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Health Boosting Foods

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Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins are part of any healthy diet. Here are six nutrients that can enhance your health and vitality.

Garlic – Garlic boosts your immunity, increasing your ability to fight off infection. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. One or two cloves of garlic a day is recommended for optimum health, so include it in your cooking!

Ginger – Ginger has been taken as a medicine by numerous cultures for thousands of years. This amazing spice is anti-inflammatory, reduces pain, and is excellent for many types of digestive distress (especially nausea.) More than one study has found that ginger may also be a potent cancer fighter.


Goji Berries – Small fruits that grow on evergreen shrubs in the Himalayas, Gou Qi Zi are slightly chewy and have a mild flavor. High in fiber and containing the highest antioxidant powers of any berry or fruit, they are used in Chinese medicine to increase longevity, strengthen the immune system, improve vision, protect the liver and improve circulation. The goji or wolf berry is widely available dried, and easily found as whole fruit or juice in natural-food stores.

Green Tea – There has been much research on the anti-carcinogenic properties of green tea. Studies of people in Asia who drink copious amounts of green tea daily have shown a correlation between green tea consumption and lower rates of a variety of cancers. Green tea is easy to find and can be purchased in most grocery stores and health food stores. It is refreshing iced or hot.

Honey – Known as Feng Mi in Oriental medicine, honey has many health benefits, and is often used in combination with other herbs. It contains anti-oxidants and the darker the honey, the higher the anti-oxidant content and deeper the flavor. Honey can be eaten or applied topically. It is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal.

Throughout history, honey has been used to soothe and clear the skin, and encourage the growth of healthy tissue. You might enjoy trying raw honey as a facial mask. Organic raw honey that has not been pasteurized, clarified or filtered is your best choice.


Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids help keep joints healthy, reduce pain and swelling and can also help with depression, stress, arthritis and menopause. Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 oils are fats that directly affect cognitive, cellular and kidney function.

Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include: salmon, sardines, tuna and other cold water fish; nuts and seeds, notably flaxseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts; and soybeans and winter squash.

Sun Protection

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The sunny days have arrived at last here in Vancouver and while picnicing in English Bay you may be wondering, “How can I best protect my skin from the suns rays?” Well we’ve rounded up a couple of great articles on the truth of conventional sunscreen, eating for sun protection and a homemade sunscreen recipe.


Nine Suprising Facts About Sunscreen


Do you depend on sunscreen for skin protection? Millions of Americans do, but they shouldn’t. Melanoma rates are increasing. The consensus among scientists is that sunscreens alone cannot reverse this trend. Yet a good sunscreen can play role in preventing sunburns that are a major risk factor for melanoma – provided you use it correctly.

1. FDA’s sunscreen rules have changed but products haven’t improved.

The federal Food and Drug Administration put new sunscreen rules into effect last December, but they have had little impact on the sunscreen market and could actually make things worse for consumers. FDA’s rules allow most sunscreens to claim they offer “broad spectrum” skin protection and also that they can reduce skin cancer risk. However, EWG’s assessment of 750 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this year spotted significant problems.

2. There’s no proof that sunscreens prevent most skin cancer.

Rates of melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer – have tripled over the past 35 years. Most scientists and public health agencies – including the FDA itself – have found very little evidence that sunscreen prevents most types of skin cancer.

3. Don’t be fooled by high SPF

High-SPF products tempt people to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long. The FDA has proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 50+, calling higher SPF values “inherently misleading,” but it has not issued a regulation that carries the force of law. One in seven sunscreens advertises SPF values greater than 50+, so get the most bang for your hard-earned buck. Use EWG’s Sunscreen Guide to zero in on better products.

4. The common sunscreen additive vitamin A may speed development of skin cancer.

The sunscreen industry adds a form of vitamin A to nearly one-quarter of all sunscreens.
Retinyl palmitate is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging. But federal studies indicate that it may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight. EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions containing vitamin A, often labeled “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol.”

5. European consumers can get better sunscreens.

European sunscreens offer superior protection from skin-damaging UVA rays. In Europe, sunscreen makers can formulate their products with any of seven chemicals that filter UVA rays. American manufacturers can use only three UVA-filtering ingredients. They have been waiting seven years for FDA approval to use Europe’s better filters. Until the FDA approves these ingredients and lifts restrictions on combining certain active ingredients, American consumers will be hard-pressed to find sunscreens with the strongest level of UVA protection.

6. Sunscreen does not protect skin from all types of sun damage.

The sun’s ultraviolet radiation generates free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging and may cause skin cancer. American sunscreens can reduce these damages, but not as effectively as they prevent sunburn. Consumers can run into problems if they pick a sunscreen with poor UVA protection, apply too little or reapply it infrequently. The FDA should strengthen its regulations to ensure that sunscreens offer better protection from skin damage.

7. Some sunscreen ingredients disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies.

The ideal sunscreen would completely block UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours. It would not form harmful ingredients when degraded by sunlight. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people would use more of it.

No sunscreen meets these goals. Americans must choose between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone system, and “mineral” sunscreens, made with zinc and titanium, often “micronized” or containing nano-particles.

8. Mineral sunscreens contain nano-particles.

Most zinc oxide and titanium dioxide-based sunscreens contain nano-particles a twentieth the width of a human hair. These help reduce or eliminate the chalky white tint that these minerals used to leave on the skin. Based on the available information, EWG gives a favorable rating to mineral sunscreens, but the FDA should restrict the use of unstable or UV-reactive forms of minerals that would lessen skin protection.

9. If you avoid sun, check your vitamin D levels.

Sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit — producing vitamin D. The hormone is enormously important. It strengthens bones and the immune system and reduces the risk of breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancers, and perhaps other disorders.

About one-fourth of Americans have borderline low levels of vitamin D, and 8 percent have a serious deficiency. Breast-fed infants, people with darker skin and people who have limited sun exposure are at greatest risk. Many people can’t or shouldn’t rely on the sun for vitamin D. Check with your doctor to see if you should get a vitamin D test or take seasonal or year-round supplements.


Seven Foods that Provide Sunscreen Protection


It seems like Mother Nature may be on to something: edible sunscreen.

While it is no surprise that we need to protect our skin from prolonged sun exposure, you may not realize that what you eat before you head to the beach plays a part in whether you burn or bronze. Certain phytochemicals in plant based foods can actually help protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. The most effective protectors are carotenoids, such as Lycopene, Beta-carotene, and Astaxanthin.

In general foods that are bright orange, red, or yellow, contain carotenoids, as does anything that is dark green and leafy. While you will receive some protection from the sun after eating a serving or two of these foods, they offer even more protection overtime as you include them in your diet daily, with most studies citing 3 months as the optimal time for maximum efficiency.

Here are 7 foods that provide sun protection:

1. Dark Leafy Greens: Kale, Collards, Chard, Spinach and all their dark leafy green cousins contain powerful carotenoids which guard against UV-induced skin damage. They also contain a plethora of bioactive substances like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and flavanoids that all work synergistically to keep your skin healthy.  An Australian study using over 1,000 adults found that those who ate at least 3 servings of dark leafy greens regularly reduced their risk of skin cancer by up to 55%.

2. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a red carotenoid which has been proven to provide long-term protection against UV-induced effects. A recent study published in the Journal of British Dermatology found that women who ate tomato products daily were more protected from the sun than those who didn’t.

3. Watermelon: Watermelon contains about 40% more lycopene than tomatoes, making this juicy summer fruit an excellent protector against sunburn and skin cancer. It’s high water content also helps prevent dehydration.


4. Cantaloupe: Water-dense cantaloupe will keep you hydrated (helping protect against sun-induced dehydration), while also delivering a healthy dose of Vitamin C and the carotenoid beta-carotene. Vitamin C protects against free radical damage, while beta-carotene protects agains UV-induced sun damage.

5. Carrots: Carotenoids are named after carrots, so as you can imagine, they are a rich source of them. Carrots contain a high amount of Beta-carotene, and if consumed daily, can help prevent sunburn from UVB rays. You can eat them raw, lightly cooked, or even fresh-pressed into a juice to get their benefits.

6. Sweet Potatoes: There bright orange hue gives away the fact that these tubers are loaded with UV-protecting carotenoids. They are also high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which are needed for smooth, wrinkle free skin, making this a perfect sun food.

7. Micro Algae: While chlorella and spirulina come in pill or powder form, they are still a whole food that offers powerful sun protection. In addition to their high chlorophyll content, they also contain a carotenoid called Astaxanthin, which has been shown to protect the skin and eyes from UV radiation. Astaxanthin is currently the most powerful carotenoid studied, and is 54 times more effective at free radical scavenging than Beta-carotene.


Natural Homemade Sunscreen


Natural Homemade Sunscreen Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder). This makes a natural SPF of 20+ or more can be added.)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5)
  • Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference

Note: All ingredients and many essential oils are available here.

How to Make Natural Sunscreen:

  1. Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives or other foods.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
  3. Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
  4. As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
  5. Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
  6. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.

Additional Notes:

  • This sunscreen is somewhat but not completely waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming
  • Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide- use a mask if necessary!
  • This recipe has an SPF of about 20, though adding more Zinc Oxide will increase the SPF
  • Add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen
  • I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance
  • Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge
  • I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like a body butter. It will be thicker, especially if you use coconut oil in the recipe.
  • remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe!

An Even Faster Way To Make Sunscreen:

  • Get a bottle of your favorite lotion (that doesn’t contain citrus oils!)
  • Add a couple Tablespoons of Zinc Oxide
  • Mix well
  • Use as Sunscreen


Gratitude for these articles goes to the following:
Photo Credit:


Dry Skin Brushing – Benefits and Method

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Dry skin brushing uses a soft, natural fiber brush to gently brush your skin. It benefits many of our bodily systems including our lymphatic, nervous, immune and detoxification systems. Upon further examination of these systems, we can see how dry skin brushing would benefit these systems:


Skin – your skin plays a crucial role in the detoxification of your body. Daily we lather and smear our skin with lotions, soaps, deodorants and cosmetics which our skin absorbs and gathers beneath its surface, preventing it from breathing properly. Your skin is impregnated with millions of sweat glands which create a vast drainage system and when these sweat glands perspire, the blood is purified of poisonous wastes collected from the cells. When the pores of your skin become clogged with dead skin cells and chemical residue, your eliminative organs work overtime to detoxify your body. Dry skin brushing exfoliates your skin, removes dead skin cells and grime, therefore allowing your body to easily cleanse itself of impurities.

Circulatory System – our vast blood vessel network plays a large part in the health of our skin. It brings nutrition and oxygen to the skin, regulates body heat as blood is cooled when it moves through the surface capillaries and distills waste matter from the blood. Dry brushing helps all of these functions by increasing circulation and exfoliating and invigorating our skin which increases our blood supply to the area, bringing in nourishment and oxygen.

Lymphatic System – our lymphatic system is part of our circulatory and immune systems. It is the network that moves lymph fluid throughout the body, transporting wastes and toxins to be dispelled through the bladder, bowel, lungs and skin. Lymph fluid originates in our blood and slowly leaks out taking hazardous materials with it to be filtered through our lymph nodes which trap these substances. The lymph fluid slowly works its way around the body and back into the heart so it may be circulated again. Unlike the blood, the lymph does not have a central pump to move it throughout our body, so it relies on our physical movement to force the lymph through the lymphatic system. Dry brushing helps to move the lymph fluid throughout the lymphatic system which aids further in the detoxification of our bodies.

Immune System – white blood cells are our immune systems first line of defense. They circulate through the body and tissues through the lymphatic system and the blood stream. Dry brushing stimulates the circulation of the lymphatic fluid and therefore white blood cells. This circulation along with a removal of built-up waste products aids to strengthen our defense mechanisms, especially during cold and flu season.

Nervous System – the nervous system is intimately connected with the skin. This is evident by the abundance of touch receptors throughout the skins layers. Nerve points are spread out all over the skin and these points can be used therapeutically. Dry brushing applies friction to these points which invigorates the entire nervous system.

How to dry skin brush

When beginning a dry skin brushing routine, your skin may feel sensitive but will become accustomed to the feel of the brush.  The bristles of the brush will also begin to soften. Dry skin brushing should never hurt.

Dry skin brushing takes 5-15 minutes per day before to showering. We do this prior to showering as wet skin will stretch and not yield the same benefits as dry skin. We also do this prior to showering so you can wash off the impurities and dry skin flakes.
The general rule of thumb is to always brush towards your heart. This helps to drain the lymphatic fluid back to your heart. Stroking away from your heart puts extra pressure on the valves within the veins and lymph vessels. Use long, gentle yet firm strokes, avoiding circular or scrubbing motions. Use lighter pressure in areas with thinner skin and harder pressure on places like the soles of the feet. Avoid the sensitive areas like the face, open wounds, cuts, rashes or infections.
Starting at your feet, use swift upwards strokes up the legs towards the heart and do the same with the arms starting at the hands. Use a long handled brush to reach your back, again brushing up towards the heard. On the abdomen use brush strokes towards the center.

Embracing Summers Fire Element

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Summer has officially begun and with the season change, also comes an element change. Summer is associated with the element of Fire. The ancient theory of The Five Phases was introduced almost two thousand years ago, and discusses the idea that the structure of the cosmos reflects the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each season is associated with an element, with the Earth element relating to the change in seasons every three months. And along with its associated element, each season is related to parts of the human body and certain forms of energy.


Summer is not only correlated with the element of Fire, but with the heart, small intestine, and the tongue. Knowing which element relates to each season can provide knowledge from Chinese medicine regarding health in that season. Special attention should be paid to those aforementioned organs during summer. Fortunately, when the Fire element is in balance (as it often is in summer), the heart is strong and healthy.

An imbalance in any element can cause problems with its related organs. When the Fire element is inharmonious, one’s joy (associated with the heart) can be out of whack, resulting in too little (depression), or too much (chaos) joy or exuberance. Agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia are symptoms that one’s Fire balance is off. To prevent these problems, Chinese medicine recommends that people take full advantage of the long summer days. Getting up earlier in the morning, going to sleep later at night, and trying to rest at midday is recommended for a great state of mind. Fluids are very important in summer months, and adding strong or spicy flavors to one’s diet is also suggested. Due to its connection with the small intestine, summer and indigestion can go hand in hand. A lighter diet should be chosen over heavier foods.

Since Fire is summer’s element, Water (its opposing element) also becomes pertinent. Some of the negative side effects of summer fun include: sunburns, dehydration, and a lack of energy; keeping oneself hydrated should be a priority. Small children and older people are especially susceptible to these downsides of the heat. For sunburns, Chinese medicine suggests a mixture of tea tree oil (one part) with either olive oil or coconut oil (ten parts) to relieve painful skin. Chinese medicine really enforces all uses of water during this season. Keeping drinking water nearby at all times is important, as well as taking cool baths, seeking shade, and wearing lighter clothing. It’s not just about simple common sense though; watermelon juice has long been used as a remedy for dehydration. Watermelon juice and seeds help to cool the body and cleanse the system. Avoiding drinks full of sugar and chemicals (like sodas – both diet and regular) is also recommended – since these don’t actually relieve thirst, and also inundate the body with more toxins to eventually clear.

This season is also a prime time to focus on changes in life regarding growth, joy, and spiritual awareness. The predominant nature of Summer is Yang, which unlike the darker and calmer Yin, is related to excitement, assertiveness, and exuberance, making summer a great time to take action to form positive change in one’s life.

Ally Gallop – Registered Dietician

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Glow is pleased to introduce Ally Gallop, B.Sc., a new addition to the team! Ally is a Registered Dietician offering Nutritional Counselling at Glow on Fridays. To learn more about her and what she does, please see her biography below. Also stay tuned for Ally Approved recipes!

Gallop 1

Ally Gallop, B.Sc. (Hons), Registered Dietitian
Pre and Postnatal Exercise Specialist
CFES Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor
Certified Spin Instructor

Ally Gallop is a Registered Dietitian under the College of Dietitians of British Columbia and is a member of the Dietitians of Canada. She graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2012 with a Bachelors of Science in Food, Nutrition, Health, majoring in Dietetics, and graduating with Honours. She completed her dietetics internship with and currently works at St. Paul’s Hospital as a Clinical Dietitian with interests in pre and postnatal health, diabetes, sports nutrition, weight loss coaching, and healthy heart eating.

Through a stint as St. Paul’s outpatient dietitian, Ally realized that individual counseling was something that she wanted to pursue. With a passion for preventative health, exercise, and working amongst an interdisciplinary team in delivering the best support for a client, Glow is an environment in which Ally has always wanted to become a part of. Though her training is based on science and research, she balances this with motivational counseling, exploring barriers to healthy eating, and keeping an open mind to alternative methods of nutritional healing. Her goal is to both educate and empower clients in setting and accomplishing their goals, developing an individualized plan for success.

Years ago, a sports-ending knee surgery and subsequent rehabilitation deflected Ally’s interest onto nutrition, leading to her current role as a dietitian. Keeping both loves in the forefront, she also became a Canadian Fitness Education Services (CFES) certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. She has completed several athletic events including multiple distance races and half marathons, triathlons, Tough Mudder, and was involved during her university years with UBC Rec.

As a consultant, she has been published through the New York Times, has been interviewed by the Vancouver Sun, and has presented for the YMCA. Future goals include attending graduate school for a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and becoming certified as a Diabetes Educator.

Ally’s credentials in both nutrition and exercise allow her a unique offering to clients including one-on-one and small group counseling, grocery shopping assistance or tours, or even as an exercise coach. For more information on services, appointment booking, and an online library of simple recipes, become in contact with her:

t: (778) 786-2517

The Miracle that is Water (Infograph)

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The above infograph is courtesy of

Mindful Pregnancy: A TCM Approach to Women’s Health, Pregnancy and Fertility

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient healing art and one of the oldest forms of healing, dating back to over 3,000 years.  TCM is based on ancient Chinese Theories that focus on the whole body, by stimulating the body’s own innate healing abilities.  Acupuncture is a natural approach to diagnosing, treating, preventing disease and promoting our well-being as well as addressing the causes and symptoms of illness.  This occurs by supporting the body’s healthy energy called “Qi” and blood.

The TCM Practitioner determines the patterns of disharmony within the body based on certain examinations, such as the tongue and pulse.  Acupuncture regulates the flow of blood and Qi within the body by inserting fine, thin, sterile needles at certain points, “acupoints” on the body.  This flow of Qi and blood is carried throughout the body by a system of pathways called “meridians” or “channels” that cover the body, similar to the blood vessels and nerves.  The flow of Qi and blood in the body is adjusted by the acupuncturist using the needles to increase the energy flow to areas of deficiencies or taking it away if any excesses.

By enhancing the health and balance of the body’s internal organs with acupuncture, chinese herbs, moxibustion and lifestyle changes, a woman can improve her overall health and wellness.


Acupuncture and Pregnancy + Childbirth

During pregnancy and childbirth, acupuncture is safe and comfortable and is effective in reducing the incidence and severity of common pregnancy symptoms. In Chinese Medicine theory, our spiritual energy manifests in the heart. The heart energy is the center of love and creation.  All the acupuncture points have an emotional/spiritual aspect to them as well as the physical, connecting the mother’s powerful energy to her baby.  Acupuncture is used to promote maternal and fetal health.

The first trimester: 

Women are seen for weekly acupuncture treatments to increase blood flow to the uterus, promote and regulate hormonal balance and prevent miscarriage and threatened miscarriage.  Also, to prevent and control morning/daily sickness, spotting/bleeding, fatigue, back/hip pain, sciatica, edema, carpal tunnel, itching, cholestasis, migraines/headaches, heartburn, constipation, indigestion, hemorrhoids, psychological issues. 

The second trimester to 34 weeks:

Women are seen one to two times a month to maintain a healthy pregnancy balance and treat and prevent the common symptoms that develop.  Breech presentation is addressed at this time using moxibustion to help with turning the baby.

Pre-Birth treatments:

Beginning at 35 weeks to birth, treatments are to prepare the woman for childbirth.  The physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the mother and baby are still being addressed. Studies show that weekly acupuncture at this time helps with softening the cervix, increases energy and improves stamina for labor, relaxes the uterine ligaments, increases optimal positioning of the baby, decreases medical intervention and increases the effectiveness of uterine contractions.

Labor Support:

Acupuncture promotes cervical effacement and dilatation, decreases fatigue, initiates contraction and relaxes the mind and body.

Postpartum care:

During this time, acupuncture is very helpful in restoring energy and promoting a quicker recovery after birth, increasing milk production and increasing stamina. It is also useful with healing mastitis, insufficient lactation, perineal pain, post-partum depression and also promotes quicker recovery of the uterus returning to the pre-pregnant state.

Acupuncture and Fertility + Conception

TCM successfully enhances the fertility process by bringing the body into a state of balance and harmony. Acupuncture helps to reduce stress and tonify and nourish the reproductive organs in both women and men. Fertility is not just about the physical state of being but about overall health and wellness of spirit.  Our inner harmony and peace carries us through life’s challenges, especially the stresses connected with fertility issues.

Significant improvement of fertility has been documented in patients who receive TCM.  Acupuncture increases the chances for a natural conception, improves hormonal balance, increases the success rate with Assisted Reproductive Technologies and increases blood flow to the pelvic organs. It helps to create better quality of cervical mucus, regulates ovulation, promotes a regular menstrual cycle, enhances egg development, increases blood circulation to the uterine lining and improves sperm quality.

Acupuncture treatments are recommended for at least 3-6 months to optimize conception and having a healthy pregnancy and baby.  Chinese medicine theory believes that we must “nourish the soil before planting the seeds.”  TCM is a patient medicine, taking time to support our health and wellness.

By Susan Minich CNM, MSN, MSOM, LAc