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Chinese Medicine

What that wet patch in your knickers is all about

You’ve probably noticed that once in a while a wet patch appears in your knickers, in fact, there can be a hell of a lot of fluid down there, enough to make you question if you have something weird going on. But what you’re feeling and seeing is cervical fluid and it’s a sign of good health. Thank flip for that.

In fact, it’s massively important when it comes to your fertility.

Ferning CFProduced in the lead up to ovulation, it works in several wondrous ways by:

  • Letting you know you’re getting ready for the big O (ovulation). Cheaper, and in my opinion, more effective than ovulation sticks.
  • Making sex more comfortable due its lubricating nature (though it is different to the love juice you produce when you’re turned on).
  • Creating a route for sperm to get from your vagina and into your womb via your cervix.
  • Literally speeds sperm up on their epic journey to your egg.
  • Produces a ferning pattern to guide sperm on their merry way. Non-fertile fluid during the rest of your cycle stops them in their tracks (one of the ways the birth control pill works is by preventing you from producing fertile fluid).
  • Nourishing sperm to keep them alive and in tip-top shape.
  • Providing an alkaline environment which protects them from the acidic nature of your vagina (it’s acidic to help prevent infections).

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Detoxing this month?

img_3455So this is the time of year where lots of  “my year in review” blog posts have appeared, and although I’m sure you’re all desperate to hear about how 2013 was the year I realised I actually like egg mayo sandwiches, I’m not going to harp on about it.

It’s also the time of year where people start telling me about what they’re going to give up for their new years resolution. Maybe you’re determined to stop smoking come Jan 1st, or maybe you’re planning on detoxing somehow (unless of course you end up on a *really* fun night out, in which case, hello tequila).

Want to know my top tip for detoxing in January?

Don’t bother. Seriously.

This is a naff time of year to undertake massive change, we’re just trying to get through winter. Your body is trying to stay warm and nourished, so don’t go all hardcore on yourself, particularly you ladies who are trying to get knocked up. That means no juice detoxes. Yup, you heard me. Our bodies are in hibernation mode and juicing is too extreme for this time of year, save it for the energy of spring. Right now we want to be focussed on staying nourished.

Think of it like this.

My friends have just bought a house and it needs a bit of work done to it. They’re desperate to get cracking, gut the kitchen and rip down an external wall to build a larger room. Are they gonna do all that in January? Hell no. Doing that in the middle of the winter would mean exposing their lovely home to wind, cold and damp. Their home is just like your body, in other words, doing that kind of work would be a disaster which would cause long-term damage to their home, and your body. Instead, they’ve opted to install some loft insulation so that they keep their home nice and warm. They’re saving the bigger work for a more appropriate time of year.

Your body is your home, protect it.

  • Warming and strengthening foods are going to be more helpful than juices, which tend to cool our internal world down. Think root vegetables, whole grains, soups and broths, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, a bit of red meat.
  • Invest in a Haramaki, it’ll keep your core warm and you’ll never suffer from a builder’s bum.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not go outside in ballerina slippers, or in my case, converse. Cold readily enters the body through the feet, so go buy some thermal socks from M&S (I’ll be going into more detail about this next week).

Shameless plug:

Caught between wanting to go out and drink tequila, and making your own chicken stock? I’ve got another option for January: My Arvigo therapy offer will run till the end of Jan and I have 20 12 10 8 spots left. It’s great for reproductive health, fertility, digestion and emotional stuff (perfect after the holiday season). You can read more about it here.

One treatment: £90 (£35 off)

Three treatment bonus offer: £250 (£125 off)

This offer is short-term, the price will increase to £125 per session as of Feb 1st 2014, you’ll need to book and receive your treatment by the end of January. For the smart cookies wanting to book a course of three treatments, your first session must be before Feb 1st 2014, the other two treatments can roll over. If you’re ready to jump in, holla at me and let me know a few options with regards to times you can do in the coming weeks. Once we figure out a time, I’ll email you a pre-treatment form for you to fill in and return to me by email.

Part of the Ice Festival in Harbin, China, where I spent three months studying acupuncture in a large hospital. It was -32 degrees celsius.
Part of the Ice Festival in Harbin, China, where I spent three months studying acupuncture in a large hospital. It was -32 degrees celsius.

 

Ear infections; what you need to know.

Childhood ear infections are common. Chances are that if you’re a parent, you’ve had to deal with them at some point, and if you haven’t, you probably will.

Otitis media (the posh term) can be nothing more than a mild ache, but often it can develop into an excruciating pain or even a burst ear drum. Early signs of infection include irritability and restlessness, but you may not spot anything until he/she complains of earache or perhaps develops a fever. Babies will often raise their hand to their ear as they cry. Attacks are routed in either bacterial or viral infection which causes inflammation, and may be triggered by exposure to the wind or water (swimming/bathing), or if the child’s lymph glands are already swollen and causing constriction to the local area.

So what do you need to know?

First off, if you take your kid to see your GP or any other healthcare professional who wants to examine their ears, make sure they clean the flippin’ otoscope (the tool they use to look inside ears)!! One shocking study demonstrated that 86% of the otoscopes (also known as aurioscopes) sampled were covered in micro-organisms such as Staphylococci (64%) and in rarer cases, MRSA (9%). So before your child is examined, request that the otoscope head being used is disinfected. You can also ask for the good ear to be examined first, that way the risk of cross-infection from the bad ear to the good ear will be limited.

Do they need antibiotics?

Antibiotics are only effective when treating ear infections caused by bacteria, so they won’t help if your child’s infection is caused by a virus. One study examined 79 children and found that in 92% of cases, bacteria was present, and in 70% viruses were found. Both bacteria and viruses were found in 66% of cases. Medical practitioners have expressed concern about the overuse of antibiotics in the treatment of ear infections, particularly as children are more prone to negative side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and developing a skin rash. It is also worth considering that every time antibiotics are used to treat a non-serious infection, it increases the likelihood of developing resistance to antibiotics, which can mean more threatening infections could become untreatable.

Watchful waiting:

The British Medical Journal reported that contrary to popular belief, 80% of infections will clear up in 2-3 days without antibiotics, though as a concerned parent, you may find this hard!

Is there anything that you CAN do to help?

Gently massaging along the San Jiao meridian, which runs up the outer edge of the arm, before looping its way around the ear, can help during an acute attack. To do so, first calm yourself. If you’re anxious and concerned about your child (let’s face it, it’s reasonable that you would be), they will probably pick up on it which may exacerbate things. So, take a moment and do some calm relaxed breathing, meditate, or visualise the positive energy you’re going to use to help your child. When you feel relaxed, gently hold their forearm in yours and using your thumb, massage down the channel, from the tip of the elbow to the back of their hand. The channel lies in the centre of the forearm, between the two long bones, so is pretty easy to find. Repeat this downward massage 30-50 times. This is a lovely way for parents to help their children as they benefit from such loving care. Don’t we all?

Essential oils of Lavender or Chamomile can be helpful; put 2-3 drops on a teaspoon of warm olive oil and gently pour into the ear (1 drop for babies).

Niu Huang Jie Du Pien is a patent herbal remedy which can be used during an acute attack, and often acts quickly to reduce pain.

Acupuncture treatment can be swift and effective, and its holistic framework allows time to explore the reasons why it’s become a problem in a first place. Don’t worry, only a few points are used (mainly nowhere near the ear), and the needles only go in for a moment.

If your child is cold and pale, a small slither of garlic can be inserted into the ear and held in place with a small piece of cotton wool, but only needs to be left in for an hour or two.

So that’s the basics, if you have experience of other remedies, I’d love to hear about them!

Beat the Blues

Hello folks,

I’m sat at La Bouche, drinking a cup of chai and looking out at the grey clouds and drizzle. This typically British weather used to really get me down, and I’m wondering how you’re feeling about the next couple of months. Are you someone who tends to feel low during the winter?

If you do, please take a breath and give yourself a break. Let’s face it, winter in England can be hard, and most of my clients are affected by the winter months to some degree. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s normal to feel different, now that’s not to say you should put up with things, it’s simply that it’s normal for us to experience variations in our physical and emotional bodies as the seasons change (you can read more about what happens during winter here). What’s ok and what’s not? That really depends on how you experience these changes and whether you feel it’s an issue for you. If it is something you struggle with…

Can you imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t suffer with the winter blues?

Your mind would feel clear and focused, your body light. You would wake up in the morning feeling energised after a restful night’s sleep. You’d feel grounded and calm in your body. The pressure would lift, and instead of all that negative mental chatter, you’d treat yourself kindly and with respect. Ultimately, you’d shine on the inside even when it’s gloomy outside.

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Maybe right now that all feels impossible because this is what’s going on for you:

  1. Your mind feels a bit fuzzy. It’s as if there’s a fog which stops you from thinking clearly.
  2. Sometimes your body feels heavy and empty, and at other times you feel overwhelmed by the amount of emotion your body is trying to contain.
  3. You feel like nothing is going right. Maybe you’ve lost your sense of purpose and feel disconnected from the world.
  4. When you get into bed at night, your mind races and it takes you a long time to fall asleep.
  5. Even if you sleep well at night, you feel sluggish in the morning and it takes you a few hours and several cups of coffee to get going.
  6. You’ve lost your appetite, or you’ve noticed that you’re comfort eating a lot.
  7. There’s a heaviness in your chest, or maybe you experience palpitations.
  8. You feel alone, even when you’re around other people.
  9. There are times when you feel deep levels of sadness/anxiety/fear.
  10. The simplest of things seem to require a tremendous amount of effort.[/notice]

You’ve probably tried talking with loved ones, taking supplements or antidepressants, or doing some form of exercise. You may have sought comfort in self-destructive ways, or perhaps your way of coping is to seek out some sunshine by taking a holiday every winter. Hell, there ain’t nothing wrong with taking a trip like that, but wouldn’t it be nice to resolve what’s going on so that that became an option as oppose to a necessity?

I get it. 

I’ve been there, in that slump, you know the one I mean, the one where you feel so lost and down that you can’t see a way out. The one where you know you need to reach out and ask for help, but at the same time, you just can’t. I know how frustrating that can be.

That’s why I’ve created Beat the Blues: My intention with this six-week treatment programme is to help you shift from feeling clouded and low, to feeling clear and uplifted.

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What’s included?

  1. An in-depth consultation. That doesn’t mean I need to know the inner workings of your mind, in fact, we hardly need to touch on what’s going on mentally for you (unless you want to), as your physical signs and symptoms will give me a clear idea of what’s going on for you.
  2. Six 45 minute acupuncture sessions. It’s your time, you’ll have space to be you, no judgement, no pressure. You might want to drift off and doze, you might want to talk about what’s going on for you, you might want to peacefully let go of what you’ve been holding on to. It truly is all ok.
  3. One hour of reflexology or massage. If you’re anything like me, just the thought of this creates space and lightness in your body. Lots of my patients have commented that having soothing bodywork alongside the series of acupuncture sessions really helps them to let go of tension that they may have been storing for years, and that’s why I love to include reflexology and massage in my acupuncture packages.

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You’ll also learn:

  1. A few basic principles of Chinese Medicine which will help to explain why you’re feeling the way you are. Most patients feel a great sense of relief when what they’re experiencing is framed in this way, suddenly what they feel is “weird”, becomes common sense.
  2. What dietary and lifestyle changes will aid your treatment the most, but don’t worry, I’m not a hard-ass **cough, cough**, I’d rather help you to make changes which feel appropriate for where you’re at, and which will be also be long-lasting.

What can you expect?

  1. Permission to unplug and take some time out to be kind to yourself.
  2. Acknowledgement of what’s going on for you at the moment. I’m not going to be leaning over you as you try to relax and enjoy your treatment, telling you exactly what you need to do to “fix your life”. No, no, no, you’re the driver, I’m just the attendant at the petrol station helping you on your journey.
  3. Sensitivity and compassion. Oh boy, we could all do with a big dose of this! Simply put, I’m not going to be another well-meaning person telling you to “look on the bright side and be grateful for what you have in your life”.

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Beat the Blues will fit you perfectly if:

  1. The list in the first yellow box pretty much described your current situation.
  2. You want to address the root of why you feel the way you do without but a talking therapy doesn’t appeal to you at the moment.
  3. You’re feel like you’re at your breaking point and want some help.
  4. You’re considering starting to take antidepressants or interested in coming off them.

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Another approach might be more suitable if: 

  1. You’re mainly interested in talking to someone.
  2. You want to explore issues from your past (acupuncture can support you in this, but a qualified and reputable psychotherapist is likely to be your best form of primary treatment).

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Beat the Blues is £350 (£40 less than what it all adds up to).

To recap, that includes your consultation, six 45 minute acupuncture sessions, and one hour of massage or reflexology.

If you’d like to get the money side of things out of the way, you can pay all at once by bank transfer/cheque. Or if paying week by week suits you better, that’s also fine.

My request is that you book all of your appointments at the end of your first session, that way you know you have something positive and helpful to look forward to every week, and it prioritises taking care of yourself at a time when you need it most.

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What else could you spend £350 on?

  1. 35 burgers.
  2. A one way ticket to Bangkok (actually this comes in at £400, still it’s tempting…)
  3. A weekend yoga retreat (Naomi has one coming up in April if you’re interested).
  4. A pricey pair of new shoes!

All hugely tempting I’m sure, but my guess is that you’re ready for long-lasting change, right now.

➥ If you’d like to schedule an appointment or have a 15 minute phone consultation, please email me to arrange this.

Some recent testimonials:

“I’ve battled with depression on and off for years and last year I hit rock bottom. Thankfully a friend recommended Maisie. I spent a large part of my first treatment crying, and she didn’t try to cheer me up or find a way to get me to stop…it was such a relief to let go of my mask and tell someone how sad and angry I was. When she explained my treatment plan to me, it all made sense, she asked me if it felt like I had a heavy wet blanket on top of me all the time, which was exactly how I felt! Within three treatments I felt like a new woman.” 

“Issues with stress, anxiety, emotions were treated to make me a more relaxed and content individual- it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by my friends. Maisie’s ears must constantly be burning because as soon as anyone tells me they suffer from anxiety, the first person I mention to go to is her- I couldn’t recommend Maisie highly enough.” 

“I feel my health improving with each session and the physical experience during treatment remarkable. I feel more calm and energised than ever before. Maisie really knows and loves what she practices and her passion really comes across, she is a constant inspiration to me. Thank you Maisie for helping me put a spring back in my step.”

“At the beginning of the treatment she asked me how I wanted to feel, “grounded” was my answer. One hour later I was so utterly connected to the earth I felt I had become almost part of it! It was the most energised, connected and stable I had felt all week.”

 

Going inward

Winter is the season when roots hide underground in preparation for Spring, because mother nature knows that to do anything other than rest would be foolish. So if the thought of getting up off your couch for another Christmas party really doesn’t appeal, don’t worry, this is normal!

During Winter you should store and conserve your energy, don’t be wasteful with it. This is a time to rest, replenish, and reflect. To turn inward.

Winter is about warming and nourishing your body, so:

  • Include lots of ‘warming’ foods in your diet such as root vegetables, whole grains, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, soups, and broths. A small amount of red meat is also beneficial.
  • Stay away from ‘cooling’ foods such as salads, especially cucumbers, raw tomatoes, and watermelons.
  • Rest more.
  • Exercise to keep your body warm and your energy moving.

Chinese medicine associates Winter with the water phase of the 5 element cycle, and the Kidneys and Bladder are the ‘Water’ organs. Unhelpfully, the organs we know in Chinese medicine, were translated into the names of Western medical organs (Liver, Spleen, Heart etc), so it’s important to remember that although they may share similar functions, they are different, and have a broader range of functions.

The Kidneys, as well as regulating water in the body (as they do in Western medicine), are also responsible for reproduction, growth, and development, as well as storing our ‘essence’ or ‘vital life force’. They do not like the cold, so it’s vital that we protect them. This can be done easily by keeping your lower back warm and protected from the elements, and by not wearing ballerina slippers!! The Kidney meridian starts on the sole of the foot, so do yourself a favour and keep your feet nice and toasty to prevent cold from invading.

Water has a rhythm and a flow that is governed by the gravitational pull of the moon, and as the planet’s oceans expand and contract, so do our internal oceans. The water in our bodies can flow freely or stagnate, flood or cause a drought, and this is reflected in our emotions.

A new season brings stress and change, and as the emotion linked to the Kidneys is fear, when Winter arrives, we can find ourselves lacking in courage and willpower. It’s a hard time of year to start a new project, so try to save your new projects for the Spring, when nature’s new shoots burst through the earth full of energy to propel them forward.

Illness imposes stillness, so if you do find yourself feeling poorly and retreating to your bed, use the opportunity to feel the inner changes that are occurring deep within, face your fears, and create a more reflective existence.

“The kidney is the ocean of the human body. Since oceans are situated on a lower level than the earth’s streams and rivers, they draw every one of them to form one large body of water. Oceans may appear vast and inexhaustible, yet they still drain off some of their seemingly unlimited supply. One way of drainage is called ‘going to ruins,’ meaning the water drains down into the earth from where it will not return. The other way of drainage is called ‘dwelling with the stars,’ meaning the water steams toward the sky and later rains down to earth again, where it dissipates into rivers and streams and eventually returns to the ocean. This is the water that circulates between heaven and earth, always striving to keep an equilibrium between the extreme states of drought and flooding.” -From Zhuang Yuanchen, Shujuzi: Inner Chapters (Shujuzi Neipian), Ming Dynasty.

Hurry up and tie things up.

Over the past month or so I’ve realised that with most of my projects, I tend to get to 80% finished, feel a sense of achievement and then, yep, you guessed it, move on to something else. Do you do the same?

Think about it, what things are hanging over your head? What do you keep putting off?

My list:

  • File my tax return (thankfully Rosie from One Man Band Accounting is on hand to help with this).
  • Study for (and pass) my paediatric acupuncture exam.
  • Go through my emails and make sure I’m up to date before the holidays.
  • Buy some picture frames (one of my acupuncture patients gave me some of her amazing prints as a gift this year).
  • Order business cards.
  • Figure out how to schedule appointments and receive payments online.
  • Get some hinges from Ikea (they sent me a wardrobe but didn’t include any hinges, the door has been leaning against my wall for months now).
  • Mail all the lovely cards I bought this year for the special folk who have touched my life. I have a terrible habit in that I go out and find the perfect card, write it and then promptly forget to mail it. See? 80%

So what’s the hurry?

In the lead up to Christmas, our focus tends to be on socialising and buying presents, but over the next fortnight I’m urging you to get s**t done. You heard me, get it done. January is the most depressing month of the year, and when it rolls around you do not want a load of unfinished stuff niggling away at you. Is this sounding familiar? I’ve certainly been there.

With the arrival of Winter on the 21st of December, our bodies and minds will undertake the natural process of turning inward; our version of hibernating. Our bodies will seek to preserve and protect by holding on to our internal energy and warmth. This is the reason that we should take care to nourish ourselves and not put ourselves under physical or mental strain. Winter is not the season to detox or start a new project that requires a lot of input, save that for the energy of Spring. Instead, tie up any loose ends and give yourself some space.

Space for what?

How about some space to be gentle and kind to yourself, space to reflect on 2012, to consider what you’ve learned and achieved, space to daydream about whatever it is that makes your soul sing, perhaps plan how you can do more of that in 2013. How about some space for stillness? If you’ve never tried meditation, this is a great time of year to give it a go as it can decrease your stress levels whilst boosting your immunity and energy levels. Get Some Headspace is a great place to start, particularly as they have a free ten-day trial. Find the idea of meditation a bit scary? So did I. In fact it seemed impossible, but just doing ten mins a day made it accessible, and now I love my Headspace app. If you’re feeling daunted, just remember that it’s not about clearing your mind of thoughts (which is why it felt impossible to me), it’s about allowing thoughts and feelings to come up, but instead of being attached to them, you’re able to view them with clarity, and bit by bit, let go of things. If you’d like to know more, check out Headspace’s super cool animations below.

So what are you putting off, and how much time are you spending thinking about these things? How much time and energy could you save if instead of spending hours procrastinating, you just did them?

Imagine how it will feel to breathe that sweet sigh of relief when you finally finish things off.

Now go and take care of business.

 

The first issue of Coven is out!

There aren’t many magazines on the shelves that I feel are for me, so I was really happy to hear about Coven, a new women’s magazine that’s all about action, art, and adventure.

Issue one features Roisin Dunne (talented artist), Lisa Rands (professional climber), Rose Choules (shoe designer and maker), Jenny Jones (snowboarder), Shanice Silvia Cruz (BMXer), and Christina Panteliodisa (fixed gear freestyle rider).

Oh yeah, and I’m their health columnist.

It’s available in print, and online here.