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



January 23, 2014

How do you feel today?

Posted in health tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 8:49 am by Margi Macdonald

How’s your health? Take this 30 second quiz.

some energy thing

Have you reached a crossroads in your life, and need to take charge of your health? ContactMargi Macdonald today for a gentle conversation.


Cautions and Care: The information provided on this page, and all other pages and posts on this weblog is for your information, and is never an alternative or substitute for medical assessment, diagnosis or treatment. If you have concerns about your health or well-being, or that of a friend or family member, please be sure to visit a medical practitioner.

Image: Abstract Hand Chakra Elena Ray, sourced at BigStock™

Poll content: ©Margi Macdonald

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January 21, 2014

What’s up with that?! A gazillion embedded gold threads in somebody’s knees, and a media beat-up.

Posted in brisbane, health tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:35 pm by Margi Macdonald

Recently, an X-Ray image has done the rounds of the interwebs.

It first surfaced here and has been widely discussed by biomedical doctors, doctors of acupuncture, and the tabloid media.

Do well-educated, AHPRA-Registered Acupuncturists practicing in Australia routinely treat osteoarthritis like this?

No. And it’s an assumption to think that we do.

You can read official responses here and here.

Now, let’s go back to the original article, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, where the authors conclude

Acupuncture is widely used as a treatment for painful joints. It has been hypothesized that gold thread implanted at the acupuncture points acts as a continuous acupuncture stimulation. The insertion of small pieces of sterile gold thread around the joint by means of acupuncture needles has been used commonly in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in Asian countries. Gold threads may complicate radiographic assessment, as seen here.

You have to wonder what all the fuss was about.

My view, based on clinical practice and literature reviews?

“Ordinary” acupuncture provided by appropriately qualified practitioners may be a useful adjunctive therapy for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.

We need comprehensive research to understand potential benefits and side effects of embedded gold threads.
Cautions and Care: If you have a concern about your health, please see an appropriately qualified, experienced and registered health professional. Please continue to take any medications prescribed by your medical doctors.

August 28, 2013

What does “spring” mean to you?

Posted in brisbane, health, life tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:45 pm by Margi Macdonald

Celeste and Jasmine

What does spring time mean to you?

Newness and all that’s fresh and enlivening?

Quiet times in nature, or pottering in the garden?

Cooking up a storm with abundant fresh produce?

The torments of hay fever or asthma? (and yes, acupuncture and herbal medicine may help with either of these conditions)

Feel free to share the best and worst of your spring time experiences with us.


Cautions & Care: This post and the pages here are for your information, and are not a substitute for the medicines, care and attention of appropriately qualified health professionals.

Image: ©Margi Macdonald

March 13, 2012

How does acupuncture work?

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

RMIT University academic Dr Zhen Zheng explains how acupuncture works.

February 7, 2011

Behind the scenes in an acupuncture clinic

Posted in brisbane, health tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:13 pm by Margi Macdonald

During the quiet days of January, many acupuncturists began preparation for national registration of our profession in 2012. We’ll be more accountable, and more closely regulated than ever before. This is a good thing for public safety and for standards of care. Registration will elevate acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to professional status, alongside doctors, dentists and other allied health professions. Unsurprisingly, national registration will increase practice costs to each practitioner. As the year progresses, we’ll need to pass some of these costs on to the people registration  protects – our wonderful clients and patients.

Our aim is to keep fee increases modest and fair to you and to ourselves, and to tell you well in advance.

Visitors to Echidna Acupuncture and Natural Therapies will notice some additions to the clinic this year; hand-washing charts, more signage, hand sanitiser for visitors and medical-grade handwash solution.  The clinic owner – Nikki Hunt – has done a great job ensuring the clinic is compliant with recent changes to Infection Control  Management in Australia.

For clinic visitors, this means that we’re looking and sounding more like your GP’s surgery. We’ll be assessing folk for nasty contagious bugs, particularly in winter. People deemed potentially contagious may be advised to stay at home, to see their Doctors, or to come and see us, as long as they understand that wearing a surgical mask will be necessary for both patient and practitioner.  If we feel you’re contagious, we’ll also be keeping you separate from other clinic visitors.

Our clinic is now stocked with an even wider range of infection control gear, including a spills kit and more plastic aprons than we can imagine might ever be necessary. Medical supplies – even in the smallest quantities – come in bulk!

Professional development and post-graduate learning are an ongoing process in our profession. Last year many acupuncturists exceeded the minimum ongoing professional development requirements expected of us by legislation, private health insurers, and our professional associations. My own learning and study included acquisition of specialist textbooks, participation in peer review meetings and online discussion groups, business planning, and attendance at a number of important seminars and skill updates, some of them presented by esteemed international specialists. I happily exceeded the minimum requirement, learnt plenty, and look forward to doing it all again in 2011. Those unpaid hours of professional development – usually on weekends and in the evenings – help us to do our best for each of you, and to stay current with the unique mix of science, tradition and wisdom which is Traditional Chinese Medicine in the 21st Century.


Red Door in Hanoi ©Margi Macdonald

Handsanitiser – not stated

Words ©Margi Macdonald

September 6, 2010

Bears in there? We’re Wildlife Aware

Posted in brisbane, health, life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:17 pm by Margi Macdonald

Brown Bear having fun. Beverly and Pack

From the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd

You may have seen last night’s Channel 7 Sunday Night feature on “Something About Mary” which informed viewers of Mary Hutton’s story. Mary is the founder of the ‘Free the Bears Fund Inc’ (www.freethebears.org.au) and has made it her mission to protect various species of bears in Asia from being captivated and used for entertainment and medicinal purposes. The use of bear bile was a focus in the feature with reporter Alex Cullen bringing attention to the practices of some restaurants in South East Asia whose patrons “have lunch, see bears and buy their bile”.

The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) is opposed to the medical, cosmetic or other use of bear bile and other illegal products derived from endangered species. There are many herbal alternatives to the use of bear bile and therefore there is no justification for bear farming. AACMA is committed to raising the level of awareness, education and compliance with the legal requirements associated with the international wildlife trade through the Australian government funded Endangered Species Certification Scheme (www.acupuncture.org.au/escs.cfm) and does not support the use of Chinese medicines containing illegally traded wildlife ingredients.

AACMA CEO, Judy James, said “Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the great global medical systems with an uninterrupted history of use and development spanning 1000s of years. The Traditional Chinese Medicine profession does not need to cage, farm, kill or use bears in order to provide effective and natural healthcare. The international trade in products containing bear parts is illegal and AACMA opposes their use for any medical or cosmetic purposes.”

To read the AACMA’s full media release please visit http://www.acupuncture.org.au/media.cfm

To view the transcript visit http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunday-night/transcripts/article/-/article/7284436/something-about-mary-transcript/

To view the video visit http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunday-night/video/#fop

A member of this Association, I fully support and conform to AACMA’s ethical standards and codes of professional conduct, and similarly oppose the use of illegal products – in particular animal products – in our medicines.

Only herbal medicines are prescribed in my practice.


Image: by Beverly and Pack on Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

July 15, 2010

Distress. De-stress. Stress Down and Dress Down

Posted in brisbane, health, life, love tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:06 am by Margi Macdonald

The effects of stress on our bodies

So you see, it never has been a simple case of “it’s all in your head”.

Go to Lifeline’s Stress Down Day

You’ll discover how you can manage stress, have some fun, and raise money for an organisation which does a great job.

If you’ve realized your health is affected  by stress, you must see your family doctor for a check-up, and then schedule a deeply relaxing acupuncture or Reiki session.

If you’re struggling with insomnia, you might like this.

You can also take the 30 second health check here.

March 4, 2010

Banis bilong susu- baskets of milk

Posted in brisbane, health, life, love tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:26 pm by Margi Macdonald

Tits, boobs, puppies, girls, hooters, fun-bags, bazookas, boozies and norks. For the next few minutes, we’re peeking into bras, bedrooms and beliefs as we discover how marvellous and multi-faceted our breasts can be.

What’s in a name?

Plenty, it would seem. Is there any other organ which so visibly embodies what it means to be Woman? Have you noticed that names given to breasts sit on the continuum of love and affection which ultimately becomes derision and misogyny?

And what on earth is a ‘banis bilong susu’ Well, it’s Papuan Pidgin-English for bra. Literal translations include ‘baskets of milk’ and ‘walls for breasts’. Susu can be either breast, or milk. What could be simpler?

Letting the puppies off the leash

Burning the bra; early feminists may have been onto something. What was once a sociopolitical act of defiance may be conducive to breast health. The stagnation and extra heat generated during hours of fashionable, cultural constraint mightn’t be such a good idea.

Why not take you bra off? Right now?

Feeling uncomfortable about that?


Let us know. Leave a comment.

Exercise; getting enough of it on a regular basis is consistently advised. The incidence of breast cancer is unfortunately, higher in obese women. Similarly, women recovering from breast cancer treatment are known to do better if they can undertake regular, supervised exercise.

Including upper body exercise and movement in our exercise routines will promote the movement of qi, blood and fluids through our chests and breasts.

The nipple-brain connection

No, this isn’t about our intimate partner’s occasional inability to think logically when presented with a bare nipple or two. It’s all about the love.

Intense nipple stimulation such as sucking causes the pituitary gland in the brain to release the hormone oxytocin. This stimulates the let-down response, and milk begins to flow.

Also released during labour, this hormone causes the uterus to contract during and after delivery and is believed to promote bonding between mother and baby. Both women and men are said to release oxytocin during orgasm; it’s quite possibly the body’s own love drug.

Blood, milk and tears    

The first few weeks of lactation can be traumatic as the balance between supply and demand is achieved. Our milk is either insufficient, banking up, or constantly drenching our clothes, and flooding and choking our babies.

Traditional Chinese medicine says that milk is a by-product of abundant, healthy blood. Efficient emptying of the breasts is thought to guide the milk back up to them, which in turn promotes further milk production.

Acupuncture, certain foods-as-medicine, herbal remedies, and some all-natural topically applied substances can help women manage the physical struggles of the first weeks of lactation.  Cracked, bleeding and blistered nipples, painful engorgement, the dreaded mastitis and insufficient milk supply can all be treated naturally.

Just be sure to consult an appropriately qualified and experienced health professional. It’s vital that you don’t self-medicate with herbal or other ‘natural’ supplements whilst lactating. What’s good for you, may not be good for your baby. Let the health professionals guide you.

Lumps and bumps

We’ve heard it, we know it, but let’s remind ourselves again. We must perform breast self-examinations each month. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it could save our breasts, and our lives.

If you’ve been worried about your breasts, or have forgotten how to self-examine, please see your family doctor for your ‘Well Woman’ health check.

© Margi Macdonald


Cautions & Care The information provided here is for your interest, and is not a substitute for face-to-face care and attention provided by your Family Doctor, and other appropriately qualified health professionals. If you have a concern about your physical or emotional health, you must consult an appropriately qualified and experienced health practitioner.

The images The sculptural breasts are features of ancient works found in Cambodia and Vietnam. These images belong to Margi Macdonald.

The painting Madonna and Child C.1609 is by Artemesia Gentileschi who “was one of the first women artists to achieve recognition in the male-dominated world of post-Renaissance art.”

The words Banis Bilong Susu was first published in the magazine Honestly Woman

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