Inspiration for Summer

In Chinese medicine our energy changes with the seasons. The ‘Fire’ energy of summer is associated with joy and our extrovert qualities are at their peak. Here’s how to let your Fire energy thrive while looking after yourself:

  1. Be Active: This is our most energetic time so get outside, play with the kids, swim in the sea. Just don’t overdo it in the heat.
  2. Eat raw foods: In China foods are seen as warming or cooling. in hot weather, cooling raw foods like salad, juices and fruit will keep you balanced
  3. Spend time with people: Express your Fire energy by connecting with others.  Friends and laughter are important. Say yes to that BBQ. Talk to a stranger. enjoy time with your partner
  4. Spend time near water: Fire can rage out of control sometimes, we get overexcited and overheated. Water can cool and calm our minds and bodies.
  5. Get enough sleep: it’s natural to sleep less in summer but rest is still important. Make sure you recharge that energy you’re using.

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Acupuncture outperforms migraine drug

A recent study has found that acupuncture performs better than valproic acid in the prevention of migraine pain. Valproic acid is often prescribed as a migraine preventative.

The study, by the Department of Neuroscience at The University of Padova, Italy, showed that patients given acupuncture experienced lower pain intensity and needed to use less painkillers (Rizatriptan) at six-months follow-up compared to those that were given the drug. They also experienced no side effects.

The study can be seen here:

If you suffer from migraines or headaches and would like to know more about how acupuncture could help you, please get in touch for a chat

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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How does acupuncture help fertility?

It is not commonly known that acupuncture is an effective treatment for increasing fertility and regulating menstruation.

Women often ask me about how acupuncture could help them to get pregnant. So here is a brief overview of how acupuncture benefits fertility in women.


  • Regulates fertility hormones, which means:
    • more regular menstrual cycles
    • more regular ovulation
    • better follicular development
    • better uterine lining
  • Increases blood flow to the ovaries and to the uterus, which:
    • improves the quality of eggs
    • improves the thickness of the endometrial lining
    • increases the chances of embryo implantation.
  • Counteracts the effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. By reducing sympathetic nerve activity and balancing hormone levels, acupuncture has been shown to reduce the number of ovarian cysts, stimulate ovulation, enhance blastocyst implantation and regulate the menstrual cycle in women with PCOS.
  • Acupuncture also works on an emotional/spirit level, so can help reduce the stress and anxiety that can come with trying to get pregnant, which in turn will lead to increased chances of successful pregnancies.

Acupuncture is also a useful adjunct to IVF treatment and is recommended by many private IVF clinics as it improves success rates.

I also give dietary advice as this can often be a factor in fertility. We can suggest foods which build blood or reduce blocks such as Cold or Damp, based on our diagnosis of the individual.

And finally don’t forget male health is a vital role in fertility – so it’s important that both partners are in good health. Acupuncture can help increase sperm health too.

This is a great simple video that explains how acupuncture can help

Do get in touch with me if you would like to know more.


Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Acupuncture for hay fever – Enjoy your summer!

So summer is truly here, but while many people are enjoying themselves in the outdoors, for 20% of our population it not such an enjoyable season. For those that suffer with hay fever this can be a miserable time of year.

But sufferers should know that this need not be the case. Acupuncture can both relieve the symptoms of hayfever and prevent your immune system over reacting to the pollen in the first place. It can be used successfully during the hay fever season but is effective as a preventative treatment pre-hay fever season. Aisling (34) describes her experience of acupuncture:

“I’ve suffered from chronic hayfever since I was 11 years old with some years being so bad that I’m pretty much house bound for days at a time. I’ve tried EVERYTHING…from local honey to steroids with varying degrees of success (and side effects!). I tried acupuncture as a last resort two years ago and it’s genuinely the only thing that has worked. I don’t have to remember to take antihistamines every day, there are no side effects and it’s the most effective treatment that I’ve come across yet.”

Acupuncture focuses on treating “the Root and the Branch.” This means that treatment will address the immediate symptoms, the itchy eyes, the stuffy nose etc, but most importantly treatment will be focussed on treating the cause of your hay fever. The diagnosis will focus on how your body responds to triggers, and why your immune system has such an extreme response to something as seemingly harmless as pollen.

Some improvements in the hay fever may be seen in the first season of acupuncture treatment, but major improvements will be seen in the second season of treatment. It is often advised to seek treatment before the hay fever season starts, in early Spring, to support the immune system for the coming season

Acupuncture treatment focuses on treating fundamental imbalances within a person, so regulation of the immune system will be a natural part of most treatment. Because of this, people who come for acupuncture for other reasons can often report an improvement in their hay fever symptoms. Tom (34) found that this was the case:

“After 5 summer of suffering from Hay fever quite badly I had been having acupuncture throughout winter and spring for other reasons but got to the time of year it would usually start and no symptoms at all – for the last 4/5yrs now!”

For more information and details of scientific research into the use of acupuncture for Hay fever visit the British Acupuncture Council on

For further information on how acupuncture can help you, please contact me


Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol


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Acupuncture for Diabetes

Acupuncture is a relatively uncommon treatment approach for diabetic patients here in the UK, however in modern China it is very much part of the mainstream. Acupuncture puts the emphasis on treating diabetes with the integrated care of body, the removal of symptoms and prevention of complications. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises that acupuncture can help resolve both specific symptoms and conditions.

From a biomedical viewpoint, acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, influencing the production of the body’s communication substances – hormones and neurotransmitters. These biochemical changes activate the body’s self-regulating systems, encouraging the homeostasis, and thus stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities.

Acupuncture promotes emotional and physical well-being helping people manage better with stress. Stress is a significant risk factor for diabetes sufferers as stress hormones cause blood glucose to rise and promote insulin resistance.

There have been a number of clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of acupuncture in treating diabetes and reducing the risk of developing complications.

These indicate that acupuncture helps diabetes sufferers by:

  • regulating insulin production (Lin et al, 2004)
  • regulating blood sugar levels (Lin 2004; Chang 2006; Cabioğlu 2006; Jiang 2006)
  • improving the blood lipid profile (Cabioğlu 2005; Jiang 2006)
  • improving blood circulation (Tsuchiya 2007), thus helping to slow the onset and progression of diabetic circulatory complications

Acupuncture can be safely and effectively combined with Western medicine and most people who come to acupuncture for the treatment of diabetes do so as part of an integrated treatment plan combined with Western medication.

If you have diabetes and you would like to know more about how acupuncture can help you, please call me for a chat.


CabioğluMT, Ergene N. Changes in levels of serum insulin, C-Peptide and glucose after electroacupuncture and diet therapy in obese women. Am J Chin Med. 2006; 34(3):367-76.

Lin JG et al. Multiple sources of endogenous opioid peptide involved in the hypoglycemic response to 15 Hz electroacupuncture at the Zhongwan acupoint in rats. Neurosci Lett. 2004 Aug 5;366(1):39-42.

Chang SL et al. Enhanced insulin sensitivity using electroacupuncture on bilateral Zusanli acupoints (ST 36) in rats. Life Sci. 2006 Aug 1;79(10):967-71.

CabioğluMT, Ergene N. Electroacupuncture therapy for weight loss reduces serum total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol levels in obese women. Am J Chin Med. 2005; 33(4):525-33.

Jiang H et al. Clinical study on the wrist-ankle acupuncture treatment for 30 cases of diabetic peripheral neuritis. J Tradit Chin Med. 2006 Mar;26(1):8-12.

More information can be found in the British Acupuncture Councils FactSheet:


Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Not feeling yourself this Spring? Some top tips to get you back on track


Its April 5 and yesterday was just 5oC. I saw some snowflakes whisked around by the bitter wind. What has happened to the Spring? As well as being annoying, it actually seems to be playing havoc with our seasonal body clocks. I’m noticing that many of my clients have been struggling emotionally and physically with this cold spring

Spring is a usually a time for change. In nature seeds sprout, buds open, and the sun warms the earth. There is a sense of renewal and new life all around. In Chinese medicine, Spring is associated with ‘Wood’ energy, the energy of the Liver. After the hibernation of winter Wood energy brings an energetic time of growth and movement, a time for creativity and ideas, new plans.

But this spring is different. Although the days are getting longer, the weather is remaining resolutely chilly and the Met Office is telling us it is likely to remain cold way into April. Nature is struggling:  Flowers, trees and insects are staying dormant meaning animals and birds are struggling to find food.

And we are also struggling. Our Wood energy, which needs to be moving and growing and striving forwards, is being constrained. This can lead to feelings of frustration or depression, a feeling of being trapped. Physically we can experience headaches and neck tension, inflexibility in our joints

There are ways we can help regulate our constrained Wood energy. If you are feeling a little pent up, try these spring Chinese medicine recommendations, to keep your wood balanced and your liver healthy.

Exercise and Stretch – Get outside and move!  This will allow all that constrained energy to move properly through your body, helping you feel better physically and emotionally.

Eat Leafy Greens – such as kale, sprouting broccoli and lettuce to improve the liver’s functions and therefore allow your energy to move more freely.  Avoid overeating and avoid rich and greasy foods that can cause your liver to become sluggish, which can lead to stagnant Wood energy

Give your liver a break – Reducing alcohol, excess sugars and refined foods will help you and your liver feel better.

Be open to change – The weather in Spring can be unpredictable. Healthy Wood energy is flexible to change like a tree that bends in the wind.  Resisting change constrains the flow of natural wood energy and increases frustration and tension.

Start something new – When the world around you is growing, it’s a sign you should be too. This is a great time for birthing a new project, deepening your knowledge of something or diving into something totally different.  You will be able to experience the world with fresh eyes and fuel your passions, which may have been lying dormant for the winter.

Give yourself acupressure – The appropriately named acupuncture point Great Surge on the Liver channel is a great point to smooth that turbulent Wood energy. Great Surge can be found about an inch back from where your first and second toes join, in a soft area on the top of your foot. It will probably feel tender when you press it. Use your thumbs to press and massage this point firmly for a couple of minutes on each side

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Free taster sessions for Acupuncture Awareness Week!

Free taster sessions for Acupuncture Awareness Week!

To celebrate Acupuncture Awareness Week, on 1 March I shall be holding a free drop-in clinic for you to come and find out more about acupuncture

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Happy Chinese new year!

Post image for 2013: The Year Of The Water Snake

This is the year of the Water Snake. Whereas last year was the year of the dragon, this year will be quieter and calmer. The snake is said to be the yin to the dragon’s yang. Snakes are wise, logical, intuitive, introspective, collected and steadfast.

Snakes can be rattled easily by sudden stresses. It is best to avoid becoming rushed and overwhelmed in the Year of the Snake. Peace, tranquillity, moderate exercise and rest will provide strength this year. The Snake seeks protection and needs to feel safe and secure to function most efficiently.  Be sure to make your important decisions from a comfortable and unthreatened space, when the snake lashes out it is at its most vulnerable.

Water plays a prevalent role in 2013, and this element is one that shapes us. It provides calm and serenity, and like a river it nurtures us and forges new paths of discovery. Water’s influence on the snake makes this year a good time to take on new things, educate yourself and open up new doorways. Preparation and careful planning is very important. It is a good year to pay attention to fine details.

2013 will be a year to take chances, make new discoveries and truly flourish. Embrace the boldness of the water snake and live this year to its fullest!


Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Tips for winter health – Chinese style

Winter is hard on us. The long nights tend to make us feel low and we are battered by colds and viruses. It is possible to stay healthy during the winter but we need to look after ourselves.

Chinese medicine is based on observation of the natural world and the idea that your body mirrors many of nature’s patterns. Therefore to stay healthy in winter we have to stay true to nature. Here are a few tips for staying healthy in winter Chinese Medicine style:

  1. Hibernate! Winter is when nature sleeps. Humans may have stopped hibernating like their ancestral cousins long ago, but our bodies still experience the natural inclination to slow down in winter. Don’t fight it. make sure you get to bed early and sleep until the sun comes up
  2. Keep warm. This may seem obvious but your body uses precious energy trying to stay warm. Conserve that energy by wearing enough clothes and paying special attention to your core: In Chinese medicine, the abdomen and lower back are considered the storehouse of the body’s energy. Keeping your core warm and protected supports your immune system. If you struggle to keep warm try placing a hot water bottle below your belly button or on the small of your back.
  3. Eat winter foods: Winter is not a time for salads! Raw foods and cold drinks can be taxing on the digestive system at this time of year. Take inspiration from what is available naturally at this time such as beans, lentils, root vegetables, squashes, nuts, and seeds. Foods such as kale, broccoli, onions, oats and quinoa can warm you up, along with warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon. Eat lots of hearty soups and stews and drink lots of warm drinks.
  4. Be (moderately) active. It’s that time of year when everyone is starting a strict exercise regime but this isn’t the time of year for overdoing it, our bodies need to conserve some energy. Physical movement is essential to circulate energy and is important for body and mind to be active. However at this time of year gentler exercise such as walking, yoga or tai qi are ideal
  5. Get some sunshine! Ok there may not be much about, but when it’s there get out in it. Studies show sunshine can help your mood and enhance your sleep, as well as enhancing your immune system. Vitamin D is synthesized in your body through sunlight on your skin, and is vital for our health, so any bit of sunshine helps. Even if you can’t absorb it into your skin you can absorb it into your soul.
  6. Be positive: It may seem like winter is endless but the days are already getting longer. It was still light at nearly 5 today! So plan some exciting things to look forward to

Ginger Tea

This recipe is good if you are cold and tired. It also helps the digestion

  • Put a few of slices of fresh ginger and a stick of cinnamon in a small pan of water
  • Boil for 2/3 minutes
  • Keep the lid on the pot to prevent vapour from escaping.
  • Add a little honey and lemon.

Eleanor Breen 17/01/13
Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Happy New Year! Want better health in 2013?

It is the beginning of a new year and, once again, a time to reflect on what changes we can make to improve our lives. If you want to improve your health this year, acupuncture can help you make the changes you need.

Here I will look at how acupuncture can help you with two common resolutions: losing weight and reducing stress

Resolution 1: Lose weight

Losing weight is the most common New Year’s Resolution. Although acupuncture cannot lose the weight for you, it is a powerful tool to support healthy weight loss by:

§         Promoting better digestion,

§         Improving metabolism,

§         Relieving emotional stress and helping address the emotional background to our overeating

§         Relieving pain to increase mobility and enable regular exercise

Acupuncture has been shown to have an effect on the function of the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, food cravings, and metabolism. All of which can help to energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite, and reduce anxiety.

Acupuncture is also a natural and effective means of controlling and eliminating pain. If you are immobile or find exercise difficult due to pain, acupuncture has no side effects and can be helpful for all types of pain, regardless of what is causing the pain or where the pain is located. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain before and after acupuncture treatment for pain shows dramatic decreases in activity in the pain centres of the brain of up to 70%.

Resolution 2: Eliminate Stress

Stress reduction is often high on people’s New Year’s resolutions and for a good reason. One in five Britons suffers from stress during the festive season, and the return to work in January provides little rest bite as we realise we have not recharged as well as we hoped.

Stress and anxiety are often the cause of illness and deterioration of health and pressures at this time of year can have a very real impact on our well-being. The most common symptoms of stress are:

§         Anger and frustration

§         Anxiety and panic attacks

§         Insomnia

§         Low immune system and repeated illnesses

§         Tiredness and fatigue

§         Neck and back pain, and headaches

§         Digestive problems

Acupuncture can calm you down and enable you to cope better with situations, reducing stress and anxiety and elevating your mood. It can help you get more, better quality sleep and return good energy levels to your body, boosting your immune system.

The calming nature of acupuncture also helps decrease heart rate, lower blood pressure and improve the circulation of blood throughout the body. This all helps relax muscles, reducing tension and headaches, and improving your digestion

If you would like to feel calmer and healthier this year, contact me to find out more


Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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