Mental Health and Chinese Medicine: An Introduction

This is the first entry in be a series dedicated to different psycho-emotional issues that can be ameliorated with Chinese Medicine.

More Than Just Pain

Public Education about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is something very near and dear to my heart. If the general population doesn’t know about the full scope of our medicine, how can we expect them to take advantage of it? For most people, when it comes to knowledge about the benefits of Chinese Medicine, the treatment of physical pain is usually the first thing that comes to mind. While it’s true that Acupuncture is extremely effective when it comes to treating musculoskeletal conditions – to say that physical pain is our ONLY focus really misses the point of this healing system.

Chinese Medicine is a holistic form of healing, which means that practitioners don’t make a separation between a person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. All factors of the patient are taken into account when formulating a treatment with Acupuncture or Herbs. The main goal of this system is to not just chase symptoms, but to get to the real root of a problem. For example, a headache is rarely just a headache – it can often be accompanied by other symptoms such as irritability or mood swings, feelings of heat or flushing of the face, high blood pressure etc. This “pattern” of symptoms indicates a deeper imbalance of the body’s organs. Physical pain can take a toll on mental health, and poor mental health can lead to physical pain. If the underlying root imbalance is corrected the patient will see improvements in not only their chief complaint, but their overall health and well-being.

Blood Vessels Artistically Represented By Tree Branches
We are so much more than our physical bodies

The Heart of the Matter

Chinese Medicine can be a useful tool in treating a myriad of mental health conditions. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. – can be reduced with either Acupuncture or Herbs. In addition to treating Western Mental Health diagnoses, Chinese Medicine can also assist in areas that are a little less obvious.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) can also help people to process emotional traumas, move through difficult phases in life, feel more grounded and calm day-to-day, boost self-worth, increase drive and ambition, and the list goes on! This system of medicine attributes emotional qualities to the physical organs of the body. For example, the chief emotion of the Lungs is Grief – so by targeting this organ system we can assist our patients in grieving the loss of a loved one. The Kidneys correspond to the emotion of Fear so by targeting this area/meridian we can help people with things like overcoming phobias. The Spleen is closely related to pensiveness or overthinking, so if you’re someone who lies awake at night constantly replaying scenarios in your head – it may mean that the Spleen needs to be addressed.

What I’m essentially trying to get across in this article is that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be a beneficial tool in areas of your life beyond just the physical body. Don’t get me wrong – Western Medicine is amazing at what it does. It keeps us alive. It targets dangerous, life threatening conditions like cancer. Acupuncture sure isn’t going to fix your broken arm. However, so often, patients feel as though there is something lacking when they visit a Doctor. They don’t want to be viewed as “just another patient.” If you’re looking for a system of healing that acknowledges your entire being; if you are searching for a way to lead a more balanced life – physically, emotionally and spiritually – then this is just the modality you need. I truly believe that patients achieve the strongest results when they incorporate the best of both worlds (Eastern and Western Medicine).

Stay tuned for blog updates which will dive into different mental health issues in more depth. (Anxiety, depression etc.)

Declining Sperm Count: What Chinese Medicine Can Do For You

Sperm Count

Well Gents, it’s official, our little swimmers are dwindling at an alarming rate. A recent meta-analysis conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem confirms that “sperm concentration has declined by more than 50 percent, with no evidence of ‘leveling off’ in recent years.” Even more alarming is the fact that scientists aren’t really sure why this is occurring. There are plenty of valid theories out there pointing to various culprits – plastics, soy, even global warming – but there is no one answer that truly explains the massive drop in sperm count among Western men.

Does this mean that we should just resign ourselves to a childless dystopian future, like the one portrayed in “Children of Men?” Not exactly. There is still plenty you can do to keep your count high, or increase it if it is already low.


Diet is one of the easiest ways to improve your sperm count and motility. While it is always ideal to get our nutrients from whole foods, sometimes that just isn’t realistic. Supplements are something easy, and manageable to add to your daily routine. However, they will only help if a nutrient deficiency is the cause of your low sperm count. Below are some examples of the most commonly used supplements in treating male infertility.

  • Zinc: Increases sperm count, and motility as well as testosterone levels.
  • Selenium: Beneficial for both sperm motility, and morphology
  • Vitamin C: This supplement ensures sperm doesn’t stick together or form clumps.
  • Vitamin E: Deficiency of this vitamin can cause damage to reproductive tissue
  • Vitamin B12: Deficiency of B12 can damage the nerves of the penis leading to erectile dysfunction

Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbs)

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer in the treatment of male infertility, especially if stress is a contributing factor. Acupuncture and herbs work along a lot of the same avenues as supplements, for example, these modalities can: increase blood flow to the genitals (specifically your testicular artery), cool the scrotum, increase sex drive, regulate the nervous system, and calm the mind. Therefore, we are able to treat conditions like: low sperm count / motility, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation. Some areas that Chinese Medicine won’t have much of an effect is in structural abnormalities (like a sperm duct defect) or a chromosomal disorder.

Some areas that Chinese Medicine won’t have much of an effect is in structural abnormalities (like a sperm duct defect) or a chromosomal disorder.

Lifestyle Factors to Avoid

Incorporating healthy nutrients, and a proper treatment plan are important tools in boosting fertility, however another important step is reducing lifestyle habits that can be harmful to your reproductive system.

  • Smoking: I’m sure it comes as no surprise that smoking has been linked to poor sperm quality. Smokers are 54% more likely to be infertile.
  • Infrequent Ejaculation: Increases oxidative stress which can be damaging to semen, as they remain in the testes for a longer period of time before being ‘recycled.’
  • Stress: Testosterone levels can decrease as a result of chronic stress. (Acupuncture is a great tool for helping managing stress!)
  • Heat: Hot tubs, laptops, seat warmers, and even tight clothing can all increase the temperature of your testicles. Heat negatively impacts sperm production, as they are produced in a very sensitive environment. Ideally, your testes need to be a few degrees cooler than the rest of your body.
  • Saturated Fat: A diet high in saturated fat can lower sperm concentration an average of 31%

It’s time to pay attention

While the fact that sperm counts are dropping is concerning, one positive side effect is that it has brought men’s health issues to the forefront. I’m hoping that this will push more men to become active participants in their health and wellbeing. Out of all the patients we see here at Meridian Health centre, only about 25% of them are men. There is a wealth of literature out there that shows just how beneficial Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be for Men’s Health – so where are all the guys? Better late than never fellas.


Levine, H., Jørgensen, N., Martino-Andrade, A., Mendiola, J., Weksler-Derri, D., Mindlis, I., … & Swan, S. H. (2017). Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Human Reproduction Update, 1-14.

Men’s Sexual & Reproductive Health. (n.d.). Retrieved September 02, 2017, from

3 Step Natural IVF Support

3 Steps toward an improved success rate (Frozen and Fresh Transfers)

Lifestyle: Stress decreases IVF success rates. Stress increases inflammation and promotes an autoimmune response all of which are detrimental to a successful IVF. Deep breathing has been proven to calm the nervous system and promote relaxation. Do something you love and that makes you laugh. These practices will increase endorphins and oxytocin, the happy hormones, which are all things involved in successful baby making.

Sperm health is strongly affected and influenced by optimal nutrition.

Diet: Consume nourishing foods that have a high vitamin and mineral content, no processed foods. Our body gets energy from the air we breathe and the food and water we consume. Consuming high quality, bioavailable multivitamins and minerals will provide your body with what it needs to produce healthy and fully mature follicles, a receptive uterine lining and good quality sperm. That’s right guys, you can help out too! Sperm health is strongly affected and influenced by optimal nutrition. (See our BioClinic Opti-ova and Mito-Motile kits).

Acupuncture: Frozen and Fresh IVF Cycles: 3 months of treatment for men and women prior to the IVF cycle is recommended. Follicles take 90-120 days to develop (folliculogenesis) and sperm an average of 100 days.

  • Your Period: Acupuncture will help ensure a complete shedding of the uterine lining and set the stage for a healthy and receptive endometrial re-growth.
  • Follicular development: 2 sessions during days 4-11 will help ensure optimal blood flow/nutrient delivery to the developing follicles.
  • Follicular Maturation: Days 11-14. Follicles are ready for collection. A treatment before egg collection, at trigger shot, will help complete maturation and loosen the follicles to facilitate a smooth retrieval to ease your discomfort.
  • Post Retrieval: REST, get acupuncture to settle down tissue trauma and restore normal blood flow to the pelvis.
  • Fresh Transfer: It is here where you will follow your acupuncturists guidelines for “The Transfer” (as seen below).
  • Frozen Transfer: Weekly treatments until frozen embryo transfer will keep the nervous system calm and ensure optimal blood flow to the pelvis (enhanced nutrient end oxygen delivery)
  • The Transfer: simply continue seeing your acupuncturist weekly to follow the phases of the menstrual cycle. Treatments before and after the transfer promote endometrial receptivity and embryo nourishment.  Weekly acupuncture sessions until the positive pregnancy test and until 12 -14 weeks is optimal to reduce stress and the risk of miscarriage.

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Winter is rolling in, Edmonton. The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are slowly dropping. The first snowfall has come. To some, this is a wonderful, magical time of year! However, for others, Winter can be a dark time – both literally and figuratively. The “Winter Blues” are all too common for many cultures, and it seems to be worse for those of us far from the equator. The decreased daylight hours, and cold weather can leave many feeling depressed, and lethargic – but what is the cause of these “Winter Blues?” and what can we do to get rid of them? These are the things I hope to tackle in today’s post.


Forward Head Posture

The “texting neck” and the “desktop neck”

Now more than ever, we are seeing people in our clinic with this “thing” called a forward head posture. What is a forward head posture you ask?…  A forward head posture is the anterior positioning of the cervical spine.  This occurs while assuming poor posture while performing activities such as desk work, studying/reading and texting. This forward head posture causes a significant amount of strain on the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck and also causes shortening of the muscles of the front of the neck which can affect the jaw.