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.

 

 

Advertisements

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 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 6, 2016

Acupuncture for insomnia. Yes or no?

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

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 1.11.23 PM

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

 

March 24, 2014

Plum relish… a little tango for your tastebuds

Posted in brisbane, cooking, food, health, life, music tagged , , , , , , at 4:29 pm by Margi Macdonald

The late summer stone fruits are with us, and being late in the season, are not as gorgeous as their earlier siblings.

So here’s a little dish which straddles late summer and early autumn, when the evenings are still warm, and the days humid.

20140324-160003.jpg
Elegantly dice a couple of plums, and a couple of spring onions.

20140324-160105.jpg
Place in a bowl, and add apple cider vinegar and some cold pressed, extra virgin nut or seed oil.
Usual ratio of oil : vinegar (or lemon or lime juice) is 2:1
Grind in some pepper. I think pink peppercorns would work beautifully here.

20140324-160635.jpg
Add some chopped fresh dill.
At this point, decide (as I did) whether it needs a little seeded and diced cucumber.

20140324-160807.jpg
Select some kind of greenery, which is perhaps a little bitter, and tender yet firm.
I used baby endive.
Roughly, yet kindly shred it.

20140324-160931.jpg
Toss and serve.
Hey presto!
You have a cute little salad with piquant surprises in every mouthful.

It goes very well with a mackerel or salmon cutlet, and kipfler potatoes, boiled, sliced, and tossed in a little hot ghee and salt.

If your cardiologist faints at the thought of ghee, toss the potatoes in some very fine, “fruity” olive oil.

If you just want to make this as a fresh relish or salsa, add a little seeded, finely chopped chili, some freshly toasted ‘raw’ nuts, and some freshly picked coriander leaf (cilantro). You might like fresh lime juice here, instead of the apple cider vinegar. Fresh mint torn and tumbled through might be sublime.

I am hopeless at photographing cooked fish, so instead, here’s some excellent music; tight ensemble playing, fine musicians.

Enjoy!

March 19, 2014

Sleep…one of our most important “natural therapies”

Posted in brisbane, health, life tagged , , , , , at 7:42 am by Margi Macdonald


March 5, 2014

Change and the Fertile Body

Posted in brisbane, health, life tagged , , , , at 9:10 pm by Margi Macdonald

Planning for a baby, and want to maximise your chances of an easy, natural conception?

Already trying and it’s just not happening?

My friend and peer Peter Kington has some wise, important guidance for you over here

I urge you to take a look, identify the elephant in your room, and change what needs to be changed.

20140305-210817.jpg

March 3, 2014

Winds of Change and a Little Pesto on the Side

Posted in health, life tagged , , , , , at 10:17 pm by Margi Macdonald

Monet_Poplars_in_the_SunThis full moon just past – while making pesto – The Eloquent Gardener suggested we invoke The Winds of Change with a simple ritual. It’s amazing the flashes of inspiration which come when you’re in the kitchen!

After dinner, we headed off beneath the moon to the seaside and a fierce wind, all set with fragrant white flowers, salt, spring water and clear intentions.

We were ready to create and meet change head on.

Claude_Monet_-_Les_PeupliersIn the days which followed, I got to thinking about rituals and their role in modern life, and of change in general.

One of my recurrent observations in clinical practice, is the struggle which so many of us have with “change”.

For some, this can be grappling with the pain and incapacity of acute injury, for others it might be workplace change and stress, for others it’s the transition from one stage of life to another.

Three_Trees_in_Grey_Weather_1891_Claude_Monet

With its roots in Eastern philosophy, the medicine I practice reminds us that change is inevitable. It’s the role of an acupuncturist to help people move through life with ease, resilience, and equanimity.

How do you meet change?

Do you make it happen, and does it excite you?

Do you dread it?

Do you risk-manage with plans and protocols, go with the flow, or put it all down to “fate”?

How do you mark your passage through the big and small moments in life? I’m beginning to think there’s a place for simple, meaningful rituals in daily life. My sense is a simple ritual can help us to focus our thoughts, settle our nerves, and to move with the times.

Wikipedia has an enlightening entry about rituals here.

And if rituals just aren’t your thing, this exercise in cognitive restructuring might be for you.

You might want to read Thomas Moore’s book The Re-Enchantment of Daily Life. 

And what happened to the pesto? I promise that’s coming in the next post.
___________________________________________

Images: All from Monet’s 1891 “Poplar” series. From The Wikimedia Commons

Next page

%d bloggers like this: