Category Archives: Acupuncture

Zita West affiliated Acupuncturist

I am now delighted to announce that I have become a founding member of the recently launched Zita West Network for Reproductive Health, as an Affiliated Acupuncturist.

ZW_Aff_Acu_Logo_Keyline_POS_ProcessBuilt on the ground-breaking work of midwife, author and fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West and her renowned London clinic, the new Irish network aims to share the unique skills and experience of Zita and her team of doctors, midwives and complementary therapists, with experienced independent acupuncturists across Ireland and the UK. Other health specialists (such as nutritionists, counsellors, midwives and doctors) will also be recruited to the network. The Zita West Clinic is the largest integrated (medical and complementary) practice in the UK specialising in all aspects of male and female reproductive health. It also runs occasional clinics in Dublin on a monthly basis.

All acupuncturist members of the network receive training and ongoing support in Zita West’s comprehensive, holistic approach to achieving optimum reproductive health.  This covers a wide range of treatments and approaches to help boost fertility, enhance IVF, improve pregnancy, enhance birth outcomes and support post-natal recovery.

The Benefits of Choosing a Zita West Affiliated Acupuncturist

  • Wide-ranging Medical and Complementary Health Experience.
    By choosing a Zita West affiliated acupuncturist clients not only get the benefit of their practitioner’s individual expertise but, through them, the training and support of Zita and her colleagues too. The Zita West Clinic works with thousands of women and men each year, helping them to boost their chances of conceiving successfully (both naturally and through IVF) and helping those who are already pregnant to have the best pregnancy possible and the brightest and healthiest of babies. This provides an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge to be shared with members of the network and their clients.
  • Exclusive Discounts on Zita West Clinic Services. Choosing a Zita West affiliated practitioner also provides clients with unique access to a range of Zita West clinical services – some of which are available by phone as well as in person – all at special discounted prices.
  • Special Discounts on the Zita West Range of Nutritional Products. Clients of member practitioners are entitled to further discounts on Zita’s best-selling range of premium nutritional supplements for fertility, pregnancy and breast-feeding too (20% off RRP ex p&p). Similar discounts are available on her range of books, CDs, cosmetic products and gift-sets as well.
  • FREE Fact Sheets to Help Boost Your Fertility and Pep up Your Pregnancy

For further information contact Helena Barker at 086-8163130. Or email helena_barker@hotmail.com or visit www.zitawest.com

15 facts you may not know about Acupuncture…

Here are 15 factoids you may not know about acupuncture:

  1. Originally acupuncture needles were not made of stainless steel but of stone, bamboo, and bone.
  2. Studies have shown that acupuncture points have significantly more electrical conductivity than areas of skin without acupuncture points.
  3. Acupuncture can increase the success rate of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) up to 65%.
  4. The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, “needle” and pungere, “to prick.”
  5. Acupuncture needles are single use, sterilized and pre-packaged.
  6. Acupuncture is over 5,000 years old and is one of the oldest practicing forms of medicine known to date.
  7. When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free from negative side effects.
  8. Even though a needle is being inserted into the skin, acupuncture is virtually painless.
  9. Acupuncture needles are a lot smaller than standard hypodermic needles, and they do not draw blood and are not hollow.
  10. Acupuncturists feel your pulse and look at your tongue to gain a better understanding of what is going on inside the body.
  11. Acupuncture is highly individualized – for example, if 50 people with a cough got acupuncture, all 50 people could have different acupuncture points in their treatments.
  12. The benefits of acupuncture are sometimes difficult to measure when using western research because western research depends on a constant variable to measure all data against…something that goes against acupuncture treatment plans.
  13. Licensed acupuncturists attend an in-depth four year program and obtain over 400 clinical hours.
  14. Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, which also consists of other modalities such as herbal medicine, nutrition, cupping, moxabustion, tui na and special exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
  15. Licensed acupuncturists in Ireland are fully insured and are registered with either the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association or the Acupuncture Council of Ireland
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about what acupuncture can do, please contact me on 086-8163130 or email me at helena_barker@hotmail.com.

I practice in 3 locations, Navan and Slane in Co. Meath and Ongar in Dublin 15.

 

Acupuncture Awareness Week – 3rd-10th March 2014 – Get involved!

Are always curious about Acupuncture? Never got round to making an appointment? Have lots of questions about the therapy, will it hurt? can it help me? what will I experience?

Well this is for you… To coincide with the UK & Ireland Acupuncture awareness week from the 3rd – 10th March I am offering FREE Acupuncture sessions to new patients. The sessions will be at limited times and one session per person on a 1st come basis. This will be a 45 mins taster session where you will get a treatment and I will discuss how Acupuncture would help you.

FREE SESSIONS AVAILABLE:
Ananda Centre, Slane – Wednesday 5th March – 2pm, 3pm & 4pm
Body Therapy Ireland, Navan – Friday 7th March – 10am, 11am & 12pm

Why use Acupuncture?

As a natural form of healing, acupuncture has the following benefits:
1. provides drug-free pain relief
2. effectively treats a wide range of acute and chronic ailments
3. treats the underlying cause of disease and illness as well as the symptoms
4. provides an holistic approach to the treatment of disease and illness, treating the body, mind and spirit.
5. assists in the prevention of disease and the maintenance of general well-being

free

If you are interested on availing of a FREE session, please contact me on 086-8163130 or fill in the form below and I will get back to you ASAP.

Some Acupuncture info…

Acupuncture Treatments
Acupuncture is a complex medical system that is used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well being. It originated in China more than 3,000 years ago and due to it’s proven effectiveness has been embraced throughout the world. It involves the insertion of extremely fine pre-sterilised needles at predetermined points on the body’s surface to restore health.

Acupuncture can be used alone or combined with Western Medicine or with other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as Herbal Medicine, Moxibustion (Heat Treatment), Cupping, Qigong, (Theraputic Exercise) and Tui-na (Chinese massage).

Commonly Treated Conditions:
The World Health Organization recognizes Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine as a viable means of treatment for a wide range of conditions. Some of the most commonly seen complaints in the acupuncture clinic are as follows:

Infections: Colds, Flu, Viral Infections.

Ear, Nose and Throat Conditions: Sinusitis, Hay fever, Rhinitis, Catarrh.

Dermatology: Eczema, Psoriasis, Acne.

Psychological: Depression, Stress, Insomnia, Anxiety

Musculoskeletal: Arthritis, Sciatica, Pain Relief, Sports Injury, Bells Palsy.

Internal Disease: Asthma, Bronchitis, Blood Pressure, Indigestion, Bowel Problems, Diabetes, M.E., Headaches/ Migraine, M.S, Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Genitourinary/ Gynaecology: Pregnancy, Male and Female Fertility, Impotence, Premenstrual Syndrome, Menstrual Problems, Menopause, Cystitis, PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Miscarriage.

A typical Acupuncture Session

The practitioner will spend some time discussing your condition and a detailed case history is taken. Your tongue and pulse may also be examined. Total confidentiality is assured at all times.

Number of Treatments

Since each person is unique the number of treatments needed, will vary. Chronic long term conditions will take longer to treat than acute conditions that have just occurred. If the patient is in good health recovery may be quicker.
Also the frequency of treatment prescribed will have an impact. Initially treatments may be administered close together and then become less frequent as the condition improves.The adherence of the patient to the instructions provided can also influence the speed of recovery. Helena will discuss the treatment plan with the patient.

Patient Safety
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment. Helena uses pre-sterilized, disposable needles. Helena is a fully licensed Acupuncturist and a member of the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association of Ireland (AFPA) and as such fully complys with association’s code of ethics and best practice.

If you are pregnant or trying for a baby it is important you let your Helena know as the treatment will need to be modified as Acupuncture is used extensively for fertility and pregnancy issues.

The natural approach to Menopause

Menopause should be a time to embrace the changes in the female body, not a time of dred, the word alone can send cold chills (or hot flushes) down the spine of many women! But does it really have to be that way? Is there anyway to maneuver through menopause and maintain one’s sanity? Acupuncture and Naturopathy can have a positive impact in this transitional time.

Although by definition the date of a woman’s last menstrual period; the term menopause commonly refers to the period of change, when the egg supply becomes exhausted and the levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall.  Ovulation and menstruation become less frequent and eventually stop.  This usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age and constitutes a major transition period for most women. It can also happen at a younger age.

The Symptoms of Menopause

Symptoms in the transitional period may be felt for a short period or for several years depending on the body’s ability to adapt. They may include:

  • a change in the frequency or volume of blood flow of periods
  • emotional swings, irritability, depression
  • hot flushes and night sweats
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • loss of sex drive, vaginal dryness and recurrent vaginal infections
  • weight changes, reduction in breast tissue
  • bone loss of calcium may also occur.
  • However, many of these symptoms are also the natural side effects of ageing.

Menopause

Hot Flushes and Night Sweats

Hot flushes and night sweats are experienced by more than 85% of menopausal women with varying degree of severity up to ten years after their last period.  They occur because the brain decides that the body is overheated and responds by increasing the blood flow through the skin. The heated skin reddens and begins to perspire. The  symptoms rise to a peak over about 4 minutes and then decline during the next 15 minutes accompanied by cold chills. Hot flushes are often accompanied by an increased heart rate and palpitations. Although harmless they can be very uncomfortable and distressing. Night sweats often cause frequent interruption of sleep, contributing to fatigue.

Menopause and Bone Health

The repair and maintenance system of bones is mainly controlled by hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. As levels of these hormones fall, bones begin to deteriorate and loose density. Osteoporosis literally means: “bone that has holes”.  It leads to an increased risk of fracture especially of the spine and long bones of arms and legs (hip fractures). It may cause pain, especially in the lower back, loss of stature, and various deformities (Dowager’s hump).  Osteoporosis is a complex condition which also involves lifestyle and nutritional factors, and prevention is much better than cure.

Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms – The Naturopathic Approach

Long term poor diet, emotional stress, and lack of exercise may lead to an increase in menopausal symptoms.

Diet (Food, drink and drugs)

Eat a wholesome diet predominantly based on fresh organic foods. Prepare your own meals whenever possible.

Foods to eliminate or reduce                                   

Sugar, cakes and other refined carbohydrates

Processed ready meals

Hot spices

Animal fat from meat and dairy

Dairy products

Hot fluids

Coffee, tea and alcohol

Stop smoking

Increase beneficial foods

Plenty of fruit and vegetables

Brown rice and whole meal bread

Lentils and beans

Nuts and seeds

Organic poultry and fish and eggs

A non-dairy milk source – Coconut, rice, almond etc…

Cold pressed oils (olive, linseed etc.)

Cooling foods and foods rich in natural oestrogens (see below)

In Chinese medicine, the consumption of cooling foods is recommended. Such foods are wheat germ and its oil, mung beans, mung bean sprouts, string beans, seaweed, spirulina, millet, black beans, tofu, kidney beans, barley, black sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, saffron and cold sage tea.

Increase plant foods high in natural oestrogens (phytoestrogens). These include: soya products (don’t over-consume), flaxseed oil, flax seeds, nuts, whole grains (such as brown rice), apples, fennel, celery, parsley, and alfalfa. Maca powder has been proven to help reduce menopause symptoms and has been named the natural HRT.

http://www.naturalmenopausenow.com/2012/03/23/how-to-use-maca-to-get-rid-of-menopause-problems/

Blood sugar control is also very important for hormone balance.

Drinking plenty of water keeps the body vital and young. Increase amounts gradually to about 1.5 to 2 liters per day.

For more advice of foods to eliminate and increase please contact me.

Exercise

Endorphins are the body’s own mood-elevating and pain-relieving compounds. They are also thought to relief hot flushes. Regular exercise enhances endorphins and has many benefits on health of bone and the cardiovascular system. It reduces stress, boosts the metabolism, increases energy levels and assists in achieving and maintaining normal body weight. In addition exercise may also help mobilise some stored estrogen, which may make for an easier transition.

Exercise in average 3 – 4 hours per week; Combine aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming with toning and strengthening exercise such as Yoga and Pilates.

Stress Management

Learn to adopt less aggressive attitudes. A relaxed, un-stressful life will greatly help overcome menopausal symptoms.

Supplementation & Herbs

Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to a good general supplement programme (multivitamins & minerals, fish oil) the following vitamins and minerals may help relieve menopausal symptoms:

Vitamins E and C – For hot flushes, night sweats, irritability and vaginal dryness

B-Vitamins, especially B6 – For hormone balance, energy production and a healthy nervous system

Vitamin D & Calcium – For protection against osteoporosis, and for hot flushes

Magnesium – For night sweats and irritability

Evening Primrose Oil – For hot flushes & breast pain

Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs can help with Menopausal symptoms
Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs can help with Menopausal symptoms

Herbs

Much of the effect of herbal medicine is thought to be a result of phytooestrogens in the plants and the plants’ ability to improve blood flow.

Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis): has a mild oestrogenic effect and stabilises blood vessels

Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): mild oestrogenic effect and raises progesterone levels

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): relieves hot flushes, depression, vaginal atrophy

Chaste berry (Vitex Agnus-Castus): Balances secretion of certain hormones

Gingko Biloba: Improves blood flow to the extremeties and to the brain.

Red Clover and Korean Ginseng may also help because of their oestrogenic effects.

Combining all of the above is thought to produce greater effect.

For advice on recommended amounts please contact me.

Other useful tips

Menopause can often be a time of lowered energy. Get adequate sleep and even take a nap when feeling tired. If hot flushes and night sweats are your main problems:

  • Keep a record of your hot flushes and see if there is a pattern developing.
  • Wear loose clothing, made of natural fabrics, with short sleeves and V-necks
  • Use a battery operated fan and keep a flask of iced water near by
  • Relaxing during a hot flush can diminish its intensity.
  • Keep your bedroom cool
  • Use night clothes and bed linen made of natural fabrics
  • Keep a sponge and a bowl of water near your bedside to cool yourself down easily.

Acupuncture & Menopause

Acupuncture can help women suffering from the most common symptoms of menopause, it is claimed. A study suggests that Acupuncture can curb the severity of hot flushes and also relieve mood swings among women receiving it regularly.

Hot flushes can suddenly produce an uncomfortable feeling of intense heat, while frequent flushes at night can disrupt sleep. The symptoms are caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the skin and are linked to hormone imbalances, but they are still not fully understood.

Medication proven to combat flushes includes Hormone Replacement Therapy and some antidepressants, which appear to damp down the body’s blood vessel system.

In the study, which was published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, Turkish researchers looked at 53 menopausal women. Twenty seven received acupuncture twice a week for ten weeks. This involved placing needles at certain points on the body to boost energy and release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.

The remaining volunteers were given ‘dummy’ acupuncture with blunted needles.

At the end of the trial, those receiving genuine treatment had lower scores for the intensity of the hot flushes and mood swings they experienced – which progressively improved over the treatment period – compared with those given dummy needles.

The researchers said the effect on endorphins might curb flushes by stabilising the body’s temperature controls, but they were unable to say how long the effect lasted after treatment finished.

The researchers admit the trial was small but claim that Acupuncture is worth trying for menopausal women unable or unwilling to use HRT.

Please contact if you would like any further information or to see how I can help you.

Dampness – How to resolve it…

In traditional Chinese Medicine dampness comes from a failure to burn off or transform moisture in the body. It is nearly always associated with a weak Spleen, often with a weak Kidney and sometimes a weak Lung – all from a Chinese Medicine perspective.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the Spleen is expressed as the digestive system, the Spleen is responsible for adapting food to nourish and support our system. This process is called ‘transportation and transformation’. The stronger or Spleen function is the better we are able to extract nourishment from any food to support our body’s needs.

Dampness can lodge in a specific part of the body or affect us more generally, dampness can make us feel heavy and tired and it can make us swell up and it can obstruct our body’s functions.

Some people are more prone to damp than others, a tendency towards dampness can be aggravated by living in damp conditions and places (ex. Ireland) or by a sedentary lifestyle. It needs the transformative power of the body’s Yang Qi (energy) to stop it accumulating. Eating in ways which inhibit our Spleen function or which injure the Yang Qi will increase our tendency towards damp.

Dampness may also be caused by pathogens lodged in the body which have not been properly expelled or by the use of suppressant drugs.

Foods which promote dampness are:

  • Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurts, ice cream – Sheep & Goats products are less dampening
  • Wheat – breads, pastry’s, biscuits, all yeast products
  • Pork & rich meat
  • Processed foods, sugar & sweeteners
  • Concentrated juice’s especially Orange & Tomato
  • Beer
  • Bananas – these are a big NO in TCM
  • Saturated fats

In particular foods that need to be avoided are too much raw, cold, sweet & rich foods and the overconsumption of fluid, especially cold water.

yin yang 1
Balancing your diet & lifestyle is the key to wellness in TCM

Dampness can be divided into three kinds:

Dampness

This is the generalised condition of dampness associated with weakness of the Spleen, in may manifest in such ways as tiredness/aches in the limbs, digestive weakness or muzzy head. How it manifests depends on our individual constitution.

Water

This describes a condition of edema where dampness is retained as water; this may be specific or general in location. It causes us to swell, be become waterlogged.

Phlegm

This describes a more sticky manifestation of dampness. It often lodges in particular organs and combines easily with heat or cold. Phlegm or mucus congeals and obstructs our functioning.

Resolving Dampness though food and Acupuncture:

All dampness is treated by strengthening the Spleen and may also need tonification of the Kidneys, Lung and Yang. Phlegm demands the reduction of Phlegm-forming foods and the use of Phlegm- resolving foods. Water is helped by Water-removing (diuretic) foods. Acupuncture in conjunction with the correct foods can help eliminate damp, water and phlegm.

Dampness is often the result of overeating or over-nutrition. It is important to support the Spleen to avoid the over accumulation of Dampness.

Here are some tips on how to assist the Spleen with its digestive function:

  • Joy – enjoy your food, have a good relationship with food
  • Positive attitude – welcome food as wholeheartedly as you can
  • Relaxation – the Chinese believe not to mix food with work, watching TV or reading, also important to relax your posture as not to hinder the passage of food through your body.
  • Chew well – well chewed food lessens the work for your digestive organs and increases the efficient extraction of nutrients, it also warms chilled foods.
  • Stop just before you are full – if you overeat at any one meal, you create stagnation, a temporary queue of food waiting to be processed. This results in feeling tired.
  • Don’t flood the Spleen – the Spleen does not like too much fluid with a meal. A little warm fluid with a meal is helpful; nut too much dilutes the Spleen’s action and weakens digestion.
  • Don’t chill the Spleen – too much raw or chilled food or fluid will also weaken the Spleen, the digestive process needs warmth.
  • Eat your main meal early – when your main meal is eaten late at night, your system is naturally slowing down and the food will sit around longer and creates stagnation.

 

Foods which resolve Dampness

Aduki bean        Caraway             Garlic                    Mackerel                           Pumpkin

Alfalfa                  Cardamon          Green Tea           Marjoram                          Quail

Anchovy             Celery                  Horseradish      Mushroom (button)      Radish

Asparagus         Clove                    Jasmine Tea        Mustard leaf                     Rye

Barley                  Coriander           Kidney bean      Onion                                  Scallion

Basil                     Corn                     Kohlrabi              Oregano                             Turnip

Buckwheat        Daikon                 Lemon                 Parsley                               Umeboshi plums

 

Foods which resolve Water

Aduki bean       Broad bean        Grape                    Pea                                      Seaweed

Alfalfa                  Celery                   Kelp                       Plantain                              Squash

Anchovy             Clam                     Kidney bean       Plum                                    Tea

Barley                  Fenugreek          Lettuce                 Raspberry leaf                  Watercress

Basil                      Corn                     Mackerel             Rice                                      Water Chestnut

Black Soybean  Duck                     Mungbean          Sardine

 

Foods which resolve Phlegm

Almond               Grapefruit                          Mustard seed    Peppermint       Tea

Apple peel          Lemon peel                       Olive                     Plantain               Thyme

Black pepper     Liquorice                            Onion                   Radish                  Walnut

Celery                  Marjoram                           Orange peel       Seaweed              Watercress

Clam                     Mushroom (button)      Pear                      Shiitake

Garlic                    Mustard leaf                     Pepper                 Shrimp

 

If you would like any further recommendations or advice regarding Chinese food therapy and Acupuncture please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

Reference

Helping Ourselves – A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics – Daverick Leggett

 

 

 

 

My first published article…

Delighted to have an article published in the Summer edition of the Rude Health magazine. It explains the basic ideas behind Acupuncture and how it can help male & female fertility to help couples conceive.

Acupuncture can help couples conceive naturally

It also includes a testimonial from one of my male fertility patients on how Acupuncture and Naturopathy helped him and his partner get pregnant.

Rude Health Magazine Article – June 2013

 

If you want to know how I can help you, please feel free to contact me.

Enjoy the sunshine.

Helena

 

 

 

A Natural way to battle the blues…

No one should have to live with depression, unfortunately powerful prescription drugs such as Prozac can be almost as intolerable, not to mention expensive. Happily, nature has provided a whole range of gentler antidepressants such as St. John’s Wort, 5-hydroxytryptophan, S-adenosylmenthionine, tyrosine, phenylalanine and folic acid, among many others.

Considerable research indicates that these herbs, biochemicals and nutrients can often counteract clinical depression as efficiently and effectively as prescription drugs, but with fewer side effects and a more  modest price tag. Unfortunatly there are restrictions on many of these natural remedys depending on where you live in the world, this is where acupuncture alongside basic naturopathic principles such as the correct diet and lifestyle advice comes in and can have a profound effect on your mental well-being.

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neuro-chemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Acupuncture can help lift your mood

Studies indicate that acupuncture can have a specific positive effect on depression by altering the brain’s mood chemistry, increasing production of serotonin (Sprott 1998) and endorphins (Wang 2010). Acupuncture may also benefit depression by acting through other neurochemical pathways, including those involving dopamine (Scott 1997), noradrenaline (Han 1986), cortisol (Han 2004) and neuropeptide Y (Pohl 2002).

Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010).  Stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry may be reversed (Kim 2009).

If you would like to discuss with me how Acupuncture and Naturopathy can help, please feel free to contact me.

 

References:

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk

 

Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergies (Allergic Rhinitis)

Everyone knows that seasonal allergies are painful and uncomfortable causing runny nose, sneezing, sinus pain, fatigue, watery eyes, and other debilitating symptoms. Allergies also affect your productivity at work and school and may be linked to depression, insomnia, and anxiety.(1)

Acupuncture offers an effective drug free treatment so you can smell the flowers. Acupuncture is different than taking a pill, it helps to reduce pain and inflammation.  But rather than adding a medication that will temporarily block a receptor, histamine in the case of allergies, acupuncture works to regulate the body’s functioning.  The goals is for long term improvement from the acupuncture treatment.

The idea is that acupuncture helps to reset the body and remind it how to be healthy.  As balance is achieved, your body is able to maintain the healthy state without medications.  So instead of simply suppressing the body’s reaction, it works to correct the root cause of the problem.

Acupuncture’s Understanding of Allergies

Acupuncture has its own view of the body and health.  Acupuncturists look for an imbalance that is causing of allergies.

Qi is the body’s vital energy, it gives you the power to work, study, exercise, and fight illness. In acupuncture, the cause of allergies is often a qi imbalance.  There are two major qi imbalances.  The most common one for allergies is when there is too little qi, we call this a qi vacuity.  When your qi is vacuous, you feel tired, can get colds easily, may have poor digestion, coughing, wheezing,  and possibly asthma.  The acupuncture works to boost up your qi, giving you more energy and protecting you from allergies.

The second imbalance is called qi stagnation. This is when your qi does not circulate well. This is often caused by stress, and can cause pain, headaches, menstrual cramps, and in some cases, bring on asthma attacks.

Inflammation is a cause of allergies and chronic sinus pain. In acupuncture, this is often related to an imbalance called heat.  Heat can cause dryness, irritation, and pain.  This is often common in chronic sinusitis.

Acupuncture can help reduce allergies
Acupuncture can help reduce allergies

The Acupuncture Treatment

An effective acupuncture treatment is based upon a specific and accurate diagnosis of the imbalance and by targeting the exact root of the condition leads to the most successful treatment.

I combine acupressure with the acupuncture to create greater results and a stronger sense of relaxation. Usually people will feel some relief after only a visits.

How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation and increase circulation.  Acupuncture also helps to regulate the brain to reduce pain, so it is also possible that is another way it works to help regulate the immune response to allergies (2).

References:

1. Marcus MB. Seasonal allergies could spark depression, fatigue.  USA Today. 3/18/2008.2. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869. 

Male Fertility

Male sub-fertility is more common than you think, in 40% of couples that are trying to conceive male fertility issues are the main problem, yet apart from assisted reproduction technology there are limited options from a western medicine prospective.

There is growing evidence that acupuncture and lifestyle changes can improve sperm parameters and therefor play a positive role in improving male fertility. At my clinic I am seeing more and more male patients who want to try and improve the quality of their semen, not only those with low motility and morphology but also those who want to give there sperm the boost it may need to help reach their partners egg.

In Ireland normal sperm count values are currently given as:

• greater than 20 million sperm per ml
• greater than 50% of sperm moving vigorously (motility)
• greater than 14 % with no deformities (morphology).

A population study looking at men’s fertility found that those men that succeeded in fathering a child had:

• greater than 48 million sperm per ml
• a motility of more than 63%
• a normal morphology of 12%

(New England Journal of Medicine 345(19):1388-1393).

This study indicates the importance of men achieving the highest sperm count and motility possible.

sperm 1
40% of fertility issues are due to the male partner

So why are we seeing falling sperm counts?

The main reason is realistically due to lifestyle changes and environmental factors. We are constantly being bombarded with chemicals from aerosol’s and detergents to oestrogen’s in our water, preservatives in foods as well as the hormone’s being put into our meat & poultry. With regards to lifestyle we are drinking more alcohol and smoking more than any of our forefather’s, this can have a detrimental effect on sperm quality as they heat up the body and they also damage sperm with their toxicity. Sperm production is most efficient at 34 degrees and it can be impaired by a raise in temperature, so common advice is to remove mobile phones from pockets and not to use laptops on laps.

The good news is that semen matures every 90 days so Acupuncture, lifestyle and dietary advice can help in improving the quality of semen. I recommend that the male partner receives Acupuncture for once a week for a minimum of 3 months, especially around the time of their partner’s ovulation.

Fertility in Traditional Chinese Medicine terms has everything to do with the Kidneys. The Kidneys are responsible for storing life-force (Jing) and are the root of male sexual development, libido and fertility and control the urethra and testicles.

The Liver energy of the male also has to balanced; the Liver ensures the free flow and unobstructed circulation of energy (Qi) and blood in the pelvic and genital region.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin, sterile, single use, disposable needles into specific points on the body to address factors contributing to infertility.  The effectiveness of acupuncture is evidenced by its continued use for centuries and more recently by modern clinical trials showing successful results.

I believe that lifestyle advice is crucial in the improvement of semen quality, some changes that I advise to make may be relatively easy; others much harder.

  • Avoid excessive heat, especially to the testes, remove mobile phones from pockets and avoid using laptops on laps.
  • Take suitable exercise, enough to promote the smooth flow of Qi and blood, especially to the pelvic region. No excessive exercise, avoid prolonged cycling.
  • Adopt a suitable diet and reduce obesity, a balanced diet avoiding excessive soya, meat, dairy and sugar and one rich in antioxidants e.g. 5-7 portions of organic vegetables a day and green tea.
  • Stop smoking, excessive use of alcohol and recreational drugs.
  • Minimise environmental pollution.
  • Avoid drinking from plastic bottles, eating canned foods and heating foods and drinks in plastic containers in microwaves.

I also recommend a comprehensive supplementation programme to help increase the chances of conceiving and improve the health of the baby. This is individualised to the patient’s needs.

  • Multi Vitamin & Mineral – to improve nutritional status.
  • Vitamin E – increases sperm count and carries oxygen to sex organs – D-alpha-topherol form.
  • Vitamin C – helps to manufacture healthy sperm, prevents sperm from sticking together and can improve their motility, can increase sperm up to 1/3.
  • Vitamin D – essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido.
  • Zinc – cell division and improves desire & ejaculation.
  • Selenium – lack of selenium is linked with sterility.
  • Vitamin B Complex – stress and nervous system tonic.
  • L-Arginine & L-Carnitine – crucial for male fertility and sperm development.
  • Co Q 10 – energy for sperm.

Acupuncture can assist and improve the chances of conception by preparing the body for the journey ahead. It is important that both partners are in good health at the time of conception to give the best possible start to the new life.

If you would like more information or would like to speak with me to discuss how I can help, please contact me.