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Exploring the Links Between Collagen & Chinese Medicine

Exploring the Links Between Collagen & Chinese Medicine

Dr. Jaime O’Sullivan is a Perth-based Chinese medicine practitioner. With close to two decades of clinical experience under her belt, Jaime founded Mimosa Health Studio. An integrated wellness practice, Mimosa uses a blend of traditional medicine and modern medicine to treat a range of concerns including mood and wellbeing, hormone balance, reproductive and sexual health, stress management and immune tolerance. Currently studying a Master of Medicine, Jaime is passionate about all aspects of wellbeing. We sat down with her to find out more about the principles of Chinese medicine, the relationship between Jing (essence) and collagen, and the importance of finding joy and happiness.

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what drew you to Chinese medicine?

I have been practicing Chinese medicine for nearly 20 years. I came across it in my early 20s, when I became really unwell with symptoms that were a combination of viral hepatitis and chronic fatigue. I was working as an international flight attendant at the time and assumed that I had picked something up in my travels. The symptoms plagued me for nearly a year, I was hospitalised in three countries and I was tested for everything–including Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma–all of which provided no diagnosis. A friend suggested that I try Chinese medicine, so I went for weekly acupuncture treatments and drank the powdered medicine I was given. I had absolutely no idea what was going on but in under a month of treatment I was better. I decided that I needed to know exactly how this system of medicine worked as it clearly understood things in a different way to modern medicine and gave me answers for my health that I had struggled to find anywhere else. Since then I have helped clients, taught students and taken my understanding of the medicine to levels I couldn’t even comprehend when I started studying.

What would you consider to be the highlights of Chinese medicine?

There is great respect for the complexity of the human body, the environment we live within and the interconnectedness of it all. In Chinese medicine there are five substances that every human is born with and over the course of our life we use and replenish them. The substances are not quantifiable via blood tests like modern medicine but are assessed by their quality or nature. Whether the substance is full, deficient, stuck, hot or cold forms part of the evaluation of a person’s state of health, and treatment is employed to re-establish equilibrium and maintain wellbeing.

What is Jing and how does it relate to the human body?

Jing is a magical essence that is the source of our vitality. Protecting our Qi/energy and blood/nourishment will improve the Jing and preserve our longevity. Jing is seen in the luminosity of our skin, reflected in our fertility, and contained in our bone marrow, brain, and in eggs and sperm. My clinical focus is on preserving Jing and protecting vitality. There is no such thing as too much Jing!

Would you consider there to be a relationship between collagen and Jing?

Collagen is a Jing tonic and bovine collagen is one of the richest sources of collagen available to us. One of the first ways that we see the impact of supplementing Jing is in the quality of our skin. Those that have used collagen for a period of time observe a noticeable benefit to their skin. Elasticity improves, skin tone evens out and the skin obtains a luminous radiance. This is an outer manifestation of our quality of Jing. If you lead a life that exposes you to a high proportion of things that deplete Jing, you will need to work harder to replenish it.

What advice would you give to people wanting to ensure they make the ‘right’ choice in collagen to help preserve their Jing?

The cleaner the source of collagen, the bigger the boost to our Jing reserves. As collagen is derived from the Jing of animals or fish, you want to make sure that you are using a good quality product. Bovine collagen is a neutral Jing tonic, which means that it will not negatively impact your own equilibrium. You really can’t have too much of it.

When selecting collagen, what things do you consider important?

Solubility is one of my biggest factors as a consumer, quality is my focus as a practitioner and ethical sourcing is important to me as a human.

As a doctor of Chinese medicine, what is your most popular advice to clients? Do you have a mantra?

What’s good for you is different for everyone, and what you need for balance is unique to you. Focus on joy and happiness and the rest will fall into place. And then there is the traditional stuff like: keep your belly and lower back warm and covered; wear socks on cold floors; eat foods such as soups, stews and casseroles to preserve your metabolism and strengthen your digestion; and don’t go outside with wet hair or swim in cold water (which is not possible in Perth!).

What is your favourite way to incorporate collagen in your day to maximise the effects on Jing?

I make a jug of organic hibiscus tea to keep in the fridge. Every afternoon, I have a glass at room temperature and mix in a tablespoon of By Beth collagen. The combination of hibiscus, which is really high in vitamin C, and collagen is a perfect pick-me-up for my energy and skin. I also add a tablespoon to my Japanese green tea in the morning.


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