Birga was born in Nijmegen in The Netherlands too many years ago that she cares to remember!
She has always had a keen interest in health related issues so it was no surprise to anyone that she started her career as a Mensendieck Therapist. By helping people to improve their posture through specific exercises, she alleviated their back, neck, and shoulder pain. Her career was put on hold when she migrated to Australia with her husband and started a family of three sons in the Perth Hills.
Over the years she became interested in alternative medicine particularly Traditional Chinese Medicine. She commenced the three year study for the Advanced Diploma in Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Perth Academy of Natural Therapies in Western Australia. This culminated in a memorable 3 month hospital internship in Hangzhou, a ‘provincial city’ of 3 million near Shanghai in South China.
In her daily practice, Birga finds great satisfaction with alleviating pain and particularly enjoys treating children. Birga also has great interest in women’s health especially pregnancy and infertility.
Although acupuncture is certainly an important modality, she finds that her clients achieve better results when herbs are prescribed as well. She is always on the lookout to increase her knowledge of this huge field. The herbs are mostly prescribed in capsule form or occasionally powders.
Birga has been practicing for over nine years.
What can Acupuncture help with?
Many people come for help with a specific symptom or condition:
- Muscular-skeletal problems like back pain.
- Anxiety and depression.
- Circulatory, respiratory and digestive problems.
- Facial paralysis.
- Infertility and low sexual vitality.
- Menstrual problems.
- Migraines and headaches.
- Skin conditions.
- Sinus problems.
What happens during my initial appointment?
During your first visit, Birga will lead you through a series of questions and make observations of your tongue, radial pulse and other physical signs to diagnose your energy balance.
The number of treatments depends on the individual, the severity and the duration of the condition. Acute conditions often require only a few treatments, whilst for chronic conditions more sessions may be required. Treatment is usually given once or twice weekly, although results will be faster if treatment is given more frequently.
Treatment usually lasts from 45 minutes to one hour.
Consultations can often be claimed through private health funds depending on your fund and level of cover.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a history of continuous use over 3000 years. Today it is practiced widely throughout the Orient and in the West. It is the second most practiced medical system in the world.
Acupuncture began with the discovery that the stimulation of specific areas of the skin affected the functioning of certain organs of the body. Each body has an energy circulation. Acupuncture is used to stimulate the body’s own healing response and help restore its natural balance. The principal aim of acupuncture in treating the whole person is to recover the balance between the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the individual, to bring back health, vitality and greater enjoyment of physical and emotional life.
There are over 500 acupuncture points and these are situated on the meridians. By stimulating a selection of these points with needles the quality and quantity of energy (‘Qi’) and fluids can be normalized. An area or acupuncture point can also be warmed and stimulated by a Chinese Herb. This is called Moxibustion. Suction Cups, electro-acupuncture and Massage may also be utilized to enhance treatment. Extensive research in the US, China and Japan has shown that acupuncture directly influences the hormonal, nervous and immune system.
What does it feel like?
Some people would like to try acupuncture but may not because they assume it will hurt.
The needles used much finer than those used for injections or for sewing. In most cases only a slight prick is felt as the needle goes through the skin. When the needle reaches the acupuncture point, there is another sensation often described as a dull ache, or a numb tingly feeling. This sensation is quite comfortable and lasts only for 1 or 2 seconds.
Needles used by your acupuncturist are sterile disposable needles and are used only once.
What are the Professional Qualifications?
To become a professional Acupuncturist in Western Australia, a minimum of three years full time study with comprehensive understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory and Western Medical Science in conjunction with clinical competence is required. At the conclusion of study an Advanced Diploma in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) is obtained comprising of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Tui Na Massage. Quite often the TMC study is completed with internship training in China.
Professional Acupuncturists are a member of a national professional association and are bound to common standards of education, ethics, discipline and practice to ensure the health and safety of the public at all times.
All practicing Acupuncturists must now be registered with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Birga holds the following qualifications:
- Advanced Diploma Traditional Chinese Medicine
Professional Registration and Associations
- Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) www.ahpra.gov.au
- Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) www.acupuncture.org.au
- Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) www.australiannaturaltherapistsassociation.com.au
Acupuncture and Pregnancy
For over 3000 years Traditional Chinese Medicine has promoted specialised treatment for pregnant women. Today this care is becoming increasingly popular with trained Midwives in countries such as Denmark, England, France, Germany, and New Zealand.
Chinese Medicine promotes preventative care to strengthen the mother and baby as well as dealing with problems during pregnancy.
Here are some of the things Chinese Medicine can help with during pregnancy:
Acupuncture is often very effective in reducing both the severity and incidence of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Research from Australia highlighted that women receiving acupuncture experience faster relief from nausea, dry retching and vomiting. It also concludes that “Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for pregnant women”.
Muscular & Skeletal Pain
Back pain, rib pain, sciatica and symphysis pubis pain are common in pregnancy and can all be markedly reduced with acupuncture.
Acupuncture can play an important role in reducing high blood pressure, especially if treatment is commenced early as soon as hypertension is diagnosed. As hypertension has the potential to escalate quickly, ongoing medical monitoring remains essential throughout pregnancy.
Breech & Posterior Babies
Moxibustion (a technique where an acupuncture point is warmed and stimulated by a Chinese herb) has been used successfully to turn breech babies. Ideally treatment is around 34 weeks, but can still be applied later on. Techniques can also help with babies that are not in the optimal position prior to birth, such as those in a posterior position.
Three to four weeks before the due date treatments to prepare the pelvis and cervix can be commenced. This is followed by weekly treatments. Research indicates a reduction in women requiring medical intervention, including medical induction and caesarean section.
Acupuncture can provide a gentle inducement to labour. Research from Norway on the use of acupuncture for women with premature rupture of membranes (PROM) concluded that “Ideally acupuncture treatment should be offered to all women with PROM and other women who wish to use this method to facilitate their birth and keep it normal”.
Another study from Austria concluded:
“Acupuncture at points LI4 and SP 6 supports cervical ripening at term and can shorten the time interval between the EDC and the actual time of delivery.”
Source: Rabl M etal. (2001). Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labor at term – a randomized controlled trial. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 113(23-24):942-6.
Pain relief during Labour
Acupuncture offers drug free alternatives for pain relief during labour. Acupressure, as demonstrated by your acupuncturist, provides similar results with the advantage that support people can use it during labour.
Other pregnancy problems
Treatment can be used to relieve a variety of conditions including: anaemia, anxiety, constipation, carpal tunnel syndrome, heartburn, heamorrhoids and vulval varices, insomnia, oedema, headaches, sinus problems, threatened miscarriage, tiredness and exhaustion and thrush.
Acupuncture has techniques to promote recovery; these include “mother warming” treatments that can be given by a partner, advice on diet and the use of specific strengthening and blood building herbs. Other conditions that can be relieved by acupuncture include; insufficient lactation, wound healing and scar tissue repair, postnatal depression and urinary incontinence.
Depression including post-natal depression
Acupunture can be an effective treatment for depression including post-natal depression. Some recent research concluded that:
“Acupuncture holds promise for the treatment of depression during pregnancy.”
Source: Manber R etal. (2004). Acupuncture: a promising treatment for depression during pregnancy. Journal of Affective Disorders. 83(1), 89-95.
Acupuncture offers a safe, effective and drug free treatment option during pregnancy.
Acupuncture and Infertility
In Chinese Medicine, infertility is defined as the inability to produce offspring in a woman who has been trying for two years assuming a normal sex life with a partner who has normal reproductive function.
About 1 in 5 Australian couples have difficulties conceiving children. Male infertility is the cause in approximately 40% of the cases. Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, diet and lifestyle advice are an effective and natural way of producing healthy sperm.
Many women in western society who have problems conceiving will seek help through IVF (In-vitro Fertilisation). Although IVF clinics advise against the use of Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture treatment is often encouraged.
Acupuncture can improve follicle/egg quality, improve sperm vitality, increase ovarian response and increase oestrogen levels if they are low, relieve side effects of drugs, increase endometrium thickness if thin and improve implantation rates.
The combined use of Eastern and Western Medicine can be an effective approach to produce healthy babies!
Acupuncture without needles
This is basically the application of light to particular areas of the skin of increased electrical conductivity to produce particular physiological results.
The energy of light (photons) is transformed into electrical energy by the connective tissue under the skin. This electrical energy is transmitted to the brain by the nerves. Stimulating specific combinations of points on the skin will cause the brain to release particular hormones and other chemicals to relieve pain, increase immune response, and promote healing.
So instead of using a needle to stimulate an acupuncture point, a metal torch with a red light on the tip is held to the skin on this point for a few seconds. The light is then moved to the next appropriate point until all the necessary points have been stimulated.
There are several advantages:
- This is a safe, pain-free, non-invasive method.
- It is easier to stimulate inconvenient located acupuncture points, or points that, whilst very effective, would be painful if stimulated with a needle.
- This is an excellent method to treat children, from babies to teenagers
- Because the treatment can be done seated on a chair or lying down on a bed it is also suitable for people with limited movement,
Children respond very well to acupuncture treatment. Despite this many parents are hesitant to let their child have acupuncture with needles. Photonic red light therapy is a great solution to this problem. The baby or toddler can sit on mums lap, there are no needles put into the skin. Instead the red light torch touches lightly the appropriate acupuncture points on the skin with the same effect as the needles and as an added bonus they don’t have to sit still for a very long time.
Colds, snotty nose, sore throat, ear infections and cough are common in young children. Their immune system is often not capable of battling the infection. A nose cold quickly spreads into their throats or ears as their young heads are not fully grown. And the infected sinuses are situated very close to the Eustachian tube of the ear and to the throat tonsils thus letting the virus or bacteria spread into these areas. Common colds in children should be quickly dealt with so that it does not become a recurrent monthly problem. The TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner will expel the pathogen first via for example light therapy, prescribe Chinese Herbs and give a diet and lifestyle advise. After the cold has left the body the TCM practitioner will work on building up the child’s immune system.
Bedwetting is often hard to be treated by Western Medicine and responds very well from acupuncture treatment. The cause can be constitutional weakness, long-term or severe illness, emotional or to many antibiotics. The TCM therapist can use Photonic Light Therapy on the acupuncture points to strengthen the weak constitution, expel the lingering pathogenic factor from the illness, balance the emotions and prescribe Chinese Herbs.
Hay fever usually occurs at springtime to early summer; characterized by a change in temperature from cold to hot and a high pollen count. The conventional approach is usually desensitization treatment with variable results or antihistamines causing drowsiness in people. Acupuncture can open up the nose, clear phlegm and tonify the lungs and also treat the underlying causes. To get optimal results it is best to start treatment one month before the actual hay fever season.