Health Blog

Have a topic you'd like me to write about? Just ask.

Boosting fertility with Whole Systems TCM

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureNot really surprising to those of us who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), “whole systems” TCM–or what we TCM practitioners call simply “TCM”–is more effective than 1-2 basic cookbook style acupuncture sessions done around IVF (in vitro fertilization) embryo implantation. Yes, there are points that are indicated to use to support fertility. Part of that reason is that in order to do a study, it’s easier to choose the same points and apply them to many people. But, of course, we’re all different. So, as it turns out, a recent study found that acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments are most effective when a knowledgeable TCM professional assess each individual and customizes treatment appropriately. For more, check out my article in 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper: Natural Methods Can Boost Fertility.


Is it acupuncture?

is it acupunctureSometimes I think that it would be helpful if we all wore “My Name Is” nametags. I’m horrible with names. I try, but it’s something I continue to have to work to improve. If you ever catch me stumbling with your name, please don’t be insulted. You aren’t the first time I’ve pulled that embarrassing blank. But, please know as well that I’ve also grown used to being called by the wrong name. For some reason, people often think my name is Michelle.

Now, on to my TCM story. Don’t worry, I’ll connect the dots at the end.

I was at a health trade show recently, wearing a nametag with my title, “Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine.” At a health product booth, one guy noted that his sister is a TCM as well, and that he loves acupuncture. For the remainder of my story, I’ll call him my “TCM step brother” because I like to call my TCM colleagues my TCM sisters and brothers—ever since one of my first TCM teachers suggested that idea years and years ago. The other guy there said that he’s had acupuncture too, but it was really intense and painful. We’ll call him “The Other Guy.”

Surprised, my TCM Step Brother and I raised our eyebrows and said that it shouldn’t be painful like that. We asked The Other Guy more about his “acupuncture” experience.

He said, “Well, the needles were put in and moved around until my muscle cramped up really painfully, and then he took the needle out.”

“Oh,” I said. “That sounds like IMS. Was it a physio who did your treatment?”

“Yes,” he replied. “How did you know?”

I knew because the treatment that The Other Guy received is a common physiotherapist treatment called intramuscular stimulation, or IMS, for short. IMS involves the insertion of a needle into tight and tender muscle bands. When the muscle is too contracted it will cause the muscle to grab and produce an intense cramp. The needle is soon after removed.

Some of my patients have described IMS as so painful that they cry during treatment. My physio friends have even confirmed this.

Acupuncture should not be this painful. Sometimes a needle does suddenly grab and create a “travelling” sensation or muscle twitch. But I have never made a patient cry because of pain.

IMS only needles into specific tight muscles. Acupuncture can treat tight muscles locally (in the tight muscle) or distally (at another location away from the tight muscle). Acupuncture professionals also look at whole systems for assessment and treatment. For example, if tight muscles are due to excess chronic stress, acupuncture (and TCM) can help with stress management. If stress is also causing digestive issues, acupuncture can work on that issue simultaneously as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong, IMS can be very effective. The Other Guy told TCM step brother and me that the treatment helped him. And some of my patients get both IMS from a physio and acupuncture from me.

So, here’s the thing. I told you I would tie it all together. Michelle is a very nice name. I know several Michelles that I like very much. But my name isn’t Michelle. Similarly, IMS is IMS, not acupuncture. Acupuncture is acupuncture, and is very much a part of a whole diagnostic and treatment system called Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Regardless, I hope that you get the treatment that works for you and heals your pain!


Dear “me”

Beautiful. Heart opening. Profound. 

This is the poetry of Shane Koyczan. You might remember him from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics opening ceremony. His is one of the performances I remember most from those memorable couple of weeks, and that’s saying a lot because a lot happened over that short time–including me getting to carry the Olympic torch, volunteer as part of the medical team at the athletes village, and seeing some of my figure skating heroes in person!

A patient of mine recently reminded me of Shane Koyczan because he was taking his family to see Shane perform in person. They enjoyed it immensely, not a surprise! I decided to check out more of Shane’s work online and I could spend hours watching his YouTube posts.

But back to the reason for this post. If you or someone you know suffers from depression or even just needs a bit of a lift (or a lot of a lift), check this out and share it.  






Prevent and treat sports injuries

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureIf you are planning on participating in any of the many athletic events of spring or summer–from Tough Mudder to BMO Marathon, SunRun to GranFondo, or beach volleyball tournies to Grouse Grind Challenge–you are probably in training now, or at least thinking about it. Nothing will stop your plans faster than an injury. You may be making your best times one minute and having to stop to heal up an injury the next. While you’re pushing your limits, consider that your body may need a little extra TLC. Read on about things you can do to prevent injuries: Mitigate Vancouver Training Injuries Or skip that and just come in for acupuncture ;)


Getting High on Acupuncture Research

acupuncture crazyI read this article and have decided that I need to meet the woman who wrote this. Brilliant! Funny! Poignant! 

Science should be unbiased. But unfortunately, people certainly can be. And people present their version of science. But this writer, Mel Hopper Koppelman, says it all so much better than I do, so please read this. And see if you don’t get a kick out of what she has to say.

The Journal of Chinese Medicine: Getting High on Acupuncture Research


Is it allergies or a cold?

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureYou’re sneezing and sniffling. Perhaps you have a headache or cough. Is it a cold or allergies? With the flu and cold season still going on, while spring allergy season has also arrived, it’s hard to tell what’s going on. There are, however, some key symptoms that can point you in one direction or the other. There are also natural remedies that can treat both health issues, making sure you get some relief, no matter whether your immune system is under-active or overactive. Read my most recent article in 24 Hours for more: Allergy Season Arrives Early in Vancouver.


The Besto Pesto

Pesto recipe healthy foodsWhat do you bring when you are invited to someone’s place and you want to bring food? If you’re like me, you might stress a bit about what foods most people will like, what is easy to make, and what is healthy, all while being sensitive to people’s dietary sensitivities. Ok, so this is not nut-free. But it is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. It takes only minutes to make. You can bring a combo of vegetables and/or crackers along with it. And, it’s also modifiable to your taste.

I recently made this pesto for 2 events I attended, and it was successful. I tried making a kale pesto before this, and was glad I didn’t have to bring it anywhere. I grew to like it, but it was pretty “kale” tasting at first, so probably wouldn’t be popular among the general population.

Here’s a picture of my dog Hana eating a leaf of basil that I dropped. What?! Who knew she’d like basil. 

Besto Pesto
Basil is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and heart healthy. Plus it's yummy!
Write a review
  1. 1/4 cup raw walnuts (I used walnuts, but you could also try almonds or pine nuts, or I even tried hazelnuts)
  2. 1 lemon, squeezed (I found 1/2 a lemon was enough if the lemon was big)
  3. 2 pinches fine black pepper
  4. 1 pinch cayenne (optional; I skip this ingredient)
  5. 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 Tbsp hot water
  7. 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  8. 1 tsp nutritional yeast (supposed to be optional, but I think it tastes best with this)
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend.
  3. Yup, just 2 steps. Easy.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC

Happy Year of the Goat

Happy New Year! Again.Year of the Goat nutrition and digestion natural health

It’s the lunar new year for 2015, and a second chance to do the things that will help make this a great healthy and happy year!

It’s the Year of the Goat, and though we might think of goats as being able to eat and digest anything, it’s really not true. In fact, goats will choose to eat the healthiest foods they can find, so they are actually a good model for us to eat more greens and perhaps even prepare for the detox cleanse time of our upcoming spring.

Check out my article in 24 Hours Vancouver: Eating like a goat means greens

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture


Long Live Your Healthy Heart!

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureAccording to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your heart is king. Makes sense. Without it pumping oxygenated blood to the rest of your body, you would be dead. We now have machines that can take the place of the heart, but that was not always the case, and we would rather not have to rely on that, if we can help it. So, in honour of February’s Healthy Heart Month, here are some of my tips, as written in 24 Hours, to help your heart be healthier. Health: Honour King by Using Restraint


Bone Broth and Vegetarian Broth

Ok, so if you’re a vegetarian, then this first recipe is not for you. Not to worry though, the second recipe will be.

If you’ve been checking out trends in the food world, then you’ll know that old is new again, as bone broths are all the rage right now. Kobe Bryant was prescribed it for an ankle sprain, and he and the Lakers have been eating it regularly since to heal injuries and recover faster. No longer a young player, perhaps he’ll be using that (and hopefully some acupuncture too) to heal his newly torn rotator cuff.

For vegetarians, here’s a vegetable stock, rich in minerals and very restorative. 

Roast Chicken and Astragalus Bone Broth
This was the simplest recipe I found, and it's very adaptable, depending on the kind of veggie scraps. No waste! I also recommend adding in some astragalus root to help support your immune system.
Write a review
  1. 1 leftover roast chicken carcass
  2. vegetable scraps (celery leaves, onion trimmings, carrot peels, garlic etc)
  3. 2 bay leafs
  4. 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  5. 1-3 Tablespoons of astragalus root
  6. water
  1. Add the chicken carcass, vegetable scraps, bay leafs, and astragalus to a slow cooker.
  2. Pour filtered water over the carcass to cover.
  3. Add apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar will help to extract the minerals out of the bones.
  4. Cook in your slow cooker on low heat for 24 hours or longer.
  5. By adding water to the cooker, you can continue to cook the broth until the chicken bones become flexible and rubbery.
  6. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and pour into storage containers.
  7. The broth should gel, but it is not necessary.
  1. Bone broths are rich in minerals, glucosamine, and chondroitin, helping to restore joint health, digestive health, skin, and immune system.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC
Vegetarian Astragalus Broth
Write a review
  1. 4 medium zucchini, finely chopped
  2. 15 oz (450g) of green string beans, chopped
  3. 1 small bunch of parsley, stems and leaves, chopped
  4. 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 stalks of celergy, finely chopped
  7. 1 tsp sea salt
  8. 1-3 Tbsp astragalus root (optional)
  9. 4 cups water
  1. Place all ingredients in a pot.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes with lid on.
  4. Strain and use as broth. If you leave out the astragalus, you can keep in the veggies and eat it as is, or blend it for a thicker soup.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC

%d bloggers like this: