Welcome to the second edition of Melissa Carr's Traditional Chinese
Medicine health e-newsletters. If I've met you between April and
now, this is the first of these emails that you've received from me and
I should re-introduce myself, just in case. If you receive this email
it is because I have treated you or at least met you at some point, or
you have requested e-newsletters from me. My practice is Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM) and my tools for treatment are acupuncture,
Chinese herbs, food cures (nutrition), tui na massage, western herbs
and supplements, and lifestyle changes. My philosophy is to work in
partnership with you to bring you to your optimal health. Education
through regular correspondence is one way for me to acheive this.
Hard to believe it 's already summer! This issue focuses on
summer health concerns and heart health. In TCM, each season is
associated with an element from nature and two body organs.
Summer is linked to the element of Fire and to the Heart and
Small Intestines. For more information on TCM and my practice,
visit my website at www.activetcm.com.
If you've been there, done that, check the "Updates, Upcoming
lectures" link for just that. Although I don't currently have any
lectures planned for the summer, I will be regularly adding new
information to this section.
At the request of a few of my patients, I have written about prostate
health. I am happy to take requests and will do my best to oblige
for all future issues as well. If you no longer wish to receive
these mailings, please let me know and I will remove you from my list.
Healthy Hearts are Happy Hearts!
In TCM, summertime is the time that the Heart is
most active. Not to dampen your summer fun, but
cardiovascular diseases are the biggest killers in
North America, so take care of your ticker!
||At your request…
I had a few requests to write about prostate
health, so here it is. Find out some simple things
that you can do (or get your spouse, boyfriend,
friend, brother, father, etc. to do) to keep your
Also, info about
sunburns, and sunstroke.
||Summer's here and the time is right….
…for dancing in the street! Just don't overdo it
on your days off when you've been sitting at a
desk all week.
Helping you help yourself!
To work in partnership with you to bring you to
your optimal health.
Ongoing health, not just temporary relief.
This is active health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine's focus on heart health occurs in
the summer because summer is a Fire month and the Heart is
considered a Fire organ. One of the most important health issues
right now is that of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is not something that you
only have to think about when you are older. Consider these
- CVD is the third leading cause of death in those under
the age of 75.
- Due to changes in lifestyle and diet, even children are
suffering increasing rates of CVD as they are eating more
junk food and are exercising less.
- The thing that becomes especially tricky about CVD is
that you likely do not know if you have high cholesterol or
high blood pressure unless you have been tested.
The news is not all bad though! You can reduce your risks for
CVD by eating healthy, exercising, not smoking, and drinking only
in moderation or not at all.
You've probably read, been told,
or heard through various sources that a major key to a
healthy heart is limiting fat consumption. Saturated fats
have been shown to increase blood cholesterol levels and
thus increase the risk of heart disease. Fats also contain
more calories per gram than either protein or carbohydrates
and can lead to obesity. However, fats are an essential part
of our diets. In TCM eating fat supports the Yin energy of
the body by building tissues, enhancing fluid metabolism,
and directing nutrients to the nervous system so they can
then create a sense of security. Research has shown that the
right fats do in fact help produce beautiful skin, hair, and
nails; keep bones strong; speed healing and recovery from
injury; support healthy child development; ease PMS; and
enhance brain function to improve mood, intelligence, and
behaviour. These "right fats" are essential fatty acids (EFAs)-omega
3, 6, and 9.
EFAs have been shown to lower abnormally high blood pressure,
reduce blood cholesterol levels, and help to prevent excess clot
formation. They even help with weight loss as they improve mood,
boost energy, suppress appetite, and increase metabolism. Other
dietary improvements that can be incorporated are:
- Eat a significant quantity of brightly coloured
vegetables and fruits like carrots, spinach, broccoli,
tomatoes, and blueberries
- Consume enough soluble fibre from foods like
apples, barley, oats, and dried beans
- Choose foods rich in folate (also known as folic
acid) like asparagus, lentils, bok choy, and chick
It is said that according to TCM each person has two hearts.
This is because we count both the physical heart that pumps the
blood and the emotional heart that is the house of emotions. In
the West, we have similar ideas about emotions and the heart. If
we love someone we draw a symbol for the heart. We feel
broken-hearted when our love is not returned and research has
even shown that this emotional pain triggers the same areas of
the brain as physical pain.
Anxiety and depression are two of
the most common emotional disorders. Anxiety affects
about 12% of the population in Canada and about 25% of
Canadians suffer depression severely enough to require
treatment at some time in his or her life. An
interesting fact is that many of the same things that
can improve cardiovascular health can also improve
mental health. Exercise has been shown to help elevate
and regulate mood. Proper diet feeds the brain the
right nutrients to keep it functioning properly. Two
separate studies in 2000 showed that smoking increases
the risk of depression in teenagers and anxiety in
teens and young adults. It is not yet clear the reason
why, but it is thought to be due to the strong
influence that nicotine has on the brain. Finally, as
alcohol is a depressant, excessive drinking should be
So while you are taking care of your physical heart, don't
forget about the emotional heart. Take time to express yourself,
do something you enjoy, and take time for yourself and you will
truly have a happy heart!
So you didn't heed the cautions.
You stayed out in the sun too long
and now you have sunstroke and/or a
sunburn. How can TCM help you?
If you have sunstroke, you
should first follow standard
in a cool area and
apply and consume cool liquids. A
classic TCM treatment involves
using a round-edged instrument to
rub or scrape the skin. Oil is
applied first and a Chinese ceramic
soupspoon is a common tool. The
principle of this therapy is
similar to that of acupuncture. It
stimulates the points and improves
circulation. Don't do this if you
also have a sunburn! A favourite
summer fruit, watermelon, is a
common food cure as it is both cool
and contains a lot of water.
If it is a sunburn that troubles
you, the best natural solution is
pure aloe vera gel. While this herb
is most commonly used internally in
TCM as a laxative, topically it
soothes and heals the skin.
Remember to never apply oils to a
At Your Request:
While the majority of people seeking alternative and
complementary medicine are women, we must not neglect you men out
there. One area that becomes an issue for most men at some point
in your lives is prostate health.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), or non-cancerous enlargement
of the prostate gland is the most common prostate problem. After
age sixty, more than 70% of men have are afflicted with BPH and
that number is about 40% for men in their fifties.
BPH symptoms can vary, but the most common signs are trouble
urinating, frequent need to urinate, unable to void completely,
decreased force of stream, dribbling urine, and needing to
urinate more than twice a night.
It is important for men over the age of forty to get regular
checkups as prostate cancer is a potential concern even with no
or minor symptoms.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and
second leading cause of death in men, but it is also very
treatable. In fact, the 5 year survival rate for prostate cancer
is nearly 100% when discovered early.
There are many treatment options for both BPH and prostate
cancers. Surgery is one option, as is the use of prescription
drugs, but there are many other natural options as well.
Effective natural remedies include saw palmetto, pygeum, stinging
nettles, zinc, lycopene, vitamin E, selenium, boron, essential
fatty acids, and milk thistle. TCM offers its own complement of
Chinese herbals and, as always, the focus is on determining the
imbalance in the body and formulating an herbal prescription
based on the diagnosis.
As always there are many changes that can be made via diet,
exercise, and lifestyle choices.
An interesting finding is that Japanese men native to their
country have the lowest rates of prostate cancer in the world.
However, when they begin to eat like the average North American,
the cancer numbers rise to equal those of their western
One major difference in the Asian versus Western diet is the
limited consumption of red meat and the greater consumption of
soy products like tofu, miso, and tempeh. Soy contains two
substances that have been found to be anticancerous: the
isoflavones genistein and daidzein. There are many ways that soy
can be eaten (check out this soy recipe website:
but if you're still adverse to soy foods, you can also take
standardized soy extracts in capsulated form.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs for short) have also been shown to be
involved in healthy prostate function. EFAs are unsaturated fats
that are necessary components in every membrane in the body. We
need to get EFAs in our diets as our bodies cannot produce them,
and they can be found in flax seed oil, borage oil, sunflower
seed oil, primrose oil, and fish (salmon, tuna, sardines,
mackerel) oil, to name a few.
Other important nutrients for prostate health include lycopene
(the nutrient that colours tomatoes bright red), zinc (immune
system booster found in pumpkin seeds, barley, and chicken),
vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant found in avocados, broccoli,
and almonds), and garlic (which has anti-tumour properties).
For more recipe ideas, see
Artichoke, beets, bok choy, cabbage, carrot,
celery, chard, collard greens, comfrey, corn,
cucumber, eggplant, green peas, lettuce, okra,
radish, rhubarb, spinach, sugar peas, tomatoes,
Nuts and Seeds:
Almonds, Pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
Apricot, avocado, banana, blackberry, blueberry,
boysenberry, cantaloupe, fig, grapes, grapefruit,
guava, lime, logan berry, mango, melon, nectarine,
orange, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, peach,
pear, plum, raspberry, strawberry, tangelo,
Chickweed, chicory, chili pepper, chives,
cilantro, dandelion root, fennel, green tea,
hawthorn berry, mint, parsley, peppermint,
Brown rice, white rice, amaranth
You know who you are!
Yay! The weather is beautiful; perfect for hopping on your new
mountain bike, pulling the rollerblades out of the back of your
closet, joining your buddies for a "friendly" game of soccer, or
challenging yourself on the Grouse Grind. Great! Exercise is good
for you. Right? Well, yes…and no. Exercise is wonderful and
essential, but some of you out there don't move enough during the
workweek and then push yourselves too hard when the weekend
finally arrives. What happens next? Injuries. Then you're
sidelined for awhile, unable to do the activities you would like
to do. You may even push yourself back to the activities before
your body is sufficiently healed and the cycle begins.
Bad as injuries may be, acoording to the American Heart
Association, those who exercise sporadically actually have an
increased risk of exercise-related heart attacks or cardiac
arrest over those who exercise regularly.
- Start off a new exercise program slowly.
- Start each activity with a 5-10 minutes brisk walk or some
other aerobic activity.
- Stretch your muscles once you have warmed up, holding each
stretch for at least 30 seconds and making sure to remember to
breathe during each stretch.
- Stretch again after your activity.
- Continue with some activity during the workweek, e.g. every
- Give yourself some time for rest. Don't workout every day.
- Cross-train. Studies have shown that you will be less likely to
injure yourself if you don't always do the same exercise, so mix
up your activities.
- Pay attention to your form. If you are starting a new exercise,
consider talking to a certified trainer.
- Pay attention to your body. If you're too tired, rest. You're
more likely to lose your form and injure yourself when you're
- It is normal to have sore muscles when you start exercising
again, but if the soreness lasts more then 36 hours or if it gets
worse, get treatment.
- Stay hydrated.
At the first sign of an injury, remember the RICE method: rest,
ice, compression, and elevation. If your pain does not subside,
Acupuncture can work wonderfully to treat pain,
decrease inflammation, and speed up healing time. It can even
help strengthen areas of weakness so that injuries will be less
likely to recur.
A safe and effective alternative to pharmaceutical
antiinflammatories is a natural product called Serrapeptidase.
This is an enzyme that was initially isolated from silkworms
which used the enzymes to break down their hard cocoon walls. It
is now produced through a fermentation process. Serrapeptidase in
not only antiinflammatory (reduces swelling), but also anti-edemic
(lessens fluid retention) and fibrinolytic (breaks down protein
buildups such as those in scar tissue). While not a TCM
supplement, I have found it to be a great supplement for my
patients with pain, inflammation, and sinusitis. For more
For more information see
In appreciation of each of your referrals,
starting today I will offer you $10 off of your
next treatment, so don't forget to tell your
friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances to
give me your name when they book an appointment.