Diagnosis – The REAL Superhero of Choosing Herbs and Supplements

Have you ever been sucked into buying a really neat, nifty, and new supplement or herb because of its benefit claims? 

Improved energy levels, performance and vitality? Add to cart. 

Better stress tolerance? It’ll take three, please.

Increased overall happiness and decreased sadness, AND SUPERPOWERS? Take my money!

I know, I know, the promise of superpowers is REALLY tempting. It’s common to read the effects of certain herbs and supplements and want to take them for their advertised benefits, however without proper diagnosis and context of your lovely, individual self, you could be just creating expensive urine, or causing more harm than good.

Doctor Pee GIF by I Heart Guts

While there are some supplements that are definitely great for many conditions based on where we live (Vitamin D for Albertans during the Winter), or boosting your immune system during cold and flu season (Cordyceps); we have to be wary of HOW these supplements are working and WHY we are taking them, especially when treating specific symptoms or conditions.

Understanding the mechanism of action for herbs and supplements is essential when choosing what you are going to be taking. For example, some herbs stop bleeding by creating a clot, while others stop bleeding by treating an underlying weakness elsewhere in the body.

The second, but definitely most important part of choosing the right herb or supplement, is understanding YOUR INDIVIDUAL BODY CONSTITUTION AND PATTERN. This means knowing what your individual body and condition need, because we’re all different!

Where is your body deficient or needing help, specific to you?

For example, one person’s immune system might be low from stress or environmental factors, where another person’s immune system could be weak because of poor absorption of nutrients in their intestines. It might even be a combination of the two!

Both of these people may be looking to boost their immune systems, but they should approach it differently with their herbal and supplement choices!

This is where your TCM practitioner comes in!
*Insert cheesy superhero music*

superman flying GIF

TCM practitioners and acupuncturists are trained to view the body holistically, not just treating the symptoms. This means they find the root of the problem, and create a treatment plan for your individual needs.

Another set of powerful tools that many TCM practitioners have in their arsenal are patent formulas, supplements and Chinese herbal formulas. These not only work with your TCM diagnosis and pattern, but they are also customizable in our herbal apothecary, which is opening this Spring!

Your TCM practitioner or acupuncturist can also tailor supplement, diet and lifestyle recommendations based on your specific constitution. They can even help review your current supplements, and let you know what is good to continue taking, and what isn’t necessary for your goals and health needs.

So next time you are reaching for the next vitality boosting, super-power generating, super duper elixir, be sure to seek out professional assistance. Otherwise you might just be making some expensive pee!

Want to know more about our apothecary, supplements and herbs? Have questions about your own herbal needs? Contact Us!

What is Dragon Moxa?

First of all, before we go into any benefits and uses – doesn’t it look so damn cool? It makes you look like a real dragon! Rawr! Well…Not quite, but it does feel incredible!

Dragon Moxa is a type of moxibustion therapy that is used to boost Yang and Qi in the body. 

What is Yang?

Yang is a term used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to describe many systems, hormones, substances, and functions within the body. Yang refers to moving energizing and fluidity; compared to Yin which is stillness, calming, and rigidity. 

Yang is what keeps us moving and groovin’! Some of our body’s Yang processes include ATP synthesis or making energy, digestive processes, and your adrenals.

Our adrenals, a small gland at the top of your kidneys, have been taking a beating lately with the amount of stress that many of us have been experiencing with COVID. If our body is constantly in a state of “fight or flight”, it wears down the adrenals and can lead to fatigue, poor digestion, and many other systemic issues.

What does a Dragon Moxa session look like?

First we lay down a layer of fresh ginger along your spine. Ginger is very warming and helps enhance the properties of the moxa, while also providing a layer of protection for the skin.

We then take loose moxa or moxa punk and roll it into a continuous cone that goes down the length of the spine along the Du Meridian. This nifty meridian has very strong links to Yang processes in the body, along with psycho-emotional points.

Then the fun begins! We then light the moxa so it starts to smolder, smoke, and burn down. This creates a pleasant warming sensation on the back. Most of us compare the feeling to a nice toasty hug!

Once the moxa has burned down, we ask how you’re doing with the heat. If it’s too warm, we just remove it and then move on to the rest of your acupuncture treatment (needles, cupping, guasha, tuina etc)! Everyone’s heat tolerance is different, so the process can last anywhere from 10-20 minutes.

So what can Dragon Moxa treat?

Some of the many benefits of Dragon Moxa are:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Boosting digestion
  • Relieving cramping and painful periods
  • Relieving arthritis pain
  • Improving fertility
  • Boosting energy levels
  • Improving sport performance
  • Maintaining overall vitality
  • Releasing emotional blocks
  • And more! (Depending on your constitution and what your body needs)

This is not a treatment that is typically done frequently unless you are very ill. To put it into perspective, this is a treatment typically used to keep a patient’s energy and immune systems healthy while they are going through chemotherapy.

Depending on your specific body’s needs and constitutional makeup, it’s typically recommended to do this type of treatment 2-4 times per year for health and vitality maintenance.

Ask your practitioner if Dragon Moxa would be a suitable treatment for you!

Have more questions about Dragon Moxa? Contact us!

What is S.I.T.?

Subconscious Imprinting Technique or S.I.T. is a modality that reprograms how the body perceives and reacts to memories and limiting thoughts and beliefs, thereby creating profound emotional and physical changes in the body. Sounds fun, right!?

Um, what the heck does that even mean?

Well first, let’s start with a bit of a science lesson about how the body reacts to stress. Most of us have heard of the “Fight or Flight” response, which is activated when your body is reacting to an immediate threat, such as being chased by a bear or a particularly grumpy goose. This response can also be triggered by modern stressors such as being yelled at, or being told you have a massive project deadline coming up. This “Fight or Flight” response is switched on by our body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (or HPA axis, because that’s a mouthful!), which cranks up our cortisol, makes our hearts race, and causes a full array of physiological, and psychological reactions.

All of these reactions are usually great for helping us survive and navigate stressful situations (That goose didn’t stand a chance!). However, the ol’ Fight or Flight isn’t meant to be a long term state. When we are chronically stressed, our body’s tend to give us physical and emotional diseases. Isn’t that sweet?

What’s SUPER interesting, is our body can perceive memories in the same fashion as immediate stressors, and react accordingly. 

When we hang on to the stress response of an event (a trauma), it can turn into a learned behaviour. A lot of the time, this is a really helpful mechanism in the brain. Touch a hot stove and burn the heck out of your hand? Let’s not do that again, that hurts!

These traumatic events don’t have to be car accidents or sudden deaths in the family either – a trauma is just an event that triggered our body’s HPA axis. So this can be something as simple as being told you sucked at a sport as a child, or not having support and comfort when we needed it most.

Our body can collect information from these traumatic events that can lead us to have a host of uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms. We can get locked into the stress response state, and this can affect how we think and react to our current environments. It can even affect how our body functions neurally, hormonally, and physically!

We all have varying levels of trauma in our lives. Fortunately, our brains have a neat characteristic called neuroplasticity – which is a fancy way of saying our noodles are made of playdough and we can change them!

This is where S.I.T. comes in!

Through the S.I.T. process, we focus on getting to the root of what is causing the disease (either physical or emotional), which typically appears as either an event or environment that triggered our body’s stress response. There are typically several layers to most issues, but we tend to work with the most potent issues first and work our way down the line. Us humans tend to like being lovely layered onions… or cakes! Shrek reference? No?

So what does a S.I.T. session look like?

It starts similarly to an acupuncture appointment, where there is an in-depth interview process where the practitioner gets details on what is bothering you and what the root causes are.

You then get to lay on the table and get cozy, and we put your body into a Theta or “brain mouldable” state. This is a very similar state to when you meditate or you’re just about to fall asleep. This disarms your brain’s alarm bells and defenses of your conscious mind, and allows us to redesign and reprogram how your body is reacting to stressors! Neat, right?

The practitioner then takes you through a series of statements and breathwork. This can sometimes create really profound emotional releases, and other times it can be quite mellow – it really varies from case to case. It also combines really well with other modalities such as acupuncture, massage, and reiki, which also have profound effects on the body’s stress response!

What can S.I.T. help with?

The sky’s the limit with S.I.T., as you can reprogram just about anything (even disliking certain foods!). However, here are some of the more common things that get worked on with S.I.T. sessions:

  • Chronic injury or pain
  • Chronic physical conditions that you’ve “tried everything” for and can’t seem to find relief
  • Limiting beliefs or negative self-talk (I.e. I suck at this, I’m worthless)
  • Anxiety, depression
  • Stress or feeling overwhelmed
  • Trauma or abuse
  • Feeling stuck
  • Sport mindset and performance

If you’re curious about what S.I.T. can do for you, please Contact Us!

4 Common Holiday “Side Effects” and How Chinese Medicine Can Help!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, sometimes. Other times we can feel a little bit run down, stressed out and bloated from all the Christmas cookies.


While a huge component of TCM is prevention, but sometimes holiday “side effects” happen!


Here’s how to remedy 4 common holiday mishaps, so you can stay happy and healthy going into the New Year!


Overeating and Overindulging – *Burp!*


We’ve all been there. Grandma offers you that third helping of stuffing, or you keep eyeballing that assorted chocolate tray in the workplace lunchroom. One more couldn’t hurt, right?


*gurgle gurgle*

Image result for uh oh face


During the holidays, we tend to overindulge on rich foods, sweets and alcohol. Instead of swigging back Peptobismol like it’s going out of style, acupuncture and herbs can help regulate stomach acid secretions, moderate digestive enzymes, and modulate motility in your bowels. In other words: slowing things down for diarrhea, and speeding things up for constipation.


Stressing the *Bleep* Out!


You’re in a crowded mall. Did she say she wanted a blue or red sweater? What was that game little Timmy wanted? Blue Life Break?

Why is it so crowded in here? IS IT HOT IN HERE OR IS IT JUST ME?



Headaches, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, high cortisol levels – so much for holiday cheer right? Sometimes stress can get the best of us with all the events, shopping, and planning this time of year.


Acupuncture is a great tool for promoting relaxation, both short term and long term. In the short term, acupuncture encourages the body to release “feel good” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin to give that sense of “Ahhhhh” post treatment.


Long term, acupuncture and herbs can regulate our body’s ability to handle stress. This is done by improving the function of organs such as our Liver and Kidneys, and moderating our cortisol levels. Lowering cortisol levels also keeps our immune systems working top notch, so we don’t get the post holiday sniffles. 


Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – ironic name, right?)


It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s winter in Alberta. Not only do we get less sunshine and Vitamin D, but it can sometimes just feel grey and “Bleh” during the winter months. Add stressful family events or a lack of sleep from Christmas parties into the mix, and we can end up feeling quite crummy.


While SAD can have different causes for different people, some theorize that it can be caused by an overstimulation of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin. Too much melatonin means too much “sleepy hormone”, which can cause fatigue, lethargy and depression.


Not only are herbs and supplements great for moderating the individual root causes of SAD, but acupuncture can have an effect on the pineal gland and moderate melatonin secretions. There’s even a point right over it!


Sore, Cranky and Downright Grumpy Muscles


Whether it’s from hanging Christmas lights, shovelling the walks in the cold, or doing an incredibly animated impression of Mr. Bean Cooks a Turkey; our necks, backs and hips can take a beating this time of year.

Image result for mr bean turkey gif


Acupuncture increases circulation to the muscles and can stimulate the muscle to relax. Moxibustion and electro-acupuncture can also relieve inflammation and decrease the healing time on sprains and strains.


Add on some Cupping, time under the TDP lamp and maybe even some Tuina and you’ll be back to your Rowan Atkinson impressions in to time!


Prevention is key, but sometimes holiday mishaps happen!


Eating slowly, meditating, and stretching can help us avoid these festive side effects. But sometimes we just have to let loose, and enjoy the holiday fun!


Just do yourself a favor; get treatment for damage control afterwards so it doesn’t turn into a year round problem. Mr. Bean probably got acupuncture after his Turkey cooking adventure too!


Happy holidays! 


Have questions about how Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine or Herbs can help you?


Contact us!


Treatment of PMS with Acupuncture

Irritability, bloating, cramping, fatigue, headaches, sore breasts, cravings, acne. Ringing any bells?


Aunt Flo is back… And she’s GRUMPY.



These are “normal” symptoms that many women experience during their time of the month. While society has made it seem acceptable for these symptoms to appear 12 times per year, these are actually signs of dysfunctional menstrual cycle.

Premenstrual syndrome or PMS (also known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD) are umbrella terms to encompass the many unpleasant symptoms of periods. Believe it or not, periods are not supposed to be painful and awful!

For many women, they can only dream of having a pain free period. Many resort to taking excessive amounts of painkillers, planning their lives around their cycle and even suffering from depression or anxiety from their menstrual issues.


Aunt Flo doesn’t have to be the word that rhymes with witch that everyone thinks she is!


A normal period should feel slightly heavy in the low abdomen with little to no cramping. The menstrual fluid should be free of clots and bleeding should last 3 to 5 days with about 1 to 2 ounces of blood. This can slightly vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors, including age, lifestyle and bodyweight. (your friendly neighbourhood acupuncturist can give you a more individualized view of your period expectations)

Acupuncture and herbal therapies can soothe painful cramps and ease emotional symptoms in the short term; and with a regular treatment schedule, acupuncture balances hormones, regulates your cycle and works to reduce and eliminate your PMS symptoms.

According to a study done in 2014 (Jang et.al, 2014), PMS symptoms were reduced by an average of 78% with acupuncture and herbal therapy, lasting for several months. This is why we do tune up treatments!


But happy periods require a bit of homework as well!


Since acupuncture addresses the body as a whole, you practitioner will also recommend diet and lifestyle advice to help extend your treatments. While the homework is pattern dependant and individualized just like the acupuncture and herbal remedies, here are some basic tips for PMS free periods!

  • Stay warm during and slightly before your period. This means dressing appropriately for the weather (no skirts in the middle of an Alberta winter!)


  • Manage your stress (Self care alert!). Yes, easier said than done, but stress can have a huge impact on periods and hormone health. This comes can come in many forms whether it be meditation, journaling, taking walks or exercising.

  • Incorporate for period friendly foods into your diet. These include chickpeas, eggplants, bone broths, nuts such as almonds, fish, and leafy greens.

  • Try using a menstrual cup instead of tampons. This will not only allow you to assess how much you are bleeding, clots and consistency, but it allows the menstrual fluid to flow freely and reduce cramping by limiting stagnation. It’s also hormone disruptor free and eco friendly! Bonus!



Hooray! With acupuncture and lifestyle advice now at your disposal, you can now be on better terms with Aunt Flo! She can actually be a very nice lady!


Do you have more questions about how acupuncture can help you with your periods? Contact us


Another great women’s health resource is Optimal Fertility! Check our their site for articles, supplement options and awesome women’s health care info!



Jang, S. H., Kim, D. I., & Choi, M. (2014). Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-11


Treating Anxiety and Depression with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Whether you have been formally diagnosed, or you are experiencing a stressful time in your life, anxiety and depression can affect us all at some point, and on a varying spectrum.

While some people have awesome success with managing their depression or anxiety with medication, many still suffer from mental illness symptoms; even while taking prescriptions and seeking help from psychologists and psychiatrists. This is where alternative treatments such as acupuncture and herbal therapy shine!


So how does acupuncture help anxiety and depression?

Acupuncture can help out those suffering with anxiety and depression in many ways. First and foremost, it has a direct effect on your nervous system.

Our nervous system is super handy at sensing if our bodies are being threatened, and has a “Fight or Flight” mode. This is great for when you’re being chased by an angry goose (Hey, we’re in Canada, it could happen!) and you need that adrenaline spike to either fight it with your bare hands, or run away as fast as you can.

Image result for canada goose run for your life

However, when our nervous system is constantly in “Fight or Flight” mode, we can end up feeling either too stimulated (more anxious), under stimulated from “burn out” (more depressed), or both. With treatment, our nervous system becomes more malleable and able to handle daily stressors more appropriately, and our bodies don’t send us into “run away from an angry goose mode” when we’re just stuck in traffic.

Another factor with anxiety and depression is our hormone secretion and regulation. If our cortisol levels (stress hormone) are always ramped up, we can get burnt out. Our adrenals then suffer, leaving us with no gas in the tank, leading to mood disorders and extreme fatigue (cortisol is what gets us up in the morning!). This can also affect the proper secretion and regulation of oxytocin and serotonin (feel good hormones), which are vital for keeping our moods level and even.

Acupuncture, herbs and lifestyle changes can all have a positive effect on regulating these systems. When these systems are balanced, our tolerance to physical and mental stressors becomes much more manageable, and we don’t wear ourselves out over minor stressors accumulating.


That seems WAY too simple…


While this is a very brief overview of the mechanisms of anxiety and depression, there are many different and complicated circumstances for different individuals, including trauma, genetics and lifestyle.

Chinese Medicine and acupuncture address the underlying root to the issue, according to the individual as a whole and their own personal pattern. This allows treatment plans to flex with your mental state and where you fit on the spectrum of anxiety and depression.


So let’s get out of “run from the goose” mode, and start feeling better!


Have more questions about what how acupuncture can help with your mental health?


Contact me! I love answering questions!


5 Ways to Stay Healthy during Spring

Spring is here! – 5 Ways to Stay Healthy For Spring

This week, it’s starting to feel like SPRING! Birds are chirping, the snow is melting, flowers are blooming… the noses start running, headaches are starting… Wait a minute…

With a big shift in weather and temperature (or multiple shifts, in Alberta’s case), spring is a time of transition for our bodies. We tend to fall victim to colds, flus and general irritability and grumpiness. From a Chinese Medicine stance, spring is when Yang energy comes back to the surface and flourishes after a dormant winter season. It is also the season of the wood element, which pertains to our Liver and Gallbladder (more on that later!).

Here are a few tips on how to keep healthy during this season of flux!

Wear a scarf and keep your pants on!

The napes of our necks are vulnerable to pathogenic factors. Leaving our necks open to spring winds can lead to headaches, achy muscles, colds and flus. Wearing a scarf helps protect your neck from the cold and wind.

It’s also tempting to bust out the shorts and sandals as soon as you see a hint of grass on the edge of the lawn. Stay bundled up! This doesn’t mean keep the parka until June, but be mindful of the weather, and keep the long pants and shoes for now; especially in the evening when the temperature still drops below zero. This prevents sore muscles, cramping and colds.

Make sure you get your z’s!

Make sure you’re getting your shut eye! As the days get longer, it’s tempting to stay up later (Netflix, anyone?). 11pm-3am is the time associated with your spring organs, Gallbladder and Liver. It’s important to get restful sleep during these hours to ensure proper recovery for these already overworked systems. Not getting enough sleep during these hours (especially during the spring) can lead to irritability and lowered immune response.

Get up and move!

A great way to keep our immune systems boosted and our hearts pumping is getting up and moving around. As the weather starts to behave, walking or jogging outside is a great option for boosting your immune system. Being outside in nature has also been shown to improve your mood and sense of wellbeing (Miyasaki, 2011).

Eat Immune System boosting foods!

Eat for the season! Our immune systems or Wei Qi is working overtime, so be sure to help it out by eating lots of steamed or baked dishes.

Some great spring foods to add in are:

  • Yams, carrots, rice
  • Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, or sprouts
  • Spirulina
  • Some sour foods such as vinegar, green apples
  • Garlic, onions and mint
  • Lots of water, green tea and herbal teas

Try to limit or decrease:

  • High fatty, fried and rich foods
  • Limit dairy, cheese and milk
  • Avoid overly spicy foods

And of course, Acupuncture!

Of course! Acupuncture, Moxabustion, Guasha are all excellent tools for increasing your immune system, and also helping to treat headaches, colds and body aches. A specific acupuncture treatment plan tailored to your body’s needs is a great preventative way to keep healthy, but also ward off those nasty colds we tend to get in springtime.


There you have it! Now you’re well rested, well fed, bundled up and strolling to your acupuncture appointment, you’re well equipped to stay healthy during the spring!


Want to learn more about acupuncture and staying healthy?


Feel free to Contact Us!

Miyazaki, Y., Lee, J., Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., & Matsunaga, K. (2011, September). [Preventive medical effects of nature therapy]. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21996763