Tag Archives: chinese medicine

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!

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


12908276_s

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:

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

Natural PMS Cures: Part II


In my last post, I addressed the Top Ten Ways To Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally

Dr. Mark Hyman, also addresses some of the points I listed and why they affect our monthly cycles in his article in the Huffington Post titled, Eliminate Suffering From PMS in Five Simple Steps

Dr. Christiane Northrup also has some excellent tips accompanied by footnoted research articles to back up her claims on natural relief strategies for Premenstrual Syndrome

She also is a proponent of acupuncture for PMS relief and offers dietary recommendations for PMS which also relate to menstrual cramps and pelvic pain here

-m.

Teething cures under campfire lights: natural tips and not-so natural tips for your teething baby now


Do you have a teether in your family? Anyone under the age of 3 perhaps?

Is your normally smiling, happy, cuddly baby/child noticeably more irritated these days? Does she/he  experience any or all of the following symptoms: drooling, gum swelling, red cheeks, ear pulling, putting fingers in mouth, elevated body temperature, skin rash, tummy upset, sharp cries of pain, decreased appetite, loose stools, inability to sleep for long periods of a time, biting, swatting or pushing others away, and flailing?

Check, check, check!! Welcome to our world.

We made it to the last week of the school year before Miss G (our 3rd daughter), who is now almost 11 months, was struck with a serious bout of teething. It was so incredibly timed that it perfectly coincided with our long-awaited camping trip last weekend.

After setting up our six-person tent in the dark, not five minutes went by as we lay in our newly aired-out sleep sacks, when a large rumble from the interior of the tent was heard. In fact, it came from the little belly of Miss G. She was in serious trouble. And after two very smelly diaper changes in quick succession, we were well on our way to experiencing the full force of her pain. Her piercing cries were heard in sharp contrast to the quiet crackles of the campfires and calling loons…sounds more typical of a summer night spent camping by the lake and woods.

As she had had a few smaller bouts the week before, I brought all the ammunition I could to make sure our little lady was going to sleep peacefully. The first night we tried an infant pain reliever. Not much help. The next morning we went for a more homeopathic approach with Camillia Sinensis. This did bring some temporary relief but was not long lasting and I found it difficult to get her to take the vial when she was writhing in pain. Finally, the next evening when the teething monsters came out, I brought out my tried and true pediatric teething drops from a Chinese herbal medicine supplier. It was prepared with a sweetened base so Miss G didn’t have to contend with bitter tasting herbs. Followed by a proper nurse. Instant success.

Her pain relief lasted though the night and all I had to do was nurse her back to sleep once in the night. I myself woke up an additional two times when I heard the resident raccoon come by and sniff out our site.

I’m not sure why I sometimes question the effectiveness and efficiency of my chosen profession. Perhaps we all do this at times. Maybe it is healthy to second guess at times, so as to really make sure you are not biased to your own preferences or tendencies. Or maybe it’s just because pharmaceutical and even other natural drugs are that much more convincing with their gorilla marketing that even a herbalist questions her number one method of pain relief for teething infants!

In any case, the good news is that there are a range of remedies that you can choose from to get you through this seemingly endless phase in your child’s development when you’re right in the middle of it.

Here are some additional soothing options for teethers:

-a frozen terry cloth or toy such as a Ringley

-a mango pit to chew on (this advice was generously given to me by a friendly neighbour with Guyanese roots who mentioned that this is what they do in Guyana…what a brilliant idea!)

-cold water popsicles or fruit sweetened popsicles (Miss G can confirm that this is helpful and she would like more offered in future)

-frozen fruit such as strawberries (this is also a helpful treat for non-teethers)

-massaging your child’s gums with clean fingers (watch out for biters though!)

-a nontoxic rubber toy (the popular S. the Giraffe comes to mind…a friend of mine has noted that in Germany, only the new batches of S. the Giraffe are approved for use so you may want to investigate this further)

Happy trails, happy summer.

-m.

Acupuncture for Pregnancy & Labour | Vitality Magazine | Toronto Canada alternative health, natural medicine and green living


Here is a great article by Chris Di Tecco, D.Ac, D.TCM,  on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you during the different stages of pregnancy and labour:

Acupuncture for Pregnancy & Labour | Vitality Magazine | Toronto Canada alternative health, natural medicine and green living.