August 2, 2016

An arboreal alphabet

Posted in brisbane, creativity, health, life, nature, reading, writing tagged , , , , , , , at 8:40 pm by Margi Macdonald

I’m not showing you any images with this one.

Head over right now and read this interview with Katie Holten and see the examples of her work, and then you might want to create your very own arboreal alphabet.

Or perhaps, instead of trees, you might choose flowers, or leaves, or birds, or insects or fish; whimsical, fantastical drawings from your own quite wonderful mind’s eye.

Everyone’s an artist, and we’re all part of the natural world, even if we live in a highrise shoebox-sized apartment in a megacity.

Go on. Do it.

 

 

July 27, 2016

Get out there! Health benefits from nature are real

Posted in brisbane, health, nature tagged , , , , , at 8:41 pm by Margi Macdonald

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With thanks today to Senator Scott Ludlam, who shared this juicy science on social media today.

Health Benefits from Nature Experiences Depend on Dose

We show that people who made long visits to green spaces had lower rates of depression and high blood pressure, and those who visited more frequently had greater social cohesion. Higher levels of physical activity were linked to both duration and frequency of green space visits. A dose-response analysis for depression and high blood pressure suggest that visits to outdoor green spaces of 30 minutes or more during the course of a week could reduce the population prevalence of these illnesses by up to 7% and 9% respectively.

Read more here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep28551

July 24, 2016

Periods, healing spaces and science. 

Posted in brisbane, health, interior design, life, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 12:18 pm by Margi Macdonald


A new purchase, and an older one.

Lara Briden’s Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods

Esther M. Sternberg’s Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being 

Does the world make you sick? If the distractions and distortions around you, the jarring colors and sounds, could shake up the healing chemistry of your mind, might your surroundings also have the power to heal you? This is the question Esther Sternberg explores in Healing Spaces, a look at the marvelously rich nexus of mind and body, perception and place. 

As you’d imagine, there’s commonality between the two, which I’ll be exploring in the coming months and years.

What are you reading today? 

July 20, 2016

What’s for dinner at your place? 

Posted in brisbane, cooking, food tagged , , at 7:02 pm by Margi Macdonald

We’re having kale and hot smoked trout and salmon salad, with lemon and seeds and green beans and puy lentils and Parmesan. It’s an easy, filling meal which is great for lunch the next day.

Still and all, it’s the jonquils in the kitchen which have me all captivated and distracted tonight.

What smells good in your kitchen right now? 

July 15, 2016

Do sperm have a sense of smell, and what’s it got to do with Lily of the Valley and sea urchins?

Posted in brisbane, health, life, love tagged , , , , , , at 8:40 pm by Margi Macdonald

Convallaria_majalis_0002.jpegDuring pre-conception care, one of the things I discuss with couples is the “fertile window“, and that there’s a lot of chemical signalling going on between sperm and the egg.

In these discussions, essentially we’re working to ensure that there will be several million healthy, active sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes before ovulation occurs, quietly communicating with the egg once it’s released.

About ten years ago – or thereabouts – scientists discovered “smelling capabilities” (or rather, an odorant receptor on human sperm). You can read about that here.

Bourgeonal is the sperm-attracting chemical discussed in that article .

Bourgeonal smells floral, green and watery, and is highly reminiscent of Lily of the Valley. How delightful is that?!

A “scent trail” was thought to be laid by the egg for the sperm to follow.

Sperm have a long journey ahead in their quest for the egg cell or ovum, and just a few of the million sperm reach their destination. The ovum supports the sperm in their quest by transmitting “chemical signposts”, known as attractants. Researchers first discovered this ingenious system in sea urchins and found out that attractants control the swimming movement of the sperm by altering their calcium balance. The attraction of the sperm to the egg is referred to as “chemotaxis”. Read more here

Anyway, research continued and scientists concluded  “the ‘Lily of the Valley phenomenon’ is a laboratory artefact: sperm do not have an olfactory signalling pathway.”

*SIGH* it was just becoming exciting and delightful… no more Lily of the Valley.

Then researchers moved onto the hormone progesterone which is produced by the corpus luteum in the ovary, just after ovulation (egg release), and how progesterone activates sperm swimming behaviour.

Swimming! Sea Urchins! Sperm! Flowery smells! Eggs! Hormones!Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 9.55.23 AM

What does all this mean for couples who are planning a pregnancy, or who have been trying for a while, without any luck?

Not much. Don’t stress about bourgeonal or the complex interplay between progesterone and ion channels in sperm.

Natural medicine practitioners help couples understand that conception can be a simple, happy process.

We use low-tech methods to help you identify your fertile window, and to tweak any reversible factors which might affect sperm health and/or the natural ebb and flow of monthly cycles and ovulation.

Don’t bother with Fertility Apps. Most of them miscalculate the fertility window.

Nutrition, lifestyle, mindset, exposure to certain chemicals, exercise and time (yes, good old fashioned time) all contribute to a couple’s fertility.

The one thing which makes me sad and frustrated, is that for too long, the focus has been almost exclusively on the woman, her reproductive organs, and her menstrual cycle.

“Male factors” are just as important, but don’t receive the attention they deserve.

As someone once said “it takes two to tango“.

And I say “keep it natural” and uncomplicated.

(And don’t use Lily of the Valley or any other perfume internally.)

_______

Cautions and care: This blog is for information and education, and not for diagnosis or treatment. If you have concerns about your reproductive or sexual health, please see an appropriately qualified health professional, such as your family doctor.

Images

Lily of the Valley: By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9592154

Sperm: By Mariana Ruiz Villarreal spermatozoa – “based on the one found on the book “Gray’s anatomy” 36th edition, Williams & Warwick, 1980; and a diagram found of the review “Formation and organization of the mammalian sperm head” from Kiyotaka Toshimori and Chizuro Ito. (Chiba, Japan)., Public Domain” https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=699220

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 12, 2016

Good sleep needs good design (among other things)

Posted in brisbane, health, interior design, life tagged , , , , , , , at 8:40 pm by Margi Macdonald

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 9.27.05 AM

Well, I had no idea last week, when I wrote this post, that it was Sleep Awareness Week.  Who knew?

Information-overloaded like so many of you, I almost missed this gem of an article.

There are so many good ideas here.

Let us know in the comments what’s most appealing to you.

July 10, 2016

Sing-along-Sunday

Posted in health at 10:41 am by Margi Macdonald

It was a rough week, here on planet Earth.

Time for some singing and humming along

July 6, 2016

Acupuncture for insomnia. Yes or no?

Posted in brisbane, health, life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:40 pm by Margi Macdonald

 

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Louise Bourgeois, #53 from the series The Insomnia Drawings 1994-95

Yesterday somebody asked me if acupuncture for insomnia has been proven effective, so I checked a meta-analysis, and quickly reviewed “insomnia”.

Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep and/or the inability to remain asleep, with non-restorative sleep lasting for a month or more.
Anyone who’s experienced insomnia understands how this can affect their quality of life, their ability to work efficiently and safely, to concentrate, and to enjoy life and relationships without feeling irritable, frustrated and exhausted.
There are different reasons why people have insomnia, and there are different types of insomnia. Medical doctors understand that insomnia may be a “primary” or “secondary” condition, with the International Classification of Sleep Disorders listing more than 100 differential diagnoses of the condition.(1)
Acupuncture – as part of a comprehensive treatment approach which can include medical care, counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy, a nightly bedtime routine or ritual, nutrition and lifestyle changes – may help some people to fall asleep faster, or to sleep longer, or to sleep with fewer awakenings during the night.(2)

As yet, the exact mechanism of action for acupuncture is unknown, but many acupuncture studies have shown that various biological responses may occur in the nervous system. In 2012 it was found that more research is needed to fully understand acupuncture’s efficacy for  this condition.(3)

Acupuncturists  who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) know that there can be many factors contributing to insomnia.

An in-depth consultation at your first visit helps both you and your acupuncturist understand why you have insomnia.
A TCM pattern of disharmony is identified – according to the nature of your Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood – and a course of treatment will be suggested, tailored to your unique needs.

The language of TCM is quite poetic, and insomnia can be summarised as “Spirit not settled”.
As TCM is a holistic therapy, acupuncturists can also help you with lifestyle and nutritional guidance and support. Many of us are also qualified to prescribe herbal medicines for your specific pattern of disharmony.

Insomnia is a common and distressing concern, and I’ve blogged about it before. Go here  and click on the infographic about the importance of sleep, particularly for people living with cancer.

One of my areas of special interest is helping women through menopause transition, when sleep, exhaustion and hot flushes can become a vicious cycle. For most women, a reduction in the number and intensity of hot flushes and better quality sleep go hand-in-hand, and acupuncture may help with this.

You can make an appointment here (acupuncture in Chermside, Brisbane north) or here (acupuncture in Holland Park, Brisbane south)

Cautions and Care: If you or someone you know is suffering from a condition which causes concern, please see your primary health practitioner. This blog is for  information and educational purposes, and is not a substitute for the assessment and care of an appropriately qualified health professional.

______

1,2,3: Cheuk DKL, Yeung WF, Chung KF, Wong V. Acupuncture for insomnia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD005472. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005472.pub3.

The image: You can read a little more about this series of works by the sculptor Louise Bourgeois here

 

July 3, 2016

Stirring, stretching, thinking

Posted in health tagged , , at 2:51 pm by Margi Macdonald

watch this space.jpg

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