5 ways to relieve Neck Pain

Neck & Shoulder PainTired of ongoing Neck Pain? Do you find yourself trying to get a neck massage all the time? Here are 5 things that can help you:

1. Check your pillow. Is your pillow the right shape, height & firmness for you? The right shape depends on your sleeping posture. If you sleep mainly on your back then a thin, flat pillow is usually best. If you sleep mostly on your side, then a concave pillow is best. The pillow’s job is to support your head in alignment with the rest of your spine. If your neck is tilting on an angle to compensate for an incorrect pillow, then it will be putting strain on your neck. Your neck on the pillow should be in a “neutral” position, meaning the slight curve of your neck is not changed or is bent at an odd angle.

Before you go to sleep, just remember to check your neck. If you’re a side sleeper, is your pillow taking up the space between your head and mattress without tilting your head? If so, you have a supportive pillow. If you’re a back sleeper, you shouldn’t feel any sort of incline or decline when you lay your head down, otherwise, your pillow isn’t doing its job.

A few more tricks to try:
* Try a memory foam pillow that will shape itself to the contours of your head and neck.
* If you’re using a feather pillow, make sure to replace it every year, as the feathers will become less supportive over time.
* Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, which can be rough on your spine, because it arches the back and keeps your neck turned to the side.


2. Check your driving posture. Are you craning your neck forward as you drive? This can cause a great deal muscle tension. Your neck should be in a neutral position, that is the back of your head in line with the rest of your spine. Your car head rest ideally supports your head in this position. We just need to remember to use it. If you keep forgetting, place a sticky-note on the back on your sun visor to remind you to use your head rest.


3. Do Range of Motion exercises. They are simple, quick and effective. All you do is take your neck gently through it’s usual range of motion That is, slowly looking over your right shoulder, then your left. Tilting your head to look at your feet, then slowly upwards to look directly above your head. Then moving to place your right ear to your right shoulder, then your left. Make sure you’re not pushing through restriction or pain. Stop the movement at that point. These exercises are quick and you can do them anywhere, multiple times a day if you like. A simple time to remember to do them is when you stop at a red traffic light.


4. Check your sitting posture. Yes, most of us have our heads tilted for too long looking at devices and screens. You would benefit from checking how your head is tilted, and looking straight ahead most of the time. Yes, that may mean holding a screen at eye level and look strange, or not looking at the screen for a time. But you won’t suffer for it. Your neck may suffer if you don’t though.


5. If you still have neck pain after following the above advice for at least 2 weeks, it’s time to see a professional. If you’re not keen on chiropractic, osteopathy, physio or myotherapy. Or if you’ve already given those therapies a good try and still have neck pain. Or want to try something else. It’s time to try Acupuncture. An excellent acupuncturist may be able to help. At Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe we have 5 excellent acupuncturists. We are open 6 days per week, til 8pm every weeknight and 9am – 5pm every Saturday. Click here to read more or book online.

Written by:

Dr Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)

Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China.  She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems.  Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable.  Elaine’s acupuncture treatments are gentle, powerful, amazingly relaxing and incorporate Japanese & Chinese techniques, as well as Medical Qi Gong if appropriate.  Elaine has a particular interest in Gynaecology, Fertility, Obstetrics, Family Medicine, Wellness promotion and Mental Health.

She runs a private practice in Ivanhoe and is the trusted family physician of many. Elaine is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). She completed a Bachelor of Health Science – TCM, specialising in Acupuncture, and a hospital internship in China in 1998. Elaine is the Principal Practitioner at Freedom Chinese Medicine, managing a dedicated team of practitioners & staff, and supervises many TCM students in clinical training. Elaine’s passion for Chinese Medicine has her regularly furthering her education, Qi Gong training and sharing knowledge.




Recipe by http://nourishtheday.com/fig-and-dark-chocolate-hot-cross-scones/

PREP TIME: 10 mins

COOK TIME: 20 mins

TOTAL TIME: 30 mins


Serves: 10


2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice or ground ginger
3 tbsp Natvia stevia
1 tbsp molasses (optional)
50 ml rice bran oil (can use light olive oil or grapes oil)
180ml almond milk (or any milk of choice)
½ cup finely chopped dried figs
½ cup chopped 70% cocoa dark chocolate (approx 100g)
melted dark chocolate, extra for the crosses.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Mix up the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, spice and stevia in a large bowl until combined.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add in the molasses, oil and milk. Stir until just combined then add dried figs and chopped chocolate.
  4. Mix it all up until combined. You should have a soft, slightly sticky dough at this point. If it’s too sticky add a little more spelt flour.
  5. Sprinkle a little flour onto a large chopping board or clean bench top and tip out dough. Knead very briefly then pat the dough into a 2-3cm thick rectangle.
  6. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 10-12 pieces. Place the pieces onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until just cooked.
  7. Allow to cool then drizzle over extra melted chocolate to create the crosses – I just used a spoon to do this but you can use a piping bag if you want it to be neater.
  8. Enjoy slightly warmed and try not to eat them all yourself. Best enjoyed on the day made.

Baked Risoni with Wild Mushrooms


1¼ cups chicken/veg stock,
30g dried porcini (boletus) mushrooms,
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped Spanish onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
250g fresh porcini or shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and julienned,
1½ tbsp plain flour
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
375g risoni, cooked al dente and drained
60g parmesan cheese, grated
fresh parsley (Italian) for garnish


1. Preheat an oven to 190ºC . Warm ¼ cup of the chicken stock in a small saucepan, and soak the dried porcini mushrooms in it for 20 minutes.

2. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining stock, and cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes more.

3. Remove the mushrooms and onions with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Reserve the stock for sauce.

4. Drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking stock and set aside.

5. In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and whisk in the flour. Cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes, stirring, to cook the starch from the flour. Do not brown. Add the reserved stock and strained stock from the dried mushrooms. Stir well, and continue to cook over medium heat until slightly thickened. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

6. Chop the soaked dried mushrooms, and add them to the fresh sautéed mushrooms. Add the risoni, and mix well

7. In a medium casserole dish, spoon in a thin layer of sauce. Set aside ¼ cup of sauce; mix the remaining sauce with the mushroom-risoni mixture, and spoon it into the casserole. Top with the reserved sauce, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

8. Bake for 30 minutes. Garnish with parsley, and serve.

Serves 6

Nutritional breakdown per serving:
1640 Kilojoules, 9g Protein, 27g Carbohydrates, 3g Fibre, 12g Total Fat
(3g Saturated, 8g Monounsaturated, 1g Polyunsaturated), 10mg Cholesterol, 280mg Sodium.

Gut Health Seminar

abdominal painSomething not quite right with your gut? Are you experiencing gut symptoms that won’t seem to go away? Don’t know where to start? Come along to this seminar for some expert information & suggestions. Learn:

  • What is gut health?
  • How gut health affects our physical and emotional health
  • Stress and gut health – gut brain connection
  • What we can do to improve our gut health

When: Monday the 24th April, 6.30pm – 8pm

Where: Upstairs @ Freedom Chinese Medicine

261 Waterdale Road, Ivanhoe

Cost: $30 or $15 if you bring a friend.

Spaces are limited. Give us a call on 9486 5966 or click below to book today.

Can’t make it and prefer some written info from our Naturopath? Enter your email address on the right hand side of this page where it says Free Information & we’ll send it to you!

Book an appointment with Freedom Chinese Medicine


Tennis Elbow Relief

Lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” as it is commonly know is a painful condition experienced by many people. In most instances the condition is caused by overuse or strain of the small muscles and or tendons that connect to the outside of the upper forearm (the lateral epicondyle). When injured pain tends to be further experienced when grasping objects and/or rotating the forearm. Neck pain and dysfunction can also be involved.

There are several approaches to correcting lateral epicondylitis. At Freedom Chinese Medicine in Melbourne, we apply some combination of acupuncture, massage, Chinese herbal medicine and mobility exercises depending upon the nature of the case. In a majority of cases the condition is vastly improved with between 3-6 acupuncture sessions over the course of 1-2 months. Usually gentle toning, stretching and mobility exercises are required to correct biomechanical imbalances and lessen the chance of re-injury through enhanced function. Some massage can also be useful; particularly in more muscular or tensile individuals, those with heightened inflammation or those with poor circulation.

Inflammation can be reduced by drinking at least 2L of water per day, taking anti-inflammatory Chinese herbs and/or prescribed supplements and if tolerated a topical anti-inflammatory cream can also be an effective adjunct to therapy; the shallow depth of the muscles, tendons and fascia in the region allow these creams to penetrate to an effective level easily.

When rehabilitating this condition it is important to ensure that it is not re-injured before it is fully healed; if care is not taken such can lead to pain becoming a nagging chronic problem. Placing a piece of tape on the elbow can act to alter your sensory awareness of the area and provide a reminder to prevent movements that aggravate the problem.

All the acupuncturists at Freedom Chinese Medicine have experience with this condition, but for initial consultations it is recommended that patients visit either Daniel Gibbs, Shiro Akiyama or Andrew Chambers so that massage can be performed if necessary.

Written by Dr. Daniel Gibbs

Acupuncturist & Remedial Massage Therapist @ Freedom Chinese Medicine

Mention this article for 20% off you initial consult with Daniel, Andrew or Shiro in March 2017 only.

Hair Loss Help

Hair thinning commonly happens in both men and women. It can happen gradually with age, but it can also occur more noticeably after a series of hormonal changes, medical procedures (surgery or chemotherapy) or some other trauma.

Patients who are looking for help often report that they have recovered from a significant health-deteriorating period. They have settled back into their routines and responsibilities. They feel comfortable in their bodies again. But for some reason, their hair thickness hasn’t returned. Sometimes, they are still experiencing excessive hair loss.

Looking more deeply into the details often shows that health and vitality may not have returned to the previous levels. While people are managing their day to day activities, they can report more subtle signs:

  • Being prone to viral infections that take longer to clear
  • Having lower energy levels than previously
  • Indulging in sweeter or “easier” foods more often (in this case, it’s a symptom)
  • More frequent skin problems, or consistently dry skin
  • More frequent digestive irregularities or bloating
  • More easy to bruise

These are all signs that a couple more steps need to be achieved before the
body is ready to allocated precious resources to growing a headful of shiny, luscious hair.

With Chinese Medicine, after looking at individual specifics, I usually treat hair thinning by:

  • Strengthening the digestive system – to get the most out of food and improve metabolism
  • Improving circulation – to get blood to the scalp
  • Strengthening the immune system – to better combat infections, but also to improve the quality of skin, scalp and hair
  • Ensuring sleep is restful and restorative – looking at internal temperature control, pain problems and relaxation.

When theses aspects are back in balance, it’s nice to see layers of “baby hairs” start growing back. (It’s frizzy at the start, but that gets better). This can take 3-4 months of treatment and herbal medicine. But patients seem happy to have their hair back. Not to mention resolving the other subtle problems holding them back.

Written by Dr. Christine Lee

Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist

At Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne.

Mention this article for 20% off your initial consult with Dr. Lee this March 2017 only.

Vegetable Pakoras


Serves 4


100g chickpea flour (besan) or rice flour

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 egg

75g natural yoghurt

1 tbsp lemon juice

25g onion

25g red capsicum

50g cooked potatoes

50g cauliflower florets

50g corn kernels, thawed if frozen

corn oil, to deep fry


  1. Combine the flour and spices in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Break the egg into the well. Add the yogurt and lemon juice, then whisk into a thick batter. Allow the batter to stand for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion. Deseed and finely chop the capsicum. Cut the potatoes and cauliflower into 1cm dice. Stir capsicum, potato, cauliflower and corn into the batter. Mix well. Allow to stand for another 10 minutes.
  3. Fill a deep pan with corn oil until 1/3 full. Heat until a cube of bread dropped in sizzles. Stir the batter.
  4. Drop 3-4 spoonfuls of batter into pan. Deep-fry for 8 minutes, or until golden. Remove and drain. Deep-fry remaining batter in same way, to make 12 pakoras. Garnish with coriander, if you like.


Zucchini Rissoles

Serves 4


275 lean beef mince

1/2 small brown onion, grated

1 zucchini, gated, excess liquid squeezed out

2 tbs cottage cheese

1/2 tsp mild curry powder

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs

olive oil spray


  1. Combine mice, onion, zucchini, cottage cheese, curry powder, egg, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and salt & pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into rissoles. Coat rissoles in remaining breadcrumbs and place on a plate. Refrigerate for 1 hour, if time permits.
  2. Preheat oven and a baking tray to 200º C. Spray both sides of patties with oil. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Cook rissoles for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to hot baking tray. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.


Bite-Sized Caprese Appetizers

So this recipe is hardly reinventing the wheel–if you haven’t eaten it, you’ve almost certainly seen it. But sometimes some things are so good and so seasonally perfect that you just need a little reminder.

24 grape tomatoes
24 fresh mini mozzarella balls
24 fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
24 toothpicks

Place a tomato, basil leaf, and mozzarella ball on each toothpick. Place on a serving plate or tray.
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic and drizzle over the appetizers. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To eat, bite everything off the toothpick all at once.

Lamb Meatballs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt

Fresh mint and cilantro pair with the classic Mediterranean spices of cinnamon, cumin, and coriander to liven up ground lamb and plain yogurt. To prepare these as a main course, form larger meatballs and serve with pita and couscous.


For the meatballs:

1 pound ground lamb
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the yogurt:

7 ounces whole-milk Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Zest of 1 medium lemon, minced


  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  3. Form into 30 balls (about 2 teaspoons each) and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine all yogurt ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. Serve with the meatballs.