tcm, wellness

Before & After Treatment: The Do's & Don'ts


  • KNOW YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY - Be aware of your past medical history; time spent recalling can take away from valuable minutes on the treatment table. Make sure to share any major life incidents as well as current symptoms, so that your practitioner has a complete picture of your health.

  • MEDICATIONS & SUPPLEMENTS - It's vital that your practitioner has this information, especially with regards to pharmaceuticals. Sharing this information is important to avoid possible bad reactions to the use of Acupuncture or Herbal Medicine. Quick Tip: Take pictures with your phone of each medication/supplement you are currently taking to show your practitioner.

  • WEAR LOOSE/COMFORTABLE CLOTHS - Tight clothing not only can be uncomfortable during treatment, but more importantly can obstruct the flow/circulation we are trying to induce in Acupuncture and other therapies. Some acupuncture points can be difficult to reach on their own, adding tight clothes can take away from the flow of treatment, making it even more difficult to reach these points.

  • AVOID TAKING STIMULANTS - Restrain or limit stimulant intake such as coffee/caffiene, alcohol, cigarettes etc before treatment. Stimulants like this can skew the overall presentation of your constitution, but also will make it more difficult for you to settle into the treatment.

  • NO TONGUE BRUSHING/SCRAPPING - In Traditional Chinese Medicine tongues are observed and looked at as one of our diagnostic tools. We look at the body, shape, coat and any other features we observe. Brushing / Scrapping your tongue before treatment removes a part of the picture we use to diagnose.

  • EAT BEFORE YOU TREAT - Coming to an Acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach can result in nausea, lightheadedness, and in extreme cases fainting (i.e. in a hypoglycemic patient). Avoid this by having a small meal or snack before treatment - Try not to over eat as this can have a similar effect and take away from your treatment.

  • ARRIVE 15MIN EARLY - Simple but overlooked, arriving 10-15 minutes early (especially for initial clients) ensures that any paper work or checking in doesn't take away from your treatment time. Also your practitioner will love it when you're patients on time!


  • PLAN ON RELAXING - Commit to doing nothing, or at least limiting activity after your treatment. Instead plan on relaxing on your own; preferably in a horizontal position as you'll likely welcome the idea of laying on a bed or couch for some much needed 'you time'.

  • AVOID SCATTERING THE MIND - Avoid things and activities that can take away from the stillness and relaxation of your treatment. Use this time in stillness to exercise your power over things like technology, cell phones, tablets and strenuous mental work.

  • LIGHT EXERCISE ONLY - Acupuncture and other manual therapies can leave the body it's tendons, ligaments, muscles looser and more limber. Doing strenuous exercise or lifting heavy weights can lead to injury as your range of motion is more open than before; you risk over extension in joints as well as harming ligaments. Exercise should be light - things like tai chi, qi gong or yin yoga are more appropriate at this time.

  • AVOID TAKING STIMULANTS - Restrain or limit stimulant intake such as coffee/caffiene, alcohol, cigarettes etc before treatment. Stimulants like this can make it more difficult for you to settle into the effects treatment.

  • EAT A NOURISHING MEAL - Use this post treatment meal as an opportunity to continue the healing. Acupuncture helps move qi/blood/circulation and detoxify, don't undo that work with a hard to process meal (i.e. greasy, fried, fatty, mucous forming food).


  • ASK PRACTITIONER DIET/LIFESTYLE ADVICE - A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner is a cornicopia of not only treatment knowledge but prevention. Practitioners may sometimes hold back from overwhelming clients with lifestyle advice, (1) because they know lifestyle changes can be difficult to achieve, and (2) because patient compliance, or how much advice the patient is able to incorporate in their lives, is extremely variable. Asking your practitioner for lifestyle tips will cue them, and show that you are ready to take the next steps towards your health/wellbeing.

  • GET REGULAR TREATMENTS - Whatever the ailment is you can assume that you will need some consistency and a reasonable frequency of treatments. This is especially true of chronic conditions; generally speaking the more long standing an issue is the more treatments will be required. Talk to your practitioner about a treatment plan, so you can get a general idea of what the road to recovery looks like (i.e. how many treatments, frequency, lifestyle/diet changes etc).

  • CREATE A SELF CARE JOURNAL - Use a journal to be more aware of your experiences and feelings; with regards to getting treatments journals can help you evaluate what has and hasn't worked for you. Try using numeric scales where applicable i.e. Pain in shoulder in May was 9/10, June 6/10.

tcm, wellness

Preparing Your TCM Herbal Formula: Decocting at Home


There are many ways herbal medicines have been prepared over the ages (e.g. tinctures - alcohol based, syrups - sugar based, balms & liniments, pills and granules). Decocting (Herbal Tea) is one of these methods, using water to draw out therapeutic properties of herbs - These are the finer details to decocting in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Use this guide for best results. 


The best choice for decocting is a glazed Ceramic or Glass pot - you can find these in you local China Town. if you don't have a ceramic/glass pot, not to worry you can use a stainlesss steel pot too [try to avoid using Teflon, and especially do not cast Iron pots which can react negatively with herbs].


  • STEEP - Cover herbs in water by about 2 inches.

  • ADD HERBS & SOAK - Optionally soak herbal formula in water for 30min*

  • BOIL - Cover formula (to prevent loss of essential oils) and bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 20-30minutes

  • STRAIN - Strain with cheesecloth or fine collander and separate fluid from and herbs. Save herbs for resteeping.

Soaking herbs is optional. Be sure to add herbs in order instructed
by your practitioner*


  • RE-STEEP YOUR FORMULA! - Enjoy your formula a second or even third time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the first steeping is said to effect the patient on the qi level (more superficial in nature); while the second and third steeping can bring the formula deeper into what's known as the blood level (innermost level).

  • TEA TOO BITTER? - Many Chinese formulas are delicious and have a rich flavor profile, however there are some that can taste very bitter or unpleasant. When the correct formula is prescribed the patient will often develop a taste for the once unpleasant tea. But in the event that you 'just cant' there are a few options: (1) water down and consume in a few cups versus one, (2) honey can also be added to sweeten the formula with consent from your practitioner.

  • WHEN TO TAKE FORMULA? - Herbal formulas are best taken 1-2 hours before eating to maximize the digestion and absorption of the herbs. Sedating formulas for calming should be taken a few hours before bedtime.

tcm, wellness

Hickey Removal Guide: Getting Rid of Cupping Therapy Marks Quickly

If for whatever reason you need those cupping marks gone quickly, here are my tips for cupping hickey / blemish removal. Using things you already have at home, I show you how to help break up and loosen blood in the area, assist in healing, and of course help quickly disperse any marks left from cupping.


AT HOME GUASHA - Take any object with a smoothed edge (e.g. a ceramic wonton spoon, the side of your phone, thick plastic mixing spoon); press the object gentle into the area and move it along the area  while keeping consistent pressure, in stroking gestures. This helps move pooled blood, and makes the bruise less conspicuous.

TRY ESSENTIAL OILS - Essential Oils such as frankincense, myrrh and peppermint have an stimulating effect dilating blood vessels. This improved circulation helps to heal the blood capillaries, and thereby the blemishes from cupping therapy and gua sha. Apply the essential oil gradually; there may be tingling as the oils start to move blood in the area.

ALOE VERA -  Aloe Vera which is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and healing properties, and can reduce sensitivity of the affected area. Also, it has soothing qualities that boost the healing of the broken capillaries.

VITAMIN K - Try a lotion or cream with Vitamin K; known for having a potent anti-coagulating effect that prevents the clotting of blood and aids in the re-absorption of pooled blood.

SCRUB / LOOFAH - While having a shower, use a loofah with some soapy water in the shower and gently scrub the affected areas. Repeat the process for 5 to 10 minutes. Brushing helps to stimulate blood flow on the hickey, ensuring that the clot is reabsorbed faster. Importantly, apply a cold compress to the area after brushing.

HYDROTHERAPY - Contrasting-hydrotherapy aids in circulation of blood and lymph, detoxification, swelling, inflammation, sprains and strains and other sports injury application. The improved circulatory funciton and manual pumping of blood, can help speed up healing of cupping/gua sha hickeys. Use [this guide] to try contrasting hydrotherapy at home.

COLD COMPRESS - Use some ice cubs wrapped in cloth or freeze some spoons and apply; gently rub the affected area. This helps to break the blood clots, which constrict and freezes the ruptured blood capillaries, improving blood circulation and swellings. 

HOT COMPRESS -  Heat is extremely efficient in dilating the blood capillaries and help to ensure a flow of fresh blood to the hickey, which clears the clot. To use this method, take a warm towel and apply it on the affected area for about five minutes; repeat the process three times every day to aid in fast hickey removal.