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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Dec 12 2019 10:44AM

Massage therapist Melanie Howlett shares some information on why and how she uses hot stones to enhance her massage treatments. Sounds like bliss...

Have you ever felt the benefits of having a hot stone massage?

Many people have seen posters on therapy shop windows or in Well- being magazines with a person laying with a line of hot stones along their spine.

There is more however to having a hot stone massage than meets the eye. The stones can be used with different techniques to relieve trigger points and painful areas of muscle tissue to relieve chronic and longstanding soft tissue pain with some deep soft tissue work with the added benefit of heat.

The stones are a deeply soothing and relieving treatment.

As the temperatures get colder it is really beneficial for us to bring some heat into our body to ward off those damp and cold days.

The stones are especially beneficially for sufferers of rheumatoid Arthritis and those with stiff muscles and joints, helping to improve flexibility and keep us moving.

The hot stones also offer the added benefit of some emotional healing and deeper cleansing as the stones absorb energetic emotional energy from the soft tissues which aids in the healing of the participant.

As well as being detoxifying and cleansing they are also a great stress reliever, the stones are deeply relaxing and you will come away feeling renewed and deeply relaxed.

I love to integrate the stones into my treatments to give a little extra something special for people to enjoy during their treatment. During those colder months especially when clients are coming in from the cold and the nights are drawing closer and we are seeing less sunlight it is a really lovely treat for a body to receive.

So if you haven’t yet treated yourself or a loved one to the gift of a hot stone massage therapy treatment, why not consider it this winter to help you get through those cold and darker days as we wait for the first signs of spring to emerge.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Nov 11 2019 08:04AM

Our new reflexologist (and yoga teacher, reiki and tibetan sound bowl practitioner) Laura Devonshire introduces this fabulous treatment and shares the benefits that can be gained from treatment.

Reflexology is a natural, holistic and non-invasive therapy that helps the body engage its own self-healing processes on a physical, emotional and energetic level.

It works on the premise that our feet and hands are a microcosm of the body with all organs, glands and structures mapping to corresponding reflex points through a system of zones and energy channels, addressing all the main systems of the body.

It is estimated that 75% of illnesses are caused by stress. Reflexology works to rebalance the body and mind, encouraging a state of relaxation to ease stress and anxiety, releasing toxicity held in the internal organs and muscles.

On a physical level Reflexology alleviates joint and muscular pain. It improves circulation, increases lymphatic drainage helping with detoxification. It brings balance into the physiological systems and structures, stimulating hypo-active and sluggish areas and calming hyperactive, over-productive parts.

On an emotional and energetic level Reflexology eases tension, allows for clearer thinking, improved concentration, relief of fear and frustration and encourages a greater sense of wellbeing and wholeness.

Reflexology provides great fertility support with preconception helping to bring the body and hormones into a state of equilibrium, encouraging and regulating menstrual cycles, boosting blood circulation to the reproductive areas and reducing stress levels helping to prepare both physically and emotionally.

Pregnancy Reflexology supports mum –to-be through the many significant changes her body is constantly responding and adapting as baby grows. Pregnancy Reflexology alleviates the physical aches and pains, sooth digestive discomforts, aids energy levels and provides much needed relaxation.

The following is an extensive but not complete, list of conditions and symptoms Reflexology can help with: * acne *anxiety *arthritis *asthma *back pain *digestive problems fibromyalgia *gynecological problems *headaches and migraines *hormonal disturbances *insomnia *kidney/urinary problems *low energy *muscular and joint pain *PMS *prostate problems *sciatica *skin conditions.

There may be times when it is not appropriate to use Reflexology; if you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact Laura.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 16 2019 10:30AM

Acupuncturist Philippa Summers shares what you can learn from looking at a tongue and why she might ask you to 'stick out your tongue' when you go to see her!

Tongue Diagnosis provides a clear contribution to overall diagnosis in Chinese Medicine.

Here’s a look at how it fits in with other information, what you can tell from a tongue and

how it relates to treatment.

Gathering Information

Your first session with a Traditional Acupuncturist, like myself, is usually quite lengthy. I

allow 90 minutes for most initial appointments* with about half that time set aside for

gathering information and half for the treatment itself. Alongside understanding the

problem with which you are seeking help, whether it is headaches, low mood, anxiety,

period pain, fertility, tiredness, eczema or something else, it is important to get a picture of

the background against which it has arisen and a more rounded picture of your health and

wellbeing. Digestion, sleep, your monthly cycle for women, reactions to heat and cold and

feelings, among other things, all contribute to a holistic diagnosis. Also important is the

context - your life and lifestyle, what is working well and supporting you and what is not.

Two additional contributions to the overall diagnosis and hence direction of treatment are

pulse and tongue diagnosis. Pulse diagnosis is subjective and is easily affected by what is

going on at that moment or that day. Tongue diagnosis gives a more objective clear picture

and provides a very reliable contribution to your diagnosis and subsequent treatment

strategy. I will almost always ask you to stick out your tongue, although I know that might

seem a little odd!

What do I look for on the tongue?

The tongue gives a glimpse of your insides and although it is a part of the digestive system it

gives clues that relate to the whole body. It can of course be affected by diseases of the

tongue itself and also affected by medication but here I am focussing on situations where

they are not influences. A healthy tongue is pink with a very thin white coating.

Fig 1 A generally healthy looking tongue. Even this healthy tongue gives some clues – there is slight

swelling indicated by the dip in the centre and toothmarks at the edges.

When I look at your tongue I am observing several aspects which include:

• The Tongue Body (the tongue itself beneath the coating) - the colour, shape, texture

and movements.

• The Tongue Coating - the colour, thickness and consistency.

• Points and Spots - their colour and size (distinct from the normal taste buds)

• Cracks and fissures

• Areas of the tongue and their correlation with parts of the body – see Fig 2.

How do these relate to physiology?

Some aspects of the tongue give clear indications on their own, but generally it is the

combined information that provides insight and gives meaning.

So, for example, the tongue body colour (ranging from pale to deep red) gives information

about relative heat and cold in the body, also about the state of the blood and whether it is

well nourished. Spots on the tongue (red or white) and the colour of the coating (white, to

various shades of yellow and even black) give further clarity to influences of heat and cold. A

very slight purplish tinge to the tongue, whether on a pale or red tongue generally indicates

some stagnation.

The relative moisture of the tongue gives the most direct indication of internal body fluids

which is further refined by the relative shape of the tongue and the consistency of the

coating. A very wet, swollen tongue, with a thick greasy coating is a usually a sign that body

fluids have accumulated which hampers function by congesting and blocking. A thin, dry

tongue with no coating may indicate a deficit in fluids which hampers function through lack

of lubrication and nourishment.

Cracks and fissures are more complex and can mean different things depending on their

location, appearance and other aspects of the tongue, but are often associated with a

depletion of body fluids and also with heat.

Different areas of the tongue also relate to different parts of the body. If we divide the

tongue roughly into thirds, the front portion relates to the chest area, the middle third to

the digestive organs above the navel, and the rear third to the area below the navel.

Fig 2 Areas of the tongue as they relate to organs. Note: These are the organs as they are understood in Chinese Medicine and don’t relate exactly to the physical organs although there is considerable overlap.
Fig 2 Areas of the tongue as they relate to organs. Note: These are the organs as they are understood in Chinese Medicine and don’t relate exactly to the physical organs although there is considerable overlap.

It is worth noting that the Spleen in Chinese Medicine includes pancreatic function, so is

very closely connected with digestion. The reproductive organs, especially in women, are

influenced by findings in all areas of the tongue despite their location below the navel.

Putting it all together.

Traditional Acupuncturists seek out the patterns that weave signs and symptoms together

and treatment is focused on bringing harmony, so that everything works together more

supportively. In doing so we aim to improve your health overall, including of course the

main issue that you are seeking help with. An important part of treatment is also working

out what factors are influencing and contributing to the imbalances, so that they too can be


Almost without exception the picture painted by gathering together all the signs and

symptoms will not be textbook patterns, but an individualised interaction of the patterns,

sometimes with some contradictions and some patterns masking others. Everyone is

different and at times the picture can be very confusing. The tongue can give real clarity

and help to prioritize treatment and the most important factors to focus on. Over time the

effects of treatment are reflected in the tongue.

It really is an invaluable tool and it is amazing how different each tongue is. So, when I ask

you to stick out your tongue, please don’t be shy!

*The exception would be when treating a simple muscle of joint problem, like an ankle

sprain, where going into your background health and looking at things from a more holistic

perspective is not as important. An hour is then usually long enough for the first session, but I

may still ask to see your tongue as it can still be helpful.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 13 2017 08:00AM

Acupuncturist Philippa Summers looks at periods in the context of wider health and shares the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to helping support your menstrual cycle, including how acupuncture can help.

Cramps, heavy bleeding, sore breasts, back pain, poor sleep and mood swings - periods can be a time of dread and misery for many women. Do you pop a pill and struggle on? Does it interfere with what you are able to do? Do you collapse on the sofa with a hot water bottle and work your way through a month’s supply of chocolate? You don’t have to just get through it, you can change the nature of your periods. I have many clients who have had dramatic long lasting improvements in their cycles. Read on to find out how acupuncture can help.

Our menstrual cycles often display patterns that reflect our wider health and from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective they provide a very useful insight. Rectifying underlying patterns can help to adjust your period as well as helping with other symptoms that may seem unrelated. Even women whose periods are not disruptive, may gain insights into their wider health by looking at their cycles – for example short, light scanty periods may be a sign that you could benefit from more nourishment and may coincide with other symptoms like tiredness, poor concentration and dull headaches.

It is easy to believe that what we experience each month is normal because it becomes what we are used to, even when it verges on the extreme, especially if it has crept up over time. One client in her forties, had been having severe cramps since she was a teenager. They were so bad that she was on several occasions given morphine to deal with the pain. She had a course of acupuncture spread over 3 months and now comes once every 6 weeks or so. Most of her periods are now completely pain free, for the odd one she has mild pain that is easily managed. Unusual periods can also in themselves lead onto other issues, for example heavy blood loss every month can over time lead to anaemia. So don’t just put up with things.

To understand what is influencing the period we take a close look at just about every aspect of the whole cycle and especially the period – length of cycle, length of bleed, blood flow, consistency of the blood and whether or not there are clots, the size of the clots, any pain, the nature and location of the pain and when in the cycle you feel it, likewise with moods throughout the whole cycle. These details are put together with other aspects of your health – your digestion, sleep, energy levels and any other symptoms, for example headaches. Taking your pulse and looking at your tongue also give vital clues.

These finding are then put together to identify patterns of disharmony that in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) relate to Qi, blood and the balance of yin and yang. In biomedical terms these loosely correlate with hormonal levels, adrenal function and a host of other factors that influence our physiology. It can help to pin point issues that may need to be further investigated and diagnosed by your GP. Any bleeding outside your normal period should always be checked promptly with your GP and I would encourage women with any unusual symptoms to consult their GP if they have not already done so. Treatment is focused on you as a whole so it is not just your period symptoms that benefit. A look at lifestyle helps to identify small steps you can take to support treatment – often dietary and exercise adjustments – based on your TCM diagnosis and what you feel is manageable.

Acupuncture is gentle and relaxing – the needles, as fine as a hair, are gently inserted and you just lay back and relax for 20 minutes or so while they work their magic. Well, actually, far from being magic the mechanisms by which acupuncture works are increasingly well understood. Acupuncture stimulates the fascia which triggers a cascade of hormonal and neurological effects that reduce inflammation, affect blood flow and influence the body’s homeostatic self regulating ability to heal itself.

Your period is a wonderful embodiment of your fertility, don’t put up with discomfort or distressing symptoms. Help them feel like a blessing and not a curse.

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