Archive of ‘Alternative Medicine’ category

Acupuncture Awareness Week 2014 – Back Pain

By Rhiannon Griffiths

The 2014 theme of The British Acupuncture Council’s Acupuncture Awareness Week is BACK PAIN. As traditional acupuncturists we are so passionate about raising awareness, spreading the word of what acupuncture can do & how it could help you in your life.

In Chinese Medicine we view back pain as being caused either by a deficiency of energy (or Qi) in the body, which feels like a constant dull ache or as though the back is weak and could “go” at any time; alternatively, back pain can come from a blockage of energy (inflammation), which is like a spasm or a strong stabbing pain, that comes on quickly.

Acupuncture seeks to address the ROOT CAUSE of the back pain, and relieve it by boosting the energy that is lacking, or moving the stuck energy that is causing the pain. It is this differentiation of identifying EXACTLY what is going on in a patient’s body, that is the benefit of using acupuncture to treat back pain, and means the results are often better in the long term.

In scientific terms, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate release of endorphins (the happy hormones) and oxytocin (the calm and contented hormone often associated with nursing mothers) – leading to reduction of stress and pain. In Chinese Medicine we view it as harmonising Qi within the energy pathways of the body, restoring balance, health and wellbeing. It is why acupuncture is so relaxing and makes patients feel so good.

Camilla Sacre Dallerup acupuncture testimonialAcupuncture Awareness Week 2014 launches on Monday 3rd March, through to the 10th. I was also incredibly thrilled to be chosen out of over 3000 members of the British Acupuncture Council, to treat the celebrity endorser of Acupuncture Awareness Week this year – Strictly Come Dancing’s most successful female professional dancer, Camilla Dallerup.

You can watch us talking about how treatment with acupuncture helped Camilla’s back pain, as well as seeing what a treatment looks like, in this video:

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To mark the awareness week I have many opportunities for you to get involved with learning more about how acupuncture could help you, & also for you to access FREE information about back pain:

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+ book your FREE 15 minute consultation on Tuesday 4th March 2014, at The White House in Thame

+ watch a LIVE online presentation about acupuncture & back pain, at 8pm (GMT) on Thurs 6th March 2014

+ download a FREE “How to Help Back Pain” information sheet, with tips & tricks you can do at home

+ read patient testimonials about how acupuncture has helped their back pain, including Camilla Dallerup!

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WATCH THE PLAYLIST OF FREQUENTLY ASKED ACUPUNCTURE QUESTIONS:

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2014

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5 Ways to Connect with the Water Element for Winter

By Rhiannon Griffiths

This post was first published as a guest post on Aussie health blog This Is Lifeblood – it is most definitely Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, that cold, still, watery, dark Yin time. I often write about the Water Element, as Water is my constitutional element (or CF), but Winter is the season of the Water Element, and it is important to connect in with this energy now, at its most potent, whatever your own Element is.

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Water CF Element Five Elements Chinese Medicine

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1. Slow Down & Think Hibernation

The quickest way to connect with the Water Element at any time of the year, but particularly as we move into Water’s season of Winter, is to slow down! Many of us will have been super busy and outwardly sociable during the Summer, with lots of outdoor gatherings with family and friends. Winter is about stillness, coolness, darkness, hibernation – think about what nature is doing at the moment, everything is retracting inwards, seeds of potential are underneath the ground, barely a bud or leaf above soil, and animals are retreating to warm safe spaces. The Water Element will respond beautifully to increased rest in warm safe spaces! Up your commitment to quiet self-care, scale back your social commitments, and keep the Kidneys warm – no crop tops or showing your midriff! Just remember, the energy you conserve during the Winter, becomes the pot of Qi you have for the following Summer – it’s well worth topping yourself up now!

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2. Activate the Water Element Taste

Each of the Five Elements has a “taste” associated with it. Fire is bitter, Earth is sweet, Metal is pungent, Wood is sour, and Water is salty. Salt is a hot topic in health circles, and many people avoid salt at all costs. Processed table salt is not advisable, especially if you have high blood pressure, but in Chinese Medicine, we know that the Water Element and its associated organ, the Kidneys, actually NEED some salt to be supported and function correctly. Add a touch more sea salt or pink himalayan salt to your Winter cooking, or opt for something naturally salty like miso – it is warm, sweet and salty in terms of Chinese Food Energetics. It goes straight to the Water Element organ of the Kidneys, helping to activate their function of fluid control within the body.

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3. Warm the Qi with Food Energetics

As seen above, we can affect the balance in our bodies with that we eat. During Winter we need to reduce raw and cold food intake, cutting down on salads and turning to physically warm dishes like soups, stews and risottos. Apart from being warming, they also have a very “watery” aspect to them, which automatically connects in to the Water Element. Adding energetically hot spices like garlic, cayenne, chilli, ginger, or cinnamon is important in Winter as the temperatures drop down. But note, if you have a tendency to run towards being a hot person, go easy with those very heating spices, even in Winter – nourishing your Yin with rest, and gently warming with thyme, sage or rosemary should be a good balance for you.

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4. Reign in the Fear & Ramp up the Reassurance

The emotion associated with the Water Element is Fear (or conversely, complete lack of it!). This element is all about risk assessing and then reassuring. In Winter, my fear tends to crank up a few notches, as the weather gets worse with snow and ice in the UK – it is riskier to travel, there is more disruption, more uncertainty, and my Water Element has a bit of a wobble! It might not be about the weather, but notice if fear is creeping in and holding you back, this exercise may help you reign in the fear. Write down the issue you are fearful about. Then divide the page in two, with a line down the centre. On the left, write down everything you can think of that is the “worst case scenario”, what you are afraid will happen, what could go wrong, what is stopping you. Once you have really connected into the fear of that column, and exhausted all the potential options (remember, the Water Element WILL find ALL the possible risks, so to harness the positive side of this power, you need to do the same!), turn to the right hand column. You may find it helpful to switch seats or go into a different room for the right hand column – be in a different energetic space!

For each of the risks or fears you wrote down on the left, write down ONE thing that you COULD do, if indeed the worst thing were to happen. For example, it could be the idea of moving to another city is too scary for you, despite your heart knowing it is what you want to do. So in the left column you might write, “I could move away and then not have enough money to support myself”; then in the right column, one thing you COULD do if that were to happen would be “I could find a flatmate”, or “I could move back home with my folks”, or “I could be creative with coming up with new revenue streams”… whatever feels congruent and true to you – this is not a BS exercise, else your Water Element will not feel reassured enough. It must feel as true as possible.

You should find that by connecting to the Water Elements resourcefulness in coming up with contingency plans, you can prove to yourself (and your Water) that even if the worst thing happened, you WILL be ok. Give it a try, it can be really liberating to write it all down and visually see if the bad thing happened, it really wouldn’t be such a big deal – and this is coming from a Water CF girl, who does the risk assessing thing constantly!!

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5. Have Acupuncture!

And of course, having acupuncture will immediately connect us into the Water Element ready for Winter! There are specific points we call “horary points”, which have particular potency during their specific season. Don’t forget each of us has ALL of the Five Elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal & Water – within us, we just tend to have ONE of the Elements that we resonate most with, or is like our default setting… (read more in my FREE ebook to see what Element you might be!)… So although this post is particularly relevant to those Water CFs (constitutional factors or constitutional Elements) amongst us, we can ALL benefit from connecting in with the Water Element in Winter.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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What Does Your Stress Look Like?

By Rhiannon Griffiths

Next week sees the arrival of the UK’s annual Stress Awareness Day, that happens on the first Wednesday of November every year. This year’s theme and focus is on stress being a balancing act. And acupuncture is ALL about BALANCE.

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The balancing and harmonising affect of acupuncture, that uses ultra fine needles as thin as a human hair, makes it well placed to deal with stress. In scientific terms, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate release of endorphins (the happy hormones) and oxytocin (the calm and contented hormone often associated with nursing mothers) – leading to reduction of stress levels.

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As a member of the British Acupuncture Council, and a traditional acupuncturist, I use acupuncture to address the root cause reason as to why a physical or emotional issue is present or persisting. The Five Element style believes that most often the root cause reason is in our default Element.

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what is my element ebook on ipad thumbnail mergedIn Chinese Medicine, there are Five Elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. We do have all of the Five Elements within us, but one Element is the dominant one, like our default setting, the one that shows itself the most in everything we do.

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I might have five people all coming for acupuncture because they are stressed out, but each of them might experience stress very differently, depending upon which Element is dominant for them. One might be overworked, overwhelmed, anxious and tearful, another might have tight shoulders and feel irritable or frustrated. Understanding the kinds of habits, behaviours, blocks and emotions that you experience in daily life, is the first step to managing your stress levels.

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The free ebook is intended to be a gentle introduction into the Five Elements, to give you an idea of what each Element is like, and to see if you can identify yourself in one of them. Download it by filling out the form below, I’d love to know what you think!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2014

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What Does Going Off Coffee Have to Do With the Heart?

By Rhiannon Griffiths

A patient recently emailed me, surprised that she had gone off her beloved coffee. Having previously drunk a lot of the black stuff on a regular basis, she found she just didn’t feel like she wanted it any more. She was intrigued and wanted answers.

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From my integrated Five Element Acupuncturist perspective, it wasn’t a surprise. Each of the Five Elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – have an associated taste, as well as many other resonances, read more in my new ebook. Coffee is bitter, and bitter is linked to the Fire Element. The main Fire organ is the Heart, and in Chinese Medicine and Chinese Food Energetics, the bitter taste is said to go straight to the Heart and affect the energetics, feelings and functionings of the organ.

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Coffee Heart Five Elements Chinese Medicine

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This is why I avoid coffee, I LOVE the smell, but its affects on me and my heart are super strong. I get shaky, light headed and feel sick, like my blood pressure has dropped. I feel my heart beating like mad, skipping around with palpitations.

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For others, and maybe for you, it is different and the Heart is given some support from coffee – some boosting, a little kick in the morning of familiar warmth, of feel-good happy contented energy. But for some, a craving or too much dependence on coffee can indicate (or even create in the long term!) an imbalance in the Fire Element and it’s energy.

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The more we return to balance in the Fire Element and the heart, the less we NEED coffee. And this is what had happened to my gorgeous patient. Through work on herself, with the support of coaching and acupuncture, she had become more in touch with her Heart. She connected with her Heart, acknowledged it and really FELT into it. She was fully enjoying this Heart space she hadn’t realised she had been missing.

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So what does that have to do with coffee? The support from acupuncture and coaching had created a mindful, ACTIVE connection to the Heart space. This connected to the energy of the Heart, the nurture of the Qi (or life force) there, focusing attention there, shifting the energy there, creating a boost, a stimulation, a kick start of the Heart and the Fire Element. It therefore no longer needs to rely on the coffee and it’s bitter taste for that Heart boost or stimulation. As a result, the craving goes down, the body, mind and spirit no longer require it; it’s a sign that something internally has changed.

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Have you noticed something has changed for you recently? Have you gone off a certain food, or found yourself suddenly reaching for something that isn’t normally on your menu? It could be an indication of an internal shift, one of your Five Elements is in a changing state of balance – towards imbalance, or toward a better state of balance. Share your thoughts in the comments below and my acupuncturists brain may be able to shed some light on it for you!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2014

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Note: original coffee cup photo from Tumblr

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Free Five Element Ebook CF




7 Natural Tips for Healthy Flying

By Rhiannon Griffiths

Here in the UK, the Summer holidays are upon us. The schools have finished for their extended six week break, and families are jetting off to sunny places for some rest and relaxation, despite it having been unusually hot on our shores for the last month or so! And so many patients in clinic have been asking exactly HOW I managed my 24 hour flight to Australia earlier in the year, despite having a BIG fear of flying, AND suffering crippling travel / air / altitude sickness.

So today I am sharing the WHAT – those specific things that went into my carry-on hand luggage – yes, all the right sizes and no dodgy restrictions – that got me through the seven flights I did in March. It did raise a few eyebrows from the folks sitting next to me every time I got out my “flying survival toolkit”, but it became somewhat of a talking point, and I KNOW there will be things in here that will help you too, especially if you’re not a big fan of planes!

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healthy flying tool kit.

1. Acupressure Travel Bands

As an acupuncturist, the one security blanket you have is that you can put needles in yourself to treat acute conditions e.g. sickness or migraine, to give instant and immediate relief. Even THINK about going near a plane, and all sharp objects, including your gorgeous, magic, special little needles are out of the question. Cue freaking out. Ok, when I calmed down, I realised acupressure was my new best friend.

So called “travel bands” are available from Boots (in the UK), and most pharmacies, or online – heck, I even lost one of my wrist bands on the first leg of my homeward bound journey, and managed to pick up a replacement in Singapore airport!

You wear them like wrist bands, and they have a plastic half-sphere on the inside. They work by stimulating an acupuncture point called Pc 6 or “neiguan”, which is translated as “inner gate”. The deep pathway of the channel goes directly through the stomach, which harmonises and settles the organ, keeping Qi (energy) down, instead of it rising up which causes you to feel (or actually be) sick. Having acupuncture on this point BEFORE you go can also help massively.

The main time I remember thinking I might actually vomit on the flight from Heathrow to Singapore (to then go on to Brisbane), I looked at my wrist bands and they had moved off the Pc 6 point – a small adjustment, and the nausea ceased again. It is important to get the point location exact, else these bands won’t work for you – I have a sheet on my website that I give to patients before they travel, just to make sure they are guided properly to putting the bands on correctly.

I also used a second pair of the bands on my feet to stimulate the acupuncture point Kid 1 – to “ground” my energy DOWN as much as possible, whilst being up in the air! And an acupressure plaster on He 7, to help calm my anxiety and nerves. Acupressure really rocks!

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2. Homeopathic Remedies

Before I travelled, I went to see my fabulously lovely homeopath, Jill Roarty, so that I could have a range of remedies tailored to my needs and my personality. The main one for altitude sickness was Coca, and it works like a dream! I had a special jet lag formula, and a strong dose of arnica, to take whilst on the flight, to help the adjustment to the new time zone – I didn’t have ANY jet lag when I arrived in Australia! Plus a couple of other remedies to help with my anxiety, fear of freaking out when “trapped” inside the airplane for 14 hours etc… and I was ok!

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3. Flower Remedies or Essences

Bach Rescue Remedy is a staple in my first aid kit, and the smaller “flight friendly” bottle (double check when you buy) definitely went in to the “flight survival pack”, to calm the nerves. This was especially useful in the airport BEFORE the flight. And it seemed only fitting to have an Australian Bush Flower Essence in there too, especially as I was flying to Aus! The “TRAVEL” essence was perfect, and I took it before, during and after the flights. It helps energetics wise, when you’re in such close proximity to strangers when travelling, as well as tiredness, jet lag, adjusting to new places and time zones.

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4. Aromatherapy

I also had two bespoke remedies blended for me by great aromatherapist Jo Partridge. They come in “flight friendly” rollerball vials. One was very calming, with rose, geranium and a couple of others. It was great when the nerves started to creep up, I just dabbed some on my wrists, so the oils could be absorbed easily. The other blend had very grounding scents including vetiver and lavender. This again helped to keep my Qi down, despite being up in the air!

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5. Throat Sprays

I am always treating patients who have had a fabulous holiday, but come home with a sore throat, or a cough / cold they have picked up on the plane. Too many people in very close proximity, and the re-circulated air, does nothing for keeping well. I pre-empt this, and ensure my throat is supported, reducing the likelihood of nasties getting in and setting up camp. Higher Nature Colloidal Silver is good at “sterilising” the air around you on a plane – I spritzed this around my face and seating area every few hours, as well as directly spraying the back of my throat to “kill any bugs” that I might be breathing in. Additionally, the A.Vogel echinacea throat spray is fabulous for boosting and supporting the immune system, plus sage is antibacterial and soothes any soreness.

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6. Skin Hyrdation

Apart from drinking TONS of water on the plane – make sure you buy a large bottle once you have gone through security, especially if you’re headed on long-haul – I used the deliciously scented face mist from Liz Earle. It’s for mature or very dry skin – but don’t let that put you off, it is natural and exactly what your poor dehydrated skin requires… and need I say, NO makeup is essential.

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7. Fear of Flying Audios

One last thing that wasn’t in my “travel survival pack” as such, but it really helped to prepare me before the long-haul flights, both to AND from Australia – Flying Without Fear audios and books. I really cannot recommend them highly enough. They dispel all the common misconceptions – did you know there are no such thing as air pockets?! They go through all the various sounds you might hear onboard, so you don’t jump to the conclusion that the clunk you just heard is the wing about to fall off! And they gave me my mantra of 24hrs – “turbulence is NOT dangerous, it is JUST uncomfortable”. My goodness, that got me through it!

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I cannot tell you how much all of these things helped during my travels. Until this year, I didn’t think I could ever fly again after a 7 year absence, or that if I did, I would have to be drugged up to the eyeballs on medication, which is just NOT me! You CAN travel naturally and keep healthy! Do let me know if you try any of these yourself over the summer vacation, or if you have something else I could add to my travel toolkit… what is your number one fail-safe thing to have when you are travelling? Or could you benefit from acupuncture on Pc 6 before you go on holiday to help with travel sickness? Get in touch!

Wishing you safe travels and a restful break, wherever you are headed

R xx

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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