In a clinical environment Men and Back Pain go together hand in hand. In Ireland the younger generations of men are starting to take care of their bodies, both physically and emotionally. Many are turning to fitness as a healthy realise of energy. Finally it is not seen as unusual that a man would want to take care of himself, and his body.
But I have noticed that there appears to be a particular age group of men in their mid-50’s to late 60’s that struggle with the self-care concept. Clinically speaking by the time they come into see me their back issue is pretty serious.
Back pain is the most popular reason men receive Acupuncture in Ireland. In the UK in 2016 the NHS removed its recommendation for Acupuncture as a treatment for back pain, due to not enough evidence to prove its worth. Since then in the US The Journal of Pain researchers with the Acupuncture trialists’ collaboration concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, that the effects of acupuncture persist over time, and that the benefits of acupuncture cannot be explained away solely by placebo effect.
Office workers, and men that drive a lot for their work often experience muscular tension in the neck, shoulder and mid thoracic area of their backs. Poor posture, stress and poor diet can massively impact on this area of the back.
We must look at lifestyle changes as well as treatment in order to create a long lasting treatment result. I believe my high success rates when treating all back pain, be it sciatica, prolapsed lumbar disc, muscular ligamentous lumbar strain, and osteoarthritis is my holistic approach to treating the back as well as the body.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the lower back is governed by the kidney channel. This means that it is vital to maintain a healthy, free flow of kidney qi. When our bodies are put through emotional trauma, excessive fear, anxiety, depression, these can all deplete Kidney Qi. Over time this weakens the lower back and allows it to become more susceptible to injury.
For men as they get older Kidney Qi begins to naturally deplete. This is part of the aging process. The gentle decrease of kidney qi has few symptoms unless the individual has had any of the following; what we would classify as a stressful existence, a job that requires a lot of emotional as well as physical effort over a long period of time, a diet that is lacking in nutrient value, lack of water and perhaps a hereditary back condition or chronic illness. All these often mean a male will develop either Kidney Yin Deficiency symptoms; these include nocturnal emissions, soreness and weakness in the lower back, dry mouth and throat, hearing problems, knee pain, ringing in the ears and spontaneous sweating.
Or Kidney Yang Deficiency symptoms such as cold limbs, aversion to cold, weak lower back.
Our job as an acupuncturist is to diagnose whether a back pain is caused by Kidney Qi /Essence deficiency, Kidney Yin or Yang, or none of the above. It’s a fascinating medical system where diagnosis is key to the correct treatment programme.
I was very lucky that my post graduate training in Shanghai just so happened to be in a herniated lumbar disc ward in No 6 Peoples' Hospital in Shanghai, China. Having fractured my own spine in 2003 I had developed a real passion for the relief of back pain. Anyone having suffered from any form of back trauma will understand just how debilitating a bad back can be.
In China I was amazed at their approach to treating backs. An MRI was carried out after a brief consultation; the results were brought up to Professor Wu (within minutes) and read by him, or a member of his team. Then 80% of the patients were given a treatment of Electro Acupuncture, Chinese Cupping, Moxibustion, Herbal Baths, Traction, and Tuina. People travelled from far and wide and stayed for up to two weeks to receive daily treatments. There were two pharmacies at the entrance of the hospital, one dispensing Traditional Chinese Herbs, all wrapped beautifully in paper, the other a Western Pharmacy, administering western anti-inflammatories.
What I learnt in a relatively short space of time changed my life as a therapist forever. The results we got in the hospital were amazing. My confidence as a newly qualified Acupuncturist was on a high. My passion for treating back pain has never left me from that time, 16 years ago. Professor Wu only ever operated on a very low percentage of his patients presenting with Lumbar Spine Trauma. He always tried a combination of Eastern and Western medicine; his results made him a very popular man.
Research has shown acupuncture to cause the release of neurochemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and corticosteroids, all of which contribute to the reduction of pain and inflammation. Interestingly men coming into the Clinic in agony often fall into a deeply relaxing state, once the needles have been inserted. This is perhaps due to the endorphin release that happens during an acupuncture treatment. I use Infrared Therapeutic lamps which also aid relaxation of the body.
To get to the root of an individual’s back, neck or shoulder pain points are often inserted into meridians flowing through the legs, ankles and hands. Dry needling may offer temporary relief from pain, but strengthening the energetic pathways that promote strength in the back, such as the Bladder and Kidney channel, offer a more long term solution.
A man with huge emotional stress, suffering with severe neck, and shoulder pain, will generally benefit from acupuncture points inserted into his heart, small intestine and liver channels. This may sound bizarre, but we must get to the root cause to offer lasting effect. Many men I meet hold huge amounts of frustration in their bodies, this often presents physically in tight tendons especially in the mid thoracic area of the back travelling up to the neck and shoulders. In TCM the emotions of frustration and anger and cleared through the Liver and Gallbladder channels.
I always look at pain as a big red flag. My work is helping a body maintain balance, a free flow of Qi (energy/Life force), and blood through all the channels in the body. If there is a free flow, there is no pain. If there is no free flow, there is pain.
Each spine is unique, each muscle is formed from that individuals own movement. To get the best treatment I believe we must treat each person as exactly that, unique and individual. Having fractured my own spine I was incredibly cautious for any therapy on my spine. I understand men often feel very vulnerable when in pain, especially the neck and back area. Creating a relaxing environment whilst being treated helps the healing happen at a faster rate.
A treatment usually requires local points where the pain is present, then the magic distal points are put in. This is where Acupuncture really stands out from dry needling. I am a big fan of applying an electric current through the locally placed needles (using a tens machine) This was taught to me by one of the best, and for good reason, it works! Chinese Cupping is often used after needling. Chinese Cupping received huge coverage during the last Olympics. Michael Phelps the US multi gold medal winning swimmer was a huge advocate of cupping therapy. Many athletes use acupuncture and cupping to bring fresh blood and qi to the injured area, which can speed up the healing process.
I have found that lifestyle changes, reducing sugar and refined wheat intake, or better still totally eliminating them, can really improve muscle health, especially in the back.
After a treatment it is vital that the patient keeps fully hydrated and allows the spine to rest and heal. I have found 72 hours is the time it takes for patient to really start to feel the difference. After a course of acupuncture they should feel:
Think of your body as an engine, like an engine your body is only as good as the fuel you feed it. (Poor quality fuel over a long period of time means a poor running engine, where parts start to break down). Your body will only perform if allowed the appropriate rest time. As you would maintain your engine, this must also apply to your body.
When men honour their bodies with the right nourishment both emotionally and physically they generally find their bodies, including their backs, begin to become pain free.
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
The Divine Feminine Inside the Menopause - How To Heal Your Way Through it with 3 Elements of Health
Here in the western world the minute we hear the word Menopause many of us younger women panic at the thoughts of hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and weight gain. Yet in the eastern world menopause is seen as a transition from mother to becoming an enlightened and wise-being.
What exactly is the Menopause? It's a time when a woman stops ovulation, therefore is no longer able to conceive a child. This can last a few months or several years. A woman is born with a set number of eggs (approximately 2 million), once these have been used up menopause has begun.
The 3 distinct phases of the menopause;
Menopause is not an illness. Women in many cultures do not experience the menopause as a crisis demanding medical intervention. Here in the West we tend to see the menopause as a time of loss, with the inability to no longer create life. Yet in 3 Elements of Healing I like to help women recognise the positive changes that occur and work with those to create a life of balance and wellness.
In Chinese medicine menopause occurs when the woman's body begins to preserve blood & energy to sustain her vitality, and allows for maximum nourishment of her body, especially her kidneys. In Chinese Medicine the Kidneys are the root of Life and longevity. Interestingly once the ovaries reduce their production of oestrogen, mother nature produces a form of oestrogen (Oestrone) from our adrenal glands. This is why in 3 Elements of Healing Kidney energy is worked with on each individual woman going through her very own, unique menopause journey.
How can 3 Elements of Healing help?
Let's look at the first Element - ACUPRESSURE.
Evidence suggests that Acupuncture has been used to help women's health as early as 3AD.
Now studies including this one published in the British Medical Journal Open (see below) look at the benefits of acupuncture and the menopause. This Danish study found after 5 weeks of acupuncture 80 % of the women with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and emotional problems, reported that the acupuncture helped relieve their symptoms.
In 3 elements of Healing we use acupressure instead of acupuncture. The difference being pressure is applied to the chosen acu-point instead of a needle inserted. A crystal Acu-Wand is used to apply the pressure to each point.
In this chinese aspect of the therapy I see illness arise when the flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced/blocked. Acupressure stimulates specific acu-points located near to or on the skin surface which has the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to help relieve the symptoms of the menopause.
Remember no two menopausal journeys are the same, therefore no two acupressure treatments are. As I explained earlier many points on the Kidney Channel really do help relieve symptoms. For example Kid 3 and Kid 7 both located near and on the inner respect of the ankle help reduce hot flushes and night sweats, and also help with vaginal dryness and loss of libido.
Emotional balancing points along the heart and pericardium channel such as heart 6 and pericardium 7 are hugely supportive and help bring sleep back into balance, calm the mind as well as helping relieve night sweats.
With our initial One 2 One Zoom chat I take a live consultation and set about a suitable acupressure course tailor made to the individual and her symptoms.
The 2nd Element of Healing - Aromatherapy. Oh how I love this incredible support mother nature created for women travelling through the menopause!
As every woman's experience is different so are the essential oils I decide to blend. Depending on where we are in her journey and what symptoms she may be facing. Many of the essential oils that help with irregular menstruation earlier in life help with menopausal symptoms. In particular Geranium which is a hormonal balancer and Rose, which tones and cleanses the uterus. Chamomile is another useful oil as it helps to calm, sooth and has antidepressant qualities. All the antidepressant oils such as Bergamot, Clary Sage, Jasmine, Lavender, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang can be helpful.
Cypress oil can be helpful in the early pre-menopausal time where many women find they may have heavy bleeding or irregular cycles.
Oestrogenic oils, such as Clary Sage, Fennel, Star Anise, are important oils as they may help maintain hormone levels in the body.
Many menopausal and post-menopausal women feel that their femininity is fading, and Rose again can help them to feel feminine, nurtured and desirable. Rose oil genuinely can help many menopausal problems, as well as being a natural antidepressant, aphrodisiac, helping women to see their divine femininity.
Here I combine a blend of essential oils into a handy roll on bottle, adding Crystals to enhance the energetic vibration of the oils and helping to increase their potency.
This leads us to the 3rd Element of Healing - Crystals.
There are so many crystals that help with the emotional roller coaster of the menopause. I love Moonstone, Lepidolite, Carnelian, Rose Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Garnet, and perhaps Unakite are my personal favourites.
Carnelian for example is said to be both energising and helps to give relief from depression. Carnelian helps to balance the Sacral chakra, cleanse, clear and emit healing energy to the reproductive system as it goes through this transition.
Smoky Quartz helps ground with Earth energies and the Root Chakra. Use Smoky Quartz to absorb and transmute the hot flush energy, which will help to cool the body and calm the mind.
One of my new favourite Crystal Acu-wands to use during menopause is Que Sera - this crystal helps to release stress and clears and stimulates all chakras. Gets the energy flowing bringing balance and an enhancement of your energy. This crystal connects you to an endless supply of power. Helps you to be more conscious, enhances your gifts and maintains a connection to your soul. This is a time in your life when reconnection to “self” is key to happiness. Connecting to crystals and in particular by using a Crystal Acu-wand with the use of breath work and positive affirmations, incredible healing can happen.
Lifestyle and Nutrition
It is absolutely vital that this is a time of nourishment and not punishment of the body. For many women they have spent many of their younger years giving energetically and physically to their loved ones. This is a wonderful time to discover what your body needs as a form of nourishment and nutrition. I have found that women coming into me at the Clinic who have high sugar and caffeine diets tend to have much more severe menopause symptoms compared to those that eat a balanced diet.
A few important, gentle reminders…
Eat a rainbow of colours. This means including plenty of plant fibre in your diet. Lots of calcium and magnesium rich foods, these include Green leafy vegetables, avocado, broccoli, magnesium rich nuts and seeds. Soya beans, kiwis, pineapples, bananas. Fish such as salmon and sardines.
Stabilise Sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar and refined foods you eat. Remember we spoke about adrenal health. This is where it is vital to make sure you do not overload them. Think little and often. If you crave sugar try to limit your treats to dark chocolate or foods with naturally occurring sugars rather than refined white sugar.
Avoid Diet Drinks - Diet Coke for example not only contains caffeine but its sweetener aspartame can cause your body to crave more sugar. Water is so much better for your system, plus vital to keep hydrated at this time.
Make sure your diet contains plenty of essential fatty acids such as oily fish, nuts and seeds ie Linseed (flax seed). Add these to your daily diet. They help to lubricate the joints, skin and vagina, as well as keeping cholesterol in check and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Reduce caffeine consumption. In Traditional Chinese Medicine caffeine increases the Yang in the body, imagine for a moment a surge of heat. Each caffeinated drink increases Yang which in turn creates more heat = Hot flush!
Alcohol does the same thing and many studies link alcohol consumption to disrupted sleep. Seeing as sleep is vital, it's so important to try to reduce your alcohol intake as much as possible.
Fibre from good sources such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, brown pasta, and oats. Fibre binds oestrogen so that it is excreted more efficiently plus keeps your blood sugar more stable.
Vitamin D (sunshine vitamin), Vit C, B6, B12 and Vitamin E are all important.
Herbs such as Agnus Castus, Sage, Black Cohosh, Dong Quai and milk thistle can all be incredibly supportive however you must consult your GP if you are already taking HRT. 3 Elements supply a variety of top quality herbs for our patients. Your local Health Food shop will be able to guide you to the correct herbs and supplements.
For more information about how 3 Elements of Healing can help you make this time in your life one of a revival of energy and an opportunity for personal growth contact Katie or check out I choose to Heal Package on our Shop Page
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
I want to discuss viruses from a Chinese Medicine point of view, but also from a Complementary Medicine view. What can we do to help not only boost our immune systems but also steps we can take to heal quicker if we catch a viral infection in the coming months. Please note I am not a medical doctor and my advice is from 20 years in complementary medicine and 15 years in a Chinese medicine.
What actually is a Virus? A virus is a microorganism - meaning it's absolutely minute. In fact a billion viruses would fit on a single pin head. A virus cannot grow or reproduce outside a living cell / host i.e. a human or animal.
A virus invades the human body through our mucus membranes in our mouth, nose, and eyes. Once the virus has entered the body it’s incredibly clever within seconds it finds the host's cells, invades and uses the host's DNA and the hosts chemical machinery to replicate and spread.
Viral infections include; Influenza, Swine Flu, HIV, Herpes and the common cold.
The CoronaVirus (Convid 19) - Originated in China in Wuhan late last year, from animal source and now the virus is being spread from human to human for the first time.
Like influenza Coronavirus is spread through human contact, human secretions such as sneezing, coughing, kissing. As i am not a Medical Doctor I will leave them to explain more about it. Visit World Health Organisation for more information.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we have something called Wei Qi circulating around our outer areas of the body and skin, protecting and destroying pathogens on a daily basis. We all come into contact with viruses/bacteria/fungus all the time and our incredible immune system is built to attack and destroy and get stronger in the process.
Imagine your immune system as a large army of soldiers. How would you make your the strongest, best fighting team imaginable?
Well firstly you would make them strong. Feeding them the best, freshest, most nutrient rich diet available to you. In TCM we encourage people to eat with the seasons, so winter to spring is all about eating warming foods, soups, stews, root vegetables, potatoes, plant based protein, onions, garlic and ginger. We recommend reducing sugar intake and eating lots of fresh citrus fruits, berries, spinach, broccoli, nuts and seeds.
It is really important to limit ice based or very cold foods at this time. These tend to slow down digestion and make the body work harder at a time when it needs plenty of nutrients in the easiest form of absorption. Chicken Soup or Broth (vegetable if Vegetarian or vegan) is food for the soul, This is a perfect addition to an elderly person's diet during a flu epidemic. (Recipe Below).
Then maybe more importantly we would make sure our army is always kept fully hydrated. This in my opinion is vital and a key to reducing the length of time a virus resides in your system. From a TCM point of view drinking hot water is of more benefit to the body and more easily absorbed to where it is needed most. Drinking hot water all day long, tell your elderly relatives or friends, just keep hydrated. Adding a slice of fresh root ginger, or lemon or both makes it more palatable for some. If you have a virus water really can help flush it out of the system.
So now your immune system, your own army of protection is that bit stronger and more able to fight infection.
For the coming months everybody is going to be more vigilant about their hand hygiene and their immune systems. Remember catching any virus, especially Coronavirus along with the influenza virus can be significantly reduced if we continue to WASH OUR HANDS. Good old soap and warm water, for at least 20 seconds. If you use a hand towel, replace it regularly. Disinfect your phone, Laptop, tablet, remote control, steering wheel, door handles, and anything else that you handle regularly.
What else can we do to protect ourselves?
Acupuncture is proven to help strengthen the immune system. Acupuncture has great success at helping immunity by regulating energetic imbalances in the body and stimulating body signalling chemicals such as hormones and neurotransmitters to bring the body back into good health.
If you can’t get to see an acupuncturist here are some really powerful acupressure points to help strengthen immunity, help relieve coughs and reduce fever. These are found at the bottom of this blog.
Supplementation - These are my personal antiviral must haves. Also I love making sure the body has enough Vitamin C, D and Zinc.
Black Elderberry (Sambucus) - Numerous studies in vitro show that elderberry exerts its antiviral activity on influenza through a number of mechanisms of action, including suppressing the entry of the virus into the hosts cell. Elderberry can be taken as a precaution and also during an infection (at a higher dose rate). Safe for all the family.
Echinacea - also called purple coneflower is one of the most popular herbs worldwide. Native Americans have used it for centuries to treat various ailments. Today its best known as an over the counter herbal remedy for common colds and flu. High in antioxidants - these are molecules that help defend our cells against damage. Numerous studies have found this plant may help your immune system combat a flu virus and improve your recovery time.
Essential Oils - I have been an Aromatherapist for 20 years now and Essential Oils play a very important role at The Clonmel Acupuncture & Therapy Centre. Each therapy room has essential oils diffused into it. Not only does this aid relaxation and general ambience, many of these powerful oils have strong antiviral actions that make them so important in a health clinic. My top 3 antiviral Oils; Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Bergamot.
Research has found that these oils have significant anti-influenza virus properties. Bergamot oil is effective against the flu virus as a vapor after just 10 minutes of exposure.
If a cough is established steam inhalations can help, adding eucalyptus into the shower (flick the oil onto the tiles and step in).
Diffuse oils in the home or at work to help reduce infection risk. Diffusers can be bought in most health food shops, or online.
Diluting 6-10 drops into 30 mls carrier oil (veg oil) of Tea tree and Eucalyptus and applying onto the chest if presenting with a cough. This can also be done using Coconut oil which solidifies at room temperature and makes a great chest rub. Also add 3 drops of lavender to help sleep.
So to Clarify...
1- Take pride in your immune system. Look after your body, up your intake in vegetables and fruit, plenty of hot meals, soups and stews. Keep sugar to a minimum.
2 - Keep hydrated, throughout the day. Hot water is best if you can.
3- Keep your hands clean and virus free!
5- Disinfect your surfaces regularly,
6- Get lots of fresh air, sunshine on your face.
7-If you do catch a virus, stay at home and rest. Let your body heal, sleep and hydrate.
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
Acupressure point St36 (Zusanli) Helps Boost Immunity
Lung 5 Chi Ze - My go to point to stop a cough
FEVER POINT - GV14 Dazhui
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...