Kung Hei Fat Choy!
On 8th February we will be welcoming in the New Year and according to the Chinese Calendar it heralds the year of the Fire Monkey. Those born under the sign of Monkey (1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004) are thought to be intelligent, hard-working, fast learners, curious, witty, ambitious and adventurous. However, their intelligence mixed with their love of mischief can make them naughty and they can be crafty opportunists.
It is considered to be not a lucky year for those who are Monkeys and advisable for them to eat more red apples and wear more green!
The general advice for us seems to be to ‘expect the unexpected’! This will be a year in which anything can happen. There is little point in fastidious planning as things will move fast. But Monkey energy can find unconventional ways to solve old problems and risk-taking can pay off. Be creative and innovative. Dare to dream! And dream big then put it into action with some effort.
It’s also a great year to give birth and to find love!
There are many traditions around the New Year. These include not cleaning your home with a brush at the start of the New Year as you will be brushing away good fortune. Likewise, don’t wash your hair as your good fortune will go down the drain. Don’t use scissors and try to placate crying children as the sound of the cries brings back luck to the whole family.
Leeds will be celebrating Chinese New Year with a number of celebrations. Check out what’s on here.
At this time of year we start to see a lot of people struggling with arthritis. Like your grandma always said, it comes on in cold, damp weather for many people!
When we see someone with arthritis for the first time, we ask more about their symptoms and palpate (or touch) the affected area to check if it feels hot or cold. We will ask you what makes it feel better and what makes it feel worse. In Chinese Medicine there are a number of different diagnoses for arthritis and we want to make sure we diagnose the right one so we can chose the best treatment for you. Often we will use a combination of acupuncture needles and a heat based treatment called moxabustion. Moxabustion involves us burning a stick of dried herbs (it looks like a piece of artist’s charcoal or a cigar) over the area where you feel pain. The feel of the moxa is lovely- it feels warm and therapeutic. Sometimes we send you home with a stick so you can continue to treat yourself between acupuncture sessions.
Usually a course of treatment is recommended initially- 4-6 sessions on average. Then we ask you to call us if you’re getting warning signs of the arthritis flaring up. Many of our patients just come once or twice a year for a top up after their initial course of treatment and this seems to keep the pain and discomfort at bay.
There are natural remedies that work well for some arthritis sufferers – read more here.
Here is what Judy, one of our satisfied clients said about her treatment:
I started my series of sessions at Caitlin’s practice with two very painful arthritic knees and no particular anticipation of success. After the treatment finished I can honestly say that the pain has totally been removed and my life has been improved considerably.
Whilst I was at the Fertility Show at London’s Olympia last weekend, I met a couple who had been through IVF and decided to write a book about it. Richard Mackney and Rosie Bray had 3 rounds of IVF before conceiving their child. The book is written from his and her perspective, with each contributing to a chapter. It describes the whole IVF process and their own experiences at that particular stage. They manage to bring humour (I laughed a lot) and information together. Each chapter also has a narrative from Dr James Nicopoullos, Consultant at the Lister Fertility Clinic.
If you’re considering or planning your first IVF I would strongly recommend a read of this book, ‘Get A Life, (His and Hers Survival Guide to IVF).
Autumn is upon us and as you enjoy the low autumn sun think of what is going on around you in nature. The sap is returning to the roots of plants and tress, leaves are turning colour, some into vibrant reds and oranges, and falling, seeds are drying out and the grass is becoming lighter in colour and drier. This is a time for harvest. Gather the food you want to take with you into winter, but also gather your thoughts and plans and dreams. Give thanks for all that has been bestowed upon you. Use this autumn as a time for transformation, a time for letting go for what is no longer serving you, a time to value and then reassess boundaries. What plans do you need to action now before the cold winter arrives and you need to hibernate and conserve your energies?
In Chinese Medicine, autumn relates to the Metal element and to the Lungs and Large Intestine. The dryness of autumn can affect the Lungs and Large Intestine causing sore throats and coughs and constipation. Dryness affects the skin and lips. The Lungs in Chinese Medicine are responsible for keeping our immunity strong. We need to be able to fight off those colds and infections quickly. Keep the lungs moistened with lots of warm drinks, especially liquorice, mint, lemon and ginger.
Move from raw foods, salads and fruit, to warming foods – stews, casseroles, compotes and soups. Try stir-frying, baking and roasting. Eat in season if you can and in particular include orange foods – sweet potatoes, squashes and pumpkin, carrots, and orange peppers. Add protective, purifying and pungent foods to the diet- onion, garlic, chive, turnip, ginger, radish, daikon root; dark leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli, chard, and spinach; seaweeds and fibre; oats, rice, amaranth, quinoa.
Try this delicious recipe for autumn butternut squash soup.
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 ribs celery
2 cloves garlic
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 large green apple
2 tsp or so butter or coconut oil
3 cups (less for thicker soup) vegetable or chicken stock
In a large saucepan, melt butter or coconut oil and add onion, carrot, garlic and celery. Cook 5-10 minutes, until onions are slightly caramelized (add stock to prevent sticking if necessary). Add squash and apples and stock, cook till tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add spices to taste: salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Pour into blender and puree till smooth. Top with yogurt or toasted nuts if desired.
Exercise is another way to strengthen the lung energy. Consider exercise which focuses on the breathe – yoga or Tai chi. Bring your awareness to your breathe when walking or relaxing- just count the breaths as they move in and out of your body. Counting breaths can be used as a meditation tool and can calm the mind. Try it. When another thought pops into your head and takes you away from counting the breaths, start from 1 again. Even experienced Buddhists admit they seldom get past 5 or 6!
Nearly 200,000 people will be laid low by a migraine today. Most will take a prescribed pill to manage the pain. But over time migraine meds can cause more headaches than they prevent. There is another way to manage migraines. Traditional acupuncture rapidly relieves pain and other migraine symptoms and can keep them under control for weeks. As well as balancing all your body’s functions to help your body heal itself, traditional acupuncture treats physical and emotional factors equally. A fully qualified traditional acupuncturist will tailor each treatment to suit your unique symptoms and lifestyle, they don’t use off-the-page points-prescriptions. Don’t just take our word for it, try traditional acupuncture for yourself and let us know how it works for you.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends acupuncture to manage migraines:
NICE also warns that the overuse of migraine medication can cause secondary headaches:
Here is what Penny, one of our patient’s had to say about her treatment.
Caitlin has helped me with migraine and chronic neck pain. After four months of treatment my headaches are much less frequent and rarely turn to migraine. The neck pain has eased considerably, and my energy levels are higher than they have been for many years. It is a painless relaxing treatment in a warm welcoming space.