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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.

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What I take for healthy travel supplements

healthy travel planeMany of you may be travelling this winter, either for Christmas holidays, New Year’s celebrations, or to get somewhere sunny early in the new year. The last thing you want to do is get sick. One of the first things I organize when I travel is my healthy travel pack. Your list may vary, depending on your particular needs, where you are travelling, length of travel, and how much room you have in your bags, but here are some of my tips.

Cover the Basics for Healthy Travel

While many have a fear of flying, afraid that the plane is going to crash, we all know that that is highly unlikely to happen. You are, however, highly likely to be exposed to a lot of viruses and bacteria that can leave you sick when you arrive at your destination. The first thing I would suggest when it comes to travel is to support your immune system. It’s also key to be proactive for digestive health, as travel can offer up some challenges in this regard. And how about stress and sleep? Even vacations can still stress you out and cause sleep problems.

Immune Health for Healthy Travel

  1. healthy travel prevent cold prevent flu anti-viralHydrate. Planes, in particular, are likely to leave you dehydrated. Though you may have to bother your fellow travellers so you can get up from your plane, train, or bus seat or ask for a driving pit stop, drink plenty of fluids. And no, wine or other alcohol do not count. In fact, don’t drink alcohol on the plane if you want to stay healthy (if you drink because it calms your nerves, read below for tips on that).
  2. Use an essential oil spritzer. A small (keep in mind liquid restrictions on airplanes) spray bottle with anti-viral essential oils like lavender and tea tree can be used to spritz your face. It’s refreshing, and if you inhale deeply as you spray, you’ll hydrate the mucus membranes of your nasal cavities, keeping them moist and doing their job of trapping infections before they enter your body deeper. Keep in mind that not all your fellow passengers will like this, so you may want to go to the bathroom to do this. Or, some may ask if they can borrow your spray bottle so they can try it themselves (no problem!).
  3. Take an immune support supplement with you. I take Japanese red reishi capsules and an anti-viral natural herbal throat spray. I also often take vitamin C or Panax ginseng powder to mix into my water.
  4. Take anti-bacterial wipes and/or hand sanitizer. I don’t like the conventional ones like Purell (hate the smell and find it drying), preferring instead ones like EO’s lavender hand sanitizer. 
  5. Avoid touching your face. This one takes practice. You may not realize it, but many of you will touch your nose, mouth, eyes, and ears several times in a day, each time possibly transferring bacteria to those entry points of your body. Use your forearm, sleeve, or tissue if your face is itchy or whatever. This funny video gives you another option for your sneeze: Sneeze into the back of your knee.

Digestive Health for Healthy Travel

  1. healthy travel digestion upset stomachTake a digestive enzyme blend. One of the things I love about travelling, is the chance to try new foods. But sometimes the body takes some time to get used to a change in diet. Plus, many of us over-indulge. I always bring digestive enzyme capsules in my purse, at the ready for culinary adventures.
  2. Bring ginger. I like ginger candy chews to help with motion sickness and nausea or vomiting from other cause (ugh, many of us have been down that road before).
  3. Be careful. Of course you know that if you are travelling to a place that is known for the equivalent of Montezuma’s Revenge (not just in Mexico), you’ll want to avoid drinking non-bottled or non-boiled water, ice, and even some raw fruits and vegetables. If you can peel them, you are much safer. I also bring grapefruit seed extract (Nutribiotic) so I can wash fruit I want to enjoy, but can’t fully trust. 
  4. Take probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that support a healthy digestive and immune system. The research on probiotics (and our “microbiome”) is growing exponentially. Look for one that’s shelf-stable (doesn’t need to be refrigerated), if you don’t have a fridge to store them.
  5. Bring anti-nausea wrist bands. If there’s any chance of someone in your travel party getting nauseous from motion sickness, throw these inexpensive and small wrist bands into your bag. 

Managing Stress and Sleep Issues for Healthy Travel

  1. healthy travel stress stres-free travel stressed outMake time for sleep. I know that getting ready to take a break from work can mean overtime before and after holidays. But, do your best to still get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep well, your immune system, digestive system, and everything else will not work as well. You’ll be more stressed too.
  2. Stress manage. Of course you may not be able to avoid all things stressful, but you can be prepared. If you are afraid of flying, get yourself geared up. My husband does not like to fly. But distraction (he never travels without his MP3 player and good headphones), breathing techniques, and explanations (“What’s that noise?!” “That’s the landing gear coming down.”) all help. There are also many natural remedies to help calm the nervous system. Passion flower (e.g.Pascoflair tablets) and Rescue Remedy drops or lozenges are examples. And, if something stronger is needed, I bring Gravol, in case he needs to be knocked out (though it doesn’t always work).
  3. Breathe. Of course you breathe. But do you really, really breathe? I mean, do you breathe deeply and slowly and with awareness? If you want to be calm when you are stressed, practice calm when you are not too stressed. 
  4. Consider an adrenal support protocol. If stress is your M.O., talk to someone about adrenal support supplements. Acupuncture can also help manage stress with its release of endorphins and chance to reset and restore the body and mind.
  5. Use sleep supplements, if needed. I know that jet lag, a different bed, hectic travel, a change in routine, and even just being super excited about travelling can all make sleep more difficult. I bring a sleep tincture (with valerian, passion flower, lemon balm, and oats) and/or melatonin. If I don’t need it, no worries. But if I do, I’m grateful to have it handy!

And of course, try to eat healthy and get exercise. 

If you’re travelling to a different time zone, check out my blog on jet lag acupressure.

May you enjoy your healthy travel time. Let me know your favourite travel tips. And favourite places to travel (I love to add to my travel wish list!).

 

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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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Melissa Helps You Sleep

-----------Lemon Balm------------

I’ve often joked that if I could be healthy, energized, and rested without having to sleep, I would choose that. I’ve never much “liked” going to sleep. I’ve always been that way. The kid making excuses to stay up later. Not wanting to miss out on anything.

But sleep is obviously necessary and I try quiet my inner child so I can get plenty of good restful sleep. I’m one of the lucky ones who can generally sleep well.

If you are not so lucky in that department, here are some foods that you might like to enjoy.

Melatonin is a hormone that the pineal gland in your brain produces naturally to regulate your circadian rhythm. Melatonin is produced at night and is suppressed by the light of day. Melatonin can also be found in foods, including:

– Tart cherries, particularly Montmorency cherries
– Walnuts
– Celery

You’ve probably felt sleepy after a big turkey dinner. Part of the reason may be from too much food. Part may be from the extra carbohydrates. The tryptophan content certainly helps. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, mood, and appetite.

Turkey is the best known for its tryptophan content, but all animal proteins contain tryptophan. Other foods include:

– Nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts
– Legumes like split peas, beans (black beans, kidney beans, etc.), lentils

Magnesium deficiency is a common nutritional challenge. Because magnesium helps relax muscles and calm nerves, it too can help improve sleep. Magnesium foods include:

– Dark leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens
– Pumpkin seeds (note that this food is listed twice as a good sleep food!)
– Cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts (nuts listed here again!)
– Peppermint
– Broccoli
– Molasses
– Edamame beans and other legumes (hint: eat more legumes)
– Flax, sesame seeds, tahini
and I saved the best for last here…
– Dark chocolate! But, of course, chocolate also contains caffeine and sugar, so do not eat too much and do not eat it too late

I could have mentioned dairy products as well as a sleep-inducing food, but because I usually recommend my patients limit or avoid dairy, I haven’t chosen to include it here.

Other food tips for a restful sleep:

– Avoid eating too late, but a light carbohydrate snack can support serotonin levels
– Avoid having too much caffeine too late in the day, and keep in mind that caffeine can affect you hours after you consume it
– Try some relaxing chamomile, lavender, or lemon balm tea in the evening

Fun fact:
Lemon balm is also known as Melissa officinalis. It has long been used to help reduce stress, calm nerves, and improve sleep. Have you been on my aaahhhhhhcupuncture table? Then I hope you find that to be true! But I hope I don’t put you to sleep otherwise! 🙂

It’s my turn for some of my own medicine…good night!

 

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