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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

References:

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 ..
https://freedomchinesemedicine.com/detoxing-to-increase-your-chances-of-getting-staying-pregnant/

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.

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

Cooper, 2007, (ESHRE campus meeting)
https://www.eshre.eu/~/media/sitecore-files/SIGs/Andrology/Thessaloniki-2009/Menkveld.pdf?la=en
https://www.eshre.eu/~/media/sitecore-files/Accreditation/Certification-embryologists/Barratt.pdf

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
https://fertilityfirst.com.au/vitamin-d-deficiency-could-be-a-key-fertility-factor/

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

HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR BBT (BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE)?

(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

and

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.

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?

Yes.

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

 

References

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.

Huang YH, Huang JT. Use of chlorhexidine to eradicate oropharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients. J Med Virol. 2021 Jul;93(7):4370-4373. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26954. Epub 2021 Apr 1. PMID: 33755218; PMCID: PMC8251493.

Colunga Biancatelli Ruben Manuel Luciano, Berrill Max, Catravas John D., Marik Paul E. Quercetin and Vitamin C: An Experimental, Synergistic Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Related Disease (COVID-19). Frontiers in Immunology. VOLUME=11. YEAR=2020. URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.01451

Naqvi, S.H.S., Citardi, M.J., Cattano, D. et al. Povidone-iodine solution as SARS-CoV-2 prophylaxis for procedures of the upper aerodigestive tract a theoretical framework. J of Otolaryngol – Head & Neck Surg 49, 77 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40463-020-00474-x

Hernández-Vásquez, A., Barrenechea-Pulache, A., Comandé, D. et al. Mouthrinses and SARS-CoV-2 viral load in saliva: a living systematic review. Evid Based Dent (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41432-022-0253-z

Jhon Paul Iakov Mezarina Mendoza, Briggitte Patricia Trelles Ubillús, Gabriela Tazziana Salcedo Bolívar, Rosa Del Pilar Castañeda Palacios, Paulo Sergio Gilmar Herrera Lopez, David Alex Padilla Rodríguez, Karin Harumi Uchima Koecklin,
Antiviral effect of mouthwashes against SARS-COV-2: A systematic review,
The Saudi Dental Journal, Volume 34, Issue 3, 2022

Shahbaz U, Fatima N, Basharat S, Bibi A, Yu X, Hussain MI, Nasrullah M. Role of vitamin C in preventing of COVID-19 infection, progression and severity. AIMS Microbiol. 2022 Mar 30;8(1):108-124. doi: 10.3934/microbiol.2022010. PMID: 35496992; PMCID: PMC8995185.

 

5 ways to prepare for a Frozen Embryo Transfer

acupuncture and Chinese herbs for pregnancy supportIf you are trying to conceive via IVF, and your clinic advises freezing the embryo/s, what else can you do after egg retrieval to improve the odds of your frozen embryo implanting?

Here’s 5 natural things you can do:

1. Take a good prenatal. What’s a good prenatal?

– One that contains natural folate or methylfolate. This is preferred over poorly absorbed synthetic folic acid.

– One that contains active forms of Vitamin B6 and B12

– One that contains Iodine and Selenium. Minerals that are important for fertility and are not always included in prenatal supplements.

Or simply take a recommendation from your practitioner at Freedom Chinese Medicine. We stock 3 different quality prenatals in the clinic.

Having adequate levels of these vitamins right from the start of pregnancy is important for the health of the baby.

2. Take Vitamin D.

Refer to our supplement guide or your practitioner for dosing instructions.

Vitamin D is important for reducing the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth.

3. Take Vitamin E 600mg daily.

Studies have used 900IU, which is a fairly high dose. To get close to that level, you could take 2 capsules per day in the month before embryo transfer.

In 2019, a study of women with repeated implantation failure found that supplementing with Vitamin E significantly improved lining thickness. Vitamin E boosts blood cell numbers in the uterine lining and promotes the development of new blood vessels.

4. Take L-arginine 6g daily.

Not recommended before egg retrieval as it may compromise egg quality. It has been found that L-arginine can increase endometrial thickness at a dose of 6 grams per day, divided into 4 doses. To be taken after egg retrieval until the transfer.

L-arginine dilates blood vessels thereby improving blood flow.

acupuncture on pregnant woman

5. Have acupuncture!

Acupuncture is surprisingly relaxing. Research has consistently found that in women undergoing IVF, acupuncture reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol.

After transfer, you can stop the Vitamin E and L-arginine, but continue with Acupuncture, Vitamin D and your prenatal until you get a positive test.

If you are trying to conceive naturally, here is information on supplementation for you.

Written by Dr. Elaine Hickman

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

Dr. Elaine Hickman in clinicElaine 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 in clinic in Ivanhoe, Melbourne or via Telehealth/ phone or video chat.

Book Your Appointment TODAY

References

1. Hashemi Z, Sharifi N, Khani B, Aghadavod E, Asemi Z. The effects of vitamin E supplementation on endometrial thickness, and gene expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and inflammatory cytokines among women with implantation failure. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Jan;32(1):95-102. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1372413. Epub 2017 Sep 12. Update in: J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2022 Dec;35(25):6841. PMID: 28847198.

2. Takasaki A, Tamura H, Miwa I, Taketani T, Shimamura K, Sugino N. Endometrial growth and uterine blood flow: a pilot study for improving endometrial thickness in the patients with a thin endometrium. Fertil Steril. 2010 Apr;93(6):1851-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.12.062. Epub 2009 Feb 6. PMID: 19200982.

3. So EW, Ng EH, Wong YY, Yeung WS, Ho PC. Acupuncture for frozen-thawed embryo transfer cycles: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Reprod Biomed Online. 2010 Jun;20(6):814-21. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2010.02.024. Epub 2010 Mar 4. PMID: 20382081.

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 🙂

Acupuncture for anxiety – what it’s all about

Emerging – by a very local artist; Mary Caia

Feeling anxious? You’re not alone. Everybody experiences anxiety from time to time. Anxiety is a normal part of responding to challenges and dangers in life. Sometimes anxiety can become a persistent or debilitating experience.

Persistent anxiety can present differently in different people. Some people find themselves thinking rapidly and their mind leapfrogs from one fear into another, some take themselves to the Emergency department because they believe themselves to be experiencing a heart attack, and some need to go to the toilet – every ten minutes.

Acupuncturists are often asked “How effective is acupuncture for anxiety?” or “How many Acupuncture sessions will I need to treat my anxiety?”

Physiologically, acupuncture can treat anxiety because it interacts with and calms the sympathetic nervous system to take us out of the flight-or-fright response. Because of this many people feel calmer during their session.

But there is more to it than that. As Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners we look at the person as a whole and ask the question “Why is this person experiencing anxiety in this way?”.

What happens during the consult?                       

During your consultation, your practitioner will ask what your experience of anxiety is. This means we will ask you how it manifests physically, mentally and emotionally. We take your pulse and look at your tongue, and ask a number of seemingly unrelated questions that help us to gauge what happened to keep you stuck in a heightened state of worry, fear or negativity.

It can sometimes help to know the circumstances that led to the anxiety. But what we are really interested in is what happened, or is happening inside of you. We are interested in where the imbalance occurred to wear down your resilience and prevent you from moving forward. Out of the fight-or-flight response.

Different ways anxiety affects people

Symptoms we might monitor from week to week are broad, and can include:

  • Inability to relax, circular thinking, aversion to social situations
  • Irritability, anger, obsessive thinking, fears and phobias
  • Heart palpitations, sweaty palms, chest tightness, breathlessness
  • Insomnia, restless sleep, nightmares
  • Pain
  • Irritable bowels (diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, indigestion)
  • Urinary frequency and incontinence
  • Hair loss, fatigue, social withdrawal

How many acupuncture sessions required to treat anxiety

We usually recommend a course of 4-6 sessions for significant improvements.

Each session usually takes between 30-45 minutes. Patients usually feel more relaxed during and immediately after each treatment. We often find that that relaxation extends for longer periods after each session.

Patients report “feeling like themselves again”. A little bit at a time, people start to access optimism and confidence. They smile more often and laugh more genuinely.

Generally, patients find that looking after themselves (eating well, exercise and setting boundaries) becomes easier when the feelings of anxiety are reduced.

How effective is acupuncture for anxiety?

Ongoing studies continue to show that acupuncture is significantly useful in reducing anxiety across a broad range of situations and conditions.  “Overall, there is good scientific evidence encouraging acupuncture therapy to treat anxiety disorders as it yields effective outcomes, with fewer side effects than conventional treatment.”¹

Studies looking at women undergoing IVF[i], patients heading into surgery[ii] and students heading into exams[iii] all benefit from acupuncture for anxiety. Results were based on anxiety surveys, heart rate, blood pressure and skin electrodermal activity. Acupuncture results were significantly better than sham acupuncture in all cases.

Special Offer – $20 0ff your initial session with any Acupuncturist at Freedom Chinese Medicine until end of August 2022. Click here to book. You must mention this offer to receive the discount.

T&C: For New Patients only. Not transferable. Not available with any other offer. Not redeemable for cash.

Written by:

Dr Heather Dowall

Acupuncturist  @ Freedom Chinese Medicine

Dr  Heather Dowall is a warm, intuitive and enthusiastic practitioner. Heather graduated from Endeavour College of Natural Health with a Health Science degree majoring in Acupuncture.

Heather is passionate about fertility and pregnancy support, pain relief, cancer support, and providing relief for anyone experiencing anxiety, depression, emotional trauma or PTSD.

Click here to book online or call us on 03) 9486 5966

 

References

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29705474

[i] Isoyama D, Cordts EB, de Souza van Niewegen AMB, et al

Effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a prospective randomised controlled study Acupuncture in Medicine 2012;30:85-88.

[ii] Klausenitz C1Hesse T1Hacker H1Hahnenkamp K1Usichenko T1.

Auricular acupuncture for pre-exam anxiety in medical students: a prospective observational pilot investigation. Acupunct Med. 2016 Apr;34(2):90-4. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2015-010887. Epub 2015 Oct 5.

[iii] Shayestehfar M1Seif-Barghi T2Zarei S3Mehran A3. Acupuncture Anxiolytic Effects on Physiological and Psychological Assessments for a Clinical Trial. Scientifica (Cairo). 2016;2016:4016952. doi: 10.1155/2016/4016952. Epub 2016 Apr 4.

 

The Paul Keating interview hyperlink:

https://www.facebook.com/AACMA/posts/10155364681999557

 

Supplements to take when trying to conceive

Both men and women can optimise their chances of conceiving by following a healthy eating regime that stocks up a range of important nutrients in the body.

It’s also important for both men and women to stop smoking and drinking coffee¹ before trying to conceive to give their bodies the best possible chance of producing healthy eggs and sperm and, of course, a healthy baby.

What about my diet? Eating a variety of wholefoods, fresh vegetables, healthy fats and protein is essential. If you or your partner need help quitting smoking or eating better, we can help. Then there’s the question:

Do you really need to supplement in pill form?

The short answer is yes. To ensure that you’re getting sufficient folate for example. Vitamins such as folate are not only critical for preventing birth defects, but may also make it easier to get pregnant, by restoring ovulation and boosting egg quality. Some vitamins can also reduce the risk of miscarriage. For all these reasons, it is important to take a good quality prenatal vitamin supplement early – ideally at least 3 months before trying to conceive.

There is a great deal of evidence on the benefits of supplements for fertility. Check out the reference section for the research articles. When it comes to fertility, there is often no time to wait. This is particularly true in the context of IVF, where women might only have one or two chances before running out of financial or emotional resources.

Studies show that women who take a daily multivitamin are much less likely to have infertility due to ovulation problems.²

It is recommended that you have a nutritionally trained professional check your supplement plan. Your medical history and other medications need to be taken into consideration.  Here is a basic plan to get you started:

prenancy

The Bare Essentials: – Supplements recommended if you’re healthy, below 35 years old and have trying to conceive for less than 12 months (with no miscarriages or failed IVF cycles)

  • Folate –  In the form of methyl-folate is best, as it’s better absorbed. At least 800 micrograms
  • Iodine. Iodine deficiency is common. Women with iodine deficiency may have a more difficult time conceiving.
  • Vitamin D (if your levels have been low in the last 2 years).  If your Vitamin D levels are below 100 nmol/L or 40ng/ml, consider supplementing with 4000-5000IU per day for 3 months. If you’re taking this dose long term, checking your blood calcium levels is wise. If you have significant deficiency, you can start with 10,000 IU per day for 2 weeks.

(a good prenatal will contain all of the above, we stock such at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne)

  • Iron (if your levels are currently low)
  • CoQ10 consider adding this daily supplement to enhance energy production inside developing eggs and possibly prevent chromosomal errors. The most effective form of CoQ10 is ubiquinol or Bio-Quinon, and the basic dose is 200mg, preferably taken in the morning with food.

Extra Support: – recommended if you’ve had some fertility issues, like trying for more than 12 months, or miscarriages.

  • A prenatal multivitamin containing at least 800 mcg of methylfolate.
  • Ubiquinol 400mg daily. One 200mg tablet with breakfast, one with lunch.
  • Iodine. Iodine deficiency is common. Women with iodine deficiency may have a more difficult time conceiving.
  • Iron (if your levels are currently low)
  • Vitamin D (if your levels have been low in the last 2 years).  If your Vitamin D levels are below 100 nmol/L or 40ng/ml, consider supplementing with 4000-5000IU per day for 3 months. If you’re taking this dose long term, checking your blood calcium levels is wise. If you have significant deficiency, you can start with 10,000 IU per day for 2 weeks.
  • Additional Vitamin C– 500mg benefits our immune system and improves egg and sperm quality.
  • Vitamin E– 200 IU.  An antioxidant nutrient helpful for egg and sperm quality.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid or N-acetyl cysteine if you need a stronger anti-oxidant boost (if you have MTHFR mutation or autoimmune problems)

Optimal Support: – recommended if you have a diminished ovarian reserve, age-related infertility or you need to pursue IVF or IUI for any other reason, you have the most to gain from an aggressive plan to improve egg quality.

  • A prenatal multivitamin containing at least 800 mcg of methylfolate.
  • Ubiquinol 400mg daily. One 200mg tablet with breakfast, one with lunch.
  • Iodine. Iodine deficiency is common. Women with iodine deficiency may have a more difficult time conceiving.
  • Iron (if your levels are currently low)
  • Vitamin D (if your levels have been low in the last 2 years).  If your Vitamin D levels are below 100 nmol/L or 40ng/ml, consider supplementing with 4000-5000IU per day for 3 months. If you’re taking this dose long term, checking your blood calcium levels is wise. If you have significant deficiency, you can start with 10,000 IU per day for 2 weeks.
  • Additional Vitamin C– 500mg benefits our immune system and improves egg and sperm quality.
  • Vitamin E– 200 IU.  An antioxidant nutrient helpful for egg and sperm quality.
  • R-alpha-lipoic acid 200-300mg – preferably at least 30mins before a meal
  • N-acetyl cysteine 600mg – anytime.
  • For IVF only; melatonin, 3mg at bedtime, starting 2-4 weeks before egg retrieval
  • Consider also taking a DHEA supplement (if your DHEAS and testosterone levels are low). For 2-3 months before your next IVF cycle. Typical dosage is 25mg, 3 times per day, although you may require less.

 

What about him?

If there is a him on the scene, his nutrition certainly counts. Contrary to popular belief, male infertility contributes to nearly 50% of all cases in which a couple has difficulty conceiving³ Here’s what he can take to improve your chances of conceiving:

  • a daily prenatal multivitamin containing methylfolate
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

(a good male prenatal will contain all of the above, we stock such at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe, Melbourne)

  • Ubiquinol or BioQuinon – at least 200mg daily
  • Alpha-lipoic Acid if known sperm quality issues, recurrent miscarriage or failed IVF cycles
  • Fish Oil/ Omega 3s
  • L-carnitine

Each of these supplements is backed up by clear scientific evidence. For example, a study found that when men took Alpha-lipoic acid each day for 12 weeks, there was a significant improvement in sperm count, sperm concentration, and motility levels.4

 

We stock all the above supplements at Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe. In high quality form. We also offer practitioners who hold exceptional knowledge & experience in helping people conceive. We’d be happy to help you, so feel free to contact if you have any questions or need extra help.

 

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 brings extra expertise and understanding to the table as she’s been through infertility herself.

 

References:

1 Maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes: a narrative review with implications for
advice to mothers and mothers-to-be. Jack E. James. 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111432

2 Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Use of multivitamins, intake of B vitamins, and risk of ovulatory infertility. Fertil Steril. 2008 Mar;89(3):668-76. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2007.03.089. Epub 2007 Jul 10. PMID: 17624345; PMCID: PMC2366795.

3 Esteves SC, Agarwal A. Novel concepts in male infertility. Int Braz J Urol. 2011 Jan-Feb;37(1):5-15. doi: 10.1590/s1677-55382011000100002. PMID: 21385475.

4 Salas-Huetos A, Rosique-Esteban N, Becerra-Tomás N, Vizmanos B, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. The Effect of Nutrients and Dietary Supplements on Sperm Quality Parameters: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr. 2018 Nov 1;9(6):833-848. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy057. PMID: 30462179; PMCID: PMC6247182.

Kuehn B. Iodine Deficiency May Impair Fertility. JAMA. 2018;319(8):760. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1291

Czeizel AE, Dudás I. Prevention of the first occurrence of neural-tube defects by periconceptional vitamin supplementation. N Engl J Med. 1992 Dec 24;327(26):1832-5. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199212243272602. PMID: 1307234.

Rudick B, Ingles S, Chung K, Stanczyk F, Paulson R, Bendikson K. Characterizing the influence of vitamin D levels on IVF outcomes. Hum Reprod. 2012 Nov;27(11):3321-7. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des280. Epub 2012 Aug 21. PMID: 22914766.

https://www.thebump.com/a/vitamins-you-need-to-conceive

http://natural-fertility-info.com/multivitamin

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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