Understanding puberty in girls from a TCM perspective

We can all remember the struggles of our teenage years; problems such as acne, the start of our periods, breasts forming, getting used to wearing bras, peer pressure, increasing levels of school work and home work, not being able to get out of bed in the mornings.

As a parent, I want my own daughters to have an easier time than I did. As a therapist, I am more aware of the strains put upon children and teenagers, and how this can effect them physically, psychologically and emotionally.

In my previous blog post, I explained in general terms about our Kidney energy being responsible for our growth and development, and reproductive health. If we experience a painful puberty it is likely that we will experience a more difficult menopause. We also want to optimise fertility, pregnancy and childbirth in between these two milestones, as well as general health and wellness, and they are all interlinked.

The following behaviours can have a significant impact on a young woman’s health:

  1. Early sexual activity. This can have an impact on uterine health at such a vulnerable time, causing imbalances such as blood stasis.
  2. Excessive physical work and exercise, During puberty, this may cause weakness and deficiency in the developing body (Spleen and Kidney), which in turn can lead to stagnation. Of course this depends on the individual constitution, but it is important to be aware of as a parent.
  3. Exposure to external cold. Young women are vulnerable to invasion of external cold, particularly during puberty. Social pressure to wear clothes that reveal the lower back and abdomen, going out without a coat and scarf, prioritising their physical appearance over their well-being can leave them prone to being attacked by the external pathogen of cold. If cold attacks the uterus, it will contract and cause stagnation.
  4. The use of tampons blocks the natural downward flow of blood and can cause stagnation. There are also many other health risks associated with tampons including the exposure to environmental oestrogens which is covered in a different blog post.
  5. Emotional stress and anxiety will have a massive impact on energy levels, depleting the Kidneys and creating excess Heart energy. If it is held onto then this can cause stagnation.

Taking care during this sensitive time will have a massive impact on our young women’s health as they get older. Common problems such as period pain, irregular periods, heavy/scanty periods, infertility, endometriosis, anxiety and depression, fatigue can all be improved through gentle communication, education and sensitivity around these issues at a young age.

If you are interested in receiving some acupuncture or reflexology sessions please contact me directly for an initial chat.

Jackie Marsden is a Reflexologist, Acupuncturist and Foot Reading Practitioner, based at Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, Preston, PR4. She is a full member of the Association of Reflexologists.

Reflexology for Diabetics

It is well known that people with diabetes need to lookafter their feet. In very basic terms, when the blood is not releasing the sugars into the cells ofthe body, the blood can get syrupy and thick, which means that it isn’t flowingsmoothly and is not getting to the extremities as efficiently and aseffectively as it should. Because of this, some of the smaller blood vesselsbecome restricted and nerve endings can start to become damaged, causingperipheral neuropathy.

My first ever reflexology client I booked after qualifyingwas an elderly lady with type 2 diabetes. She was keen to have her feet touchedand worked on because of the peripheral neuropathy she was experiencing. Hersymptoms were numbness and tingling, making it difficult for her to walk and difficultto sleep. She found the treatments soothing, comforting and relaxing.

It is well known that reflexology can improve circulation within the body: the main contraindication for the treatment is thrombosis and clotting, simply because the improved flow of blood could cause the clot to move. With this in mind, it is a great treatment for diabetics.

Being diagnosed with any type of diabetes, but especially atype 2 diabetes diagnosis in later life, can be very difficult to manage.  A massive change in lifestyle, eating habitsand general discipline around food choices, exercise, blood sugar monitoringand medication timings can be very stressful not just for those with thediabetes but also the surrounding friends and family. This is where regularreflexology treatments can be so beneficial for so many of life’s illnesses andproblems, because it is such a great stress-buster.

Regular reflexology will also optimize the condition and health of the skin of the feet and ankles. As diabetics will have restricted blood flow (particularly to the extremities), this can cause excessive dryness, making the skin fragile and thin, and causing serious problems if a wound occurs. Healing will take much longer and may lead to other complications such as infections and ulcers. Ensuring that the skin is thoroughly moisturized and nourished will be hugely beneficial in maintaining the overall health of the feet.

In addition to general reflexology, the specialized sequence of Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) may also be a good choice to make in a multi-faceted approach to managing diabetes. Diabetes causes the lymph vessels to become weak and too permeable, compromising the flow of lymph and thus the immune system.[1] We know that it is likely that the RLD sequence has a causal effect on the lymphatic system through studies conducted and results published around managing breast cancer related lymphoedema.[2] Of course more research is needed to present evidence, but I wholeheartedly believe in the modality of reflexology and the powerful effect it can have on the mind and body.

[1] http://revistaseletronicas.pucrs.br/ojs/index.php/scientiamedica/article/view/10095

[2] http://www.reflexologylymphdrainage.co.uk/abstract-2016.html

Jackie Marsden is a Reflexologist, Acupuncturist and Foot Reading Practitioner, based at Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, Preston, PR4. She is a full member of the Association of Reflexologists.

Reflexology for Sports

Sports people of any level or ability are highly motivated to perform at their best and to achieve optimum results; often they look to holistic therapies to complement treatment received for injuries.

Reflexology for optimal performance

The psychology of sport encourages individual athletes and team players to look for ways to achieve that extra one or two percent that can give them the edge on their opponents. Consequently, many now use reflexology as part of their overall regime.

What can reflexology offer?

Reflexology may help to provide increased mobility, reduced pain and support or accelerate the recovery period after an injury.  Many athletes use reflexology in a preventative capacity to encourage balance in the body and improved health in general, such as improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety and improved mood.

How does it work?

Reflexology helps to increase blood flow and encourage lymphatic drainage. Research studies show that it can remove lactic acid from the legs four times faster than massage, helping post event recovery. Increased blood circulation helps remove toxins and increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, helping to support the body’s natural healing process and promote recovery from injuries. It may also assist in preventing common complaints and niggles from extended muscle exertion such as aches, pains, cramps and spasms.

What else?

The effect of stress has a very detrimental effect on the body, reducing blood flow and oxygen, causing energy to be depleted and thus functioning at a sub-optimal level. Reflexology helps to manage this by promoting deep relaxation, easing tension, giving the body time to rest and heal and it often improves sleep. It may also help with pain relief or reducing pain associated with injury.

Contact me for more information or to book an appointment.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, acupuncturist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Group Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Coping with Seasonal Allergies

POST102 million people in the UK suffer with seasonal allergies.

Generally speaking, early symptoms are caused by tree pollen, and later symptoms are caused by grasses and weeds. This is known as seasonal allergic rhinitis (or more commonly referred to as hay fever).

Symptoms that continue all year are called perennial allergic rhinitis and commonly relate to indoor allergens, such as house dust mites, pets and indoor moulds.

In response to exposure of an allergen (e.g. pollen) the body’s immune system overreacts and releases chemicals (histamines) which cause inflammation. Histamines work quickly, causing sneezing, itching and runny nose. The eyes may also be affected, with itching, redness and watering (allergic conjunctivitis).

Other chemicals released during this overreaction can cause a blocked or stuffy nose and sinuses, which may lead to headache and difficulty sleeping.

Rhinitis is often regarded as a trivial problem but studies have shown that it severely affects people’s quality of life. It disturbs sleep, impairs daytime concentration and the ability to carry out tasks, causes people to miss work or school, and has been shown to affect children’s school exam results. (Source Allergy UK).

Treatments that suppress the symptoms of rhinitis or hay fever are antihistamines.

Quercetin is a natural anti-histamine i.e. it is known to inhibit the manufacture and release of histamine. It is also high in antioxidants.

  • Quercetin is an flavonoid (plant pigment) commonly found in fruits and vegetables, especially onions, citrus, and apples.post5
  • In this new supplement, Quercetin and Nettle complex, it is blended with other ingredients (such as nettle) to have a synergistic effect. Nettle is known for antihistamine affect too, but also believed to be soothing and anti-inflammatory for skin problems such as eczema, hives, redness and itchiness.
  • Other ingredients include bromelene which is an anti-inflammatory (found in pineapples). Reduces swelling/inflammation in the sinuses.
  • And liquorice – this also has anti-inflammatory properties but also has de-stressing qualities.
  • Since over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines can have side effects like drowsiness, seizures and dry mouth, our natural option is a good choice.
  • Use with Vitamin C for an optimal effect.

Zinc also helps with hayfever. Zinc reduces histamine levels and will enhance Quercetin.

  • If you suffer with regular colds/infections – you could well be deficient in zinc. post6Zinc will reduce a cold by up to 7 days, because it is toxic to viruses.
  • Zinc is amazing for skin – crucial skin healing and repair, acne, blemishes etc. balances sebum.
  • Zinc balances the reproductive organs so it’s a great choice for couples wanting to conceive. Great for bones and nails.
  • NYROrganic zinc has a great base of carrot, alfa alfa and bilberry. No fillers.

NYROrganic Summer tea is full of natural remedies:

  • Eyebright herb for reducing inflammation around the mucus membranes.
  • Nettle and liquorice (already mentioned above).
  • Plus peppermint to calm and boost immunity.

TOP TIP: Pop the used tea bags into the fridge and then place on the eyes for calming itchiness.

Any of the White tea range will be hugely antioxidant so great for any allergies/hay fever.

  • White tea facial mist – lovely and refreshing, and cooling for the face. Use as a toner and as a facial spritz throughout the day over make-up.POST8_white_tea
  • White tea toning eye gel. Again this contains the Eyebright herb for reducing inflammation around the mucus membranes, more specifically the eye area here. Keep in the fridge for that extra cooling effect.
  • White tea enriching facial mask  – the kaolin clay cools and calms the skin.

OTHER TOP TIPS:

  • Apply the bee lovely lip balm around nostrils to prevent the pollen/allergens from entering the nasal cavity.
  • Some people with an allergy to pollens (especially tree pollens) may be affected by cross-reactions between their pollen allergy and certain foods. For example, they may find that when eating certain fruits, vegetables or tree nuts, especially raw, they get an itchy mouth or throat.
  • Keep windows closed when indoors. This is most important in the early mornings, when pollen is being released, and in the evening when the air cools and pollens that have been carried up into the air begin to fall to ground level again.
  • On high pollen days, shower and wash your hair after arriving home and change your clothing.
  • Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes.
  • Start taking a spoon full of locally sourced honey every day as early in the year as possible to build up immunity/resilience. (Source Allergy UK)
  • Get some reflexology. Reflexology Lymph Drainage has helped others manage rhinitis.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Reflexology for sleep problems – a perspective

Sleep is such an important part of our lives, but what actually is sleep and what does it do for us?

During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

The damage from sleep deficiency can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. [1] Researchers have linked poor sleep to a number of ailments, from short-term memory loss and behavioural problems, to weight gain, diabetes, and even increased risk of cancer, just to mention a few. [2]

If we spend too much time indoors, in a windowless office during the day and in front of the TV, computer screens and mobile phones in the evenings, insomnia can soon set in because our brains struggle to determine what time it is.  sleep

The combination of light deficiency during the day and excessive light exposure at night causes your biological clocks to get out of sync.

A 30-60 minute exposure to outdoor light every day helps to anchor our circadian rhythm. [2] This means that our master clock is set to be awake and alert during the day and to rest and sleep during the night.

After sustained periods of sleep disruption, we can be left feeling agitated, grumpy, stressed and on high alert. It then becomes ever more difficult to get to sleep, and thus becomes a stress in itself, and the cycle continues.

Reflexology can also help with problems like this, as it allows a time and place for deep relaxation to occur. The appointment is in your diary. You are expected to lay back. You are expected to maybe close your eyes. You are expected to relax. Once in a state of deep relaxation, the body can begin to switch off the “high alert” and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to do its work, increasing digestion, immunity, libido, and most importantly here, providing a good environment for resetting the master clock to promote a healthy sleep pattern.

Combine regular reflexology with reduced time spent in front of TV and computer screens, particularly in the evenings, reduced consumption of stimulants during the evenings (such as alcohol and caffeine), and a good dose of outdoor light during the day, and you should be well on your way to a better night’s sleep.

For more of me on sleep, melatonin and circadian rhythm see my other blog post on the Winter Blues.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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[1] http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/10/dangers-sleeping-too-much.aspx?e_cid=20151210Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20151210Z2&et_cid=DM92051&et_rid=1256832826

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net