This blog is an area for me to post any updates regarding clinic protocols, schedules, etc.
This is also a page for you to learn something new about a particular health condition, Chinese medicine theories and developments, recipes, and stories of my travels that have led to and are related to my study and practice of Chinese medicine.
I still need some more supplies for the trip to the Dominican Republic if anyone would like to donate. 1) Basic first aid supplies. 2) A blood pressure cuff and sphygmomanometre. 3) Acupuncture needles. 4) Moxibustion. 5) A small eletro-acupuncture machine.
For anyone not familiar with where or why I am going, you can have a look here
With the oncoming season of allergies and the accompanying symptoms, I am seeing more patients in the clinic who want to address this. I’d like to breakdown the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approach to diagnosing and treating this very common condition.
As most of us know, either from personal experience, friends or family who deal with this, or from seeing the blitz of commercials advertising allergy medication at this time of year, the common symptoms range from sneezing, dry or sore throat, itchy watery eyes, and a runny or congested nose. Firstly, I’d like to clarify how we view the onset of these symptoms in TCM.
In TCM we can break almost any condition down into the categories of Yin and Yang. However, these are not specific enough to understand something like this. So, we break each category down further. Seasonal allergies often have an acute onset at the start of the allergy season. This is our first clue. Acute will belong to the category of Yang (Yang being the more external, hot, moving, protecting, warming, dynamic energy of the body). We can also see that the upper part of the body, mainly the head, is mostly affected by the allergens. Lastly, we know that the allergens are an external influence affecting the body. This external, acute “invasion” of the upper body (upper, especially the head, belonging to the yang part of the body) are all signs that point to a “yang” type of syndrome. The reason that I say “invasion” is that we can describe signs and symptoms in terms of the six ‘pathogenic influences’ or from the literal Chinese translation, Xie Qi – 邪气- evil qi (qi being translated as energy).
The main Xie Qi in seasonal allergies are wind, and either heat or cold. The pathogen of ‘wind’ has the characteristics of coming on quickly and leaving quickly, moving around the body, and often ‘enters’ through the head. This is often combined with heat, which will lead to symptoms like fever, inflammation in the sinuses, or throat, and red itchy eyes. If the Wind is combined with a cold pathogen, then we would see symptoms of a runny nose with clear discharge, an aversion to wind or cold, and more sneezing. Both the cold and the heat can cause headaches, but they will present differently.
Of course, we must consider why some people have allergies and others don’t. Yin and Yang must be in balance. If they are not, then we can see presentations like a weakened immune system. If the immune system is weak, then allergens have a better chance of affecting someone. So, this would be the second part of our focus of treatment. This would be more of a Yin syndrome as it is chronic. This could be due to many factors such as poor lifestyle habits like smoking or a poor diet, lack of sleep, use of too many pharmaceutical medicines, or hereditary factors.
So, now our treatment plan takes shape; to clear the wind and heat or cold from the yang external meridians (energetic pathways running throughout the body) which are causing the symptoms, and also to boost the immune system to guard against these influences. But, how can we do that?
With acupuncture, we will target the meridians which affect the nose, sinuses, and head in general. We will also choose some systemic points on the body to strengthen the overall immune system. So, we can choose points on the yang/ external meridians that are affecting the head and face, and also points on the yin/ internal meridians that are affecting the immune system.
We can see from this image that this Yang meridian （Yang Ming- Bright Yang-阳明）has a connection to the nasal area. We can choose 2 or 3 points on this meridian to help with headaches, and relieve inflammation causing sore throat, and nasal congestion (no points on
the neck/ throat area would be used for this purpose).
We can also see from this other image (below left) that this meridian (Tai Yang – Great yang- 太阳) starts at the upper sinus area, runs over the head, and down the back. We can also choose some local and distal points from this meridian to help clear the head, and nose. This is considered to be the most external meridian in the body and thus is often the first affected by external pathogenic influence.
In addition to using acupuncture to treat the symptoms affecting the head and face area, we will also provide an herbal formula that will aid in expelling the pathogenic influences in addition to strengthening the immune system. A common treatment plan in TCM in a case like this would be: 益气固表，扶正去邪 – to benefit the energy and solidify the exterior defense, and strengthen the immunity while chasing out the pathogenic influence.
This can be combined with some simple dietary changes that may be influencing the condition, as well as some recommendations for vitamins which will supplement the immune boosting focus of the treatment plan.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions, or would like to start on a treatment plan to address any of these (or any other) health concerns.
I would like to start offering tours of herb shops to my clients and their friends, and family.
During my visits to herb shops in Chinatown, I have noticed the confused looks on the faces of non-Chinese people milling about that part of the city. I understand that all of these strange looking barks, fungi, roots and seeds can be intriguing, but there is often a language barrier there.
I would like to offer for you to be able to schedule a time with me to go down to a shop or two together, so we can look around the shop, discuss the herbs and their uses as well as maybe talk to some of the shop owners or local herbalists through my translation if necessary. I would like for groups to be no smaller than 2 and no bigger than 5 or 6.
You can learn about many different herbs and supplements, how you can use them to treat common illnesses such as stomach aches, back pain, or colds and flus. You may also learn about some new dishes and ingredients for cooking.
Afterwards, we could visit a local Chinese bakery for steamed buns and Hong Kong milk tea, a personal favourite
This service will be offered on a donation basis. A large portion of the proceeds from this will go towards Barefoot Doctor projects. You can read more about these in some of my other blog posts or under the ‘Outreach Projects’ tab.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions around this, or would like to book a time.
When I was barely 19 years old, I left for the Dominican Republic (DR) with a small group of volunteers. The main objective of our time there was to try to understand the needs and conditions of another country. We spent 2 months living in a small mountain village, and working alongside the locals in the construction of an irrigation trench that was to be about 8 kms long. Basically, we were out there digging with picks and shovels every day.
We also spent time visiting other villages, hospitals and the homes of the locals. It was during these 2 months that I first had the idea to study some form of alternative medicine, with the possibility of delivering some form of care other than western medicine, which was often too expensive or was not working.
Fast forward 19 years.
I had worked on a couple of projects in Guatemala and India based on the model of the ‘Barefoot Doctor’
I had made attempts in the past to offer this concept to the organization that I went to the DR with originally, but they had no interest or even any response. One possible reason is that they are a religious affiliated group, and some people often assume that Chinese medicine and acupuncture have some kind of cult or anti- religious influences, which of course is absolutely untrue.
However, in December of last year, I found a picture online of a family I knew in that village. Actually, it was the very same family that I had written about a couple of years ago in my blog already! here
I contacted the man who took the photo and just told him to read that blog post and get back to me. We have been in touch since. Not only is he very interested in having some kind of treatment and healthcare education for the locals, but they are in the process of building a learning centre nearby to the village for just such a reason.
I will be going there in May. The objective of this is threefold:
1) To meet with prospective students (who are already healthcare professionals of some level).
2) To offer treatments to the locals at little or no cost.
3) To become re-acquainted with the community and the culture.
This is potentially a very long term project that will require continual training and observation of the practice of the students. It is not a one time visit to give treatment, say goodbye, and have no definite plans to return.
Funding is needed for all of this. Funding will go to medical supplies, and logistics within the country. I will be living in the village and eating there. So, I am trying to cut costs as much as possible. This is certainly no luxury trip to a beach resort. The village is dusty, poor and small. Living conditions are spartan, and food is very basic. I may be providing treatments at virtually no cost to potentially 50 – 100 people during my time there. Funding would be greatly appreciated!
I am simply looking to raise funds within the area of $500 to pay for medical supplies and basic logistics on the ground. Unfortunately, at this point, I cannot issue receipts for donations. However, I am looking into routing the donations through a registered organization in the US if this makes any difference to anyone.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any inquiries about this project, or would like to make some donations.
Sincere thanks for taking the time to read this.
The year of the Water Snake is just around the corner. Some of you may not pay much attention to this, and some of you may put a lot of weight into this. I could extoll some of the characteristics of the snake, and the water element. But, this would not be much different from what you could find on the internet. What’s more important is that it would not pertain to YOU as an individual, and your particular constitution, your birth year, zodiac animal, element, and yin/yang designation. And, this in essence is what holistic medicine is all about, tailoring the investigation (and treatment) to each individual. My friend Sue Horning at Unity Yoga is quite adept at reading Chinese zodiac if anyone is interested.
I have recently spent some time studying with Dr. John K Chen who is a pharmacist and 3rd generation Chinese medicine practitioner. He was teaching about the top 50 most prescribed drugs and their herbal alternatives. There are a lot of options out there for people who might be interested in getting off of any prescription drugs. Feel free to come by the clinic or book an appointment online, or give me an e-mail if you’d like to inquire further into this.
On November 17th I will be doing a joint class at East Side Yoga with Danielle Hoogenboom about Yin Yoga, and theory of meridians from a TCM perspective. We will explore the foundations of 4 particular meridians, several acupuncture points along those meridians that you can massage and investigate on your own, with the addition of the practice of Yin Yoga related to those meridians. Danielle is a great teacher and I am very excited about this class. It will be very experiential, and you will come away with a lot of useful info.
You can check out some more info at the following link:
I am very happy to announce a new cooperation between myself, Health on the Drive, and East Side Yoga. Fees for acupuncture treatments for members of either of these places will be based on a sliding scale of $35 -$75 per treatment. This will be based on what you can afford at the time, and/or what you feel the treatment is worth.
I strongly feel that one’s financial condition should not dictate whether or not one can get treatment. I would like to make acupuncture accessible to the local community and its patrons.
Here are the links to both these places:
East Side Yoga
Health On the Drive’s FB Page:
On Saturday, Sept 8th I’ll be doing a workshop about meridian study, self-massage, and qi gong. We’ll be exploring the foundations of meridian theory in the traditional Chinese medicine model, how that pertains to illness and pathology, how you can find and massage these meridians on your own, and even some acupuncture points for specific conditions.
As an adjunct, I’ll also be teaching some very simple qi gong exercise to appreciate some mindful awareness of these meridians.
You can follow this link to sign up, or contact Julie at East Side Yoga (downstairs from the clinic).
I hope to see you there