All posts in health care

Traditional Chinese Medicine in Alive Magazine


Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture Vancouver BCWhen I was offered a chance to write about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for Alive Magazine, my answer was a resounding, “YES!” If we haven’t met, I’m a huge fan and supporter of TCM, its principles, and its treatments. After all, I’ve been practicing it for over 16 years. The more people who know about TCM and get a chance to try it in some format–TCM consultation, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, TCM food cures, cupping, or simple lifestyle changes based on TCM foundations–the happier I am!

Traditional Chinese Medicine Vancouver BCOne challenge about sharing information about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it uses a different language than most of us from the West can comprehend. Yin, Yang, Qi, meridians, Damp-Cold, Liver attacking Spleen–say what?! The thing is, many systems and professionals use their own language, from “lawyerspeak” to medical jargon to tech terms. Understand that this is our way of explaining complex principles and diagnostics, and some of our words are not to be taken literally (for example, your liver is not actually attacking your spleen!). 

It’s not easy to encapsulate all I want to say about TCM in just one article, but check out my link to Traditional Chinese Medicine: Deep, Historical Roots Offer New Medical Insights in June 2017’s issue of Alive. You’ll find a basic intro, my description of how TCM has been changing and evolving, and some info about how to find a qualified TCM in Canada. 


Top 5 Articles About Health in 2015

health in 2015 review Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture Vancouver bc

Health in 2015 Review

I like to look back to review the most stand-out news in health in 2015. Of course, for me, a lot of my remembrance about health news is particular to either Traditional Chinese Medicine or nutrition.

  1. Remember the day that you were told bacon and sausages are in the same category for cancer-causing as smoking and asbestos? If you missed my article reviewing the WHO’s report, here it is: WHO declares processed meat cancer risk.
  2. The Vancouver Sun wrote an article titled “Chinese herbs mixed with medications can be hazardous.” I wrote an article titled: The media loves to write about “dangerous Chinese herbs”
  3. Remember that yellow skied morning last summer? It looked cool, but its cause was not! Even though those fires are not affecting our air today, the tips for lung health are always good to heed: BC wildfires and your lung health
  4. Finding higher levels of toxins in the blood and urine samples of women from South and East Asia, researchers questioned the source, including Chinese and Aryuvedic herbs. It’s so important to know the source of the things you are taking. Are your foods, herbs, makeup, and more full of toxins
  5. No duh. Researchers found that acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments that were customized to individuals were more effective than “cookbook-style” one-treatment-fits-all acupuncture treatments to boost fertility. Boosting fertility with “whole systems” TCM

This isn’t exactly news about health in 2015, but my favourite article of the year was in the Journal of Chinese Medicine–a funny bit reviewing a negative opinion piece published about acupuncture research in Headache journal: Getting High on Acupuncture Research 
If you only read one link, read that one. Sad that the original article maligning acupuncture as an effective therapy for migraines was so misinformed, poorly researched, and published in a supposedly respected “scientific” journal.

Looking forward to seeing what 2016 will bring in the news on health. 

What are the health and wellness things you remember most for 2015, either in the media or in your personal life?



Accumulation Diet

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.”


Dog Day Morning, Afternoon, & Evening!

If you’ve read a few of my posts, you’ll probably see that I sometimes use my dogs as examples of good health. It’s not because they are healthier than the people I know–though they may be; it’s because they lead such simple lives, in contrast to most humans I know.

Well, about 6 weeks ago I was rushing around (as usual) trying to get more tasks completed in less time than possible when I noticed that my dogs were doing their usual…nothing. Laying on the couch looking sleepy, even though they had done virtually nothing all day. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t that be nice.” Wouldn’t it be nice to just sleep, laze around, stretch, get up to eat, maybe play a bit, take a short walk, go back to sleep, get up to eat, etc…

Don’t get me wrong, I actually love to be busy! But sometimes it can get overwhelming and you wish you could just stop, but at the same time there’s still lots to be done!

I realized that there’s something wrong if a person can’t take just one day to do nothing. Like a dog. Or a cat. So, I looked at my calendar, picked a day weeks in advance and slotted that as my first “Dog Day”. Leading up to that day, I completed the tasks that I knew were vital. I told those around me that I would be doing nothing that day. I planned out what I meant by “nothing”. For me that meant: NO work. I could read. Boy, was I looking forward to reading just for fun–again, no work readings. I could watch movies. I could go for a walk. I could take a nap. I could go to yoga (after all, my dogs do exercise and play). I could even cook. But I could not turn on my computer. I could not use my iPhone or iPad for any work at all.

Those who know me doubted I would be able to do it. Could I avoid working? Could I avoid turning on my computer?! Could I avoid all emails?! I questioned my ability to succeed at this and I even considered making Dog Day into a half day to ease myself into this idea. But as the day approached, I started to get super excited about the idea of a full day off. Like a real holiday!

On that first inaugral Dog Day I got up, ate, went to yoga, finished off a fiction novel I had started almost 8 months previous but never completed, watched a movie (Men Who Stare At Goats–great movie!), read another whole book (!), cooked a new meal with my husband (yummy Tofu and Banana Curry–so easy), and watched another movie (King’s Speech–long, but interesting).

It was EASY! And it was great!

Not only did I enjoy the day, but I also discovered that I have even more energy for my days of work. I am very fortunate to love what I do. But even still, it’s important to have days off–completely off–to rejuvenate.

So, I’ve already chosen my next Dog Day, planned out, of course, weeks in advance so I can prepare. My goal is to have a Dog Day every 4-6 weeks. If you have trouble shutting down the work mind, I challenge you to try scheduling a Dog Day as well (or Cat Day, if you prefer). Tell me all about it!


The way you do the things you do…

For months I had been complaining that the garage door opener in my building was not working well. I would point and press the button…no door movement. Press again…nothing. Try a different angle, put my hand out the window, get out of my car. So frustrating! Some of my neighbours also complained about the same thing.

Then a couple of weeks ago I was in the garage when our building’s newest tenant drove up to the door on the outside and pressed the button on his garage door opener and it opened first try. No problem.

How was it that he did that so easily? This is going to sound ridiculously simplistic, but he drove his car right up to the gate. Many of my other neighbours and I drove toward the gate, but stopped about 8 feet back. This new neighbour drove up to within a couple of feet. It makes me laugh now that I hadn’t thought of that myself!

Simple works!

So, let me ask you this…

Do you have pain? Are you struggling with a health issue? Have you tried a lot of different things without success?

Have you tried the same thing over and over again without success? Perhaps it’s time to rethink what you’re doing and see if there’s another way. Perhaps you’ve heard the quote by Einstein:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Of course one of my favourite solutions to recommend is Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. Why? Because making an appointment for a consultation is simple and getting a treatment plan and treatment is effective!


12 Simple Moves to Wellness

The 12 Moves to Wellness

Winter may not yet be official, but there is no question that year-end is quickly approaching. Many of us feel overwhelmed by our to-do lists and do not want to add more to that list with New Year’s resolutions or other such self-imposed undertakings. Being a fan of simplicity, I’ve composed a bit of a song. You’ll probably recognize the format as “The 12 Days of Christmas”, so go ahead and sing it! Or skip to the end of this article to read about the steps and why they are helpful.

For my 1st move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Drink lemon water in the morning.

For my 2nd move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Eat a real breakfast and drink lemon water in the morning.

For my 3rd move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink lemon water in the morning.

For my 4th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 5th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 6th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 7th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 8th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 9th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 10th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Be enamoured by your breath, be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 11th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Set an alarm to go to bed, be enamoured by your breath, be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and drink water lemon in the morning.

For my 12th move to wellness my doctor said to me,

Get acupuncture, set an alarm to go to bed, be enamoured by your breath, be inspired, make things fun, take the stairs, sit on the floor.

Be here, right now!

Try something new, laugh at yourself, eat a real breakfast, and…

Drink water lemon in the morning!

1. Drink water lemon in the morning

Lemons are rich in vitamin C and citric acid. Adding it to warm water and drinking it first thing in the morning helps stimulate the liver to produce bile which aid digestion. The vitamin C helps stimulate your immune system and promote the healing of connective tissue, bone, and cartilage.

2. Eat a real breakfast

As you may have already notice, “breakfast” can be broken down into the words “break” and “fast”. So, breakfast breaks the fast that you have been on (unless you are a late night snacker!) since your last meal before bedtime. Many know that breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but many of you still don’t eat a good breakfast. Coffee is not breakfast and coffee and a slice of toast barely qualifies. A good breakfast will consist of protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates. Go to my blog for my favourite breakfast, hot quinoa cereal. (

3. Laugh at yourself

There are times when being serious is important. But sometimes we take things too seriously when it would be okay to laugh or at least take things in with a lighter mood. Being able to laugh at ourselves takes the pressure off a bit. We can’t be perfect and some things will always seem to challenge us. I like the Q-TIP mentality: “Quit Taking It Personally”. So use a Q-TIP and stop nitpicking yourself.

4. Try something new
We’ve all been on autopilot at some point in our lives. You get to work and then realize that you don’t recall any of the journey. Routine can be good. But too much routine, too much structure, too much sameness is just that…”too much”. You needn’t turn your world upside-down to try something new (though you could choose to if it suits you). Perhaps it’s as simple as taking a different route to work, going to that new restaurant that you’ve been meaning to check out, or even brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Doing something new will stimulate your brain and keep the world fresh for you. 

5. Be here, right now

Trying something new has another benefit. We tend to be more present in the moment when we are doing something new. That makes sense because we have to focus more on something when we don’t know it well. Well, one benefit of being present, being here at this moment, is that we are more likely to be happy. So, if you would like to be happy, be present.

6. Sit on the floor

One of my yoga teachers, Chris Duggan (the one who inspired me into a regular yoga practice, told me that when he asked one of his teachers what he thought would be the best pose for his knees and hips, he was told to sit on the floor. You might have thought he’d say pigeon pose or something to that effect. But no. Sit on the floor. It sounds simple, but it makes sense. Many populations spend a lot of time sitting on the floor and their elders move very well. They can squat, they can bend, they can sit on the floor, and even more, they can come to standing after sitting on the floor.

7. Take the stairs

It’s easy to take the escalator or elevator, but it uses the wrong kind of energy. It doesn’t use your energy. Climbing or descending the stairs powers up your legs and improves your cardiovascular health. Don’t have time to go to the gym often enough? Take the stairs. The rain made you leave your bike at home? Take the stairs. You’re feeling stressed and frustrated? Take the stairs. The exercise will give you a boost of endorphins, feel good hormones.

8. Make things fun

Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Mary Poppins said so. I’m not recommending you take a spoon full of sugar to help you do whatever you don’t like to do, but you get the idea. I hate housework. So, when it’s time to dust I call a friend and talk and dust. Need to vacuum? I dance and vacuum (thankfully with no one able to see me!). Dishes? Crank up the music and sing! I was inspired to write about making things fun and about taking the stairs because of this wonderful idea that someone had and put into action:

9. Be inspired

And, speaking of inspiration, check out this 91 year old woman who is competing in track and field events and has been doing so since she was 77!

10. Be enamoured by your breath

Another yoga teacher said this in class. I’m enamoured with this quote. In yoga we are often reminded to pay attention to our breath. It is an essential part of yoga. But this description just made me think about my breath differently. Being enamoured by your breath is a more passive form of loving your breath or focusing on your breath. It feels more like the breath is in control of the mind. The breath is so entrancing that your mind can’t help but focus on it. And we all know how important our breath is. So, breathe deep and be enamoured by your breath.

11. Set an alarm to go to bed

Many of us set an alarm to get up in the morning. Without that alarm we may sleep in and miss appointments or be late for work. But how easy it is to let time slip by us as we stay up too late and consequently do not get enough sleep. So, why not try setting an alarm to go to bed? When that alarm goes off, shut off the light and close your eyes.

12. Get acupuncture

Have pain? Digestion off? Sleeping poorly? Feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed? Tired? Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine may be able to help you. But, what if you’re feeling well? Do you need to wait until you’re sick before you get treatment? No, absolutely not. In fact, the ideal way to use acupuncture and TCM is to get regular check ups and treatments. That may be once a month or with a change in the seasons. Prevention is key!


Seven Ways to Reduce Unnecessary Medical Costs

It’s an American article, but the statements could also be applied to Canadian, especially since we have a public healthcare system. Perhaps we should be using medicine more wisely, rather than more invasively. Hmmmm…

I would like to add 8th and 9th options.

8. Start recommending less invasive and more holistic health options more regularly. Rather than fight disease, let’s start promoting wellness.

9. Teach people to be responsible for their own health and give them incentives to eat right, exercise regularly, and make healthy lifestyle choices. Or, and people are going to hate this, tax or charge people more for poor lifestyle choices. Why is junk food so cheap and good food more expensive? Tax junk food at a higher rate and give that money to subsidize real, whole foods and exercise programs.

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