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food as medicine

Dry Skin? Try These Natural Remedies

Dry Skin? Try These Natural Remedies

With this year's extreme cold winter we have had in Toronto, you may have turned up the heat on full blast just to keep temperatures moderate indoors. As a result, you may have noticed drier skin. You might even be waking with a dry mouth and nose.

The worst part is your hands and feet are like a desert! No amount of lotion or Vaseline seems to keep them from drying up again. 

In this blog I'm going to share with you a few simple solutions to re-hydrate your body from the inside out. In doing so, you won't have to apply as much lotion continuously, and your mouth and nose should not be as dry when you wake up in the mornings. 

First let's dive into why this is happening. With dryness, there's actually 2 factors going on. 1. External dryness, 2. Internal heat. Dryness can be moistened with foods that help generate more fluid in the body. Here's a few that can help:

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1. Honey

Honey has so many healing properties. Moistening dryness is just one!

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2. Kiwis & Bananas

Great for relieving thirst. Bananas also have moistening properties that are good for regular bowel movements and help dry skin.

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3. Oatmeal

Any kind of porridge is good for restoring fluids. In asian culture congee is one made with rice and water in a ratio of 1:6.

Heat on the other hand doesn't disappear by moistening it. You actually have to clear it out of your system. 

But where is this heat coming from? It's the middle of winter, so if it's not externally generated, it must be coming from within.

"What generates heat internally though?" you might wonder. And the answer is stress.

That could be tight deadlines, or having to multi-task non-stop. You can think about a computer overheating, when it has too much to process, or hasn't been shut off in a while. Our brains need the same "TIME OFF". Otherwise, we crash and burn.

Add more meditation, or go for a weekend getaway. This is great for bringing down stress levels. In addition, here are some foods you can add to your diet to clear the heat/inflammation from your body:

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1. Peppermint

Great for clearing heat, emotional frustration, and ‘chilling you out’.

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2. Pears

Pears are a 2-in-1 combo. Not only do they clear heat, but they also moisten dryness. This is the go-to for feelings of thirst, especially if you have been eating spicy lately, or fried foods. The heat clearing properties will get you feeling refreshed and thirst quenched.


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3. Watermelon

Great for clearing heat from your system. In fact watermelon is something we typically crave during the intense summer heat. However, due to its cooling nature, it should be eaten in moderation.



I hope you enjoyed these tips. Feel free to book an acupuncture & food therapy session to dive deeper into your health concerns.

Skin Rashes: A Home Remedy & How Acupuncture Can Help

Skin Rashes: A Home Remedy & How Acupuncture Can Help

Some of you that struggle with this condition, whether it's a rash or some form of eczema, have had it for years. You’ve tried the steroid creams, the anti-inflammatory meds and are wondering how acupuncture & food therapy can help.

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. Here are some tips to help you get your beauty rest.

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.

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. 

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Happy 2017!

Happy 2017!

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

1. Do something for you

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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