Acupuncture, Acupuncture awareness week, BAcC, Stress

Burnt out Brits struggle with stress

We will always encounter stressful events in our lives, its unavoidable. Our response is, I suppose, an evolutionary thing, e.g when our ancestors were faced with a woolly mammoth, it was an advantage to have the body flooded with adrenaline, the heart & respiration rate increase to aid a quick getaway and ensure survival. In our modern lives too, a little bit of stress can drive us forward.

What we see all too often in our busy lives, are people who live constantly in this heightened stressful state. Stress has a way of taking root and it becomes the norm. In time unpleasant symptoms begin to manefest.

What I observe, is that most people have ‘their thing’, like a weak spot in their constitution that stress is able to get the better of. For some it’s IBS type symptoms, or skin rashes like excema or psoriasis. It could be muscle tension and pain or increased/reduced appetite, headaches, cystitis…and so on.

Stress often affects sleep. It may be that people experience vivid dreams, they’re tossing and turning all night, can’t get to sleep or find themselves wide awake at 3am. And so a downhill spiral begins. Feeling exhausted in the morning, we start turning to bad habits. An energy drink, a pack of cigarettes, sugary foods, lots of coffee to keep us going.

The mind isn’t so clear and we make poor decisions or struggle to make decisions at all. We make mistakes because our minds are foggy. People can also begin to experience an odd paranoia. We can become sensitive to others comments, then ruminate for days over it, further exhausting ourselves. Many people experience uncontrolled outbursts of emotion, often anger…and disproportionately so. And so, stress has us by the throat, stifling any joy or sense of fulfillment in our lives. We feel stuck, with no way out and its a miserable place to be.

There’s no single magic acupuncture point for stress. A traditional acupuncture practitioner will question, observe the patient and formulate an appropriate point prescription based on the patient’s diagnosis. The goal being to bring the body back to balance or “to restore de facto standards” as a colleague of mine puts it.

Patients feel very different after that first treatment and often it brings home just how much their ongoing stress is affecting them. Whilst we as practitioners offer practical suggestions to manage stress better, patients will often start to make little changes themselves. It’s surprising just how much difference a calmer frame of mind and a simple good nights sleep can make.

It’s a good idea for people to recognise the signs of stress early on and do something to tackle it. Prolonged stress will have detrimental effects on our health, sometimes irreversible ones. Acupuncture is an effective, non pharmalogical treatment option.

Life is for living, it is all too short to be stuck in the living hell which is extreme stress. Acupuncture can enable you to find your ‘flow’ and cope with life’s irritations with ease and grace.

Chinese Medicine, Stress

Raw chocolate mulberries, a christmas gift idea!


I love nosing around Sante health shop which is below my treatment room in Trinity st, Colchester. Linda, who owns the shop is very particular about what she sells. Where possible everything is organic and ethically produced. They sell an array of high quality supplements and over the counter remedies (check out the manuka honey throat lozenges). There’s a fantastic selection of hair and beauty products that don’t contain loads of potentially toxic chemicals which I must say make good Christmas gifts.

Maybe I shouldn’t spread this around but there is also a small selection of chocolates, in particular Raw chocolate covered mulberries. Huge OMG!

I was drawn to them because white mulberries  or “Sang Shen” are used in Chinese herbal medicine. You might find them in a herbal formula that treats premature aging or wasting diseases as white mulberries are indicated to tonify blood and yin. Also they moisten the intestines so would be used to treat constipation in the elderly for example.

Mulberries taste like little toffees. When they are covered in raw chocolate then….well…they are GOOD! I’m planning to give these as gifts for my older relatives but mainly I shall be buying them for myself…ha ha.

Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, Stress

Is work ruining your life?

the daily grind can be overburdening

A news item this week involved an air steward making a dramatic exit from a plane but also I suspect, his career. The plane had landed but was experiencing delays disembarking. The steward was doing his best to dissuade a passenger from opening the overhead locker, in doing so he took a lot of abuse and the final straw was when he got hit by a piece of luggage. Grabbing a beer from the trolley on the way, he opened the emergency shute and slid to freedom. How many of us have had moments when we just wanted to throw in the towel and walk away?

I couldn’t help but smile and a little part of me thought, ‘good on you’. It reminded me of a horrible  job I had years ago, where the boss was the most outrageous renowned bully. A colleague and myself used to reduce ourselves to tears of laughter, thinking up outlandish ways to ‘make our exit’.  That didn’t make up for the fact that we all dreaded being called to the office and many evenings were spent crying or seething about events of the day.

I don’t have statistics to quote but I suspect work related stress contributes considerably to the levels of illness within the population.  Even those of us who work in healthcare and should know better can often get overburdened by other people’s woes. The pressures put upon NHS workers are considerable but all professions have their own pressures. The signs that your job may be taking its toll on your health include:

  • Self-medicating: needing a drink to wind down; using drugs, whether illegal or legal, such as a regular use of pain killers or seemingly harmless over-the-counter remedies; overeating to try to change our emotional state; relying on caffeine, energy drinks or sugar to get ourselves through the day
  • Emotional issues: irritability, insomnia, depression, feeling anti-social or feeling somehow alienated from the world around you
  • Physical symptoms: muscle tension, headaches, IBS, nausea, tooth grinding, skin eruptions, even infertility and many more conditions have stress at their root.

All in all, if Monday morning fills you with a feeling of dread, then it may be time to rethink your job or even career. That’s not always an easy task or in many cases practical and it may be that we have to find ways of coping with daily stresses in order to maintain our health and just as importantly, our sanity.

Acupuncture works amazingly well for the above conditions partly due to its relaxing and harmonising effects. Once the body and mind are in a balanced state, the mind becomes clear. When we are in this state of mind, it is easier to make good food choices, have the energy and peace of mind to deal with problems in an ‘adult’ way and perhaps then we can start to make minor changes in our lifestyles to counteract our daily stress and find a balance in our lives.

  1. Consider trying pilates, yoga, tai chi, qi gong or some activity that gently stretches the muscles to combat muscular problems caused by lifting, sitting in front of a computer or any other sedentary or repetitive movements. Alternatively, have a regular massage or some other form of body work.
  2. Take some time at lunch to have a short walk in order to get the circulation going and fill the lungs with fresh new oxygen. If possible find a quiet outdoor space to ‘reboot’.
  3. Try some simple meditation like listening to some relaxing music on your ipod whilst consciously breathing, filling the body with positive white light.
  4. Get adequate sleep. There’s no point sitting up late watching rubbish on TV. Go to bed.
  5. Try to maintain good nutrition avoiding ‘ready meals’.
  6. Plan ahead and take regular holidays, even if it’s just a long weekend. Find activities outside of work that give you pleasure and fulfillment.

All in all, learn when to say ‘no’ and leave work at work. Life’s too short! Most importantly, recognise the signs and get help. There are numerous support groups for drug and alcohol related problems. In health related professions, there is often ‘supervision’ available. However trapped and isolated you may feel, there is always a way out. By making a few minor changes we can take back control of our lives. Taking those first few steps out of ‘the rut’ and towards a happier life is a liberating experience.