Learn all about how Five Element Acupuncture can support women during every stage of life from Alison Pickering, a therapist at our Camden and Chelsea centres. She also shares five things you can do to nourish your ‘whole’ self.
Five Elements Acupuncture is a unique system of medicine that diagnoses and treats the cause of disease. The ancients observed how the fundamental elements of creation: wood, fire, earth, metal and water, create patterns of continuous change and transformation in the universe giving us life’s natural and mysterious order, aligned with the seasons of nature. These changes also occur within the human body giving us the concept and movement of qi, the vital energy of the body and the yin-yang theory, which views the relationships between things as complementary. When these five elements manifest within us in a balanced and harmonious state, we experience health, well-being and the joy of being alive.
Throughout a women’s lifetime, she will experience many different cycles of development: childhood, puberty, menstruation, adolescence, pregnancy, menopause and eventually what was known as the wise and beautiful old crone. Qi Bo ‘The Yellow Emperors’ physician (the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, 1995) was the first to write about Five Element Acupuncture and referred to these different stages as the seven cycles of a women’s physiology.
These different stages in a woman’s lifetime have a huge impact on our emotions and wellbeing and in the stress and chaos of the society we have created today we need to take the time to nurture and look after our ‘whole’ selves (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) if we are to maintain good health and wellbeing.
When we observe the resonance of these elements within each of the five seasons, we can see how the resonance of Qi affects us in different ways – having regular treatment can restore balance and a natural rhythm to our cycles.
As we each journey through our development as women this is how acupuncture can help ground us and bring balance and harmony as well as relief from any symptoms.
1 – Menstruation
Acupuncture has a powerful regulating influence that can restore a regular rhythm and flow reducing symptoms of cramping, heavy bleeding and menstrual irregularity. It’s ability to calm the nervous system provides welcome relief on mood changes that many women can struggle with.
2 – Fertility
One in seven UK couples has difficulty conceiving (HFEA, 2006). For a lot of women trying to get pregnant, acupuncture has been proven to help with conception by warming the lower Jiao, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the hormones. Acupuncture also helps overall stress levels which can lower fertility hormones
3 – Pregnancy and post-natal support
Acupuncture can relieve the lower back discomfort and other aches and pains associated with pregnancy, as well as morning sickness, heartburn, anxiety and tiredness. Acupuncture can also ease labour pains and after delivery, many women find acupuncture treatment very helpful for rebuilding their energy and blood, increasing milk supply and also for managing any emotional post-natal depression and tiredness.
4 – Peri-menopause menopause and post-menopause
The menopause, occurs as a national average at a median age of 53 years (Hardy 2005). But there are several stages from Peri through to Post which women go through. The full Menopause process in Chinese Medicine is created by a decline in Yin energy, this is the cooling, calming and moistening mechanism within the body and as we get older our body is not as efficient at balancing our natural rhythms and can leave us feeling anxious, depressed, hot, irritable, emotionally unsettled and can also affect our sleep patterns. Acupuncture can help the body run more harmoniously and bring balance to the physical and emotional symptoms of the menopause cycle.
5 things you can do to nourish your ‘whole’ self
1 – Eat well
Essential fatty acids and protein are essential to the reproductive system, such as fish, flaxseed oil, eggs, soy products, raw nuts and seeds, and dark green and winter vegetables like broccoli, beets, carrots, kale cabbage, cauliflower etc. Omega 3 which is found in fish oil such as cod liver oil has been found to reduce clotting, encourage blood flow and ease joint pain.
The energetic properties of foods that will nourish the blood and ‘yin’ are important for every cycle we go through. If you have difficult menses or if you are going through the menopause your body will thank you for foods like beans (Kidney, black, broad, runner etc), lentils, pulses, beetroot, seeds, nettle, spinach, asparagus, aubergine, and eggs.
2 – Sleep Well
Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to stay healthy. According to a survey by the Office of National Statistics (ONS 2000), around 29% of adults reported experiencing sleep problems. Such problems are more common in women (34%) than men (24%) (ONS 2000). Our ‘whole’ selves need sleep for regeneration, to heal and to process all the things we did during our busy day.
3 – Get outside
As well as exercise and yoga which is great for restoring energy and balance and to help us relax and be strong. If the body is under stress the reproductive system cannot work effectively. But going outside in nature for a walk whether it is in a park, a wood or even along a windswept shore makes us feel alive and part of the elements
4 – Take time to look after you
We all struggle with work/life/me balance. Time away from obligations, stress and the frenetic pace of life will nourish our souls and rejuvenate our bodies and minds. A long soak in the bath, a massage, a facial anything that allows you some time to pamper and thank your body and mind for working so hard. And spend time with loved ones. The emotion of the Fire element is joy and being with people should make us feel loved and included.
5 – Get regular Five Element Acupuncture to help bring about balance and maintain good health and wellbeing
Alison Pickering has been practising for five years providing an integrated combination of Five Element and TCM acupuncture, she also incorporates reiki and ayurveda into her treatments providing a treatment that is tailored to you and your specific needs so that your body and mind return to a state of natural healthy balance and wellbeing.
Treatment involves initial consultation in order to identify the nature of any imbalance with follow up treatments to improve and maintain results for the long term. Treatment is also prevention orientated, so ideal for those also looking to maintain a healthy balance and lifestyle. Common issues that Alison treats are: mental and emotional well-being, pain, insomnia, fertility, skin conditions, headaches, sports injuries and long-term health conditions.