Goji berries are not a food I would normally consider local. Grown mostly in China, goji berries are a challenge to grow in Canada. That’s why so few places do. But, fortunate for us, there is one farm in the Lower Mainland amongst that short list, and this week I visited them.
Why should I care about goji berries?
Well, you don’t have to. But if you’re interested in healthy food options and like to try different foods, why not? After all, goji berries have many health benefits.
- They are rich in antioxidants–i.e. cell protectants that help prevent cancer, fight disease, and manage inflammation.
- They are a good source of fibre. Fibre helps stabilize your blood sugar (Traditional Chinese Medicine has long used goji to help manage diabetes), helps you feel full, and supports healthy bowel movements, all of which can help with healthy weight management.
- They contain more protein than most berries.
- Ounce for ounce, goji berries have more iron than spinach! In TCM they are classified as a Blood Tonic.
- TCM has long used goji–except that we call them gou qi zi–for supporting healthy vision, and research supports this.
- Gojis may increase men’s testosterone levels and improve sperm count and motility, so it’s no surprise that in TCM, goji are sometimes used to address men’s sexual health.
- For women, goji berries may also boost fertility by helping with ovulation.
- Goji are also popular for promoting healthy skin and boosting energy.
When I was doing my internship in China, I noticed that all the TCM doctors I trained with drank hot water with goji berries. As the weather got hot, they added in chrysanthemum flowers, but the goji berries seemed a staple.
Visiting a Local Goji Farm
On the first day of August, my husband and I made a drive all the way out to Aldergrove because ever since I met the owner (Peter Breederland) of a BC goji farm at a health show, I wanted to visit his goji farm.
When we arrived, though I had intended to simply buy freshly picked berries, there was only one clamshell of goji available, so I asked about the U-pick. It was hot, hot, hot out, but I was told the goji are super easy to pick. It’s true. They are. And we picked about 3/4 kg of berries in no time.
Fresh goji are super fragile. Their flesh is very soft and there are small seeds inside. The taste of the larger, ripe goji are mildly sweet, slightly tart. I find some of the berries have a bit of a red pepper taste, but others have told me they are reminiscent of huckleberries (I don’t think I’ve ever had them, so I can’t compare). The LA Times described the taste: “The berries had a mild, sweet, tomato-like flavor, with vegetal, rose and red pepper notes.” I think they taste quite different from the dried goji I’m super familiar with, but I’ve been enjoying fresh goji on my oatmeal, just as I typically have the dried ones.
If you come in for an appointment with me this week, ask me for a goji berry (I’ve got them at the clinic!).
In case you’re interested, you can even buy your own goji plant! Check them out at Gojoy, and let them know I sent you! 😉
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.
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 spring fresh lavender
- 3 Tbsp honey (or agave nectar)
- Blend all together into a liquid.
- Pour into a serving bowl and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Simple as that.
- Studies have shown that blueberries can improve cognitive function, slow cognitive decline, and help protect the brain!
- 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/
Summer 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 .
This is for ONE person?!
I am recently returned from a trip to Germany and France. I had training in Germany, so I extended the stay for a holiday visit. The training was very helpful. The travel was wonderful. The food…well, the food was different than my usual.
I had never thought of sauerkraut as a vegetable, but my experience in Germany showed me that sauerkraut is thought of there as a salad. The only other vegetable I saw in Germany was spargel, known here as asparagus. Actually, it wouldn’t be recognized here at all, as asparagus there is huge and also white.
While I was traveling, many of my fellow practitioners at Connect Health, back in Vancouver, were in the midst of an elimination diet. An elimination diet is used to help determine foods that might be poorly managed by the body and thus resulting in a variety of symptoms, from fatigue, to bloating, to skin disorders, to headaches, and more.
While they eliminated red meat, I was eating meat almost exclusively in Germany. I don’t think there could be many vegetarians in that country, at least not in Bavaria. While dairy was a no-no for my colleagues and is normally not on my food roster at all, it’s really hard to avoid cheese in France! And, really, I can’t say I wanted to avoid it in France. No sweets, pastries, and breads in Vancouver. More of those over those two weeks for me than I would normally have in months. My husband and I shared a pretzel in Germany that was almost the size of a steering wheel! And, what else would you choose for lunch or a snack in Paris other than a baguette or croissant? You might even wash it down with a coffee, something I have maybe once a week maximum in Vancouver. Finally, I don’t imbibe much at home, but one simply has to try the beer in Germany and the wine in France, doesn’t one? Besides, those beverages seem to be cheaper than water in these two countries!
So, now, back in Vancouver, I’m happy to be back to my usual choice of foods. I do not miss the wurst, the cheese, the beer or wine, or even most of the sweets (though I would have a good croissant if I bumped into one). Yesterday I made a fennel and apple salad with black beans for lunch. And today I prepped two full batches of date and nut protein snacks, half of which I will freeze for future use.
Some of my family and friends think I’m depriving myself by avoiding or limiting a lot of the foods they think of as staples. I think that I feel so much better without those foods and my taste buds have become stronger, able to taste sweet or salty without being flooded. Do you think of fennel as sweet? What about black beans? Eating backwards for a short time was a strong reminder for me that eating the “accumulation diet” is not for me. To modify the quote from Forrest Gump, “Healthy is as healthy does.”
One of the most common goals for the new year is a decision to be more active. I started day one of January first with an invigorating Polar Bear swim! One of the most common blocks to being more active is pain. Pain management is where I can help.
Acupuncture can be very effective to treat pain from many causes, from injury and surgery recovery, to arthritis, to menstrual cramps, to headaches, to migraines, to digestive disorder pain, and more. Check out my website for more specific information for each of these types of pain: http://www.activetcm.com/pain_management/
There are a multitude of supplements both online and in stores with claims to cure your pain, but which ones are right for you? First of all, that depends on your type of pain. Is it from muscle injury? Joint degeneration? Nerve impingement? Internal organ disease? Immune system imbalance? Hormonal imbalance? All of the above? None of the above?
Because there are so many causes for pain and because pain is such a subjective experience, it is important to get a proper assessment. That usually starts with a complete and thorough consultation determining when/how the pain started; what aggravates the pain; what alleviates the pain; what concurrent medical issues there might be; what the health history indicates; whether lifestyle, emotional, mental, or spiritual aspects are big contributors (they always contribute something!); and more.
Some common supplements that may crossover treatment for several different kinds of pain include magnesium, fish oils, and coenzyme Q10.
Though magnesium is found in a lot of foods, including dark leafy green veggies, legumes, and nuts, rates of deficiency are high in North America. In fact, approximately 68% of the US population consumes less than the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of magnesium and 19% of the population consumes less than 50% of the RDA!
Magnesium deficiency can contribute to muscle cramps and tightness, migraines, fatigue, poor sleep, weak bones, menstrual cramps, and anxiety.
Supplementing magnesium is easy. Look for magnesium glycinate, bisglycinate, or citrate, avoiding magnesium oxide, which draws water into the bowels to act as a laxative (thus poorly absorbed). I most often recommend magnesium glycinate capsules or magnesium citrate powder.
It almost impossible not to have heard about omega 3 essential fatty acids. These “good fats” are often in the news because of their many health benefits, including reducing inflammation, improving heart health, decreasing joint pain, supporting healthy skin, and easing depression.
My mom also told me years ago to eat more fish so I could be smart. I admit I hated fish. Though I’ve now learned to like it, I still take fish oil capsules as I know that I cannot eat enough fish to match my busy and active lifestyle and supply me enough DHA and EPA (main components of the omega 3s from fish).
When choosing a fish oil, quality is key. Poor quality fish oil capsules may taste fishy because the oils are rancid. Inappropriately processed fish oils may not be as health beneficial because heat and light can destroy these delicate fats.
If you want to know more about which fish oils I prefer, feel free to ask me.
This powerful antioxidant can be your buddy and you can call him by his nickname CoQ10. He will help protect you; he can be your body guard. As an antioxidant, he assists in decreasing cellular damage. CoQ10 is also involved in making a key energy molecule called ATP. Thus, if your body doesn’t get or make enough CoQ10, you may feel fatigued and/or depressed and many of your body’s processes will not function properly.
Your body makes CoQ10 and we also consume it via oily fish, organ meats, and whole grains.
So, how do you know if you have enough? If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart disease, you may benefit from taking CoQ10. Statin drugs so commonly used to treat high cholesterol contribute to lower CoQ10 levels, so if you are taking these drugs, talk to your health provider to determine if supplementing will benefit you.
CoQ10 has also shown great promise for treating migraines at dosages of 150mg-300mg daily. Once again, quality matters.
As always, feel free to ask me. Contact me here.
I just spent all day today at a forum held at UBC called “It’s Time to Heal”. It was created by Maple Ridge MD, Dr. Nelie Johnson. As soon as I saw that Dr. Bruce Lipton (PhD in Developmental Cell Biology) would be speaking, I knew that I would have to cancel my busy Saturday clinic day to attend this.
I first saw Bruce at a conference hosted by one of the herbal distributors for my TCM herbs several years ago. I had never heard of him, but after an intro 30 minute talk by him, I immediately called my husband and told him to stop whatever he was doing and get downtown to come see Bruce’s lecture slotted for that afternoon. My husband was writing his Masters in Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), the study of how the mind affects the immune system via the nervous system. PNI is based on quantum physics and quantum physics is Bruce’s area of expertise.
I, unfortunately, couldn’t attend Bruce’s lecture that afternoon as I wanted to attend the lecture on Balance Acupuncture and they were scheduled to take place at the same time. I’m still glad I made that choice as I use those acupuncture skills every day. If you’ve ever had me acupuncture your hand when your lower back is sore or your right wrist to treat your left ankle, you’ve had balance acupuncture. But, I always wished I could have seen more of Bruce’s lecture…especially after my husband spoke on and on and on about him afterward.
Shortly after that weekend I bought Bruce’s CD lecture “The Wisdom of Your Cells: How your Beliefs Control Your Biology” and was spellbound with what he had to say. He says it so much better than me, but basically it boils down to the truth that the foundation of what we teach in medical school is WRONG. DNA does NOT control our biology. Genes do NOT control life; life CAN influence and CHANGE how our genes express. We can control our genes! How? Because it’s the signals that we get from our environment (energy–good or bad, trauma, toxins, and THOUGHT) that can change how the genes express and how how a cell is created. If you take in good energy (Qi) and thoughts, you can grow new healthy cells. If you take in negative energy and thoughts (e.g. fear, anger, anxiety, etc.), you are in protection mode, i.e. fight or flight. You cannot be in growth if you are in protection. Your body chooses one or the other.
If this makes sense to you, then you must have read some stuff about Quantum Physics and healing. If it doesn’t, then you’ve got to learn more from Bruce or someone like him. Why? Because you can be in control of your own health, wellness, and happiness. And, it’s more than just positive thinking.
My husband bought “The Biology of Belief” and I bought “Spontaneous Evolution“. We have a lot of reading to do now!