Women's Health Series - PMS Menstrual Island

Menstrual Island

Does this island sound familiar?  I found this illustration rather amusing but yet it is something that is not funny either.  Countless of women that I know of, both friends and clients that I have treated can relate to Menstrual Island.   

In Chinese medicine, Menstrual Island is a sign that our body is not functioning the way it should and there are some elements of stagnation and imbalance in the system.  Where there is pain, there is stagnation;  where there is acne, there is heat in the Stomach and imbalance of the hormones and where there is bloating there is rebellious of the Stomach Qi.  There is also one experience that almost every women (or men) have encountered is premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  Irritability, moods swings, tearful, headaches, breast tenderness, misery and depression point towards what we call Liver Qi stagnation in Chinese medicine.  

The Liver governs every aspect of Qi.  It tells it where to move, which direction to go and stores the ethereal soul.  I like to think of the Liver as the General Manager of the body.  It manages each organs in terms of their function and movement.  When the General manager gets too stressed out, the rest of the system will begin to feel overwhelmed and does whatever it wants without any direction or aim.  Therefore, to avoid the Liver getting all worked-up, and to ensure minimal trips to Menstrual Island try to avoid:

  • A sedentary lifestyle - find ways to move eg. walk to work, take the stairs, do some form of exercise for 30 minutes
  • Constant stress from working, family life, studying and etc - try to aim for a balance lifestyle by doing some meditation or yoga, time-out for some 'me' time, time management to overcome stress
  • Poor diet consisting of spicy, fatty, processed, deep fried foods & take-aways - incorporate a daily dose of fresh vegetables and fruit into your diet, cut down on sugar (a little dark chocolate is ok if you need something sweet), prepare your own meals so you know what goes into it, and aim for simple meals with high nutrition and flavours

However, if symptoms persist or are getting out of control, Chinese medicine is great at sorting it out, even my gynecologist recommends and acknowledged that Chinese medicine has better outcomes than western medicine can do to help relief these symptoms.  So stop putting up with the misery, cramps, crankiness and bloating every month.  Give your body and yourself some kindness and relief from it today.

Want to learn more on how Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to ease your PMS symptoms?

Come in either for a FREE 15 MINS COMPLIMENTARY CHAT or BOOK ONLINE with Dr Jacqueline for a treatment today.  Dr Jacqueline has a keen focus is in Women's Health and Gyneacology and have years of experience in treating problems affecting women during their menstrual cycle.  Whether to reduce the signs and symptoms of PMS, regulating irregular menstrual cycle for future pregnancy plans or painful periods, Dr Jacqueline will design an individualised treatment based on your diagnosis, targeting not only your symptoms but also the root cause of your symptoms.


Image used with permission from  Gemma Correl 



Acne - Western Medicine vs Chinese Medicine


Acne is one of the most common form of skin problem faced by many teenagers and sometimes persist into adulthood for some people.  There are countless of commercial and natural products, and prescribed medications and ointments to help counter the growing rate of people facing acne problems.  There are varying degrees of acne presentation - from big angry red and painful pimples presenting all over the face right to the neck, chest and at the back of the skin to mild small pinkish bumps that are presented on the chin, jawline, cheeks or forehead.  Whatever the presentation is, having acne can be frustrating, embarrassing and it can affect your confidence.  I have listed below the different approach and views by Western and Chinese medicine perspective so that you can be informed with which treatment option is best for you.

Western medicine perspective

The most common trigger of acne is due the onset of puberty when the surge of androgen stimulate sebum production and hyperproliferation of keratinocytes.  Other triggers are hormonal changes occurring with pregnancy or menstrual cycle; types of cleansers, lotions and clothing used; and high humidity and sweating. 

Diagnosis of acne is via examination.  Differential diagnosis of acne includes rosacea, corticosteroid-induced acne, perioral dermatitis and acneiform drug eruptions.  The severity of acne is graded as mild, moderate or severe based on number and type of lesions. 

Treatment for acne:

  • Comedones - topical tretinoin
  • Mild inflammatory acne - topical antibiotics and/or benzoyl peroxide
  • Moderate acne - oral antibiotics
  • Severe acne - oral isotretinoin eg. Claravis, Sotret
  • Cystic acne - intralesional triamcinolone

Common side effects of topical ointments prescribed for the skin are:

  • Mild burning, stinging or tingling sensation
  • Mild chapping or slight peeling
  • Mild redness, dryness and itching
  • Mild sensation of warmth or irritation

In addition, doctors are quick to prescribe oral contraceptive pills (OCP) to teenagers to help control/reduce acne.  This seems unnatural as the primary use of the drug is for the prevention of pregnancy.  There is also the question of what long term effects does OCP have on women's fertility and emotional stability.  There are a few interesting studies and articles in the resource section below on the long term effects of OCP on fertility and the emotional impact it has on women.  

Chinese medicine perspective

Acne is caused by an internal imbalance of the body which cause excess Heat and/or Damp that manifest in the face, neck, chest or the back of the skin.

Causes of internal imbalance are often related to:

  • Poor diet of spicy, greasy, damp foods such as junk food, excessive chili consumption, and deep fried food
  • Stressful lifestyle, lack of exercise
  • PMS and other emotional upsets such as anger, irritability and frustration
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Diagnosis often require:

  • Questioning the function of the body as a whole 
  • Accessing the lesions ie. the severeness of the acne, areas where the lesions are presented ie. chin, jawline, forehead, cheeks, neck or back of the body, and other symptoms such as dry, greasy, itchy skin or painful to touch. 
  • Evaluation of the emotional/state of the mind, lifestyle and diet. 
  • A comprehensive questioning of women's gynaecology and reproductive systems

In Chinese medicine, both the root cause and presentation (acne) are treated at the same time.  There are five differential diagnosis/patterns that can cause acne.  Each pattern are presented differently in terms of lesions and overall internal imbalances.  Therefore, treatments are individualised based on the presenting signs and symptoms. 

Treatments include:

  • Acupuncture and herbal medicine to re-balance internal imbalances
  • External topical ointment, herbal facial wash or herbal masque to tackle acne on the outside
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes to further strengthen the treatment process

There are little to no side effects in treating acne with Chinese medicine.  Some common complaints are the herbal medicine can be a little difficult to digest or the taste can sometimes be off putting.

In conclusion, it is important to be aware of which modality will have the biggest benefit in the long term without harming or upsetting the body's natural system.  Western medicine treatments for acne is often good for a short term purpose however, I question what these drugs do to the body in the long term and the one-size-fits all approach.  Chinese medicine is a natural medicine therefore, progress of treatments does take time.  However, the long term benefits of this individualised treatment which targets both the root cause and the lesions are - 1) the presentation of acne is reduced and 2) future flare ups are minimised and can be prevented.



Balfour, A., 2014.  Why Chinese Herbs Are Great For Treating Acne.

McKoy, K., 2013.  Acne Vulgaris.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2010.  Acne. 

NPS Medicinewise, 2013.  Oral Antibiotics: An Option In Acne But Consider The Risks

Ryan. M., 2016.  I Stopped Taking The Pill And Changed My Life.

Grigg-Spall, H., 2016.  The Pill Is Linked To Depression - And Doctors Can No Longer Ignore It.

Talukdar, N. et al., 2012.  Effect Of Long-term Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill Use On Endometrial Lining.

Farrow, A. et al., 2002.  Prolonged Used Of Oral Contraception Before Planned Pregnancy Is Associated With A Decreased Risk Of Delayed Conception.


Spring Series - 5 Tips To Survive Hay Fever This Spring

hay fever

We are well and truly into hay fever season as I see more patients coming into the clinic for this reason.  Besides treating hay fever with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, I often advise my clients to do some additional work to further help them manage their hay fever symptoms.

1) Nasal wash.  This is one of the best way to clear nasal congestion.  It cleans your sinus cavities from excess mucous and pollen or inflammatory materials it may contain.  I highly recommend Flo Sinus care as I use this product myself and have found it to be very effective (I am not paid to do any advertising for them).  I wash my sinus cavities at least 2-3 times a day.  I have made it a habit of washing my sinuses every time I have spend time outdoors.  You can find this product in any Chemist Warehouse near you.  Here is a Youtube Video explaining the importance of caring for your sinuses and how the product is used.

2) Removing clothing items and showering when exposed to pollen.  After spending a glorious spring day out removing any item of clothing exposed to pollen and jump straight into the shower to wash away pollen stuck to the hair and eyes helps to ensure that the pollen does not irritate the nose and eyes when I am at home safe from allergen.

3) Invest in an air purifier.  As the weather warms up, I love opening the windows to let in the fresh air flow through the house.  However,  to combat pollen flowing around the house, I use an air purifier to clear the air of allergen after I have shut the windows. It is also very important to continuously keep your space clean and dust free to reduce any trigger to your allergy.

4) Avoid foods that produces mucous.  Dairy, sugar, raw and greasy food should be avoided.  In Chinese medicine, foods that deplete the transformation and transportation process of the Spleen will often lead to the formation of Damp (sinus congestion, mucous and phlegm).  If you are prone to being Damp these food should be avoided to reduce mucous build up in the body and sinus cavities. Foods to avoid are banana, avocado, chocolate, ice-cream, yoghurt, cheese and cold and raw salads and smoothies.

5) Wear a mask and sunglasses.  Wearing a mask may not be fashionable and may get some people staring at you.  However, if you have bad hay fever symptoms and hate being stuck indoor on a wonderful spring day, wearing a mask and sunglass is an alternative to reducing the severity of symptoms while enjoying the outdoor.  Do be cautious that on high pollen count days, it is advisable to stay indoor.

I hope you have found these tips useful.  There is a link to pollen count in Australia and some interesting articles about hay fever that you may be interested in the resources section below.  If you have further questions on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to reduce the severity of your hay fever symptoms, we have a FREE 15 minutes consult at the clinic.  Simply BOOK ONLINE and we will be happy to have a chat.  In the meantime, implement these suggested strategies that can help you minimise your allergic reaction to enjoy spring a little more this year.  From a hay fever sufferer to another - good luck!


Pollen Forecast in Australia

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology And Allergy, 2015.  Pollen Allergy.

Ryan, C., 2015.  Don't Blame The Wattle:  Allergy Expert Explains Real Causes of Hayfever And Why Spring Isn't Always The Worst Time For Sufferers.

My Hayfever (n.d.).  Hay Fever In Australia


Winter Series - The Secret To Managing Hay Fever In Spring

hay fever

PREVENTION! That is the secret to managing bad hay fever symptoms in spring.

Spring is not my favourite season of the year because I get severe hay fever symptoms such as constant nose drip during the day and at sleep, non-stop sneezing, watery and itchy eyes and etc.  It feels like you are having a common cold continuously for 3 months, and all you want to do is to cut your nose off or live in a bubble until spring is over.  I have tried all sort of western medication such as Zyrtec, Claratyne and nasal spray - none of them had worked for me.  What did work in helping my body to manage and prevent severe hay fever attacks is Chinese herbal medicine and nasal wash.

What I found when I took herbal medicine to boost my immunity and defence system in Winter season, my body was more able to cope with hay fever in spring.  Last year I had one of the best year from my severe hay fever symptoms.  There was the occasional attacks but that would only last for a day and most of the days and during the night, my nose was drip free, itchy and watery eyes free and sneeze free.

So, here is my one simple tip in preparing your body to combat hay fever in spring -

PREVENTION - acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is by far the best.  It is natural and it works!  If you are afraid of needles, there is herbal medicine that you can take to help boost your immunity and defence function to help your body cope with hay fever season.  Preparing your body NOW is the best solution to reducing the severity of your symptoms in spring.

If you dread spring time because of hay fever and are tired of western medication that does not work for you, there is a solution.  From my own experience, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can reduce the severity of hay fever symptoms.  However, there is a catch - natural medicine takes time to work.  Therefore, the sooner you start your treatment, the better you will be able to face hay fever nose on this coming spring.  Do not hesitate to make an appointment for a consultation with us - we are more than happy to have a chat with you and your concerns.


Winter Series - 5 Tips to Help You Cope With Winter Blues

Eastential Acupuncture Melbourne

Feeling a little low mood, lack of motivation and sad during winter months?  You may have winter blues also know as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Western medicine define SAD as a mood disorder experienced by people with normal mental health throughout the year whom experience depression at the same time each year, especially in winter.  In Chinese medicine, depression is a sign of disharmony or imbalance of Qi.  Qi is an energetic flow that circulates within the body and connects each Organs together to nourish and harmonise the body, mind and soul.  I often find in clinical practice that lifestyle, diet and emotions are a common contribution towards depression.  Overworking, frustration, irritability, anger, unexpressed feelings, overthinking, fear and over-consumption of raw and cold foods are some of the sign and symptoms that inhibits the smooth flow of Qi and Blood, thus leading to depression.  The combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicines and simple lifestyle and diet changes are a great way to help lift those low moods.  Here are 5 tips that I advise my clients to help them manage their depression.

1) Exercise - 30 minutes walks daily.  A study have found that brisk walking for 35 minutes a day, 5x a week or 60 minutes a day, 3x a week had a significant impact on mild to moderate depression symptoms.  Experts have shown that by exercising it enhances the action of endorphin and stimulates the neurotransmitter nor-epinephrine.  Endorphin and nor-epinephrine are what I call 'naturally producing happy substance' that help lift and improve our mood.  In addition, regular exercise offers other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and boost self-esteem.  So put on your walking shoes and start walking those winter blues away.

2) Sunshine - get more of it.  When the sun is out, take every opportunity to get out especially when you work in an office.  Even for just 10-15 minutes in the sun will lift you mood.  If you are lucky enough to have a window in your office, sit close to it to get an extra dose of sunshine.  If you are working from home, open up your blinds and curtains to let the sun rays in and also take short breaks to enjoy the sun.

3) Bundle up, go out and explore.  The worse thing about winter is being stuck indoor.  Granted that there will be days when it is absolutely yucky out there, and all you want to do is be indoor, read a good book and rug up by the heater.  However, for the other days, encourage yourself to go out, explore your neighborhood, or even make a trip to the ski slopes and enjoy what nature has to offer.  One of my favourite place to visit is Lake Mountain, not far from Melbourne to do some cross country skiing.  There is something quite spectacular and magical about a winter landscape.

4) Crank up the tunes.  Evidence are emerging that by listening to upbeat music can help lift and boost up low moods.  Fill your space and ears with music that makes you want to sing and dance, even if you look goofy doing it.

5) Diet - nutritious, well balanced, cooked warm meals.  In Chinese medicine, we always advocate that 'food is medicine'.  A well balanced diet consisting of protein, vegetables, fruit and grains should be the first port of call towards the health of a person.  I often advise my clients to eat warm cooked food and to minimise the amount of salad, cold and raw food in their diet.  As the weather is cold, the body naturally desire warmer food such as slow cooked stews, bone broths, roasted vegetables and soups.  In additions, adding warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and black pepper in cooking help enhance the warming properties of the food.  These warming foods are a great way to nourish Qi and Blood.  When Qi and Blood is healthy and well looked after, it will help manage and minimise those winter blues.

I hope these tips are useful however, if you still cannot shake those low moods away, please seek professional help.  Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are effective and natural alternatives in treating depression.  We are happy to chat with any concerns you may have.  Please contact us at Eastential Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Melbourne


Harvard Health Publications, 2009.  "Exercise and Depression"

Blaszczak, J., 2015.  "10 Things You Didn't Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder"

Lake Mountain Alpine Resort

Wall, T., 2013.  "Trying To Be Happier Works When Listening To Upbeat Music, According To MU Research"

Rodriguez, T., 2014.  "Can Acupuncture Treat Depression?"

Ljubinovic, N.  "Acupuncture, Anxiety & Depression"


Winter Series - 7 tips to help you manage Dry skin in winter


The first thing that you will notice in winter is dry skin.  As we enter into colder and windier months, our skin begins to feel dry, cracked, flaky and itchy.  To help your skin cope during these colder months, here are 7 tips that had helped my skin cope better in winter.

1) HYDRATE -  one of the best way to combat dry skin.  By hydration I mean drinking plain water, preferably warm to room temperature plain water.  Aim to drink at least 1-2 litres (6-8 glasses) on a daily basis.  I find filling a water bottle which is in clear sight  from where I work is a great reminder to keep up with my fluids.  Also aim to reduce intake of caffeine (coffee, tea), sugary drinks (fruit juice, energy drinks) and alcohol as these often lead to dry skin, and is a leading cause of wrinkles.

2) MOISTURISER - natural ones are the best.  In winter, I swtich from a light weight moisturiser that I use in summer to a more heavier and hydrating moisturiser to prevent my skin from drying out.  This makes sense as the temperature and weather changes, so does our skin care products and regime.  Aim for moisturisers that have nourishing properties such as sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil which are especially good for dry skin.  It also helps to improve your complexion giving you that 'youthful glow' and keeps wrinkles at bay.  Three to four drops of either of these oils added to regular moisturiser for people with oily skin is often sufficient for colder months.  For those with dry or mature skin like myself, the best is to invest in a heavier and hydrating moisturiser that contain ingredients such as shea butter, jojoba oil and avocado oil.  I will also add a few drops of either sweet almont oil or apricot kernel oil to the moisturiser to give my skin a further boost of hydration.  Avoid cleanser that has alcohol labeled on it.  This will strip your skin of your natural oil and will make your skin feel dryer and potentially make it itchy.

3) SCRUB - a great way to shed off dead skin for the face and body.  Scrubbing is a great way to stimulate and circulate Qi and Blood to the face and body while getting rid of dead skin.  It is important to do this often to encourage skin regeneration.  I use a mild scrub for my face once a week and a loofah scrub for my body at least once every two weeks.  I find my skin feels amazingly soft and subtle, and is able to absorb the goodness from my moisturiser better.  Scrubbing is also a great way to encourage lymphatic drainage.  CAUTION! If you have skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and any other skin problems, please seek advise from your health care practitioner before using this technique.

4) MASQUE - adds additional hydration to your skin I tend to use facial masque sheet more often in winter than I do in any other season to add more hydration to my dry skin.  I use a signature Chinese herbal masque powder which I use on my clients in my clinic, that helps with nourishing and hydrating the skin.  It is a great way to use the 10 minutes while the facial masque sheet is applied to meditate and calm your senses, in return it will help to combat signs of aging from the stresses of daily life.

5) EXERCISE - great for skin health When you exercise, you stimulate and circulate Qi and Blood around your body and to the surface of the skin.  Good Qi and Blood is vital to keep your skin soft, moisturise and hydrated.  In addition, exercise is good at eliminating unwanted toxins from your skin when you sweat.  Bare in mind that what you sweat out, you will also need to replenish it back in with fluids such as water or coconut water.  In addition, exercise is a great way to reduce stress which is one of the most common cause of aging and wrinkles.  I would recommend a 30 minute to an hour of daily exercise such as brisk walk, yoga, dancing etc to get some benefits out of it.  Added bonus -  for those that have cold hands and feet like I do, daily brisk walking for 40 minutes to circulate Qi and Blood has been the best remedy so far.

6) HOT SHOWERS - reduce it!  As much as hot showers or baths are very enticing during colder months, they are actually bad for your skin.  The longer you are in a shower or bath, the more if will strip away the natural oil from your skin.  Aim for shorter showers, avoid hot baths as much as you can and if possible, recuce the temperature of the hot water used.  Once you jump out of the shower, dry your skin by gently wiping you face and body with a cotton towel, then lather on your nourishing oils and moisturiser soon after.  This will ensure that you skin will absorb all the nourishing goodness from your moisturiser which will keep it soft and moist.

7) DIET - nourish dry skin from inside out.  I often tell my clients that comes in for Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture that the skin is the biggest organ in our body.  What we eat if often a good indicator of how our skin is performing.  To help with dry skin, aim for foods that are high in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.  This will help to keep the skin cells strong, maintain elasticity and help keep the skin moisturise.  Foods that contains these nutrients are avocado, oily fish such as sardines, flaxseeds and walnuts.

I hope these tips would be helpful for your skin survival during winter. 

We are offering a special "Winter Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture Package" for a limited time from June until end of July2016 to help your skin survive winter.  To find out more about this package, please refer to our "Fees and Book Online" page.


Whitney, L. 2014.  "Health Benefits of Scrubbing With A Loofah"

Cho, C. 2015.  "Saving Face: The Beauty of Sheet Masking"

Guthrie, C. 2010.  "8 Ways Exercise Makes You Gorgeous"

Parson, J. 2015.  "Hot Showers Harmful To Skin During Winter"

Wu, S. 2014.  "Eating For Beauty: The Best Diet For Healthy, Clear Skin"

Angelo, G. 2012.  "Essential Fatty Acids."


What Vitamins Are Good For You & What Are A Waste Of Money

vitamins and supplements

There are heaps of vitamins and supplements that are being advertised these days to boost your energy, to help defense you against colds and flu, to help with stress and so forth.  According to IBIS World, in the article "Vitamins and Supplement Manufacturing in Australia: Market Research Report", vitamins and supplements industries such as Blackmore and Swiss has steadily increased their revenue growth due to increased in consumer expenditure.  Currently, the cumulative vitamin and supplement industry is valued at $1 billion in Australia.

For some people, there are good reasons to use vitamins and supplements prescribed by GP or Health Practitioners.  However, for majority of us there is absolutely no reason to spend money on vitamins and supplements if we have a well balanced diet comprising of complex carbohydrates, protein, fruit, vegetables and dairy.

Vitamin D is important to keep your bones strong and for calcium absorption.  It is hard to get from food and tougher to get during winter months.

Zinc is the only trace mineral that is linked to shortening a cold and interferes with cold-causing viruses.

Vitamin C for the general population, research has found that it did not prevent colds.

Multivitamins has no proof of benefits and there are evidences that high doses of certain vitamins can be harmful.

Vitamin E is well-know for its prevention in cancer and cardiovascular disease, however clinical research has shown very little benefits and in fact has shown it to be harmful in some circumstances.

Fish oil supplements are promoted for its heart health, ease inflammation, improve mental health and longevity, but clinical results has shown that the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements is in conclusive, and high doses can be harmful

Spend your well earned money on nourishing your body naturally through healthy food and lifestyle.  A well balanced healthy diet is enough to give us all the necessary nutrients to supplement our body to cope with life challenges.  Do think about the vitamins and supplements that you are currently taking and ask yourself "Do I need all these vitamins and supplements?"   Be aware that taking a handful of vitamins and supplement is no substitute for the wealth of nutrients found in food.  In fact it could potentially do more harm than good to your body.  

Chinese medicine has long understood that food is medicine.  The first port of call to a healthy life is through food and lifestyle.  By eating food with the season and consuming different types of food in moderation in always recommended in Chinese medicine dietary management.


Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School.  2016.  "Why dietary supplements are suspect"

A short video about the benefits of vitamins and supplements can be view here

Warmflash, D.  2015. "Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: Miracle potions, Silent dangers or both"

Ghose, T.  2015.  "The Science of Vitamin C: Can Taking It Prevent A Cold?"

John Hopkins Medicine.  "Is There Really Any Benefits to Multivitamins?"

Berkeley Wellness. 2014.  "Should Anyone Take Vitamin E?"

Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School.  2013.  "Fish Oil: Friend or Foe?"

Salzberg, S.  2013.  "Top Five Vitamins You Should Not Take"