What is Trauma-Aware Acupuncture?



In this video, I explain what it means when you visit a Trauma-Aware Acupuncturist.

Offering a Trauma-Aware approach benefits everyone, because it’s about creating a warm and welcoming space for all people.

Contact my admin team to ask a question or book your appointment.




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Acupuncture safety

Acupuncture safety lotus


Acupuncture is generally considered a very safe treatment.

All health procedures carry some risk, and some risks may depend on an individual patient’s circumstances (eg age, gender, illness or other health factors).

Before you start your acupuncture treatment, we will explain the risks to you and allow you to make an informed decision to proceed. We will also check in with you throughout your course of treatment that you are feeling comfortable and provide answers or responses to any questions or concerns you may have.


Research on acupuncture safety

Several very large-scale studies involving many tens of thousands of professional acupuncture treatments have found that acupuncture is generally well tolerated and, if side effects happen, they tend to be relatively minor – for example tiredness, bruising or dizziness. (1-3)


Qualified practitioners

It is important to receive acupuncture from well-trained health professionals who understand the risks and how to minimise them. Working near vulnerable areas of the body requires special techniques and precautions, so please ensure that your therapist is adequately qualified.

Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners (listed on the AHPRA website) have met the appropriate education standards.


Acupuncture in pregnancy

Acupuncture is generally considered safe in pregnancy.

Qualified practitioners understand how to modify acupuncture treatment for pregnancy and to avoid certain areas of the body or specific acu-points due to their therapeutic actions.

A recent review concluded that if adverse effects do occur during acupuncture in pregnancy, they seem to be minor and transient (of the type noted above) and occurance is similar across all trimesters of pregnancy. (4)


Free consultation

If you would like to discuss your unique health situation and ask any questions you may have about acupuncture safety, please request your 15-minute Free Consultation to find out more.



(1) White A, Hayhoe S, Hart A, Ernst E. Adverse events following acupuncture: prospective survey of 32,000 consultations with doctors and physiotherapists. BMJ. 2001;323:485–6.

(2) Macpherson H, Thomas K, Walters S, Fitter M. The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34,000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ. 2001;323:486–7.

(3) Witt CM, Pach D, Brinkhaus B, Wruck K, Tag B, Mank S, Willich SN. Safety of acupuncture: results of a prospective observational study with 229,230 patients and introduction of a medical information and consent form. Forsch Komplementmed. 2009;16:91–7.

(4) Clarkson C, O’Mahony D, Jones D. Adverse event reporting in studies of penetrating acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2015 May;94(5):453-64.


Photo by Ahmed Saffu on Unsplash
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Menopause, mid-life and meaning

Menopause autumn


Are you approaching menopause? Already there?

In our culture – in the developed, English-speaking world – menopause is becoming increasingly medicalised… symptoms and hormones and treatments.

The medical narrative around menopause has become so ingrained in our cultural consciousness that we don’t even see it, like a fish not seeing the water it’s swimming in.

There’s a different way of seeing this phase of life.

In other places in the world, menopause is experienced as simply a time of change, or freedom, a phase of self-reflection and evolving self-esteem, a phase of life marked by being respected due to attaining wisdom, a feeling of cleanliness and attaining maturity, a time to experience fulfilment or success (1).


Turning the corner

According to Chinese medicine, and Hunyuan medicine in particular, menopause is a turning point.

Nature creates in cycles. From small cycles such as the heartbeat or breath, through ever larger of day and night, seasons, lifetimes, to cycles beyond the human experience such as geological epochs – the way that something opens out, and then closes back in, is a common pattern.



From resting quietly at night, you dream before dawn and then awaken and move into the world in the morning.

From the fallow and stillness of winter, seedlings and buds appear and grow.

From the secluded mystery of the womb, babies are born, emerging into the world.

From the hidden, something becomes revealed. This is the beginning of the visible part of the creation cycle.


Full expression

In the middle of the day, you are active and engaged with the outside world, eating and drinking to bring energy in from “the outside”.

In the summer, the leaves on the trees are fully open and engaging with the sunlight “outside” to create energy for the tree.

From childhood and teen years, marked by the “Yang” expression of growth and differentiation, a person reaches their reproductive capacity in adulthood. Their life cycle can exchange with the “outside” by participating in the creation of new life.

This phase is maximally engaged and exchanging with the “outside”.


The return

Then we come to the afternoon, closing in to the evening. You return home from the day, you shed your “mask” of your work life or other roles in society, and you nurture yourself and settle down in preparation for the recharging and replenishment of the night phase.

For the tree, it now divests it’s energy from the leaves. That exchange with the “outside” has run its course. The sap turns inwards, flowing down towards the root. It’s a reversal of direction.

After the child-bearing years, this “Yang” impetus for growth and connecting “outside” has similarly run its course. Now the “Yin” phase begins. Moving towards the root, towards the source…


Menopause yin yang


The hidden

Going into sleep, your idea of “action in the world” must become very small. You must let go. Let go and yield into the mystery, where there is no “I”, there is no “this” and “that”. When you wake in the morning, you will feel refreshed. Where did this energy come from? If you try to watch, you’ll miss it! You can only gain this energy by “not being there”. By allowing the movement of the Heart-mind, the sense of “I”, to become very small. The energy comes from what we call the “internal connection”. The very nature of this connection is hidden.

For the tree, bare branches on the outside, snow on the ground, energy underground, hidden in the root.

For the human, the mystery of old age.

This “hidden” phase of nature is a part of all the cycles. It is the source, the root, the beginning and end and continuation.


Our culture

Our science is explicity based on the “visible”, the “seen”, the “knowable”. Our science hasn’t yet included this hidden phase into a cyclical understanding of nature.

Perhaps linked with this, our culture venerates youth and achievement and growth and productivity. The “Yang” phase.

We lack a view, a language, a love and appreciation of the whole other side of the cycle. From the top-most point of exchange with the “outside”, the return to the root is often expressed as a decline, a decay, somewhat almost as a failure.


Do you feel this?

It’s time for a new narrative. More accurately, it’s time to reclaim an old narrative, an ancient story.

Here’s the question to contemplate – at “midday” you are giving to the world in terms of your speech and actions. You are also bringing in something – external energy in the form of food and drink. Combined with the external energy from breath and then from the “internal connection” of sleep, you can have another day, another cycle. Bringing in from nature, connecting, replenishing, then expressing your form outwardly. The same cycle repeats, again and again.

So in terms of the cycle of your whole lifespan, at menopause you are in autumn. No longer growing towards the outside, now changing course, energy heading within.

What is coming along with that movement, from the outside?

The tree has generated energy through photosynthesis, bringing this back to nourish the root.

What are you bringing back?

Knowledge? Experience? Wisdom? Self-awareness? Appreciation?


The “Sandwich Generation”

Maybe at this time of your life you’ve got teenagers to care for, or grandchildren, alongside working and ensuring your nest egg will see you through retirement, alongside caring for ageing parents… a lot of energy being used on the “outside”.

This is the challenge for women in our culture who are in the menopause phase of life. More people to care for now than ever before, or more intense caring, coupled with an ancient biological imperative to turn inwards.

Could this be the start of some of these “symptoms” that we pathologise as an inevitable part of the menopause experience?

And if so, then how to reframe, so that the challenges of this phase of life do not overwhelm you?


The jigsaw puzzle

Each one of us is a jigsaw puzzle. There’s no simple answer to these kinds of questions.

However, the questions are important.

If these questions resonate with you, and you would like to explore a more wholesome, nurturing journey through your menopause years, then I’d be delighted to talk to you and let you know what I can offer.

You can request a 15-minute free consultation or contact me to book an initial consultation and treatment.



(1) Doubova, SV, C. Infante-Castañeda, C, Martinez-Vega, I, Pérez-Cuevas, R. Toward healthy aging through empowering self-care during the climacteric stage. Climeractic. 2012;15:563-572.

Other resources

Rita Charon, MD. Narrative Medicine: A Model for Empathy, Reflection, Profession, and Trust. JAMA. 2001;286(15):1897-1902.

Befus D, Coeytaux RR, Goldstein KM, McDuffie JR, Shepherd-Banigan M, Goode AP, Kosinski A, Van Noord MG, Adam SS, Masilamani V, Nagi A, Williams JW Jr. Management of menopause symptoms with acupuncture: An umbrella systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Jan 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Image credit: Antonio Grosz on Unsplash


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Charting your BBT for fertility

If you’ve been reading fertility books and websites then you’ve probably come across the idea of charting your Basal Body Temperature (BBT).

How to chart

This simple procedure is really helpful when you’re aiming to conceive.  Over the years of supporting women to conceive, I’ve picked up a few tips and tidbits and am happy to share them here so that charting can work for you too.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Get a BBT thermometer from the pharmacy.  Special BBT thermometers, sometimes called “ovulation thermometers,” are more sensitive than the usual kind that are used to detect fever.  Ideally you will get a glass one with mercury inside, as they are said to be the most accurate, but really what you need is one that you can use!  If you find the mercury ones tricky to read and have trouble shaking out the bubbles, then please just get a digital one – as long as you keep using the same one then your charts will be accurate enough.  If you do change thermometers then make a note of it on your chart so you can interpret any glitches.

2. Get a chart to record your daily temperatures.  There are now apps (eg iPeriod for iPhone) and websites that will help you predict ovulation dates.  Or you might like to use a spreadsheet on your computer that can produce a nice graph for you.  Other women opt for good old pen and paper versions.  If you search online for “BBT chart celcius” then you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.  The main thing is it’s got to work for you – if it’s something you can do quickly and easily every day, then great.  If you keep forgetting to record your temps because the computer is in the other room then please just keep pen and paper by the bed, and enter the numbers into your computer later.  By the way, I love the charts with lots of room to record all kinds of other events and signs, especially cervical mucus.  But please do make a note if you’ve had a couple of drinks or catch a cold – you will see how these events show up in your chart, so if it’s written down you won’t need to scratch your head trying to figure it what’s happened!

3. Take your temperature at roughly the same time every day, as soon as you wake up.  The idea is that when you start moving, you generate heat.  It’s then impossible to know what your baseline body temperature is.  So before you get up to shower or go to the loo or grab a drink of water, quickly pop the thermometer in your mouth, get your reading, write it down and then start your day.  Something to note – digital thermometers will beep at you.  If this is going to disturb your partner, then you might be better off with a mercury one.  And remember that you’ll need a bit of light to read the thermometer and your chart, so you may need a bedside lamp.  Finally, read the instructions for your thermometer – it should show you where the “heat pocket” is for oral temperatures – under the tongue, all the way up the back next to your back molars.  If you don’t have it all the way in the heat pocket then you might get inconsistent readings.

4. Remember to do this every day.  Before you slap the alarm clock and leap out of bed, remember your temps!  You might find an innovative way to do this, like setting your bedside lamp with a timer switch or putting a note on your alarm clock.  I love memory tricks that the ancient Greeks used to help them remember hours and hours of speeches.  Try this one:  Close your eyes… relax… visualise yourself sleeping in your bed… you hear the alarm and you open your eyes to look at it… you see your thermometer and chart dancing the tango on top of it!!!  Do this little visualisation every night just before you go to sleep.  Why the tango?!?  Well, you can choose a different dance if you like – but if you incorporate movement and novelty into your visualisation then it’s more likely to work.

5. Don’t worry about it when you’re travelling.  Or if the in-laws come to stay, or you’ve got a big project on at work and are doing late nights…  By all means, keep charting.  But big changes to your routine can really impact both your ability to take consistent readings and also the readings themselves.  If you do keep charting please note these factors and take the readings with a grain of salt.  International travel especially makes charting very difficult, with time zone changes and so on.  Just do your best.  Charting is something you do for you, and no-one else.  So do what works for you.

I’m sharing these little tips because it’s amazing how something like an annoying beep, not enough light and so on, can really disturb the process and lead to frustrations with charting.  The idea is to make it as hassle-free as possible.  As you’ll see below, charting is a big step to take and some women will resist it for various reasons.  By removing small obstacles and annoyances, you’re increasing your chances of charting success.

Why to chart
If you’re also seeing a Western medicine practitioner (eg gynaecologist, fertility doctor) then they may have already asked you to chart.  Among other things, you can see when you are likely to have ovulated and it can then help for scheduling tests etc.

In Chinese medicine, we use the chart like we do body symptoms, feelings on the pulse and period signs – it is another layer of information that we can weave into our diagnosis.  Chinese medicine diagnosis is an organic, dynamic process.  You are always changing so the “patterns” of energy in your body are changing too.  As Chinese medicine practitioners, it is our job to read and understand those patterns, so that we can help the body to flow well and remove impediments so it can perform all of those amazingly complicated processes that are driven by the body’s own intricate, sublime intelligence.

When you bring in your chart, we can read things from it like the status of your Yin and Yang, how stressed you are, whether there is stickiness or weakness, heat or cold, and we can decide when and how to address these factors.  The chart is something that you can be taught how to interpret and it brings you inside the process of your treatment.  It can be a very empowering experience and can really give you a sense of control, like you are riding the horse with the reins in your own hands again.

What I love most of all is that women can see how the treatment is helping them by watching their charts improve over time.  Fertility treatment can be a long, hard road.  Because each cycle takes a month, it’s a long time to wait to see if “maybe this is the one”.  If you don’t have a connection with the fluidity and responsiveness of your body by seeing the movements on your chart, then it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing “success” in ultimate, black-and-white terms.  That is, whether or not this month is the one for a positive reading.

So by following your progress on your chart, you can see that your body is in fact becoming healthier.  As your chart starts to resemble those “textbook” pictures, you can really gain a lot of comfort that you’re doing yourself a great favour by putting in the work now to heal, repair, restore and nourish your body systems.  Your body will become a better environment for a growing baby, and it will also be in better shape as you move through the stages of your life.  In Chinese medicine, fertility work is deep work.  We aim for deep restoration and correction, and this pays off for you in the long run.

Why women don’t chart
You might be reading this because you just cannot get started.  For some reason, every little thing gets in the way of you charting.  Or you started and did it diligently for a while, then haphazardly, then lost interest as you couldn’t see the point any longer.  Maybe you are worried that it will show up something terrible, and you may then need to submit to a battery of tests and investigations, and so it feels better not to know.  For other women, charting can feel too intrusive, too clinical, too mechanical, not at all romantic.  You might feel like you have just started out on your fertility journey and are in the “let’s see what happens” stage.  Or maybe you’ve been charting for too long and you just want a break.

That’s fine.

If you are looking to Chinese medicine for fertility support, a chart can be great.  It can help your practitioner to fine-tune your treatment, and it can help you to feel empowered and motivated.

But the beauty of Chinese medicine is that we rely on naturalistic observation – what we can see, hear, touch.  Modern sources of information like XRays and temperature readings are great as they provide more layers of information, but if we don’t have them then we can still give you excellent treatments.

This is all about you.  What works for you, is comfortable for you, and gives you what you need.  Your treatment plan is all about you, what you’re looking for and what fits in with your lifestyle, budget and availability.  You can go as intensively or as lightly as you wish, and vary this as often as you need.

If you’d like more information about charting or are interested in how Chinese medicine fertility treatment can help you, then please don’t hesitate to


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