Happy Year of the Goat 2015!

Year of the Goat 2015

The Lunar New Year of the Yin Wood Goat has arrived, and along with it, some confusion as to whether it should be referred to as the Year of the Goat/ Sheep/ Ram. The Chinese characters for goat, sheep, ram, and antelope all include the  羊 yang character: e.g. sheep (绵羊), goat (山羊), ram/buck (公羊 male sheep or goat), 羚羊 (antelope), etc. According to Dr. Sabine Wilms of Happy Goat Productions, a Classical Chinese Medicine and Philosophy scholar, translator, and educator, “when the Chinese came up with these animal associations, they were not thinking Dorset Sheep, but wild mountain sheep, which are much closer in personality and habits to domesticated and wild goats than modern domesticated sheep”.

For those that are unfamiliar with some of the common traditions for celebrating the Lunar New Year, here are 6 Things You Need to Know About the Year of the Goat

According to Lillian Pearl Bridges’s Year of the Sheep Forecast, this year promises to be much more harmonious than the previous year and is a year of “forgiveness and reconciliation” where we should strive to act “assertively rather than aggressively”.

This sounds like a positive direction to take after the more tumultuous events that occurred personally and globally in Year of the Horse.

What are you hoping and planning for this year?

Xin Nian Kuai Le!


Happy New Year 2015!

Hqppy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015!

May this year bring you the promise of the rising sun and the hopes realized of all with whom we share this beautiful planet. – Fay Meling

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

This Shepherd’s Pie will not only delight the senses but warm your insides, and is the perfect comfort food to share with friends and family. It can also easily be adapted for children’s tastes as well.

If you’re willing to spend just a bit of time the night before prepping the ingredients (e.g. chop veggies; cook potatoes and peel potato skins) you’ll have a perfect meal for dinner the next evening that you can just pop in the oven.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (serves 8)


780g Veggie Ground Round (2 pkgs)*
3 medium sized organic sweet potatoes
12 small organic yellow potatoes
1/2 cup organic carrots
1/2 cup organic peas
1/2 cup organic green beans
1/4 organic yellow onion
3 organic garlic cloves
1/4 cup of almond milk
1/4 cup organic unsalted butter
A few generous splashes of organic Worcestershire sauce

Combine vegetables together in a steam pot and lightly steam until colours of vegetables reach a bright hue. Chop onions and garlic and lightly sauté in frying pan with 2 tbsp of butter. Add veggie ground round and steamed vegetables and cook on medium high for 5 minutes. Add a few splashes of the Worcestershire sauce and stir with a wooden spoon. Place veggie meat mixture in a 9 x 13 inch glass or pottery dish. Add the potato mixture on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle with a dash of pepper and salt and paprika.

*Optional: use portobello or brown button mushrooms instead of veggie ground round.

Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve hot.


Celebrating Thanskgiving: Being thankful for the family we create

Thank you

Happy Thanksgiving – I give thanks for having you in my life

Whether you have one or many people in your life, the people we choose to make our ‘family’, create a special bond that give meaning to our lives. So on this day of giving thanks, let us make time to honour those we care about and show them our appreciation and love.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The silent suffering of a few special mamas-to-be


Hyperemesis gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum: ever heard of it? It wasn’t until Kate Middleton’s first pregnancy was announced that I felt that the general public became more aware of this very serious illness. I too suffered this debilitating condition that left me unable to work, care for my kids, or do even menial jobs for the first five and half months of all three of my pregnancies. This took a tremendous toll not only on me, but also my family and work colleagues as they tried to take on my responsibilities as well as their own. I was vomiting at least 16+/day and this was after having taken digestive enzymes, eating small amounts throughout the day, moving around, and following all the “rules” about how to manage nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Once I was rehydrated and medicated, the vomiting was reduced to 1/4 of its wrath. As Dr. Jennifer Ashton so aptly described to the world: “This is morning sickness like a hurricane is a little bit of rain.”

According to Wikipedia, “Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a complication of pregnancy characterized by intractable nausea, vomiting, and dehydration and is estimated to affect 0.5–2.0% of pregnant women.[1][2] Malnutrition and other serious complications, such as fluid or electrolyte imbalances, may result.

Hyperemesis is considered a rare complication of pregnancy, but because nausea and vomiting during pregnancy exist on a spectrum, it is often difficult to distinguish this condition from the more common form of nausea and vomiting experienced during pregnancy known as morning sickness.”

So what options are available to women such as me and Kate who just can’t keep anything down during pregnancy? Rehydration via an intravenous line, and medications containing vitamin B6 as well as an antihistamine are often used in western medicine, and work to control the severity of the symptoms. Like other mamas-to-be, women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum can take small meals once the condition is more manageable. Eating small amounts of protein and carbohydrates regularly throughout the day, and sipping water separately from meals, can certainly help control the severity of the symptoms and prevent it from spiralling out of control. But only once symptoms are properly managed first. So, if you or a loved one suffers from this, please do what you need to get the situation under control. (For a more in-depth and personal understanding of what a woman with hyperemesis gravidarum feels, this is a great article by Jessica Martin Weber).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), factors such as the strength of a female’s digestive system and her body’s ability to adjust to changes in hormone levels, as well as the woman’s level of stress and/or emotional state prior to conception, can all contribute to how she will experience a future pregnancy. Ideally, women should be treated with TCM modalities a few months prior to conception to help optimize fertility and pregnancy outcomes, and reduce common symptoms experienced in pregnancy. However, once a woman is pregnant, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) still has an important role to play, especially if she is suffering from symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

Certain therapies that make up Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), such as acupuncture, gua sha, and herbal medicine can all be used. Acupuncture on certain points can be used to treat mild to moderate nausea and vomiting. Gua sha, a form of massage that employs a small tool and utilizes a scraping technique to produce local erythema on the skin, can be performed on the upper back and shoulders for more extreme cases of pregnancy vomiting such as women who experience hyperemesis gravidarum. Chinese herbal remedies can also be taken to help strengthen the body once the woman is able to take food and medications orally. Finally and most importantly, dietary suggestions and recipes are also given that can help the woman stay nourished and healthy during pregnancy despite her symptoms.

For more info, please feel free to contact me directly here or through my clinic site http://www.acupao.com

Solving the Mystery of Your Health Concerns with Chinese Medicine


Are you sick, yet don't know why? Find out how Chinese medicine can help

Solving the Mystery of Your Health Concerns with Chinese Medicine

Are you SICK, yet don’t know WHY? Are you currently suffering from a physical or mental ailment that you are having difficulty resolving? Is the cause unexplainable according to western medicine? Are you interested in understanding how Chinese medicine can help you?

As a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) and acupuncturist (R.Ac), my goal is to address people’s health concerns, source the root cause of ‘dis-ease’, and help you discover your own healing potential. Common ailments that respond well to acupuncture and Chinese medicine include physical pain and acute injury, mental and emotional stress, repetitive strain injuries, digestive/bowel upset, common cold, seasonal allergies, mild to moderate nausea, migraines, neck tension/pain, backaches, and joint pain. Sometimes, a condition that is acute (less than 3 months), can usually be resolved quite quickly (within 1-3 treatments) with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. If related to physical pain, certain acupuncture points that help to relax tight, sore muscles and reduce inflammation in the local and adjacent areas are primarily used.

Some people present with more chronic conditions that may include multiple symptoms. In these cases, it is important to address each of your health concerns but to start with the most acute concerns first – one must address the flames before rebuilding and renewal can begin. Conditions such as irregular menstruation, hormonal imbalance, acne, infertility, pregnancy and postpartum complications, chronic pain, anemia, fatigue, depression, diabetes, weight management, digestive concerns, heart and lung diseases, neurological and movement disorders, as well as many types of cancer may fall into this category.

For these more chronic health concerns, treatment strategy can require a more complex analysis to truly understand the nature of the ailment. Here is where Chinese medicine and its elaborate system of physical pattern identification truly excels in discovering the root of the matter. While Traditional Chinese Medicine does not depend on western medical diagnoses, it can be used to provide further information to the practitioner to understand how a particular condition is manifesting within the body.  After a detailed analysis of the presenting symptoms, a Chinese medical practitioner looks for and analyses the current status of the body structures and systems. This is done through a detailed health intake that the TCM practitioner uses to analyse many factors including energy level, digestion, urination, bowel movement, skin and hair changes, sleep patterns, food intake, female and male hormonal cycles, respiratory, circulatory, immunological function as well as emotional and and neurological factors, lifestyle factors, and any other significant life events.

Finally the rate and quality of the wrist pulses on both sides are taken to confirm the pattern identification and see how deep the condition has manifested (e.g. skin level, muscular level, bone and/or blood level).  Patterns that are closer to the exterior are generally faster to resolve, while patterns manifesting at a deeper level will require more effort from both patient and practitioner to successfully resolve.

A tongue picture is also taken via photo and/ or visual observation to better understand the current and changing nature the disease. Looking at the quality, shape, colour of the tongue root and tongue coating can provide a better understanding of how the inner organs also present. The tongue is an outer organ that can reflect what the inner organs are also dealing with.

While this system of pattern identification is very detailed and elaborate, it provides an amazingly common-sense analysis of the body and how it is currently functioning.  With proper diagnosis according to Chinese medicine, you are offered the opportunity to really understand the nature of your ailment and learn how to effectively address your health concerns. A combination of acupuncture, moxabustion and heat therapy, Chinese medicinal herbs, diet, and lifestyle modification as well as an introduction to practises such as Qigong may well set you on your path to healing.

So how do you get started on this incredible healing process with Chinese medicine?

A seasoned practitioner can help you identify the WHY or the cause of your main health concern from the vantage of what is going on in your body and how it has responded to your surroundings and life events. It is not uncommon for physical concerns to be rooted in a physical or emotional event that was traumatic and internalized in some way. Some concerns can be explained by genetics. Even gestation and birth can have an influence on an individual’s current health, as the lifestyle and environmental factors of our parents directly impact us during this period of physical connection from within the mother’s womb. Other conditions may be directly impacted by constant stress in the home or at work, as well as environmental and dietary exposure. In these cases lifestyle modification may need to be carefully considered and addressed.

When you are unclear of what is going on, there is often much insight to be gained by spending even just a few minutes to reflect on your past and current situation and or habits, and to ask yourself the following questions:

1. What bothers me physically, mentally, emotionally? What triggers have led me to this state? What other factors have contributed to my current ability to cope with this condition? What can I do now/future to feel better/improve my chances of recovery?

2. Where do I hold normally hold my stress/ feel the most discomfort?

3. How do I think this condition arose? How does it affect my daily life and future goals? How can I make positive changes to improve my health/situation?

4. When did I first experience these symptoms? When (e.g. time of day/month/season, before or after sleep/an activity) are the symptoms most aggravated? Alleviated?

5. Who is contributing positively/negatively to my current state of health? Who do I think would be best suited to help me in the healing process? Who can I go to ask for more help?

6. Why – this is what we hope to help you discover with time and the right information!

7. Other contributing factors? Investigate any previous health history and other medical conditions (e.g. previous head concussions, muscle/ligament injuries, bone fractures, nerve entrapment, viruses, STDs, fungi/parasites, chronic physical or physiological ailments, irregular production of hormone and/or irregular hormonal cycles, digestive concerns, insomnia/depression/anxiety, general mood/state, low/high blood pressure, circulatory and/or breathing issues, anemia, drug dependencies, food and drink sensitivities, weight management, poor posture, hereditary factors, diet, exercise, exposure to environmental toxins, amount of daily outdoor activity and exposure to clean air, amount of quality sleep, proper breathing technique, any temperature intolerances or exposure to extreme temperatures including those arising from A/C units and fans, work schedule and potential occupational dangers/ daily stress factors at work or at home).

A great article which also touches on some common conditions that are typical to North Americans (and why) can be found here:


[Note: For more information on TCM pattern identification for sourcing the cause of a health concern please visit these sites:



http://www.yinyanghouse.com/practitioner_members/theory-chinese/what-does-acupuncture-treat-or-treating-cause-and-not-symptoms. ]

Here’s to your health!


Fay Meling

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality



Black Sesame Seed / Hei Zhi Ma,  Image credit

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality

There is an ancient Chinese legend from the Qing dynasty that pays tribute to the importance of sesame seeds in one’s diet. It is said that during this time, a governor was sent to Yin Tai, a region in the North China Sea, now known as Japan. The Emperor had requested he find a “holy medication” that could give the Emperor immortality. It was thought that the combined energy of 3,000 young men and women who were “pure in spirit” was one source of producing everlasting life. The governor searched high and low through treacherous terrain in mountains and forests for this miraculous remedy that would ensure longevity. Finally after many years of searching, he returned with sesame seeds. His instruction to the Emperor was to take the sesame seeds and its oil everyday in order to be granted a longer life.

Sounds like a good idea to me!  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, black sesame seeds and their oils can be used medicinally to treat a wide variety of symptoms often associated with Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency including constipation, alopecia (hair loss), premature graying of hair, tinnitus (ear ringing), dry skin, chronic low back and knee pain, as well as menstrual health and infertility. It can also be used to help women with insufficient lactation produce more breastmilk. Here’s one way you can gain the health benefits of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Black Sesame Pudding Recipe

160 grams – toasted black sesame seeds

4 tbsps – white glutinous rice

8 cups – distilled water

400 g – raw honey, or other natural sweetener of your choice


Wash glutinous rice and allow to soak for two hours. Combine toasted sesame seeds and glutinous rice with 2 cups of water, and blend in food processor until the texture is creamy and smooth. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil at medium heat. Stir regularly to keep consistency smooth. (Story and recipe adapted from Dan-On Foods and Dan-D Foods )

Want to know more about the many benefits of Black Sesame Seeds?

“Taking black sesame seeds can heal all the chronic illness after 100 days, improve skin tone on body and face after 1 year, reverse gray hair after 2 years, and regrow teeth after 3 years.” says the Compendium of Materia Medica, the largest and most comprehensive medical writings in the history of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This herb is also known as Semen Sesami Nigrum and Hei Zhi Ma and related experiments show that the content of vitamin E contained in this herb is the highest in all foods of plant origin. It is well known that vitamin E can promote cell division and delay cell senescence. Long-term use can counteract or neutralize the accumulation of cell senescence substance of “radicals” and then delay aging and extend life expectancy.” -from Chinese Herbs Healing