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Meet the Practitioner – Dr Jacqueline Heng (TCM), Eastential Chinese Medicine

WHAT IS TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE

TCM encompasses both acupuncture and herbal medicine. It treats the body holistically so we see patterns in signs and symptoms. We take into consideration the four seasons, diet and lifestyle so everything comes into play – as opposed to just treating the main complaint.

When you visit your TCM practitioner we tend to ask a whole lot of questions and the patient might think “what has that got to do with my back pain”.   But in order to fix the back pain sometimes you need to adjust your diet and lifestyle. You are not just treating the branches of the problem but the root causes of it as well.

I’m Chinese and I took herbs as a young child because I had a lot of hives and skin issues. My mother would take me to a practitioner in Malaysia and they would prescribe herbs for me to take. In most Chinese households you have certain herbs that would be put into soups to nourish us.

It stems from when you are a young child. It actually starts from the mother who goes through a postpartum confinement period where she stays at home and takes soups with herbs to nourish her and her baby. This confinement period, where the new mother is looked after and fed nourishing soups containing herbs, usually goes for about a month. So in that sense the baby has already started Chinese medicine.

FERTILITY AND CHILDBIRTH

I recommend this period of rest and nurturing to all my clients who come for fertility and postnatal TCM and acupuncture treatments. For clients who come in for fertility issues or pre-conception health and those undergoing IVF, once they get pregnant, we create a step by step treatment plan for them. At thirty six weeks they can come in for pre-birth acupuncture treatments to help with birthing. Research says that these treatments can help minimise the duration of childbirth.

After that we talk about postpartum, how to nourish and take care of yourself, because a lot of mothers forget to do that once the baby arrives. It’s all about the baby. But you have to nourish yourself in order to nourish the baby.

So we try to hone that skill for new mothers but it’s hard in this society because postpartum care is not very evident. A lot of mothers after 2 weeks they are off, on the go and are thinking of going to the gym and things like that. In TCM we try to discourage this. We recommend that for at least four weeks -  rest at home, eat nourishing food and build a nest for your baby. Don’t be in a hurry to get your body back into shape. That 4 week confinement period is about the bonding between a mother and a child and the mother needing more rest and sleep.

I think when you endure labour so much energy goes into childbirth and you need to nourish that back. Furthermore, if you are looking to have a second child, it makes it easier for the body to become pregnant again. You need to supplement yourself from the very beginning before it’s too late.

ACUPUNCTURE & CHINESE HERBS

In my treatments I recommend a combination of both acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Acupuncture alone has certain limitations. It does work – don’t get me wrong. But in order to just do acupuncture you have to come for a lot more treatments. For patients who are busy and can only commit to one treatment a week, the herbs compliment the treatment and help extend the benefits.

Unless you come for 2-3 treatments a week acupuncture alone is going to take longer to treat the problem. The treatment process is such that you start with more frequent treatments because you need to build the momentum. If you don’t start with this momentum the treatment will also take longer. With frequent visits there is a commitment from the patient to invest the time and attention to their body in order to get well.

The first six weeks, especially for muscular skeletal problems, you need to do one treatment per week for 6 consecutive weeks. After that, depending on how the body responds, you can taper it off to once every two weeks, then 3 weeks, then once a month. After that it becomes just management or maintenance only when you need it – when you feel your body is a bit out of balance.

FACIAL REJUVENATION ACUPUNCTURE

I think that things like microdermabrasion and chemical peels are quite harsh on the skin so we don’t do that here! Facials tend to just work on the skin itself, which is great, but oftentimes when you stop going you can see the flaws coming back. So basically they just treat the branch of the problem but if they don’t treat the lifestyle and dietary aspects to support skin health. Then no matter what you do, nothing is really going to change.

That’s why facial rejuvenation is different to other cosmetic facial treatments, because we treat the body as we treat the face. Sometimes I supplement these treatments with Chinese herbs but I always treat body points as well because I believe that what you store internally expresses itself on your skin.

So stress is one big thing. If you are always stressed and you don’t learn to manage it then you skin is going to bear the brunt of this. So what we are trying to do is to manage the stress, reduce the stress and help the body to cope with it and help the skin. We treat the root cause of why your skin is looking bad as opposed to just treating the skin on your face.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO START FACIAL REJUVENATION

People are very conscious of how their face looks. I think if you are 18 years old and you have a lot of problems with acne then it’s worth looking at natural health treatments that could be beneficial as opposed to using steroids, antibiotics or going on the pill solely because of your skin problem. So for teenagers I think it’s important to start there so you can get rid of acne properly as opposed to coming in later adulthood at 30 years old or so. It’s harder to get rid of acne then. For example, a lot of doctors will recommend women go on the pill to treat their skin but when they come off the pill they start seeing bad skin coming back and a lot of that is because they haven’t treated to root cause of the acne.

If the teenage years have passed, I recommend  you start doing regular facial rejuvenation acupuncture in your late 20′s just to boost your collagen and work on your fine lines. If you have a very stressful job, you’re not getting enough sleep and/or your diet is really bad then you will start seeing fine lines. I recommend people start treatments sooner rather than later. It is harder to get the best result when you are in your 40′s for example.

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture can have good results when you are in your 40′s but it will take more treatments to see a difference. Initially, for someone in their 40s, I would recommend 6 treatments once a week and then see how your skin responds. If you supplement with herbs on top of the treatments this might improve the outcome. Some people are highly responsive to treatments and they get the results they want quickly, others might take longer. It’s hard to say ‘when’ or ‘how’, we go step by step and if your fine lines are getting better then we can taper the treatments off.

Jacqueline is available for consultations at Four Seasons Wellness Centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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