A good night's sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.
Sleep quality and quantity has declined over the past few decades, our sedentary lifestyle may well be a factor. Sleep helps your body and brain function properly
Regular poor sleep has immediate negative effects on brain function, your hormones, exercise and performance. Add to that it can also increase risk of weight gain in both children and adults.
When you have good sleep this can help you eat well, exercise better and be healthier. What’s more getting sufficient sleep has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
While sleep medications may be helpful in dealing with insomnia and other sleep disorders in the short term, they are not generally recommended for long-term use. Sleep medications can be physically and psychologically addictive and come with some serious potential side effects and health risks.
Here are some proven all natural tips and treatments to help you sleep better…
ACUPUNCTURE - Multiple studies have shown acupuncture to be an effective treatment for insomnia. Acupuncture lessens anxiety, stimulates melatonin production and induces sleep onset, and can reduce sleep disruption and arousal during the night. All these effects amount to an overall increase in total sleep time.
Not only does acupuncture help with better sleep but also can address those symptoms that are keeping you up at night and get to the root of why those symptoms are occurring in the first place. Traditional acupuncture utilizes tiny needles to access distinct points on the body to restore balance, alleviate pain, stress and anxiety, enhance sleep, and improve overall well-being. When systemic balance is restored, symptoms disappear and greater overall health is achieved. After one session, regardless of what you are being treated for, many notice better sleep that same night, reduced stress, and a feeling of calm and well-being.
REFLEXOLOGY - There is a specific point on the base of the foot called the insomnia point. Usually in a person who is having problems sleeping this point is sore when pressed, it is one of the best points to massage to help induce sleep. There are nearly 15,000 nerves in your feet alone which is why foot reflexology is calming and effective.
While it’s not a scientifically proven medical treatment for insomnia or other sleep issues, it can be a helpful complementary treatment.
LOOK AT YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE - Don’t consume caffeine late in the day. Caffeine found in coffee, tea and energy drinks stimulate the nervous system and stop your body from naturally shutting down at sleep time. Caffeine can stay elevated in the blood for 6-8 hours so 3-4pm is a good cut-off.
GET MORE NATURAL LIGHT - Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm.
It affects your brain, body and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it's time to sleep.
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.
In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%
Avoid over exposure to Blue Light in the evening time - Blue light (which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts), impacts on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.
MELATONIN is the hormone that helps send us to sleep each night. It tells our bodies “Okay, you can rest now” and in the morning it regulates what time we wake up. Melatonin is regulated by the sun, so it is vital we try and get 15 mins of sunlight in the morning each day as this will help melatonin levels work properly. Foods such as : Bananas, Oats, Pineapples, Oranges, Tomatoes and my favorite Cherries all help melatonin production.
BEDTIME ROUTINE - During the week try and establish a regular bedtime and wake up time, our bodies work well with routine.
Create a healthy sleeping environment. Dust and clutter free, with clean bedding. Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows. If you suffer with night sweats use 100% cotton bedding.
Stuffy bedrooms play havoc with sleep, so make sure your bedroom temperature is not above 20 degrees celsius and air quality is good. Plants such as aloe vera and peace lillies create oxygen rich air.
Avoid looking at your phone just before bed, if you use it as your alarm, leave on aeroplane mode. Be firm with yourself not to go online in the night as the light on the screen can instantly wake up your brain.
EXERCISE Exercise can be an important contributor to your sleep health. Overall, people tend to sleep better when their lifestyle includes some physical activity.
AVOID ALCOHOL as a way to help you sleep. There is a common misconception that alcohol helps you sleep. Quite the opposite. The quality of sleep that comes from a heavy night of drinking has a very detrimental effect on our bodies, our organs and our sleep. Whilst people can literally pass out from alcohol most will wake through the night or the morning feeling a lot worse for wear.
Avoid alcohol before bed, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
MAGNESIUM is a mineral involved in hundreds of processes in the human body, and is important for brain function and heart health.
In addition, magnesium may help quiet the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.
Studies show that magnesium’s relaxing effect may be partly due to its ability to regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that guides your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
In the elderly, magnesium intake tends to be low, intestinal absorption is frequently diminished, and urinary output is often enhanced. Talk to your GP, especially if your sleep is poor, you suffer from muscle aches and pains at night, or taking multiple medications. Whilst magnesium deficiency is uncommon low magnesium levels are. As our bodies store half our magnesium in bone and soft tissue it's hard to get a definitive test result. In Ireland many people suffer with low Vitamin D levels, vitamin D and magnesium depend on each other for absorption and function.
Foods such as nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, beans, salmon and bananas are just some of the foods that contain magnesium. Magnesium supplements, and sprays are available talk to a health care provider for the right one for you.
Epsom Salts are also a quick way of absorbing magnesium into the body. These can be added into the bath or foot bath for those that don't have one.
LAVENDER OIL - several studies show that simply smelling lavender oil for 30 minutes before sleep may be enough to improve the quality of sleep.
This effect appears particularly strong in those suffering from mild insomnia, especially females and young individuals.
L-THEANINE - With its ability to increase relaxation and lower stress, L-theanine can help in sleep in a number of ways. ... Research also shows L-theanine can improve the quality of sleep—not by acting as a sedative, but by lowering anxiety and promoting relaxation. Supplement form can be bought in health food stores.
SOOTHING HERBAL TEAS - Lemon balm is a member of the mint family that's used both as a cooking ingredient and as a herbal medicine. It's also well known for its ability to promote better sleep. ... These days, lemon balm is often mixed with other ingredients, like chamomile or hops, to create a relaxing formula which can help people sleep.
Try MEDITATION this can be done in bed or relaxing in a chair. Better still join a meditation group for weekly guided sessions. Yoga and meditation both hugely help switch off the mind and aid a peaceful night's sleep.
GET CHECKED OUT IF you frequently get up in the night to use the bathroom, men even if under 50 please get your prostate health checked. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full nights sleep you might have sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts throughout the night.
There are many other supplements and herbal remedies on the market targeting sleep, as everyone is individual it is well worth trying out what works best for you.
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
We tend to focus on the female when trying for a baby, this is possibly due to the fact that we have the menstrual cycle, as women we get used to our bodies monthly rhythms. So it’s us that tend to get checked out first.
However recent studies show that Male fertility is the cause of 35-40% of infertility in couples. Many of our patients find a stumbling block when we mention that we would like the man to get his semen analysis done. This is often the case when perhaps the woman wants to actively try for a baby, and the man is more laid back, and wanted to leave it a bit longer. It isn’t the most pleasurable thing to do, in a sterile room, in a fertility clinic. But communication is key here, make sure you as a couple want to take the next step, and if you have been actively trying for a baby for over a year if under 35, and 6 months if 36 plus, then it is vital to get a semen analysis done, along with blood tests for the woman, testing FSH & LH and progesterone.
Here at Clonmel Acupuncture & Therapy Centre we have come up some of our top Super Duper Sperm creators!
Sperm cells take 11 weeks to mature in the testicles before they are ready for ejaculation. If you adjust your diet today, along with any of the other tips that apply to you it will thus take three months for the better sperm to be ready for fertilisation. You must therefore keep the diet or supplement on an on-going basis – ideally until your partner is pregnant.
Baby sex (Timed Intercourse to conceive a baby) – love it or hate it, many of us have done it. Over the last 16 years treating couples trying to conceive, I’ve come to the conclusion that baby sex doesn’t work.
We spend our late teens, early 20’s doing everything within our power not to become pregnant. Early 30’s come along, we fall in love, find “the one” (or thereabouts), we decide to go un-protected. At first it’s exhilarating, liberating, we feel like naughty teenagers. That’s the first few months. Job done, delighted, we start looking out for signs of early pregnancy, that we googled. Yes we have tender breasts, nipples have changed colour (maybe).Then our good friend period arrives, just a day late.
Little do we know that a healthy 30 year old trying to conceive only has a 20% chance of conceiving each month. But we think it’s going to work right away – sure look at Mary in accounts, 4th baby on the way, she says she only has to look at her man, and boom, another baby comes along.
All of a sudden making love becomes staged, forced and sometimes painful. Here’s the thing, a woman’s monthly cycle is pretty amazing, but sometime ago many of us lost the ability to listen to it.
Day 1-5 generally for most women is menstruation, after this every woman’s cycle varies. We reach for the ovulation sticks to show us a smiley face, instead of listening to our bodies, watching for our body to tell us when it’s fertile. For example our cervical mucus changes, becoming clear, our sex drive increases, but putting a stick with a flashing smiley face in front of your partner, chances are he may do two things, run a mile, or fail to perform.
David shares his story …
“ My wife and I got married young, we bought a house, and 5 years later we decided to try for a family. Both of us come from fairly large families. The first 6 months were great, but I saw a different look start to appear in Helen's eyes. She began to scare me coming up to mid-cycle. I dreaded the text at work telling me her stick said she was at her most fertile. And even if I was exhausted after a particularly busy day at work, I was expected to be in the mood, as soon as I stepped through the front door. It killed it for me I began to have erectile problems, which really worried me. Helen would be a very caring person, but this she didn’t take well, and got more and more frustrated with me. We began to row, especially leading up to mid cycle. When her period came, Helen wouldn’t talk to me to a few days.
Helen's friend told her about Katie at The Clonmel Acupuncture Centre, so we met Katie for a consultation. She recommended that we got basic blood tests done, all came back OK. She asked Helen to get rid of the temperature charts, and ovulation kits, and diary for a few months. And explained that we needed to go back to basics, having sex only when both of us wanted, for both of us to exercise, to make sure Helen had orgasms again, to go and have great sex, and re discover each other.
It felt strange at first then one night Helen broke down she said she just wanted me. I believe my wife let go of something, not sure what but our son Jack was born 10 months later.”
See here’s the thing that I see time and time again. When we don’t get pregnant – fear creep’s its ugly head in, fear is the enemy, as is frustration. I believe the way we have sex as a couple has a huge impact on the result.
Baby sex – normally “performed” after the couple have come back from work all day. Its quick, forced, and 9 times out of 10 the woman doesn’t climax, we lose the love. Many women report back to me that they begin to dread mid cycle sex, because there’s a feeling of complete anxiety that they don’t miss the right days, hours.
I firmly believe that female orgasm pre or post male ejaculation increases sperm retention and helps increase chances of conception.
Interestingly longer foreplay and a higher level of sexual arousal before ejaculation have shown to increase sperm counts in some research studies.
So what’s the answer?
There is no simple answer. I believe that once you start “trying” for a baby, you can never fully stop. But what you can do is alter your approach.
Intimacy as a couple is paramount. This is often lost when trying for a baby. Keep communicating as a couple. Intimacy isn’t just physical it is emotional contact too. Discuss how you are both feeling. Remember it takes two to tango, make sure you are both on the same page.
This is very hard but try not to compare yourselves to couples around you. It can be very painful to see friends conceive quickly when you are actively trying. I remember personally seeing 3 couples that were our friends have 2 children each before we had our first. I found it very hard not to feel resentful towards them all. I found myself avoiding their company.
Go back to basics, re connect to each other. Spend quality time together in and out of the bedroom. One of my most successful tips for couples has been to go hill walking together. For some reason this really does seem to work!!!
Until you get a positive pregnancy test do not put your lives on hold. Enjoy sex again…
Katie Murphy Lic AC MTCMCI
When a couple decide on some level that they want to have a baby, the early stages of “trying” are fun. But after a few months and no sign of a positive pregnancy test, fear starts to creep in. Fear along with its friends worry, and doubt. Then things aren’t so fun, sex can become a chore, an almost desperate experience for some. Men find they are put under enormous pressure to preform, here, now, the ovulation kit says so!
We see this pattern 70% of the time, the relationship can become strained and from that moment that the woman wants a baby so badly, that she will do anything to get it, well that’s not a healthy place to be. Our bodies release stress hormones, our sleep patterns become erratic and our fertile bodies let us down.
At The Clonmel Acupuncture & Therapy Centre we address all aspects of getting the body, mind and soul ready to conceive and carry a beautiful, healthy baby into this world.
Think of your garden for a moment, to plant a vibrant flower, how would you prepare the soil? You would use the richest, most fertile soil, full of nutrients, watered and warm, ready for that flower to grow in this wonderful, nurtured environment? Yes you would.
Working out when you are at your most fertile can be very confusing, especially when you have few fertile signs to begin with.
My job is to help teach couples to recognise any imbalances, and treat them to increase energy into their fertile window. Listening and responding to your body's signs is really the key to conceiving. Bear in mind that given the right environment sperm can last inside you for up to 5 days, whereas when an egg is released from the ovary it needs to be fertilised within 24 hours. Over the last 16 years working with fertility I have found these tips very useful. Here are some on our top tips to increase your fertile signs & make your fertile window even longer;
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
I want to share a story about a little girl and her journey to become the person she is today. Why am I sharing this? Because I hope it will resonate with someone somewhere, or a parent of a similar child. Help them to understand that our oddities can be turned into a life long passion if allowed to blossom.
Lets start at the beginning – The youngest child born in the late 70’s in a small, some would say idyllic, town in Dorset, south west of England.
She grew up with her two sisters, very close to her mum. Most happy with her dog tizzie on her lap. Tizzie was her partner in crime for many years. At the age of 5 she was responsible for her parents having to refuse to buy a house in the country because she saw a man dressed in a black gown staring down at her as she walked into the house. This prompted massive screams and an absolute refusal to step back inside. It transpired that this was an old school.
From that age on wards she saw and felt things in places and picked up on people’s energy, never realising that other people perhaps didn’t feel or see the same.
Her sister Claire made a fairy garden in their front garden and she would spend hours playing with the fairies, seeing sparks of light that she again presumed others saw too.
She had many imaginary friends that used to join her in the coal bunker and up the apple tree keeping her feeling safe and happy and secure. It sometimes became a bit lonely especially when her sisters grew older.
Weekends were spent visiting her Aunties with her mum or granny and granddad with her Dad. In the early years she started to pick up on how people were feeling, she could see her granny was very sad, her heart was missing something and she saw and loved helping her sew, bake and garden as a way of filling that hole.
Sundays were usually spent riding her pony, riding through the village looking into people's lives through their windows. She always disliked a certain area and always felt her body change when she rode her pony through it. One occasion she fell off her pony whilst cantering in the local woods with her friend Claire. Both of their ponies stopped dead and in the corner of her eye as she fell to the ground she saw an old man with a long grey beard standing by a tree, she would later recognise who this man was, but he had disappeared by the time the girls had managed to remount and canter home.
Sunday nights had a strange feel to them. Sunday lunch was always a real feast cooked predominately by her father if he was at home. She worked up a ferocious appetite having been outside all day. But when she would hear Antiques Road Show theme tune coming on she would feel anxiety start to build back up in her stomach again.
People would describe her as a girl with a big, beautiful smile. Behind that smile she hid a huge amount of anxiety. A mind that never switched off, constantly thinking, worrying about her family, her animals, and how she was accepted at school. She really didn’t enjoy early primary school and suffered huge separation anxiety from her mum. She even made herself ill enough to take a large percentage of one school year off, she spent that with her Granny sewing a patchwork quilt and baking lemon love cake.
She had close boy friends and perhaps found them slightly easier to get on with than girls. She always wished she was as brave as her friends such as Cecilia who would climb the highest tree like a monkey.
She loved being outside so much and playing out there made her feel happy and loved if that makes sense? Like her own little sanctuary. She loved to dig for treasure and spent hours in the local river finding old bottles and pottery.
Animals – she connected with great ease to them. They looked at her and she understood them and they her. Eyes were hugely important and told her a lot. She spent many years trying to save lost souls. A mouse being one of the less fortunate ones… she rescued the mouse after her cat had deposited it on the door mat. She found her old fish tank and made a cosy nest for the mouse to recuperate in. The cat watched and waited to go back for round two, she saw this and in a panic grabbed a brick to place on the top of the fish tank. A few moments later a loud thud was heard and a fat cat was looking slightly guilty at a squashed mouse under the brick!
School made her feel restless and made her mind race. She spent too many hours trying to be the best but spending far too long sky gazing instead. As a teenage she found the added hormones made her feel slightly more uneasy with herself. Often finding herself in situations that she wished she wasn’t especially with boys.
Not sure why but she always felt she wasn’t worth being loved. This may sound odd but for some reason she didn’t love the person she was. In her late teens she found herself in a friend’s bedroom with a local boy’s school boy. She panicked because she had got herself into a situation and realised after drinking nearly a full bottle of 20/20 it wasn’t looking like she was going to get out of it without doing something she really wasn’t ready to do. Because she had agreed to go upstairs with him she felt that is was her fault and therefore she must oblige. Because the boy was from an upper class background she decided she was beneath him.
He told her to undress and to suck him. She said No she began to panic as his tone and body language had become very aggressive. He pinned her down onto the bed and masturbated on top of her. He told her she was a tease, a tart and he walked out of the house. She blamed herself and agreed with him in her mind that she had made it happen. She decided not to speak of this event, to park it somewhere in the recess of her mind. However after this time as her teenage years progressed her hormones became very unstable, and her mood at times very dark. Thoughts of things being better not being on this earth entered her mind briefly. At this time her mum brought her to their GP and she was prescribed what was then a new drug Prozac.
Horses really took over her life around this time. She enjoyed being with them and their energy was very replenishing to her heart. But she knew they weren’t her destiny. Career advisers didn’t quite understand she didn’t get excited about the university courses that they recommended she take. She came from a family who instilled a strong work ethic and she loved making her own money.
She desperately wanted to do something that ignited her passion that lay deep in her heart. She didn’t yearn for university life. She loved her sleep and had got bored of drinking too much. Eventually she applied to do an Equine and Agricultural Business Degree, but asked if she could take a year out beforehand.
This was the year that would change her life. She worked as a nanny for a family in a lovely farmhouse in Hampshire. She can still remember the look of horror on the mother's face when she rocked up in her red Yugo! Her job was the look after two small boys, ride horses and clean the house.
Her diet was appalling and consisted of white bread, diet coke, mars bars and menthol cigarettes. She thought she was incredibly sophisticated because the beautiful mother of the boys smoked them and she looked very glamorous doing it!
She was given the book The Celestial Prophecy around the time of her 19th Birthday. As soon as she began reading it things starting to make sense. A week later she did her Reiki 1 attunement. As she read the book and did her attunement she understood that all the auras, orbs and energy she felt and saw were real. At last she was starting to make some sense of it all. During her clearing after Reiki 2 attunement her body began to change, she lost over a stone in weight and she no longer wanted to drink coke, eat sugar etc. Her emotional state began to balance out and her self-worth finally started to grow. During this time she started to take great interest in the work the lady whose children she was minding was doing. This lady was a wonderful healer and she watched her work her magic on people. She decided to change her career choice and went to train as a massage therapist, and an aromatherapist.
Her sister bought her a crystal and she felt an instant energy connection as if she had come home.
She moved to Melton Mowbray and got a job in Ragdale Hall Health Hydro. This was probably the making of her as a business woman massaging up to 10 people a day. Ragdale Hall developed a treatment called Chakra Journey. As only one of the two Reiki Practitioners in the Hall it was her job to do this treatment. She was taught how to use the machine but at 20 years old she was a little out of her depth. No one had taught her how to protect her own energy or how to process what she was getting from the person receiving the treatment.
One of her first chakra journey treatments was on a lady in her 30's, all of a sudden another lady appeared in her minds eye. She stood watching what was her daughter “Please tell her to stop smoking”. She ignored her the voice and blamed the jacket potato and cheese she scoffed for her lunch. The older lady appeared again this time making her presence known with a repeated request that her daughter was to give up smoking. She finally plucked up the courage to repeat the message to the ladies daughter. On receiving the message the lady broke down. She took great comfort in feeling her mothers presence during the session and knew she had to give up.
She studied Acupuncture and knew straight away this was absolutely the right path for her. Suddenly learning 1000's of acupuncture points and all the incredible knowledge was a pure pleasure to learn and take in fully. Finally after years of finding it really impossible to remember anything taught to her it flowed in and stayed there.
In her 20’s whilst studying Chinese Medicine she broke her foot, and her back. Around this time her energy changed and she was unable to see orbs/auras until she relocated herself to Tipperary, Ireland.
After Graduating and travelling to Shanghai she knew this was her calling for some reason though she decided to leave the other energy work behind. She felt almost embarrassed by it. It took her 15 years to realise that combining Chinese Medicine and all the other components of healing she had discovered along the way created the most incredible healing space for people. It no longer mattered to her as she entered her 40th year on this earth what people thought. She treated people with compassion, always with love. People could come for regular acupuncture, others would choose to try adding crystals alongside the needles and benefit hugely from the added healing energy given.
Going to France on her 40th Birthday and meeting incredible like-minded people reassured her that everything finally made sense, it all began to click. Teaching groups of people about crystals, chakras and meditation became another passion.
Finally having come home from France during a dream filled night the potions she had always been creating in her clinic where shown to her with crystal clarity. A new business called Essence in Alchemy was born. Combining the power of plants and crystals together. A childhood interest manifesting at the perfect time. 2020 will be an incredible year!
She was eternally grateful for her parents for letting her be her true self. Especially her father, an atheist who found her talk of angels, dragons, unicorns and fairies all far too much. However he always called her for advice when he was sick!
1. Prevention is far better than cure. A healthy, balanced body has a strong, effective immune system. Getting monthly acupuncture sessions support and strengthen immunity. Scientific research shows that acupuncture increases the white blood cells in the body and moderates the immune system, allowing it to react swiftly and strongly to threats.
2. Diet – Increasing foods high in vitamin C and Zinc give your immune system that extra boost. These include; Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Citrus Fruits, Kiwi, Strawberries, Cantaloupe Melon, Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp), Chickpeas, Lentils, Spinach and Almonds.
Zinc activates lymphocytes or T Cells which are necessary to initiate an immune response.
Adding Garlic into your daily winter diet can boost your body’s immunity – A study found that colds were on average 61% shorter for subjects who ate 2.5 grams of aged garlic extract per day, compared to a placebo group. Their colds were also less severe.
3. Supplementation for prevention. Here at The Clonmel Acupuncture & Therapy Centre we are often front line when it comes to colds & viruses. I personally swear by using A. Vogel Echinacea & Sage Throat Spray as a preventative rather than cure. I spray it in the throat am & pm and also if I am flying, visiting a hospital etc.
Remember our Gut wall houses 70 % of the cells that make up our immune system. Gut health literally affects your entire body. Taking a probiotic during the autumn, winter months can be a really positive immune boost for the body. There are so many wonderful probiotics on the market, I personally take Alforex. Probiotic yogurts may also help. Cider Vinegar is a Pre-biotic (a special form of dietary fibre acting as a fertiliser for the good bacteria) try adding a spoonful a day into your diet.
Black Elderberry (sambucus) is suitable for all the family, and a powerful source of Vitamin C.
L-theanine an amino acid found in both Black and Green tea has very interesting clinical trails on its efficacy in the bodies immune response.
Olive Leaf Extract can help provide amazing immune system support thanks to its antiviral properties.
4. Essential Oils – At the CAC we use essential oils in each therapy room. We do this for their therapeutic effect. Oils such as Rosemary, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Thyme, Oregano are all wonder oils in my opinion. Adding 4-6 drops in an oil burner or vaporiser in an area of work, play and rest can help prevent airborne bugs spreading.
5. Fresh Air – According to several studies and experts a little ( or a lot) of time spent outside in the cold fresh air can be highly beneficial to your health. Although I do recommend wearing a scarf and hat but that is just the Chinese Medicine Woman creeping out in me!
Sleeping in a room that is between 15.5-19c helps your brain wind down to sleep. Good sleep is key to a strong immune system.
In the winter months we tend to increase our room temperatures so high that it creates a wonderful haven for germs and viruses’ to spread.
6. We are what we eat. In Traditional Chinese Medicine foods that are beneficial for us during the winter months are foods that warm the body. Soups with hearty vegetables and rich stocks made with animal bones. Foods that nourish and warm what we call our Kidney Qi are black beans, kidney beans, broths, lamb (organic), chicken (organic), walnuts, chestnuts, black sesame seeds and dark leafy greens. We recommend avoiding cold foods that cause the digestive system to slow down, foods such as ice cream, ice cold drinks etc.
I hope these tips help. Remember to keep hydrated and the best remedy for everything is of course lots of laughter!
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
My personal life changed in the late summer of 2016. Suddenly I found myself alone on a Sunday something I had never experienced before then. The first Sunday was spent crying on the sofa, feeling sorry for myself, missing my children so much it physically hurt. Then something remarkable happened. Actually I should change that to someone remarkable turned up on my door step the following Sunday and opened my eyes to all the wonderful things I had always wanted to do but somehow had never found the time.
Emily my co worker and dear friend turned up at my door and instructed me to wear some wellies and off we headed up to the woods. I am incredibly lucky to now live surrounded by woods of Beech, Oak, Chestnut and Pine trees. When we reached the large forest Emily told me to go and hug a tree. I hesitated and laughed nervously thinking that she had finally gone mad. Then I stood by a magnificent beech tree and lost my inhibitions and hugged it. I managed to quieten my mind for a few moments and started to tap into this strong tree and its energy. As an Acupuncturist my job revolves around reading, moving and feeling energy of humans. This was a completely different type of life force energy. Its gentle vibrational energy subtly started to affect my own energy and I felt grounded, strong and at peace. When I got home I started to research tree hugging and discovered (much to my left hand side of my brains delight) that there is lots of scientific research to prove that trees really can affect biological behaviours. I discovered that Qigong Master Chia worked with trees to mediate explaining that trees are natural processors that can help you transform your body’s sick and negative energy into positive vital life force energy (Qi).
Then I thought back to my childhood the one place I always went to when I was sad, or needed some space alone…I would walk to a wonderful old oak tree in Dorset.
Now I was starting to discover how our outside environment around us can be utilised and harnessed into our own healing, helping us on our paths towards self discovery.
Slievenamon is a mountain here in Tipperary. She is known as Sliabh na mBan meaning the mountain of the women. This modest mountain has been my backdrop for well over a decade. I watched her from afar, always admiring the way the colours changed as the sun rose and set. This mountain stands 721m tall and whilst she is smaller than many of her neighbouring mountain ranges, her history is steeped with folklore and legends, hence her name.
This mountain was my second Sunday adventure, again with Emily. Whilst I had admired this mountain for many years, I never found the time to climb her. So with a brand new pair of walking boots off we went. I am quite fit I run a bit but running on the flat isn’t quite the same as climbing up a hill/mountain my calf muscles kindly told me this as we started our ascent. I found it challenging to begin with my heart rate was up and I found myself stopping to admire the view a lot! Once we reached the top it was breathtaking.
How do mountains benefit our own individual energy? Picture a mountain; energetically they represent strength, balance and stability. The energy created to manifest a mountain is incredible, each mountain is different and I believe has a different affect on you. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view when you walk up a mountain (or steep hill) the emotions that will really benefit from this experience would primarily be the Heart and Lungs and Kidney energy. In TCM the heart emotion is Joy, many of us have suffered heart ache, and being up a mountain can bring the Joy back into balance. Moving to the lungs where the emotions of anxiety and grief can be held, with each breath of air (providing you’re not climbing Everest) starts to move stuck energy, helping to clear the anxiety many of us carry in our shoulders, neck and face.
I have found lots of milky quartz and clear quartz crystals as I climb these crystals alone can have a powerful affect on our energy.
To summarise I have discovered a lot from being outside and tapping into the energy of mother nature, something many people already know and that’s healing starts from within. In order to do this we must often have to move out of our individual comfort zones. Challenge our bodies and work with the emotions that come from this. Do what truly makes you happy. For me I found Mother Nature and being surrounded by her and all her beauty helped me start to heal. Many of my patients come to me having lost the battle to balance life and work. It is incredibly easy to get to this point at this time. Many of the mothers that come to me have lost themselves in the process of giving everything they have to their children. I have learnt that in order to be the best mother, therapist and friend I must look after my emotional and physical health.
Try for yourself if you haven’t already. Go for that walk in the woods. Climb up a hill, then go for it and experience the energy of those mountains, but be warned… the mountains will call you back again...
The middle of August signifies the summer holidays are drawing to a close. Many of our children embark on a new school year, some for the very first time. It is really important to help prepare them for this transition, to allow it all to flow as smoothly as possible. By doing this it makes their and in turn your lives easier in the process.
During the summer months routine tends to fall by the wayside. Late nights become a regular occurrence in many homes. I believe this is good as we tend to, especially in the western world put our children under a lot of pressure to conform to busy time tables. Structure is a necessity to get to school/work on time, but at any age being constantly hurried along, living in our go, go, go age can be both physically and emotionally draining on our children
Whilst many breathe a sigh of relief when the first day of summer holidays start. It gives us all a chance to stop and recharge. Now that the summer holidays are starting to draw to a close it really helps to bring some of these tips into play for an easier transition back to school life:
KatIe Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
This blog is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor.
I have always loved Christmas. Perhaps one of my favourite memories being when my sister Claire and I decided to set a "Father Christmas Trap" one Christmas Eve. It involved a bean bag and a bean pole by the bedroom door, if my memory serves me correctly. We went to bed so excited - well I did, my sister I believe was humouring me, being 5 years older. I was convinced I heard the reindeer's hooves tapping on the roof, and hid under my duvet to hear a huge amount of swearing as the bedroom door opened and "father Christmas" fell over the trap. I couldn't believe he would swear like that! My poor Dad.
Now a days Christmas starts so early, we are brain washed by images of happy families gathered around a perfect feast. Children laughing, playing, and couples in love. So how does this time of year feel for someone trying for a baby? Or for a couple having had a miscarriage? I can only share with you my personal experiences. I had two miscarriages right before Christmas. The first was by far the worst namely because it was my first pregnancy, so we were completely unaware of all the booby traps that can lie in wait when you are pregnant.
We were so excited. I was dragging my Irish husband kicking and screaming to his first English Christmas in Dorset. So very excited, we were celebrating after a long week at work. That's when it started to go wrong, noticing that small show of blood. Resulting in a D&C. The next day we were meant to be celebrating Marc's Fathers birthday before we left to the UK. I will never forget the numbness. Being surrounded by such joy, everyone celebrating, yet inside I was completely numb. Being given the most beautiful diamond bracelet, seeing our beautiful pregnant friend, still so very numb.
At the airport on Christmas Eve, we stood waiting to check-in. I remember seeing the most adorable little girl, probably aged 3, dressed in a pretty red coat. She wouldn't stop smiling at me, twirling around to show me her curls. My heart broke and yet it melted all at once. That was the moment I decided we would get our baby, whatever it took. I wanted to see that love in my babies’ eyes.
I can't remember anything about that Christmas Day I must have gone into auto robot mode. On Boxing/St Stephen's Day my eldest sister Sarah dragged us to some beach on the Dorset Coastline, normally one of my favourite places. It was freezing cold, blowing a gale. My husband stood dumbstruck, I had forgotten to warn him about my families’ crazy rituals around Christmas time. Marc took me to a tiny pub nestled by the sea, he told my sister I wasn't up to the hike up the cliff. What was strange was that a lot of healing happened that day. We sat by a beautiful log fire, drinking too many hot whiskeys. We talked, proper communication something that really can stop when you are trying for a baby for so long.
This Christmas I have two beautiful angels (most of the time)! Who are so excited, the absolute joy and innocence on their faces when they wake up on Christmas Day is something I will treasure forever.
If you are reading this blog and dreading this Christmas don't give up on your heart’s desire. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you. But for now try and have a peaceful Christmas X.
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
I can’t tell you why, but in my 20’s I started to get an inkling that babies weren’t going to come easy to me. Maybe it was because I was studying Tradition Chinese Medicine, and had begun to realise I had quite a few syndromes. There was also the fact that I hadn’t exactly been careful when I first met my soon to be husband, and yet nothing had ever happened.
When we got married, we were in the middle of building our house, in the good old days of the boom. We were living above a local pub, finding married life quite stressful. The transition from engaged to married didn’t seem to be as smooth as others. Perhaps we were both trying to hold on to our independence.
Living above a pub wasn’t the healthiest environment to be in, I am a diabolical drinker, but I was smoking at the time, my new husband enjoyed the Guinness on tap downstairs! I got pregnant 5 months after we got married, and I was delighted, gave up smoking, and took the pregnancy very seriously, but looking back, I was so unready to be a mother, as a couple we had a lot of sorting out to do. My life revolved around my work, work and more work. An incredibly un-stressful job, but a very hard one, energy wise, I remember looking back at the diary the day I lost that baby, and I had 8 sports massages in, what the hell was I playing at?
So from that moment, lots of things changed, the joy of getting pregnant personally for me was lost forever. A miscarriage takes away all your joy, it strips it from your heart. Before you have a miscarriage, you begin to love a treasure, this little person growing inside you. We even had a name, I was certain it was a boy. But when you realise that actually you are at the hands of fate. Every pregnancy after that moment can be terrifying, and joyless.
I remember I was waiting for the D&C, it was the day before Christmas Eve, and for some reason I was left waiting in the store cupboard, by the operating theatre, in my gown and manky boots. I was crying until a lovely doctor came in horrified that they’d left me wait in there. Put in the theatre, the nurses were discussing how many miscarriages they had had that week, then what they were hoping to get for Christmas.
I think something in my brain after this decided that I never wanted to go through that experience ever again, so we didn’t conceive for 3 years after that. Looking back I don’t like regretting moments in my life, but those 3 years I really wish I hadn’t put my life on hold, I wish we had gone on more holidays and had more fun, I wish I had stopped thinking I was pregnant every bloody month.
I got pregnant again, finally, but I didn’t feel it was quite right. I think as women we have incredibly strong intuition, if we choose to listen to it. My sister was working with me, we were having a great time, I remember we were going to go to Kildare Shopping Village to go Christmas shopping, I had had a dream I wasn’t pregnant anymore, and that morning I started bleeding. Turned out my dream was right, the scan showed an empty sac. I was remarkably calm, after this, until my dad rang me, and I will never forget the sadness in his voice as he cried on the phone for what his baby of our family, had lost. I balled after that.
Life moved on as it does, oddly I grew stronger as a person and a therapist. I had empathy and a deep understanding when treating fertility. I played polo cross, got help with work, gave up the physical therapy part of my work. My sister was due her baby at the end of that summer, and asked me to be her birthing partner, in the Uk. I was so excited and distracted. I had started to go for counselling with a wonderful woman, and as a couple we were incredibly strong. I conceived that month. I will never forget it, it was the only month in all those years I took my eye off the ball!!! I was sat in the hospital watching my sister in labour on my 3rd really strong coffee, thinking god this tastes rotten,,,bingo!
We have two gorgeous children, Josh and Heather; Heather came as a surprise 18 months after Josh. I have gone on a journey that millions of women have treaded before me. We are pretty amazing really. I meet women that blow me away, with their courage and strength every day.