Ear Acupuncture

Ever wondered about ear acupuncture, and how does it work?

The incidence of ear acupuncture goes back many thousands of years:

  • There is reference made to the healing power of the auricle in the Nei Jing, dating back to 475-221 BCE.
  • Evidence suggests that it was used in various forms in many parts of the world including ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece.  Sharpened stones or bamboo were used to stimulate points on the ear, which were found to help disease.  Stones were replaced by fish bones and then metal. 
  • Egyptologist Alexandre Varille documented that women in ancient Egypt, who didn’t want more children, would have their outer ear pricked and cauterized. 
  • Gold earrings were worn by Mediterranean sailors as it was thought to improve vision. 
  • Hippocrates reported that doctors would open the vein behind the ear to help relieve impotence.  
  • Greek physician Galen reported of bloodletting the veins behind the ear for treatment of sciatica.  After the fall of Rome, these records were preserved by Middle Eastern Islamic cultures.

Chinese Roots

Ear acupuncture has been traced back to 281 CE in China for the treatment of many diseases. By 1888, physician Zheng Zhen says the posterior part of the external ear can be divided into five regions.  Massaging the ear lobe was used to treat common colds and needling the ear rim was said to expel external pathogenic factors like wind and good for back aches.  Treatment of the antihelix and antitragus were used to treat headaches due to wind-heat.  In the 1800s, however, acupuncture appears to have fallen out of favour.  After the Chinese military suffered defeat by the British Government during the Opium wars, confidence in Chinese Medicine faded.   The Chinese started to practise Western Medicine in hospitals as they were impressed by Western Science and biological discoveries, like antiseptic.   However, rural areas changed at a much slower rate and continued to use acupuncture as a treatment modality.  In 1949 Chairman Mao reinvigorated the use of Ancient Chinese Medicine and encouraged its scientific development.

20th Century

The system of ear acupuncture we use today was developed by a French neurologist, Dr Paul Nogier in the 1950s, after seeing cauterisation scars in some of his patients.   These were the result of a lay practitioner, who, it is thought was taught these techniques by her father, who had travelled in China.  Areas of the outer ear had been cauterized for treatment of sciatica.  Dr Nogier tried it with his own patients, which worked even when western medicine failed.  Once he had learned acupuncture, he started to use acupuncture needles to avoid scarring his patients. He developed the map we use today, which is the upside-down foetus, representing the whole body on the ear.  The head being the lobe and the vital organs located in the superior and inferior concha of the ear.  It encompasses the organs, nervous system and musculoskeletal system.  Science speculates that ear acupuncture works on the basis that each stem cell holds the information for the whole organism.  They create regional organisation centres representing different parts of the body by recruiting more cortex cells dedicated to specific areas of the body.  When reflex points on the ear are stimulated they relieve symptoms of distant pathology.

The ear can also be used as a diagnostic tool. Everyone’s ear is different and unique to them, like as finger print.   Areas of the ear can be probed for tenderness as well as observing differences in the skin colour and vessels, which can be an indication of imbalance and the treatment required.  There are over 200 acupuncture points on the ear and various ear acupuncture protocols are used in the treatment of drug and alcohol misuse, weight loss, fertility and other treatments.  Ear acupuncture can be incorporated with body acupuncture or alongside other holistic treatments

The most commonly used ear acupuncture protocol in the UK and around the world is NADA (National Acupuncture Detox Association).  This is a five-point protocol, where small, fine disposable needles are inserted into each ear. This protocol was developed by Dr Mike Smith, in the Lincoln Recovery Centre, in New York City’s Bronx in the 1970s and was within the treatment setting of addictions.  He found that it eased symptoms of addiction and helped recipients feel calm. 

Ear Acupuncture today

NADA ear acupuncture is carried out in a group setting and therefore not only are costs kept low, but it also develops a sense of community.  For over a year, I administered the NADA protocol working from a centre at the MIND Charity and in my experience the people attending this clinic visited for a multitude of reasons.  Some to relieve symptoms of mental health, others to continue their drug and alcohol prevention programme, to aid relaxation and others to meditate as treatments are carried out in a quiet setting.  Elsewhere, it has also been implemented in 130 prisons in England.  The protocol has been used after disasters and in war zones; after earth quakes and hurricanes for treating shock along with other mental health issues.  It was used for this purpose when treating firefighters along with others affected after the twin tower attacks on 9/11 and more recently, here in the UK after the Grenfell fire.  NADA is a stand-alone treatment but can also be used in combination with counselling and other support groups.  

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References:

  • Auriculotherapy, Terry Oleson
  • Nada GB resources
  • Own study notes

Easy peasy lemon squeezy

… or setting good daily routines, and the reasons why a little yellow ball of goodness can be your friend!

Spring time and wood

Spring time is when – according to Chinese Medicine – two Wood elements are most active:

The Liver is responsible for moving qi and blood in the body, and helps bring about change when it is running smoothly. The Liver organ has many jobs in the body.  It helps regulate hormones, cholesterol and even weight and can become over-burdened and tired.  If the Liver is out of balance, you may experience irritability; frustration; and anger; or feel depressed and inflexible.  If the Liver is overloaded or not functioning well, physically, you may have symptoms including: menstrual problems; fibroids; prostate issues; headaches and IBS. 

The Gallbladder stores and excretes bile, when needed during digestion.  It is also the decision-maker and helps give a person the courage and initiative to make those changes to come about.  When the Gall Bladder is out of balance, you may feel unable to make decisions; or feel a timidity or shyness and you might become easily discouraged.  The Gall Bladder depends on the Liver to control the smooth release of bile, for a smooth digestion. 

Another Chinese Medicine concept to consider is Damp, which is when joints can become very achy because the body holds on to too much water. It can be described as being like rusting on the inside. This can be due to diet, lack of exercise as well as changes in the weather.  Damp is associated with Spleen energy and the digestive system.  A person with Damp may have a sense of heaviness and lethargy about them, and may have loose bowels, and cloudy thinking. 

Therefore, with active Livers and Gallbladders, plus a general change in the seasonal weather, we need to be kind to ourselves to ensure that toxins don’t build up in our bodies.

A zingy wake-up to digestion

Sour flavours, such as in lemons, can help the Liver to perform better. Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning is thought to stimulate the Liver into producing more bile. The Liver in turn cleans up the rest of the body by breaking down fats and aiding digestion. Whilst there isn’t too much Western research to support this, it is practiced by many in the East.  Using lemon water as part of a detox regime however has been shown to help on weight loss programmes, along with helping reduce insulin resistance and improve cardiovascular function.  See this link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25912765

Four other reasons that lemons can protect the body

Lemons contain Vitamin C and flavonoids, which help protect cells from damage from free radicals.  Foods rich in Vitamin A and E can also help prevent this type of damage and also prevent the oxidisation process, which contributes to the ageing process. 

Citrus juices can also have a positive effect on skin and the ageing process, reducing skin thickness and wrinkles.  See this link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814615013023?via%3Dihub

Lemons have a high concentration of citrate, whichcan help prevent the formation of kidney stones. See this link: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones_prevent

Many foods in the Western diet are more on the acidic side. This is not ideal because most disease and inflammation thrive in acidic environments.  Drinking lemon water can help bring our bodies back to pH7, because of its alkalising effect.

Looking after your smile

If you decide to try lemon water, remember that lemon is said to damage tooth enamel long-term, so take the following precautions:

  1. Use a straw to drink lemon water, to send it to the back of the mouth and away from teeth.
  2. After, swish some tap water in your mouth to encourage saliva to return to normal.
  3. Wait an hour (!) to brush your teeth to avoid damaging the enamel.

Lemons can awaken your taste buds with a zing in the morning!

Valentine’s Day

This article explains the roots of Valentine’s Day from both an Eastern and Western perspective and then considers why we should celebrate it, and who we should celebrate it with.

Valentine’s Day in the Western Tradition

Valentine’s Day may be a celebration of one, two, or even more saints martyred during Roman times. One was the bishop of Terni.  Very little is known of him other than he was executed for his Christianity after becoming a bishop, around AD 197.  The second was bishop of Rome who died around AD 289, although it is possible that the texts are referring to the same person. A third Valentine was martyred and suffered with a number of others in Africa.

Valentine of Rome was imprisoned and persecuted for performing weddings of soldiers who were forbidden to marry.  Emperor Claudius II was having difficulty getting men to join his army.  He believed it was due to them having strong attachments to their family, so declared marriage illegal.  Valentine saw this as an injustice, and disobeyed this order by continuing to perform weddings in secret, He was found out and then arrested. Whilst under arrest, it is said that he restored the sight of his jailer’s daughter, with whom he fell in love with.  Before his execution, he sent a letter to her, signing it ‘Your Valentine’ as a way of saying farewell.  This has become the tradition of how we now sign Valentine cards today. Valentine of Rome was thought to have been sentenced around 14 February. 

Pope Gelasius I, in 496 AD, dedicated the 14th February as Valentine’s Day as a way of Christianising the Roman celebration of ‘Lupercalia’.  Lupercalia was a Roman fertility festival which took place between the 13-15th February.  Young men would strip naked and spank young women as a way of aiding their fertility.  During these three days the Romans celebrated the god Faunus, who protected sheep, cattle and goats from wolves. 

Linking Romance to the Valentine Tradition

The story of Valentine’s Day was spread from Italy, to France and England by Benedictine monks. Valentine’s Day was given a more romantic association by the English poet and author, Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century.  He wrote a poem called the ‘Parliment of Foules’ for King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia to honour the first anniversary of their engagement.  In this poem, he says that it is on St Valentine’s Day that every bird comes forward to choose their mate.  There was a popular notion during the middle ages that 14 February was the start of the mating season of birds. He made the connection between St Valentine’s Day and romantic love and popularised it love through his writing and poems.  In the late 16th century, Shakespeare also mentions St Valentine’s Day in A Midsomer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. It wasn’t until the 18th century when Valentine’s Day became more widely celebrated, and it was customary to exchange small gifts with loved ones and friends.

Chinese Valentines

China has the equivalent of two Valentine’s day celebrations: the Lantern Festival and Qixi Festival. 

In ancient times, the Lantern Festival was the only time of year when young women from respectable families were allowed out to see the amazing lantern displays.  The Festival originates from the Han Dynasty and is celebrated on the first full moon of the year.  Lanterns are very symbolic in China, they are a wish for a bright future, especially red ones, as they represent prosperity and a booming business.  The colour red signifies happiness and gold is the colour for wealth.  When they float away, they are said to carry away worries. 

The Qixi Festival, or “double seven” festival, takes places on the seventh night of the seventh lunar month, so in 2019 will be celebrated on 7th August.  It celebrates a tale of star crossed lovers: the Weaver Girl star (Vaga star) and Cowherd star (Altair star).  Vaga star and Altair star fell in love with each other.  However, in the heavens of the Chinese mythical world, it was forbidden for these stars or deities to have a heavenly relationship.  When word reached the Heavenly Empress, she banished Cowherd to earth to live as a mortal, as punishment.  Weaver Girl  was made to weave non-stop in the skies.  She would weave clouds made from silk on her magical weaving machine.  After many years, a group of fairies asked Heavenly Empress if they could go to the mortal world to Bi Lian Lake and take Weaver Girl with them.  Catching Heavenly Empress in good spirits, she agreed.

In the mortal world, Cowherd was born into a family of farmers.  After his parents died, he was driven out of his home by evil siblings with just an old ox and broken cart.  He worked hard ploughing the fields for many years and managed to build a small house and get by.

Unknown to Cowherd, his ox was actually the Golden Ox star, who had tried to put a good word for him with the Heavenly Empress, but who was himself punished.  One day the Ox told him to go to Bi Lian Lake, where he would find some dresses belonging to some fairies that were bathing in the lake.   He was told to take the red one, then that fairy would become his wife. So, he went along to the lake and fairies spotted him taking running off with the red dress, grabbed their dresses and flew off into the sky, leaving just one stuck in the lake.  Cowherd walked to the edge of the lake, holding up the red dress and asked Weaver Girl to marry him.  The Weaver Girl instantly recognised him; accepted his request; and became his wife.  They were very happy together and had a son and a daughter.  However, when the Heavenly Empress heard, she ordered her heavenly guards to bring Weaver Girl back for punishment. 

The heavenly soldiers seized Weaver Girl and flew off into the sky.  Weaver Girl was unable to escape.  Her husband held a basket with her children, and was cloaked beneath the Golden Ox’s hide and so was able to follow her.  They had nearly caught up when the Heavenly Empress appeared, and with one wave of her hair-pin she created a galaxy (the Milky Way) between them.  The couple gazed across the Milky Way and cried. Heavenly Empress allowed the couple and their children to stay in the sky as stars, and once a year they could all see each other.  This was said to be on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, which is the date of the Qixi Festival. 

This has been celebrated since the Han Dynasty, which started from 206 BC. The QIxi festival is still very important in the Chinese calendar as this is the time when many people have joint weddings, anniversary celebrations and kissing competitions every year.

Today: Tradition or Commercialism?

Modern symbols linked to Valentine’s Day include heart shapes; cupid with his bow and arrow; and doves. 

  • Aristotle and Galen said the heart had three chambers, then in the 14th century, Guido Da Vigevano drew some anatomical drawings of the heart, which resembled the description given by Aristotle. The familiar, modern heart shape seems may have come from a poem called Documenti D’amore by Francesco Barberino during the 14 century, which spread like wild fire.  It also depicted a naked cupid standing on a horse throwing arrows, roses and hearts at bystanders. 
  • In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus, god of love and beauty. Cupid was god of affection and who would shoot golden tipped arrows into both gods and humans alike.  Once his magical arrow had pieced a heart, it would cause them to fall deeply in love. 
  • Doves are associated with Venus, which would flutter around her head and rest on her hand.  Some might say that Valentine’s Day has become commercial, but instead of thinking of showering lots of gifts on that one special person, it can be a reminder to try and be thoughtful to others.

Consideration

Instead of thinking of Valentine’s Day as a time to bestow lavish romantic gifts, why not think of it as a time when we could spread love and kindness in the world? This might not just to one special person but everyone that we make contact with and not to forget being our own best friend as well! Here are some kindness ideas:

1. Positive touch, making connections and releasing your happy hormones

It’s true that when you become part of a couple, you can get no end of hugs and cuddles should you wish.  However, if you’re not in a relationship, this might be something you miss. 

  • Positive touch has been shown to be extremely beneficial.  Studies carried out on Romanian children in 1996/97 determined that those who were in an enriched group, where the ratio was one care giver to 4 infants, had better attention and performed better both physically and behaviourally and showed much lower cortisol levels.  MRI scans reveal touch activates the orbitofrontal cortex and the caudate cortex.  The orbitofrontal cortex is the part of the brain involved in learning and development and influences emotion. https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/power-touch
  • Human interaction is so nourishing for the soul, why not pick up the phone and give a friend you not spoken to in a while a call or visit an elderly relative and let them know you care.  This can be enriching for both giver and receiver.
  • The digital age has meant that we may have become more remote and are not in such regular contact with people.  If you really appreciate someone why not give them a hug and let them know.  Or do a kind gesture for a member of your family and give them foot or shoulder massage as it can promote those feel good hormones like dopamine.  Dopamine influences intuition, joy and enthusiasm as well as inspiration according to the TOUCH institute at the university of Miami.  Massage also boosts serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, memory, to mention just a few.  And lastly, oxytocin promotes feelings of bonding and can be helpful in pregnancy, birthing and lactation. 
  • Dutch researchers found that hugging can relieve or remove a person’s feelings of self-doubt.  Isn’t this great… so why aren’t we hugging more if it has these kinds of benefits?  https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/touch-may-alleviate-existential-fears-for-people-with-low-self-esteem.html

2. Being kind to yourself

Self-compassion has been identified to consist of three components according to the psychologist Neff (2003) (see https://self-compassion.org/about/): kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. 

  • Kindness is about giving yourself compassion when you feel like you have failed. 
  • Humanity is knowing that you’re not the only one suffering or feeling it’s only happening to “me”.  This leads to feelings of self-pity and isolation. 
  • Mindfulness can help us recognise negative thoughts and feelings as being separate from ourselves, with less self-judgement. 
  • The end result is a better internal dialogue and a happier you.

3. Bathing in nature

Taking a walk with a loved one in the woods is actually proven to be a nourishing environment because of the presence of certain natural chemicals emitted by trees. 

  • The phytocides emitted into the air by trees and forests have proven to have a beneficial effect on the immune system as well as mental health.  A study conducted in Japan measured phytoncides, (used in essential oils), monotrepenes, sesquitrepenes, and phenylpropenoids.  The study showed that what the Japenese call ‘Forest Bathing’ can improve sleep; boost NK cells (a type of white blood cell); lower blood pressure; decrease stress hormones and reduce anger, anxiety and fatigue. 
  • Another study by T. Tsuchiya et. al. with lavender, lemon, valerian, and other essential oils, had the same effect.

4. Bringing nature indoors

By diffusing essential oils, we can bring some of these benefits from walking in nature, to the home.  Oils such as geranium and orange can be very uplifting and help ease low moods.  Lavender oil can ease symptoms of anxiety and this is also a good oil to use if to struggle to drop off to sleep. Diffuse chamomile for a sense of calm or vetiver if you’re feeling a bit irritable or in need of grounding.   For those who want to create a more romantic ambience, ylang ylang is just gorgeous.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, spread a little joy to everyone this Valentine’s Day.

Protect your lower back and kidneys

A kidney warmer comes in really handy during the winter and early spring.  It is a narrow band of material which sits around your midriff. It provides you with a second skin that protects your kidneys, and helps maintain body temperature. They are especially great if you work outside and you are bending and stretching a lot.  They help prevent the cold from penetrating your back, which can cause it to seize up.

In Chinese Medicine the Kidney is the foundation of life.  It’s where the initial spark of life comes from, so it’s worth protecting!

New Year, new pathways to health

For many, the New Year is time to start detoxing from all the indulgence of Christmas, with new goals for the new year set including losing weight.  Who really wants to detox in one of the coldest months of the year?Deciding to be healthier is no bad thing, but detoxing is best left for Spring.  In Chinese Medicine, Spring is when the Liver and Gall Bladder are most active. This is when your body has more energy reserves available to detox.  With the start of a new calendar year, it is a great time to set new routines and habits for the months ahead. This mindset can support your health and well-being and enable you to get the most enjoyment out of life.

Get Active

One way to start addressing the Christmas spread is to incorporate exercise into daily life. As it’s dark when we wake and when we leave our places of work, we don’t get to spend as much time outdoors as in the Summer. Making just a few changes to our usual routine, can make a noticeable difference to our health. If you normally take a bus, train, tube or drive to work, then maybe walk the last 20 minutes. You will need to be well dressed for the weather. This will help you start the day feeling invigorated and ready for action.If you work in a large office covering many floors, try walking if you need to visit a colleague or go to a meeting on another floor rather than use the lift.

Nutrition

This is a good time to start bulk cooking and making bulk batches of healthy snacks. This means you will be less likely to reach for sugar at mid-morning or mid-afternoon when your energy levels start to crash. Cooking can be fun and very relaxing, especially if you’re making lovely treats!  Try making your own raw chocolate, which is lower in sugar. It’s quick, fun and you can make it to your taste, as well as saving you money. Even though I believe detoxing should be left for Spring time, making healthier choices is good.

Holistic treatments to aid health and wellbeing

To clear out the toxins from your body, why not try cupping and massage? This will help promote the removal of toxins from the lymphatic system. You will also need to drink plenty of water to aid this function after treatment. Another benefit is it will sooth stiff, achy muscles, which are holding tension due to the colder weather.

Less Wrinkles

If you’re looking in the mirror, noticing a couple more lines or blemishes and you’re not happy, this is the time to have cosmetic acupuncture.  It is a treatment that causes local injury to the skin, around the site of the needle insertion. By breaking down old collagen and then replacing it with the new, helps delay the signs of ageing. It is predominantly concerned with treating lines, wrinkles and acne scarring. Body points are also used to aid overall well-being. This is a good alternative to botox and fillers. Your face will still look natural and have expression and no toxins are injected in to the body.

For those who like to understand treatments backed with some scientific research, there is plenty out there on this subject but essentially collagen has been shown to improve by up to 200% around the local needle site, after just one treatment. Take a look at the links below:

Digital Detox

When we think of improving our routines, we also need to consider switching off tablets, smartphones and computers at a reasonable hour. The blue light they emit can stimulate the brain and disrupt sleep. By turning these off, a couple of hours before bedtime means your body can start to wind down properly. Don’t be afraid to step away from what’s digital and regain your evenings of reading a good book and listening to music.

Meditation

Exercise regimes are very concerned with their external appearance but let’s not forget about mental health. We all know, how helpful meditation is, to keep us calm amongst the business of life. You don’t have to go on a full day cource or weekend retreat. It’s about finding the time for just 5 or 10 minutes a day and training yourself to find that quiet, calm space. There are several Apps out now that can help you get started with this.

Sing

Do you sing in the shower, if not, why not?  I’ve often heard it said that singing makes you feel uplifted and happy, but perhaps it depends on what you sing…  From a Chinese Medicine perspective, singing engages and moves the diaphragm. By moving the diaphragm, you move the small muscles around the ribs and the pelvis, so the heart can beat effectively. A sign that the diaphragm isn’t moving well and allowing the heart to pump blood efficiently, will be a tendency toward cold extremities. When the heart pumps, you move the blood. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the blood houses the spirit, so when you move the blood you can move stuck emotions. Chanting can also be very good for this and can be very soothing at the same time.

Know your community

It seems like online interaction is more common than meeting people face to face now. However, we still need to feel connected to people and rooted in our local community. So why not try to get involved in your community this year and try and to establish better, more fulfilling contacts with people face to face. This is another way we can feel nourished and supported in the place we live.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and thoughtful 2019!

Home Made Cacao Bites

Here is an extremely easy healthy recipe to make cacao bites to help keep sugar cravings at bay during these cold months. The exact proportions of the ingredients can be experimented with to achieve your ideal combination, and is all part of the fun! Also, home cooking for these chocolate style treats works out much more cost effective than shop-bought chocolate bars.

To make the most of this, purchase Cacao butter and Cacao powder in bulk online; current prices are around £16.50 and £14 per kilo respectively. The recipe below works out at £2.46 per 100g, compared to £4.28/100g for a leading cacao bar!

Ingredients 

80g Cacao butter
70g Cocoa powder
4 tablespoons Agave Syrup
Various (edible) Essential oils – a drop of Orange but you can also try Lavender, Mint, Rose

Method

  1. Melt the cacao butter in a bowl placed on a saucepan of hot water
  2. When the cacao butter has melted, whisk in the cacao powder.
  3. When ingredients are fully combined, add four tablespoons of Agave syrup – the more you add, the sweeter the chocolates will become
  4. Take the bowl off the saucepan and add a couple of drops of Essential Oil and mix well.
  5. Carefully spoon the chocolate into a mould and place in the fridge to set for at least one hour
  6. Enjoy!
Melting the cacao butter
Adding Essential Oils
Spooning into chocolate mould

Winter Wellbeing

This article explains how we can take simple steps to modify our modern lifestyles, to apply a little “winter wellbeing” and better enable our bodies to cope at this time of year. As the Winter Solstice approaches on 21st December, many of us will be busy, trying to complete work and squeezing in extra social engagements.  In Chinese Medicine however, Winter is regarded as a ‘yin’ time: a time for quietness; introspection and reflection. It is when our bodies can recharge to be ready to burst back into action in the Spring.  It is an important time for the Kidney and Bladder, which are both Water element organs.  These organs are responsible for supporting water metabolism; the sexual organs; fertility; bones; teeth and hair.   The Kidney is very important because it provides the ‘spark’ of life to other organs, as well as providing the seeds of fertility to create new life.  When Water elements are in balance, we have willpower and ambition to succeed and better focus on making things happen! 

Winter Fuel

Firstly, give your body the best possible fuel so that it isn’t always under undue strain. Eat more warming foods such as oats, quinoa, rice and spelt, root vegetables; parsnip, squash and sweet potato.  Consider beans, such as: black beans, aduki beans and kidney beans.  Don’t forget nuts; chestnut, coconut and walnuts. Try warming fish such as anchovies, herring and salmon. These are also great sources of protein, as are certain meats, like beef, chicken/turkey and venison. 

Spice up your life!

We traditionally use more spices for baking and in drinks, such as cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg, all of which are warming.  Cinnamon tea is not just festive but it’s also good for the ‘Jing’, which essentially describes part of the constitution.  This is not just about drinking tea, because we need to keep well hydrated with water.  From October onwards, central heating goes on , which can suck the moisture out of bodies through the pores.  To keep Kidney energy in balance, drink water, but try to stay away from chilled water and ice cubes because they can injure Kidney energy. 

This is the time of year when people suffer from sniffles. If you’re traveling on public transport close to strangers, it can be horrible if someone sneezes near you!  Keep some lemon; honey and ginger in the cupboard and take some in a drink to help your body sweat out any germs after you’ve finished your travels.

Dressing for Winter

We all love a party, and getting dressed up for special occasions too is part of the seasonal fun.  If it’s cold outside, then a thin jacket and little dress, or a shirt won’t give you enough protection against the elements.  Whilst you may feel great on your way “out out”, you won’t feel as great the next day when your body is trying to fight off the double whammy of Cold and Damp!

You know the phrase ‘cold to the bone’? In Chinese Medicine, this describes when Cold creeps in to the lower back. It takes a while for the body to reheat itself again. So, keep wrapped up by donning a hat and scarf to protect your head and the ‘wind points’ around your neck. These are vital aides to help your immune system.  The lower back, around the Kidney, is a key area to keep protected from Cold, Wind and Damp.  If you work outdoors or gardening, and are regularly bending or stretching, the Cold may penetrate your lower back.   To protect yourself, consider a kidney warmer – a band of material which stretches from the pubic bone up to the bottom of the ribs. A kidney warmer could be the best present for your lower back this season! 

Essential Oils for the winter season

Keep the sinuses clear so that the body can effectively clear out any pathogens trying to sneak in. You can do this through self-massage. With the first two fingers of each hand, make small circular movements starting from nose and working across the cheeks towards the ears.  This will loosen up the sinus cavity area, which can become blocked up without you realising.  Alternatively, f you feel like you are getting a cold, try diffusing some eucalyptus globulus in an aromatherapy burner.

If you’ve already started getting a sore throat, use Ecalyptus citrdora.  You can either diffuse this in a burner, or place a few drops in hot water; dip in a flannel and place it on your chest.  This will open the pores and allow the essential oil to go straight into your bloodstream and work its magic.

Even with the best willpower, it’s tricky to avoid all chocolate, mince pies, mulled wine and cider this month. So if you’re going to immerse yourself fully into the festivities, be good with your diet the next day.  Start your day with a drop of lemon in hot water to bring your body back into an alkaline state.

Schedule in some relax time

With constant socialising and long working hours you can feel like a moth dancing around a light bulb!  To avoid burn out, it’s a good idea to schedule in a massage to boost T-Lymphocites, part of your white blood cells that help with healing and repair. A massage will of course also give you some space and time to relax between all the festivities.

Seasonal activities

Going to the gym or running in Winter is best left till Spring.  Re-connect with the season that you are in, and seek gentle and restorative exercises, such as Yin Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. These will help to cultivate your energy reserves. 

At work, step away from your desk and the artificial office environment and go get some fresh air.  Take a walk in the park at lunch to will get your circulation pumping and help top-up your vitamin D levels (although not when it’s raining)! Getting outside will revive your brain and help you concentrate better for your afternoon session.

Recharging your batteries…

Get back in tune with the natural rhythms of nature by getting snuggly in bed early and getting up later too. Winter is when nature and animals look inwards: trees are reduced to the bare skeleton branches their former selves; and animals go into hibernation. As we might burn the candle at both ends during this season, sleep is incredibly important: for mind, body and spirit.  If you have a late night one night, make sure the rest of the week you’re in bed by 10:30pm, technology free, so you can wind down and be asleep by 11pm.  This is when the Liver and Gall Bladder can start to process emotions, regulate hormones and detoxify the body. 

So, in summary, by keeping diet, exercise and sleep in balance, along with setting aside time to nurture ourselves, we can journey into next Spring feeling nourished and uplifted!

New Clinics in Norwood Junction and Crystal Palace

Hi, I’m Yvonne!  I moved into the Crystal Palace area in February 2018, when the snow was thick on the ground, especially for London, and I have now seen the rest of the seasons come almost full circle!   I continue to work at clinics in Brighton, Canary Wharf, and Warren Street and have had the pleasure of meeting and treating a broad spectrum of people, many of whom I’ve come to know quite well over the years.

The nature of my working hours and travel, has meant that I get home quite late during the week. Weekends have been my opportunity to try and get to know my new stomping ground a little better.  That said, many weekends are taken up visiting family and friends, entertaining or just relaxing.  After some adventures and exploration, I have come across a couple of fabulous clinics: one in South Norwood and one in Crystal Palace, both of which I have started to work from.

The South Norwood clinic is newly refurbished, and with each treatment room having its own heating system, electric under blanket on the couch along with a great sound system. This provides a super and tranquil surrounding for treatment.   It’s within sneezing distance of Norwood Junction train station, so you can drop in on your way home from work and ease away the stress.

 

 

The Crystal Palace clinic is a bit of a hidden gem, found down a little side road, just off the ‘triangle’.  At the bottom of an “oldy worldy” little street with its circular cobbles lies a quirky building with a metal staircase leading to a balcony, which is a destination for outdoor cinema during the annual Crystal Palace festival.  Inside this structure is a dedicated centre for holistic treatments, yoga and personal training.

Both clinics are within easy access by foot, bus or car. If attending the Crystal Palace clinic, you can park in Sainsbury’s and do your shopping beforehand.  Both clinics have an online booking system, so that you can check availability, or you can call me directly to chat over what might be the best treatment options.

At present, I work at Crystal Palace on Tuesdays and South Norwood on Fridays, however these days may change in the New Year.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the treatments I offer: whether acupuncture; massage; or wanting help to slow down the signs of ageing, please feel to call me to discuss.