Category Archives: General Health

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:

http://www.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_jun12/americansyndrome.htm

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

http://www.acupao.com/about-1/philosophy-of-chinese-medicine/,

http://www.acupuncture.com/education/tcmbasics/whatisacu.htm,

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

Here’s to your health!

Warmly,

Fay Meling

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Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally


Many women are confronted with several days leading up to the start of menses when they experience symptoms often grouped under the term: PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Common experiences include: lower abdominal bloating and cramping, low back pain, anxiety, irritability, depression, poor memory, mental fog, joint and/or muscle pain, difficulty sleeping, sweet or salty cravings, fatigue, and acne.

While these experiences often subside at the onset of menses, or another physiological change in a woman’s body, such as pregnancy or menopause, its monthly recurring nature can create much havoc if left unchecked long-term. A more serious form of PMS is known as PMDD (Premsenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is a mood disorder that typically occurs in women 20-40 years old, who have at least one child, a history of post-partum depression or other mood disorder, and/or a family history of depression. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm

So what can you do to kick this PMS monster out of your life for good? Adopting a lifestyle that gives you the optimal chance for overall health will reap rewards on your menstrual cycle and reproductive health as well.

Here is a list of top ten things you can do for yourself now to experience more healthy menstrual cycles. Please note that for the most noticeable effect, changes should be adopted at least a full 1-3 months ahead of your expected period. *As always, the recommendations given here is given as a general guideline only and not meant to replace the advice of your primary attending health care provider or physician.

Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally:

1. Exercise those muscles! Strength train, cross-train and just stay active! Join a sports team or gym, run, stroller jog, swim, bike, rock climb, walk, surf, paddle, dance, or jump. Do yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Aim to get at least 30 minutes in a day. Ready, set, go!!

2. Eliminate the bad foods: got grease, salt, sugar, alcohol, or caffeine? An overconsumption of food in general and especially meats and dairy may contribute to poor health overall and disturb natural hormone function. In Chinese medicine we refer to these foods as ones which are heavy and damp in nature and therefore contribute to accumulation of ‘damp and phlegm’ in the body. This accumulation can lead to a whole range of problems such as PMS, poor reproductive health, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint pain and more. These are therefore foods that are not wanted on the voyage!

3. Stick to the good foods: a more vegetable-rich diet with fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses provides you with the necessary fuel you need to get through your day. Healthy fats such as organic avocadoes and fish oils are also good to incorporate into your diet. When choosing your food sources, make sure to select those from local, organic, wild sources and free of GMOs, pesticides, and additives when possible.

4. Drink more water: 6-8 glasses of water a day is essential for proper hydration. The next time you feel like reaching for a snack, consider drinking a glass of water first. Make sure to wait at least 15 minutes before consuming food so that your liquids and solids get digested more readily. Consider the type of water you drink on a regular basis as well. Is it filtered, fresh, and at room temperature?

5. Reduce Stress: regular physical activity, massage, acupuncture, a work load that is contained (doesn’t creep into what should be your off work hours) and manageable are key to reducing your stress levels. Try to get out for at least one night of fun. Do something that makes you happy everyday. If there are additional burdens placed on you through family and friends, consider delegating tasks and just saying “no” to things that are not high priority. Consider counselling or other professional medical and social support if necessary.

6. Get better quality sleep: 6-8 hours of sleep that is uninterrupted and makes you feel refreshed upon waking is best. For those whose sleep is compromised because of work or family, try to get in a power nap of 20-30 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon. Avoid exposure to overactivity or overstimulation before bed to help promote better quality sleep.

7. Socialize with your close friends and family members: those that know you best can also help you through the more trying periods. As well, surrounding yourself with those you love makes you feel supported and happy.

8. Avoid activities that elevate your anxiety or stress levels: is there someone or something that you’d rather not associate with on a regular basis? Cut them out!

9. Meditate: whether through long walks in nature, connecting to your spiritual side, doing regular yoga or qigong exercises, or focusing on your abdominal breathing, meditation can provide you with the necessary tools to see your surroundings from a fresh new perspective and ultimately one that attracts the type of life you want.

10. Live in the moment: each day presents its own unique set of experiences. Try to engage your mind only in what comes most naturally to you at each moment. You can remind your self to do this by focusing on your breath using abdominal breathing (the way you we are meant to breathe!) Breathe in through your abdomen (when lying down you will notice this by pushing your abdomen up towards the sky), open your nostrils and allow your chest walls to expand more fully when taking in the air you breathe. Then slowly release this breath out though your mouth while your abdomen retracts and sinks towards the ground. Focusing on past or future circumstances is nonproductive, creates unnecessary stress and anxiety and can block your natural reasoning abilities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, all dis-ease can be attributed to the blockage of qi in the body. To return the body to its natural state requires that we support and nourish the body where necessary, but also unblock areas to provide for the free flow of qi. In general terms, this means that your body has the ability to function well if all physiological processes (passages of qi”) are not blocked. Proper diet, exercise and mental activity play a huge role in regulating these processes.

-m.

Happy Mother’s Day! 10 Things I Learned From My Mother


As I make my way through the adventure of parenting, I am often reminded that it is not meant to be figured out all on one’s own. There are several key players who will influence the way in which we parent. And since it’s Mother’s Day today, I want to take a moment to reflect on my mum. All the things I know as a mother, a wife, a friend, a colleague, are reflections of what my mother has taught me…by example, by persistence, and sometimes even by mistake. While we have very different personalities in many ways, we both share a love for helping others, a commitment to our family, and a desire for social justice. What I love most about my mother is her passion for lifting others into a higher vision of themselves.

While the following advice from my mom (aka “nana” to my girls), may or may not agree with you, here are the ones that come to the forefront in my mind and many of which have slowly niggled their way into my life and become some of my own beliefs.

Mama Nana’s 10 Rules for Success in Life:

On Being A Friend

There are good friends and bad ones. Take the time to get to know your good friends. Trust your instincts. If you don’t trust them, ask your mother. (She’ll tell you what she thinks. Over and over and over again.)

On Being A Partner

Your husband deserves your love and attention. Don’t take the love you share for granted. Go out once a week. The kids can stay overnight at nana’s. They can even stay for a week. Just go out!!!

On Caring for Yourself

Take care of yourself: drink lots of water, rest, eat well, make yourself feel pretty, get outside for 2-3 hours each day, and change the filters in your house and car to ensure you get clean, fresh air at all times. Treat yourself like a Rolls Royce and the rest will follow. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to drink lots of water. And did you open the windows in your home? Change those air filters!!

On Health

There are only three essentials aside from water, berries, vegetables, fish, rice porridge and lentil soup: apple cider vinegar, honey, and garlic. Do you have garlic? That will solve everything. Honey for your throat. Heart condition? Where’s your apple cider vinegar? Are you sick? Again? Belladonna will do the trick! Just had a baby? Boost your iron! Tired from work? You need Ginseng!! And take your Chinese herbal medicine and multivitamins to boost your energy!! Poor memory? Lecithin!!! Poor vision? You need lutein from your egg yolks!

Sad? Depressed? Eat chocolate!! Eat ice cream. Then stop feeling sorry for yourself. Get outside. Help others. Sit in the sun. Walk the dogs. And eat chocolate.

On Parenting

Your children are your most prized possession. Teach them, joke with them, sing to them, hug them, and always be there for them. The time you put in now when they are young will serve you and your children well for the future.

If you want to know what you should do, become a child again and remember what children do and like.

Children are born geniuses, don’t insult their intelligence. Go put that kid on the potty from birth just like the previous generations in China did with their kids. And use the organic cotton cloth diapers that I used to use that soak right through. I’m German but I like listening to old Chinese ladies’ advice. Rash anywhere on face or bum? Penaten!!

And remember: We are blessed with the children we are given. We do not own them, but are entrusted with their care.

On Education

You are your children’s best education. Nature provides the learning resources. Go outside, explore, observe, experience nature and learn. When they are ready for more formal education, and if homeschooling is not feasible, a Waldorf school presents a good, solid foundation from which to grow and learn how to appreciate one’s own abilities and work in harmony with one’s community and environment.

Don’t feel stuck to your studies. You are not a slave to previous decisions. Drop out of college if you need to. Drop out!! Start fresh. Know what really makes you passionate and do that instead. Go out and find what really makes you happy.

On Work

Being self-employed awards you opportunities that you may not otherwise have come across. Don’t follow the masses or become a victim of someone else. Be willing to take a leap of faith and take a chance. Work hard, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We learn from these mistakes and also become much stronger in the end. Be your own success story.

On Investing

Don’t feel the pressure to buy a home. Don’t invest in banks. Invest in your kids. Invest in property you can enjoy. Cash good, Visa bad. Don’t trust the banks. Hide your money. Spend your money. Just don’t put it all in the bank.

On Keeping House

Clean when the kids are asleep. Or awake. Or never. You decide. The main thing is that you need to have a plan everyday for how to keep the house tidy and clean. But how much is it costing you for the cleaning lady? No more than $10 right? What? $100 you say? Are you insane! That’s far too much to spend on cleaning!

(On a sidenote, if you need some direction on cleaning and sorting schedules, I am a big fan of the Fly Lady http://www.flylady.net and also A Bowl Full of Lemons http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net)

Less is more. When possible, stick to the most natural cleaning products, and buy used and practical items.

On Faith

We are put on this earth for a reason. The most important thing is love. Religion in its healthiest state can provide a solid grounding from which one can go forth and meet life’s challenges. It doesn’t matter what religion you do or don’t subscribe to. Find the good in it and learn from those who have walked before you, and those that walk with you. If you are lost, find your faith. You are not alone.

Happy Mother’s Day! What are some of your favourite quotes from your mom?

Singing Our Way Through the Day


Hands up if you like to sing throughout the day (e.g. in the shower, in your car during your commute to or from work, school, etc.) If not, here let me get you started – Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ has been playing on our XM radio 80’s station quite a bit lately and J, R, and I enjoy boppin’ to the beat of the tune in our car:

“Material Girl” – Madonna

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they’re O.K.
If they don’t give me proper credit
I just walk away
They can beg and they can plead
But they can’t see the light, that’s right
‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mister Right, ’cause we are
[Chorus:]
Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl…[continued]

Note: the lyrics leave much to be desired so feel free to pop another tune in your head!

Great!! And do you also have a song or rhyme for a special part of each day? Well, it seems one of my daughters has recently decided to make this a daily practice for our family. Not only will she insist on rhyming everyone’s names (e.g. Alex Balex, Rosie Posie, Silly Lily) but she delights in listening to all sorts of rhymes throughout the day that we manage to create (I will spare you these particular rhymes as they are probably only funny to us, potentially embarassing, and therefore best kept in the family).

I have to admit, singing and rhyming more regularly has been a pretty fun experience for us all. When J and R were just a toddler and infant respectively, I did come up with a few of my own made up rhymes or short songs just to giggle our way though transitions such as a diaper change, meal, bath, or attempt to get out the door. On days where I was less light-hearted and didn’t, things always seemed to be that much more challenging and my patience with the children would be lost that much faster. In fact, this is still the case even now!

At the end of the day, the girls will often request that I say a special verse, song and/or prayer (especially just after turning the lights out). A favourite verse is Star Light, Star Bright ever since we put up some glow in the dark stars just above their beds.

Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.

Comet Lovejoy

Photo credit courtesy of Jia Hao, TWAN

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/05/pictures/120515-best-earth-sky-pictures-2012-comet-milky-way-space/

For the different seasons and weather there are some great rhymes as well. We have a lovely resident robin who visits our front lawn each day and sings ever so sweetly at just a bit before 5am. This is naturally a time when most of the family should still be asleep, but I may or may not be (depending on how the pregnancy insomnia is going that night or on which kid decides to pile into our bed before sunrise).

Photo courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turdus-migratorius-002.jpg

So in honour of our friendly, little Robin (and courtesy of J’s wonderful teacher who reminded us of this song in her song and poetry reading book), here’s what we’ve been singing lately:

Robin in the rain,
Such a saucy fellow.
Robin in the rain,
Mind your socks of yellow.
Running in the garden on your nimble feet,
Digging for your dinner with your long strong beak.

Robin in the rain,
You don’t mind the weather
Showers always make you gay.
Bet the worms are wishing you would stay at home,
Robin on a rainy day — don’t get your feet wet,
Robin on a rainy day!

Lyrics can be found here as well: http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/activitiesandevents/sing-alongs/article/robin-in-the-rain.html#ixzz20CANeDUz

What about songs inspired by what you do or see that day? On an expedition to the local bank machine the other day, we came across a bunch of cyclists riding bicycles built for two, which of course brought the following song Daisy Bell by Henry Dacre in 1892 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisy_Bell) to mind:

Photo courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daisybell.jpg

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage —
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’d look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.
-Henry Dacre, 1892

Singing and rhyming with your children throughout the day may not only provide you with laughter and enjoyment, but may actually improve your health and well-being according to this article by Alice Wignall:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/26/healthandwellbeing.fitness

Singing can also increase your children’s language development, academic performance and emotional well being. According to an article by Amelia Hill published in the Guardian (May 08, 2011):

Singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak, is “an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing”, argues Blythe in a book. “Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice and brain for language.” Blythe says in her book, The Genius of Natural Childhood, to be published by Hawthorn Press, that traditional songs aid a child’s ability to think in words. She also claims that listening to, and singing along with rhymes and songs uses and develops both sides of the brain. “Neuro-imaging has shown that music involves more than just centralised hotspots in the brain, occupying large swathes on both sides,” she said.

For the full article click here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/08/singing-children-development-language-skills?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

Here’s to more sing-song, and carrying on thoughout your day today!