South America, New Clinic Open House, and Donations for the Environment...
As many of you
know, I had the wonderful chance to go to South America for 3 weeks
this summer. When asked how it was, I can best sum it up
in two words...an adventure. Some of it
was challenging. Some of it was
difficult. But ultimately it was an unforgettable
First of all,
without trying to be preachy, I want to say that despite the problems that we
have in Canada with our health care, we are extremely
fortunate in many ways. We have many
choices that others do not. And yet, even
with little, many people there are able to perform some incredible healings.While
the impact of the vastness of the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu was beyond words, the greatest influence
of this trip for me was from the natural elements.
As with all native
cultures around the world, medicine from herbs and food is powerful stuff. In the Amazon jungle, I was shown plants from
which teas, brews, or foods are made to tame fevers, eliminate toxins, treat
pain, and ease childbirth. At the Galapagos Islands I was astounded by the uniqueness of the
landscapes and the animals that live there.
It frightened me that despite their strength to survive thousands of
years of natural environmental changes, we have managed to destroy so much in
so relatively little time.
My goal is to try
to do what I can to help the preservation and conservation of our environment
and animals. You might wonder why I feel
so passionate about this when my practice is in medicine and humans. Yet, while we may think we are separate from
our environments--creating our own small biospheres with air-conditioned or
heated offices and homes that are regulated for humidity and so on--we are not
immune to the changes that happen around us.
The things that are harmful to our environments are also ultimately
harmful to us. This has been
demonstrated to us in so many, many ways, and yet it is still a lesson we
struggle to learn.
My contribution is
that I plan on offering periodic days when I will give 30 minute consultations
by donation. You choose what you want to
donate and the proceeds will be given to causes that I feel are important, such
as the David Suzuki Foundation (at the Open House). If you
or anyone you know is interested in giving TCM a try, my first day to offer
this is going to be at the open house to my new office. The day is set for Monday, October 24th on
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day from 12-6 p.m.
For more information see
ActiveTCM.com or call 604-783-2846.
TCM Essentials about Fall
TCM Organ systems:
Lungs and Large Intestines – systems important for proper elimination of toxins
Colour: white –
who says you can’t wear white after Labour Day?!
sadness/grief – eliminate the toxins of old emotions
– a bit of garlic, ginger, and onions can go a long way
Body tissue: skin
– just as your lungs breathe, so too does your skin, so choose wisely when
selecting lotions, makeup, and clothing, trying to be as natural as possible
Sense organ: nose
– use essential oils with scents you enjoy; if you are usually congested, try
eucalyptus or peppermint
Health Issues to Address: Related
to the Lungs—Allergies (even if they only occur in the
spring), asthma, respiratory disorders, skin disorders (eczema,
psoriasis, acne, rosacea, etc.); Getting ready for Winter –
Arthritis and other joint pains worsened by cold weather, poor
circulation, urinary bladder and kidney disorders
Making the Common Cold Less Common
common cold could not be more aptly named.
In fact, statistics state that 72 percent of Canadians contract a cold
every year with adults averaging 2.5 colds per year. Because children are often in close contact
with each other and because their immune systems are immature, they average 6
to 10 colds and often bring home as many as 12 colds a year. We have been noted to spend more than $20
million a year on cold remedies and the social costs of the common cold, at
$400 million per year, are more than the combined expenditures on asthma,
congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease!
While colds are often thought of as
a necessary nuisance, providing practice for the strengthening of our immune
systems so we can fight off more serious infections, no one wants to
suffer. So what can you do to prevent
colds and flus and reduce the severity and duration if you do succumb?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
believes that colds (called gan mao) occur when an external environmental pathogen
such as wind combined with cold (Wind-Cold gan mao) attacks and overwhelms the
body. An example of this is if you are
tired and go outside without a scarf and jacket when the temperature drops, and
a cold wind blows strongly on the nape of your neck, giving you a chill. The next day you wake up with a stiff neck
and upper back, headache, runny nose, itchy throat, and perhaps a cough. Another common TCM gan mao is caused by
Wind-Heat. While it may not actually be
caused by a hot wind, the symptoms of this kind of cold are different from the
Wind-Cold type. Wind-Heat sufferers tend
to get warm easily, perspire easily, and may suffer from constipation and have
more fiery personalities. Symptoms of
Wind-Heat include a sore throat, fever, yellow mucus, thirst, and sweating. It is important to note that each kind of cold
is treated differently by TCM.
It is true that there is no evidence
that being chilled or overheated will make you catch a cold, but putting stress
on the body, both physical and emotional, can lower your immune system, thus
making you more likely to get sick when a virus does attack. So, one way to prevent catching a cold is to
reduce the stress on your body. Now this
does not mean stay in bed all day and avoid all potentially difficult
situations or people. You can live your
life. Just make sure to balance it with
enough sleep, healthy food and water, and relaxation and enjoyment time. Common sense to prevent the common cold.
You’ve probably also heard the most
recommended ways to avoid being exposed to viruses and bacteria, but it’s
always worth the reminder. Wash your
hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth so that you don’t
introduce viruses into your body. Be
considerate and cover your mouth or nose when you sneeze or cough. Try to avoid those with colds, although this
is obviously not always possible.
Those are the basics. The following are some TCM suggestions.
Dress appropriately for the weather and layer
if necessary. Keep your neck warm with a scarf, turned up
collar, or turtleneck.
» Strengthen your lung system by practicing deep breathing (see Lung
Try adding some pungent foods to your
diet, but don’t overdo it. Examples are garlic, ginger,
turnip, daikon radish, and radish.
Pungent foods cleanse the Lungs and Large Intestines and help to
» Avoid sweets and stimulants (caffeine) as they weaken our bodies and
strengthen the pathogen.
» Cook with some immune boosting herbs such as reishi mushroom, shiitake
mushroom, and astragalus (huang qi). All
have been shown by research to increase the production of white blood cells.
As the weather gets colder, more warming foods are appropriate.
Unless you know that you tend toward overheating, avoid excess
raw and cold foods. Try eating more soups and stews, steaming
your vegetables, and start using warming herbs like ginger, cinnamon,
cloves, and black pepper.
» For Wind-Cold type colds, try
eating miso soup with the white part of spring onion and fresh ginger. It will make you sweat, so go to bed, cover
up and stay warm, and let your body sweat it out.
» For Wind-Heat type colds, try
one or a combination of isatis (ban lan gen), chrysanthemum (ju hua), and/or
honeysuckle (jin yin hua) as a tea by boiling in hot water. Talk to a TCM doctor or herbalist to find
these herbs, or you can shop in Chinatown.
» If you do get the beginning
signs of a cold, avoid tonifying herbs such as ginseng as they will strengthen
» Acupressure can bring relief
of symptoms and strengthen your body for a faster recovery. One point is on the back of the hand in the
fleshy part between the index finger and thumb, close to the index finger
bone. This point is good to relieve
frontal headaches and nasal congestion, but should not be used during
pregnancy. Another point is on the thumb
side of the forearm, about 1.5 inches from the base of the thumb. This point strengthens the lungs and respiratory
system and treats nasal congestion, cough, problems breathing, and runny
nose. For nasal congestion, press the
points about one finger width to the side of the nostrils. Try breathing deeply and you will often find
it easier to do when these points are pressed.
The proverbial get some rest, eat
chicken soup, and drink lots of fluids are good suggestions as well, but “take
2 aspirin and call me in the morning” may not be the ideal solution. According to the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “Researchers also have shown that using aspirin to treat colds increases
the amount of virus in nasal secretions, possibly making the cold sufferer more
of a hazard to others”.
A cold generally lasts no more than
2 weeks, with most resolving within one week, but if you have the following
symptoms, it may be wise to consult a doctor: shortness of breath or chest
pain, persistent fever, inability to keep fluids down, painful swallowing,
persistent coughing, or persistent congestion and headaches.
Remember that you can keep your body
strong with regular treatments, and a healthy body is less likely to get sick
than a weak one.
pepper, broccoli, burdock root, carrot, cauliflower, corn, garlic,
ginger root, horseradish, leek, onions, parsnip, pumpkin, red cabbage,
rutabaga, shallots, spinach, squash, sweet potato, turnip, yam
Adzuki, black, carob, garbanzo, kidney, lentil, lima, navy, soy, white
Apple, blackberry, cranberry, date, fig, grapes, mandarin orange, melons, pears, persimmon, plum, pomegranate, rosehip
Amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rye, wheat
Almond, brazil, cashew, filbert, pecan, pistachio, walnut
Flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower