Call or SMS: 0411 063 675

View Location

Aug 19

Foods to Relieve Coughing

In Chinese Medicine and many other cultures with a traditional healing modality, food is medicine. If you eat the right foods, it can help you feel better and alternatively, if you eat the wrong foods, it can make you feel worse. There are certain foods that can help you to feel better by relieving your coughing.

As with all conditions in Chinese Medicine, there are several possible causes for each condition.  For coughs, a few of the causes are due to what is called an “External Pathogenic Factor (EPF)”, which is what happens when we develop cold or flu-like symptoms. The EPFs that can invade us and cause a cough are Wind-Cold, Wind-Heat and Dry-Heat. We can choose the appropriate foods to alleviate our cough dependent on the EPF.

Cough due to Wind-Cold

Some signs and symptoms of a cough due to Wind-Cold are: cough, moderate amount of thin & white sputum, non-productive cough at initial stage, tight chest and stuffy nose with clear discharge and sneezing.

Some foods which help relieve this type of cough are:

Onion

Onions decreases phlegm and inflammation of the nose and throat, induces sweating and is a cure for a common cold. One way to use this to stop your cough is to simmer onions with a little bit of honey until they are soft and eat one every four hours.

Grapefruit peel

This has a warming energy and helps to resolve mucous conditions of the lungs and can treat lung congestion. To use the peel effectively, make a tea by simmering the fresh or dried peel for about 20 minutes.

Mustard greens

They have a warming thermal nature, influences the lungs, clears chest congestion and reduces mucous. For best effect from these, use mustard greens in a tea. Mustard greens are generally not found in a regular supermarket and in an Asian grocery store, there is a version known as “Gai Choi”. Please note that this shouldn’t be used in people with heat conditions.

Cough due to Wind-Heat

If you have a Heat type of cough, you may have thick yellow sputum which is difficult to cough up, thick nasal discharge, sore throat, thirst or fever, and these are the following foods which will help:

Pears

Pears have a cooling thermal nature which targets the lungs and eliminates heat and excess mucous. It stops coughing associated with heat in the lungs, moistens the lungs, throat and dryness in general and quenches thirst due to heat conditions.

Soybeans

They also moisten conditions of dryness, lowers fever, is highly alkalising and eliminates toxins from the body. They do need to be cooked well or fermented, otherwise, the soybean will inhibit the digestive enzyme, trypsin, which makes the soybean difficult to digest. Some examples of fermented soybean include tempeh, tofu, miso and soy sauce.

Turnips

Resolves mucous and other damp conditions, relieves coughing and due to its alkalising nature, sulfur and other factors, turnip also detoxes the body. The best way to use the turnip for dispersing lung congestion is to eat sliced raw turnip.

Cough due to Dry-Heat

For coughs resulting from Dry-Heat, your cough will be non-productive or there will be scanty and sticky sputum which is difficult to cough up, or severe cough with chest pain, as well as dryness of the nose and throat. For these types of coughs, you can relieve the cough with the following foods:

Lemons and limes

These fruits have a cooling thermal nature, are antiseptic, anti-microbial and mucous-resolving, which makes it great for colds, flus and hacking coughs. It’s to be avoided by people with too much stomach acid or ulcers and to be used cautiously for those with Blood deficiency signs. Begin with 1-3 lemons daily for a week and increase according to need and desire (9-12 lemons can be tolerated by a robust person who needs their properties).

Bananas

Bananas have a very cooling thermal nature, lubricates the lungs and generally benefits conditions of thirst and dryness. For dry coughs, eat bananas that have been sliced and cooked into a thick soup.

Figs

They are neutral in thermal nature and moistens the lungs. For dry coughs, drink half a cup of the water and eat 1-2 figs from a lightly cooked fig soup several times a day.

Make sure you get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. A cough from a cold or flu should be gone in a week or two but if it is still lingering, a visit to a Chinese Medicine practitioner for some acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine will help to clear it before it becomes a chronic condition.

Jun 26

Why Acupuncture Doesn’t Hurt

One of the first questions I often get when I tell people that I do acupuncture is “doesn’t it hurt?”. My answer is “no” and you can find out why below.

First of all, the size of the needles are much thinner than what we are used to going to a clinic to have our blood taken or to the doctor’s surgery for a vaccination. The acupuncture needles are six to ten times thinner than one of those needles. Smaller needles, less pain.
acupuncture-needle-size

Secondly, the acupuncture needles used at the Health in Flow Chinese Medicine clinic are very good quality. You can see the difference in quality from a sample of the electron microscope images from a study conducted by RMIT  (http://aim.bmj.com/content/32/2/146). The smoothness and sharpness of the needles mean that the pain fibres of the nerves receive less stimulation, and hence, less pain.

Electron Microscope Image of Poor Quality Acupuncture Needle

Electron Microscope Image of Lower Quality Acupuncture Needle

Electron Microscope Image of High Quality Acupuncture Needle

Electron Microscope Image of Higher Quality Acupuncture Needle

Thirdly, the velocity at which a skilled acupuncturist inserts a needle is so high that it doesn’t much activate the superficial  nerve fibres for pain. Depending on the location of the point, you may feel a tiny pin prick or not much at all. After insertion, a sensation referred as “De Qi” in Chinese Medicine is often elicited. This feeling can vary and can be described as: aching; soreness; pressure; and sometimes as tingling; numbness; heaviness; warmth; and coolness. They really are sensations, rather than pain!

If you’ve been avoiding acupuncture because of a needle phobia, rest assured that what you are imagining is much worse than the reality. I’ve had many needle phobic clients who I now dub as “advanced acupuncture clients” who happily receive acupuncture needles in never before considered places such as their face, ears and scalp!

Apr 15

Ways to Prevent a Cold in Chinese Medicine

It’s Autumn already and that crisp cold bite in the air has appeared and with it, the return of sniffles, headaches and sore throats and if we haven’t been looking after ourselves and our immune system is quite compromised, the body aches and pains with chills and fevers of the flu, which can knock us out for many days and have us feeling quite miserable.

In Chinese Medicine, the main cause of common cold is Wind. The common cold caused by Wind is often associated with abnormal or sudden changes in weather, large variations in temperature, the body being wet by rain or blown by wind after sweating.
A few ways that we can minimise the chances of developing a cold are:
  • putting on warm clothes after sweating;
  • drying off and staying warm after getting wet in the rain;
  • wear a scarf to protect the back of our neck which is vulnerable to Wind;
  • being careful not to overwork and tax the immune system;
  • maintain moderate level of exercise to ensure your energy flows smoothly;
  • staying away from ill people as much as possible;
  • having spring onion, ginger and garlic regularly, or if you tend towards feeling hot, having cooling teas with chrysanthemum and/or honeysuckle, which you can buy from a Chinese grocery store; and
  • having acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment to boost weaknesses in your body so that your immune system is strong.

The best time to act is before you get sick! 

Prevention is the best medicine – we know this, yet we often forget it and when we get a cold and are wallowing in our misery, we’ll be able to think of the things that we should have or shouldn’t have done!

Around 4,500 years ago, the Chinese physician Qi Bo wrote,? To take medicine when you are sick is like digging a well only when you are thirsty ?- is it not already too late??

 

Apr 8

Chinese Medicine Soup Recipe for Postpartum Mothers

My cousin had a gorgeous little girl recently and as is common in Chinese tradition, I wanted to help her by supporting her health. What is it that commonly happens to a woman’s energy and vital substances during labour?What does she need to ensure that her and the newborn are at their optimal level of health?

Much Blood is lost during and after childbirth, resulting in Blood and Qi (energy) deficiency, and therefore, a woman is susceptible to contraction of disease. At this time, Kidney energy and Essence is also low as a result of the pregnancy, and Yang is low due to the energy used to push the baby from the Uterus. The deficiency of Yang means that the woman is in a state of Cold and is also susceptible to being penetrated by cold and having it lodged. It does seem like nothing good for the mother comes out of the pregnancy and birth as it is believed that during a period of approximately 40 days after birth, the Golden Month, illness contracted will stay with a person for the rest of their lives but alternatively, this is also a time when existing illnesses can be eliminated. With the appropriate self-care, a woman can end up healthier than before having the baby.

Most of the issues that occur post-partum are a result of Blood loss. An example of this would be hair loss because there is not enough Blood to nourish the hair or insufficient lactation due to deficient Blood. Postpartum depression is also quite common and is also due to lack of Blood. The Spirit resides in the Heart and when there is not enough Blood in the Heart to nourish the Spirit, lethargy, insomnia, despair, anxiety, sadness, worthlessness, apathy or feeling separated from reality can develop. Therefore, it is vital to have foods that nourish the Blood, some of which include:

  • chicken
  • fish
  • green leafy vegetables
  • eggs
  • raisins
  • sweet rice
  • dried logan fruit

A very simple recipe that I used for a chicken soup to bring to my cousin was:

  • 1 x approx. 1.8kg whole chicken
  • 12 cups of water
  • 60 grams of dried logan fruit (Long Yan Rou)
  • 40 grams of angelica (Dang Gui)
  • Place all ingredients into pot, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours. Season with salt.

Both the herbal ingredients can be bought from a Chinese grocery store, with the dried logan fruit found in the refrigerated section of the store. The soup is best had several times in a day and will also help prevent joint pain that is common after childbirth as bone soups contain marrow and in addition to nourishing Blood, also nourishes Essence and the Kidneys.

For further information, check out “Traditional Chinese Medicine for Women” by Xiaolan Zhao and if you are having postpartum problems, please see your Chinese Medicine practitioner for some acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to bring you back to good health!

Dec 5

What to Eat to so we can Nourish our Jing, our Life Essence

In Chinese Medicine, Jing is the essence of who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. It is a substance or energy that comes from our parents and from it, our growth and development occur. With weak Kidney Jing, people may experience infertility, chronic miscarriage, low quality sperm count, impotence and low libido as well as lower back pain, premature hair greying, or poor memory and concentration.

In people of traditional Chinese culture, one of their aims in life was to have a long life and the amount and quality of Jing is a good determinant of your longevity. Thus, people were taught to conserve Jing from an early age.

One of the ways was by taking life at a gentle pace, and not rushing around doing so much as is common in modern Western culture. Life doesn’t have to be such that you are sitting in the bush surrounded by birdsong and rustling leaves all the time. What is necessary is an inner quietness amidst any external busyness that happens in your life. This rushing about all the time doesn’t just make us stressed, it exhausts us and consumes Jing.

Jing is also consumed through major trauma such as recovery from an accident or serious illness. Events such as these draw deeply on life reserves.

Men can consume Jing through ejaculation because Jing is tied very closely to reproductive processes. It was encouraged in traditional Chinese thought to have sex without ejaculation to preserve Jing. For men with poor Jing and Kidney energy, it was recommended to limit sexual activity, including masturbation, and to having sex with their partner at their fertile time.

For women, sexual fluids do not affect Jing as much as it does Kidney Yin. It is the menstrual cycle, which affects a woman’s Jing. Any time ovulation occurs, Jing is consumed. It is also used up, along with Qi and Blood, during pregnancy, when a lot of energy is required to form a new human being.

In summary, Jing is consumed in the following ways:

  • Being over busy
  • Recovery from accident or serious illness
  • Excessive sexual activity in men
  • Menstruation and pregnancy in women

One way to nourish Jing is through the foods that we eat.

In general, the foods in nature which are designed to nourish offspring will enhance your Jing, as well as some animal organs and tissues:

  • Royal jelly
  • Eggs of birds e.g. Chickens or ducks
  • Fish eggs or roe
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Pollen
  • Bone marrow, particularly from pig spine
  • Brains
  • Kidneys
  • Oysters, delivery of nutrients to sperm-manufacturing cells
  • Seaweed and algae, includes trace elements for production of gametes and related hormones
  • Artichoke leaf
  • Nettles
  • Oats
  • Raw Milk

Chinese herbal medicine can also nourish Jing and acupuncture can reduce leakages of Jing that occurs with daily living. Please look after your Jing, one of our treasures, by moderating your lifestyle and eating well.

Sep 25

Pointing the Way – Stiff Neck

Recently, I woke up with a stiff neck from sleeping “funny”. It was one of those bothersome and painful stiff necks where you had to do head checks in the car with your whole body!

However, Chinese Medicine came to the rescue! There is an acupuncture point called “Luo Zhen”, which translates as “fall off pillow”, which I suppose is what may have happened.

The point is located in a small depression on the back of your hand just past the knuckles of the index and middle finger. It can be found by sliding a finger from between those two knuckles towards the wrist and your finger will drop into it.

Luo Zhen Acupuncture Point

To use this point effectively:

  • Locate the point on the opposite side of the pain. For example, if the right side of your neck hurts, press the Luo Zhen point on the left hand.
  • Press firmly with the tip of a finger into the depression of the point so that you feel a tender sensation. I find I get the best pressure by using the tip of my thumb.
  • Maintain the pressure whilst rubbing in small circles on the point.
  • Whilst pressing the point, turn your head from side to side and you will notice that with time, the amount you can turn increases and the amount of pain decreases.

For me, it took a couple of minutes and I could really notice the difference. I have heard that it may take longer for other people so keep persisting!

 

Sep 13

Spring into Action and Get on Top of Hayfever

Spring is so lovely – with all the leaves unfurling, blossoms budding and warmth returning to the world so we can step out into the sunshine and breathe it all in.

However, this time of year often has the effect of producing itchy and watery eyes, constantly running noses and sudden attacks of sneezing in people, which can all result in people feeling drained of energy. Many Melbournians understand very well the effect hayfever can have on their lives and Melbourne, even though it is the most liveable city in the world in 2016, does have a black mark against it as it is the hayfever capital of Australia! Even in inner city Melbourne or the Melbourne CBD, where there are less parks and you might think less allergens, hayfever is still rife!

Chinese Medicine treats hayfever by expelling pathogens, normalising the function of your immune system and treating any underlying energetic imbalances. We use acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine as well giving you some diet and lifestyle advice if necessary.

A trial investigating the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of hayfever was conducted by RMIT, and it was found that there was significant improvement in hayfever symptoms. In clinical practice, we have found that it may take only 4 weeks to get rid of your hayfever symptoms but it is best to get on top of it early in the season. This way, you can frolick happily all you like in the parks when the weather is warm!

In the meantime, check out our post on acupressure points for temporary relief of hayfever symptoms here: http://healthinflow.com.au/pointing-the-way-hayfever/

Aug 27

Acupuncture Treatment for Pokemon Go

Acupuncture can help you catch more Pokemon – really. If you have been trying to “catch them all” recently,  you will have found that you are walking much more than you used to and you might be feeling sore feet and sore legs. Check out Gizmodo’s article on Tweets people have made about their ailments from playing Pokemon Go.

Sore Legs Become Pandemic As Pokemon Go Players Accidentally Get Exercise

Acupuncture can refresh those muscles for you so you can get back out there for your battles. It can also help improve your energy levels so you can hunt for longer. If you are serious about your Pokemon Go, come on down for some treatment to get you into optimum shape for hunting!

If you can’t get some acupuncture, you can do some acupressure on yourself. There is an acupuncture point, Stomach 36, Zhou San Li, which translates to “walk three-mile”. It is said that if you press this point, it will help you talk walk another three miles!

 

Jun 1

How to Sleep Clean with this Sleep Hygiene Guide

Who doesn’t love that feeling of waking up in the morning, body rested, mind alert and all of your being ready to launch yourself into the day ahead? I sure do love good sleep! A good sleep is something that allows your mind and body to rest and it is essential to maintaining balance in your health – mental, emotional and physical.


I do have times when I have poor sleep – I might have difficulty falling asleep or I toss and turn restlessly through the night. If this continues, I find myself more reactive and irritable, less able to think clearly or be creative, and my body just feels heavy and sluggish. In these times, my first port of call is reviewing my sleep hygiene.


Sleep hygiene are habits that you develop and maintain to help you to have a good night’s sleep. Common sleeping problems are often caused by bad habits reinforced over years or even decades.


Sleep Environment
  • Maintain a dark room. Use black out curtains or blinds and turning off any devices which emit light.
  • Have a quiet room, or if quiet is not possible, try using some ear plugs.
  • Ensure that the temperature is comfortable. Is the blanket warm enough or is it too warm? Having warm hands and feet when sleeping is important.
  • Is your mattress comfortable? Consider seeing a mattress specialist.
  • Use the bedroom only for sleeping or intimacy. Don’t use it for watching TV, surfing the internet or for talking to friends on the phone.
  • De-clutter your sleep space. A messy sleep space can translate to inner stagnation and contribute to imbalances in Chinese Medicine.


Sleep Routine
  • Sleep and wake at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps to set your body clock. Avoid trying to make up for poor sleep or lack of sleep by sleeping in, though don’t be obsessive about this – occasional staying up late or sleeping in is okay.
  • Get enough early morning sunshine. This also helps to set your body clock.
  • Be asleep by 10:30pm as 11pm – 1am is the time when the Chinese Medicine Liver organ needs to be resting, allowing the circulating Blood to return and be processed.
  • Don’t ignore tiredness. Go to bed when your body tells you to.
  • Exercise daily but no vigorous exercise close to bed time.
  • Relaxing exercise such as yoga or tai chi, or some gentle stretching, before bed can help to relax you.
  • Try not to engage in mentally overly stimulating activities close to bed time.


Sleep No-No’s
  • No screens for one hour before sleep. The blue light affects melatonin levels, which helps us to regulate our sleep cycle.
  • No caffeinated substances e.g. coffee, caffeinated tea, coke, chocolate close to bedtime
  • No sugar close to bedtime
  • Avoid drugs. Nicotine is a stimulant and a sedative, and the initial “kick” causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rate. Alcohol is a depressant but it affects your sleep rhythm and the quality of sleep with alcohol in your system is usually poor.
  • Avoid sleeping pills. They can cause daytime sleepiness and doesn’t actually solve the sleep problem. They can also cause a “rebound” effect where your sleep quality is worse when you stop taking them.
  • Avoid napping during the day. This can affect your sleep rhythm.
  • Stay away from large meals close to bed time.
  • Minimise fluid intake close to bedtime if you have a tendency towards night-time urination.


If you can’t fall asleep
  • try a mindfulness app such as Headspace or Smiling Mind.
  • don’t worry about not falling asleep.
  • don’t look at the clock as it increases worry, creating tension.
  • write down any worries that you have or things that you have to do if your mind won’t stop thinking.
  • get up and do something else in another room (with dim lighting) such as reading a book.



If by following these guidelines, you find that your sleep is still not refreshing, there could be other factors such as obstructed breathing (sleep apnoea), pain, digestive issues, stress, anxiety or depression which are contributing to your poor sleep quality. Chinese Medicine, using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, treats all of these conditions and can bring peaceful sleep back into your life.

Jul 25

How to Beat your Cold with Food – Chinese Medicine Style

Lemon and Ginger Tea

Colds are often something that we often just deal with and ride out – we continue to push through doing what we do daily and “soldier on”. They usually happen when we are tired, run-down and our immune system is isn’t able to protect ourselves from the viruses and bacteria out there.

In Chinese Medicine, Qi is the energy that flows through our body. There are four levels of Qi in the body and the outermost level is called the Wei Qi, which is the defensive Qi of the body. When we have become run down, overworked, eaten poorly, not exercised and generally just not looking after ourselves, our Wei Qi weakens and we become more susceptible to getting a cold. If you catch colds often, this is a sign that there is an underlying deficiency in your body, which Chinese Medicine can help you with.

A cold generally manifests fairly suddenly in a couple of ways, cold-natured or heat-natured, and there are steps that we can take to get rid of it so we can get back quicker to what doing what we love!

Cold-natured signs and symptoms:
  • feeling more chilled than fever-like
  • phlegm is clear or white
  • aversion to cold
  • no or limited sweating
  • sneezing
  • stiff neck and/or body aches
When you feel some or all of the above signs and symptoms, the foods to have are:
  • ginger
  • onions
  • garlic
  • hot peppers
  • soups
  • ginger tea
In addition, you can also apply sweating therapy by drinking a cup of ginger tea, having a hot shower, putting on lots of clothes and covering yourself with blankets to get yourself to sweat. You don’t need to sweat excessively and do not apply sweating therapy if you are severely weak or dehydrated.

Heat-natured signs and symptoms:

  • feeling more fever-like than chilled
  • phlegm is yellow or green
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • thirst
  • body aches, headaches
Some foods to have when you have the above are:
  • mung beans
  • apples
  • spinach
  • peppermint tea
  • chrysanthemum tea

Overall, if you have either cold or heat signs and symptoms:

  • eat less food
  • drink more warm fluids
  • drink honey (particularly raw honey), which has antibacterial and antiviral properties, with lemon and its Vitamin C to boost your immune system
  • keep your neck covered
  • rest when tired

Above all else, prevention is the best cure and make sure you look after yourself, rest well and do things for yourself that nourish you!