Archive for October 2012

Melissa Helps You Sleep

-----------Lemon Balm------------

I’ve often joked that if I could be healthy, energized, and rested without having to sleep, I would choose that. I’ve never much “liked” going to sleep. I’ve always been that way. The kid making excuses to stay up later. Not wanting to miss out on anything.

But sleep is obviously necessary and I try quiet my inner child so I can get plenty of good restful sleep. I’m one of the lucky ones who can generally sleep well.

If you are not so lucky in that department, here are some foods that you might like to enjoy.

Melatonin is a hormone that the pineal gland in your brain produces naturally to regulate your circadian rhythm. Melatonin is produced at night and is suppressed by the light of day. Melatonin can also be found in foods, including:

– Tart cherries, particularly Montmorency cherries
– Walnuts
– Celery

You’ve probably felt sleepy after a big turkey dinner. Part of the reason may be from too much food. Part may be from the extra carbohydrates. The tryptophan content certainly helps. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, mood, and appetite.

Turkey is the best known for its tryptophan content, but all animal proteins contain tryptophan. Other foods include:

– Nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts
– Legumes like split peas, beans (black beans, kidney beans, etc.), lentils

Magnesium deficiency is a common nutritional challenge. Because magnesium helps relax muscles and calm nerves, it too can help improve sleep. Magnesium foods include:

– Dark leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens
– Pumpkin seeds (note that this food is listed twice as a good sleep food!)
– Cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts (nuts listed here again!)
– Peppermint
– Broccoli
– Molasses
– Edamame beans and other legumes (hint: eat more legumes)
– Flax, sesame seeds, tahini
and I saved the best for last here…
– Dark chocolate! But, of course, chocolate also contains caffeine and sugar, so do not eat too much and do not eat it too late

I could have mentioned dairy products as well as a sleep-inducing food, but because I usually recommend my patients limit or avoid dairy, I haven’t chosen to include it here.

Other food tips for a restful sleep:

– Avoid eating too late, but a light carbohydrate snack can support serotonin levels
– Avoid having too much caffeine too late in the day, and keep in mind that caffeine can affect you hours after you consume it
– Try some relaxing chamomile, lavender, or lemon balm tea in the evening

Fun fact:
Lemon balm is also known as Melissa officinalis. It has long been used to help reduce stress, calm nerves, and improve sleep. Have you been on my aaahhhhhhcupuncture table? Then I hope you find that to be true! But I hope I don’t put you to sleep otherwise! 🙂

It’s my turn for some of my own medicine…good night!



Get Well Soon; Better Yet, Don’t Get Sick

Have you felt a tickle in your throat? Do you have a runny nose? Sneezing more? Or are you worried about this happening to you during your busy days ahead?

Then it’s time to take action now. Some western herbs that help boost your immune system include:
Echinacea: helps treat severe and febrile infections
Blue wild indigo: for severe febrile infections, sepsis
Boneset: for flue and flu-like febrile illnesses
White cedar: for skin and mucosal membrane conditions

Some Chinese herbs include:
Ban lan gen: treats febrile illness and sore throat
Jin yin hua: sore throat, headache, fever
Ye ju hua: swollen throat
Chai hu: alternating fever and chills
Fang feng: headache, chills, bodyache
Huang qi: boosts immunity
Bai zhi: sinus congestion
Jie geng: cough, loss of voice

And I could go on and on and on. Do you need help? Ask me! Make sure that you get the right formula designed for you.


US Report Questions Flu Vaccine

This new report states that current flu vaccines are “sub-optimal”.

But vaccines aren’t the only way to avoid getting sick. In fact, boosting your immune system and keeping your body strong is the best way to avoid colds and flus or at least limit their frequency, duration, and severity. It is important that our immune systems practice mounting a defense. But of course we don’t want to get sick!

I recall a book from my childhood that showed immune cells as little French soldiers in neat little uniforms, carrying bayonet guns. When a virus or bacteria attacks the body, these little immune cell soldiers must mount a counter attack. If the viruses or bacteria are more numerous and stronger, they win. If the immune cells outnumber and overpower their attackers, our bodies win.

There are many ways to recruit more soldiers! Here are some:

1. Vitamin C: Supplements or vitamin C rich foods, including citrus foods, peppers, papayas, kiwis, dark leafy greens, and broccoli.

2. Zinc: Supplements (50 mg, not more than 100mg in a day) or zinc rich foods like oysters, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and sesame seeds.

3. Mushrooms: All cooked mushrooms help, but the best are maitake, rieshi, and shiitake.

4. Ginger, garlic, honey, oregano, and onions.

5.  Echinacea, oregano, astragalus, goldenseal, and so many more herbals…

6. Sleep: Get enough sleep. Your body needs this time for recovery and repair.

7. The usual: Wash your hands. But you know that already!

8. Biopuncture! Yes, biopuncture. Pascoleucyn contains echinacea in herbal quantity and a mix of homeopathic herbals. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it works!

Want to know more? Ask me!


Power up!

There are so many recipes “out there” for protein shake recipes. Still, I thought I would add my own, but with a bit of a twist, stripping it down to the basics.

– Protein powder, e.g. True Vitality, Vega protein powder, or other high quality brand
– EFA liquid, e.g. Vega oil shown here, Udo’s oil, or EFAplex (professional brand)
– Greens powder, e.g. Greens Superfood, Spirulina, Wholesome Whole foods, etc.
– Liquid: I use leftover tea, but water is my second fave option
– Frozen fruit


Easy! Of course you could add much more and sometimes I do add a nut butter, avocado, leafy greens, or other delicious and healthy ingredients, but this is the foundation for my shakes.


…light the corners of my mind…

This long weekend I visited my grandmother in Quebec. Her birthday is coming up later this month and she’ll be 96! Just imagine how different the world was when she was born in 1916!

One of the things that has always amazed me about my Grandma is her astonishing ability to remember people. She will remember their faces from way back when. She will remember their full names, often including the middle name! She will remember who is related to whom. She will remember how she knows them and so many other details of events that included those people. And the numbers of names that I hear her speak of amazes me.

In this day of electronic devices that store names, important dates, phone numbers, email addresses, and so forth, I often feel like my brain is no longer stored in my head, particularly when it comes to remembering things like this. In fact, I don’t even think I can recall my sister’s home phone number without pulling out my iPhone. Sad.

My grandmother is as sharp as a tack and I do believe that part of the reason why is that she has always made it a point to remember things, especially when it comes to the people around her.

The common saying, “Use it or lose it,” is true of so many things, including memory. My Grandma has inspired me to exercise my memory; to stretch my memory daily to recall facts that might otherwise require me to grab my phone.

Other things that are helpful to keep your brain healthy include getting enough essential fatty acids (EFAs), emphasizing the omega 3s from fatty fish, flax seed oil, chia seeds, and nuts and other seeds. Sufficient sleep, exercise, meditation, proper nutrition, some herbals, and acupuncture have been shown to strengthen the brain as well.

The other piece of my grandmother’s amazing memory is that she has always made the people around her feel important because they are important to her. Just one of the valuable lessons I have learned from my incredible Grandma. Something I won’t forget!


Think of me like a toothbrush…

Think of this, do you brush your teeth regularly because you have cavities…or because you want to prevent cavities?

Yes, I CAN treat illness, injury, and mystery symptoms…but… you could also think of me to be like a figurative toothbrush. I love to help PREVENT illness and injury and mystery symptoms. Some patients come in regularly, like once a month, to help them manage their health and stop little symptoms from turning into more troubling ones. Some need more frequent visits, some need less frequent. Depends on the individual’s situation.

One preventative measure to consider right now is a biopuncture treatment of Pascoleucyn (contains an herbal quantity of echinacea and ultralow dosage of other natural substances) to boost your immune system so you can improve your chances against being dragged down by the flu this season.

If you brush your teeth–and I hope you do!–ask yourself, do you care for the rest of your body at least as much as you care for your teeth?

Prevention of illness is a cure.



Healthy Apps

I posted on my Facebook page that anyone who has ever lined up for more than an hour to buy an iPhone or iPad can no longer be my friend. I was joking…sort of!

I do enjoy my iPad and iPhone, however, and here are some of my favourite apps and websites that I use and recommend for healthier habits (free or inexpensive):

– : A free “universal breathing room”. Join people from around the world breathing in sync. A great way to relax, meditate, focus, and bring positive energy into your life. A simplified version is also available as an app.

– * : An inexpensive resource of yoga classes and more that you can watch and follow at home.
Plus health articles and more.

– **Alive magazine: Pick up a free copy at most health food and supplement stores. A wealth of free health articles and recipes.

– *Other free online health resources include: and

– : Find out which foods you should buy organic and which foods are less of an issue.

– Decision Maker (app): When we are stressed we sometimes have a hard time making life’s simple decisions (do I want lentils or chickpeas?). This simple app helps me move forward.

– Gratitude Journal (app): Keep a gratitude journal and you will find you have more to be grateful for…funny how that happens. Obviously you don’t actually need the app. Get a beautiful book to write in. But write down what you are grateful every day, even if it’s just that you’re grateful to have had a tissue on you when you sneezed!

– Simply Being (app): A free guided meditation that you can use to help you relax and meditate. There are also many great CDs and sound tracks accessible online or in stores. Guided meditation can be a particularly good start for beginners.

– Period Tracker Lite (app): A free app to keep track of your menstrual cycle. Helps a lot when you get treatment from a Dr.TCM 😉 and you can’t recall by memory what your last period was like.
If you want to log in more information, you can get the paid app. It’s only $1.99!

– ShopNoGMO (app): Genetically Modified Foods. If you want to avoid them (and you do), this app helps you figure out what to buy and what to avoid.

– Locavore (app): Let’s you know what foods are currently in season for your area.

– Whole Foods Market Recipes (app): Yes, by Whole Foods Market. Search for recipes by ingredients or dietary preferences (e.g. gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc). Add the ingredients for your chosen recipes directly to a virtual shopping cart with the touch of a button.

– Songza (app): Music can be healing. Choose your fave music styles to help set the mood you want.

– Awesome Note (app): I keep my recipes here (if you are ever wanting a recipe for a healthy food, ask and if I have one in my collection of now over 200, I will email it to you with the simple touch of a few buttons) and it keeps me organized. Organized means less stress!

Do you have any favourite apps that help keep you on track with healthy habits? Let me know!

* I write for these sites.
** I’m on their advisory board.

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