General articles blogs and faqs from Maired Fahy of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Clinic, Gorey, Co. Wexford

Shonishin. Japanese Acupuncture for children


For most of us the idea of putting needles in children for any reason would be something we would rather not do.
So as Acupuncture is a treatment method which uses needles to treat illness or disharmony in the body, I am often asked if it can be used on children. The answer is yes it can, but for obvious reasons children automatically associate the needles with pain, which upsets them, and in turn upsets us the parents/adults.

But there is a way of treating children as young as a few weeks old, using Oriental Medical techniques. The technique is called “Shonishin”, and it is a Japanese treatment method especially for children. Shonishin uses methods of stroking, tapping and scraping with special non invasive tools along the acupuncture meridians,both back and front, from head to toe instead of using acupuncture needles. It literally means “no needles”.

The theory is that childrens energy or “Qi” is so vibrant and new, that the balancing required when treating adults and thus necessitating acupuncture needles is not required. Because of their “newness”, children respond to treatment much quicker than adults, and quite often only a few sessions is required. Add onto this a childs love of being touched and stroked, and overall it leads to a very enjoyable experience for the child. Absolutely no tears! (It is always advisable that a parent or guardian is present).

So what can Shonishin treat?

It is especially good for:

Asthma, Allergies (including Hayfever), Anxiety, Constipation, Crying, Colic, Cough, Behavioural problems, Sleep disturbance, Sinusitis, Skin problems such as Exzema or Psoriasis, and other signs of stress.

For more information, please give me a call. Mairead Fahy, 0539483155 or 0876452409.

Managing Menopause with Acupuncture and TCM

Menopause marks the stage in a womans life where her periods stop and she is no longer fertile or able to become pregnant. In Ireland and the UK, the average age for the Menopause is 52, but interestingly, in India, the average age can be 41 yrs old!

The Menopause is a normal part of life! It is a milestone, just like Puberty. It is NOT a disease or a condition, and every woman will experience this transition at some stage of her life. However, it is amazing how taboo the subject can be for so many women! I believe there is an element of denial for some women, maybe because it marks the loss of their youthful childbearing years and the transition to middle / old age.For some women who have never had children for whatever reason, it marks the definite reality that this can no longer happen, and I believe a lot of women experience subconcious loss and grief during this time and beyond.

But not only do we go through the Menopause and all the physical symptoms this entails (Ill get to them later), but for 2 to 3 years prior to the final period, there is a gradual winding down time called Perimenopause, where the Oestrogen levels begin to taper off before the ovaries finally go into decline, which is ACTUAL Menopause.Experts say that the Menopause is diagnosed when a woman has not had a period for a whole year. Prior to this, falling Oestrogen levels will bring on irregular periods, sometimes heavy bleeding, and some night sweats.

So what are the symptoms of Menopause?

. Irregular Periods leading to no Periods.

. Loss of Fertility

. Vaginal Dryness. This can sometimes be very uncomfortable, especially during sex and is due to falling Oestrogen levels.

. Night Sweats. These for some women can be very severe, and may necessitate a change of night clothes. They may happen up to 5 times a night.

. Hot Flushes (Tropical moments)! These happen at any time during the day and may start with a slight heat in the face or neck, and may spread up or down the body. Sometimes this is accompanied by a visible redness in the face and some perspiration.

. Insomnia. This may be due to the night sweats.

. Moodiness or irritability. This may again be due to lack of sleep, or as mentioned above, an underlying inability to accept their life stage.

. Anxiety. This happens to quite a number of women, and is likened to an unexplained feeling of dread, even though there may be no actual reason for it.

. Palpitations. This goes with the anxiety / stress.

. Painful or achy joints. This is due to falling Oestrogen levels.

. Bloating, weight gain or change in bowel habit. Again Oestrogen is the culprit.

So…all in all while it is a normal milestone, for some women it can be a very uncomfortable one. Most symptoms can go on for 2 to 3 years after the cessation of the menstrual cycle.

So How can TCM help?

The first thing to say is that interestingly… most Asian women experience very few of the above symptoms during their menopause!
This is because they prepare for this transition early by addressing their diet and taking herbal prescriptions.

From a TCM perspective, Menopause is a natural decline in Kidney Qi and Essence. The Kidney in TCM is an essential part of our growth and development throughout our lives, and has a huge impact on our Puberty, Menstrual cycles, Fertility and ultimately our Menopause.Stress throughout our lives can impact the strength of our Kidney Qi, as can the natural phases of Menstruation and childbirth, until when we reach Menopause the effects become very noticable.

In Menopause, the component of our Kidney Qi which is most affected is our Kidney YIN. Yin in TCM is the energy which relates to fluidity, moisture, coolness, tranquility, night time and peaceful sleep, as opposed to YANG which is the very opposite,relating to Heat, Dryness, Action and Day time.

So with the decline in Oestrogen which is the hormone which keeps the vagina moist,the body temperature regulated and keeps evertyhing fluid, this corresponds to a decline in Kidney Yin Qi (energy), and thus needs to be supplemented.

So how do we do this?

The first thing is Diet and Lifestyle.

Avoid anything which increases the Yang. This includes Coffee, Alcohol, Spicy food, and Stressful situations. Include instead, Camomile tea, Peppermint tea, LOTS of water, Fish, Fresh fruit and Vegetables. Most women in Menopause need 200 to 400 fewer calories due to a slower metabolic rate, and increase exercise. Try Yoga or Meditation to aid relaxation.

Sleep in a cool room and wear loose clothing.

Include a supplement of Magnesium, as research has shown that this mineral can be lacking in Menopausal women, and it can help minimise Hot flushes and improve sleep. Also include a supplement of Sage to help with flushes, Omega 3 to improve concentration and help Cardiovascular health, and Vit B Complex to help with stress.

And now for the best part! Acupuncture and Chinese herbs!

Acupuncture can STOP sweating, can improve sleep and restore the balance of Yin and Yang in the body. Chinese herbs to increase Yin and calm the mind can naturally restore the equilibrium of the body. Chinese Herbs have been used for centuries to help women through this transitional phase of their lives.The first recorded Chinese Herbs were from around 200 AD where a Dr Zhong Zhang developed a range of prescriptions which he kept locked in a golden cabinet. But somehow they got out and they or variations of them are still in use today.These include Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, You Gui Wan, Jin Qi Shen Qi Wan…and others!

So the Menopause doesnt have to be a stressful minefield of uncomfortable changes. There is help and Acupuncture and TCM can help you move through this phase peacefully and with minimal stress.

Why not give me a call to discuss what it can help you with.

Mairead Fahy RGN Dip Ac and TCM L Ac Nanjing (China). Phone 0539483155 or 0876452409.

Abdominal Acupuncture


 Ive got a new tool in my box! Its a new, very effective, very gentle but very powerful version of Acupuncture! Yes…Its still needles, but sooo gentle you hardly know they are there!Its called Abdominal Acupuncture….and it does what it says on the tin! It treats EVERYTHING, from neck pain, shoulder pain / frozen shoulder, back pain / sciatica, hip pain, wrist pain, elbow pain….in fact ALL pain can be  treated ….but by using a few superficially placed needles in your stomach! (Hence…Abdominal Acupuncture!)Abdominal Acupuncture only originated 20 years ago in China by Dr. Zhiyun Bo, and it is  a micro-system of the whole body. So in comparison to the 4000 year old version…its a baby! But clients are amazed at how fast it works and how effective it is!As its name suggests, abdominal acupuncture uses acupuncture points on the abdominal meridian system which Dr. Bo developed. The acupuncture needles are placed at the superficial level (and so there is virtually NO pain!) and, due to it being much shallower than traditional acupuncture, some patients find it more comfortable. Also, results are almost immediate which is why Abdominal Acupuncture has sometimes been referred to as a “Miracle Treatment”! And who among us isn’t in the market for a bit of a miracle?!

So how does it work?
Put very simply… Abdominal Acupuncture treats all parts of the body because all the energy meridians are centered around the umbilicus, and the umbilicus is of vital importance in relationship to birth and giving life. In fact, in ancient China, the abdomen was used exclusively for diagnosis.According to the theory of Abdominal Acupuncture, the umbilicus has a known relationship with the circulatory system and a close relationship with  the Qi and Blood flowing throughout the body.

Abdominal Acupuncture  can harmonise,  and rebalance  the mind, body and spirit.


The needles are placed very superficially and needling is  much shallower than is the case with traditional Acupuncture. By stimulating these points on the Channels on the abdomen, the patient can often feel immediate relief. And thats good for everyone!!Abdominal acupuncture is particularly indicated in patients who are weak or sensitive to acupuncture, such as the very young and the very elderly.
Conditions treated  can include musculo-skeletal, arthritis, anxiety, stress,and chronic long-term diseases.So why not book in for a bit of Miracle Treatment?Phone me Mairead Fahy

0539483155 or email

Abdominal Acupuncture: Acupuncture Clinic Dublin 6

Spring into life with Traditional Chinese Medicine!


At last! The long-awaited change from the dark,  cold wet days of winter, to the brightness , warmth  and vibrancy of Spring has arrived! The days are getting longer, and nature is full of renewal and rebirth. Seeds sprout, flowers bloom, and the sap which has been hibernating in tree roots rushes up to bring forth new freshness and life.

There is a sense of optimism and renewed hope.

While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings, and a renewal of spirit.

In Chinese Medicine this means Yin is changing to Yang. Cold is changing to warmth (hopefully!) and sleepiness and lethargy change to a vibrant active energy!

It is also the ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenating your overall health and well-being.

Spring is represented by the wood element in Chinese Medicine, and is associated with the Liver and its complementary organ, the Gallbladder. At this time of year these two organs are usually the primary organs needing attention and springtime cleansing.

Some other associations with Spring are:

  • Element: Wood
  • Colour: Green
  • Nature: Yang
  • Organs: Liver, Gallbladder
  • Emotion: Anger

Spring corresponds to the “Wood” element in Chinese Medicine, which in turn is conceptually related to the liver and gallbladder organs. According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. If however, Liver Qi does not flow smoothly and easily, you may experience feelings of Anger and Irritability and you may get symptoms like  PMT, Stress, IBS, and Headaches .

So, for optimum health this spring, move your Qi! Take the Chinese Herb Xiao Yao Wan (Free and Easy Wanderer) which helps to move stagnant Liver Qi and relieve symptoms.

Stretch – The liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga or tai qi.

Eye Exercises – The liver in Chinese Medicine has an affect on  the eyes. Although all the organs have some connection into some degree to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function.  So if you suffer dry gritty eyes, look to Liver health. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.

Eat Green – Green is the color associated with the liver and  springtime. Eating young plants – fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses – can improve the liver’s overall health function and aid in the movement of Qi.

Taste Sour – Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate  liver Qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle. Apple cider vinegar can be very beneficial overall as a general tonic at this time of year.

Do more outdoor activities – Aerobic exercise helps liver Qi to flow more smoothly. If you have been feeling tired and irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver Qi stagnation! Try walking for 20 minutes every day! Your dog and your Liver will be very grateful!

Enjoy milk thistle tea
Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.

Get Acupuncture treatments- Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration, which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year can serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor problems before they become serious problems. Call me to see how acupuncture can help you stay healthy and vibrant this spring! 

So…go ahead! Put some Spring in your step with Chinese Medicine!

How Acupuncture works.

One of the most frequently asked questions in my clinic is “How does it work”? This is usually when Im about to insert the first needle, and what a loaded question it is!! And almost impossible to adequately answer in the short time we are allocated for a treatment. There is just sooo much in it!

Putting it very simply, Acupuncture is a method of encouraging energy and blood to move and flow. Acupuncture is one part of a complex system of medicine which has been in existence for more than 3000 years. This medical system is called Traditional Chinese Medicine. This system also includes Chinese Herbal Medicine.

In this system of medicine, the “ancients” (the wise ones), saw the body in terms of Meridians or Channels of energy or “Qi”, each of which dealt with the energetics of an organ within the body, and which sometimes ran through one of these organs. Each organ of the body in turn had much more than just a physical function, but also had an “energetic” or “emotional” function . For example, The Lungs as well as dealing with breathing, have the “emotional” function of dealing with loss and grief, The Heart as well as being the blood pump we know and love also deals with anxiety/joy, The Liver as well as detoxing also deals with the emotions of frustration / suppression / anger. So each of the Meridians and the Acupuncture points along these Meridians will have an affect either physically and /or emotionally.

Inserting a needle into an Acupuncture point along any of these Meridians, instantly moves the Blood and Energy (Qi) around that point, much the same as when a stone is thrown into a stream / river or pond, there is a ripple effect which can affect movement for quite a distance within the water. And thats how it works! Sometimes if the river /stream or pond is really blocked with leaves or debris, you need to throw more than one stone and maybe quite often, to achieve movement, but there WILL be movement, even if its only minute!

So when a person comes for Acupuncture, usually there has been quite a bit of clogging with rubbish, and the debris of life, either physical or emotional, and thus a succession of treatment is required to make the stream move as effectively as it needs to in order to give relief. Unfortunately, the “life” rubbish we accumulate is not easily shifted and because we are working in a very natural way, TIME is required! Thats why your Acupuncturist asks you to come for a succession of treatments.

In scientific terms, Acupuncture has been shown to release endorphins which are the “feel good” hormones, so you feel really relaxed and energised after your session. But also, because it MOVES things, the toxins which are released from tense muscles is also expelled, so it is a really good idea to drink a couple of glasses of water after a session to help flush these toxins out.

So THATS how it works!!

Home-made Bone broth helps Infertility

As practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, many of us are treating infertility patients. Some of us have treated only a few patients who are trying to conceive; some of us solely focus on the treatment of infertility.


As my practice has matured, it has become more and more focused on women’s health and infertility. And, although I always treat based on TCM pattern diagnosis—I also find it extremely important to incorporate lifestyle and dietary modifications into the treatment plan of my patients. One of the most important dietary additions that I feel should be incorporated into such treatment plans is the daily ingestion of homemade bone broth.

As students of our medicine, we know that the Kidney energy is strongly associated with infertility. We need an abundance of Kidney Qi, Yang and Yin to be able to reproduce. As well we know thatJing is the basis of Kidney Qi. If Jing is lacking, one will age faster, have a weaker constitution and their ability to reproduce will diminish.

So, as I was taught (and, I’m sure you were too) the main treatment principle for all infertility cases is the boost the Kidney energy. Whether the patient has in conjunction Heart Qi stagnation, Liver blood deficiency, Spleen Qi deficiency or a cold uterus—we also always need to focus on tonifying the Kidneys.

In addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine, I recommend that my infertility patients consume one cup of bone broth on a daily basis to boost Kidney Jing and therefore improve their ability to successfully reproduce.

Why bone broth?

As you may recall from anatomy class– the inside of bone contains bone marrow and according to TCM theory, bone marrow is produced from Kidney Jing. So, basically drinking a cup of bone broth daily is like drinking a cup of Kidney Jing.

When one cooks down the bones of an animal into a broth, the bone marrow and its nutrients—namely: fat and protein and some minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium—seep out into the broth making it a rich, nutrient dense, Jing-rich, fertility boosting concoction.

Clinically, I have seen a dramatic increase in the fertility of my patients who are compliant and drink a cup of bone broth daily. Depending on the case, I may also give them some raw Chinese herbs to add to their broth. I know we were all taught the importance of bone and bone broth in the treatment of Kidney deficiencies, however often times it’s difficult to implement such recommendations into our practice. I am here to urge you to do so. Drinking a cup of homemade bone broth will have a tremendous impact on the health and fertility of your patients.

Beware though: there will be many patients that will moan about cooking a homemade bone broth. However, it is important for you to urge them to do so. Before you ask them to take this task on, make sure you make a couple batches for yourself first. This way you will know the experience and be able to share with them how simple the whole process is. Personally, making homemade bone broth is one of my favorite things to do—in the business of life, it slows me down. It feels nourishing, therapeutic and really, really good for my Kidney Jing.

My favorite bone broth recipes come from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Check out the book, it’s an amazing resource for those practitioners who focus on nutrition as part of their practice of TCM.

Lastly, there are four secrets to making good bone broth:

  1. Use the highest quality of bones you can find. Bones from grass fed animals is best.
  2. Add vinegar to the water to draw the minerals out of the bones into the broth.
  3. Roast and brown the bones in the oven before adding them to the stock.
  4. Be in the moment when you’re making it—and see the process as a therapy in and of itself.

Happy cooking!