Don’t blame the mosquitoes

A quote from my classmate’s presentation today:

Regarding the role of organisms (such as bacteria) in disease,

“Mosquitoes go to stagnant water. They don’t stagnate the water.”

This is a good reminder that viruses and bacteria are always in and around us. Instead of focusing on eradicating the ‘bugs’, let’s focus on improving the flow and balance of our bodies so we create an environment less appealing to ‘the mosquitoes.’

Thanks for the great presentation, Faith!


What’s triggering my migraines?

99% of women and 94% of men experience headaches in their lifetime. Most of these headaches are due to muscle contraction and migraines. Today I’d like to discuss migraines.

What are they? Migraines tend to be in the front and sides of the head. They’re more common in women and in adolescents and young adults. It can be a dull ache but they tend to have a throbbing nature and often the scalp feels sensitive. Some people also have sensitivity to light. Migraines ‘with aura’ refers to migraines with visual changes, like scintillating lights, dizziness or muscle weakness. Migraines can last a few hours to over 24 hours and occur at irregular intervals (can be weeks or months between each) and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Interestingly they decrease as we approach middle age and during pregnancy.

It’s thought that a wave of electrical activity passes through the brain making nerve fibers more sensitive to pain and dilating blood vessels. This is probably the reason we feel the throbbing and fullness in our head especially when we change body position.

What can be done about them? Studies have shown that eliminating allergenic foods greatly reduce  triggering of migraines in most patients. Cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, oranges and benzoic acid are the most common foods allergies. Foods that cause blood vessel dilation may also trigger migraines. These foods include chocolate, cheese, beer and wine.  Monitor symptoms while avoiding 1 or 2 of these foods at a time. Your ND can also suggest specific nutrients and herbs that can prevent and decrease the intensity of migraines.


Identifying and avoiding food allergies is definitely one of the most important steps to preventing migraines… but if you already have a migraine? Try essential oil (such as peppermint and lavender) products made for application to temples or using essential oils in a diffuser. Acupuncture can also be extremely effective in reducing the sensation of heaviness in your head and mitigating nausea.

Remember: head pain that follows head or neck trauma, starts suddenly or is unusually severe needs to be assessed by your physician.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture refers to one of many modalities that a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner uses.

Acupuncture can regulate the flow of qi, moving qi towards or away from areas to create overall balance. Acupuncture points are found along meridians (described in the last post). Research has shown these points have less resistance to electrical flow (than neighboring areas of the skin) and therefore are areas where energy in meridians can enter or exit the body. A metal needle (also low resistance) inserted in these points conducts electrical flow in or out of the meridians. Effectively, acupuncture points allow practitioners to access and influence the energy in the meridians. In this way, deficiencies, excesses and stagnations can be modulated to allow smooth flow of qi through meridians and the proper functioning of the body as a whole.

Acupuncture is considered relatively painless, however the stimulation of qi movement can cause a sensation of heaviness, tingling or electric at the acupuncture point and/or along the meridian. This ‘qi sensation’ signals to the acupuncturist that the patient’s qi is moving towards balance. Because the objective of acupuncture is to achieve overall balance, acupuncture is used for many conditions including: anxiety, insomnia, joint pain, menstrual disorders, fertility, immune support, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea, paralysis from stroke or Bells Palsy and neuropathy.

Only pre-packaged, sterile needles are used. Disposable needles are used one-time only and disposed of as indicated by law.

What is Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been developing for over 3000 years. This sophisticated form of healing is based on the individual’s presentation rather than the disease. Physical, mental and emotional signs and symptoms are all considered on assessment.

In TCM, the goal is to achieve the smooth and correct flow of sufficient qi throughout the body. Qi (pronounced ch-ee), also referred to as ‘vital force’ or ‘vital energy’ flows through a network of channels, or meridians, and drives the proper functioning of the body as a whole. Numerous meridians course throughout the body to ensure all tissues and organs are accessed. These meridians, although similar, are not identical to nerves and blood vessels. There can be deficiencies where qi is not adequately conducted through the meridians leaving the tissue system or organ it supplies unable to function correctly. Similarly, stagnation of qi or blood can interfere with the flow of qi through a meridian. Anything leading to the improper flow of qi further leads to lack of nourishment, maintenance and functioning of tissues and organs. This dysfunction manifests as pain, pathology and disease. One can think of the flow of qi like the flow of water through channels that are irrigating fields. There can be areas of water turbulence (qi stagnation) resulting in certain ‘fields’ (or tissues) getting flooded while other areas lack water supply.

Diagnosis is based on interview, observation, tongue inspection, palpation of wrist pulses and palpation for tender acupuncture points. Treatments can include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Chinese nutrition, moxibustion, cupping or Tui na (Chinese massage).