16 Ways to Reduce Inflammation Naturally

Inflammation, while a natural defence mechanism, can lead to health problems when it becomes chronic. Here are some conditions associated with chronic inflammation:

What about short-term inflammation? Like an inflamed joint or injury? Tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis, hey anything with “itis” in it, refers to inflammation. So, how do we reduce it?

Here are 16 natural ways to reduce inflammation:

  1. Reduce your intake of refined cane sugar. The white stuff is pro-inflammatory. These days there are many simple ways to substitute sugar. Swap it out for your favorite: There’s stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, xylitol, rice malt syrup & more. All natural sweeteners and all much lower GI than cane sugar. Whole fruit is OK in moderation (2 serves daily). If you find yourself craving a sweet treat, and fruit won’t cut it, a small amount of dark chocolate is a good choice. Also keep in mind that it is long term daily habits that matter most. The occasional indulgence is not worth feeling guilty about.

2. Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates; the white flours, pastries, potatoes, white bread. Swap out for lower GI carbs such as brown rice, wild rice, steel-cut oats, quinoa or buckwheat. There are many pastas available these days made out of quinoa or buckwheat. This will also help to balance your blood sugar and insulin levels.

3. Reduce your intake of saturated & trans fats. Deep fried food, highly processed foods, packets of chips, red meat, butter.

4. Reduce your alcohol intake. Even a little bit. It all helps.

5. Stop smoking. Even a reduction will help.

Now, before you accuse me of taking away all your fun. Here’s some delicious anti-inflammatory foods .. and also, maybe food wasn’t meant to be all about fun & pleasure? Maybe there are better ways to gain pleasure? Just a thought.

fresh fruit and vegies

6. Have more oily fish; salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, sprats, cod, trout, anchovies, fish roe, tuna, swordfish, striped bass and eel. 2-3 times per week. Or a good fish oil/ Omega 3 supplement.

7. Have more red/ purple fruit and vegetables. Red cabbage, red grapes, beetroot, tomatoes, berries etc are all high in quercetin which reduces inflammation.

8. Have turmeric root regularly. Turmeric is in yellow curries, you can have turmeric latte’s, smoothies or drink tea made from turmeric root. Curcumin is the component of turmeric which is highly anti-inflammatory. Best combined with black pepper for improved absorption.

9. Fresh pineapple contains bromelain which is also anti-inflammatory. Especially for our airways. The congestion of sinusitis, bronchitis and asthma can be eased by bromelain.

10. Olive Oil, especially extra virgin, is high in healthy monosaturated fats and antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil contains compounds that can protect the heart, reverse inflammation, enhance insulin sensitivity, and improve arthritis symptoms. Olive oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can be safely consumed by anyone

introduction to Chinese medicine

11. Add more herbs to your cooking or try herbal teas. Plants such as turmeric, ginger, black pepper, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, green tea, coriander seeds, rosemary, chamomile, lemon balm, licorice root, oregano, parsley and fenugreek. Holy Basil or Tulsi Tea, sage and spearmint. All have anti-inflammatory properties.

12. Drink more water

13. Get enough sleep and manage stress levels

14. Exercise 5 days per week

15. See a herbalist for stronger anti-inflammatory plant medicine. There are hundreds of strong anti-inflammatory herbs on the plant. It just takes knowledge to use them safely and effectively. Plants like Boswellia, Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Calendula, Echinacea, Passion Flower, Rhodiola, St John’s Wort, Ginseng. All have a long history of anti-inflammatory use.

16. Try Acupuncture. Acupuncture indeed exerts strong anti-inflammatory effects in multiple biological systems, namely, the immune, digestive, respiratory, nervous, locomotory, circulatory, endocrine, and genitourinary systems.3

Written by;

Dr. Elaine Hickman in clinic

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 23 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 has mentored many students & graduates. She is a Mum, lives in the High Country and loves growing food & medicinal plants.

Click here to book a nutritional, herbal, acupuncture or online consult with Elaine or her Associates:

Book Your Appointment TODAY


Kavoussi B, Ross BE. The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Sep;6(3):251-7. doi: 10.1177/1534735407305892. PMID: 17761638.

1 https://www.msn.com/en-au/health/symptoms/in-Inflammation/in-inflammation

15 Oily Fish High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Nutrition Advance

3 Li N, Guo Y, Gong Y, Zhang Y, Fan W, Yao K, Chen Z, Dou B, Lin X, Chen B, Chen Z, Xu Z, Lyu Z. The Anti-Inflammatory Actions and Mechanisms of Acupuncture from Acupoint to Target Organs via Neuro-Immune Regulation. J Inflamm Res. 2021 Dec 21;14:7191-7224. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S341581. PMID: 34992414; PMCID: PMC8710088.

No added sugar Banana Berry Muffin

These are healthy & delicious. Even my kid loves them!

no added sugar muffins

Recipe by Nourish the day (http://nourishtheday.com/)


1 2/3 cup/150g/5.2 oz rolled oats
3 ripe Bananas
1/4 cup/60ml/2 oz Rice Bran oil
1/3 cup/60g/2 oz Natvia/ stevia/ granulated natural sweetener of choice
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/3 cup/30g/1 oz flax seed ground
2 tbsp/14g/0.5 oz rolled oats extra
1 cup/150g/5.2 oz Frozen berries



Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

In a food processor or blender, blend oats into a fine flour. Tip this into a bowl.
Put the bananas, oil, stevia, vanilla and eggs into the blender/processor and blend shortly until just smooth (you can mash the banana and mix it all up by hand if you would rather). Tip this wet mix on top of oat flour and add everything else except for the berries. Mix until smooth.
Add berries and mix until combined.
Spoon into a muffin tray lined with muffin papers and decorate with extra berries if desired.

Bake for approx 20 mins or until done.

Servings: 8-9muffins


Tackling Endometriosis Naturally

Does orgasm during menstruation cause endometriosis?

According to results of a 2019 study of 555 women- vaginal intercourse and sexual activity leading to orgasm during menstruation increases the risk of endometriosis! 

The finding supports one of the theories of what causes Endometriosis- retrograde menstruation. This theory describes that the back flow of menstrual blood into the pelvis as leading to endometrial cell adhesion outside of the uterus.  That is, cells from the uterine lining sticking where they are not supposed to.

Good to know! So apart from refraining from orgasm during your bleed, how else can you tackle endometriosis naturally? To prevent endometriosis reoccurrence and to stop it from progressing if you already have it? 

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture:  

Chinese medicine is used widely to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms associated with endometriosis. It is not guaranteed to reverse lesions, but may help limit the tissue proliferations, that is, slow down the progression. This is crucial for preventing the development of the condition and also for the recurrence of endometriosis after a surgical removal of adhesions. 

abdominal pain

According a study acupuncture can reduce dysmenorrhea (pain) associated with endometriosis (1). Another study (2) showed Chinese Herbal medicine was able to increase pregnancy rates in endometriosis patients. 

In Chinese Medical theory, endometriosis is effectively blood stagnation. A good practitioner will asses what is the underlying cause of this stagnation, as it’s different for different people. They will use acupuncture to move blood, resolve pain and reduce inflammation and herbs to warm the uterus, resolve masses and stop heavy bleeding. 

Avoid Inversions :  

We saw above in the ‘sex study’ that back flow of blood may not be the primary cause for endometriosis,  but it is a contributing factor. I advise my patients that inversions in yoga and pilates should be avoided during menstruation.  

Love your liver and get down with Cruciferous vegetables  

green foods

Endometrial tissue proliferates with the exposure to some types of estrogen. So by adding a cup of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts into your diet daily, you can help your liver clear excess hormones.  

DUTCH testing  

Whether you have been diagnosed with endometriosis or not, a urinary DUTCH test is an amazing  assessment of sex and adrenal hormones to identify markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. (4) It is  the gold standard to understand how estrogen is being metabolised in the body and you can then work with your practitioner to design a supplement and nutrition plan tailored to how your body is working. 

I can organise a DUTCH test for you in clinic or online via https://www.freedomchinesemedicine.com/booking

Written by:

Jessie Fayers

Dr Jessie Fayers

Acupuncturist & Herbalist

Dr. Jessie Fayers is a passionate and knowledgeable practitioner. She has been practicing acupuncture and herbal medicine for over a 15 years in Australia and abroad.

Jessie supports her clients to achieve optimal well-being through treatments that include gentle Japanese style Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Medicine. She uses functional pathology testing with in depth case history to provide you with a individualised treatment strategy utilising your diet, supplements and herbal medicine to get sustained changes and guide you to optimal health and vitality. Some of the tests she prescribes regularly are Complete Microbiome Assessments and Hormone  panels. Jessie’s special interests include digestion, fertility and women’s health.

Jessie has worked in a variety of healthcare roles in Indonesia, USA, India, Nepal and Uganda and recently in Australia as a volunteer acupuncturist at the Asylum Seekers Resource Center. She lives on a country property with her partner and 2 border collies and is a ceramicist and gardener.

Jessie is available:

Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays 
Call (03) 9486 5966

Book Your Appointment with Jessie TODAY


1. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-herbs-endometriosis/chinese-herbs-show-early-promise-for endometriosis-idUSTRE56L5YB20090722/ 

2. https://cdn.amegroups.cn/journals/amepc/files/journals/8/articles/86291/public/86291-PB17-8819- R2.pdf 

3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ 

endometriosis#:~:text=Key%20facts,age%20women%20and%20girls%20globally. 4. https://dutchtest.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Endometriosis_March-2022.pdf

Easy Oat Slice

Prep time: 15-20mins
Cook time: 30mins
Total time: 45-50mins

Breakfast can be one of the most important meals of the day, but it can also be one of the
ones hardest to make sure that we have. I find that pre-making my breakfast is the best way
to guarantee that I actually have it.

One of my favourites is this easy oat slice. I like it for several reasons, namely that you can
do so much with it and this means that it’s not repetitive because each slice will taste
different depending on what you add to it. It can also easily be made dairy free by using
your dairy free milk of choice and gluten free by using wheat free oats (oats are naturally
gluten-free, though there can be cross-contamination in production so getting oats that
specify gluten or wheat free help ensure you avoid this). You can also adjust the amount of
sugar to your taste.

It’s also highly versatile – you can make it healthier or more decadent. You can add
whichever ingredients strike your fancy at the time to flavour it. For instance, you can fold
through any fruit of your choice. Berries are a good option and you can decorate with a few
on top at the end. You could use mashed bananas and top with some chopped dark
chocolate. You could add seeds and shaved coconut. Make an apple and cinnamon version.
Drizzle some yoghurt or peanut butter on top and make swirls. Nuts are an option as well.
The possibilities are endless!

Protein powder can also be added to increase the protein content of the slice. Just mix
whatever protein powder you have or want with the amount of water indicated on the
packet and add once the egg and oat mixtures are combined, before the fruit etc. are

Once you’ve made this oat slice, you can pre-cut it, store it in the fridge and grab and go –
just chuck it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so if you want it warmer rather than cold
out of the fridge. You could even serve it with yoghurt on the side if you’re not rushing out
the door that day.

 200g oats
 400ml milk of choice
 2 eggs
 40g sugar (or alternative)

 A pinch of salt
 10g baking powder
 Any fruit/chocolate/yoghurt/seeds/coconut flakes/nuts etc. as desired to flavour it


  1. Mix oats and milk and leave for around 15minutes, stirring occasionally, so the oats
    can absorb some of the milk (if they’re left longer while you’re doing the next steps,
    that’s fine). We want the oats to soften before being baked.
  2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C
  3. Grease a baking dish (mine is 31cmx23cm and works well) with butter or line with
    baking paper
  4. Prepare any fruit you may want to mix in. I like to dice my fruit into smaller pieces so
    that you can get more flavours in one bite of the slice. If you want to use bananas, I
    tend to mash them
  5. Whisk the 2 eggs and add the sugar (or alternative), salt and baking powder and mix
    well until the baking powder is dissolved and the mixture has become a bit frothy
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the oat mixture and combine
  7. OPTIONAL: Add the protein powder mixture here if desired
  8. Fold the fruit/chocolate etc. of choice in
  9. Pour into the baking dish
  10. Garnish as desired (eg. fruit, chocolate chips, yoghurt swirls, coconut flakes, seeds
  11. OPTIONAL: You can also scatter small pieces of butter on top, but I don’t always do
  12. Bake in the preheated over for 40mins – test readiness with a toothpick or butter
    knife. If you want the slice drier, bake a little longer. If you want it to be more gooey,
    bake a little less. I recommend checking it because different ovens do cook
  13. Take it out and let it cool before cutting into your desired portion sizes
    There you have it – breakfast on the go!

Brought to you by Camille Mucha, Associate Acupuncturist & Herbalist at Freedom Chinese Medicine

Camille Mucha

3 Ways to Relieve Migraines Naturally

Migraines can be debilitating and sometimes the medications don’t work. In Chinese Medicine, there are several types of migraine, all with different underlying causes and differentiated by symptoms. In a session, it is the practitioner’s job to go through a process of differential diagnosis to determine exactly what is causing your migraines, so that the treatment may be as targeted and effective as possible. Some of the methods we use to treat migraines are..

  1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the primary form of treatment for migraines in Chinese Medicine and has been found to be quite effective (1). It is safe and has less side effects than commonly prescribed medications (1). Your practitioner will determine the most appropriate acupuncture points to use for your case in order to treat the underlying cause, so not everyone’s treatment will look the same. Like all good things, it may take a little time. Several sessions are likely necessary before you start to truly see results, though everybody is different.

  1. Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbs are another method that’s quite effective in the treatment of migraines. The herbs we prescribe will also be used to treat the underlying cause, just as the selected acupuncture points are. In fact, Chinese Herbs have been found to significantly reduce the frequency and pain severity of migraines, with longer treatment times resulting in increased effectiveness (2). Having herbs each day is like giving yourself a little treatment and tends to help carry the patient from one acupuncture appointment to the next, so that the underlying cause is being treated daily in one form or another.

  1. Diet and Lifestyle Advice

The correct diet and lifestyle choices are powerful tools for the management of our health and wellbeing. Migraines are no different. Common lifestyle advice for migraines includes ensuring you have enough sleep and rest to replenish and refresh your body and working towards a healthy work/life balance. A term I’m sure we’ve all heard so much at this point that it seems trivial. But the concept of balance in life is highly important. If you do suffer from migraines, have you ever noticed that they tend to become more frequent when you’re under stress and/or spread particularly thin? There’s a reason for that.

Written by

Camille Mucha

Dr Camille Mucha

Acupuncturist & Herbalist

Camille grew up surrounded by natural therapies and even technically received acupuncture while in utero!

Even so, she initially decided to pursue Science – before coming back to her roots and studying Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.

Camille is a compassionate, caring and intuitive practitioner whose areas of interest include chronic health issues, pain management, migraine management, mental health, stress, anxiety and Women’s health, including fertility.

Camille is available at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne on

Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturdays 
Call (03) 9486 5966

Click this link to Book Your Appointment with Camille TODAY


1.         Urits I, Patel M, Putz ME, Monteferrante NR, Nguyen D, An D, et al. Acupuncture and Its Role in the Treatment of Migraine Headaches. Neurol Ther. 2020;9(2):375–94.

2.         Lyu S, Zhang CS, Guo X, Zhang AL, Sun J, Chen G, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Oral Chinese Herbal Medicine for Migraine: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses Using Robust Variance Estimation Model. Front Neurol. 2022;13:889336.

6 Things Not to miss When Trying to Fall Pregnant

Still trying? Want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row? Wondering if there’s something amiss? The fertility journey can be full of doubts. I remember. I had 3 years of trying with doubts. It can be so tough. Knowing what to try can make it easier. One of the most important parts of my work in fertility, is helping people remove common obstacles to conception. Working out the obstacles that often get overlooked. Even by high profile fertility specialists. Whether you’re trying naturally or via IVF/ IUI, these things are worth checking..

  1. Vitamin D level. Your GP might have said your Vitamin D level is in the normal range (50-100nmol/L). However, studies show that women with Vitamin D levels above 75nmol/L have an increased likelihood of pregnancy and live birth. Interestingly, those in the study who corrected their Vit D levels BEFORE conception were associated with less miscarriages.
    This study found that Vitamin D levels affected IVF success rates. Those with Vit D deficiency were “less likely to develop mature eggs and would produce poor quality embryos.
    Supplementation with vitamin D alone during pregnancy probably reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and the risk of having a baby with low birthweight.

What to do next?
Get tested. Some people need a little extra Vitamin D, some people need a lot.
Sunshine and diet changes are great to help maintain Vitamin D levels, but to boost them rapidly, it’s likely you’ll need a supplement.

Organise a restest in a few months to make sure what you’re doing is working!

2. Luteal Sufficiency means that atleast 12 days passes between ovulation and when your menstrual flow (not spotting) begins. Atlease 12 days between these two events is sufficient for implantation of a fertilised egg. Nothing less. How Do I Know if I’m Ovulating?

Luteal Insufficiency is often overlooked. It is common in women with short cycles but can still happen in 28 day cycles. It can be linked with low progesterone. Which is also often overlooked in people with infertility and recurrent miscarriage.

3. Tubule Patency. This means that your fallopian tubes are open and working properly – not blocked or spasming. A Tubule Patency Test or HyCoSy is done under ultrasound. This test is worth doing if you have not conceived after 12 months of trying (6 months if over 35) AND if you haven’t conceived for 5 years prior. This test can be painful. It is worth taking a painkiller the day of the test. Some clinics advise this but some don’t. Mine didn’t and I wish they had!

4. Sperm Quality.

Here’s a little-known fact; the bar has been progressively lowered on acceptable semen values. Especially morphology (sperm shape). For example:
In 1987, the level for normal morphology was 50%, now it is only at 3%. That is, 97% abnormal sperm shape (2 heads or 2 tails), is considered OK. This is OK for IVF, espcially ICSI where they can select normal sperm. However, if you’re trying naturally, even between IVF/IUI cycles, you can imagine that you’d want higher odds of normal sperm reaching an egg. Most natural fertility specialists say to aim for 10-15% normal morphology.
Morphology is 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
Remember; Semen analysis results can vary from lab to lab. And results can vary from month to month.

And remember; it only takes one sperm to fertilise an egg.

5. Caffeine intake. Unfortunately, caffeine can increase miscarriage risk. Even caffeine intake before pregnancy. Studies indicate that miscarriage risk begins to rise with just one cup of tea or less than half a cup of coffee per day.

Radiation damaging DNA

6. Toxins in our Environment. There are a bunch of toxins in our environment that have been proven to reduce our fertility and increase the chance of miscarriage. Yes, we can’t avoid all of them. Yes, our grandparents did OK without this knowledge. But they didn’t live with the multitude of hormone disrupters (mainly plastics) that we now do. There are a few main offenders. Let’s focus on them. And the simple steps we can take to reduce our exposure ..

Written by:

Elaine Hickman

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 25 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 Mondays & Tuesdays at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne or via video chat most other days. Her trusted Associates are available all other weekdays. Click here to book.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4254491/

Cooper, 2007, (ESHRE campus meeting)

Chen LW, Wu Y, Neelakantan N, Chong MF, Pan A, van Dam RM. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and risk of pregnancy loss: a categorical and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Public Health Nutr. 2016 May;19(7):1233-44. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015002463. Epub 2015 Sep 2. PMID: 26329421; PMCID: PMC10271029.
Gaskins AJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Williams PL, Toth TL, Missmer SA, Chavarro JE. Pre-pregnancy caffeine and caffeinated beverage intake and risk of spontaneous abortion. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Feb;57(1):107-117. doi: 10.1007/s00394-016-1301-2. Epub 2016 Aug 29. PMID: 27573467; PMCID: PMC5332346.
Association of preconception serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations with livebirth and pregnancy loss: a prospective cohort study

Sunni L Mumford, PhD, Rebecca A Garbose, MD, Keewan Kim, PhD, Kerri Kissell, MD
Daniel L Kuhr, Ukpebo R Omosigho, et al.
Published:May 30, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(18)30153-0

Palacios C, Kostiuk LK, Peña-Rosas J. Vitamin D supplementation for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD008873. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008873.pub4


(BBT = Basal Body Temperature)

Basal Body Temperature chart - normal chart

1. Obtain a proper fertility thermometer. which is a digital thermometer which has 2 decimal points. You can buy one from most pharmacies. Or online via the download below if it’s more convenient. Dedicate that thermometer to BBT checking and clean it with an alcohol swab regularly.

2. Obtain a app or a chart. Remember that every woman’s cycle is different, or even be the same month to month and Apps have different parameters. You want to keep the thermometer next to your bed, so that when you wake up, your eyes open – before you drink, eat, have sex, or even sit up in bed – take your temperature the thermometer goes in your mouth or vagina. Most thermometers keep memory of last read so you don’t even need to record it straight away.

3. On the first day you get your period (proper flow, not spotting), fill in the date and day of the week under cycle day 1. Continue noting the dates of your cycle until the first day of your next period.

4. You can also note the time you took your temperature. Try to take it at about the same time each morning. If you cannot or did not, just make a note.

5. At least 3 hours solid sleep is required beforehand (to get a basal temperature read). So if that didn’t happen, just make a note for that day. No need to take your temperature.

6. Conditions affecting your temperature may include things like a late night, fever, a cold, broken sleep or alcohol. These may cause abnormally high or low temperatures, resulting in inaccurate chart interpretation if not noted down.  So, ignore minor fluctuations. It’s trends & patterns we’re looking for over months.

You may find this a little overwhelming at first; however, it doesn’t take long to get into the routine. And after about 3 cycles you will start to see an obvious pattern and be much more aware of your fertility 😊    

Written by:

Elaine Hickman

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 25 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 Mondays & Tuesdays at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne or via video chat most other days. Elaine’s trusted Associates are available most weekdays. Click here to book.

How Do I Know if I’m Ovulating?

The first thing to work out when you’re planning to fall pregnant, is whether you’re ovulating or not.

There are a few ways to tell:

  1. You can use an ovulation (LH surge) test kit at home.
  2. You can look for fertile mucous each cycle.
  3. You chart a rise in your basal body temperature for the second half of your cycle.
  4. You can have a pelvic ultrasound after ovulation time.
  5. A Day 21 (or 7 days post ovulation) Progesterone test is also an indicator of ovulation.

I recommend that you check by more than one of the above methods. As most are not 100% accurate. If you’ve been trying for more than 12 months (less if you’re over 35), I suggest you have the medical tests, via your GP is sufficient.

But, if you’re just starting out on this journey or want to get to know your body better, I suggest that you learn how to check for fertile mucous


take your basal body temperature. BBT for short.

What is fertile mucous?

It’s the discharge that you get usually midway through your menstrual cycle. It is like raw egg white. It is transparent, stretchy and there’s more of it than other times in your cycle. Some women notice it when they go to the toilet. Others will notice it as a wet patch in their underwear. Fertile mucous is usually noticeable for 2-3 days. We usually ovulate during this time.

If you haven’t ever noticed fertile cervical mucous before, don’t worry. Most women don’t notice until they start paying special attention.

And if you have been paying attention for a while but still haven’t noticed any.. look to some other methods, such as taking your BBT.

Written by:

Elaine Hickman

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 25 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 Mondays & Tuesdays at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne or via video chat most other days. Elaine’s trusted Associates are available most weekdays. Click here to book.

Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Pudding

This Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Pudding is super moist, warmly spiced and really easy to make. It’s fruity, not too heavy or sweet, not gummy or doughy, and is healthier than the traditional version. It’s made in one bowl, is boiled/steamed in a pan so doesn’t require an oven, and is refined sugar free too.

Prep Time: 15minutes 

Cook Time: 2 hours 

Total Time: 2 hours 15minutes 

Servings: 8

Calories: 382kcal


  • 300 g (1 ½ cup) dried fruit , finely chopped (I used a mixture of dates, dried cranberries, dried figs, prunes and dried apricots, but you can use whatever dried fruit mix you like)
  • 1 tablespoon unwaxed orange zest (or sub 1 teaspoon orange extract)
  • 1 apple , grated
 – no need to peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or sub a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
  • Generous amount brandy or sherry (ensure vegan/gluten-free if necessary – or sub apple or orange juice)
  • 60 g (¼ cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
  • 120 ml (½ cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
  • 4 tablespoons date syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 g (1 ¼ cup) ground walnuts (or sub ground almonds/almond meal) *
  • 150 g (1 ¼ cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)


  • Place the dried fruit, orange zest, grated apple, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice in a bowl and add a generous amount of brandy or sherry, until everything is roughly covered.
  • Keep covered in the fridge for around 24 hours, to allow the flavours to develop.
  • Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil).
  • Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the date syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, salt and ground walnuts.
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Add the dried fruit mixture (along with any residual brandy), adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry.
  • Grease a medium-sized deep glass bowl or a pudding basin.
  • Transfer the pudding batter into it.
  • Place the bowl in a pan (make sure it’s bigger than the bowl) and fill up with cold water up to halfway up the bowl.
  • Cut out a circle of baking paper to place directly on top of the pudding batter so that it’s completely covered.
  • Use some tin foil to cover the top and fold around the sides of the bowl.
  • Place a lid on the pan and bring to the boil.
  • Turn down the heat and cook on a low heat for 2 hours.
  • Leave to cool slightly before taking out the bowl.
  • Carefully remove the tin foil and the baking paper.
  • Run a blunt knife around the edge of the bowl to let the pudding come away from the sides – this is easier to do once it’s cooled down.
  • Turn the bowl upside down on a plate and shake until the pudding pops out.
  • Keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days – it’s great eaten hot or cold!

Sourced from: Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Pudding – Rhian’s Recipes (rhiansrecipes.com)

5 Ways to Prevent COVID After Exposure

hay fever reliefThere’s still plenty of COVID cases around, and we know how to minimise our risk of exposure, and transmission to others. But what if you’ve just found out your a close contact? If you’ve had a get together and one of you has come down with COVID since. Is there more you can do to prevent infection for yourself?


Here are 5 good options:

  1. Use a mouthwash containing cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC)

The virus that caused COVID is SARS-CoV-2. It enters our body via our mouth or nose. It quickly multiplies in either cavity before spreading further down our airways. Using a solution that can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in these cavities has been shown to reduce the likelihood of COVID infection. Mouthwashes containing CPC currently available in major supermarkets and chemists (in no particular order) include:

  1. Oral-B Clinical Alcohol Free Fluoride Rinse Clean Mint Mouthwash
  2. Colgate Plax Antibacterial Mouthwash Freshmint Alcohol Free 500ml
  3. Colgate Plax Antibacterial Mouthwash Fresh Tea Alcohol Free 500ml
  4. Colgate Neutrafluor 220 Daily Fluoride Mouth Rinse Mint 473ml
  5. Colgate Plax Ice Fusion Antibacterial Mouthwash Cold Mint 500ml
  6. Colgate Plax Antibacterial Mouthwash Freshmint Alcohol Free 250ml
  7. Colgate Plax Antibacterial Mouthwash Peppermint Alcohol Free 500ml
  8. Colgate Plax Antibacterial Mouthwash Peppermint Alcohol Free 500ml
  9. Colgate Plax Antibacterial Mouthwash Freshmint Alcohol Free 1l
  10. Listerine Smart Rinse Mouthwash For Kids Berry 500ml
  11. Coles Pro Zero Mouthwash
  12. Coles Pro Teeth Defence Mouthwash

    2. Gargle Chlorhexidine. 

    Brand name is Savacol, available in pharmacies. Chlorhexidine is an antimicrobial agent that has been shown to be effective in killing enveloped viruses, including SARS‐CoV‐2. The tricky part is gargling for 30 seconds, right at the back of your throat. It’s harder than it sounds. Certainly possible. Counting and pausing to breathe through your nose helps.

    3. Use a Nasal Spray. Numerous studies have confirmed that povidone-iodine (PI) inactivates many common respiratory viruses, including SARS. 10–20 ml 1% PVP-solution is placed into the nasal cavity.  Three recent studies identified a reduction in viral load in saliva after the use of mouthrinses with PI (up to three hours), chlorhexidine (up to four hours), or CPC-containing mouthwash (up to six hours). So use 15 ml 1% PVP-I as a swish and spit for 30 seconds or dilute betadine throat gargle by putting it into a saline nasal spray bottle (to a 1% PVP solution). Don’t forget to dilute it! I did once. Ouch. PVP-I functions as an antiseptic through several mechanisms and is considered to have the broadest spectrum of action compared to other common antiseptics such as chlorhexidine.  Through oxidation of cell surface receptors, PVP-I prevents the attachment of viruses to cellular receptors.

    4. Take Vitamin C. High-dose vitamin C has been shown to enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, improve oxygen support status, and reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients, all without causing any negative side effects. What is high dose? 2000mg daily, increasing by 1000mg each day, up to 5000mg daily, or until you get diarrhoea. Stop increasing the dose then. Sound unpleasant? Sure, but it’s cleaning your gut whilst preventing/ treating COVID.

    5. Take Quercetin. Quercetin displays a broad range of antiviral properties which can interfere at multiple steps of pathogen virulence -virus entry, virus replication, protein assembly. You can buy Quercetin in supplement form and dose according to the manufacturers instructions.  You can also eat Quercetin-rich foods, which are apples, honey, raspberries, onions, red grapes, cherries, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables.

You can hedge your bets and do all of the above! I certainly do after exposure.

Stay well!


Written by,

Dr Elaine Hickman sitting at clinic deskDr 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.

Elaine is available for consultations:

Monday & Tuesday
Call (03) 9486 5966



Dutta, Sanchari Sinha. (2021, August 09). Cetylpyridinium chloride-containing mouthwashes shown to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in oral cavity. News-Medical. Retrieved on January 09, 2023 from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210809/Cetylpyridinium-chloride-containing-mouthwashes-shown-to-inhibit-SARS-CoV-2-in-oral-cavity.aspx.

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