Complementary Health News: Winter


December - The Festive Spirit – Are You Ready?

by Josephine Clegg, Traditional Acupuncturist, Sleaford Natural Health Centre

The big thing about December is that Christmas and New Year are at the end of it. A time of year people either love or hate, or just want to get through. You may have lots of parties planned, chances to get together with friends and family not seen for a while. You may be alone or missing loved ones no longer here. Whatever your circumstances, Christmas and New Year brings with them a lot of emotional and physical pressures, stress and tensions.

For families, before Christmas, there's lots of rushing around trying to get everything ready for “the perfect day”. Mums especially, place themselves under so much pressure buying all the right presents and food, keeping to budgets. With time and money pressures, it's so easy to put our own health concerns aside; as we spend all our reserves on loved ones. To look after ourselves first at this time may seem selfish – and there's always the New Year for resolutions.

However, the greatest gift of all is good health.

During this festive period, usually the woman around the house is at its core – what a huge responsibility! The cog in the wheel that is never allowed to break!

All these pressures can lead to a lack of balance and centre – and a wheel needs to be both. With so much going on, it carries into our bodies causing tension, pains and sleeplessness. So that by the time Christmas is here, we forget it is a holiday, families coop together and tensions rise. It is unfortunate but true that January is a busy time for divorce lawyers.

To treat ourselves, so that we are more able to look after others at this time, is not selfish. But it allows us to be in the best frame of body and mind possible to enter into the festive spirit for the benefit of all the family.

The Festive Spirit
Whatever the festive spirit means to you, whether it be in the religious sense, the alcoholic or jovial sense, we must not forget our own spirit. Our spirit is what gives us the energy and enthusiasm to get up in the morning, look forward to things and do them efficiently and enjoyably. It's the sparkle in our eyes, that which makes us the individuals that we are.

We can be so busy at Christmas in search of the religious or party spirit that our own spirits can be forgotten. Christmas is a time for giving, but not just expensive gifts to other people. We can give them our time, our love and show that we care in so many ways. To help us do this we can ensure first that we are in good health and fit, so that we can be there for other people without it draining our resources.

Why not give yourself or a loved one the gift of good health? Complementary Medicine gives us so much more than relaxation or pain relief. It can enable us to feel more balanced and centred, stronger, have more energy and enthusiasm for life. Old patterns of behaviour can be changed and our confidence can grow as we are able to do more and get the spark back into our lives and our relationships.

Birth and New Beginnings
The reason for this holiday is to celebrate birth and new beginnings at Christmas and New Year. Births can be traumatic – for mother and baby. After carrying so much weight around for a while as well, it is a good idea for the mother to be checked and realigned. The baby can also suffer at birth and can be helped by Osteopathy. It is very gentle and suitable to babies and children. Bad posture and future potential problems with digestion, skin and breathing, for example, are better avoided at an early stage than cured at a later one.

With best wishes for a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.


New Year, New You

by Josephine Clegg, Traditional Acupuncturist, Sleaford Natural Health Centre

Weight Loss, Stop Smoking and Drinking
We all say it, don't we? This year I'm going to…make a resolution, or my resolution is not to make a resolution...
After the excesses of Christmas and New Year celebrations, and being close to family members we're not used to being so close to for such a long period of time, after all the high expectations, we come down to earth with a bump. It is time to detox, stop smoking, drinking or lose weight. We stay in, hibernate, close the curtains early and shut the dark out. Life becomes boring and still. Acupuncture can help with your resolutions, strength of will and lessen the side effects of withdrawal, together with support and advice to help you on your way to a new, more balanced you.

Yin and Yang
This is very like the energy of winter within the Water element, a time of maximum Yin, with a very small amount of Yang within it. Having spent all our outward going, partying, loud, higher Yang energy being festive, the inward, dark, lower Yin energy comes to the fore. We start conserving and storing our energy, building our reserves for the year ahead.

Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD)
Some of us have real difficulty with this time of year and may experience depression, fatigue, lethargy, increased need for sleep, food cravings and weight gain. Life and every day chores can be intolerable. Acupuncture, Remedial Massage and Reflexology can all assist in rebalancing our systems so that we can get through this difficult, cold, dark time of year without experiencing the severity of these symptoms. Patients frequently report to me that they have not suffered as they usually do, even though this wasn't why they came for treatment. Eating the appropriate seasonal, locally produced foods, cooked in a nourishing way can help to give us that warming, comforting, feel good factor.

Facial Revitalisation Acupuncture
Facial Revitalisation Acupuncture (FRA) or Cosmetic Acupuncture is a way of reducing fine lines and wrinkles, bags under the eyes, open pores, balancing complexion, evening out skin tone, brightening the eyes and lifting the face, without introducing toxins or chemicals into your body. It also benefits your whole system at the same time, improving circulation, vitality, sleep routines and healthy lifestyle.

While Traditional Acupuncture can lift your spirits, change your outlook on life and your ability to cope with it, as well as heal you from within and reduce symptoms you may be feeling, thus improving posture, reducing stress and tension from the face, FRA addresses the face first, but still does not forget the rest of you! Thus your constitution is treated and you can look and feel much improved.

Urinary Problems, Arthritis, Hearing, Sexual Energy, Hair Loss and Reproduction
The Kidneys and Bladder are the organs of the Water element. As well as regulating the balance of fluids in the body, the Kidneys store our essential Qi (known as Jing) produce marrow and rule the bones. They open into the ears. So urinary problems, arthritis, hearing, sexual energy, hair loss and reproduction (matters often associated with premature aging) can be attributed to the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine.

The Bladder is a reservoir, storing waste body fluids and excreting them as urine with the Kidney's influence. This can be linked to our own energy levels, thus a person who rushes around all day, spending their energy, not stopping to drink or eat and then needs to crash at 4pm (the 4 o'clock wall, I call it), is not using their Bladder energy properly. By the Chinese 24 hour clock, where every organ has a two hours period of maximum energy and then an opposite 2 hours period of lowest energy, means that that same person probably wakes at 3 – 4 am to wee, possibly not getting back to sleep afterwards, so running their energy levels even lower. Bones may become brittle and joints creak and less supple and hair lacks lustre as we continue on this path.

How Acupuncture Helps
Traditional Acupuncture can help restore the harmonious functioning of the Kidneys and Bladder and to educate you, so that you learn how not to spend all your energy at once, but store some for your essential inner functions that may be taken for granted until things go wrong. With lifestyle and diet advice you will learn to listen to your body so that warning signs can be recognised and acted upon to prevent serious conditions arising. Should a problem occur, then it will be easier to treat because of the work already undertaken. It is therefore not necessary to wait for a condition to become acute before having treatment. If you know you have a history of recurrent problems then seeking treatment in the dormant phase can be most beneficial to help prevent recurrence and / or severity of symptoms.

Keep Those Kidneys Warm!
It is vitally important to keep our Kidneys warm for a healthy Kidney function. This means not only our mid backs but our feet as well. As the Kidney meridian begins on the soles of our feet, we do not want to allow cold from cold floors to enter the meridian and then our Kidneys and cause bad backs and the other problems listed above. Don't let the cold penetrate your bones this winter.

Food For Storage
Ginger, garlic and spices help to improve the circulation with warming casseroles, soups and roasts. Whole grains, roasted nuts, dried foods, small dark beans, seaweeds and steamed winter greens fortify the kidneys in the winter. Cook foods longer, at lower temperatures and with less water.

For winter, salty (not too much) and bitter foods are appropriate to promote the yin sinking, centering quality it increase our storage capacity. These also cool the body's exterior to keep our heat deeper and lower within ourselves: fortifying our own central heating system. Thus good foods for winter can be miso, soy sauce, seaweeds, beans, berries, salt, millet, barley, cloves, cinnamon, onions, lamb, chicken , salmon, fennel mixed in proper proportions with lettuce, watercress, endive, turnip, celery, asparagus, alfalfa, carrot top, rye, oats, quinoa, citrus peels, outer cabbage leaves, burdock and chickory. A Chinese Medical practitioner can diagnose your condition and suggest appropriate foods according to their energetic qualities and your constitution and symptoms, with appropriate cooking techniques and frequency of eating, to help you to help yourself on your path to good health and a good year ahead.