Category: Seasonal Health

Hay fever and Allergy with acupuncture

With spring here, so is pollen season, which is not good news for hay fever sufferers. Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is one of the most common chronic respiratory conditions in this country, affecting three million Australians. Now is a great time to get some with acupuncture if you suffer from hay fever or allergies

Hayfever is caused by an antigen-antibody reaction in the nasal mucosa, the antigens responsible are the pollen particles in the air. There is also an over-activity of the immune system to certain allergens, this is weakened with retention of chronic wind in the nose cavity.

The main hayfever symptoms are as nasal congestion, sneezing, profuse runny nose with white watery discharge, pale complexion and slight headaches. In a few cases it affects the eyes and conjunctiva may become red and itchy. These are classified as wind cold symptoms according to Chinese Medicine. We aim to expel these wind cold symptoms and restore the energy of the Lung. The Lung organs weakness is either hereditary or due to problems during pregnancy or childbirth (Maciocia, 2000).

Woman with hay fever

Some other tips to reduce hay fever and allergy symptoms naturally and without medications include:

  1. Eat kiwifruit is extremely high in Vitamin C, which is an effective natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. Kiwifruit also supports healthy immune function and protects from secondary respiratory conditions. Other foods containing Vitamin C and bioflavanoids include citrus fruits, strawberries, red capsicums, broccoli, papaya, guava and mango.
  2. Green fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, which gets converted to Vitamin A. This vitamin is important for healthy mucous membranes throughout the respiratory tract. It also helps promote healthy immune function, prevent secondary respiratory infections and reduce inflammation.
  3. Take garlic to helps clear nasal congestion. Its strong antibiotic properties also help prevent secondary respiratory infections in chronic suffers. It is also a good source of quercetin, a natural anti-histamine. 
  4. Reduce or eliminate cow’s milk and other dairy products as they can increase the production of mucus in the respiratory tract and exacerbate hay fever symptoms. Try alternatives such as rice, almond, quinoa and coconut milks.
  5. Reduce stress levels and calm down. There have been links of stress to the severity of hay fever symptoms.
  6. Exercise more. Regular exercise can reduce your hay fever. It is suggested that people with hay fever who exercise most have the mildest symptoms. Exercise will help reduce your stress levels, too.
  7. Eat well. People with hay fever who eat a healthy diet are less likely to get severe symptoms. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  8. Reduce alcohol intake. Beer, wine and other spirits contain histamine, which can make symptoms worse.
  9. Have a good night sleep. Try to avoid too many late nights during the hay fever season. People with hay fever who sleep well tend to have milder symptoms.
  10.  Reduce excessive sugar intake. This causes inflammation around the sinus.
  11. Do not have cold drinks or foods for dinner especially before bed e.g: ice creams, cold fruits

    In the old Chinese medical texts is it said that spring is the beginning of things, when the energy of the body should be kept open. In spring on a physical level, we need to exercise more frequently and wear loose fitting clothing. Stretch to loosen up tendons and muscles from the cold winter. Spring is the season of the liver, and excess anger, frustration, depression, sadness or excess emotions can injure the liver. Violating the natural order of spring will cause cold illness during summer.
    We should all treat disease by preventing illness before it begins, rather than treat an illness after it has begun. An ancient proverb says: “If someone digs a well when thirsty or forges weapons after becoming engaged in battle, one cannot help ask, ‘Aren’t these actions too late?’”

Foods to Avoid During Cold Flu

As the temperatures change suddenly, Winter’s challenge is to stay away from colds and flus which many of us find hard to avoid. Most people don’t realise how important the right diet is to prevent and treat colds and how the wrong diet can prolong the cold longer than necessary. Less sick days means more productive days!

Many patients that have a cold or flu are eating the wrong foods. Here we discuss the foods to avoid when you are suffering from a cough, sore throat or flu. These are all different in nature and the foods we must stay clear of when we have a cough or flu.
In Chinese Medicine, foods are classified as either hot, cold or neutral in nature. This means it can cause inflammation and heat in the body, cause phlegm or essentially cool the body down chemically.

Here we discuss foods to avoid for different types of flus:

RUNNY NOSE – at the early onset of a runny nose or cold you can take ginger, garlic and some hot tea to prevent it getting worse. A warm bath and getting under the covers with plenty of blankets to sweat it out help.

SORE THROAT – if you are suffering from a sore throat, avoid anything spicy and sweet foods. This includes garlic, horseradish, fennel, onions and red meat. We should be eating more cooling foods like fresh green vegetables, lemon, honey, apples, pears, peppermint, fish etc. whilst drinking plenty of fluids, aim for 3L a day.

DRY COUGH – if you are already coughing, you must avoid anything spicy and sweet in nature. This includes garlic, ginger, onions, chilli, sugar, chocolate etc. This can cause the cough to be worse if we have anything spicy or sweet as well as fried foods. Drink plenty of fluids and soups.

PHLEGMY COUGH – if we have phlegm you should be avoiding all dairy, cold and sweet foods including ice cream, milk, cheese, chocolates, sweets, etc. This causes more phlegm and mucus to build up in the nose and throat.

Other Tips to Preventing Colds:
– Remember to dress warmly when outside and wear a scarf
– Get plenty of rest and sleep to regenerate and build up the immune system
– Minimise spread by washing your hands more.
– Eat warm cooked foods, avoid raw cold foods like Salads.
– Reduce dairy, alcohol and refined sugars

For a full list of foods to avoid please download this Food List pdf.

Health Tips for Spring

Spring is the season of a new birth and new growth. It corresponds to the “Wood” element and is related to the liver and gallbladder organs. In Chinese Medicine the liver organ is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) in our bodies. This qi circulates throughout the whole body system, when the liver functions smoothly, all physical and emotional actions throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this spring, move your Liver Qi (Energy)!

We are more susceptible to season health problems such as allergies, flu and pneumonia during the spring.  If the liver is not healthy, it could affect the spleen and the lung organs.  These symptoms can include: sneezing, hay fever allergies, running nose, itching eyes, chest congestions and other allergy related problems.  It is very important, especially during spring, to cleanse the liver and lungs and bring balance to these organs.

Tips for a healthy Spring Season:

  1. Pay attention to weather changes – It is an extreme change to our body from winter to spring. With spring, there is usually some extremely windy conditions. Health conditions tend to occur during or immediately following a change of season.
  1. Do some stretches! The liver controls the tendons. The liver stores the blood during periods of rest and winter, now is the time to invigorate and body and increase exercises such as yoga, tai chi, swimming etc.
  1. Change the diet – We should change our diet according to the season. Spring means eating green foods that cleanses and strengthens the liver. These foods include young plants that are fresh green leafy vegetables, onions, leeks, mushrooms, celery, carrots, dandelion, variety of fruits such as citrus fruits, pears, apples, bananas, pears.
  1. Sour foods and drinks – sour tasting foods stimulate the liver’s energy. Add lemon slices to your water, have orange and citrus juices, use vinegar and olive oil for salad dressings and add fermented vegetables to our diet.
  1. Watch the eyes – the liver organ’s energy is connected and opens into the eye. Take frequent breaks from the computer screen and do some eye exercises and look at some greenery.
  1. Sour Tasting Foods – Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver’s qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle.
  1. Outdoor activities fresh air helps move liver qi. Try taking a hike, brisk walks by the beach or park are good for the body.
  1. Get Acupuncture – now is the time to get that seasonal tune up.

10 Health Tips to get you through Winter

Winter is upon us and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s believed we should live harmoniously with our environment and adapt to this change. Winter is inactive, slow, cold and damp. It is the season of slowing down. Winter relates to the kidneys, and feelings of fear and depression. We need to deeply nourish ourselves, eat well, keep warm and be well rested so we are renewed for the vitality and coming of Spring.
People are more susceptible to colds and flu during the winter season. You are 80% more likely to get a cold in winter as the cold weather challenges the immune system. So follow these tips to help prevent getting sick this winter.

1. Don’t underestimate the power of a scarf
Keeping warm this winter is key to preventing a flu. Make sure you do not expose your body to wind especially your belly, back or neck. Always wear a scarf when outdoors. A scarf protects our neck area from wind and cold getting into our body system.

2. Reduce the use of a heater and hot showers
The use of heaters, electric blankets and very hot showers can dehydrate already very dry skin. Instead use extra blankets and wear layers of clothing. Excessive heat can aggravate skin conditions and asthma. If you do use heat and electric blankets turn them off before you sleep.

For dry skin, try using organic coconut oil which is natural and hydrating.

3. Rest up
We generally sleep around 6.5-7 hours a night. However, in winter, we naturally want to sleep more because of the longer nights. Therefore use this time to catch up on more sleep, it is perfectly natural to sleep 8.5-9 hours. Poor sleep, especially in winter, can affect our energy, mood, concentration, stress levels and weight gain. Aim to get into bed early and enjoy deep sleep.

4. Cut down on dairy
Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and cream can cause phlegm to build up in your system. Therefore if you have any phlegm or tickle in your throat, cut out the dairy.

5. Eat nourishing and comforting foods
When it’s cold and dark outside, you can be tempted to eat unhealthy foods such as deep fried foods, burgers etc. It is very important to maintain a healthy diet with nourishing foods, fruits and vegetables each day. Warming foods help warm the body, expel cold and increase circulation. Eat more winter vegetables and soups such as carrots, parsnips, pumpkin and turnips. Use cooking methods such as roasting, mash or soups for a comforting winter meal. Have more ginseng, ginger, cinnamon and gou qi berries.

6. Keep exercising
Just because it is cold outside, it is not an excuse to stay indoors and lounge around. Instead get out go for walks, runs, indoor sports or try embracing winter sports such as ice-skating. Regular exercise helps control the winter weight and boost your immune system.

7. Get enough vitamin D
Make sure you also get adequate amounts of Vitamin D. Reduced Vitamin D levels results in anxiety and depression which are more prevalent during winter months due to lack of sun exposure. Women often experience mood changes more than men and it results in depression, lack of energy, irritability, and weight gain. Take a Vitamin D supplement if you are not getting adequate sunlight and open your curtains at home during the day to allow sun in.

8. Have a warm breakfast
Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Having a warm bowl on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it can also help boost your intake of fibre. It also contains many vitamins and minerals.

9. Drink warm lemon water and increase vitamin C
Make it a priority to drink a glass of warm lemon water before breakfast. This helps to eliminate toxins, clear your system and increase digestive function better.

Vitamin C is great to help prevent colds and flus and increase our immune system. It reduces acidity in the body, and is an anti-bacterial. Make sure you get enough vitamin C in your diet, if not, take a supplement.
Remember to stay hydrated throughout the day and drink at least 1.5L of water, preferably warm water.

10. Meditate More
Winter is the perfect time to explore deep issues and to meditate. Meditation helps us to slow down, relax and take time off our crazy thoughts. Meditation practices help us to calm the mind and heart. When we truly relax, our bodies naturally come up with “stuff” that has been under the surface for a long time. Doing this during winter will allow us to be cleansed and renewed for spring. Health is a state of complete physical and mental well-being. Do not ignore your emotional health. Always take the time to stop, relax and breathe. Be in the present moment.

Try acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine this winter to help with your cold symptoms. Acupuncture helps to relieve cold stuck energy, and help move the blood circulation in the cold weather. Remember to stay warm, hydrated and nourished. Get to bed early and rise after the sun has risen to help preserve warmth your health and vitality this winter season.

Tip for a healthy body through Autumn

Autumn is upon us! In Chinese Medicine this seasonal change brings about changes to one’s health and we need to be careful so as not to get sick at this change of season. Chinese Medicine describes the nature’s seasonal changes with a big emphasis on energy. We need to make our own changes within our body and lifestyle as each season shifts so we can be as healthy as possible and not fall ill. As autumn sees a big increase in colds, coughs and allergies.

Each season the health challenge for us is to harmonise our energy and body with the greater energy of nature. Seasonal changes represents a move between yin and yang. Autumn is the yin energy replacing the big yang energy of summer. This energy is moving inward and downwards in autumn towards the earth, as opposed to out and up in summer. Therefore with the new season upon us we need to balance our health with the right diet and lifestyle. As summer is slowing down and autumn approaching our bodies are also going through a change in energy internally.

Autumn is related to the metal element. This means dryness, coolness and winds are more extreme. With autumn comes organs connected to the Lungs and Large Intestine, as the Lungs need oxygen from the air and the large intestines removes waste. Lung and skin issues are more prevalent at this time with dry skin, dry cough and constipation.
Metal relates to the emotion of grief and letting go. This is the time to let go of emotional baggage you have been carrying and remember to breathe (from the belly). Just like the trees of nature do not hold onto their leaves for next year. Be receptive to the new, eliminate what you no longer need!! Just like our large intestine function is to also enable us to let go of our waste products.

Foods to eat in autumn include cooked organic root vegetables such as beetroots, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, squash, yams, celeriac etc. Things that grow under the ground. Avoid raw and cold foods such as ice-cream, cold drinks, cold vegetables, juices, salads etc and op for foods that are warm soups, stews, bakes, braising and warm drinks. Foods that are warm and nourishing will be better for the health and the lungs.

Eat more foods that can moisten our lungs and digestion including pears and apples. You can also add onions, fresh ginger to the diet to assist with colds or allergies.

With exercise try to avoid heavy aerobics as it can drain your vital energy and weaken your immune system. Instead do more gently forms of exercise such as walking, tai chi and yoga.

Remember to go to bed early during autumn and rise early. In Chinese theory, one’s sleep habits should also adjust with the seasons. As the days get shorter in autumn, sleep earlier to avoid the cold nights and wake up to the early morning sun. As the weather cools more, remember to avoid the cold by wearing a scarf or light jacket when outside in the wind.

NOW is the time to come in for your acupuncture seasonal tune up.