Sitting down with Dr. Sheena Vaughan to chat acupuncture, healthy-aging and everything in between.
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Health guru Dr Sheena Vaughan has practiced Chinese medicine for 13 years, so it’s no surprise that she embodies everything zen. Curious about acupuncture, we wandered down to Melbourne's Qi Medicine where Sheena is based, to see the cosmetic needling buzz for ourselves. The results were as calming as we imagined.
“In the days leading up to my acupuncture session feeling extremely tense, especially around the brow area. Despite being a huge needle-phobe, I always remember how well acupuncture treated my Acne when I was younger, so I was really excited to see what Sheena could do for me.
I went into my session with fairly dull complexion and could see and feel a huge change in me as soon as I was finished. The treatment was extremely relaxing and I went into a very deep meditation. My family and friends commented on my complexion and how calm I was, especially in the week after. Needless to say, I booked my follow up session straight away.”
- Che, bbHQ Marketing Manager
For any bellas interested, Qi Medicine specialises in Chinese medicine, offering services in acupuncture, dietary advice and women's health, among others. Situated around seven kilometres from Melbourne's CBD, the clinic is nestled in Moonee Ponds, boasting a humble space of serenity; Think greenery, the scent of burning candles and music to soothe.
Read on below for our chat with Sheena, where we talk all things acupuncture, healthy-aging and everything in between.
Tell us a little bit about what you do and how the practice started.
I'm a Chinese medicine doctor and an expert in fertility and skin. I started this practice back in 2006, so it's been 13 years and I absolutely love it. I'm lucky because I'm in a job where I go to work a bit stressed, I always come away feeling relaxed because it's nice, you get to nourish people. I've got a small team here and we have a really strong focus on women's health, fertility, natural anti-aging as well – or healthy-aging, rather, as opposed to anti-aging. Anti-aging is such a negative word or phrase. We're gonna age, it's like saying, "I'm anti-shoes" or "I'm anti-myself." It's inevitable, so there's nothing to fear. Doing it in the healthiest way possible and even learning to love yourself as much as you can in the whole process.
How did you get into acupuncture?
I fell in love with acupuncture when I first found out about it. I just was so blown away that you could just stick a couple of needles in people and they would have profound results with pain and skin and fertility and so many other factors. I just thought I have to do this, this is absolutely amazing. My first acupuncture session just blew me away, I was so relaxed. I guess I was probably more of an anxious kid, and I was always thinking and on the go and acupuncture was the one thing that just helped me relax and I thought this is great, I’m gonna do this.
Would that be why you recommend it to anyone who may be stressed or have anxiety?
Yes absolutely. It’s so amazing. And what it does is puts the body into a meditative state like that. Just so quickly and often people will meditate for 10-20 minutes, and won’t get to as close and deep as an acupuncture session, because it just taps directly into the nervous system and flicks that switch and calms everything down. It’s just magical, it’s great.
What advice would you have for anyone who may want to try it but is scared of needles?
The thing about acupuncture is that we have been psyched and brainwashed to hate needles because we’ve all had jabs when we were kids (polio, meningitis and all those injections) and they are painful. They’re really horrible right? Taking blood. It hurts. So we’re associating those two, which is unfortunate. It’s interesting because people will come and have their first session, and we specialise in taking first time clients because we do the most gentle acupuncture in the whole wide world, but we still get results. So I just challenge people to push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone, challenge your views on things and see for yourself, because the gains that you will get, it will be immense. And you know what, I’ve never had someone go “look that was just too painful, I’m never coming back.” They’re always like “I can’t believe how not painful that was, and why didn’t I come and see you 10 years ago? You could’ve been helping me all this time.”
How often would you recommend people to get it done?
It’s a very individual thing, obviously we do a consultation, a health assessment and do a full diagnosis. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, weekly for a couple of weeks, or we can go up to a year for fertility for example. It’s really depending on what they actually want.
For skincare for cosmetic acupuncture, I recommend a minimum of six weekly sessions, and usually a course of 12 sessions to get the full benefits.
What are the full health benefits?
If you’re coming for a cosmetic acupuncture, the health benefits is that acupuncture is clinically proven to help reduce stress, help reduce pain and help with fatigue. At the very minimum, you’re combating those three things which we all suffer with on a daily basis. So definite added benefits and definite health benefits.
That goes for general acupuncture as well, absolutely. It can do a lot for you in a short amount of time. It’s definitely pretty value-packed (laughs) if you’ve got a few things to tick off the list then it can definitely help you with a lot of different things at once. The added bonus with cosmetic, is that we’re focusing on things about the skin and the face that otherwise might not be addressed and we don’t necessarily have to go down the botox route or something more extreme.
Do you recommend natural remedy over something such as botox?
No definitely not, it’s in a category of its own. I haven’t done botox, I’m not anti-botox, I’m not anti-facelifts. But [cosmetic acupuncture] is not botox and it’s not a face lift. What we’re doing is we’re working from the inside out, and helping to obviously treat all those conditions like pain, stress, fatigue, that are contributing to our face just not being the most radiant and most beautiful it can be, and also underlying, looking at hormonal imbalances, problems at period time, all of these things will affect the skin. So acne for example that can come up, all those little factors.
Generally, if you’re looking for a botox-alternative with the same results as botox, it’s not cosmetic acupuncture because it doesn’t have botox-like results. It doesn’t paralyse everything, and same with a facelift, that’s just a different category. If you’re after that is something more health-focused, and just fine-tuning the body to help it be as radiant as possible, then I definitely do recommend acupuncture for that, but there’s a clear definition between botox and cosmetic acupuncture.
Are there any side effects?
No there’s no side effects, the only thing that can happen is a bruise every now and again and generally just feeling a little bit tired after a treatment because you’re so relaxed. We’re just leveraging the body’s innate healing ability, that’s all we’re doing. We’re not putting anything else in, so it’s nice and safe.
Most rewarding part of being a practitioner?
I was actually talking to my colleague the other day and I said “I’m so happy to be doing this because if I come to work a bit stressed, you know trying to get my toddler off to daycare and running around, I always leave relaxed.”
It’s the ability to work really closely with people on a really meaningful level and create some really beautiful changes for them, and seeing them get better, it’s just the best thing. I’m totally selfish when I say like, “I’m in it for that,” because I just want to see people feeling better, looking better, living better lives and being happier.
Sounds like a holiday being at work.
Yeah, it’s nourishing. It’s still work, but it’s really, really nourishing work. So I’m really blessed because I get so much out of it on a personal level, and I hope my clients do too and my team here as well. I think they’re the same.
Have you got all your friends onto it?
Oh yeah. Yep, my close friend when she was pregnant, we did acupuncture right up to the birth to help her give birth because she was overdue. I regularly see all my friends here, if they need a little bit of a pick-me-up or a bit of a treatment.
So you can come here even while you’re pregnant?
Yes absolutely. Right through the whole fertility, pregnancy, post-pregnancy and people of all ages. You see women of all ages here, menopause as well. Women’s health is quite a broad category - skin, fertility and healthy-aging, and menopause and all of those things kind of fall under the umbrella, but that’s what we’re really passionate about.
It must be so rewarding that you get to see women through all stages of life.
Yes which is a blessing. It’s not normally that a health practitioner gets the privilege to do that, to be able to support someone through everything. It means they can always come back. That’s right, it’s like “okay, I’m at my next stage, I need my team around me, what can we do?” so it’s really great.
Qi Staff Specialties
My expertise is in cosmetic acupuncture and fertility. My other practitioners here are also fertility, pregnancy, pain relief, and also we do remedial and Balinese massage.
Balinese massage, Simon who does it, does a little bit of Reiki and a little bit of energy healing at the same time, so it’s just really, deeply relaxing. It’s great.
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