Welcoming our second guest of our MOTHER MINDFULNESS series.
Meet Dr. Jaime O’Sullivan. A Doctor of Oriental Medicine and a genius on all things fertility, vitality and anti-ageing.
I have personally been seeing Jaime for a few years and I can honestly tell you - do not underestimate the power of needles (acupuncture) and a daily cup of chinese herbs in helping calm your nervous system and helping you get your hormones back on track!
Read on to find out the magical benefits of Oriental Medicine and why I love facial acupuncture AKA ‘natures botox’ in helping soften my facial lines.
How does Oriental medicine differ from conventional medicine? Why were you so drawn to Oriental medicine?
The theories of Oriental medicine are both simple and complex. There are many layers to diagnosis and treatment that resemble a systems biology approach. It isn’t just a case of A+B=C. Oriental medicine considers what influences A, and why B is overbearing, which then results in the outcome of D. Therefore, four people with migraine, for example, may all be treated using different acupuncture points, herbal medicine and receive a different diagnosis despite all suffering from migraine.
I really appreciate that Oriental medicine values the impact the outside world has on us, the way our emotions influence our physical symptoms, and the various ways in which we can mitigate it. The body never lies, it is my job as a practitioner to be both an investigator and interpreter to listen to what is really going on.
How does Acupuncture work to reduce our stress levels and as a result release endorphins?
Acupuncture works to regulate the signalling through the body along the central nervous system pathways and in turn, help to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. For people that are immensely stressed or anxious it has a calming effect, and for those that are fatigued or depleted it has an uplifting effect.
Acupuncture releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters that make us feel good, which is why it is an effective treatment for chronic pain. A range of biochemicals are released from acupuncture including opioids, serotonin, endorphins, norepinephrine and anti-inflammatory cells, which combine to give you that “walking on air” feeling you get after a treatment.
To really benefit from Acupuncture, how many times a week should we have it? And do you normally need to do it for a period of time before you notice results?
The frequency of treatment depends on what we are treating. If you have a pain condition, you will need to come in more often in the beginning, and then the sessions are tapered off. If you are trying to manage stress, then fortnightly or monthly sessions will keep you going. We are always trying to support your body to maintain momentum and keep things moving. If you are really empty, or really stuck, you will need more encouragement in the beginning to help you body break the patterns it is defaulting to. Once you hit that sweet spot things keep humming along.
What conditions do you find Acupuncture most beneficial for? What else can it help with besides calming the nervous system?
After practicing for more than 20 years, I have understood that even physical things have a relationship to our level of happiness. When we start to ease levels of frustration or feeling stuck then things like eczema, migraine, chronic cough ease off too. I have seen great results using acupuncture to treat digestive complaints, skin conditions, menstrual issues, anxiety, migraines and stress related issues. The treatments are safe to use whilst on medication or undergoing other medical therapy and are a great complement to your care plan.
Besides Acupuncture, do you have any other tools for helping to calm the nervous system?
It might sound cliché but breathing correctly is really important. When we are under stress, in pain, too busy, tired and overwhelmed, our breathing moves high up in our lungs and becomes shallow. By taking the time to lie down, stretch and breathe into our belly, a lot of the tension can dissolve.
The benefits of being in nature are essential to maintaining our equilibrium, whether it is grabbing 5 minutes on the grass at a local park, walking on the beach, feeling the sun on your skin, or forest bathing, there is an exchange of electrons in this process that helps to calm our nervous system.
I am a huge fan of optimising your body, mind and mood, so I use some specific nutraceuticals that help support various functions to achieve this. The key is to adapt and re-evaluate, as what was right for you two months ago might not be what you need right now.
Why is Facial Acupuncture considered "nature's botox"? And why do you think the skin benefits more from a therapeutic facial over the more cosmetic facials that are on offer today?
My approach is to support your body first, rather than completely take over. As we age, we often lose vitality in our face. There is a lot that can be done to stimulate the muscles in the mid face to create a lifting effect that will delay or prevent the use of fillers for some people. The use of acupuncture, cupping and guasha enlivens the face, plumps the skin, smoothes lines, lifts the muscles and leaves you looking and feeling well rested and healthy. These techniques will help to improve the underlying structure of the face and then you can be selective in what additional treatments might be needed like laser or peels. You may find that you don’t need as many units of botox, or might not need to use the same volume of fillers, and we can schedule your treatments around top-ups.
From an Oriental medicine perspective, what are your 3 favourite herbs or supplements to help with skin radiance?
Limiting myself to my TCM toolkit, I would have to say pearl powder, berries, and seaweed extract. Pearl powder can be used internally or externally and gives the skin a luminous quality, evens out skin tone and takes away redness. Dried berries are used in Chinese herbal medicine as beauty tonics that build blood and improve the texture of the skin, improving hydration and plumpness. Dried longan berries and goji berries have medicinal qualities are used for this purpose. Seaweed and marine extracts are used to hydrate, plump and improve texture and density of the skin. As seaweed is from the ocean it has a cooling nature that is perfect to give that instant refreshed look and feel.
What’s your daily ritual?
I like to wake when the sun comes up, which resets my circadian rhythm. I then have a cup of black tea with collagen powder (By Beth collagen powder), cordyceps and lion’s mane mushrooms. I choose my supplements to support my needs for the day, which might be adaptogens and B12 if I have a long clinic day. I make sure that I have time to move my body each day, simple stretching or some yoga, a walk through nature, or some pilates.
At night, I will do some guasha or cupping on my face before bed and light therapy a couple of times a week. I probably don’t get enough sleep consistently across the week so I make sure I do what I can to support that both internally and externally. Magnesium and electrolytes before bed and then I like to fall asleep to frequency music or binaural sounds to help clear my mind and reset after the day.