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Trouble-shooting Your Fertility Test Results

When a woman or couple is trying to conceive, many tests may be done. It can be difficult to understand what these results mean. In my experience, most patients don’t understand them, even after seeing a fertility specialist. I think knowledge is power. And you wanna be empowered in your fertility journey right? So here is a basic outline of what tests may be done and what they indicate..

Usually when a woman tells her GP that she is trying to get pregnant, they’ll run a bunch of blood tests. The first ones are for STI’s and if the GP is thorough, they’ll include Iron, Vit D and a Thyroid study in the bloods.

Vitamin D is often low, so a good supplement is needed. If they are really low, it’s worth talking to a nutritional medicine practitioner for correct dosage of Vit D, such as Dr. Jessie Fayers at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne.

If you’ve been trying to conceive with no success for 12 months (or 6 months if you’re over 35), then other tests are done:

  1. Pelvic Ultrasound – Can show any structural issues, lining thickness and will give a AFC, antral follicle count. This is the number of maturing eggs visible. Usually visible on both sides. You add these together to get the total count.  The AFC is the single most important indicator of your follicular reserve – egg count. An AFC lower than 8 is indicator of a lower reserve. If this is you, try not to despair, there is much that can be done to improve egg quality (it only takes one!) and optimise follicular reserve. Contact us to discuss.

2. Base hormone tests. This is a blood test taken at Day 2 or 3 of your menstrual cycle (day 1 is counted as the first day of  flow- not spotting). Your base hormones should include oestradiol, progesterone, prolactin, testosterone, FSH and LH. These are usually within normal range.

3. Progesterone tests are often overlooked but well worth doing. This is another blood test which should be taken 7 days after your usual ovulation time (if you know it). Often on Day 21, but if you ovulate late or early, this test should be done accordingly, ie. bloods taken on Day 17 if you ovulate on Day 10. The most thorough way to test progesterone is to take two more blood samples every second day after the first. That is, Day 21, 23 and 25. Seem excessive?

I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen in 22 years of private practice, who have had trouble conceiving or keep miscarrying because of low progesterone. It’s a simple test, and often a simple fix.

12 days of sufficient progesterone levels are necessary to support implantation of a fertilised embryo. So, if you tend to have short cycles, it’s worth working out when you ovulate (via urine test, cervical mucous, BBT, bloods or u/sound). To ensure that there is at least 12 days between when you ovulate and when you bleed.

4. AMH

If your over 35 or if your pelvic ultrasound showed a low AFC, another blood test will be recommended; an AMH test.  This measures a hormone related to your egg count/ follicular reserve. It’s a fairly new test which is only really useful to indicate potential response to IVF and/ or how far you are from menopause.

The graph below shows the change in normal AMH range with age.  The breadth and value of this range reduces with age, which reflects the diminishing ovarian reserve.

AMH Ovarian Reserve Graph V1

However, age is not everything! When I had my AMH tested at 36yo it was 6, at 40 it was 2. Yes, I’ve felt the anguish, worry and tears. I went on to conceive naturally at 41yo. Yes I did a lot of work to improve my health, nutrition & fertility. You can too. Drop me a line to hear what I did and get a fertility plan tailored to you.

There are no guarantees of course, but there is the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’re doing what you can to improve your chances. Here’s me & my healthy daughter:

 

5. Semen analysis for him (if there is one).

Been told that his semen is AOK? Do you know that the levels for “normal sperm” have been lowered dramatically in the last 30 years. Now, this doesn’t matter if your going for IVF/ ICSI. However, if you’re trying to conceive naturally or via IUI, read on..

In 1987, the normal levels for sperm morphology, that is sperm shape (- one head, one tail or two heads, missing tail) was 50%. Now it is at 3%. That is, it is considered normal for 97% of the sperm to be misshapen. Once again, this doesn’t matter with IVF as the healthy sperm can be selected. But if not, your partner/ donor’s sperm should be above 15% normal to have a decent chance of natural conception.

Morphology is considered the most significant semen parameter. Research shows that the percent of morphologically normal sperm are significant predictors of time to pregnancy. Even independent of sperm concentration.1

I hope this helps navigate some of those fertility tests. Of course, they can be more complex if you have PCO or endometriosis. Wherever you’re at, we are experienced in helping every step of the way.

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 22 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 has particular expertise in Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Family Medicine and Wellness promotion. She brings extra understanding and knowledge to the table having been through infertility herself.

 

Elaine is available

Monday & Tuesday
Call (03) 9486 5966

 

Natural Therapy for Anxiety, Stress, PTSD & Depression

Need help with Anxiety, Stress, PTSD or Depression?

Talking Therapy hasn’t helped or not accessible?

This may assist ~

We are now offering 1 to 1 instruction in Meditation, Qi Gong, Breathing Exercises and Tension Release Exercises.

Why?

We have established a Zen Wellness Program because of the deep need we see for practical and effective intervention to help us manage our mental and emotional wellbeing. To ease the effects of stress, anxiety, trauma and depression and to empower people to take an active role in their own complete health and wellness.

With The Zen Wellness Program, we aim to provide instruction and education in simple but highly effective techniques and simple habits that, when practiced regularly, really enhance vitality, resilience and mental and emotional equilibrium.

In the Program we combine traditional interventions like acupuncture and massage with instruction in meditation, tai chi, qi gong, breathing and trauma release exercises as well as advice on diet and lifestyle.

We recognise that, although psychology and counselling are excellent and essential interventions, not everyone responds equally well to talking therapy. Just like some people say they struggle to meditate. For some of us, exercise and movement are the best forms of therapy and as such we are offering Zen Wellness to identify and meet individual needs.

Why Choose Zen Wellness

Sure, you can look up guided meditation, yoga or mindfulness on YouTube, but nothing compares to individualised instruction.

We encounter many people who say they cannot meditate but this is often due to a misunderstanding about what meditation is and how to really do it. YouTube can’t help with that, only a trained and experienced instructor can identify what you are doing and how to enhance it to improve your meditation or mindfulness practice.

We aim to tailor a wellness program to suit your individual needs, i.e., if you like movement we will provide you with instruction on Tai Chi/Qi Gong and Tension Release Exercises, if you prefer meditation we will provide you with specific meditative and mindfulness techniques ranging from practical mindfulness stress reduction or spiritual visualisation if that is your preference and for some we will explore all of our different wellbeing options to find the perfect fit.

Empowerment

Zen Wellness is about giving you the skills and techniques to take charge of your own wellbeing. Autonomy and self-mastery are key components to creating complete holistic wellbeing. We will provide you with the necessary skills and techniques for you to take an active role in your own health and wellbeing.

 

The Body Keeps the Score

This is the title of the ground-breaking book by Bessel Van Der Kolk outlines how our bodies retain the memory of stress and trauma in our tissues. Therefore, for many of us, it is essential to have a physical component to our therapeutic health interventions in order to release the physical manifestation of stress and trauma.

We seek to blend meditative and mindfulness practices with the physical practices of breathing, Qi Gong and Tension Release Exercises so as to enhance the benefits of other therapies and create the physical space for healing within.

Wanna know more about the techniques?

1. Meditation & Mindfulness

Meditation is about activating your conscious awareness. Contrary to what many believe it is not only about trying to empty your mind of thoughts.  Meditation is also to observe yourself. Your mind, body and the world around you. In fact, the word meditation comes from the Latin verb meditari which means to think.

Mindfulness is about bringing your full conscious awareness into the present moment. The here and now. By doing so we can release our attachment to the past and the future. This attachment can cause us so much stress, anxiety and regret.

 

Both meditation and mindfulness have incredible benefits for our health and wellbeing. There is now a multitude of scientific studies showing the benefits. They can improve physical and mental wellbeing in measurable ways. And actually stimulate brain and nerve growth. These practices can improve creativity, productivity and collaboration. Enhancing our ability to move into states of conscious flow which enhance our harmony with both our environment and those around us.

 

2. Breathing Exercises

Everyone knows how to breathe right? Did you know that, in a recent study, 61% of people identified as mouth breathers? Yet the nose has 1 purpose only, breathing. Nasal breathing reduces the frequency of breathing by 50%. This in turn slows our heart rate and calms our nervous system. When nasal breathing we instinctively activate the diaphragm to support the inhalation. This has numerous health benefits. Mouth breathing forces us to use our neck muscles and thus contributes to neck tension. Activating the diaphragm down regulates the nervous system and releases abdominal tension. Nasal breathing also filters pathogens and warms our breath reducing instances of cold and flu.

In addition to these and other benefits of correct breathing, we can also use our breath to calm, reduce stress, anxiety and tension. Aid sleep or even stimulate the nervous system when we need more energy and activation.

There are several exercises we can teach you to breathe properly and better.

 

meditation3. Qi Gong

Qi Gong roughly translates as energy work. It involves a series of movements designed to harmonise the relationship between mind and body. In Qi Gong we synchronise our breath and movement to stimulate the flow of “Qi’ or energy much like we do when we practice acupuncture. In fact, practicing Qi Gong is almost like giving yourself acupuncture as it harmonises and stimulates the flow of Qi. Removing areas of blockage or stagnation and strengthening areas of weakness or deficiency.

 

Qi Gong is like a meditative or mindful movement. An embodied meditative practice that brings a deep sense of calm to the mind while also strengthening the body. Qi Gong is gentle and suitable for people of any age. It is profoundly calming. Some Qi Gong exercises can have an incredibly stimulating effect and can be used to increase vitality.

 

4. TRE

Tension or Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) is a new term. However, it is something that is innately part of all living creatures and has likely been practiced by humans for a long time.

Stress and Trauma manifest physically in the body and is stored in our muscles. It’s no secret that when we feel stressed or anxious, we tense our muscles. Sometimes our body has difficulty releasing this tension afterwards and it remains.

TRE is a way of triggering the nervous system to produce a gentle tremor in our muscles to release tension, stress and trauma from the body. By gently fatiguing the muscles they start to shake, thus, releasing tension and subsequently downregulating the nervous system and restore us to a state of calm and relaxation. The real benefit of TRE is that it is safe, easy to do, doesn’t require any special equipment and once you know how to do it, you can do so yourself whenever you feel the need. We can teach you how.

We can teach you any of the above techniques. Work out which one is best suited to you and your situation. And help you to implement the practice into your daily life (yes, there are tips and tricks to help it all stick).

You can access any of these practices at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne or via an online video session.

You can attend any of these as a stand-alone session. You can also access them as a package to ensure you get the most benefit and save $. We’ve called them Zen sessions. Because it’s all about helping you to be more Zen!

More..

  • Calm
  • Resilient
  • Balanced
  • Centred

 

Zen Foundations 

Includes:

  • One hour consult; in which we listen to what’s going on for you, teach you what’s going on in your body, and advise which kind of therapy would work best for you, based on our extensive experience
  • One hour practice session: Either Meditation or Breathing exercises or Qi Gong or Tension Release Exercises
  • Instructional video to keep
  • 30 min follow up session 2 weeks later to gauge how you’re feeling, how your practice is going, what else you might need

All for $297 

. (If pay as you go, adds up to $300)

Click here to book your initial consult. Sessions are listed under Mind-Body Wellness

Deep Zen 

Includes

  • The Zen Foundations Package
  • Plus 4 weekly one hour Massage sessions
  • Or 4 weekly Acupuncture sessions
  • Or a Herbal/Nutritional consult with 4 weeks of herbal medicine or nutritional supplements to support your nervous system.
  • Includes a 15min follow up to make any adjustments to your individualised prescription

All for $697. Health Insurance Rebates available.

(if pay as you go, adds up to $720)

Click here to book your initial consult.  Sessions are listed under Mind-Body Wellness

 

Total Zen

Includes

  • Zen Foundations Package
  • Deep Zen Package
  • Plus 2 more sessions of Massage or Acupuncture or 2 more weeks of Herbal or Nutritional Medicine to give you more lasting change
  • Includes a 30min follow up at conclusion to assess what further care, instruction or advice you may need.

All for $947. Health Insurance Rebates available.

(if pay as you go, adds up to $970)

Click here to book your initial consult. Sessions are listed under Mind-Body Wellness

Keep Me Zen – Maintenance package

  • Monthly Acupuncture or Massage or Herbs or Nutritional Support for 3 months

All for $297 

(if pay as you go, adds up to $300)

 

Note: we continue to offer our low cost Express Acupuncture sessions at $30/40 for those of you who find acupuncture is sufficient.

Silly Season Survival Tips

Dr. Elaine’s top tips for stress relief

It’s that time of year when life can seem to speed up, get much busier. Do you feel more stressed this time of year? Here’s 8 things that you can do to help.

First, accept it; there is no need to fight with stress. It can be used as a creative energy. Accept the feeling, it is perfectly okay. Stress is simply an indication that the body is getting ready to fight with the situation. Enjoy the challenge! There is no need to be worried. Work it out, use the energy that is coming up: walk up and down, go for a run, go for a long walk. Plan what you want to do, what the mind wants to do. Rather than trying to relax, which is sometimes not possible. In fact if you have worked through the stress totally you will come to relaxation automatically; you can go on only so far, then the body automatically relaxes.

cat with hat

If you are overwhelmed, having trouble focusing on what you need to do to next to work through the stress, try these:

1. Stop & breathe, even for 30 seconds. Stop what you’re doing, focus on your breath, elongate your breath out, ideally make it twice as long as your breath in. Breathe through your nose if you can. This one of the quickest ways to decrease your sympathetic (excitatory) nervous system activity.

2. Be present. Focus on one thing at a time and give it your full focus. Let yourself be immersed in this one task, letting go of the feeling that you need to quickly rush through it, that you need to get on to the next task. There will always be a next task — the nature of task lists is that they’re never-ending. So let those other tasks come later.

3. Make space between appointments. Rushing is a common stress trigger so minimise rushing by allowing space between appointments. Allow time for the unexpected to come up, as it often does. Be a master of your time, not a slave to it.

4. Laugh. It’s one of the quickest ways to get those happy chemicals flowing. And it’s fun. Take 5 mins to watch a funny video. Ask the person next to you to tell you a joke. Try laughing at yourself or the ridiculously busy day you have planned. It can be liberating:)

5. Rest if you’re tired. Ah so simple but we often find this one challenging. “But I’ve got so much to do” says our programming. The simple truth is that you’ll be able to complete any task much more efficiently after you’ve had even a 5 minute rest.

6. Take a brief walk. When things are getting stressful, take two-three minutes to take a walk and clear your mind. A short walk does wonders.

7. Let go. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with tasks, work out What you can delegate or simply drop it for now. Ask yourself~does it really matter right now?

8. Drop the sugar. Seriously. Sugar is a stimulant, will send your blood sugar high which will soon come back down, this can affect our mood and stress response.

You can also come in for a relaxing Acupuncture or  Massage session 🙂

Nutrition for COVID prevention

More than 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Now that we’re facing COVID, optimal nutrition is more important than ever.

Which nutrients support the immune system?

Micronutrients are dietary components that may contribute substantially to a robust immune system.1 Essential micronutrients like vitamins A, D, E, C, B6, B12, and folate and trace elements such as iron, zinc, and selenium, available in a variety of fresh animal- and plant-based foods, aid the body’s ability to fight infections.2 Health and survival are increasingly dependent on the functioning of the immune system.

 

Optimal nutrition impacts the immune system through gene expression, cell activation, and signaling molecules modification. In addition, what we eat determines our gut microbiome and subsequently shapes the immune responses in our body.

 

What is optimal nutrition when in comes to preventing COVID?

Certain factors such as lifestyle, age, health status, sex, and medications affect the nutritional status of an individual.4  Several studies have confirmed that micronutrient deficiencies are associated with a weakened immune system that predisposes individuals to increased vulnerability to infections.24,25 Recently, Calder et al6 reviewed the association between optimal nutrition and the immune system in providing better protection against viral infections. They suggested that essential micronutrients and the omega-3 fatty acids have the capacity to boost immunity against viral infections. Similarly, Chaturvedi et al46 described the complex relationship between trace elements and viral infections, highlighting the immunomodulatory properties and antiviral activities of certain micronutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, and copper. Apart from functioning as antioxidants, these trace elements were shown to inhibit viral replication in host cells.

The role of optimal nutrition for managing the current COVID-19 pandemic cannot be underestimated. Nutrition has a demonstrable role in the prevention and treatment of moderate to severe respiratory and nonrespiratory infections. Adequate nutrition is even more essential for marginalized communities and in low- and middle-income countries, where deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals expose individuals to greater morbidity and mortality.

Each meal brings thousands of different substances into the body, affecting thousands of different biological processes, all the way to the cellular and subcellular level. Scientists are only beginning to grasp this enormous universe of food and nutrition effects on the body. Among these substances are nutrients, both macronutrients and micronutrients for which reference daily intakes have been defined, as well as upper levels for safe intake for many.16 17 However, a plethora of other bioactive substances found in foods, such as polyphenols and carotenioids, that seem to be important for health and wellness, are also brought along. The importance of these are bluntly reflected in food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs), represented as recommendations for a variety and diversity of whole vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, grains and pulses, along with some meats, eggs, dairy products and fish, if selected, as discussed in the paper by Calder.4 This type of healthy diet is a tactical approach to build a healthy body and a strong immune system, as emphasised by the WHO and other organisations during the pandemic,18 especially when eaten at the expense of more ultraprocessed food items.19

However, with advancing age and for high-risk groups, a nutrient-rich diet is not always enough to meet needs for micronutrients.4 14 While high intakes should be avoided, there may be a a role for immune-targeted supplements that might be necessary to achieve the intake of nutrients needed for an optimally functioning immune system.4 Furthermore, there is one thing to enhance the public health nutritional status, through preventive actions, while the clinical situation of an active disease is another situation altogether. Overall, older people are harder hit, and while fighting an infection, the nutrient needs of patients might be increased.14 This might warrant special nutrition therapy, potentially with higher doses of supplements and functional foods,11 as quality care also involves quality nutritional care.

Tailored nutritional advice and prescription for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 is complex. The best way to navigate this is via professional advice from nutrition-trained professionals. Thankfully, we have 2 of them at Freedom Chinese Medicine; Dr. Jessie Fayers & Dr. Laura Thiveos.  Telehealth consultations to discuss your nutritional status and get advice or prescriptions are inexpensive and easy to book via: www.freedomchinesemedicine.com/booking.

Written by Dr. Elaine Hickman

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

 

Elaine 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, majoring 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.

 

 

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33982105/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7306972/

  1. Annual Research Review: Improved nutrition–pathway to resilience.  Yousafzai AK, Rasheed MA, Bhutta ZA
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013 Apr; 54(4):367-77.
https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/early/2020/11/05/bmjnph-2020-000160

5 Ways to Deal with Rage

Some of us are raging internally at the moment. Mainly due to this prolonged lock down. I get it. But how can we constructively deal with our anger? It’s best to express it. Let it out. Check out these 5 tips:

  1. Do more vigorous exercise than usual. Pound the pavement. Pull out some tough weeds. Try not to hurt yourself of course! The endorphins can really help.

2. Punch a pillow, a punching bag or similar. Not the cat! Listen to some punk music first if you really want to get into it 🙂

3. Scream. So simple. Vocalising rage & anger (ideally not at someone else) can really help.  I’m thinking screaming whilst walking in the park alone might wake up some people – in a good way:)

4. Create. Depict your anger on canvas. Write to your local member of parliament. Write for yourself. Do some pottery. Create whatever you like. Expressing anger in any way is better than keeping it inside us.

5. Laugh.  Use humor to release tension. Watch some dark comedy. It can diffuse the anger. Help you realise that it’s temporary. Like all of our feelings..

Stay sane, if you can..

 

Written by Dr. Elaine Hickman

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 has particular expertise in Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Family Medicine and Wellness promotion.

Elaine is available

Mondays & Tuesdays
Call (03) 9486 5966

COVID Vax Prep Tips

Preparation tips for everyone who plans to get the COVID-19 Vaccine

  1. The night before your appointment, make sure to get a good night’s sleep—it will help your immune system work to its fullest potential. If you have a choice, get the vaccine on a day before you have time off from work so you can rest the following day also.  If your appointment is around a mealtime, you should also eat beforehand and drink water—don’t go to your appointment hungry or thirsty.

2.   Make sure your stools are moving regularly. If not, they can’t cleanse and detox the body.

3.   Eat a clean diet the days leading up to the vaccine. Try to avoid refined sugars and artificial sweeteners as these can cause inflammation.

4.  Do not take the vaccine if you are actively sick.

 

 

 

 

5. Take supplements:

Vit D

Vit C

Probiotics

+

Glutathione or N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

Glutathione acts as an important antioxidant in your body by combating free radicals (molecules that can damage your body’s cells). Glutathione and NAC play an important role in many reactions in your body as they help you detox chemicals from drugs and pollutants as well as the ones your body creates naturally. Glutathione and NAC also help make DNA, support enzyme production and increase immune function. Although there is no thimerosal or other preservatives in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the oxidative load of the replication of the COVID 19 virus itself is enough to warrant detoxification support. There are also many studies confirming that the use of glutathione and NAC decrease the harmful symptoms of COVID 19 making it in your best interest to take these as soon as possible up to four weeks after your final vaccination.

We have all of the above supplements at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne.

 

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.

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, majoring 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.

20 ways to improve your health for under $20

There are many simple yet powerful ways that we can improve our health and vitality. Ways in which we can avoid chronic fatigue or adrenal fatigue. What gives us energy and what takes it away? This question is worth asking ourselves.

I believe that health care & wellness should be accessible to everybody, regardless of their income.  That is why I founded our Community Acupuncture facility at Freedom Chinese Medicine. And that is part of the inspiration for this piece; 20 ways to improve your health for under $20.

1. Set yourself up for better sleep. A solid 4+ hour block of sleep is super important for our health. This is when we get into Delta wave brain activity. Many of us don’t wind down sufficiently before getting into bed. Then we wonder why we can’t fall asleep. I recently heard a good analogy. We should approach falling asleep like landing a plane, a slow and steady descent is ideal. Not a crash landing. This means winding down our nervous system activity 1-2 hours before going to sleep. Winding down could involve reading (not on a device with blue light though), having a bath or shower, meditating, stretching, listening to relaxing music. Whatever works for you.

2. Walk or ride to work. Even part of the way. You’ll benefit from being outdoors, yes even in Winter. And get the benefits of the exercise. You might even save on petrol money.

3. Buy an organic grocery item. Or two. Yes it’s worth it.

4. Drink at least 1-2 litres of water daily. Have a drink bottle nearby to remind you.

5. Use a heat pack for tight neck & shoulder muscles. Simple, but effective.

6. Learn some yoga, tai chi or qi gong exercises. The combination of movement, breath & meditation is a trifecta for health & healing. Yes there are still classes around for under $20.

7. Turn your Wifi off at night. So simple. Do you really need the EMF exposure overnight?

8. Have a device curfew. So many of us have got into the habit of using our devices in the evening. The exposure to this bright light, especially blue wavelengths have serious implications for our health. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock – the circadian rhythm- out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.¹

 

9. Stretch.

Do as the dogs & cats do.

Do a simple stretch when you wake up.

No special training needed.

Stop if it hurts.

10. Get an alarm clock so you don’t need to sleep next to your mobile phone or tablet.

11. Grow your own sprouts or micro greens. From the comfort of your own kitchen. Mung beans, Alfalfa, Broccoli and or Pea Shoots. Excellent to add to sandwiches and salads. Have you noticed how popular microgreens have become with chefs? Packed full of vitamins and minerals, sprouts are ready to eat in just a few days. You don’t need a garden to grow sprouts, just a window sill and a glass jar. Here’s a link for some simple instructions & supplies.

12. Don’t eat big, late dinners. Not good for your sleep or your waistline. Or your blood sugar levels. It can take some planning if you until work late. But you can do it. I did.

13. Laugh. Even if you don’t think it’s funny. Heard of laughter clubs? Laughing has lots of health benefits. Check out some comedy on Youtube if it helps.

14. Forgive. Not always easy, but so worth it. Do it for yourself. Your grudge won’t effect their life, but it will effect yours. In many ways. So set yourself free.

15. Count your blessings. So simple. Try it for 7 days. At the end of each day, pick 3 things that you are thankful for. It could be as simple as the ability to see, smell or hear. It could be that you have a roof over your head in Wintertime. Just pick 3 and try it for 7 days. See how you feel.

16. Drink lemon juice in warm water first thing in the morning. It will alkalise your gut, gently wake up your liver & gall bladder. The simplest detox regime. All you need is 1-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Some cold water (filtered ideally). And some hot water (boiled ideally). Down the hatch on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. I suggest for 3 months max at any one time.

17. Grown your own leafy greens. It is cheap and easy. All you need is a sunny spot, a pot (with some organic potting mix) and some seeds or seedlings. Or a garden bed in a sunny spot, with some organic organic compost or manure. All do-able for under $20. In Melbourne, you can grow bok choy, lettuce or tatsoi all year round. Simply water it well twice per week (if it hasn’t rained) and enjoy watching it grow.

18. Cook at home. This could actually save you $20! Apart from the benefits of knowing what’s in your food and where it has come from (hopefully). Our digestive system also benefits if we smell our food before we ingest it.

19. Reduce your intake of refined sugar. Avoid the white stuff. Read the labels. Want some more evidence on the adverse health effects of refined sugar on obesity, tooth decay & diabetes? Here you go.

20. Have at least 5 minutes downtime per day. Every day. This is your time to relax. No phones, no demands, no interruptions. Even the busiest family or workplace can cope without you for 5 minutes. Just shut the door and have some ME time. You could listen to music, stretch, meditate or just be! It’s easier than you think. Give it a go.

References

1. Health.harvard.edu

 

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.

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, majoring 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.

9 ways to recover from a cold

Suffering with a sore throat? Dealing with a congested, heavy head? We understand that it’s not fun.  Here are some ways to help you recover quicker:

1. Get more sleep & rest – simple right? Not always I know, but you’ll get back to full functioning quicker if you rest well.

2. Drink 2 litres of water daily when you’re sick. Increased water intake can help reduce nasal symptoms by flushing/diluting mucous and histamine. Water is also needed for metabolic processes that can increase with fever.

3. Try to keep your temperature stable. Not easy with our heated buildings. But you can dress warmly for outside and take off layers when in a heated room. Avoid overdressing in bed.

4. Reach for the salt water. If you have a sore throat, a simple saline gargle can help. And if you have blocked sinuses, regular saline rinsing (ie. A saline nasal spray like Fess) can help.

5. Inhalation can also clear congestion. Whether it’s the head over a bucket of steam variety. Adding some Peppermint or Eucalyptus oil to a hot shower, or your pillow case. Inhaling Vicks, Tiger Balm, or Woodlock Liniment can also help.

6. For a dry, irritated cough, taking honey can help. Raw, Organic honey is best as it has more anti-bacterial potency.

7. Apply white Tiger Balm. The Vicks of the East – without the petroleum products. Apply to your temples for a headache, under your nose to clear your nasal passages. Apply to your chest for a cough.

8. If you have a fever below 38ºC, don’t suppress it by taking Panadol or similar. A fever is your body’s way of fighting any invading microorganisms. A fever stimulates your immune system into producing more white blood cells, antibodies, and a protein called interferon, all of which work to protect your body against harmful microorganisms. By raising your body’s temperature a few degrees, a fever makes it harder for invading bacteria and viruses to survive and flourish. The higher your core body temperature is, the harder it is for harmful microorganisms to survive in your body. Click here for more info.

9. For Sinusitis or a headache with a cold, press on Acupoints Colon 20, Colon 4 (Li4) & Gall Bladder 20.

Col 20

GB 20

 

 

Haven’t got sick? Great. Here‘s some tips on how to keep your immune system robust. Prevention is better than cure right?

Written by Dr. Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc. TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac (Beijing)
Registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine

@ Freedom Chinese Medicine
Email: [email protected]
https://www.facebook.com/freedomchinesemedicine

 

 

 

11 ways to boost immunity

immunity

Now is the time to boost your immune system.  There are plenty of respiratory infections in circulation and your best defence is a robust immune system.

Here are 12 simple things you can do to boost your immunity:

  • Get sufficient exercise; which is minimum 150 minutes weekly for most adults. Find something you enjoy and do it regularly, starting with 15 minutes can help.
  • Reduce your stress levels; even taking 5 minutes each day to do something that relaxes you will help. It could be listening to music, reading a book, having a bath, playing a guided meditation, stretching, watching the world go by.. whatever works for you. It’s best during this time to disengage from the phone, screen and any demands. It’s only 5 minutes remember.. 
  • Do breathing exercises; simple breathing awareness for 5 minutes daily will do. Qi Gong or Yoga exercises are even better.
  • Avoid eating refined sugar; use natural sweeteners like stevia if it helps. 
  • Don’t smoke. Sing out if you need help with this. Dr. Daniel Gibbs at Freedom Chinese Medicine is particularly experienced with smoking cessation treatments. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Take liquid Panax Ginseng. 
  • Take a high potency Vitamin C supplement
  • Take our Defence Plus or Resistance Formula. They contain astragalus, codonopsis and lots of other herbal goodies which have a strong immune strengthening function. Available in capsule, pill or granulated form. 

(The above products are available at Freedom Chinese Medicine)

 

Written by:

Dr. Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc. TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac (Beijing)
Registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Freedom Chinese Medicine
27 Ivanhoe Pde
Ivanhoe VIC 3079
Ph. 03) 9486 5966

Email: [email protected]
https://www.facebook.com/freedomchinesemedicine

 

 

Reference

Published online 2015 Aug 5. doi:  10.1155/2015/260620

 

 

 

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