Welcome back to Active Life Health Clinic's October newsletter.
month I flew to Phoenix for a conference on Integrative Pain Management
for Optimal Care. It was a good conference and I learned a lot, so two
of the things that I gained that weekend I’ve written about here.
The funny thing about learning is that sometimes you learn things in
ways other than what you expect. My first stand out lesson at this
conference was when I was handed the paperwork: a papercut. My article A Papercut and a Swollen Knee is my personal story about pain and learning.
The second lesson is that sometimes you intend to learn about one topic
and instead you learn about another. In answer to a patient’s
request for an article about sleep, my article Nyx and Hypnos (Night Goddess and Sleep God) is about insomnia, the importance of sleep, and some tips on sleeping soundly. As an aside, check out this funny commercial about a sleep drug, click here.
Best wishes to Inessa
who will be retiring at the end of this month! She has helped keep my
organized for the last couple of years and will be missed.
those of you who have been thinking about trying the Bonsai Facial
Rejuvenation treatment, but have been keeping a tight budget, we will
soon be offering another option. Lyndsay is currently training to offer
this service and so we will be creating two routes for treatment: TCM
Bonsai Facial Rejuvenation from Dr.Carr and Bonsai Facial Rejuvenation
from Lyndsay. Stay tuned for details or ask our office.
To subscribe, please click
here. To unsubscribe, please click
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.
A Papercut and a Swollen Knee
arrived for my first of 3 days at the American Academy of Pain
Management’s conference, signed in, and was given some paperwork.
The very first thing that happened was that I received a papercut.
We’ve all had a papercut before. We know that it is not dangerous
unless we allow it to become infected. We know that it will heal well.
We know that the cut is tiny. But we also know how much they hurt. And,
we know that there is that moment when you are aware of the cut,
don’t feel it yet, but know that it will start to sting in just
Pain is a quirky thing.
Tiny damage, or even no damage, can cause big pain. Big damage can
cause little or no pain. Pain in one area may be from an entirely
different area of the body. The actual sensation and intensity of pain
is usually forgotten over time. And one person’s 10 out of 10 for
pain might be another’s 3 out of 10.
Even though pain is the most common reason for healthcare visits and 9 in 10 Americans regularly suffer from some sort of pain, only 1 in 4 individuals with treatable pain actually receive appropriate therapy!
Pain is quirky because it is really felt in the brain, not in the
affected body part. Pain is a signal sent to the brain where it is
interpreted into something that we feel. And, because the brain is
complex our interpretation can vary widely with emotions, thoughts,
past patterns, fatigue, adrenaline, fear, and more. In fact, fear of
pain can be more disabling than the pain itself.
I knew this before attending this conference, but upon my return I was
reminded with a personal lesson. On Thanksgiving Monday I spent the day
with my husband and our dogs. I walked, ran, crouched, chased, and was
chased. I mentioned to my husband that my knee felt really tight and
restricted, but it did not limit my activities. It wasn’t until
that evening that I finally happened to look at my knee. It was hugely
swollen. “No wonder I couldn’t bend it properly,” I
thought. And then a funny thing happened.
I started to limp. I hadn’t limped 2 seconds before noticing the
swelling. I told myself that I didn’t need to limp. I told myself
that I was fine now because I was fine with it just a moment ago. And
yet I still felt the need to limp as then I also started to feel a
slight ache. Pain was not a bad thing as obviously there was some sort
of injury, but this was a perfect reminder of how the mind affects the
Don’t underestimate the power of your mind when it comes to pain. Listen to your pain,
but try not to let it control you. Try things like meditation,
breathing exercises, and laughter. Find out what exercises or
activities you can do as exercise releases endorphins, your feel-good
hormones. Finally, choose holistic therapies that consider the whole
you: body, mind, spirit.
After the standard RICE (rest, icing, compression, and
elevation), Traumeel tablets, topical arnica, and herbal
anti-inflammatories—I don’t mess around!—I also added
acupuncture, good sleep, and deep breathing exercises to address all
aspects of my wellness. Now I’m able to jump for joy!
Nyx and Hypnos—To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
conference was about pain, but one of the things negatively affected by
pain is sleep, so this particular seminar was well attended. At least 60 million Americans are affected by insomnia with 2/3rd of chronic pain patients having sleep issues.
Why is sleep so important? Short sleepers (6 or less hours of sleep per night) are at a higher risk for:
- viral infections
- cardiovascular disease
- chronic inflammation
- and pain
In addition, REM sleep and dreaming are crucial for memory, learning, and emotional healing.
- Caffeine has a half-life of 6-8 hours. That means that you will likely still have caffeine in your blood at bedtime if you have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
It may not be enough to keep you up at night, but the more you have and
the later you consume it, the more likely it will disrupt your sleep.
- Avoid eating large meals or smoking before bedtime.
- Excessive alcohol, most antidepressants, and beta-blockers disrupt sleep and REM patterns
- Sleeping pills also suppress REM sleep and
have been found to only decrease the amount of time to fall asleep by
about 15 minutes and to increase total sleeping time by only about 20
minutes. The reason why we feel as if we’ve slept better is that
sleeping pills damage memory, so we simply forget that we didn’t
“If you forget how long you lay in bed tossing and turning,
in some ways that’s just as good as sleeping.”
-- NY Times Oct 23,2007
Really? I think your body might disagree with that!
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Our body temperature follows nature
with the lowest temperature happening just before dawn. Disruption in
body temperature is related to melatonin levels with the lowest body
temperature being found with REM sleep. When we run too warm at night
it causes problems with sleep.
- Simulate dusk by dimming your lights about 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- About 75% of people watch tv before bedtime. The
light of the tv, combined with over stimulating dramas, reality
television, news, and more prevent us from being able to wind down for
- Try to reduce your “sleep noise”, i.e.
worries, anxiety, etc., before bedtime with cognitive behavioural
therapy, meditation, visualization, progressive relaxation. Bring to
bed a different mind than you bring to the day.
- End your “war” against insomnia.
Surrendering can actually help you sleep better. Forgive nighttime
wakefulness as some kinds of waking at night may actually be normal.
- Many of us go to bed with thoughts of what
we’ll be doing the next day, so we’re going to sleep with
our intentions focused on waking up.
- Establish regular sleep routines
- Exercise early in the day and avoid exercising before bedtime as it may make you more alert.
- Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sexual activity
only; avoid watching tv, doing work, using a computer, or other
stimulating activities in the bedroom.
- If you cannot sleep and lie awake in bed for more
than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until you feel
tired. Lying awake tends to increase sleep and worries about sleeping.
If you continue to have sleep issues, seek help as there are many natural solutions that may help.
Acupuncture has been shown to help with sleep disorders:
Acupuncture Increases Nocturnal Melatonin Secretion and Reduces Insomnia and Anxiety: A Preliminary Report
Effects of acupuncture
therapy on insomnia
Vegetable oil (preferably olive oil)
- Member of the allium family (onion, garlic, leek, shallots)
- Ginger (about an inch)
- 2 or 3 kinds of orange vegetables like
winter squash (my favourite is butternut but any kind will work
including pumpkin), carrots, yams, sweet potatoes
- Vegetable stock, chicken stock or water (water will make the blandest soup – use as a last resort)
- Orange juice
- Salt or seaweed
- Fresh ground pepper
1. Finely chop or mince the members of the allium family.
2. Grate the ginger.
3. Peel and chop the orange veggies. Cut squash,
yams, and sweet potatoes into ½ to 1 inch pieces. Cut the
carrots into coins. Carrots take longer to cook than squash and yams.
Sweet potatoes are in the middle for timing. So, cut the carrot pieces
smaller than the squash pieces and the yam/ sweet potato pieces in the
middle for size.
4. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, add enough oil to
cover the bottom of the pot. Heat it over low-medium heat.
5. Add the allium family members and cook until onions/ shallots are translucent or the leeks have softened.
6. Add the ginger and orange vegetables and sauté for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
7. Add enough stock to just cover the veggies. Add
seaweed or salt. Cover with a lid, turn up the heat and bring to a
boil. Boil gently until the orange veggies are soft, stirring
periodically. Add stock/ water while cooking, if needed.
8. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Using
a blender or hand-held mixer, puree the soup, adding orange juice one
splash at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Return
to the pot and re-heat. Serve hot, topped with a sprinkling of freshly
Thank you to Kristen Yarker-Edgar for this recipe. She is a registered dietician and you can reach her at www.vitaminkconsulting.com.
Active Life Health Clinic
Dr. Melissa Carr, B.Sc., Dr.TCM, R.Ac.
Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Regent Medical Building
#410-2184 West Broadway
Vancouver, B.C., V6K 2E1
In appreciation of each of your referrals, Dr. Melissa Carr will offer you 10% off of
your health product purchase, so don't forget to tell your friends,
family, colleagues, and acquaintances to give us your name when they
book an appointment.