‘Depression is treatable but most people do not receive the care and support they need’.[ref: WHO. Depression, a Hidden Burden, Flyer]

Depression is a mood disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterised by psychological and physical symptoms. It affects young and old and twice as many women as men. Symptoms can last for weeks, months or even years. The onset of depression can increase towards middle age, with a maximum onset in the 55-60 age group.


It can be very debilitating as it affects the whole body and symptoms can include:

• negative feelings

• sleep disturbances

• difficulty in functioning normally

• painful thoughts

• anxiety and agitation

• changes in appetite

• persistent sadness

• hopelessness

• chronic fatigue

• irritability

• loss of self-esteem

• feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy

The cause of depression

This is not fully understood. It may be triggered by a traumatic event, prolonged stress, chemical imbalance in the brain, thyroid disorders, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, low blood sugar and food allergies.

Most of us have experienced some form of depression at one time or another. It is a normal response to events in our lives that overwhelm us. When we are balanced physically and emotionally we can easily bounce back from a depressed state but when negative feelings or emotions become persistent, depression may set in.

How can acupuncture and naturopathic medicine help me?

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years and is part of the system of healthcare known as Traditional Chinese Medicine. By inserting fine, sterile needles into certain points on the body your acupuncturist will aim to restore a balanced and continuous flow of vital energy or ‘Qi’ throughout the body. Although TCM does not recognise depression as a particular illness, it still aims to alleviate the symptoms being experienced while also addressing the underlying root cause of the problem.

When we experience physical problems, our emotions are affected and likewise when we experience emotional upset, our physiological state may change. As acupuncturists and naturopaths we are aware of the powerful link between our body and our emotions, so during a consultation, we will ask specific questions in order to find out where your particular imbalances lie.

We will also look at various areas of your life which can have an effect on your mental health such as diet, exercise, work and home stressors and any underlying health issues. Based on this information, along with a tongue and pulse diagnosis, we will then formulate a personalised treatment plan. This will include acupuncture treatments and possibly supplements, herbs, flower essences, exercise and diet and lifestyle changes where necessary.

Acupuncture and Naturopathic medicine are safe, natural and effective ways of treating depression. It is not a ‘quick fix’ treatment and you may need weeks or even months of treatment in order to see positive, long lasting results.

Research into Acupuncture for Depression

  1. The World Health Organisation published a review in 2002 and stated that,

‘Acupuncture is being increasingly used in psychiatric disorders.The effect of acupuncture on depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke) has been documented repeatedly in controlled studies” References: [189-194]

‘Acupuncture is comparable with amitriptyline in the treatment of depression but has fewer side-effects. In addition, acupuncture has been found to be more effective in depressive patients with decreased excretion of 3-methyl-4-hydroxy-phenylglycol (the principal metabolite of the central neurotransmitter norepinephrine), while amitriptyline is more effective for those with inhibition in the dexamethasone suppression test’. References: (192)

Source: ‘Depression’. World Health Organization. 2011 • ‘Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials’. WHO 2002

2.  Research has been conducted since the 1990’s into the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of depression. Studies suggest that it has a positive and holistic effect on patients suffering with depression, particularly when used in combination with herbal treatments and psychotherapy. The first pilot controlled study of treating depression with acupuncture was conducted by psychologist John Allen, from the University of Arizona, and Acupuncturist Rosa Schnyer. In a double blind randomised study, 34 depressed female patients were assigned to one of three treatment groups for eight weeks. The first group received acupuncture treatment that was tailored to their particular depression symptoms. The second group received a general acupuncture treatment, but not specific to depression. The third group was placed on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but did not receive any treatment.

The study found that those in the tailored acupuncture treatment experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to those in the non-specific treatment. The study also found that over 50% of the participants no longer met the diagnostic criteria for depression following their treatment. The study findings suggest that using acupuncture alone could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms typically used in Western medicine, such as psychotherapy and drugs.

References: • This study was published in September 1998 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society, as ‘The Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Major Depression in Women’. • Allen, J. J. B. (2000). Depression and acupuncture: a controlled clinical trial. Psychiatric Times Online, 22, 3.

Hay Fever Misery

June 29, 2015

Hay fever is a type of reaction in the body to the pollen from trees, grasses, moulds or spores. It affects the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, and air passages.

Spring and summer can be a tough time for hay fever sufferers. Many people resort to over the counter anti-histamine products and/or decide to stay indoors as much as possible, neither of which are satisfactory as long term solutions.


Signs and symptoms

Itchy red eyes
Watery discharge from eyes
Clear thin nasal discharge

Symptoms can be similar to the common cold but nasal secretions associated with a cold usually become thicker and more yellow/green as the cold progresses.
Those who suffer throughout the year from hay fever like symptoms are said to have perennial rhinitis. Animal hair, dust, feathers, fungus spores, moulds, and/or some other environmental agent may trigger the symptoms.

What can I do to help myself?

The best and safest way to control allergies is to avoid the known allergen and take steps to normalise the immune system so as to prevent reoccurence or lessen the symptoms.
Allergies can usually be controlled if you are willing to make changes in your lifestyle and diet.

Can acupuncture help me?

Respiratory conditions [including sinusitis and asthma] can be relieved with acupuncture. Acupuncture can strengthen your natural defences and make you less likely to be affected by seasonal allergies.
Treatment can begin
• during peak season to reduce the severity of an attack
• during winter in order to boost the immune system, making it less susceptible to the usual reactions when the hay fever season begins again


What about Naturopathy?

Naturopathy is all about the healing power of nature and, that given the right conditions, the body will seek to correct itself and restore balance and good health. It’s also about preventing disease and treating the ‘Whole’ person during any health issue.
As Naturopathic Acupuncturists, we have a clear understanding of these principles and the best way to apply them. We treat the person not the disease and tailor a programme that will encourage their own innate ability to heal.
Your Naturopath may use some of the following to enhance your treatment outcome
• Laboratory Testing
• Acupuncture
• Herbal Medicine
• Flower Remedies
• Hydrotherapy
• Diet and Lifestyle advice
• Supplement advice
• Fasting
The combination of acupuncture and naturopathy provides a unique way to tackle this perennial problem.

Why not contact bernie@shen.ie for more information or to book an appointment.

You can beat this, you don’t have to suffer year after year. Take control and decide that you are going to do what it takes to improve your health and be able to look forward to spring and summer in the future.

Now is the time of year when we want to relax in the sun, but there is much concern about sunbathing leading to an increase in skin damage and skin cancer. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the production of free radicals that can adversely affect the integrity of collagen in the skin. Over time our skin becomes cracked, wrinkled, aged, and brittle. Research suggests that skin cancer is cumulative over a lifetime. It begins with over exposure and serious sunburns during childhood.


We can’t live without the sun. Our bodies require sunlight in order to manufacture Vitamin D which is needed for calcium absorption, amongst other things. So, we shouldn’t hide from our shining star, but here are a few helpful tips and precautions to take when you’re soaking in the summertime sun:

  • Use sunscreen – choose one with a high SPF that protects against UVA and UVB rays for greater protection. Apply 15 minutes before going outside and don’t forget your nose, ears and neck.
  • Timing is key – avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, typically from 11am – 4pm.
  • Gear up – wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and a T-shirt that filter ultraviolet rays.
  • Drink more water – you can avoid dehydration and provide moisture for the skin to prevent dryness, cracking and ageing.
  • Vitamins – help prevent skin damage, especially Vitamin A, E and other antioxidants. Flax seed oil can also support skin health. Check with your Naturopath to see what would be best for you.
  • Brush it off – before you take a shower, use a dry skin brush. This can open the pores and slough off dead skin, allowing your skin to breathe easily and work more efficiently.
  • Keep healthy – some medications may cause adverse reactions and side effects when we are exposed to sunlight. Acupuncture may be able to provide an alternative to these medications, keeping you healthy, safely and naturally.

If you want to have fun now, and not worry later, practice good sun sense. You and your skin deserve it.