Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic (GCMC) wishes everyone a very Happy New Year! 2020 has been a challenging year to everyone. Looking back, we should be so proud of ourselves for our resilience and our kindness to each other.
“Every end marks a new beginning”. 2021 will be a new chapter. Each of us has a pen in our hand to write a few beautiful stories for ourselves.
In 2021, GCMC will continue to serve you and work with you to build inner strength, and bring out peace and the beautiful stories in you.
With the recent changes in the restrictions as outlined by the state government, Geelong Chinese Medicine has updated its operation. As of 28 September 2020,
We continue with our strict hygiene protocol and our preventative measures:
During this special time, please check our regular “Blogs” for free advice on selfcare.
Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic wishes you well and safe. Remember to be gentle to yourself and to your family.
To support Victorian government effort to curtail the spread of coronavirus, Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic will temporarily stop taking new patients, and will continue to serve existing patients via adjusted methods from 4 August 2020. We will re-assess the situation week by week.
During this difficult time, please check our regular “Blogs” for free advice on selfcare.
Let us work together to combat the pandemic.
Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic wishes you well and safe during this difficult time. Remember to be gentle to yourself and to your family.
In responding to the 2nd spike of COVID-19, Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic is adopting more strict preventative measures, in addition to our existing infection control procedure and social distancing policy (Please see entry of 1 May 2020).
Stay safe, and stay well. Let us work through this time together.
Geelong Chinese Medicine is now resuming its operation from 1st of May 2020.
Here are some procedures we have in place to keep everyone safe during COVID-19 time.
COVID-19 Symptom Checker
All practitioners at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic underwent further training about infection control associated with COVID-19. We adopt strict infection control procedures in our clinic.
We provide sanitisers for patients to sanitise their hands prior to entering the treatment room and when they leave the room.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
To support government effort to curtail the spread of coronavirus, we will temporarily suspend face to face consultation and acupuncture service from Mon 30th March. We will re-assess the situation week by week.
Let us work together to combat the pandemic.
Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic wishes you well and safe during this difficult time. Remember to be gentle to yourself and to your family.
For 20 years, Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic – GCMC – has being providing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to the community of Geelong, the Surf Coast and surrounding areas from the headquarters of the Corio Bay Health Group.
Our logo is an ancient symbol, representing peace, greatness and harmony. It has the symbol of Yang under and Yin above, indicating the inner strength and outward gentleness, to achieve resilience and peace.
At the Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, we are passionate about, and work towards, relieving your suffering, building your inner strength and bringing out peace. All of our practitioners have dual registration of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine with Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA). We are highly qualified and experienced practitioners.
We use traditional as well as modern acupuncture, such as laser acupuncture, electrical acupuncture and needle-free acupuncture. We often combine Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture.
Chinese Medicine understands that good health relies on the restoration and maintenance of normal function, and focuses on the prevention of illness as well as treatment. We use acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and Chinese medicine wisdom to improve your symptoms and address the causes.
The commonest conditions that we treat and produce effective results are:
We use Chinese medicine principles and theories to diagnose and treat a wide range conditions, including
For a further listing of conditions commonly treated by Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, please see lists the AACMA official website (click on the links below).
Conditions suitable for acupuncture treatment
Conditions suitable for Chinese herbal medicine treatments
At Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, we see each person as an individual because each of us has different constitutions and past history. We develop personalised treatment plans for each person to achieve the long-term result.
Putting you at the centre of our practice, at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic we take a holistic approach to your health and well-being, with services to boost your mind-spirit-body connection for optimum function, happiness, peace and clarity of mind.
As well as traditional acupuncture, our Chinese medicine practitioners are skilled in laser acupuncture, electroacupuncture and other non-invasive treatments, such as cupping, moxibustion and the art of Qigong.
All of us hold high-level professional qualifications and a wealth of clinical experience in Australia. We hold dual registration of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
At Geelong Chinese Medicine Centre, we provide all information our patients need to know before their treatment, including acupuncture insurance cover and what to expect when you make your appointment with us.
Free parking is available at the Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic.
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Pain is a distressing sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Pain is your body’s way of alerting you to danger and letting you know what’s happening in your body. You perceive pain through sensory nerve cells. How you feel and react to pain depends on what’s causing it, as well as many personal factors. People seeking pain treatments and those seeking acupuncture and Chinese stress medicines from our Geelong clinic make up a large proportion of our patients.
While usually pain is not a condition in itself, but rather an indication/symptom of a problem somewhere in the body, if dysfunctional it can become a disease in its own right.
Pain is the most common reason that people seek medical help and can come in many forms. Usually, the location of the pain within the body corresponds with the location of the problem it is indicating, however, cases in which pain is experienced in a location away from the problem also exist, i.e. leg pain resulting from a prolapsed disk pushing on a nerve in the back. Pain can affect any part of your body.
Some of the most common forms of pain are:
There are two major categories of pain. Pain can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).
Acute pain is pain lasting less than three months and occurs following surgery or trauma or other conditions. One third of people do not know what causes their pain. Although it usually improves as the body heals, in some cases, it may not.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond three months, the time needed for issues to heal following surgery or trauma or other conditions. It is often associated with an increased pain experience, which may spread beyond the area of injury into surrounding tissue or nerves. It can also exist without a clear reason at all.
The following simple yet profound statement sums up the very essence of the Chinese medical view of pain:
This means that, as long as qi (vital energy) and blood circulate freely and smoothly without hindrance or obstruction, there is no pain in the body. However, if, due to any reason, the flow of qi and blood is hindered, blocked, obstructed, or insufficient flow, then there will be pain.
There are two main causes of the lack of free flow of the qi and blood, either:
All pain, no matter what its modern Western medical diagnosis, is considered by Chinese medicine as a problem with free flow of qi and blood.
The flow of qi and blood can become inhibited in any and every area of the body: the internal organs, the muscles, the head, the lower back, and the extremities and joints.
Thus, in Chinese medicine, pain is the felt experience of the inability of the body to keep up with the maintenance of the body, be this supplying adequate nutrition/energy, regeneration of injured body parts/organs, replenishing vital cellular products, toxin processing and waste removal to maintain proper operation of the body.
In Chinese medicine, all pain disturbs the mind. This explains why people with pain often suffer from anxiety, depression and / or poor sleep.
The basic principle of treatment in Chinese medicine is to first calm the mind, then restore the flow of Qi.
In Chinese medicine, two patients with the same Western medical disease may receive radically different Chinese medicine treatment because the root cause of their disease is different. This means that every patient in Chinese medicine is given an individualised treatment based on the cause and nature of their particular pattern of disharmony.
We will identify the pattern from Chinese medicine, contributing factors, such as sleep, anxiety, and develop a treatment plan incorporating acupuncture, auricular acupressure and/or herbal medicine. We will also advise you on self-management approaches so that you could help yourself in improving pain. We communicate with other health professionals who also help you so that you have a supporting network.
There is considerable evidence of acupuncture for acute and chronic pain.
For acute pain, a 2017 systematic review found that acupuncture was more effective than both sham needling and injection with painkillers.
For chronic pain, in 2007 the largest study of its kind to date, 454,920 patients were treated with acupuncture for headache, low back pain, and/or osteoarthritis. Effectiveness was rated as marked or moderate in 76% of cases.
In a two-year retroactive survey published in 2016 of over 89,000 patients, 93% of patients said that their acupuncturist had been successful in treating their musculoskeletal pain.
Another 2017 study paper titled ‘Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: an Update and Critical Overview’ concluded that “mounting evidence supports the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat chronic low back, neck, shoulder, and knee pain, as well as headaches. Also, additional data emerging supports the use of acupuncture as an adjunct or alternative to opioids, and in perioperative settings.
Two recent 2016, 2017 systematic reviews reported positive results of acupuncture in the relief of cancer-related pain. A 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis suggested that acupuncture was useful in decreasing postoperative pain.
Please also check out Dr Zhen Zheng’s research on acupuncture for:
Geelong Chinese Medical Clinic provides a wide range of health treatments including help with sleep problems, digestion issues and allergies and also provides Chinese women’s health and fertility medicines for Geelong and district women
Stress is a common phenomenon with life. Emotional disturbance is our common reaction to stress. Chinese medicine understands emotions are one of the leading causes of health issues and diseases and our practitioners provide a variety of treatments for stress and emotional issues, including Chinese medicine in Geelong for women’s health and fertility problems.
Some causes of diseases, such as weather change, flu virus or food poisoning for example, can be avoided by taking preventative measures and keeping away from those causes. Emotion, however, is with you and within you 24/7, and it directly impacts on your body function. You might notice that your head hurts when you face a conflicting situation; you have shortness of breath when feeling sad; you have poor appetite or loss of sleep when you are worried about something. Those physical discomforts explain the close integration between body and mind and emotion.
Similarly, a dysfunctional body could also evoke an emotional response. Pain could lead to depression and poor sleep is often associated with anxiety, which is why the Chinese medicine and treatment for sleep problems at our Geelong clinic incorporates a holistic all-of-body approach.
Chinese medicine sees the body and mind as one, inseparable, and that each affects the other. The symbiosis between body and mind is integral to how we approach the treatment of emotional issues and stress at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic.
Because of the close interaction between mind and body, Chinese medicine treats both the body and mind to address stress and emotional issues.
We will treat the impact of emotions on your body as well as calm your mind to produce therapeutic effects. We will work with other health practitioners, such as your psychologist, psychiatrist or GP, to help you. The ultimate goal is to help you regain the sense of peace and wellbeing to produce long-term results.
Based on Chinese medicine diagnosis, our practitioners in Geelong use acupuncture treatments to:
Chinese herbal medicine is also used to strengthen the results. We will provide “take home” treatments so that you can continue with the treatment effects and gain some sense of control. We will also provide advice on lifestyle changes to enable you to self-manage for long-term results.
Please contact our clinic for a range of Chinese medicine treatments, including resolving sleep problems and women’s health and fertility treatments in Geelong.
A woman’s body goes through delicate changes throughout its lifetime, from the onset of first menstrual period to menopause and our clinic places strong emphasis on the provision of Chinese women’s health and fertility medicine for Geelong and district women. From Chinese medicine’s point of view, women’s reproduction relies on kidney “Jing” or essence, as well as coordinated organs functioning. We also believe women’s physiology is dominated by blood.
In women, blood is not only the source of periods but also of fertility, conception, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Menstruation period is an indicator of women’s general health. It is very important that menstruation is punctuated with moderate amount of blood as it reflects good Qi (energy) and blood circulation.
Unhealthy lifestyle, diet and stress can all play a big role in changing women’s dynamic balance, causing symptoms physically and mentally. Most women had those episodes when their periods were delayed or stopped for one or more months after an emotionally or physically stressful time.
We usually combine Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture at our Geelong clinic to treat women’s health problems. Diet and lifestyle change are also provided. We treat body and mind as one during treatment as they cannot be separated.
Regulating period circles is our priority. For fertility issues, a good period circle reflects balanced hormonal levels and it also leads to proper timing of ovulation. Generally, a long menstruation circle associates with a delayed ovulation, and a short circle comes with an earlier ovulation.
Eliminating associated symptoms is also very important. Our goal is to get you through circles without much pain and suffering.
Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic provides a range of treatments and Chinese herbal medicines in Geelong, including cupping and moxibustion, needle-free acupuncture, treatments for digestion issues and Chinese medicine and treatments for sleep problems.
The following symptoms can be a sign you do not sleep well or are suffering from a lack of sleep:
Sleep is closely related to main parts of our lives. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on mental acuity and physical health. Poor sleep is linked with many health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease risk, weight gain and generally weakened immunity.
If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, consult Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic about different natural approaches to improve sleeping and to discuss our range of preventative Chinese medicine for Geelong and district patients.
In Chinese medicine, sleep is a representation of balanced yin and yang, and a calm mind. One can only fall asleep at night if they are generally calm in their mind during the day and prior to sleep.
More than 50 percent of patients we see at the Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic experience some sleeping problems, but only 20 percent come specifically to have treatment for sleep.
There are multiple causes responsible for sleep problems, including:
Sleep hygiene is a must for a good sleep. To learn about sleep hygiene, please check this site from the Victorian Government.
Contact our clinic to discuss a range of traditional Chinese medicines and treatments including needle-free acupuncture, Qi Gong, help with women’s health and fertility problems, help with stress and emotional issues and our Chinese herbal medicines in Geelong.
While in general modern people think of healthcare and medicine as something for when you are unwell, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a medicine that holds “prevention is better than cure and health promotion is the best method for prolonging one’s own life”.
TCM views health as the balanced condition of a person’s mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, stress, injury or pain.
So in TCM, health is ‘life in balance’. This is demonstrated in the Daoist concept of yin and yang, represented by the tai ji or yin yang symbol.
Explaining the TCM value of health promotion and disease prevention methods is like comparing the human body to a car engine – it has specific functions that require regular maintenance, care and attention. In the TCM view, vital energy (Qi) flows throughout the body and when it gets blocked or becomes stagnant, health issues can arise.
Receiving regular, or semi-regular TCM treatments and following TCM principles helps provide the necessary support the body needs to stay at optimum operating levels. This also aims to address any issues before they become a bigger problem.
According to TCM theory, disease can be caused by a combination of:
The body’s ability to respond to these disturbances relies on a balanced and healthy capacity. If a person suffers any amount of these disorders over time, eventually it will lead to a disturbance or imbalance of Qi, which compromise the body-mind-spirit of the person and leaves them open to disease.
However the body’s warning system is to exhibit symptoms which signal that it has somehow fallen out of balance. These start as vague discomforts and intermittent low-level symptoms, such as:
These symptoms may increase in intensity and eventually become an identifiable illness if ignored.
In TCM, good health is quite similar to what your mother has been telling you for as long as you can remember! Harmony and balance in every aspect of life is the key to health.
Where the body’s balance is showing signs of being disturbed, the main goal of TCM is to restore balance by influencing the many forms of the body’s Qi using direct and indirect methods reflecting TCM theories, including:
If identified and treated early, imbalances are much more easily restored than long-standing issues. Please contact our clinic for more information, treatments and Chinese herbal medicines in Geelong.
In Chinese medicine, good gut health and digestion contributes to overall good health, contentment, hardiness and happiness. While good digestion aids optimum body function, digestion problems can lead to a range of health concerns, as well as affecting everyday life and leading to feelings of melancholy.
If you frequently suffer from stomach aches, bowel troubles or find that certain foods cause indigestion, we at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic can help identify the underlying cause and provide natural remedies. The Chinese acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines at our Geelong clinic can help relieve symptoms of poor digestion and boost digestive function.
Traditional Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to treating digestive problems, looking closely at the way your digestive network functions.
If there is an imbalance or issue in any one of your organs, the entire network becomes disrupted.
A Chinese medicine practitioner knows how to find the issue. There are common signs that suggest poor digestive health, including:
Poor nail health can indicate an inability to absorb and digest nutrients from food.
The appearance of different sections of the tongue is directly linked to organs in the digestive network. The colour, shape and size of the tongue can tell a Chinese medicine practitioner important information about the function of particular organs, while ulcerations, coatings on the tongue and visibility of blood vessels can reveal information about digestion and absorption in the digestive tract, as well as indicate food intolerances.
In Chinese medicine, a healthy and balanced diet is vital for good gut health – and promotes overall well-being, optimism and clarity. Over-eating, under-eating or eating foods with low nutritional value leads to Qi Stagnation and Food Accumulation and feelings of hunger or discomfit after eating.
Chinese herbs and our Geelong acupuncture treatments can relieve a wide range of digestion problems and discomfort, including:
To try and prevent digestive issues in the first place, it’s important to choose a healthy diet. A healthy diet changes depending on each person, and also incorporates lifestyle decisions. Our Chinese medical practitioners can recommend tips to improve gut health and boost digestion, including:
In Chinese medicine, there are two factors for sickness:
Symptoms of sickness are a result of the body fighting against the external pathogens. If the body is healthy and strong, a person might experience mild symptoms or not get sick at all. However, if the body is not strong enough or the pathogen is vicious, symptoms can be very severe.
Allergic reactions are caused by the competitive onset of similar symptoms. They are allergen-induced, seasonal or not seasonal. In Chinese medicine, an allergy is a chronic condition that indicates the body is fighting against pathogen(s), but not strong enough to completely rid it from the body.
Allergens are found in a variety of sources. Common allergens include:
Allergic reactions can be triggered by any form of contact with the human body, including breathing and inhaling, consuming food or drinks and direct contact with any part of the body. Symptoms can include rashes, hives, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness and some more serious conditions.
Hay fever refers to a complex of symptoms including sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, nasal congestion and runny nose in response to allergens such as pollen and dust.
In Chinese medicine, lungs are the primary organs for breathing. When lung Qi is insufficient, the lungs fail to expel external pathogens. That’s why a lot of people find their hay fever symptoms are worse when they also suffer from some other health problems, such as low energy and poor digestion.
There are two aspects involved in treating hay fever; reducing exposure to pathogens and minimising signs and symptoms. Keeping away from allergens is an effective way to prevent hay fever. Keeping windows and door closed during hay fever season, washing hands and face after going to the garden and tumble drying your clothes can reduce your exposure to pollens and dust.
We use acupuncture to reduce symptoms such as itchy eyes, nose and throat, blocked and runny nose and sneezing. We also give Chinese herbal medicines to moderate immunity and strengthen the lungs, to treat the root of the problem.
During non-hay fever season, it is necessary to strengthen the body’s defensive Qi, and improve constitution.
Your first appointment will be 60 minutes, including a 30-minute consultation and 30-minute treatment session (if you have acupuncture treatment). This will enable us to establish a solid history and have a good understanding of your condition.
Follow up appointment will be 30 minutes in most case and can be 45 minutes in other cases.
Once you make your first appointment, prior to your first visit, you may want to write down your health history, including surgeries, injuries, allergies and medications you are on. Please also write down how the current problem was developed and how it has been investigated and treated. Please bring the information to your first appointment.
We recommend you wear comfortable clothes that roll up to knees and elbows, or are easily removable.
Do not come for acupuncture treatments on an empty stomach / too full a stomach or having consumed drugs or alcohol.
Chinese medicine or acupuncture consultation inquires many aspects of your life, such as sleeping patterns, digestion, emotional state, diet, and lifestyle. Unique to Chinese medicine diagnosis, your tongue and pulse may be examined, and areas of concern may be palpated.
Once a Chinese medicine diagnosis is made, we will develop the treatment plan with you that is most suitable to your situation. The treatment could be acupuncture alone, herbal medicine alone or a combination of both.
Please feel free to raise any questions or concerns at any time.
The prognosis, and the amount and frequency of your treatment depend largely on the severity of your health condition and how long it has been a problem.
Generally 1-2 acupuncture treatment sessions per week for 3-4 weeks are required to achieve a satisfactory result for acute problems. For chronic problems, it often requires weekly or fortnightly treatment over some months for progressive results.
With Chinese herbal medicine, formulas to restore chronic conditions may require weeks or months of use, whereas formulas for acute colds, cough or digestive problem can show positive results within a few days.
While you may gain immediate benefits even after one treatment, progress in health conditions is usually measured over a course of treatments, which involves 4-10 treatment sessions. This is done to ensure:
Follow up appointment is often 30 minutes including a short consultation to check any arising issues and treatment.
Acupuncture is covered by
Please note we charge a discounts fee to patients whose treatment is covered by Worksafe or TAC. You can claim part of the fee back from them.
Chinese herbal medicine consultation and herbs are covered by some private health insurance companies. Please check your cover schedule.
Acupuncture at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic follows well-known and popular traditional Chinese techniques involving the insertion of fine needles into the meridians of patients’ bodies. One of our most popular treatment options, acupuncture complements the range of therapies and Chinese herbal medicine at our Geelong clinic.
Acupuncture has its origins in China about 100 BC and involves stimulating body walls such as skin and muscle to produce therapeutic effects. Acupuncture can help a wide range of conditions, ranging from acute and chronic pain through to respiratory, skin and gastric problems.
To help understand acupuncture, imagine your body is a living city comprising organic highways and byways. When your city’s roads and paths are clear and traffic unimpeded, everything flows smoothly and easily. However, if there is a breakdown on any of those thoroughfares, the traffic flow becomes compromised and a traffic jam eventuates. If the breakdown remains uncleared, the traffic jam becomes worse and its effect on the city – your body – increases.
In your body, the roads and pathways are known as meridians, and the traffic along those meridians is an energy flow known as chi. Suffer an injury and the consequential response of your body, such as a muscle spasming or tightening, can create a traffic jam and block the chi flow.
Acupuncture treatment at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic aims to restore the chi flow and diminish the effect of the injury or illness. Our practitioners insert acupuncture needles into the affected area to help clear the traffic jam but will also insert needles into other areas to divert traffic away from the jam and help restore the chi flow.
Acupuncture has been proven to be effective for a number of pain and non-pain conditions common in primary care, and acupuncture for pain treatment at our Geelong clinic regularly brings relief to clients. We treat patients with a wide variety of complaints such as:
Evidence supports acupuncture’s benefit for anxiety, depression, insomnia, ulcerative colitis and it provides the opportunity for non-drug therapies for a number of health conditions. Acupuncture at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic can be easily integrated into multidisciplinary management of chronic conditions.
Please watch the video of our clinic’s Geelong acupuncture practitioner and RMIT University academic Dr Zhen Zheng explains how acupuncture treatment works.
Well-trained and highly experienced practitioners provide acupuncture at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic and patients should experience minimal discomfort during treatment.
While traditional Chinese acupuncture is a popular and effective treatment, our clinic also offers laser and electrical acupuncture in Geelong for those who have a fear of needles.
Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic practitioners are also qualified to provide point injection treatments in which saline can be injected into acupuncture points to enhance therapeutic effect. We also provide scalp acupuncture, hand and foot acupuncture, wrist and ankle acupuncture, and micro-system acupuncture.
We encourage you to contact us to make an inquiry about our acupuncture treatment or other Chinese therapies such as cupping and moxibustion, Qigong and Chinese herbal medicine at our Geelong clinic.
As well as offering traditional Chinese acupuncture at our Geelong clinic, our practitioners also provide a range of needle-free treatments, including electrical acupuncture and laser acupuncture. Needle-free acupuncture is a popular and effective choice of treatment for those who are afraid of needles and complements the range of traditional Chinese medicine at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic.
Also known as electro acupuncture, electrical acupuncture involves the use of weak electrical stimulation to enhance therapeutic effects. It has been proven to be particularly effective for painful conditions.
This is another form of needle-free acupuncture and involves the use of low-power laser beams on acupuncture points in the body. Laser acupuncture has proven effectiveness for a wide range of conditions.
This is your “take away” treatment. We tape ear seeds onto your ear. The seeds can be in place for up to one week. This will enhance and prolong the effect of acupuncture.
Whether it’s illness, disease, discomfort or pain, Chinese medicine in Geelong is our expertise. Please contact Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic to find out more about our range of services and treatments or to book an appointment.
At Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, we offer various non-invasive treatments. Each treatment is based on a person’s unique symptoms and needs. We believe in taking a holistic approach to your health, combining the use of Chinese herbs and treatments to restore your body’s natural harmony and promote overall well-being.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) focuses on your mind-body-spirit connection. All aspects must be synchronised and working in harmony for optimal health and body function. There are many different treatment options available to help restore various functions of the mind and body, including a range of non-invasive acupuncture and related therapies.
Commonly used to treat muscle pain and tension, gua sha is an alternative massage therapy that involves scraping skin to increase blood flow and boost circulation.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the uninterrupted flow of Qi through the body is vital for health and wellness. Gua sha addresses stagnant Qi to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Based on principles dating back more than 5000 years, the Chinese herbal medicine at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic has stood the test of time. As much about illness prevention as it is treatment – Chinese medicine involves practitioners taking a personalised approach to the prescription, preparation and dispensing of medicines specifically tailored to individuals and their health.
Chinese medicine adopts the premise that no two people have the same physiology and therefore will not display precisely the same symptoms for illnesses and diseases. Consequently each individual might require a different prescription of Chinese medicine even though they might have the same health condition as others.
The clinicians at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic will prepare and recommend Chinese herbal medicines suited to each person’s unique needs, including
Chinese herbal medicine refers to plants, animals and minerals grown in the natural world or processed from natural products. The majority of medicines are plants, which is why we generally call them herbal medicine. In the long history of Chinese medicine practise, there are over 3000 individual herbs listed in the Chinese Medicine literatures, and about 200 to 300 of them are commonly used in today’s practise.
Chinese herbal medicine is applied based on Chinese medicine theory – including Yin and Yang theory, five element theory, Qi, Blood and water metabolism theory – to strengthen weaknesses and purge excesses, warm the Yang and reinforce the Yin to balance out the body.
Herbs grow in different environments and each has a different taste and property. In Chinese medicine, herbs are used according to taste and property.
For example, ginseng grows in a cool environment and has a sweet taste. It is used to warm up the body and reinforce the weakness for people recovering from bad injuries and diseases. Dandelion, a very common weed growing in our backyard, has a bitter taste and it grows very well in warm seasons. Dandelion is cooling and purging, used in treating infection, inflammation and abscess and detoxifying the liver and stomach.
In practise, a formula (a group of herbs) is usually given instead of an individual herb on its own to maximise the treatment effect.
Chinese medicine is an individualised medicine. People with different diseases can be given the same herbs, while different herbs can be prescribed to treat the same health issue in different people.
Chinese herbal medicine can help improve a wide range of health problems, from sleep problems to digestive issues, stress and hay fever and other allergies. At Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, we believe in using Chinese herbal medicine to relieve sufferings as well as improve overall health and well-being in order to prevent the imbalances in the body that lead to disease and other health concerns.
A peaceful mind, body and spirit is the binding principle of Chinese medicine. If there is even a small imbalance in any part of the body, it can disrupt the flow of energy, resulting in pain or sickness.
The Chinese medicine practice focuses on patterns of signs and symptoms and the mechanisms behind these symptoms – which is the dynamic balance of Yin and Yang, Blood and Qi movement as well as the visceral organs.
Using a combination of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, our practitioners help restore your body to optimum function, as well as reduce pain and other symptoms of disease, sickness and other health concerns.
At Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, a Chinese medicine consultation generally takes about half an hour. We need to know about your very detailed health history as well as your general health conditions. We also read your tongue and pulse to get a whole picture of your body and then make an individualised formula to rebalance it. We have both powder herbs and patent herbal pills to suit the individual need.
Cupping is a long-practised treatment used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Cupping involves placing vacuum cups on the skin to create suction. This pressure is used to stretch skin, tissue and tight muscles upward. The suction assists healing by relieving muscle tension, increasing blood circulation, and with it the flow of “qi” in the body (Qi is a Chinese word meaning life force).
Cupping is often practised alongside acupuncture but can also be used as a treatment in its own right.
Cupping is not painful, however it can leave temporary reddish-purple patches on the skin that look like bruises, especially if there is an injury or energetic blockage under the area that was cupped. The discoloration on the skin shows there has been movement or change in the circulation of blood in the treated areas. Although these marks resemble bruises, the muscles are not injured. The skin discoloration can last from a few days to a couple of weeks, but is rarely painful.
Traditionally, cups were made from animal horn or bamboo, and later on from ceramics. Modern cups for vacuum cupping include glass, plastic, rubber and silicon; all with various ways for removing the air inside the cups and creating a vacuum, such as fire, hand pump, balloon or compression. There are two main methods of dry cupping (which is a suction-only method) used at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic:
Cupping has long been used to treat a wide variety of conditions. While cupping can be especially effective at easing muscle aches and pains, the cups can also be applied to major acupressure points, influencing the treatment of conditions commonly treated with acupuncture. A 2012 review of cupping therapy found that cupping therapy may help with a variety of conditions, but acknowledged more high-quality studies were needed to assess the true effectiveness of cupping.
A review of cupping therapy clinical trials showed cupping may help in certain conditions under the following areas:
While considered relatively safe if applied by appropriately qualified practitioners, cupping is a specialist technique and is contraindicated in certain cases. It is therefore very important to visit AHPRA-registered practitioners. All practitioners at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic are registered with AHPRA and are highly experienced in applying cupping. Based on your condition and preference, we will choose the best cupping method for you.
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy, as Chinese medicine understands some presentations are cold in nature, whereas others are hot. Moxibustion uses a heat generating herb to produce warmth. There are a number of forms of this therapy.
This is the modern form of moxibustion to produce warmth. This therapy is effective for any presentations that Chinese medicine considers with a cold nature. This is different from commonly used heat packs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the view that the body is interconnected. Due to this interconnectedness, all symptoms are related. For example, muscle tension could be related to diet, sleep, stress, emotion or other factors. It is an imbalance of these lifestyle factors that is the cause of all health complaints. Therefore it is the regular everyday things that most help maintain this ‘balance’ (Yin, Yang) or health of the body. These lifestyle areas can easily be understood as the way the human body ‘recharges’, but Chinese medicine principles about this idea can seem slightly different to what we’re used to.
These basics of a healthy lifestyle are:
While we are bombarded with many different and often-changing points of view about a healthy diet, food affects our health much more than the medicine we take. In Chinese medicine, diet is a key factor in maintaining health or recovering from illness.
Chinese medicine classifies food according to its energetic effects (such as warming and nourishing / cooling and eliminating) rather than just its nutritional parts. Patients are always advised to eat seasonal, unprocessed foods where possible and include multiple colours and flavours of a variety of healthy foods according to their individual constitution, ability to digest, and need for building certain deficiencies or decreasing an unwanted excess of “sometimes foods” (highly processed/ high sugar/ fats or toxic e.g. alcohol).
Due to this some foods may be seen as beneficial for some patients but unfavourable for others.
Moderate exercise (not too much and not too little) is an important factor, as physical activities are beneficial to the flow of Qi (energy) and blood, helping to maintain the body. Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are commonly recommended along with other exercises like swimming, walking, jogging and going to the gym.
TCM advises different types of exercise based on the individual patient’s constitution. Sometimes certain exercises should be avoided if too strenuous for recently ill or injured patients, and replaced with more suitable exercises like walking or Qi Gong.
Another essential, easy-to-understand principle is getting regular adequate sleep. Being sleep-deprived or having disturbed sleep patterns – whether actual sleep difficulties, shift work, or constant self-inflicted late nights – can weaken the body’s self-maintenance abilities, impact everyday function and can eventually cause illness.
Proper rest restores the body and mind, helping to maintain health and strengthen the body’s ability to resist disease. A balance between work, exercise, play and rest is something everyone needs. TCM principles also encourage stress reduction with relaxation through hobbies; appropriate socialising, exercise, and quality self-time help maintain balance.
Finally, TCM recommends conserving energy through understanding seasonal influences on body rhythms by modifying levels of activity appropriately (e.g. being more active in warmer months, but less active and more protective against exposure to weather in winter).
While TCM places a high value on diet and nutrition, it is also important to note “You are what you think.”
In TCM, specific emotions relate to specific organ systems. Negative emotions can directly impact the way an organ functions (especially digestion). Emotions like fear, anger, constant worry and overthinking are particularly disruptive if you experience them constantly. This is like a junk food diet for the mind. These affect your body’s ability to maintain balance. Mental stress-reduction through harmonious body, mind, and spirit activities like yoga, Qi Gong, meditation, and deep breathing exercises have long been used to help maintain a positive mindset.
Remember, in TCM, prevention is key. Making appropriate lifestyle choices means making good choices every day that enhance health and help prevent disease. Many health factors are in our individual control, through quality food choices, moderate exercise, restorative sleep, positive mindset, minimising toxins and stress management.
Research demonstrates that many chronic diseases are largely caused by lifestyle choices and habits. The important principle of preventive health care is that one can use lifestyle to bring about balance and health.
For further reading:
Good Life Habits According to Chinese Medicine – Shen-Nong
A literal translation of the Chinese character Qi is air or breath. It is the energy that circulates within the body. Gong is the term used for any study or training which requires a lot of energy and time, work or self-discipline, or arts. Thus Qigong is arts of Qi, and a method to build up Qi.
It is known that the beginnings of the Chinese art of Qigong have a history that goes back thousands of years, though only a few historical documents remain today.
Qigong practices are designed to guide and induce the free flow of energy/ Qi throughout the body via integrated physical movement, mental cultivation and regulated breathing. These exercises once learnt can also bring about increased muscular efficiency, balance and coordination, improved breathing and blood flow, greater flexibility, a calm mind and improved immune system.
In China for many hundreds of years, many different practices of Qigong have arisen but they all come from the same fundamental theories based on the observation of nature.
In traditional Chinese medicine the flow of energy Qi along channels or meridians in the body is viewed as central to a person’s health and wellbeing, with illness being attributed to restricted or blocked Qi flow within the body. This concept provides the basis for acupuncture and Qigong.
Qigong emphasizes the cultivation of health through the removal of blockages in the mind and body. As observed by the ancient Chinese, running water never turns stale and a door hinge never gets worm eaten.
Paul teaches Qigong through Geelong City Yoga with Geelong psychologist Helen Handsjuk on Wednesday AM and through Geelong West Neighbourhood House on Thursday evening.
Qigong is a training system that helps to generate a smooth flow of Qi (internal energy) inside the body and then circulate it through the entire body. Qigong practices may differ through their focuses, medical/health promotion, martial or even spiritual.
During the Song dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), a Daoist named Chang San-Feng is believed to have created a martial art Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), which means ‘grand ultimate fist’. Tai Chi shares Qigong internal Qi/energy principles because it emphasizes on working with qi.
When practiced slowly, Tai Chi is a form of Qigong (energy work) with Qigong health benefits, but Tai Chi is also a martial art. In every movement of Tai Chi, you can find a martial arts application that can be used for self-defence. Some forms of Qigong do promote physical characteristics useful for martial arts, but in comparison, Qigong lacks the attack and defence principles contained in the Tai Chi postures. So, to sum up, Qigong & Tai Chi work off the same principles. Tai Chi just expresses the ability to cultivate, circulate and harmonize Qi in relation to martial arts.
While, there are over 500 research studies on qigong, and over 1800 studies on tai chi, there are many challenges and complexities in studying and proving benefits of such practices, but the evidence for the health benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi is encouraging.
Here are some of the benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong as indicated through clinical trial evidence.
A video demonstration of the Qigong movements by Master Liu De Ming,
In our previous blog, we talked about mid-life transition. In women, this transition is obvious as menstruation starts to become irregular. The average age for this transition is about 47 years old, and this phase may last for 4 years. People are familiar with hot flushes and night sweats, however changes in sleep and mood during this stage are extremely common, yet less talked about. About one in two women during peri-menopause experiences sleep disturbance or insomnia, and 25% to 45% suffer from anxiety or depression. Women in their 40s and 50s are often the key contributors to the workforce and family life. Increased responsibilities, lack of sleep and mood issues significantly impact on the quality of life of women in this age range. In Geelong, over 30,000 women are in their 40s and 50s.
Sleep deficiency greatly impacts on mood. Yet mood may worsen sleep. Various menopausal symptoms impact on each other and create a vicious cycle.
Hormonal replacement therapy, melatonin, hypnotic medications and anti-depressants all have their places, but not without side effects. Cognitive behavioural therapy is found to be effective to address sleep and depression for peri-menopausal women.
Acupuncture is anther non-drug therapy that has shown promising results in improving hot flushes, night sweating, sleep disturbance and mood changes. Utilising the holistic theory of Chinese medicine, practitioners develop different acupuncture plans to address a number of menopausal symptoms simultaneously, yet with a focus on a couple of key issues.
In addition to providing acupuncture and / or Chinese herbal medicine treatment, we encourage women to adopt some self-care approaches, which aim to provide sustained results. Those strategies include
The overall aim is not only to help smooth the life transition, but also to build a strong foundation for the years to come.
Cannot fall sleep at night, frequent waking up, or waking up at 1 or 3 o’clock in the morning? You are not alone. Based on a 2019 Sleep Health Foundation report that at least one in two adult Australians experiences one of the above mentioned sleep problems three or more times per week; and one in six adults could be diagnosed to have chronic insomnia. Sleep problem occurs in all age groups, but is more common as we get older. Women are more likely to experience sleep disturbance than men.
Insomnia or sleep disturbance is one of the commonest symptoms we see at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic. Yet most people do not come for help with their sleep issue. People often come because of low energy, foggy brain, digestion issue, pain in the body, blocked nose, anxiety, skin problems or other issues. Sleep issue is only identified after our comprehensive inquiry. So sleep problem or insomnia is under diagnosed and consequently under-treated. Research shows prolonged poor sleep is linked to poor quality of life, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, heart attack, and stroke, and even dementia.
Luckily, no matter what causes sleep disturbance, there are something everyone of us could do. It is called sleep hygiene. It is effective. For some people, observing sleep hygiene is sufficient to improve their sleep, whereas others also need professional help. Please make sure you check out the link for excellent information.
Chinese medicine considers two important factors for a good sleep:
Below is a list of the common mistakes we see in our patients. Check if you have any of them.
Table: Some activities to be avoided or encouraged before bed.
I attended a seminar last week about mid-life wellbeing. The middle-age individuals are those between 45 to 65 years old. Mid-life is the phase when one faces physical, mental and societal challenges. The top health issues during this phase are reduced immunity, weight gain, fragile bones, and increased incidence of cancer. On the one hand middle-aged individuals are no-longer as energetic as they were in their 20th, on the other hand they have more responsibilities and stress at work, and at home due to having children and ageing patients.
We see many middle-aged people in our practice in Geelong. Most of the complaints are related to fatigue, sleep disturbance, digestive issues, stress, bodily pain, headache, sinuses infection or menopausal for women. Those physical symptoms reduce people’s capacity to cope with the increased pressure and stress.
In addition to family and societal demands, middle-age individuals decline physically due to the change in body essence (Jing). In Chinese medicine, Jing is what we are born with, and inherited from our parents. It is called pre-natal Qi, which governs our growth, maturity, fertility and longevity, and is the foundation of our health. Jing is weak when we are born, and grows as we grow, reaching its peak around late 20th and early 30th. From there, Jing declines. During middle-age, there is a sharp decline. The body’s capacity to adjust to changes could not catch up with the speed of decline, leading to many symptoms. After that, Jing continues to decline with a gentler speed as shown in the figure below.
This seems to be a doom picture, that we are getting weaker after 35 years old. Well the body is so amazing, it always has multiple backups. According to Chinese medicine, Jing is be supplemented by post-natal qi, which refers to the energy created by us after we were born.
This is a great news for those who are middle-aged. So there are ways to strengthen Jing when it is naturally declining.
Ways to strengthen Jing are simply, and do not cost much. All you need is to be consistent and persistent.
As you can see there are so many simple ways to supplement our declining Jing.
Middle-age individuals are in the most important phase in life. During mid-life, we tend to put ourselves the last due to so many competing duties. Now it is time to give ourselves TLC to set up a great foundation for a successful ad healthy ageing. Research shows if we adopt those good habits in mid-life, we will enjoy extra disease-free years, with 7.6 years for men and 10 years for women. Let us turn “mid-life crisis” into “mid-life opportunities”.
Spring is here. Today Geelong is nicely warm, a perfect spring day.
You might have dusted your house, weeded your garden to welcome the spring. This morning my Qi Gong instructor reminded us to also spring clean our body. His comments inspire me to write this blog.
From Chinese medicine point of view, Spring is the time for growth and is dominated by wind. We are part of the nature. The change of seasons also brings changes in us. The arrival of spring might make you wanting to be outdoors, and to be active. Those are positive aspects. The energy however that encourages growth also stirs up what is in dormant, like the hurricane bringing up dust and everything in its path.
So how do we know if we have issues need to be “spring cleaned”? Here are a few signs.
So how do we spring clean our body?
In Chinese medicine, mind and body are closely linked, via Qi. That is how emotional issues are manifested through our body, and disturbance in our body can cause disturbed mind.
So spring cleaning the body is to spring clean the Qi to help your body reach a balanced state. Here are a few strategies:
When the house is dusted, garden is weeded, it is time to declutter our body.
Nowadays, many of us work or study from home. Prolonged stay in a cold room has the similar effect on our body as being in a cold outdoor environment. Coldness can damage vitality of our Qi. When the vitality is impacted, we feel fatigue, sleepy, hungry or pain or stiffness in some parts of your body. We may or may not feel the cold. More and more people come to our Chinese medicine clinic in Geelong for those signs and symptoms.
There are two guiding principles to prevent your body from being harmed by the coldness.
Outdoors in a winter is an obvious cold situation. This is not the only time when one is exposed to the coldness. Many of us work or study from home. Most of the Australian houses are not well insulated, so indoors can be cold. Sitting at the desk or in front of a computer for too long allows coldness to impact on us. In summer, coldness also happens as conditioners blow out cool air constantly.
Here are TEN tips to prevent coldness from impacting on you
Stay warm, staysafe, and stay well.
The Taiji (Tai Chi) Qigong Shibashi (18 movement)
is a modern Qigong form combining elements from the Yang form Taiji and more traditional breathing and movement exercises from Qigong. The routine combines slow, deliberate movements, meditation, and breathing exercises and can be done in one place (standing or seated). It is an excellent gentle exercise activity for beginners and people with health conditions.
A link is provided below for a follow-along video demonstration of Shibashi (filmed in mirror image by Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic’s registered acupuncturist & herbalist and qualified Qigong instructor Paul Burns )
While the routines are not high intensity they are designed to help:
One of the best features of Tai Chi and Qigong is that they can be adapted to fit just about any fitness level. Yes, you can modify/ shorten repetitions or not do the movements if they are not suited to your body/ injury. While the breathing & movement coordination is not described in the video, just go with what feels natural such as inhale on the lift / expand movements and exhale on the body contract / descend movements (Please stop if at any time you feel dizzy). As a beginner don’t stress yourself co-ordinating the breathing and movements, and always return to natural breathing if needed. The gentle, low-impact flowing movements are easy on the joints. You can even do the movements seated. Simply doing the gestures as a gentle exercise will bring about positive results, but it becomes more of Qigong when the person practicing becomes more actively aware of the mind and breath with the movements.
But check with your doctor first if you have any conditions such as:
To see the follow along online video of the Taiji Qigong Shibashi click this link Taiji Qigong Shibashi
We are facing a pandemic. As of 1 April 2020, the city of Great Geelong has 43 cases tested positive for COVID-19. When facing the same viruses or pandemic, some people are affected badly whereas others do not suffer from many signs and symptoms. A healthy body system is often the reason behind. The people are affected the most b COIVD-19 are the older people over 70 years, people who have pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or people’s immunity is comprised due to chemotherapies, organ transplants etc.
In Chinese medicine, disease occurrence is the result of the fight between Righteous energy, or factors (Zheng Qi) that protect and support us to heal, and Evil energy or factors (Xie Qi) that try to invade our body and conquer us. When Righteous Qi is strong, one may be able to prevent the Evil Qi entering into the body or minimise the impact of Evil Qi. Righteous Qi is not simply equal to Immunity. The fight between Righteous Qi and Evil Qi is similar to the fight between Obi – Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.
To ensure we are healthy, in particularly during a pandemic, it is essential we maintain strong Righteous (Zheng) Qi. Knowing the factors impacting on Zheng Qi will help us develop good strategies.
We will discuss each factor and what we can do to strengthen our Righteous Qi (Zheng Qi) or defence in blogs of the coming weeks.
To support government effort to curtail the spread of coronavirus, we will temporarily suspend face to face consultation and acupuncture service from Mon 30th March. We will re-assess the situation week by week.
Let us work together to combat the pandemic.
Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic wishes you well and safe during this difficult time. Remember to be gentle to yourself and to your family.
We talked about Qi Gong on our website. Qi Gong is a form of exercise and self-care, and similar to Tai Chi, but it is gentler and is suitable for most people. There are many benefits of Qi Gong, including calming and enhancing the immunity. Please read our previous blogs on this topic and relevant research.
Here is a short Qi Gong session of 18 min that is specifically recorded by Master Liu to help people breath more deeply and strengthen the immunity. Master Liu is the 5th generation inheritor of the Liu He Zi Ran Men lineage. He has 30 years teaching experience in China, Australia, Europe, and South America. He combines his expertise in Qi Gong tradition with knowledge of modern science, Eastern and Western culture, in his teaching of Qi Gong.
Two staff members of Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, Paul Burns and Zhen Zheng, train under Master Liu. In March 2020, Paul received his Master Instructor certificate and Zhen received her Level 1 instructor certificate.
Key points of this Qi Gong session
Please prioritise self-isolation and hand hygiene. No other preventive measures work better than self-isolation and hand hygiene during a pandemic like COVID-19. Let us remember those hospital staff who risk their safety to stay at work. What we can do is to stay at home to help them and to break the chain.
Video: Qi Gong to strengthen the immunity and keep you calm
In the last post, I talked about awareness. Here I introduce some practice to gain better awareness.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Qi Gong training in north NSW delivered by Master Liu (Deming) from China. The theme of the training is called Qi Gathering, and I call it a new way of moment and connection; or a way to awareness.
The essence of this new way is Relaxation creates Space, Space creates Qi, and Qi creates Movement.
We know usually movement starts with an intention. We want to walk up hill, we want to stay upright, or we want to jump. This intention creates muscle contraction, to prepare us and to propel us to move. Then bending a knee and raising a foot to walk uphill, or contracting muscles of the back to stay upright, or bending the knees to push upwards.
In Qi Gathering, movement starts with relaxation but not an intention. I called it a new way of movement. It might NOT be new to some people, but will be to many. This involves emptying the mind and relaxing the body, which allows a space to be created, but not to be occupied with an intention, a thought or a desired outcome. In this space, Qi is created and so is the movement. This is similar to the breeze passing through a room when a door or window is open. This form of passing through, like breeze, is the movement.
Experiment this. Now stay upright with your usual way and close your eyes. Now feel where you feel the tension and tightness. You might feel it in the low back, in the neck, in the abdomen, in the legs or in the feet. Now try again, only this time, you envision you feet planting on the ground, you relax your whole body and you relax your breathing. As you relax, you create an awareness of a space above you. This space creates Qi with a gentle uplifting force. This Qi guides you to stay upright. Now check yourself again. You will find you are staying tall and upright. Yet you do NOT have any tightness you felt the previous time. Instead you are staying upright, tall, effortless and light.
This is the foundation of Qi Gathering. Regulating Qi is the foundation of acupuncture or Chinese medicine. If you can feel what I describe here, then congratulations. This means you have a great awareness of your body, and mind; and the great ability of letting go. If you could not feel what I describe here, then please do not get worried. If you want to experience this effortless movement, you may want to start some Qi Gong training with a teacher.
This form or concept of movement will help reduce injuries and bring agility into your movement. More important, it will bring awareness into our body as we go through our daily movement. This is mindful movement.
One could easily apply this principle to relationships with oneself or with others. The essence is letting go creates connection. We can expand this in future blogs.
Please have a look at these two short videos about Qi Gong in Geelong.
Basic Tai Chi Standing Posture
Tai Chi / Qigong Gentle Warm Up
In our previous blog, we discussed what a balanced state looks like. This help you understand when you are balanced and when you are not balanced. In our Chinese medicine practice, people often ask us what they can do to create or maintain a balanced state. We are often overjoyed to hear this question. This question indicates that the person has made the first most critical step to a balanced state as the person has made the task their responsibility. Indeed, a Chinese medicine practitioner may help you create a balanced state, but this state relies on the person to maintain.
A balanced state in Chinese medicine means “Yin is calm and Yang is securely inside the body to drive the life force”. That is to carry out daily activities and tasks in a calm status with direction and clear awareness.
They are ways to carry out each strategy. In this blog, we will focus on how to be aware.
Often we go through life with little awareness of our thoughts or our emotions as we are busy in carrying out the conversations inside of our head. The next minute we know we are angry with some remarks or we are upset for ourselves or others not doing things properly. Those are the imbalanced moments. Actually way before those upsetting moments, dis-comfort has been simmering. If we detect those, we could easily dis-engage at that time and prevent later upsets.
To be aware, one must maintain mental clarity, including sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in daily physical activities and awareness training. To learn how to be aware, we highly recommend reading some books or learning some techniques. There are many good resources. Here are just a few.
Qigong vs. Tai Chi
Qigong and Tai Chi (Taijiquan) are two forms of ancient Chinese exercise for health. Tai Chi is well known in Geelong, however many people are not aware of Qi Gong and do not know the difference between the two. In this blog, we give a broad overview of similarities as well as differences.
Qigong (roughly translating to energy exercises, or Arts of Qi) is an inclusive term to describe exercise practices that focus on cultivating the Qi, or internal energy, to improve health, fitness, wellbeing and longevity.
Tai Chi (developed later on) was a form of martial art developed with Qigong understanding of internal energy and how to use it for health or fighting. Tai Chi in the modern days is mostly practised with a focus on its graceful Qi cultivation side for health rather than for combat.
Qigong and Tai Chi both have been developed from the same concept of Qi that is emphasised in Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Qi gives energy to life and the fluent and constant flow of Qi through the body helps maintain our health. When the flow of Qi becomes stagnant or blocked, illness can occur.
Qi Gong & Tai Chi share the following similarities:
They differ in how they are practised and level of difficulties.
Application and practice
Level of difficulties
In closing both Qigong and Tai Chi are good for health. They complement each other, and are often taught together. If anyone is interested in experiencing these health practises please click on the link Qigong for more information.
Following from our previous blog on what balance means, here we discuss what a balance state looks like. A balanced state is the natural state of our being. It is a state Chinese medicine described as “Yin Ping Yang Mi”. It means Yin is calm and Yang is securely inside ourselves to drive the life force.
This is an important question. If we do not know or experience the balanced state, then we will not be able to detect when our system is off balance. Here are a few key experiences.
Being balanced does not mean someone is in a total blissed state all the time without upsetting moments. Remember the Yin and Yang balance is dynamic. If you are upset, a balanced state means you will not stay in the upsetting situation for long. You are there for a few minutes or one hour or a few. You will not spend days or weeks on the same upsetting situation.
How does one stay in a balanced state or learn to be balanced? We will discuss this in future blogs. One of the methods that can be adopted by anyone is Qi Gong, or the arts of Qi (chi). It is a form of slow movement combined with breathing, mindfulness and slow stretching. Please read our blog on this.
During the long weekend holiday a couple weeks back, two staff members from Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, Paul Burns and Zhen Zheng, as well as Geelong psychologist Helen Handsjuk, went for a Qi Gong retreat. We had lots of training on how to be centred or balanced with Qi Gong. Paul received his certificate for Level Two instructor and Helen received her certificate for Level One instructor. Well done, and congratulations to both!
(From left to rigth: Paul, Helen, Master Liu and Zhen)
Healthy eating is very important. The types of nutrients in the food we consume determine the composition of every single cell in our body. On average, an adult loses roughly 300 million cells every day and we are replacing them with food. Our bodies are literally manufactured out of food we eat.
Chinese medicine understands that food has different nature and different tastes. “We are what we eat” means our constitutions are closely related to the food we choose to eat. Choosing the suitable food can improve our constitutions, or our potential to remain healthy. Here we discuss a few common types of diet and related patterns of body constitutions and provide advice on how to improve if one wishes.
The “Damp” person
Those who love high fat and high carbohydrate food would usually feel heavy in the body, and cloudy in the head. Those symptoms get worse in the afternoons. This presentation in Chinese medicine is called “dampness” accumulation in the body. Then how to get rid of “dampness”, and feel lighter in the body and clearer in the brain? Here are some tips:
The “Hot” people
“Hot” here does not really mean popular. Australia is a red meat consumption country. In Chinese medicine, eating too much red meat will produce too much heat in the body. Red meat lovers usually have red cheeks, are less tolerant to heat, feel hot and sweaty easily and crave for cold drinks. These symptoms will subside once red meat is reduced from the diet.
The “Blood” weakness type
Vegetarian and vegan diet or people who don’t like eating much meat tend to show “blood” weakness in Chinese medicine. Blood weakness is not equal to anaemia. Those people may have pale complexion, experience dizziness or low energy or feel cold in the hands and feet. They are recommended to take less raw or cold food and drinks. Replacing salad with steamed vegetable and having soup more often could be a very good start.
A healthy diet in Chinese medicine is a balanced diet, is eating many varieties in a small quantity. Whole grains, meat (red or white), vegetables and fruits, natural, seasonal, whole food and food of different colours should be included in our everyday diet. It is recommended to take at least 20 different types of food every day. In Geelong we are fortunate to have access to fresh, local and varieties of food. Let us make good use of that.
Patients often ask us at Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic what they can do at home to aid in their recovery or maintain their health. Along with diet, the movement based Qigong (See Qigong under Services heading for further explanation) exercises are the most practical for patients to do at home. Qigong exercises involve slow and gentle body movements with deep breathing and mindfulness. They are easily learnt and can always be modified based on individual’s ability or injury and illness.
Available to Chinese medicine are many medical and health-promoting tools such as Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, cupping, moxibustion, massage and food & diet therapy. Included under this umbrella are the self-health exercises of Qigong.
Qigong for health maintenance and healing has long been used throughout Asia, and one just has to stroll down to any city park in the early morning in China to see the population’s belief in self-health maintenance exercises.
Modern scientific understanding of our bodies confirms what we already know,
Here are the obvious advantages of Qigong exercises:
Including Qigong exercises in your life is an easy way to help maintain a balance of the body and mind.
Paul teaches Qigong through Geelong City Yoga with Geelong psychologist Helen Handsjuk on Wednesday AM and through Geelong West Neighbourhood House on Thursday evening.
Are you familiar with this symbol? Of course, you say, who does not know?
But what does it mean? And how is it related to Chinese medicine?
This symbol represents the essence of the Theory of Yin and Yang, which is a philosophical understanding of the world, and is also the foundation of Chinese medicine. When Chinese medicine says Balance and Being Holistic, it refers to the Balance of Yin and Yang, and Yin and Yang together being the oneness.
This symbol says
That is Yin and Yang complements each other, and inseparable.
Yin refers to the moon, water, being cool, being statics, female, quiet, and slow; and Yang refers to the sun, fire, hot, dynamic, male, loud and quick. From health and illness point of view, a condition that is cold in nature and gets worse with cold weather or environment, it is Yin in nature. Fever, or being thirty, is considered of Yang in nature. Every phenomenon can be understood as Yin or Yang; yet in every phenomenon there are Yin and Yang elements.
When Chinese medicine talks about Balance, tt is the Yin and Yang elements that need to be balanced.
Being balanced is the ultimate natural stare of the universe. When this balance is out of its order, that is when illness happens in humans. As you can see in the diagram, the balance is not 50% vs 50%. It is a dynamic balance because the components of Yin and Yang change over time and all the time. Morning becomes noon, noon goes into afternoon, which then becomes night; night will go into dawn. This cycle continues, as Yang (morning and noon) goes into Yin (afternoon and night), and goes to Yang again. This is the dynamic balance of Yin and Yang.
Everything in the Universe consists of Yin and Yang; we are part of the Universe, so we human beings too have Yin and Yang within our body. Any external Yin and Yang changes will impact on our internal Yin and Yang. This explains why weather could impact on us. For instance in the last a few days, Geelong has been very hot. We too feel the heat. For instance before the rain comes, those who have arthritic joints will know due to a change of air pressure from high to low (from Yang to Yin). This explains oneness of our body with the Universe.
Chinese medicine positions itself on Yin and Yang theory, and considers human beings are one part of the whole Universe and follow the same rule that regulates the Universe. That is why Chinese medicine considers all most everything that is NOT balanced could impact on our internal balance and become the cause of diseases. To become healthy again, one needs to regain this balance. To prevent one from being ill, it is essential to keep yourself Yin and Yang balanced so that this natural status will not be swayed easily by things that are out of balance.
In the future blogs, we will discuss what are considered causes of diseases and how to recognise them. And what we can do to maintain the natural state of balance.
Summer is here, and will be here for a while. In Geelong, summer can be hot, humid, and the temperature also changes dramatically, varying from 42 degree to 20 degree within one day.
When hot, naturally people want to take cold food and cold drink to help with the heat or dress coolly, such as wearing saddles, vests etc. In Chinese medicine, this is however a poor practice. Coldness is one of the major causes of health conditions in Chinese medicine. In winter, we dress warmly to cope with the cold, but in summer we forget that there are also cold factors when the day temperature drops greatly or when the sea breeze comes through at night.
In fact, summer is the main season when the cold environment or cold food impacts on us quietly, such an impact could show immediately, but more often the impact won’t show until winter. If you suffer from cough or asthma in winter, if you have stomach pain, diarrhoea or abdominal bloating easily, if you suffer from painful periods (for girls), or if you have low back pain or arthritis, keeping yourself warm is particularly important in summer. Those conditions indicate you are prone to be affected by the cold environment or cold food. At our Chinese medicine clinic in Geelong, we identified some commons causes leading to coldness invading into the body, and have generated a list of tips to keep yourself warm in summer and prevent from health problems in winter.
Tips to prevent coldness invasion in summer
• Take warm drinks, such as tea or coffee or warm water. Do you know taking warm drinks actually help cool your body? This seems to be counterintuitive. Check out this article.
• When eating cold salad or food, make sure you also eat something warm or drink something warm at the same time to reduce the impact of cold.
• When going into a room or place that is air conditioned, for girls or ladies, please bring a shawl to cover your shoulders; for gentlemen, please wear short or long sleeve shirts, but not vests. This is particularly important if your office is cold. You could be exposed to a cold environment for 8 hours straight. One of my common “prescriptions” is a few beautiful shawls for ladies.
• When sleep, make sure you are covered with something; even a thin sheet would be very helpful. Our body temperature drops when we sleep or be in station and this is the time when a cold environment impacts on our body greatly.
• Sitting or sleeping away from any direct wind. Wind helps the coldness penetrate into the body.
So food, drink and dress are the ones to think about in summer.
The Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) team at Geelong Chinese medicine clinic (GCMC) welcomes you to spring. As acupuncturists and Chinese medicine herbalists, we see numerous people suffering from seasonal and all year round allergies. Along with conditions such as pain, headaches, migraines, anxiety and depression, allergies are one of the most common conditions seen in our clinic.
If you suffer from Hayfever/ seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), basically it involves the body’s immune system becoming over reactive to certain things in the environment (i.e. pollens) that aren’t a problem for most people. There are many theories on the different ways that cause this, but simply your body has learned to be allergic to certain things.
Hayfever (SAR) symptoms: (similar to cold or flu like symptoms)
Modern allergy medications for Hayfever (SAR) come in various forms such sprays, tablets, syrups, flushes and even injections to provide short-term relief. They do not cure allergies, but simply block the symptoms.
Are there natural alternatives to help stop or reduce the need for allergy medications for Hayfever (SAR)?
This is a common question from patients at Geelong Chinese medicine clinic.
The short answer is yes.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers both acute symptom relief management and longer period treatment to attempt to regulate the TCM constitutional imbalances and calm the immune system overreaction.
A 2018 clinical trial review of acupuncture on antihistamine use in patients suffering seasonal allergic rhinitis showed the acupuncture group had a lot fewer days (10 days less) of antihistamine use and 38% of the acupuncture group didn’t need any medication at all in comparison to 16% in the routine management group (Adam et al, 2018)
Best time for treating Hayfever (SAR)
Just like preparation for bushfires is best done before the actual fire season, in regards to Hayfever (SAR) the best time to come for treatment is 2-3 months (Autumn/Winter) before the hayfever season (Spring) starts. For all year round sufferers, anytime is a good time to start treatment.
But as most people don’t know this, the majority of Hayfever sufferers come in peak season (Spring). When this happens we end up focussing more on symptom relief before we can get to working on underlying constitutional causes. However, we aim to lessen their symptoms and then decrease allergic responses in following seasons.
Future Blog articles will address self-care strategies for Hay fever/ SAR sufferers such as commonly used acupressure points that can help reduce acute symptoms.
The views on healthy food change all the time, usually depending on the latest research findings. In Chinese medicine, the concept of healthy eating has never changed. Choosing from seasonal and unprocessed food with various colours and flavours to match with individual constitution is the key of a healthy diet. In Chinese medicine, food is considered as important as medicine.
Indeed, we are what we eat!
Same as Chinese medicine herbs, food have different natures: cool, cold, neutral, warm, and hot. The nature of food is determined by the effects they have on the person’s body after consumption. If a person frequently eat the same type of food, it creates imbalance in the body. For example, red meat lovers usually show excessive heat in the body, with symptoms such as feeling hot, sweaty, thirsty, grumpy, and constipation.
Food is also categorised by their taste. There are five different tastes: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. Each taste of food corresponds to a different organ in Chinese: sour food enters the Liver, bitter food is good for the Heart, sweet food strengthens the Spleen, pungent food nourishes the Lung and salty food goes to the Kidney. Here Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung and Kidney refer to Chinese medicine organs, but not those of Western medicine.
The climate is an important factor of our food choices. People from hot and humid places will benefit from eating some spicy food to bring sweat out (to remove dampness from body). Whereas in Geelong, it is dry and windy in most time of the year, residents are recommended not to have too much chilli and spices, but eat more seasonal vegetables and take more soup and broth to reduce the impact of the dry environment.
Remember it is all about balancing and nurturing the body.
Spring is coming. Sunshine, green grass and flowers. Life is beautiful again, although that may not be so to some people. With spring, here comes hayfever. If you have an itchy nose, runny nose, and/or itchy eyes, and sneeze a lot, then you might have hayfever, which is also called seasonal allergic rhinitis. For some people, the symptoms are so bad that their sleep is disturbed and their physical and mental functioning decline because the nose is so blocked.
It is easy to take antihistamines, but for some the medications do not work, or used to work, but no longer work. Some people have hayfever-type symptoms all year around, which is called perennial allergic rhinitis. For them, using those medications in long terms might not be a good option. Any other solutions?
Acupuncture is one of the none-drug interventions that have been shown to be effective for hayfever, and is now in the Guidelines for treating hayfever.
In the last 20 years, researches at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, have conducted a few randomised and controlled trials and found acupuncture was better than sham acupuncture, or fake acupuncture, for seasonal and as well as perennial hayfever.
In the hayfever season, weekly acupuncture treatments at our Geelong clinic for six weeks are needed. For those who do not like acupuncture, needle-free acupuncture can be used to stimulating therapeutic body point.
At Geelong Chinese Medicine Clinic, we will apply seeds or beads to certain areas of your ears. This is called auricular acupressure. It is “take away” treatment to sustain the effect of acupuncture. Chinese herbal medicine is also commonly prescribed for hayfever. The outcome of the combined therapies is often very good.
From a Chinese medicine view, hayfever is due to that body’s defence system being weak. Depending on your presentations, there are at least three different types of weak defence system. Treatments need to be provided accordingly to strength those systems to moderate the allergic reaction. It is also advisable to have a few treatments during non-hayfever season to prevent hayfever.
Please check our previous blog on how to reduce contact with allergens.
Spring is fast approaching and with the changing of the seasons comes an increase of pollen in the environment, which means a lot of people with allergies are going to be reaching for a box of tissues.
Allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) affects around 18% of people (children and adults) in Australia. It is caused by the nose and/or eyes coming into contact with environmental allergens, such as pollens, dust mite, moulds and animal hair.
While complete avoidance of pollen is impractical there is still a lot you can do to minimise exposure to these allergens. These range from simple measures taken around the house to changing routines. This article will focus on the simple tips for reducing pollen exposure. Other articles will focus on the treatments that usually accompany these measures.
Protect your home
When possible avoid going outside, especially on windy days and during the early morning hours, when pollen counts are highest.
As soon as you arrive home – even if you’ve just been in the backyard:
60 to 80% of patients who visit a primary health practitioner have some forms of pain. Dr Zheng says “Pain is a common yet complex symptom, and can affect one’s life profoundly. Pain sufferers often feel irritable, have low energy and insomnia, and can suffer from functional impairment. I believe pain and the sufferer should be understood and managed as a whole, and a combination of various therapies often achieves better therapeutic results than one particular therapy does.”
For more information, please see http://healthtimes.com.au/hub/pain-management/44/research/kk1/acupuncture-for-pain-management/1581/.