All posts in Allergies

The Unicorn: #1 requested acupuncture point

vancouver acupuncture unicorn calm stressI don’t get the Starbucks Unicorn drink craze. It doesn’t look edible, it’s full of junk, and it contains a whopping 59g of sugar! It’s not just the calories. That’s almost 15 tsp of sugar. Inflammatory sugar. 

I get that it’s only available for a short time and people just want to try it because others are trying it. I’m curious too. But I know that that drink, for me, is a recipe for a headache–even if I only have a portion of it. So, instead I propose a new unicorn craze. I’d love to start an #acupunctureunicorn trend!

Ok, so the acupuncture point is not called The Unicorn. But I do nickname it the “#1 requested acupuncture point” and the “aren’t you going to do that point” point. The acupuncture point name is actually Yintang, and the benefits are many!

The main reason people request that point from me? Because it helps calm our overactive minds. We want to be mindful, but instead we find we’re “mind full.” Who amongst us couldn’t use a bit more calm? Unicorn acupuncture to the rescue.

What about sleep? Are you able to relax well and enjoy a deep, restful sleep? No? Then perhaps you could use some “acupuncture unicorn.”

Stuffy or runny nose? Allergic rhinitis? Congested sinuses? Become an acupuncture unicorn.

Headache? Perhaps it’s because you had a Starbucks unicorn drink? Or maybe it could be from eye strain, sinus congestion, stress, or other. Some unicorn acupuncture can help with that too.

Are you in? Are you ready to make a new unicorn craze–a healthy one? Take a picture of you getting acupuncture at Yintang and share it with the hashtag #acupunctureunicorn ! That would be a trend worth sharing.


Top Reasons You Need Acupuncture This Spring

need acupuncture vancouver springtimeYou wouldn’t know it to look outside (the picture to the right is from last year), but spring is finally here—well, technically at least. And after Vancouver’s unusually long cold snap, many are anxious to shake off the dark dreariness of winter. If you’re feeling a little funky trying to gear up for the warmer months ahead, now is the perfect time to consider getting some springtime acupuncture.

Here are some reasons why you need acupuncture this spring.

Boost Immunity

With the start of a new season, we also run the risk of getting sick. As the weather changes, it can take a while for our bodies to adjust. But for so many Vancouverites, the first sign of the springtime sun is like a long lost friend, tempting us to prematurely shed our scarves and gloves. If your body hasn’t had the chance to properly acclimatize, you could wind up getting sick. Getting some preemptive acupuncture will help boost your immunity and prepare you for the seasonal change. 

Treat Allergies

Ahhhh…spring! Blossoming flowers, budding trees, sprouting grass—what a wonderful time of year. That is, of course, if you aren’t one of the many that suffer from seasonal allergies. For allergy sufferers, springtime means itchy watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, and headaches. Don’t let allergies keep you indoors this year. Acupuncture has been shown to treat allergic reactions. Just make sure to get treatment early, before springtime pollen has a chance to send your immune system into overdrive. You might also ask me about biopuncture allergy treatment.

Manage Stress

Spring is all about change. And while many of us welcome it, the change in season does come with its own set of stress-inducing challenges. Final exams, adjusting to the time change, and taking on more work to prepare for summer vacation are all things that can send our stress levels through the roof, thus opening the door to a wide range of symptoms, including muscle pain, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and hormonal swings. Treating yourself to some calming acupuncture will help you control your stress before it controls you. 

Deal with Sports Injuries

Cycling, running, softball, and hiking— spring is a great time to get active again and enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, after a long winter of inactivity, it’s also the time of year when sports-related injuries start popping up. If you are looking to prevent injuries (or treat them when they do), acupuncture will help keep you active all season long.

Yes, you need acupuncture this spring

Now that spring has finally sprung, there’s no time like the present to get some acupuncture. You’ll be better equipped to meet the challenges of seasonal change head on and enjoy everything this marvellous time of year has to offer.   


Allergy season in Vancouver already?

allergy season in Vancouver acupuncture biopunctureSpring allergies. That’s what they are commonly called, but it’s not even spring yet and allergy season in Vancouver has already started! Warmer winters mean earlier starts to the allergy season, and higher pollen counts too. According to a Vancouver allergist quoted on CBC News, this year’s allergies actually started in January, though my patients started to notice their allergies early to mid-February.

Allergy Season in Vancouver

So, what exactly are you allergic to? It is hard to say without proper testing, but you may be able to narrow it down a bit by what is in season at a specific time of year. As mentioned, however, keep in mind that some dates are earlier this year (and recent years), than may be listed at this link because of warmer weather. Also, it may not be a complete listing, but it’s a start. PollenPlus Vancouver

Also, did you know that some foods can cause cross-reactions of allergies? If, for example, you’re allergic to birch trees, you may also have reaction to apples, pears, tomatoes, cherries, carrots, celery, and tree nuts, so you’re best to eliminate those foods from your diet, at least while you’re suffering from your seasonal allergies. 


Also, because cold and flu season is not over yet, it is worth considering if your symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and maybe even sore throat or headache might be a cold. To figure out if you’re suffering from a late winter cold or allergy season in Vancouver, you can check out my past article in 24 Hours newspaper through this link: Is it allergies or a cold?

Treating Allergies Naturally

For some, symptoms are fairly mild. But for others, allergy symptoms can be nearly debilitating. The first year I worked in Japan, I was excited to experience springtime, with all of its beautiful flower trees. That excitement soon disappeared though, as I suffered my first year of seasonal allergies. Every day I walked to work, and every day, by the time I reached the hospital, my eyes were swollen, red, and itchy. I could barely see. I wish I knew then what I know now.

Now I recommend Pascallerg biopuncture injections. Pascallerg is an ultra-low dose of natural ingredients in a sterile ampoule, designed to help modulate an over-active immune system. While also drinkable, I find it more effective when it is injected either just below the skin (subcutaneous) or into muscle (intramuscular), often in acupuncture points. 

For extra support, I often recommend vitamin C and quercetin. Some find local bee pollen helpful. While others use plant sterols. Still others find supplemental magnesium does the trick. 

One of the most practical things you can do is saline solution nasal rinsing. While it may not sound particularly fun, it is a safe, easy, inexpensive, and effective therapy, as it rinses out allergens that can collect in the nasal passages and sinuses. My preferred rinsing tool is called the Nasaline Irrigator. Horrible name, but what I like about it is that it doesn’t require you to tip your head to get water to enter the nostril via gravity. Designed like a big syringe (I know, I’m making it sound less and less attractive, but it really isn’t scary), you can control the flow, and the pressure allows you to move the water through, even when you are particularly congested. Other useful ways to do nasal rinsing include the traditional neti pot and sinus rinse bottles.


Traditional Chinese Medicine Treats Allergies Too

While all those suggestions I’ve given above are general, when I see someone in clinic, I ask lots of questions, take a look at your tongue, and feel your pulse. All of this gives me clues to your particular areas of health challenge so I can create a treatment plan–potentially including acupuncture, herbs, and dietary suggestions, in addition to the above suggestions.

Have you noticed the early allergy season in Vancouver? What are you doing about it?


Top 5 Health Tips for Fall Season

I asked, “What do you want me to write about?” And I received a request for acupressure points to massage for general body tune up/massage for the fall season. Great question! I thought I’d expand on that and offer my top health tips for fall this season. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we consider 5, not 4, seasons through the year–spring, summer, late summer, fall, and winter. Each season relates to a different set of organ systems and their associated health issues. Autumn relates to the TCM Lungs* and Large Intestines*. (*I capitalize these because TCM considers more than just the physical organs themselves.)

Problems with these systems can result in:

  • Frequent colds and flu
  • Infections and weakened immune system
  • Allergies and other auto-immune disorders
  • Skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, rashes, sensitivity
  • Asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other lung health issues
  • Constipation, diarrhea, irregularities with bowel movements
  • Depression, sadness, and lingering grief
  • Challenges with letting go or problems with commitment

Even if you don’t suffer from any of these particular wellness challenges, it’s a good idea to keep your body strong and optimally healthy by supporting the systems most active for each season. Start with these health tips for fall, and remember to let me know your favourite wellness habits as well.

Top 5 Health Tips for Fall Season 

  1. Breathe. Yes, of course you’re already breathing. But take the time to stop, notice your breath, then take a few minutes to deepen and slow that breath down. Breathe in to the bottom of your lungs, expanding your whole ribcage–front, back, and sides. Pause for just a moment. Then release your whole breath out, emptying your lungs. Pause again and start over with another deep inhale. Make sure you don’t make yourself dizzy, but try this for 5-10 breaths. Each time you breathe in, visualize the oxygen nourishing your whole body, supplying your cells with vital energy. Each time you breathe out, feel the release of letting go of what you do not need or want.
  2. Wear a scarf. Or turn up your collar or wear a turtleneck shirt. I consider scarves as health accessories, not just fashion accessories. Keeping your neck and shoulders warm and covered helps avoid a lowering of your immune system’s ability to ward off attack. It also helps prevent your muscles from tightening up as you start to pull your shoulders up toward your ears to guard against the cold air. 
  3. Get outside to connect with nature, even though the weather turns colder in the fall. Get close to some trees and practice the first health tip for fall. If you can’t get outside, use indoor plants to help. Peace lilies, rubber plants, spider plants, and snake plants, in particular, help clean and filtre your air by absorbing airborne bacteria, mould spores, and cancer-causing contaminants like formaldehyde.
  4. Consider your food choices. As the weather cools, soups, stews, slow cooked meals, roasted and steamed vegetables, and hot oatmeal are better options than salads, raw foods, and cold smoothies. Those latter foods are still healthy, but check in with your body and chances are you’ll find a balance tipping toward warmer foods may feel more suitable. Include fall harvest root veggies like sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, and beets. Support your immune system with garlic, onions, thyme, oregano, mushrooms, and hot tea. And boost up your network of good bacteria in your gut by eating fermented foods like yogurt, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut, and choose a high quality probiotic supplement.
  5. Try acupressure. Back to how this all started. Massaging or pressing on the following points can help support the immune system, one of the key aspects of the Lung system, and timely for the start of the cold and flu season. Press each point for 30 seconds. Some points can be done both sides at the same time. 
    1. acupressure immune system, health tips for fall, traditional Chinese medicine

      Lung 7

      Lung 7: Find this point by starting with giving a “thumbs up” sign with one hand. You’ll see a pocket form (called the “anatomical snuff box” because people used to put powdered tobacco–or snuff–in here to sniff it out) at the base of your thumb. Use your other hand to measure 2 finger-widths up your arm from the pocket. 

    2. acupressure immune system, health tips for fall, traditional Chinese medicine

      LI 11

      Large Intestine 11: With your elbow bent at 90 degrees, find a tender point just lateral (thumb side) to the end of your elbow crease.

    3. acupressure immune system, health tips for fall, traditional Chinese medicine

      ST 36

      Stomach 36: This point has been called the vitamin C point of the body because of its many health benefits. In addition to supporting digestive health and improving energy, it can also support immune health. With your knee bent at 90 degrees, find a depression below and lateral (pinky toe side) to your kneecap. The point is found one hand-width below that, just lateral to the shin bone (tibia). It will likely be tender.

    4. acupressure immune system, health tips for fall, traditional Chinese medicine

      Lung 1

      Lung 1: This point is found about 3 finger-widths below the collarbone, just in front of the arm bone and shoulder, where there is a depression.

    5. You might also find tapping on your breastbone (sternum) and over your upper chest helps improve your ability to breath deeply, while it also stimulates your thymus–part of your immune system.

Let me know if you have your own favourite health tips for fall, whether it’s acupressure points to support your immune system, your choice of healthy foods for fall, or other. You can also check out my 3 previous articles on health tips for fall via these links:

Health through Vancouver’s cold, damp

Fall: Letting Go with Breath

Chinese Medicine Health Tips for Fall Season

Of course I also think you should get regular tune-up treatments of acupuncture for optimal wellness, especially with seasonal transitions.


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.


Patient says “bye” to inhaler and allergies

AllergiesTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been in practice for thousands of years, but is ever-evolving, encompassing new modalities to continue to grow our methods of treatment. One of the decades old methods I use is called biopuncture or acupuncture injection therapy. Injections of small amounts of natural remedies can be done superficially under the skin or into muscles to stimulate the body to heal itself.

In the case of allergies, I use an ultra-low dose natural solution that is both safe and powerful, called Pascallerg, as the main remedy. A small amount of this remedy is injected into specifically chosen acupuncture points.

For a personal perspective, I’ve asked a recent patient to write about her experience:

“I’ve had asthma and allergies since I was a child and had been on corticosteroid inhalers for 20 years. I’m allergic to pretty much everything: dust, mold, trees, grass, feathers, animals- and I couldn’t function normally without taking a preventative inhaler daily. Recently, I decided I couldn’t be satisfied with the conventional medicine attitude that my health would never improve and that I would have to depend on pharmaceuticals the rest of my life. Starting to see Dr. Carr this past year was a turning point. My treatment focuses on acupuncture with biopuncture using Pascallerg, and is complemented by a good diet and other holistic methods. I have seen great results! In the course of a few months, I have been able to progressively reduce the use of my preventative inhaler down to zero! This was the first time in my life since childhood that I had a medication free week and been wheeze-free! I have also become much more resilient to colds, which used to have me wheezing for weeks afterwards. My friends and family are thrilled that I have seen so much progress as they know how frustrating my struggle with my allergies and asthma has been.”—S.F.

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