
Louise wanted treatment for her painful periods and preconception care. She had a very cold area in the centre of the belly. I treated her with cupping, moxa and acupuncture as well as prescribing herbs and giving dietary advice. After 2 months of weekly treatment her periods were completely pain-free and her belly felt warm all over. Her husband also had weekly acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatments during the 3 month preconception care period to improve the quality of his sperm and decrease stress. In Louise’s next cycle she conceived naturally.
– by Alice Louey
The abdomen provides a lot of information upon gentle palpation. I use this when there are digestive, stress, energy, menstrual or fertility issues to identify specific areas that need treatment. Treatment may involve a number of different modalities: moxa, cupping, acupuncture, shiatsu/acupressure releases, and/or Chinese herbal formulas.
Temperature Variations: Most people who come in with the above issues don’t realise that they may have temperature variations in their abdomen which can indicate areas where there may be energy blockages. Palpation identifies these variations and helps your practitioner diagnose and address the source of your symptoms.
Tight Areas: Often people have become so used to feeling tightness under their ribs that they assume this is normal and may not even notice it. Actually it’s a result of stress which can also cause bloating. Stress can cause blockages/stagnation within the body and can be resolved by treatment with herbs, massage, and acupuncture to improve energy flow. Treatment can help clients feel more comfortable and look slimmer.
Tender Areas: In some cases even gentle pressure on the abdomen causes sensitivity. Again, this can be a sign of some kind of blockage/stagnation within the body and is often associated with symptoms such as digestive problems and menstrual pain which can be associated with stress and fertility concerns.
Depending on how deeply ingrained the pattern of disharmony has become and how long it has been present, sometimes things resolve within a single treatment session, while at other times it may take a course of treatments. As always, treatments are individualised for each client. In addition to the treatment you receive at the clinic you will often be offered personalised advice on diet, self-massage, acupressure, herbal prescriptions and other opportunities to help your body heal faster.