Allergy or Intolerance?

This week (23rd – 29th January 2012) has been Food Allergy & Intolerance Week. Full blown allergies have strong reactions, big angry red rashes, massive vomiting, swellings or even anaphylactic shock, requiring doses of adrenaline via an epi-pen, or even hospital admittance. You can read some stories on via Allergy UK, that show the physical, social and psychological impact these types of allergies can have on people, and the importance of highlighting this awareness week.

Thankfully, there aren’t many of us that have food causing such a violent impact on us, but we can recognise less intense intolerances to food on a daily basis. This may come in the very basic inkling of a certain food “not being good for us” – despite us liking or craving it! And even with intolerances, it can be tricky to find suitable foods when on-the-go

For me, as you will know by now, it is dairy that I know I must avoid – but with it being an intolerance, rather than a full-blown allergy, I may occasionally allow myself to have cheesecake for pudding if eating out… I just know I will suffer later feeling tired and heavy, with a blocked nose, slight nausea, and a muzzy or full head – unable to think clearly. I love dairy, but it really hates me!

And this is where acupuncture is not only all about the needles! During a treatment, we question around food, drink, diet and digestion (amongst all the other things like sleep, energy levels and mood) so that we can pick up on small cues that might be telling us our patients have intolerances to certain things, and how that fits in to their overall health picture, or lack thereof – it may be that an intolerance is playing into the issue that a patient is seeking help with.

We view these intolerances in terms of Chinese Food Energetics, i.e. whether the food is energetically hot or cold (not just the actual physical temperature of food), blood nourishing or Damp-forming etc. Many food intolerances that we acupuncturists see in the treatment room are to do with the Damp-forming group of foods, though not all are. For example, migraine sufferers may be intolerant to oranges as they are too yang and heating energetics wise, sending heat up to the head, triggering a migraine.

Damp-forming foods include dairy, wheat, sugar, bananas, orange or tomato juice, peanuts and yeast. These foods are the ones that cause a build up of mucus or phlegm in the body – think about when you eat peanut butter, it sticks to the roof of your mouth, glues your mouth together (particularly on bread – another Damp food!) and leaves a residue on your tongue afterwards.

That claggy, sticky, dense feeling of peanut butter, is exactly what these Damp-forming foods are doing inside your body – clogging things up, making things heavy and sticky. This can cause, or perpetuate conditions like sinusitis, headaches, snoring, chronic fatigue (or exhaustion), eczema, asthma, and even being overweight (or struggling to shift those pounds you want to shed). In children, it can particularly cause chronic cough and repeated ear infections.

In the treatment room, we don’t just give you a list of foods you “must not eat” – Chinese Food Energetics allows us to understand the energetic changes that go on in our bodies when we eat certain foods. This kind of understanding and information helps educate and empower our patients about what dietary changes might be beneficial to them, to what degree, and how strict they have to be.

More often than not, the proof is in the pudding (that should be a wheat, yeast, sugar and dairy free pudding!), patients come back knowing their bodies feel different! And more importantly, upon eating the food that they are “intolerant” to, they have a recurrence of symptoms that they can see for themselves. It’s like their very own scientific study! It really shows that simple dietary changes can have a significant impact on your health.

If you suspect your diet is giving you unwanted symptoms, or adding to an illness or condition you’re struggling with, email me at info@rhiannongriffiths.com or visit www.rhiannongriffiths.com to see how acupuncture or a nutritional analysis according to Chinese Medicine, could help you.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

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Year of the Water Dragon

Happy New Year! No, I’m not on a time lapse, or having some kind of deja vu, it is the start of the Chinese New Year today! As you may already know, the Chinese calendar attributes different animals to different years, and depending on the year you were born, you are a different animal – I am a Dog! If you don’t know what animal you are, you can check it out here!

This year (2012) is the year of the Dragon in China, or more specifically, the Water Dragon. So, as we say goodbye to the year of the Rabbit, and enter into one of the most revered years in the Chinese Zodiac, let’s see what goodies it has in store for us, and how we can make the most of it…

The Dragon has supernatural powers and is a deliverer of good fortune and intense power; according to the Sung dynasty, he has a head of an ox, body of a serpent covered with fish scales, and feet of a phoenix. He gives happiness and success, watches over good, honest people and the family, cultivating smart and healthy children. Which I guess makes it a very good year for me to be doing a paediatric acupuncture diploma! If you have children, ensure holistic health (body, mind and emotions) features big this year; and if you don’t  have children, but are intending to start a family, this year is the one for you!

It is a time for boldness, big ideas and new projects on a work and social level, as the Yang part of Water of this “Water Dragon” year, is more like an ocean or a rushing stream, opposed to a stagnant pond. It is powerful, dynamic and has strong energy. So think outside the box, push the boundaries of your comfort zone, and try something new – this year, nothing is off the table, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to – after all, you have the power of Water behind you, pushing you forward!

It brings all the qualities we know and love about the Water Element in Chinese medicine – bringing wisdom and perception, re-evaluting situations, researching when necessary, assessing levels of risk – making plans even more successful, as the pitfalls have already been thought of and accommodated for. So if you’re embarking on a new project this year, ensure you do all the research, and it’s likely to be a success. Or why not use your wisdom and passion inspire others – organise a talk or seminar, invite the girls round to talk about your favourite books, make a video on what you know about and post it on you tube! Spread the word and lead the way, as the Dragon would!

The parts of the body Water relates to include the kidney, immune system, sexual organs and the urinary system; so ensure you keep an eye out for kidney problems, kidney stones, inflammation of urinary tract, and general virus or bacterial infection. Drink enough water to keep your body hydrated, to reduce vulnerability to these issues; and acupuncture can help keep your immune system topped up.

The Dragon is said to be a karmic animal, bringing the positive, loving energies we have given to others, back to us! (You have been giving out positive, loving energies, right?! If not, make this something you do this year – give big and you’ll get tons back). This year is set to have love and success at the top of its agenda, and who wouldn’t want that?! New love can blossom, and as the Dragon is associated with festivals and celebrations, 2012 is THE year for engagements and weddings! And its not just small successes, Dragons bring those BIG dreams to life!

So take the opportunity to start with your new year’s resolutions all over again, grab hold of the Dragon’s optimism and positivity, get rid of those January blues, and embrace a new start, for a second time!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

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Resolutions Reminder

Hello 2012! We are now entering the age of love, which means this new year is going to be a super positive one, with tons of great changes – I for one, am soooo excited to see what it has in store for me, and also to hearing all about what it has in store for you – here, online, and of course in the clinic.

For those of you who already follow my Facebook and Twitter pages, you probably already know that my only “resolution” for the new year was to start yoga again, after something like 8 years away from the practice! But I chose to start this just after Christmas – it helps that Santa left me some goodies under the tree to get me going!

Starting early, takes some of the “pressure” off starting today, the 1st January 2012, and all the connotations that come with that – the fact that many people spend the first day of the new year feeling hideously hungover (not me – though don’t get me wrong, in the past I have had my fair share of hungover, negative, depressed New Year Days), just adds to that pressure of “oh no, I haven’t started my resolution”, or “gosh, I need a detox”, or “damn, I’ve broken my resolution in less than 24 hours!”… We do not need to put that much pressure on ourselves! Resolutions are supposed to be empowering – looking at what good stuff we want for ourselves in the year ahead… again, the focus is on what WE want for OURSELVES, not what we feel we SHOULD be doing, or going into competition with our friends, work colleagues or neighbours (meeting them on the doorstep as we get up for the gruelling 5am  run before work – YUCK!)…

I know what I want my general life to look like, in all its best holistic balanced glory… I want to ensure that I do at least one of the following each and every day – meditation, qigong or yoga. Of course, more than one each day would be preferable (and wonderful!), but I am realistic – if I am treating in clinic until 8pm, as I tend to for the first part of the week, I am not going to be doing yoga, then qigong and meditating before bed… As you think about your resolutions for 2012, don’t set yourself up for a fall, take small steps, and feel good about what you DO manage, don’t focus on the negative and beat yourself up – we are all human, even acupuncturists!

And sometimes we need a little support in keeping on track, I know I do – so you have my permission to ask me, when I see you in clinic, as to how my yoga is getting along! And acupuncture can help keep you on track, as you move into the new year with wishes for a healthier, more holistic focus – whether that be stopping smoking, losing weight, reducing stress levels and feeling more positive about life, or just having a better level of health with a boosted immune system.

Click here to read an article published in “Go Local” magazine this time last year, in January 2011 (scroll halfway down the page and click on the picture for pdf), which explains exactly HOW acupuncture works to help YOU to keep on track with your resolutions this year, and make this your healthiest and best year yet!

Let me know what your healthy, holistic resolutions are this year, and/or how I can help you keep on track with them for this magnificent New Year! Sending goodness to you all!

 

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

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