Free enhancer for your love life. You can even do it on the train!

Whether you’re a man or woman, by doing some very simple exercises for a few minutes everyday, you can enhance your sexual ability and satisfaction. These exercises can be done anywhere whether you’re at home or work, even right in front of other people and no one would even know.

Pelvic floor muscle (PFM) exercises have been used in traditional Chinese health practices for centuries, to enhance vitality and sexual function. They have recently been rediscovered in the west by Dr Kegel in California as a treatment for incontinence.

How does this help sexual function?

By strengthening the muscles and improving blood circulation around the genital area, it will improve the sexual function for both man and women;

  • It will ensure that blood flow to the penis can happen quickly, and that the muscles which keep them in the penis is strong and has stamina.
  • With the extra blood to the clitoris and more toned vagina muscles, sexual sensation is enhanced for women.

How do I exercise my pelvic floor muscles?

Traditionally, this is done through complicated and secretive exercise which involves long hours of meditation and visualisation, but I will give you the version which is not only simple, but WORKS!

  • The first step is to become aware of your pelvic floor muscles.
  • They are triggered when you have to go to the toilet but have to hold it.
  • They don’t move anything else and are a totally different group from your abdominal muscles.
  • If you can’t find them, next time you urinate, try to stop the urine stream. (Don’t do that to exercise those muscles, but only to become aware of them)

The exercises themselves

There are two main things that you want to improve in your PFM; stamina and power.

Exercise 1. Stamina

  • Contract and hold your PFM for 5 seconds, then totally relax them for 5 seconds. Then contract them for 5 seconds again.
  • Repeat this cycle for about 10 rounds at a time.
  • As it becomes easier, try to hold it an extra second more each time, up to a total of 10 seconds.

Exercise 2. Power

  • Contract and hold your PFM as hard as you are comfortable for 3 seconds then totally relax them for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat this pumping cycle10 times.

Key notes to the exercises

  • Only contract as hard as you are comfortable. Don’t force it.
  • Don’t over do it, don’t do them if they are feeling sore. Let them recover before exercising them again.
  • Don’t do them if you have a catheter.

Other benefits:

  • Helps reduce the likelihood of developing prostate cancer.
  • Reduces incidences of uterine prolapse.
  • Improves bladder control.

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What to do if you suffer bloating and IBS? Self help from Acupuncture and TCM.

Aside

Regularly getting a bloated tummy is not just uncomfortable, but as suffers would know, it is often associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and leads to other complications such as Chronic Fatigue, Reflux and Constipation. The good new is that there are simple lifestyle principles that can help alleviate this problem, which have their origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture.
What’s the hold up?
In general, Bloating is caused by inadequate energy in the digestive system. This results in the inability for the intestines to move food and drink through at a consistent rate.
When you have the combination of bloating and diarrhea often associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is usually caused by eating foods which you have a intolerance or allergy to. Allergens causes swelling to the intestines, while the diarrhea is the body’s attempt at purging them.
Long term stress and anxiety can also cause bloating. TCM have long known that the fight-or-right mechanism shuts down the digestive system.
 
What can you do?
You need to increase the energy in the digestive system (Spleen and Stomach in TCM), unobstruct its energy flow and pacify the mind;
Diet:
  • Have a diet which mostly plant based and high in fiber. Root vegetables are recommended to increase energy in the TCM Spleen and Stomach systems.
  • TCM have not made recommendations about whether to go wheat or gluten free, but does recommend having whole-grain foods when eating grains.
  • Minimize the intake of meat and dairy products, as they are known to be a burden on the Spleen and Stomach systems.
  • Do not consume more than 1 cup of liquids with your meals, because excess fluids will dilute digestive juices.
  • Have some tea with a couple of slices of ginger in it between meals to help clear the upper digestive tract for the next meal.
Lifestyle:
  • Do some mild exercise like Yoga, Pilate and/or Qigong/Taichi for at least 30 minutes per day. Two 15 minutes sessions in a day is recommended if you’re short on time. This will help clear the stagnations in energy flow.
  • Learn some meditation techniques to help you deal with anxiety. Click here for a simple mindfulness exercise.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep, because if you don’t, your fullness (satiety) response won’t kick in properly and you will tend to overeat! Click here to learn more about getting good sleep.
Self therapy:
  • When you are having pain with loose bowels or constipation, rub your belly with a warm wet (but not dripping) cloth in a clockwise direction if constipated, and a anti-clockwise direction if having loose bowels (from your perspective as you look down).
  • Massage the Acupuncture point Sp3 (TaiBai) with firm but gentle circular movements for around 7-10 minutes on both sides everyday. Which is the tonifying point for the Spleen energy system.

Sp3

If you continue to suffer abdominal bloating and IBS, please consult your trusted health practitioner. If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, please leave a comment below.

Beat jetlag with self applied acupressure!

 Want to beat jet lag the natural way? With Acupressure, you can quickly recondition your body with the local time, in a way that is free of charge and only takes a few minutes every couple of hours. 

 
The Chinese energy clock system

Your body’s 12 major energy systems identified by Chinese medicine run on a tidal cycle. Each system have a two hour peak time within a 24 hour day. Modern travel de-synchronizes your energy cycle, that is why you can experience many symptoms which goes beyond lacking sleep, such as nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, muscle soreness and pain.  
 
The acupressure resynchronization system 
Here are the peak time periods and their associated energy system, and the acupressure point to be used to activate it (please click on the point name to go to it’s info); 
1 – 3pm Small Intestine SI4 (WanGu)
7-9pm Pericardium PC7 (DaLing)
5-7am Large Intestine LI4 (HeGu)
At the peak times of each system, you should apply gentle but firm pressure in a circular rubbing motion for 7-10minutes on the activating point of that channel. 
For example, if you got off the plane at 12pm Australian time from New York, your body may still think its 8pm in the evening. Apply acupressure to the point Ht7 (ShenMen), then at around 2pm do the same on SI4 (WanGu), etc. Continue doing this for the rest of the day, and perhaps the next day if needed. 
 
Other general advice is to stay away from alcohol and caffeine, drink plenty of water and do some exercise (yes, it will be hard at first, but once you get your circulation going, you’ll feel better). 
If you have any questions or would like to share any other jetlag fighting tips, please comment below. 
 
For more information about insomnia, please check out my previous post on the subject here. 

Put insomnia to bed with the Traditional Chinese Medicine energy clock

Many people experience a condition called ‘nocturnal awakening’. It’s got nothing to do with vampires getting bright ideas, but a phenomenon where you find yourself awake and unable to get back to sleep night after night. Waking up around the same time every night means your body is trying to tell you that something not quite right within your body. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a way to identify what that problem may be, and correcting it would help you get better more deep, nourishing sleep.

Your body systems own clock

Your body’s energy systems run on a clock-like cycle. Each of the 12 major energy systems identified by TCM has a two hour peak time frame throughout the day. When things are in balance and functioning as they should, that organ system will be at its best during that peak time. When things within that system are out of balance and the energy flow is compromised, signs and symptoms are more pronounced during its peak time. So for example, the peak time of your stomach’s energy system is between 7am and 9am. This is why during this time most of us instinctively have the first meal of the day. Alternatively, People suffering adrenal fatigue, will feel the worst around 5-7pm, as this is when the Kidney’s have their peak time.

So what does it mean when I wake the same time every night? 

When you wake up at around the same time every night, it means that there are imbalances within the corresponding energy system at that time.

Here are the time periods around sleep hours and their corresponding organ/energy systems.

11pm-1am Gall Bladder 
1-3am Liver
3-5am Lungs
5-7am Large Intestine

Let’s use a very common scenario of waking up at around 3-4am and then tossing and turning until your alarm goes off. As this is our liver’s peak time to cleanse our blood and regulate our enzymes, you may be suffering from stagnation in the liver or in a system closely related to it. You may also have other accompanying symptoms of Liver energy stagnation, which can present as elevated levels of frustration and short temper, aches and pains (particularly headaches around the temples and the eyes), muscular tension or fatigue.

So what can I do to get better and more consistent sleep?

If you are suffering with a similar case to the above example then try these lifestyle changes that will support and enhance your liver:

  • The liver is vulnerable to stress, and particularly the emotion of frustration. Help soothe the energy and unblock stagnation by trying regular meditation and energy flowing exercises such as Taichi, Qigong, and Yoga.
  • When it comes to your diet, your liver is particularly sensitive to alcohol, strong coffees/ teas, and/or fatty foods. Take a squeeze of lemon in warm water each morning to improve your liver function.

Self applied Acupressure that helps sleep

There is a special point called the ‘Anmian’ that literally translates into ‘peaceful sleep’ point. It is located at the side of the neck and can be seen in the picture below. Use your thumbs and firmly push around that area to find a spot that is sensitive to pressure. Using firm but gentle pressure, rub the spot with circular motions for around 5-7 minutes, before you go to bed. This point can also be used the same way to relieve emotional stress, pressure and headaches.

It can be combined with mindfulness meditative exercise for maximum effect: https://benngacupuncturist.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/free-stress-and-pain-relief-in-minutes-per-day/

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Here’s a research study with randomised controlled trials about Acupuncture’s effect on insomnia: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922248

For more information or to share your experiences with sleep problems, please contact me or leave a comment below.

Sweet Dreams

How to feel more energetic and loose excess weight with wisdom from Chinese Medicine

We all notice how most Chinese people are very slim in general. This is because there are some lifestyle habits that had their origins from the Traditional Chinese Medicine system, that helps increase our metabolism, while enabling us to maintain a high energy level.

By increasing our metabolism, we can feel more energetic and burn off excess weight quicker! In Chinese Medicine there are three major organs that govern your metabolic rate: The Spleen, Liver and Kidneys.

The Spleen’s energy system in Chinese Medicine, is part of the digestive system and one of its major functions is to convert stored fat cells into usable energy. An excessive build up of fat cells is an indication that the Spleen’s energy is weak and unable to perform its function which contributes to fatigue and weight gain.

The Liver system regulates energy circulation and aids the Spleen to break down protein, oils and fats from your food as well as break down fat cells within your body. When fatty particles remain in your blood stream unprocessed, they contribute to feelings of sluggishness, weight gain and increased risk of arterial diseases.

The Kidneys system is the regulator of your body’s overall Yin/Yang balance and regulation of your hormonal systems, including the thyroid glands. Poor thyroid function due to disrupted kidney function in Chinese Medicine can also result in weight gain, fatigue, slow metabolism and chronic adrenal fatigue.

Cold and/or raw food and drinks will slow your fat burning processes

Just as cold oil solidifies and becomes hard, food and drinks which are cold and/or raw hinders Spleen function and slows down the metabolic process.

All of your body’s enzymes work best at body temperature, so when you injest cold substances, your digestive system has to expend energy to get the food up to body temperature before it can be broken down properly. This extra drain on the digestive system will take away from the Spleen’s resources which should have be used for turning fat stores into useable energy.

Raw foods may have more nutrients on paper, but those nutrients are locked away within the structural fibers of the food. Chinese health has always recommended the cooking of food, to unlock those nutrients and make them more bio-available.

Eating cooked food and drinks at least at room temperature will help its digestion, making it easier for the Spleen to metabolise them into useable nutrients and energy.  Cold drinks with a heavy meal will contribute to bloating after meals.

Learning to stay calm can help your metabolism

Chinese Medicine has always recognised the effect our emotions have on our organ systems. The Liver is particularly vulnerable to stress, frustration and anger.  The Spleen is affected by worry, and anxiety can affect the Kidneys.  Meditative exercises such as Qigong, Taichi and Yoga can assist metabolism, weight control and energy levels by stabilising the emotions. To maximise results, abstaining from alcohol, strong coffee/tea and unnecessary medications will help to maximise the benefits of your meditative practices.

Here’s a previous article with a simple mindfulness exercise that you can do for a few minutes everyday: https://benngacupuncturist.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/free-stress-and-pain-relief-in-minutes-per-day/

The good proteins

Chinese people have traditionally received their protein intake primarily from beans, nuts, soy products and fish. Fish is much better then meat, because they are low in saturated fats, high in omega oils and minerals. Nuts such as walnuts and almonds make great snacks and provide low GI energy. Soy is a very versatile protein and contains phytoestrogens that are good for hormone regulation in both male and females.

Further help and advice

The above tips can really assist you to improve your metabolism over time.  However if you find it difficult to keep your weight in a healthy range you may be suffering from a metabolic disorder caused by weaknesses in your Spleen, Liver and/or Kidney function. Acupuncture is well known for its ability to increase metabolism by releasing the blocks to optimal function levels of important organ systems.

If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, please leave a comment below, or contact me at benngacupuncturist@gmail.com.

Turning little lives upside down naturally; effective self therapy for breeched presentations.

In my clinic, I regularly get referrals from midwives and obstetricians to help turn breeched babies. This is because there is a open secret of the drug free, inexpensive, non-invasive, easily performed procedure that has been clinically shown to help significantly increase the chance of a breeched baby turning to the proper ‘head down’ position.

This treatment should only be performed while under regular supervision by a obstetrician, because once the baby has turned the correct way, the treatment should discontinue.

Moxabution (Moxa) sticks, which are a dried, fluffed herb, rolled into a cigar-like stick, which is often burnt to produce heat in Acupuncture treatments. They do produce quite a bit of smoke and strong herbal smell, but there are smokeless versions made with charcoal:

Picture from Wikipedia page for Moxa Sticks

The Moxa sticks are then used to warm the Acupuncture point BL67 (ZhiYin), which is located near the corner of the little toe nail:

BL67

This is ideally done on the 34th week of the pregnancy. It can be either self administered, or with the help of another person:

1. The mother-to-be would sit in a comfortable position, where the little toes can be easily reached.

2. One end of the stick will be lit with a flame until the end glows without a flame like an incense stick.

3. The hot end will then be held near the point, so that an intense warmth can be felt there, but not too hot. If it gets too hot, the stick should be moved away for a moment to cool, then returned to a comfortable distance of warmth.

3.5. If this is being done by another person on the mother-to-be, that person should put the little toe between their thumb and index finger, so that they can help gauge the warmth, but the administrator should be told if it still gets too hot.

4. Warm the point BL67 (ZhiYin) for around 15-20 minutes each side, once per day.

5. When you have finished, the easiest way to put out the Moxa stick is to use a ‘Moxa stick extinguisher’ which is pictured below. Another way is to get a little container of sand and bury the burning head in it.

A moxa extinguisher. Pic from acuneeds.com where it can be brought.

Once the Obstetrician has confirmed that the baby has turned to proper position, the therapy should be discontinued to prevent further positional change.

In my experience, this home therapy has been so effective, that I wonder why it isn’t adopted as standard procedure? Here’s one of the randomized controlled research studies which showed that the group that received this treatment had almost doubled the number of properly turned babies compared to the control group.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9820259

Legal stuff: The above information is given for educational purpose only. One should seek the advice of registered health practitioners before undergoing any procedures. If symptoms persist, please see your medical doctor.

Free stress and pain relief in minutes per day!

Here’s a simple breathing exercise that does not take up very much time in your day, can help relieve stress, promote calmness, relax muscle tension and even give pain relief. Even our Olympic athletes use similar exercises to speed up recovery from injuries.

Your body:

  • Sit or lay in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes at first, but as you get familiar with this exercise, you can even do it with your eyes still opened.
  • Relax your body. If you are sitting, only use enough muscles to keep yourself upright and not slouching.
  • Put a gentle smile on your lips, just as your emotions affect your facial expression, changing your facial expressions can affect your emotions.

Your breath:

  • Breathe slowly and gently, so that you can hardly hear yourself breathe.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Imagine you are breathing in and out through your belly button, so that your mid section fills up when you breathe in and empties when you breathe out.
  • Breathe in up to 80% of full capacity, and empty with 20% remaining.

Your mind:

  • Start counting your breaths; breathe in, then out (one), in… out… (two)… etc.
  • Once your get up to ten, start back at one again.
  • Don’t worry if you lose count or your thoughts starts wondering, just start again from one.

How to use this:

  • If you suffer from stress and anxiety, as you breathe in, imagine you can feel the cool calming air entering your body, and as you breathe out, send your worries and tension out of your mouth.
  • For localised pains such as headaches, as you breathe in, focus on the pain that you are experiencing in your head/neck. Then when you breathe out, feel that pain going down your body and sent out your feet.
  • It is truly up to your imagination on what conditions this exercise can be applied to.

Daily use:

  • A cycle of ten breaths would take you around a bit over a minute to finish, so a good five cycles can be considered as one dose of five minutes.
  • To maintain mental and energetic wellbeing, please do five cycles per day.
  • To give relief for an ongoing problem, please do five cycles at least twice per day, or as needed.

This breathing exercise and other similar meditative practises help increase your brain’s stress coping ability by temporarily altering pain perception. Therefore, if your stresses and symptoms persist, please see your local registered healthcare professional.

Here is a clinical study which shows that mindfulness meditation “can effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic and can help maintain these reductions in patients with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or panic disorder with agoraphobia.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1609875

Here is a clinical study which shows the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in the treatment of chronic lower back pain:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2254507/

If you have any questions about how this method can help you with your problem or if you would like to share your experience about using this or similar types of breathing and visualisation exercises, please share a comment below.