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Luke McPherson Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture for fertility, IVF support, and pain relief... naturally

Acupunctue Blog

Acupunctue Blog

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Bali Belly - My experience with this as an Acupuncturist and Chinese Herblist

Posted on 17 October, 2019 at 18:55 Comments comments (316)

It all started in Bali, one hot steamy afternoon.  I was doubled over with extreme stomach cramps and then crippled with intense muscle cramps in my arms and shoulders.  I wasn't sure how this happened as I was ultra careul to stay away from consuming water, and from consuming anything from cheap unreputable places.

An hour after the stomach cramps and muscle spasms started I was hit with extreme nausea, and then my first vomiting experience.  After what felt like passing my entire digestive system through my mouth, I layed on the cold floor and battled with a high fever.  After a short time passed I got up; determined to get rid of this nausea and relieve the fever I applied acupuncture to Neiguan-Pericardium six; Quchi-Colon 11; Hegu-Colon 4; and Fenglong-Stomach 40.  This prescription was designed to relieve nausea and fever, but not stop vomiting and diarrhoea; I knew i had contracted a parasite of some kind so it was important to allow the body to expel it fully.   

The prescription had reduced nausea and relieved fever; but I was still expereincing short bursts of chills, and the occasional wave of nausea.  The next 24 hours I experienced vomiting and diarrhoea, and what's worse I had to fly back to Sydney in this time.  MIdday the next day we had to check out of our hotel; this was 18 hours into my illness, and I new that I could not risk any incidents at the airport or on the plane.  I unfortunately had to take medication to stop diarrhoea (Immodium), which I did not want to do as I wasn't sure the parasite was fully out of my system.  So, with the acupuncture controlling nausea and fever; and the immodium controlling symptoms, I was ready to travel.

The trip home was nothing short of hell with extreme abdominal pains, and muscle cramps; I could tell my body did not like having to suppress the natural function of expelling the parasite.  I arrived in Sydney and got home; by this time i was extremely sick and slightly jaundiced.  I passed out on the couch and slept for 8 hours.  When I awoke I went straight to my clinic and got myself a herbal formula that had been used for hundreds of years by the Chinese to kill parasaites and control outbreaks.  I used A formula named Ge Gen Qin Lian Tang.  This formula is extremely bitter and looks rather disgusting, but I knew hat once I consumed Ge Gen Qin Lian Tang it would eviscerate the parasite.  

I gave myself some more acupuncture: Neiguan-Pericardium six; Quchi-Colon 11; Hegu-Colon 4; and Fenglong-Stomach 40; Tianshu Stomach 25,; Zhongwan Ren 12.  I took the formula Ge Gen Qin Lian Tang for 10 days and lived on a simple diet of congee made from high quality chicken bone broth.  

A day after the formula started, and the extra acupuncture sessions, I started to feel much better.  However; It wasn't until 10 days later that I Would be able to consume a normal diet and resume my passion of CrossFit.  In this time I lost 5kg's.  If it wasn't for the Chinese herbs, the acupuncture, and the diet of the congee; I feel I would have lost a lot more weight and may have been hospitalised.

Yang Deficiency: How you can eat to build Yang

Posted on 11 October, 2019 at 0:35 Comments comments (129)

Yang is responsible for warming and activating bodily functions. When Yang is deficient your body begins to slow down, displaying signs of tiredness, and inactivity and sensations of coldness.

Foods to boost yang include;

Grains: Wheatgerm, Sweet glutinous rice, Quinoa



Vegetables: Leek, mustard greens, onion, radish, scallion, squash, sweet potato, turnip, watercress

Fruit: Cherry, litchi, logan, peach, raspberry, strawberry

Nuts and seeds: Chestnuts, pinenuts, pistachio nuts, walnut

Fish: Anchovy, lobster, mussel, prawn, shrimp, trout

Meat: Chicken, lamb, venison, kidneys (both beef and lamb)


Herbs and spices: Basil, black pepper, caper, cayenne, chive seed, cinnamon bark, clove, dill seed, fennel seed, fennugreek seed, garlic, ginger, horseradish, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary, sage, savory, spearmint, star anise, tumeric, thyme, white pepper

Beverages: Chai and jasmine tea

Common supplements: Algae

Examples of every day western foods that can be used to build yang, include

• Roast chicken with sage and thyme

• Roasted vegetables with and rosemary

• Rice porridge with cinnamon, nutmeg and a little brown sugar

• Leek and potato soup with black pepper

• Or by adding any of the many spices as listed above to dishes when cooking.

Foods to avoid. It is important to avoid foods that will further drain the body’s yang energy. Cold food and liquids fall into this category. Here ‘cold foods’ refers not only to those directly taken from the fridge but also to raw foods, as these require extra energy for digestion compared to pre-cooked foods. This may mean choosing a pasta salad over a green salad or switching from muesli to oat porridge for breakfast.

Using a warming method of cooking will also enhance the body’s energy by preserving yang, therefore soups, porridges and slow roasted foods become the dishes of choice for those with a predominate yang deficiency. The herbs and spices mentioned in the charts above are warming and as such in small amounts encourage digestion and circulation throughout the body. While it may seem reasonable to achieve an enhanced warming effect by using the stronger spices such as black pepper liberally, care needs to be taken as these can be used to excess, inducing sweating which in fact actually has a cooling drying effect on the body.

Source:Debra Betts author of “The essential guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth” © 2006

Diet: Are you accountable?

Posted on 25 March, 2019 at 20:40 Comments comments (53)

I am often asked to help people lose weight.  Losing weight is one of the greatest things you can do to improve your health; so as a cmplementary health care practioner I am happy to help those who really want to help themselves.  To lose weight you must be accountable for what goes in your mouth; so I insist that my patients use an Ap to track this.  I personally like the Ap My Fitness Pal, as you can log exercise as well food, and it breaks down the components of your diet into easy to red diagrams.

Using an Ap to log your food makes you accountable for your intake; knowing that if you consume a whole pack of biscuits it will be entered and then broken downs to its parts will probably deter you from doing so.  Knowing what is in foods, and how much damage they do gives you power to make a good choice and it makes you accountable for making a bad choice.

Logging your food will also help you track your calories to ensure you are on track to losing weight; if you want to lose weight you have to keep your calorie intake low and be under your allotted calories for the day; this means you are maintaining a calorice deficit, which is absolutely essential if you want to lose weight.

If you want specific help for your individual need then please book in to see me and we can you on track to a more healthier you!

Endometriosis - an individual approach for you as an individual

Posted on 28 February, 2019 at 20:15 Comments comments (160)

i have been treating 2 cases lately, they present the same: sudden heavy bleedling, intense pain, clotted cycles.  The bleeding in both cases is so heavy that they generally need to use 2 pads during their menstrual cycle; the pain is so severe that they often have to have 1 - 2 days off work every period.  This has been going on for 5 plus years and it is eally impacting their lives.

Sounds like the same condition right?  They should be treated the same?  No.  While the endometriosis is acting the same way the underlying condition and Chinese medicine diagnosis is quite different.  

Patient number 1 suffers frequently with constipation, fluid retention in lower legs, bloating, and is always cold; even on a hot day she will be wearing a cardigan.  The nature of the pain in patient in 1 is that of a stabbing, bearing down pain, that radiates down into her thighs.

Patient 2 suffers with flatulence, indigestion, irritability, frequent headaches, hot and perspires constatly, and swollen painful breasts.  The nature of the pain in patient 2 is severe cramping, and localised to the abdomen.

When you look at both patients and take into account all symptoms it is easy to see that these patients would get very different treatments.  Acupuncturists never isolate a particular body part or one aspect of disease, we take into account the whole person and all symptoms they are experiencing.  This approach will generally mean that patients who have endometriosis will probably  receive different treatments.

in the above cases, both patients saw their bleeding return to normal, and their pain almost totally gone; but received very different treatments.

if you know anyone who suffers with endometriosis, have them contact me in my North Sydney Acupuncture clinic for a consultation

Acupuncture for the relief of back and pelvic pain during pregnancy

Posted on 10 February, 2019 at 19:55 Comments comments (137)

As you get further into your pregnancy you will undoubtedly deal with lower back pain and/or hip pain. As someone who is already a little less mobile, and a little less flexible than before; an addition to back and hip pain can make life a whole lot harder. Back pain can really impact on your quality of life; denying you your much-needed sleep by cramping and spasming no matter in what position you lie, before forcing you to get up and pace the floor at all hours of the night to try and relieve the pain so you can finally get some rest


You don’t have to suffer in pain though, acupuncture from Dr Luke McPherson (CM) can alleviate your pain, stabilise the area, and help you to become pain free to enjoy the magic of pregnancy.


So why do you get back/hip pain in late stage pregnancy?


Well a part from the rapidly growing baby pushing on all sort of muscles and joints; your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. The same hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, when this is added to the extra weight of your uterus and the increasing size of the hollow in your lower back this leads to instability and pain.


In more severe cases the sciatic nerve can become impinged in the tight muscles and or joints and cause shooting pains, tingles, or numbness down the legs. This is often confused with sciatica as it mimics the pain, but is usually much less sinister.


Pain does not always have to have a major reason; being pregnant means you are bigger, less mobile, and less flexible; these factors in combination are enough to change the way you move, and at times when you are tired (which you will find to be very frequent!) you may bend in ways that you are not use to, which can aggravate certain muscles.


How can acupuncture help?


Acupuncture is very effective at relieving pregnancy pain. Before I treat the pain, I do a thorough assessment so that I have a good understanding of all the muscle groups that are afflicted. The approach I use is that I select points that are distal to the painful area, but are known to influence the pain, and then I gently mobilise the area until there is little pain left. Once the pain has almost gone, I will then select points at the painful site and then have you relax.


My approach is great, but where is the evidence it works? According to a Cochrane review by Pennick and Young in 2007: they found that acupuncture is a good method to relieve back and pelvic pain in pregnant women; in fact, acupuncture out performed physiotherapy in relieving pregnancy related back pain.


Another study published in the British Medical Journal in 2005 concluded that Acupuncture is highly effective in relieving pelvic girdle and back pain. The lead researcher, Helen Elden concluded that while stabilising exercises were beneficial in reducing back pain, acupuncture was more effective than stabilising exercises in relieving back pain.


What to do next?


Take the first step to becoming pain free and book in for a consultation with Dr Luke McPherson (CM) on




You won’t regret it





Pennick & Young (2007). Interventions for pregnancy in treating pelvic and back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews


Elden, Lafdors…Et Al (2005) Effects of acupuncture and stabilising exercises as adjunct to standard treatment in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: randomised single blind controlled trial. British Medical Journal


Headaches: How an acupuncturist approaches treatment

Posted on 6 February, 2019 at 20:35 Comments comments (63)

When treating headaches, it is important to approach each type differently.  It is definitely not a one-size fits all treatment; and each case should be treated differently.  

When I approach a patient with a headache first question I ask is where abouts is the pain focused.  I ask this because different aspects of the head will mean a different area I will focus my acupunture treatment.  Acupuncture is never as simple as "stick a needle where it hurts"; in the case of a headache that will make the pain much worse.  A good acupuncturist will clear the pain from the headache with points around the body before assessing the necessity to apply acupuncture to the area of pain.

I also ask how frequent the pain is and how long the current headache has lasted.  This will tell me if the headache is an accute problem  or a chronic problem.  The treatment approach to an accute headache or a chronic headache is very different; if you are experiencing frequent headaches then I  will need to determine if the headache is a symptom of a deeper problem, in which case I will address the deeper problem in order to relieve the headaches.

Postural assessments are very important.  Your headache could be a problem with how your sitting, stand, or working.  In this scenario I will look at certain muscle groups that are under working and strengthen them with exercises and acupuncture; and muscles that are over working and use stretching, tuina, and acupuncture to release them.  I will also provide exercises to do at home in order to correct your posture.  This approach will ensure that headaches are relieved now, and future headaches will be prevented.

in some cases a herbal prescription will be necessary.  This is when the problem is more chronic and the headache is a symptom of another deeper ailment.  Alongside a herbal prescription I will provide diet advice that will be specific to addressing your individual problem.

Acupuncture for headaches has to be an individualised approach for your specific condition; anything less is just not acupuncture! 

Doula's What do they do?

Posted on 10 January, 2019 at 23:50 Comments comments (75)

Ellen Turchini and Samantha Gunn are two doulas working together in Sydney. Check out their websites at or This blog is an outline of what a doula is and how they could help you on your pregnancy journey.

”Doula…what is that? What do you do?”

The word doula is actually a Greek word meaning “women’s servant”. Historically women have been supporting other women during pregnancy and labour for centuries and being a doula means we continue to do this. Although our formal education does include training as a social worker and working with women and families, we are not midwives or nurses. We have no medical training. It is important for our clients to remember this and ensure they differentiate the role of their medical provider and us as doulas. Prior to delivery, we work with our clients to write a “birth plan” and in writing this we usually discuss and explore pain relief techniques, relaxation techniques, massage and possible labouring positions. Having completed further courses in acupressure and aromatherapy we also incorporate this into the whole birthing experience.

“What is special about doula support?”

Continuity of care throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period is the gold standard of maternal support. Building a relationship with your doula during pregnancy means that we know and understand your wishes, vulnerabilities and cues during labour and can provide emotional support to both the birthing woman and her partner.


“How will you work with my husband/partner?”

Pregnancy and birth is an amazing experience for couples and can provide a whole new intimacy and vulnerability for many couples. It is our job to help both the pregnant woman and her partner to feel confident in their abilities, educate them on the birthing process and guide them into the most calm and gentle birthing experience possible. As amazing as birth can be, it can be stressful and exhausting for not just the mother but also her partner. Sometimes we create time and space for the partner to step away from the labouring mum and regroup, often we encourage and remind partners how to help their partner..but the most important thing we usually do is make sure the labouring mum feels safe and respected, no matter how the birth unfolds. Our role is never to replace a husband or partner, but support and compliment their strengths in the birthing space. More often than not, birth doesn’t go to plan, but if both mum and dad know what and why things are happening their experience can remain one of joy, strength and positivity.

“Wouldn’t I only get a doula if I wanted a drug free natural birth?”

The presence of a doula at a birth can be beneficial no matter what is planned. One of the most wonderful things about birth is it’s unpredictability, and our role is to make any experience as positive as possible. Many women report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula, and it is never our job to choose the type of birth women have, just support their decisions. It is this support that leads to families feeling more satisfied with their birth experience.

“Will you help me once the baby is born?”

An important part of our role is to debrief every birth with our clients. Talking through timelines, how and why things happened and answering any questions about their birthing experience is essential to feeling complete satisfaction in how their birth unfolded. There is also no doubt, that the immediate time after a baby is born can be one of the most confusing, exhausting and stressful parts of motherhood. We always offer a postpartum package, which can include basic things like cooking a few meals, light housework and watching baby while mum gets some sleep. In addition to these things, we refer on to other specialists for things like lactation support, observe and guide on settling techniques and talking through the changing emotions and feelings that mums and their partners may be experiencing.

The most important thing to remember about employing a doula is that not all doulas offer the same thing. Find the doula that is most aligned with your beliefs, don’t be afraid to ask them any “hard” questions and enjoy having an extra person as part of your birth team. Pregnancy and birth is an amazing journey and it is a privilege to share it with all of our clients. We still stay in touch with our clients, we love the updates they give us about their beautiful babies and we know their birthing experience was filled with love, support and sometimes a lot of laughs.




Distal acupuncture for neck pain

Posted on 29 November, 2018 at 20:05 Comments comments (56)

This is an interesting concept: Don't perform acupuincture where the pain is!

Sounds weird right?  If there is pain in the neck, shouldn't I treat the neck directly?  Makes sense doesn't it!  

Let me ask you this? if your car won't start do you blame the keys?  The keys may be an issue but it is more than likely an issue somewhere deeper in the engine. 

This is also true for the body, sometimes the pain manifests in the neck, but the actual problem is the result of some blockage or damage in another part of the body.  Finding that pathway that is damaged and reopening it can be the key to relieving your neck pain.  In fact often it is more than 1 pathway that needs reopeing, or redirected; and until this is done the neck pain will persist

Using the distal acupuncture technique, by the time I've inserted the 3rd needle the patient often reports the feeling of relief!  And this is applying acupuncture alongway from the neck.  I have immense experience and find this technique an invaluable tool in my arsenal of knowledge to help you.

So when you come to me for acupuncture to alleviate your neck pain and I am needling nowhere near the neck; don't be alarmed; instead enjoy the healing experience

My personal experience with achilles tedonopathy

Posted on 4 October, 2018 at 21:10 Comments comments (151)

I recently woke up with extreme tightness in my right achilles tendon; it was fully contracted and could not walk on it.  I quickly recognised it as achilles tendonopathy, which is the result of persistent gastroconemus (calf muscle) tightness.  

To treat this i imobilised it for a week and gave it daily acupuncture sessions.  My lovely colleague Rochelle gave me moxa on the area of where the achilles attaches to the calcaneous (heel).  

during the second week I used strengthening exercises to help my achilles heal; this involved a combination of heel lifts, and plantar flexion (pointing toe away from me) and dorsi flexion (pointing toe to my head) with a resistent band.  This is important in strengtheing the achilles, as tendons won't heal unless you strengthen them.  I did all this with daily acupuncture sessions and Laser therapy.  

After 3 weeks I had full mobility and could re-commense most exercises, i was completely pain free.  However, I would not attempt to run or jump for at least 12 weeks.  

Even though it feels better I will keep up with my daily strengtheing exercises and cut back acupuncture to once/week.  I am extremely happy with my progress! :)

**Update: It has now been 2 weeks since I first wrote this, and I have not experiened 1 bit of pain from it. I am sitting in my North Sydney Acupuncture Clinic 100 % pain free**

Dealing with Pregnancy Acne

Posted on 3 May, 2018 at 21:40 Comments comments (421)

Steam your face

Get a large bowl of boiling water ½ fill. Place some lemon and orange peel and storks from mint in the water. Place your face over the bowl (DO NOT touch the water) and put a towel over your head to create an oven. Do this for 5-10 mins 3-4 times/ week.

• Make sure the bowl is on a sturdy table and all care is taken that the contents can’t be spilt

Wash your face with a gentle ph neutral soap 2-3 times daily.


Drink a tea made of

5 mint leaves (twist them to bruise)

1 slice of ginger 1/2 cm thick

Allow the tea to steep 5 minutes before drinking


Eat zinc rich foods;

beef short-rib, spinach, wheat germ, nuts (walnuts), mushrooms


Vitamin C

Citrus! Orange juice, grapefruit, etc. Lot of green leafy vegetables.


Maintain a healthy balanced diet.

You are what you eat so eat lots of green leafy vegetables, essential fatty acids, and a regular portion of meat. Drink at least 2 litres of water per day.


Avoid fatty greasy food from takeaways, alcohol, foods high in sugar (particularly high fructose corn-syrup) and foods high in blended vegetable oils.