5 Tips To Improve Your Sleep

5 Tips To Improve Your Sleep

Feeling restless at night? Unable to turn off your mind? or waking up at the same odd hour each night? Sleep is crucial to your overall well-being. Not only does it determine your mood for the day, but your body actually repairs and restores itself at night. According to a study done at the University Hospitals Medical Center sleep deprivation is also linked to aging skin. Ideally you should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Here are some tips to help you get your beauty rest.

1. 'Eat Your Bitter Greens'

The bitter flavour can have a calming effect on the Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM). This organ helps you to get a good night's rest in TCM. The more calm your Heart is, the better your sleep will be. Perfect examples include bitter melon, mustard greens, kale, arugula, or brussels sprouts. 

2. Meditation

5 minutes of this mind calming exercise can help quiet your mind before sleep. Meditation allows you to process what happened during the day, so your mind doesn't have to wrestle with it all night. Give it a shot, it only takes 5 minutes.

3. Exercise After Work

Exercising too close to bed time can actually make it harder to calm down and rest at night. After work is a great time to do a quick run, or hit the gym. As you engage your body in physical activity, it takes your mind off work, or problems that you still haven't quite solved yet. Usually this unnecessary lingering stress is what keeps our minds busy and unable to take a break, making it difficult to fall asleep at night. Break the cycle of overthinking with regular exercise.

4. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Late Night Snacks

Alcohol and caffeine are considered heating foods. Excessive heat in the stomach can lead to heart-burn in TCM, and cause discomfort as you try to sleep. Snacking any time after 8pm can lead to poor assimilation of food. As food stagnates in the stomach, not only can this lead to bloating, but also causes discomfort in the upper abdomen and leads to heart burn.

5. Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture is great for almost any health complaint. This includes getting a better night's rest as points are used to calm the mind, and induce a state of relaxation. If restless sleep is due to heart-burn or eating late at night, acupuncture can also stimulate the digestive system to remove food stagnation, or clear away heat/inflammation from the stomach. Regardless of the cause, acupuncture treatments are uniquely customized to your body's needs and get down to the root cause of your imbalances.

If you're unsure of what's causing your troubled sleep, feel free to come in for a consultation. You can enjoy some tea, meet the practitioner, discuss your health concerns, and enjoy a nice relaxing acupuncture treatment.

3 Amazing Benefits Of Acupuncture

3 Amazing Benefits Of Acupuncture

Did you know acupuncture can relieve more than just pain? Here, we'll discuss acupuncture's benefits in relieving you of seasonal allergies, digestive complaints, and insomnia.

Spring - Living in Season!

Spring - Living in Season!

Spring Living In Season Acupuncture Clinic TCM Toronto

SPRING is a time of GROWTH as new plants sprout up from the earth. This season relates to the Liver in Chinese medicine - whose job is to filter toxins from blood (western perspective). Here are some foods to help support your liver's detoxing functions:

Kale

Spinach

Bok choi

Lettuce

Cilantro

Celery

Watercress

Peppermint tea

Chrysanthemum tea

Peppermint and chrysanthemum are great for relieving stress and frustration. Avoid alcohol, or greasy and fried foods, as these can weigh you down making you feel sluggish, and irritated. 

LIFESTYLE CHOICES

Explore Life

Emotionally and physically spring sparks within us the need for change, exploration, and movement - expressions of a healthy Liver in Chinese medicine. Failing to do so can leave us feeling frustrated, stressed, and depressed. Now is the time to travel - satisfying our need to explore. That doesn't have to be somewhere far, and expensive, but just someplace different than what you're used to. A change of environment helps to inspire us, and spark creativity when we're stuck.

Spring also marks a time of growth. Putting your energy towards personal goals, or projects is optimal this season. Spring gives the Liver more energy to perform its role of having a clear vision, setting goals, and planning ahead. Remember to plan with the resources you currently have. Overcommitting yourself to many goals can lead to many incomplete tasks, and possibly depression.

EXERCISES

Stretching

Now that the weather is getting warmer, enjoy a walk in the park. This combines movement with reconnecting to nature. The Liver also enjoys stretching, which can help ease frustration and stress. The Liver Channel runs through the inner thighs, and calves. Make sure to spend more time stretching these muscles and ligaments before and after workouts. 

If you're looking for a quick tune-up this Spring, feel free to book an acupuncture appointment to nourish & awaken your body.

Swelling During Pregnancy & What To Eat

Swelling During Pregnancy & What To Eat

Are you pregnant and experiencing swelling of your hands, feet, or face? These are signs that your body is not metabolizing water properly. This can happen for two reasons in Chinese Medicine - a weakness in the Kidneys or a sign that your energy has become stagnant. Both can easily occur during pregnancy, and here's why: 

Kidney Deficiency

According to Chinese Medicine your Kidneys are the key organs involved in reproduction & development. Hence, as they work hard on growing your little one, they may become depleted and fail to perform regular body functions of metabolizing water. Talk about motherly-instincts being wired into you, your body will first put all of its resources towards nurturing the growing baby inside of you before taking care of yourself. The swelling which occurs with a Kidney deficiency usually manifests more in the ankles, and feet. Foods that can boost kidney function according to Chinese Medicine are pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Black beans are another good option as they boost kidney function and have a drying quality to help eliminate edema.

Stagnation

Feeling irritated? sighing a lot? As the mother progresses into her third trimester of pregnancy, the baby gains weight rapidly at about 1/2 a lbs per week. The increased weight not only makes you feel heavier, but can leave you feeling stagnant as well. If you experience swelling in your hands, and face these signs indicate that your energy has become stagnant according to Chinese Medicine. You may even feel some achiness in your finger joints. If so, it may be time to include some stretching, or prenatal yoga in your morning rituals to promote the flow of your energy and alleviate stagnation. Foods that can help are leafy greens, peppermint tea, and spices such as garlic, onions, or chives in moderation. 

How Acupuncture Relieves Pain

How Acupuncture Relieves Pain

We tend to perform the same motions day in and day out. The majority of the time this isn't an issue as long as we have the right posture, and are using the right technique. It's when we aren't being mindful of these things that we tend to develop imbalances, which leads to pain, and tension. 

POOR POSTURE

The imbalances poor posture creates is endless, from pain in your shoulders, to pain between your scapulas (upper back), to lower back pain. All of these areas become obstructed, and can even lead to tingling sensations running down your leg, or through your arm. Acupuncture can actually help to alleviate pain by improving circulation, and re-activating energy channels that run through the areas of pain. So how does it work? From a western medicine perspective, when your body detects an acupuncture needle, or a foreign object in the body, your immune system naturally sends its immune cells to scope out the area[1]. Indirectly what this does is increase blood flow to the area, and improve circulation[1]. In Chinese Medicine, pain is a sign of stagnation, or a blockage. By examining what area you experience pain, this tells the acupuncturist what energy channels to open using the acupuncture points along the channel. Other signs of stagnation are a tendency to sigh, feeling depressed at times, or pain along the ribs. 

WHEN YOU OVER-DO IT

In the event that you over-do-it at the gym, or when you were helping your cousin Bob move furniture to his new house, the problem is similar to poor-posture, but likely due to poor technique. Usually this happens when we're tired, or towards the end of a workout when our bodies can't handle anymore, yet we choose to push ourselves the extra mile. All of a sudden your technique changes to rely on other muscles to help lift that weight, or move that couch. The pain is usually felt the following day, and at times can be quite sharp instead of a dull ache. The sharpness indicates blood circulation has come to a halt in this area, due to injury. Luckily, there is an acupuncture point on each meridian that is indicated specifically for this type of acute-sharp pain. They are known as Xi-Cleft (pronounced Shee-Cleft) points, and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory are used to unblock stagnant blood, to relieve acute pain. 

INFLAMMATION

For some of us, the areas we get pain, also feel hot, and appear red at times. These are signs of "Heat" in Chinese Medicine, or "Inflammation" in western medicine. In Chinese Medicine, some points have the function of "Clearing Heat". This may seem like a foreign concept, but actually western medical studies have been performed to prove acupuncture's effectiveness in reducing inflammation [2]. Other signs of heat in the body are a red face or rosacea, unquenchable thirst, constipation, or dark urine. 

By paying attention to your body, you can become more mindful of what is causing the pain. If you haven't already done so, book an acupuncture appointment today, not only can we detect what kind of imbalances you have, but also treat them and provide preventative measures to keep you free from pain.

 

References

1. http://www.elotus.org/article/mechanisms-acupuncture

2. http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1352-acupuncture-anti-inflammatory-effect-revealed

Happy 2017!

Happy 2017!

Looking for ways to achieve your health goals this year? Here's a few tips.

1. Do something for you

Acupuncture acupressure treatment acusoul

Before this year gets busy or out of control, take the time to regularly do something for yourself. It could be as simple as treating yourself to a massage, or acupuncture treatment at the end of a long week. Acupuncture is a way of re-balancing the body back to an optimal state of health. Studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce stress by boosting endorphins, and regulating stress hormones that cause a "fight or flight" response. If you find that you're getting overwhelmed easily, this is a sign that your stress response may need a reset.

2. Look at your tongue

acupuncture diagnosis tongue and pulse acusoul

Before committing yourself to any diet, take a look at your tongue in the mirror first. It can tell you a few simple things about your body, and help you choose foods to re-balance your health.  First look at the size, is it swollen? Or have teeth mark ridges on the sides? This is an indication your body lacks energy. You may be overdoing it - mentally or physically. Take time to eat foods slowly in a calm environment to ensure your body extracts everything it needs. You can find foods that boost energy on the food section of my site. Next look at the coating, is it thick? You may need foods that clear away excess waste from the body such as beans, legumes, and sweet potatoes. If there's no coating at all, or it shows cracks, this could indicate you need to replenish body fluids by eating more fruit, or drinking vegetable soups. If you have any questions at all, feel free to bring it up in your next session.

3. Set yourself up for success, not failure

Success mindset wellness mindfulness acusoul

Setting goals or resolutions at the beginning of the year is a great idea. Don't beat yourself up if you slip up every now and then. We tend to set resolutions like they are strict rules in our life. Know that you may not be able to consistently "go to the gym everyday" because after all, you are human. Life itself has seasons just like in nature. At certain times of the year, you may become more busy, or your wants and desires for comfort take a higher priority over your new years resolutions. At those times, allow yourself to just be you. There are always different parts of our personality we need to nourish. Comfort is not a sign of weakness, it is simply a way of showing self-love. And that should never be considered a failure, but rather a way of expressing different qualities of who you are.

Hope these recommendations help you on your journey in life. Enjoy this year and what it has to offer.

5 Ways to Warm Up!

5 Ways to Warm Up!

As the cold winter approaches, it's important we understand how to stay balanced during this season. Winter is the time our energy hides in the deeper layers of our body, making us more susceptible to catching colds. For those who have poor circulation, cold temperatures can slows things down even more, reducing blood flow to your extremities. You may experience cold hands and feet, or become more prone to pain in your body as blood stagnation occurs. Here's what you can do to offset these imbalances.

1. Add Some Spice

Star anise, fennel, and cloves not only spice up your meals, but have very strong warming properties that can tonify your Yang (warming) energy according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Add them to soup, or marinate meat with these warming spices. 

2. Eat Venison/Lamb

This brings me to my next point. Meat can have a negative connotation in our modern society especially with factory farming practices. Sometimes we forget the beneficial properties of meat. I always recommend eating organic when possible, and consuming meat in moderation. Lamb and venison can warm the body up, relieving your from cold extremities, feeling cold all the time, or even low libido as these meats strengthen the Kidneys as well. They are often marinated with rosemary - another warming herb that can help you stay balanced during the cold, frigid winter months.

3. Drink Alcohol

You're probably are starting to question this article - but believe it or not, moderate alcohol consumption was recommended during the Ming Dynasty to help regulate blood flow, improve circulation, and warm the body. All good things in moderation.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture

Acupuncture

TCM is all about balancing Yin and Yang. For those with a deficiency in Yang, they tend to feel cold more often, lack energy, and may even experience low libido, or loose stools. Yang represents warmth, and along the back of your spine lies the Du Channel "Sea of Yang". By choosing points along this channel, acupuncture can boost the body's warming energy to relieve the sensation of cold. If you haven't tried it yet, book your session today at www.acusoul.com.

5. Sit by the fire

This time of year it is quite difficult to get more sun, but there are other options. Layer up at the office, plug in a portable heater, or sit by a fire if you get the chance. External heat is just as important as warming the body up from the inside out. As you plan your holiday season, try to spend some time near a fire, whether that's at home as you cozy up next to the fireplace, at a cabin resort, or the inside of a chalet.

For more health tips from a TCM perspective feel free to follow me on Instagram @acu_soul

3 Mindful Tips For Fall

3 Mindful Tips For Fall

1. Slow down              

A fall tree begins to lose its leaves and change colour, reflecting a time to slow down as energy becomes scarce during this season. Likewise, we should do the same. Focus more on slow exercises that calm the mind like yoga, tai chi, and meditation. These exercises are great as they build up our internal energies. Intense sport activities, excess work, stress, and anxiety should be reduced during this time of year as they over consume us. Remember, life is all about balance, without building up our internal energy, how can we meet the demands of life? 

2. Refine Yourself

Knowing that you have less energy during this time of year, it is important to become more efficient in the things you do. Fall is a season that resonates in nature with "Metal" - refined rocks, diamonds, gems, etc. Like a gem, through the process of refinement, one can bring out the best qualities in themselves. Learn to refine your processes at work, or at home so that they become less draining on you. Let go of things that aren't working or have a low return on investment. Metal also reflects structure, prioritize your list of things to do based on importance, not urgency. By becoming organized and efficient with your time spent, you conserve energy, life becomes clearer, and you become your best self.

3. Tidy Up

One of the organs associated with Fall is the large intestine - whose job is to eliminate waste, or let go of the unnecessary. When there's clutter in your home, this represents clutter in your mind, that you live with day in and day out. By tidying up your desk, closet, or home, you go through the process of eliminating waste. This will make you feel like you have more space, and can finally breathe again! Breathing is the main function of the Lungs - the other organ associated with fall, responsible for bringing in clean pure air into our bodies. Once you let go of the old, and eliminate waste, this gives your body the opportunity to bring in something new, and positive into your life.

If you find it difficult to accomplish these tasks, acupuncture can re-balance the body physically to make way for an improved mindset. Feel free to book an acupuncture session today!

Four Key Recipes For Fall

Four Key Recipes For Fall

Looking for ways to stay balanced this fall? Listed below are four recipes that taste great AND boost your body's immune system during this cool & dry season. As temperatures begin to dip, it's important that we stay covered up. It's time to put on that scarf, and fall jacket again to avoid catching a cold. For those of us that tend to feel cold easily, stay balanced by eating foods with warming properties. This brings me to my first recipe.

1. Carrot Ginger Soup
This is a simple warming soup with minimal ingredients. Ginger's immune boosting effects combined with carrots will give you the energy you need to combat a cold, or replenish your body at the end of a long day at work.

What you need:
Immersion blender
Coconut oil or Butter (2 tbsp - butter has warming properties that are beneficial during the fall/winter months.)
Ginger (1 tsp)
Carrots (6-7 large carrots peeled and chopped)
Chicken or vegetable stock (0.5 litres)
Onions (1 large or 2 small onions chopped)
Water (0.5 litres)

Directions:
1. Heat coconut oil/butter on medium heat in a large pot.
2. Add onions, and carrots saute for 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the stock, water, and ginger
4. Bring to a boil, and simmer on low for 25 minutes (until carrots are soft)
5. Use your immersion blender to blend the carrots.
6. Add salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!

2. Spiced Apple Cider

Apples are in season during fall, if you have time I recommend going to an apple farm to pick your own! This way you can see the practices that farm uses, and ensure you're getting fresh, and ripe fruit. What to do with all those apples? Apples are great for moistening the lungs, and provide a good source of energy.

By combining warming and moistening properties from cinnamon and apple, apple cider can warm you up, while soothing a dry cough. 

What you need:
Apples (10 quartered)
brown sugar (3/4 cup)
Ground cinnamon (1 tbsp)
Nutmeg (1/8 tsp)
Cloves (4)

Directions:
1. Place apples in a large pot and add enough water cover by 2 inches. 
2. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Bring to a boil. 
3. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. 
4. Cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours.
5. Strain apple mixture though a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. 
6. Enjoy!

3. Beet Soup

In TCM, we say that overwork can consume your body's Qi (energy), and blood. Signs of blood deficiency are feeling dizzy, lightheaded, especially after a long day. For women that have scanty periods, or find that their vision blurs in and out randomly, or have a pale face, and pale tongue, these are all signs of blood deficiency. A common theme in TCM is that the appearance of food represents what your body needs. Red foods, are good for nourishing blood. Beets are no exception and are a very good blood tonic. Make this recipe when you're feeling out of it, as blood has the ability to ground the spirit and when deficient can make you feel as though you are floating, or not quite grounded. 

What you need:
- 900mL Vegetable stock
- 1 medium onion
- 3 large beets
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- dill weed

Directions:
1. Add oil to a large saucepan over medium heat
2. Add onions, let cook until they begin to soften
3. Add Beets, cook for 1-2 minutes
4. Add vegetable stock
5. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on low for 20 minutes
6. Add 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, stir
7. Add salt and pepper for taste
8. Enjoy!

4. Pinenut garlic spread

This is an easy and tasty spread to make for garlic lovers. Especially good for reducing blood pressure as garlic is a natural blood thinner. Garlic is also a pungent-warming spice making it an ideal choice if you feel the start of a cold coming on. Pinenuts are moistening, once again good if you have dryness in the lungs, or suffer from constipation. A great combination for Fall. You may have to go to a bulk barn, or whole foods to find these nuts.

What you need:
6-8 cloves of raw garlic
½ cup pinenuts
juice of ¼ lemon
1 teaspoon dried basil
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
 
Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a spice or coffee grinder or a food processor with a small bowl attachment.
2. Blend until smooth
 

What's The Right Tea For You?

What's The Right Tea For You?

In Chinese Medicine, the goal is to bring harmony and balance to the body, mind, and soul. We can accomplish this through acupuncture, food therapy, or even choosing the right teas. Your body's imbalances speak loudly in many ways, and if we are attuned to how we feel we can choose the right tea to re-balance ourselves. Green tea has become quite popular nowadays with all the research indicating green tea has high antioxidant qualities. However, green tea is considered cooling in Chinese Medicine and may not be right for everyone.

1. Peppermint Tea
If you feel cold all the time, or generally low in energy, green tea may not be the healthiest choice for you. If, however, you tend to feel hot easily, get nose bleeds, mouth sores, or are suffering from a sore throat, peppermint tea could make you feel better.Peppermint has cooling qualities that clear heat and soothe the liver, an organ which can get quite heated in a high stress environment. This makes peppermint a perfect way to rebalance after a heated discussing, or a stressful day at the office. 

 

2. Black Tea
On the other hand, black tea's high caffeine content, and energizing properties might be the right choice if you feel sluggish, tired, or just need a boost of energy. In fact, a common tradition which is still carried out today is to drink black tea at Dim Sum. This is because alot of food served at Dim Sum can be quite greasy, and cause some of us to feel tired, and heavy after the meal. Pu-Erh tea, served at Dim Sum, is used to help cut the grease, boost energy, and wake you up again. This tea gets its name from Pu'Er, a city in Yunnan province, China where the tea is fermented, and aged. 

3. Rose Tea & Chai Tea
Feeling cold at the office? this may be due to a lack of circulation, or a lack of warmth in the body. I have two options for you - rose tea and chai tea. More than just a romantic gesture, roses, when consumed as tea are good for gently warming the body, while promoting circulation. Its invigorating qualities help to remove stagnation, which builds up when we're constantly doing something we don't want to do. It also has medicinal properties which nourish the skin, and promote digestion. In Chinese medicine, it is occasionally used for people that have irregular menstruation, blood clots, or painful periods. Chai tea on the other hand, has its origins in India, and blends black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian  spices and herbs. With strong invigorating, and warming properties, this makes it a great choice in the winter time if you're feeling a runny nose, or the beginning stages of a cold. It will not only warm your body up from the inside out, but could potentially cause you to break a sweat, preventing exterior pathogens from invading your body. 

4. Matcha Tea
Feeling anxious, panicky or just not well grounded? Matcha tea is known as an anticancer tea, having 137 times more antioxidants compared to regular green tea. It's interesting to note Matcha tea's cultivation, and production are closely related to the effects it has on the body. Grown in a shaded environment for up to 3 weeks, this makes Matcha tea a more cooling, and calming tea. Once picked, it is stone-ground into a fine powder - having the ability to ground your mind at times of anxiety and fear. In fact, traditionally at Japanese and Chinese ceremonies, matcha tea was prepared and served as a way of embodying a meditative spirit. A great tea to have at the end of a long work week, when you are looking to wind down, quiet the thoughts of the mind, and focus on yourself. 

5 Habits For a Healthy Summer

5 Habits For a Healthy Summer

Summer is the season of joy, movement, energy, and activity! Staying in harmony with the seasons is an age old tradition according to Chinese Medicine. Follow these tips to stay balanced this summer.

1. Go Outside

Enjoy this nice weather while we have it. For those of us that tend to spend all day in an office, hidden from the sun, it's important we get outdoors when we can to stay balanced this season. The sun offers us a good dose of vitamin D, which is important to prevent depression, and ensure good kidney function. If you're the type of person that feels cold all the time, getting more sun is one of the easiest and most natural ways to warm your body up. Just set a reminder on your phone every 2 hours to go outside and get some fresh air. It will not only keep you balanced this summer, but you may find you're more productive too!

2. Socialize

For many of us this can can be as simple as enjoying drinks with friends, camping, having a BBQ, or a day at the beach. The one thing these activities all have in common is - more time spent with the people you love. The season of summer resonates with Fire, the elemental nature of the Heart organ, which is nurtured by the emotion of Joy in Chinese Medicine. During the summer, you will want to nourish your Heart by socializing, and experiencing more joy with the people you love. Camping is great for this, because we tend to gather in groups around a campfire - indirectly nourishing your Heart and Fire element.

3. Eat Fruit

Fruit is naturally "in-season" during the summer months. Of course in North America we can get fruit all year around but Summer offers fruit which has been picked ripe, and grown locally, improving the health of the fruit and its benefits to our bodies. Summer in general is the season when the amount of energy we receive from the sun is strongest, warming our bodies up, and boosting our energy as we experience more daytime. Given this increase in warmth in our bodies, this makes eating raw fruit a viable option as our bodies have more warming "Yang" energy to transform the raw fruit into vital nutrients. It's also a great way to stay hydrated if you're spending much of your time outdoors. BBQ tends to create toxic heat in the body. You may experience more nose bleeds this time of the year, mild afternoon fever, sweating more easily, or a desire for cold drinks. These are all signs that there could be excess heat in the body. Good fruit options for clearing heat are pears, cantaloupe, watermelon, and bananas. Caution to those who are pregnant, and individuals who feel cold all the time, or have a weak digestive system as these foods may be contraindicated.

4. Exercise

It's important that we exercise throughout the year, but Summer is the season we should be most active according to Chinese Medicine. If you're finding it difficult to exercise at the end of a long day, try waking up earlier to go for a quick run. The sun rises earlier this time of year, which shortens our natural sleeping patterns, and makes it easier to be an early bird.

5. Realize Your Potential

Summer being the most expansive, and energetic of all, is the season when our goals, visions, and dreams should be realized. Whatever dreams you've been holding onto for the past year, or visions you have for your life's potential, don't hold them back anymore, put them into action. The joy and satisfaction from making your vision or dream a reality, will boost your spirit and nourish your Heart. Ultimately, making you realize that any dream you have, big or small, can come true. Summer is the season to live your life with joy, happiness, and love. Go out, and do that which satisfies you deep within your heart. Make your dreams a reality this summer.

5 Reasons To Try Acupuncture

5 Reasons To Try Acupuncture

1. Reconnect With Yourself

Acupuncture is a way for you to take time out of your busy life, and tend to your body's needs, which may or may not have been neglected for weeks, months, or years. By taking an hour out of your day to re-balance the body through acupuncture, this allows you to leave your anxiety, stress, and tension behind and really focus on you. Bringing you back into the present moment and reconnecting your mind and body.

2. Get To The Root Cause

Acupuncture gets right down to the root of your health imbalances. By inspecting the tongue, and palpating the wrist pulse, your practitioner can see and feel any imbalances in your life, whether chronic or acute. The tongue's qualities such as colour, moisture, and size reveal the overall health of each organ. Using a system of points which are mapped out throughout your body, acupuncturists are able to promote healing from the root.

3. Experience Positive Side Effects

The side effects of acupuncture are many, yet all positive. After an acupuncture treatment you may notice an overall improvement in your sleep, digestion, and stress levels.

4. Find Out Your Imbalances

Many of us visit the doctor only to find that there's "nothing wrong". We may not be dieing of a chronic disease, however, many of us still feel something is "off". These are the types of problems you want to bring to your acupuncturist. They specialize in taking into consideration all aspects of your health history, including current signs and symptoms you may be experiencing, and are able to explain to you what they all mean from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective.

5. Tried, Tested & True

Acupuncture has been around for over 2000 years. It is one of the oldest forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine and in fact predates the use of herbal medicine. If it were not an effective form of treatment, why has it continued to survive throughout the ages? The clinical experience of patients and practitioners over thousands of years offers clear evidence that acupuncture works.

For a list of illnesses acupuncture has been proven to treat according to the World Health Organization(WHO) click here.

Soup For Preventive Health

Soup For Preventive Health

Soup is one of the traditions that have survived throughout Chinese culture as a way of maintaining good health, and is probably one of the ways that Asians remain looking so young even as they age. In fact, many homemade soups share similar herbal ingredients to those used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I recall growing up as a child, and my mother would make soup once a week. In our family, this was a form of preventive medicine we used to keep our bodies nourished and healthy. My mother would always tell me to drink the soup, and she placed such a high importance on it, I think this is one of the reasons I find it easy to accept Chinese Medicine as a lifestyle.

The ingredients would be different depending on the season, but in general there is usually meat with bone as a base. Pork bone, or chicken bone is commonly combined with herbs, and vegetables. The bone is very nourishing according to TCM and should not be omitted in making soup. As you boil bone, it releases vital nutrients and minerals our bodies can use to build blood, bone, and connective tissue. This can be beneficial for people suffering from blood deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, and arthritis - or even as a way to prevent these illnesses altogether. In addition to this, the bone marrow within bone is said to be produced by the kidneys in TCM, which are the root of our bodies. Consuming soup containing bone marrow can supplement our bodies and nourish our kidneys - an organ that may need boosting in infertility cases.

There was always a noticeable difference in how I felt after drinking soup. When your body has everything it needs, your energy level goes up, you become less irritable, more calm, and yet focused. In making soup, all the nutrients from the ingredients are extracted into the broth and the hot temperature of soup makes it easier for your digestive system to absorb everything. Soup is a great way to nourish our bodies, moisten dryness, and stay in harmony with the seasons.

In the winter, it makes sense to consume soups with warming properties as this keeps our immune system strong, ensuring we are able to ward off colds during the frigid winter months. Examples of foods with warming qualities include ginger, cinnamon, chicken, lamb, onions, and coconut meat.

As for the summer months, we spend a lot of time in the sun, either working on the garden, sitting on the beach, or BBQ'ing which adds an element of fire to the food we eat. This can cause us to lose our body fluids through sweating, while creating excess heat in the body leading to irritability, thirst which cannot be quenched by water, restlessness, fever, mouth sores, and constipation. A good soup to balance the body during the summer is watercress soup. A simple recipe involves boiling watercress, and adding salt. Watercress contains heat clearing and fluid nourishing qualities to replenish our bodies. If you want to take it a step further try adding pork bone, and herbs like barley, lotus root, dried shiitake mushrooms, and lotus seeds.

Feel free to search through the "Food As Medicine" page for more summer cooling foods.

Food As Medicine - Weight Loss

Food As Medicine - Weight Loss

Author: Justin Lee

Each food has the potential to influence your health in the right or wrong direction. Whether you suffer from being overweight, low in energy, or have a general sluggish feeling all the time, there are foods that are right for you. By understanding our imbalances from a Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) perspective, we can then use a TCM food therapy approach to eating healthy and rebalancing the body. 

Food therapy is all about eating according to your body's needs. If you are trying to lose weight or boost your overall energy, it's important that the digestive system - the Spleen/Stomach - is supported for optimal digestion. People who tend to crave sweets tend to have a weakness in their Spleen/Stomach. The Stomach is responsible for taking in food, and rotting and ripening it. It's important that we chew our foods so that this process can flow smoothly. The Spleen's job is to then take the digested food, and transform it into vital nutrients. However, foods that damage these organs are refined sugars, greasy/oily foods, and foods that are cold in temperature. Refined sugars have been stripped of all nutrients and fiber, and actually overload the Spleen, making it unable to transform and transport. Cold foods tend to slow down digestion to a hault, making you feel heavy, sluggish, tired, and bloated as these foods sit in your body unable to be processed. You want to think of your digestive system like a furnace that needs to be kept warm all the time. Cold foods put out your digestive flames making it harder for you to process the foods you eat. Cold drinks do the same thing, except in the form of liquids - leading to water retention or what we call "dampness".

Another big issue with trying to lose weight is eating at the right times. 7-9AM is the optimal time for the Stomach to receive food, and so breakfast should be your biggest meal, while dinner should be a smaller meal as 7-9PM is when your Stomach is weakest according to TCM. Being mindful of your eating habits can help improve how much your body is going to absorb from the foods you eat. We always recommend in TCM to eat in a calm environment, where you can focus on your food alone without distraction. Eating in a hurry, or while working on the computer or checking your phone actually divides your energy and makes it more difficult for your Spleen/Stomach to do its job efficiently.

In TCM, people with weak spleens should eat everything cooked. By doing so, this optimizes nutrient absorption and the elimination of dampness. Earth vegetables are great for boosting the Spleen - carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, beets & more. These foods give us energy, eliminate waste, and ultimately help your body to drop the excess weight.

It's interesting to note that the element of the stomach/spleen in TCM is Earth - hence why "earthy" vegetables help boost our spleen. Organic makes it even better as these vegetables are grown in a healthy, nutrient rich "earth" environment. Feel free to follow Justin on Instagram @acu_soul for more health tips on food from a TCM perspective.

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