Health Blog

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More to concussion relief than dark rooms

24 Hours logoConcussions are more than simple bumps on the head, and can result in much more than just a few headaches. Rest is the first prescription, but there are many more things that can be done. After seeing a report on the news recently about one of our CFL players and his lawsuit prompted by his concussions, I wrote this article for 24 Hours Vancouver. Read more by clicking here.

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Blueberry Lavender Mousse

Blueberry Lavender Pudding
A healthy dessert that will help you chill down, use up some of the fresh local berries now available, and bring you a calm energy.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups fresh blueberries
  2. 1 spring fresh lavender
  3. 3 Tbsp honey (or agave nectar)
Instructions
  1. Blend all together into a liquid.
  2. Pour into a serving bowl and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Simple as that.
  4. Yum!
Notes
  1. Studies have shown that blueberries can improve cognitive function, slow cognitive decline, and help protect the brain!
  2. Feeling smart and want more info on the brain health benefits of blueberries? Check out this link: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2008/feb2008_Maintaining-Youthful-Cognitive-Function-With-Blueberries_01.htm
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Coffee is only a crutch

24 Hours logoSummer is a great time for lots of activities — with every weekend seemingly filled with promises of road trips, hikes, outdoor gatherings and more. It seems like a good idea in the planning stage, but sometimes we don’t feel we will have enough energy to make it all happen. Boost up your reserves so that you don’t need to suffer through or bail out on the good times.

For more, click here for a PDF of my article in 24 Hours Vancouver .

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Don’t use pills for summer insomnia

24 Hours logoI wrote this article and then the very next day had 2 patients email to ask me for information about treating insomnia. That on top of the usual in clinic requests I hear during appointments. That just goes to show how ubiquitous sleep issues are. 

I know many of you take sleeping pills, but I highly recommend looking for other options. I mentioned it in my 24 Hours article, but didn’t include the quote:

Receiving hypnotic prescriptions was associated with greater than threefold increased hazards of death even when prescribed <18 pills/year. 

That’s huge! Here’s a link to that research: Hypnotics Association with Mortality or Cancer

Acupuncture, herbs, and supplements offer healthier alternatives. Check out my article on sleep in 24 Hours by clicking here.

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Cooling Soup

It’s officially summer and the weather is heating up. When the weather gets warm it often doesn’t feel like soup weather. Unless, that is, you make a chilled soup like this Chilled Cucumber and Dill Soup from my friend and favourite chef, Luisa Rios of Cooking Journeys.

Though cucumbers contain a lot of water, they are still packed with nutrition. Keep the skin on for a good source of fibre, silica, potassium, and magnesium. This low calorie vegetable is also rich in vitamins A, C, and folic acid. Because of the silica content, cucumbers are particularly good for healthy connective tissue–bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It is also important for healthy skin and hair.

Dill (I’ve blogged about a delicious dill soup before) is great to help with your digestion and is both antimicrobial and anticancer.

Chilled Cucumber and Dill Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 large cucumbers
  2. 1 small handful fresh mint
  3. 1 small handful fresh dill
  4. 2 cups vegetable stock
  5. 2/3 cup plain yogurt (or for a vegan option, use silken soft tofu)
  6. salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Trim the ends of the cucumber and discard the seeds.
  2. Chop the cucumber into chunks and place in a food processor.
  3. Add the mint and dill.
  4. Process until finely chopped.
  5. Add the stock and process until well mixed.
  6. If you want you can press the soup through a fine strainer (though I probably wouldn't bother).
  7. Gradually whisk the yogurt into the soup until well blended.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  10. Whisk the soup well before serving and taste for seasoning.
Notes
  1. Chef Luisa suggests chilling the serving bowls to make for an even better presentation and serve with a nice, thin crisp bread.
Adapted from Cooking Journeys
Adapted from Cooking Journeys
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Keep dad healthy for years to come

24 Hours logoIn honour of Father’s Day June 15th, I wrote this article in 24 Hours. But, it’s really about health for all, particularly those with a personal or family history of heart disease. And, really, all of us should be taking extra special care of our hearts. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the heart to be the “King organ” of our bodies–the most important. So, “Long live the king!”

For the PDF link to my article in 24 Hours Vancouver, click here: Keep dad healthy for years to come

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Get past the “ick” factor

24 Hours logoYes, Chinese herbs tasted awful to most. I tell my patients to be ready for the worst tasting “tea” they’ve ever had. Either they agree it’s the worst, but are prepared for it, or they are happy to report that it’s “not that bad.” The good news is two-fold. One, it doesn’t generally taste that bad by week 2, as your taste buds adapt to bitter–they’re usually much more accustomed to sweet and salty. And two, the health benefits start to kick in.  Click here for the PDF of my article in 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper: Get past ‘ick’ factor for herbal benefits.

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Dairy-free creamy mint pea soup

There are probably a gazillion pea soup recipes, but second to my mom’s pea soup (best in the cold weather months), this one is my favourite (for the warm weather months). I love how easy this soup is to make, and as the weather is getting warmer, it’s definitely a go-to recipe. 

Peas are a good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, carotenes, and a slew of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, and phosphorous. Mint is an excellent herb to relieve gas and intestinal cramps. In fact, peppermint oil capsules are often recommended for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It can also help relieve symptoms of hay fever and possibly even inhibit the growth of cancer.

I can’t understand how I haven’t shared this recipe sooner, so here it is now. Let me know what you think of it.

Dairy-Free Creamy Mint Pea Soup
I normally modify the recipes I find online, but I made few changes to this one. Simple seemed best.
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Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces of peas, steamed (she suggested fresh English peas; I used frozen and it worked out great)
  2. 1/2 cup raw almonds*
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 1/4 sea salt (I usually use less and add more to test, as needed)
  5. 2 sprigs mint leaves, chopped
  6. 1-3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  7. pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Soak the almonds overnight in salted water and drain
  2. Add drained almonds to food processor or Vitamix
  3. Steam peas until tender and warm -- if you want the soup to be hot, add the just-cooked peas to the blender or food processor
  4. Add the peas, water, mint, and nutritional yeast to the processor.
  5. Start slow and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more water if you want it thinner. Or, if you like it creamier and thicker, you could add in more soaked almonds.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
  1. Could it be easier? I think not!
Adapted from lunchboxbunch.com
Adapted from lunchboxbunch.com
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Acupuncture for gardeners’ pain

I don’t have much of a green thumb.24 Hours logo

I’m thankful that I’m a Dr. of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the 21st century because if I were doing this in the earlier days of TCM, I would have had to grow and collect my own herbs–and that would not have been great for my patients.

What I can do is help you gardeners get back to your plants if pain, injury, or other health issue are interfering with your fun in the dirt. Click here to check out my article in 24 Hours Vancouver, “Kneeling gardeners face growing pains.”

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Top 3 Tips to Staying Healthy and Injury-Free While Being Active

Vancouver Sun RunI didn’t participate, but I applaud those that did the Vancouver Sun Run this past weekend. It took dedication and training to be able to get out there and enjoy it. Some, unfortunately, are now injured and sore. Some had to skip the event due to injuries acquired leading up to the big day. Some injuries are unavoidable and fluke. Others could have been predicted—overtraining or undertraining or improper preparation.

I don’t like to run. I will run, if I have to—like if I’m late for yoga class or running away from doing chores. Growing up, I chose figure skating, volleyball, dance, and diving; not soccer, basketball, or track and field. But, though the specifics of training regimens changes based on the sport or activity, there are some basics that can be followed for any activity.

1. Pick a training routine that you can do

I usually make at least one mistake in pushing myself too hard when I start a new activity. My head says yes; my body says no. I nearly threw up during my first Crossfit-like class (they tell me that’s normal, but don’t believe them that it’s okay…it’s not ok to vomit when you’re exercising). I banged up my knee and sprained my finger trying to compete with the best Grouse Grind climb time of a 20-something fitness trainer I know. I even strained my hamstrings doing 40 straight days of Vinyasa power yoga when I was brand new to yoga.

So, do as I say, not as I have done—I’m getting smarter about this, I swear I am.

Build gradually when you start a new activity. It’s fine—and admirable—for couch potatoes to pursue a goal of doing a marathon, but the process needs to be paced.

2. Get the basics

Though some high level athletes do advertise for junk food companies, athletes know that getting the right nutrition is key to a good performance. It should come as no surprise that whole foods and lots of veggies are good, while synthetic ingredients and processed foods are not.

Get your zzzzzzs. Sleep-time is when your body does much of its healing and repair. Sometimes pain and injury can interfere with a restful sleep. If that’s the case, then make sure that your healthcare provider addresses that. An easily absorbed magnesium supplement may help relax your muscles enough to relieve some tension and help you drift off. To find out how Melissa officinalis and other herbs can help with sleep, check out my blog here, “Melissa Helps You Sleep.”

3. Treat and prevent

Don’t wait until your pain becomes chronic before you get treatment. Acupuncture, biopuncture, Chinese herbs, and supplements can help speed your healing time by decreasing inflammation, relieving muscle spasms and tightness, and improving local circulation.

Even better, try preventing injuries by planning ahead. In addition to proper training, support your healthiest self so that you can more quickly recover, even if you do overdo it. Tomorrow my article on acupuncture pre- and post- event comes out in 24 Hours Vancouver, so pick up your copy, look for it online, or wait for me to post it as my next blog.

Now, get up and get active!

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