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Strengthen your Back and Knees Soup

This is a soup to strengthen the knees, spine and back.

The lower back and knees are the areas of the body related to the Kidneys according to traditional Chinese medicine and as such when suffering from chronic pain and weakness of these areas can indicate a disharmony in the Kidneys. This traditional soup recipe contains ingredients used to strengthen the Kidneys, and reinforce the knees and back. It also helps to resolve Damp which slows healing in the back and knees. It also helps to circulate Qi and Blood, and is high in silicon which is essential for the strength of the bones and connective tissues.

This soup can be used to aid healing after an injury or surgery, or to maintain health of the lower back and knees.


  • 1 litre chicken stock, made from broken chicken bones
  • 2 small handfuls Pearl Barley or Coix Seeds (yì yĭ rén)
  • 2 small handfuls black beans (cooked)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • Black pepper
  • Dash of rice wine

Note: Coix Seeds or Chinese barley are used in Chinese herbalism for clearing dampness, especially when this relates to joint pain, and can be cooked in the same way as pearl barley. Shaoshing rice wine is a popular Chinese cooking wine. Both are available from Chinese supermarkets.


Prepare your stock. Add barley (or coix seeds) and celery and simmer for 45 minutes. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes. Add carrot and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until all ingredients are cooked. Add the cooked beans, a dash of rice wine and a good amount of black pepper. Cook for another couple of minutes, then serve.

This soup can be frozen for later use.

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Monkey Mind

Monkeys and Racing Minds

This week I went to the wildlife park on my own without children, grandchildren or significant other. I usually go to visit the monkeys first as I’m a “Monkey”, a Fire Monkey in the Chinese astrology chart, according to my birth date. I sat in front of them and watch their antics. I don’t like to eat food or drink water in front of animals as it encourages them to beg, the monkeys especially! I watched the busyness of these seemingly fun loving creatures. They are just one bundle of activity. I watch the monkeys screech and seemingly fly around, swinging from branches, poles and the cage mesh. Sometimes my mind feels like that, a mess of undisciplined thoughts with no stop sign. If I sit there long enough I notice that eventually they sit down in a corner or on a branch. They may even find themselves a grooming partner. I could fall asleep at times like this.

I wander over to the giraffes and watch these graceful animals glide as they walk. One of them sat down and grazed on some hay. I had never seen a giraffe sit down before, they become so awkward getting into the seated position and her baby sat next to its mother. I sat down to observe this awkward beauty. My mind felt relaxed and I stayed ages just enjoying their relaxed mood.

Just hanging out!

As I left the tranquillity of the zoo, I looked at my watch and as if a switch was turned on, I began “my real life” again. “I better move as the traffic is about to start building up and if I make it to the ring road in 10 minutes I could save myself an hour in traffic. If all goes to plan I could be home for 6ish, prepare and eat something and finish off that lecture for next Friday by 8pm, I think there’s a good movie on at 9pm! Ah I’ll get a Chinese take away instead and that way I’ll be able to sit down and relax early, now where did I park my car”?

Sound familiar? Every living creature on this planet of ours is connected in some way. We are all connected to the different moods in our immediate environment. If we connect with happy, calm and tranquil people, places and things, we will find it easier to attain their qualities ourselves. This goes in some way towards our better health, movement, freedom and wellbeing.

Today I find regular mindful meditation helps to build resilience to “stress” and calm the “Monkey Mind”. Its a natural cost effective habit, a good habit, a zen habit. See more about my mindful suggestion here.

James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.

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Hung Tsui Ying

Hung Tsui Ying (Eunice) L. Ac. (China) is qualified in Acupuncture, Tuina Chinese Medical Acupressure, Chinese Patent Remedies, Ear Acupuncture, Facial Rejuvenation.

You may have seen Eunice on TV3 or read about her practice in national papers.

Fertility: When it comes to making babies, it pays to prepare and Eunice is particularly known for her fertility treatments.

Cosmetic Acupuncture: Eunice is the leading lecturer in Cosmetic Acupuncture in Ireland and the UK. She is said to “bring Spring back to the face” with her treatments.

Children: Eunice has many recommendations for her patient approach to Pediatric conditions.

Eunice also lectures for College of Integrative Acupuncture, the College of Naturopathic Medicine and Active Health Foundation.

Clinical Internship

Eunice has completed nine (9) medical internships at various affiliated hospitals of Beijing University of Chinese medicine, Zhejiang University in Hangzhou and Nanjing University of TCM, China. The internships included working with the best doctors and professors of medicine within the various departments of these university affiliated hospitals covering acupuncture, internal medicine, oncology, gynecology  infertility, dermatology, pediatrics  traumatology and cardiology as well as Tuina Physical Therapy, including sports acupuncture and Tuina.

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James O’Sullivan

The Practitioner

Personal Philosophy:

“Everybody has the right to better health, movement, freedom, and well-being and each one of us has the ability to learn and practice the techniques necessary to sustain this aspiration”

James O’Sullivan is a high energy, people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving the patient and client with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He holds a BA in Psychology. He was privileged to study Chinese herbs, Acupuncture, Tuina Chinese Medical Acupressure, Medical Qi Gong, and Mindful Meditation, Tai Qi, under the excellent tutorship of Hung Shui Chen, “a living treasure” in Taiwan. He furthered his study in Ireland and gained considerable clinical experience in a number of hospitals under the teaching universities – Beijing University of Chinese Medicine – The Nanjing College of Traditional Chinese Medicine – Zhejiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

James is a past director of Acupuncture Council of Ireland, the independent association of acupuncturists dedicated to enriching practice standards in Ireland. He is a past treasurer and council member of the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Society.

The Teacher

He believes that, “it’s the client’s relief from pain and suffering that gives reason to our study”. His lectures are logical, inspiring, intellectually challenging, comprehensive, and fun to participate in. James is an experienced lecturer in Complementary Medicine and Holistic Therapies and is the kind of teacher that cut’s straight to the core of the subject, offering a broad bank of knowledge on empirically proven natural solutions to health disorders. James also holds a FETAC level 6 Train the Trainer qualification.

The Teaching Council of Ireland

James is a member of Teaching Council of Ireland, the Statutory body in Ireland for maintaining the highest standards of teaching in colleges. The Teaching Council is the regulator of the teaching profession and promotes professional standards in teaching.

Visiting Lecturer

James is a visiting lecturer to Beijing University of Chinese medicine and Zhejiang University of Chinese Medicine where he has undergone formal advanced clinical training yearly.

He also lectures to the final year doctorate programme.

James is a founding member of Active Health Foundation, the institution that brings the ancient art of Tuina traditional Chinese Medical acupressure to Ireland, making it’s powerful techniques accessible to interested body workers. He is actively involved in other areas of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

“Every practitioner has a moral obligation to each patient to offer them the best possible care and treatment within their capabilities”

Clinical Internship

James has completed nine (9) medical internships at various affiliated hospitals of Beijing University of Chinese medicine, Zhejiang University in Hangzhou and Nanjing University of TCM, China. The internships included working with the best doctors and professors of medicine within the various departments of these university affiliated hospitals covering acupuncture, internal medicine, oncology, gynecology  infertility, dermatology, pediatrics  traumatology and cardiology as well as Tuina Physical Therapy, including sports acupuncture and Tuina.

Well-being in the Workplace

James has developed and delivered various workshops and seminars for a number of Irish organisations on topics like Wellbeing in the Workplace, Mindfulness Stress Management, Psychological Health Hazards, Dealing with Difficult Situations, Dealing with Aggression, Conflict Management, plus other talks that help organisations meet their safety, health and welfare responsibilities.
Some of the Organisations: Nifast, Office of Public Works, Mary Immaculate College, Knock Airport, ESB, Bord Gas, Central Statistics Office, Dept of Defense, Dept of Transport, HSE, ………………..

Tuina Course Founder

James O’Sullivan founded the first Diploma in Tuina course in Ireland in 1997 for practitioners who had no previous qualifications in either complementary medicine or traditional Chinese medicine. Today the Diploma in Tuina Chinese medical acupressure is offered by a number of Further Education colleges. The Diploma is recognised by Beijing University of Chinese medicine who invite graduates to China every year to advanced clinical training.

The Diploma in Tuina Chinese medical acupressure is offered in Pearse College – Crumlin, as a day course during the academic year.

International Recognition

At the International Conference in Zhejiang University of Chinese Medicine, James was honoured to present his paper on the treatment of Diabetes to 200 eminent doctors from around the globe. James was issued with an invitation to collaborate with eminent professors from Stanford University USA. Dr. Ron Zaidman President of Five Branches Institute USA, James O’Sullivan Active Health Foundation,Ireland, Prof. David Anzaldua and Prof. Samuel Le Baron of Stanford University USA outside the library of Zhejiang University of TCM. Prof. Xiao Luwei President of Zhejiang University of TCM, James O’Sullivan Active Health Foundation, and Prof. Fan Yongsheng Vice President of Zhejiang University of TCM


James O’Sullivan is the author of “Practical Chinese Medicine”, the core text book for students of Tuina and traditional Chinese medicine. More about the Book here.


  • Charley Adley says, “Unsatisfied and unwell (with doctors), I went to see the very excellent James O’Sullivan. Alongside his colleague Eunice, James is a gem of a man. A calming wise soul and an incredibly skilled practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a session with James is a happy blend of mental and physical therapy, after which you leave feeling optimistic and on the mend”. Click here to read original article:
  • Galway news article
  • Rugby Player Ireland.

The world is getting smaller and smaller each day. Here are my online connections, if you wish to connect and I would love if you liked our Facebook pages:


You can’t buy happiness ? – YES YOU CAN! I think ‘giving back’ is an essential part of life. I particularly support the Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue & Adoption, Childline Online (Ireland) and Irish Heart Foundation.

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Acupuncture, What is it?

Acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (Energy) and Xue (Blood) through channels or meridians which run throughout the body very similar to the nervous and circulatory system. Acupuncture itself is the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points that lay on these meridians. These points have been proven effective throughout time for specific problems or diseases. In acupuncture, there are no side effects. It is merely a tool to allow the body to heal itself.

Does it hurt?

Most people feel nothing, an Acupuncture needle cannot be compared to a syringe needle at all.  Syringe needles are quite large, are hollow (to pull liquids in and out of the body) and are administered into arteries.  Acupuncture needles are solid and as thin as one piece of hair.  In Acupuncture, we administer needles with caution, avoiding arteries and nerves.  Acupuncture is mostly painless, but since a stimulus needs to be obtained you will feel either a heaviness, distension, tingling or electric sensation around the needle or traveling up and down the meridian. Any kind of discomfort that is made from the stimulation of the needle disappears in seconds.

Are the needles clean?

Acupuncture needles are pre-sterilized, individually packaged and disposable. Thus assuring there is no transmission of communicable disease from patient to patient.

How does Acupuncture work?

How can such an “ancient” medicine be at the forefront of the “new” millennium? Simple, acupuncture is so incredible because it works on all levels. This means superficially, internally, physically and emotionally. Therefore it works for superficial muscular problems, internal issues, emotional conflict and also as preventive maintenance. How does it work? Basically, the needles stimulate the energy or Qi in the meridians or channels. When we have pain or inflammation this indicates there is stagnation in that area of the meridian. To achieve results, all that is needed is to move the stagnation or energy with acupuncture. Concerning internal problems, this means any imbalance in the body, these manifest as symptoms…PMS, constipation, fatigue, insomnia, depression etc. Each symptom correlates to an organ and each organ has its own meridian. Acupuncture can then stimulate the meridian connected to the organ that needs balance, therefore achieving alleviation of the symptom. The Chinese believe “if there is free flow than no imbalance or disease can occur”, therefore we can ensure a healthy future and function at our optimum with monthly maintenance treatments.

Do I have to believe in Acupuncture for it to work?

No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals. These patients do not understand or believe in this treatment, but that does not prevent them from getting better.

How many treatments do I need?

That depends upon the duration, severity and nature of each individual’s complaint. Generally five to fifteen treatments are adequate for the majority of illness. Acute conditions may require only a single treatment and some degenerative diseases may require a whole series of treatments.

Should I use Acupuncture with other types of health care?

Yes. Oriental Medicine can be used by itself or as a complement to other systems of health care. When used together with Western Medicine healing is enhanced.

Please tell us if you are under the care of other health practitioners or about any medications you are currently taking so that we may coordinate our efforts.

Please note: While Oriental Medicine can treat many conditions, there are situations in which Western Medicine is more appropriate. If this occurs, we will recommend contacting a Western Medical doctor.

What criteria should one use in choosing an acupuncturist?

Look for the abbreviations L.Ac., O.M.D., D.O.M or Dip. Ac. after the practitioners name. All of these abbreviations are similar in meaning. Chinese Medicine as a system is extremely complicated and extensive. It is not just a collection of techniques that can be added to some other health care profession. Only seek treatment from professionally trained and qualified practitioners of Chinese Medicine.

The First Treatment

After you arrive you will be asked to fill out a short health history. These questions are to help your practitioner evaluate your presenting patterns based upon your symptoms. This “pattern of disharmony” is in large measure what makes traditional Chinese/Asian Medicine so effective.

In a private room you will review the history one-on-one with the treating Practitioner. After further evaluation the Practitioner will explain the treatment strategy. Then your Practitioner will wash their hands and begin your treatment.

What do I need to do to prepare for an acupuncture treatment?

Prior to coming for your appointment, be sure to eat only a light meal or snack and drink a little water. Please also bring the names and doses of all medications and dietary or herbal supplements you are taking.

Here is an excellent example “story” to explain where acupuncture is both the modern and traditional Chinese medical system. The story of the Three Brothers.

James O’Sullivan L.Ac C.Ac (China)

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