A Guide to Acupuncture.

Acupuncure is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine. Fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.

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How acupuncture works

Western medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture following a medical diagnosis. It involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body.

This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. It’s likely that these naturally released substances are responsible for the beneficial effects experienced with acupuncture.

A course of acupuncture usually creates longer lasting pain relief than when a single treatment is used.

Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi doesn’t flow freely through the body, this can cause illness. They also believe acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health.

Uses of acupuncture

Acupuncture practitioners – sometimes called acupuncturists – use acupuncture to treat a wide range of health conditions. However, the use of acupuncture isn’t always based on rigorous scientific evidence.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines for the use of treatments and care of patients.

Currently, NICE only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for:

  • chronic tension-type headaches
  • migraines

Acupuncture is also often used to treat other musculoskeletal conditions (of the bones and muscles) and pain conditions, including:

  • chronic pain, such as neck pain
  • joint pain, such as Arthritis.
  • dental pain
  • postoperative pain

Where is Acupuncture treatment available?

Acupuncture is sometimes available on the NHS, most often from GPs or physiotherapists, although access is limited.

Most acupuncture patients pay for private treatment. The cost of acupuncture varies widely between practitioners. Initial sessions usually cost £40-70, and further sessions £25-60.

If you’re being treated by an acupuncture practitioner for a health condition or are considering having acupuncture, it’s advisable to discuss this with your GP.

How acupuncture is performed

An initial acupuncture session usually lasts 20-40 minutes and involves an assessment of your general health, medical history and a physical examination, followed by insertion of the acupuncture needles.

Courses of treatment often involve up to 10 separate sessions, but this can vary.

Insertion of the needles

The needles are inserted into specific places on the body, which practitioners call acupuncture points.

During the session, you’ll usually be asked to sit or lie down. You may also be asked to remove some clothes so the practitioner can access certain parts of your body.

The needles used are fine and are usually a few centimetres long. They should be single-use, pre-sterilised needles that are disposed of immediately after use.

Acupuncture practitioners choose specific points to place the needles based on your condition. Up to 12 points may be used during a typical session, sometimes more depending on the number of symptoms you have.

The needles may be inserted just under the skin, or deeper so they reach muscle tissue. Once the needles are in place, they may be left in position for a length of time lasting from a few minutes up to around 30 minutes.

You may feel a tingling or a dull ache when the needles are inserted but shouldn’t experience any significant pain. If you do, let your practitioner know straight away.

In some cases, your practitioner may rotate the needles or stimulate them with a mild electric current (known as electroacupuncture).

Acupuncture safety and regulation

There’s no statutory regulation of acupuncture in England, but many non-medical acupuncture practitioners are required to register with their local authority.

If you choose to have acupuncture, make sure your acupuncture practitioner is either a regulated healthcare professional such as a doctor, nurse of physiotherapist or a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation.

The British Acupuncture Council holds a register of practitioners that has been vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority. If you decide to have traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, you can visit this website to find a qualified acupuncturist near you.

When it’s carried out by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally very safe. Some people experience mild, short-lived side effects such as:

  • pain where the needles puncture the skin
  • bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin
  • drowsiness
  • feeling sick
  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • worsening of pre-existing symptoms

If you have a bleeding disorder, such as haemophilia, or are taking anticoagulants, talk to your GP before you have acupuncture.

It’s generally safe to have acupuncture when you’re pregnant. However, let your acupuncture practitioner know if you’re pregnant because certain acupuncture points can’t be used safely during pregnancy.

Rachel x

 

Natural Remedies To Soothe Anxiety.

Chamomile-Tea

According to Mental Health Foundation UK 22% of women (this rises to 28% for 18-24 year olds) feel anxious all or most of the time. Many of us are very good at hiding the it. Sound familiar? Give my 4 natural remedies to soothe anxiety a try.

1 CHAMOMILE

A lack of sleep is one of the most common triggers for an anxiety attack, but when you’re feeling stressed the last thing on your mind is getting som sleep. Causing a restless night with wild thoughts racing through your mind, and the cycle continues … Break the cycle with a cup of calming chamomile tea. A recent study suggests that chamomile significantly relaxes blood vessels and smooths muscle fibers helping to release built up tension, helping you drift off to sleep.

2 VALERIAN ROOT

A popular over-the-counter sedative in Japan, valerian root is a natural treatment for anxiety. Helping to promote sleep, control panic attacks and relieve tension headaches, scientists have found that the herb increased the amount of GABA (a chemical which helps regulate the nerve cells and calm anxiety) in the brain.

3 LAVENDER

With a long history in herbal therapy, lavender is most commonly used in aromatherapy. An emotional anti-inflammatory, the essential oils from lavender are believed to help promote calmness. Lavender sprays which are applied to pillows are also said to help promote a peaceful night’s sleep, perfect for those suffering from stress.

4 LEMON BALM

This herb has a calming history which dates back to the middle ages. It is said to help ‘lift spirits’, heal wounds and calm insect bites, it’s also commonly combined with valerian to soothe stress. Studies suggest it can help aid indigestion and that when used in aromatherapy, it can also help to improve cognitive function and decrease agitation in those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Rachel x

How Do You Make Golden Milk?

Warming spices such as Cayenne, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Cinnamon and Ginger help us feel cosier at this time of year, they also improve circulation and can reduce inflammation. You can use these spices in your everyday cooking, but golden milk is a delicious way to get your daily dose!

turmeric

Here’s my favourite recipe – coconut milk and other nut milks also taste great, however I find rice milk is too thin for this recipe.

Golden Milk

Ingredients for two people:

500 ml almond milk

2 teaspoons turmeric

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper, too, if you can handle some zing!

To make:

1. Gently warm the almond milk in a small pot on the stove.

2. Add spices and stir through with a whisk for a couple of minutes.

3. Pour into two mugs and sprinkle some extra nutmeg for garnish.

4. Add an optional teaspoon of raw honey to sweeten.

Rachel x

5 Essential Oils You Need In Your Life.

My five recommended essential oils that can help to balance a variety of mental and emotional issues

Aromatherapy

 

Lavender is great for de-stressing, relaxing, soothing and calming the nerves and generally balancing the emotions – It’s also great for insomnia.

Rose has gentle yet powerful anti-depressant properties that can help where there is a lot of stress, anxiety or grief. It can be also be useful for women where problems relate to their sexuality or reproductive system – for example post-natal depression, PMT or depression following a relationship break-down.

Chamomile is a comforting oil, that is great for anxiety, panic and phobias – anything where the nerves are on edge! It is also great for insomnia. Drinking chamomile tea will help to enhance the effects of the essential oil.

Bergamot is relaxing yet uplifting, making it particularly helpful for tension, anxiety and depression. It is also highly recommended for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Ylang Ylang has an antidepressant, sedative effect that is helpful for depression, anxiety and nervous disorders. It helps to slow over-rapid breathing and an over-rapid heartbeat that may be associated with shock, anger or fear!

How to use:

When choosing essential oils be guided by your sense of smell. The ones you like the most will be the ones that your body needs the most. Pick up to 3 oils and use one or more as follows:

Diffusing: Put 6-9 drops of oil into a diffuser or candle burner.

Massage: Mix 15ml carrier oil (or moisture lotion) with up to 6 drops of essential oil.

Bath: Mix up to 9 drops of essential oil with half a cup of full fat milk and add to the bath. Close doors and windows so you can inhale the aroma while you soak. If you do not have a bath you can add a few drops to your shower tray and breathe in the aroma as you shower.

It’s best to play around with the oils to see which combinations you like best! One of my favourite blends for relaxing the mind is 3 drops of Bergamot, 2 drops of Rose Otto and 1 drop of Ylang Ylang.

Rachel x

 

 

Seven Seventeen Candles

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I LOVE these mood-boosting candles from Seven Seventeen. All their candles are hand-poured in England and are plant-based, infused with fine fragrance oils, feature soothing mantras, such as ‘Hello Calm’ in Moroccan Rose (My favourite!) and ‘All The Love’ in Black Pomegranate. Their candles have been featured in The Guardian, Glamour and Stylist, they not only smell divine and look great, they also support mental health charities, with £1 from every candle donated to the pre and post-natal charity PANDAS Foundation and £1 from every candle in their men’s collection donated to CALM, the male suicide prevention charity.

Rachel x

 

 

Please note: I was not paid for any endorsement of this range of candles.

Sleep The Best Wellness Tool.

Did you know that one in three of us don’t get enough sleep? From hectic work schedules and overactive minds to bouts of stress, our sleep is usually the first thing to suffer when we’ve got a lot on our plate. Bed manufacturer Sealy UK’s Worldwide Sleep Census polled more than 15,000 respondents around the globe and discovered that 77 percent of Brits fail to wake up refreshed and well-rested each morning and that British women lose 10 days per year due to ‘sleep debt’ – the time spent lying awake when we should be sleeping. Make sure you’re not one of these statistics by adapting your diet to contain sleep-inducing foods for a perfect night’s slumber.

Choose coconut water

Try drinking a glass of pure coconut water in the evening to encourage a restful night’s sleep. Coconut water is an excellent source of ‘electrolyte’ minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and sodium. Balanced levels of these minerals are necessary to maintain normal muscle action, nerve function and hydration in our body. Deficiencies or imbalances can cause cramping and restless legs at night, which can lead to disturbed sleep.

Change your sleep cycle with cherries

Cherries can help to get us in a regular sleep pattern. Cherries have been found to contain small amounts of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. Although all cherries may contain some melatonin, tart Montmorency cherries in particular have been found in a clinical trial to increase the body’s melatonin levels and increase sleep time.

Prepare yourself for a good snooze with pumpkin seeds

Add a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds to sugar-free yoghurt or a salad to give your regular meals a sleep-enhancing boost. Pumpkin seeds are high in natural magnesium, one of the roles of magnesium is allowing the muscle fibres in our body to relax, counteracting calcium, which causes muscles to contract. It is also thought that magnesium has a role in the normal function of the pineal gland, which produces melatonin.

Complex carbs are key

Combat unexpected wake up calls in the middle of the night by controlling your blood sugar. If you regularly wake in the middle of the night, especially if it’s suddenly and your head is racing, have a small snack of complex carbohydrates, such as an oatcake about an hour before bed. This will prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping during the night. You may not think you need much energy while you’re asleep, but your brain and body still need glucose to keep working. If levels fall too low, this can cause the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can wake you up. To avoid this, make sure you have some slow-releasing carbohydrates in the evening, such as brown rice with your evening meal.

Feel more relaxed with fish

Another good way to help maintain melatonin levels in the bloodstream is to eat more fish, as fish is an abundant source of vitamin B6, which produces melatonin. Try adding the likes of tuna and salmon to your diet on a regular basis, to help you get a better night’s sleep.

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Rachel x

 

10 Reasons why you should definitely try floating.

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Having been thinking about it for a while, I finally had my first float last week at The Float Spa  and it was incredible! So if you have heard about floating and are thinking about giving it a try, but are wondering how it can benefit you here are 10 reasons why you should definitely try floating!

When you step into a float tank, you’re immersing your body in skin temperature Epsom salt saturated water while being suspended in a zero gravity like state.

You let go of your body and your mind calms down, allowing you to unwind and completely relax, activating your self-healing mechanisms and reconnect with your true self and explore within. Floatation has many benefits.

1. Ultimately relaxing

One of the biggest benefits to floating in a float tank is being able to completely disconnect and achieve that deep relaxation the body desperately needs. It might put you in the most relaxed and calm state you have ever been in, and it’s effortless!

2. Disconnect from the outside world and reconnect within

When was the last time you really cleared your mind of all the information we’re bombarded with every day?

The world is loud, both in the sound and visual sense and we are constantly processing information, whether we want to or not. When you step into a float tank, you can completely tune out the world.

It sounds different, but escaping into nothing is exactly what your mind wants. Once you deprive your senses, your mind can begin to relax and focus its efforts on the body. For those that don’t want to be completely shut off, ambient light and/or music is available.

3. Say goodbye to stress and anxiety

Stress continues to significantly affect our mental and physical health, often resulting in  anxiety and depression. It’s incredible what an hour in a float tank can do. Your fears, anxieties and worries melt away so that you can experience mental clarity and an improved sense of wellbeing.

Floatation therapy has scientifically proven effects when it comes to elevating people’s moods and relieving feelings of anxiety.

4. Feel like a million dollars

Laughing, working out and floating all share something similar, endorphins. Floating leads to feelings of euphoria and can do wonders for the rest of your body and immune system.

Just like working out, floating regularly can train your brain to release endorphins on a more regular and consistent basis which of course leaves you feeling happy, relaxed and ready to take on or end the day in a calm and focused way.

5. Effective pain relief

Without having to fight gravity, your joints and muscles get to take a well deserved break. With over 600 kgs of Epsom salt per tank, when you lay down, your entire body is instantly buoyant which releases the stress on your joints and muscles. The salt water also works wonders for inflammation and joint and muscle pain.

Floating is also particularly useful for the relief of back pain and Arthritis.

6. Boost magnesium absorption

Your skin is somewhat of a sponge and floating in clean, filtered, Epsom salt water is an additional benefit to floating. Epsom salt, a mineral compound of magnesium sulfate is also deficient in the average diet, particularly amongst those with high stress levels, demanding jobs and intensive work out regimes.

Allowing your skin to soak in all this goodness improves natural enzyme activity that helps reduce inflammation and pain as well as prevent cardiovascular disease. Soak in these important minerals also helps flush out toxins and eases migraines, headaches and other ailments.

7. Have radiant skin

The super saturated Epsom salt water is amazing for your skin. You will leave with soft, smooth and rejuvenated skin from head to toe. It also helps with acne and eczema.

8. Recharge your brain

The only time your mind gets to rest is when you’re asleep, but sleep is very much required for our bodies to continue working. When you float, you’re taking your mind to a place in which it can recharge itself and give you the same benefits of sleep while resetting your mind.

In what’s called the Theta state, gentle waves of relaxation engulf your body, you’re not quite asleep but in a meditative state as your body and mind disconnect.

Weightlessness triggers parts of your brain that will allow you to completely relax and allow creative forms of energy to pass through you giving you a sense of relief.

9. Spark creativity

With all external stimuli removed, your mind can wander. Floatation therapy has been found to balance left and right brain activity, causing an immense increase in creativity.

10. Enhance your athletic performance

If you work out regularly, floating is especially great as it is highly effective for recovery after strenuous athletic training. Studies have shown that floating reduces build up of lactic acid, cortisol levels (stress hormones) and adrenalin, rapidly alleviates fatigue, improves oxygen and blood flow and helps prevent sports injuries. It also helps improve sleep and enhances visualisation.

Rachel x