Heart's Discovery

...Gwen Williams

My Blog

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Nutrition: It is not just about what you eat

Posted by Heart's Discovery on August 14, 2013 at 10:30 PM

Did you know that the nature or properties of the foods you eat, how you eat and your frame of mind, affects nutritional intake and ultimate wellness?


The stomach and spleen are paired in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and together this system, along with the lung/large intestine system, provides the life-giving energy the body needs to feed and protect itself. Many imbalances and health issues according to TCM diagnosis, start with stomach/spleen issues. Western medical practitioners and naturopaths also believe many problems related to health, such as inflammation, allergies and autoimmune disorders, start with digestive problems.


According to TCM, the stomach and spleen are responsible for transformation and transportation of nutrients and fluids. The stomach likes dampness, warm temperatures and is affected by emotions. The stomach and spleen dominate muscle strength, control blood and transform dampness. Examples of symptoms related to issues with the spleen and stomach show up as pale colouring to the mouth/lips, yellowing of complexion, fatigue, diarrhea, easy bruising, prolapses, varicose veins, edema, nausea, digestive issues (bloating, gas, pain), lack of taste, heavy limbs and prolonged menstruation or bleeding.


The nature of the food is important. Overly spicy food or dry food can aggravate the stomach causing “heat” or “yin deficiency” problems. Cold or raw foods can cause stagnation with bloating, gas, flatulence or pain. If you already have a “cold” imbalance then it is OK to eat spicy foods. If you already have a “heat” imbalance then cold and raw is OK. The situation is different for every person. If you find you are ravenous for food at certain times of the day, chances are you have stomach heat. Food consisting of a warm, moist, neutral balance is best.


In terms of how you eat, it is important to chew well and eat meals at regular times. Don’t over-indulge, eat too fast, nibble, read while eating, eat too late at night, think about work, worry, or be sad or angry while eating. Emotional strain is a detriment to good digestion. A positive frame of mind is best. In particular, worry, over thinking and over analysing, even when not eating, can affect digestion over a long period of time and can lead to chronic deficiencies.


 So my advice is: be mindful of your eating habits, maintain a balance of temperature and moisture, chew well, eat on a regular schedule and most of all, be happy when eating!

It is Summer!

Posted by Heart's Discovery on July 16, 2013 at 10:35 PM

As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, summer is fire and is about the heart, relationships, joy, laughter and heat. That could also translate to passion in intimate relationships and lots of socializing and partying in our wider scope of friendship. The heart helps us be our true self and works with our intuition. It is paired with the small intestine representing clarity, discernment and judgement which helps us see what is good for us and who is not.


The heart opens to the tongue, shows up in the complexion and is responsible for blood. It is also the house of the Shen (mind, emotions and thought). You see the Shen when you look into someone’s eyes. With good Shen the eyes are bright, clear and the person is present and appropriately engaged in your conversation. Excellent Shen shows up as a “sparkle in the eyes”. People with good Shen recover well from illness. With poor Shen people can’t “look you in the eye” or you get the feeling “nobody is home”. These folks may have experienced some emotional trauma and don’t heal as readily as others.


Summer is the height of yang (high energy and heat) while winter is yin and coldness. Now is the time when we have the most energy and we just want to go places meet people and have fun. The sound of summer is laughing and people who are predominantly a fire element may have a “laughing voice”, may laugh a lot during conversation and can be very charming. Now is the time to go out of your way to meet new people and talk to strangers. Go on adventures and see who comes into your life!


In the summer we love to have fires, roast “stuff” and have BBQs. The taste of the heart and summer is bitter and burnt. Foods good for you in the summer are colourful, vibrant, yin and cooling. Meals should be light, cooked quickly with steam or simmering, high heat and short cooking times. Include bitter greens such as dandelion, swiss chard, romaine or broccoli, vegetables and fruit such as cucumber, celery (also good for blood pressure), alfalfa, apples, watermelon and lemon. Hot spices are good in small amounts to induce sweat and cool the body. Drink teas such as mint or chamomile while avoiding ice drinks and cold foods (not good for digestion).


The most important thing in Chinese medicine is to be in synch with the seasons while staying balanced. So enjoy yourself. Be active, visit friends and family and laugh a lot. The water element controls fire, so to keep the fire in check, go to the beach and stay near the water. The fluids associated with the fire element, is sweat, so drink lots of fluids (you can add a bit of salt sugar and lemon to water for mineral replacement and taste) and don’t forget to rest. The peak time for heart is from 11am to 1pm so be active morning to midday, rest in the afternoon and be sure to be in bed by midnight.

Aromatherapy and Stress

Posted by Heart's Discovery on July 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Fragrances can move us, bring back memories, improve memory, give us courage and change our mood to help us feel more positive, energized, happy, relaxed, aroused, sleepy or creative. Essential oils activate the olfactory system (sense of smell) to trigger the brain and affect mechanisms for mood or healing. When used therapeutically, aromatherapy is considered a form of alternative medicine.


Essential oils come from natural sources, mostly plants that are either cold pressed, distilled or extracted into a solvent. Quality is important and they must be pure if you want to gain therapeutic affects (synthetic scents are not beneficial). They are expensive but you only need a few drops at a time. Make sure the oils are in a dark bottle that carries the Latin name, the common name, the supplier name, the country of origin, “organic” and any other additive or oils, if diluted.


Unlike chemical synthetic scents, essential oils do not have negative side effects. They are very balancing. However safety is important. For topical application on the skin, dilute the oil in a carrier (another oil, cream), do not over use one oil, don’t ingest them, don’t put them in your eyes and keep them away from children. Also look at any precautions on the bottle because some fruit based oils can increase sensitivities to light.


There are a number of oils that are exceptionally good for relieving anxiety, stress and depression. Bergamot is my first choice for depression, anxiety and nervous tension while Lavender is my favourite aroma for calming and balancing emotional extremes. If you want to increase mental stamina and improve concentration, add Basil or Black Pepper. To help you feel more grounded, less irritable or anxious, add Fir, Black Spruce or Marjoram. Fir and Black Spruce also help with respiratory issues. Marjoram can be sedating and also eases joint pain. Neroli and Roman Chamomile are very relaxing and can help with sleep. Neroli also inspires confidence and is an aphrodisiac.


To improve your outlook on the world, some of the oils can do this by balancing the emotions in addition to relieving stress. Cardamom and Orange remind us of life’s abundance and combat negative thinking. Lemon, Clary Sage, Grapefruit, Tangerine and Jasmine are happy oils and are great revitalizers and stimulants. Elemi and Spearmint are calming. Spikenard is very calming (sedating). Clary Sage is good for panic attacks but has estrogenic action. Tangerine and Grapefruit are also good to enhance weight loss.


We feel stressed when there is too much to do, things are not going as expected or as planned, we are not doing what we want to do, or we don’t know what we want. Depression, a gloomy outlook, overwhelming feelings of irritability, guilt, sadness, unworthiness or hopelessness can be more deep-seated, temporary or chronic. Many people suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. You are not alone. Essential oils, acupuncture and herbal therapy can help but also be sure to reach out to someone, see an MD or talk to a therapist, if your condition affects and interferes with your daily life.

Acupuncture and Aromatherapy

Posted by Heart's Discovery on May 18, 2013 at 10:50 PM

I love acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) but only discovered it later in life after many years in science and medical research. I always believed there was something more. The best proof is a body of evidence, spanning many years showing something is true. Acupuncture has accumulated 3000 or more years of data and the World Health Organization has done reviews of all the data out there and confirms it is a safe and effective alternative for many conditions.


I also like the natural and holistic approach to TCM. The Chinese did not forget to look to nature for answers. They kept their ancient traditions, incorporating the old with the new science based medicine. Acupuncture is all about restoring balance and is a very powerful tool for getting the body back to being able to heal itself by removing blockages. As a result, when applied by a TCM practitioner, acupuncture stimulates pain reduction, boosts immunity and regulates the functional processes.


I also have over 30 ancient traditional herbal formulas that have been perfected for specific conditions. There are many individual Chinese herbs making the news as science is discovering what they can do. My formulas contain herbs like Isatis root (flying off the shelves in China to prevent bird flu), Astragalus (highlighted by Dr. Oz recently for anti-aging, immunity etc.). Some pharmaceutical companies are now in China investigating Chinese herbs. My formulas are a valuable part of treatments for chronic conditions.


Within the scope of TCM acupuncture, I do other things like cupping, heat therapy (using mugwort), therapeutic movement (qigong), herbal patches and balms for pain and massage (tuina). I also incorporate western natural healing modalities like TDP lamps, laser (needless acupuncture) and am a great supporter of western herbalists and the work they do. There are so many plants growing all around us that have healing properties! Even a walk in the woods and smelling the earth and aromas given off by the plants is healing, balancing and calming.


Then there is aromatherapy. It has been around for a long time. It is not part of TCM but is an aspect of Feng Shui used to improve the energy in the home. I recently completed a series of courses in aromatherapy and am hooked. Again, there is a lot of science to back up the healing properties of essential oils (they must be pure oils and manufacturing process is important). I have been trying them out at home and in the clinic and am really happy with how peppermint oil reduces headaches; spruce needle oil helps with respiration and how lavender oil reduces stress, for example.

To Mow or Not to Mow, that is the Question

Posted by Heart's Discovery on May 3, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Today while mowing my lawn, I became increasingly uncomfortable as I saw how I was decapitating the tops of the lovely little chickweed flowers, bluets, purple self-heal, tall yellow hawkweed, violets, wood sorrel and other unnamed little plants that I have yet to identify. My lawn is really a closet meadow, very little actual grass… I was mowing because I was caving to the expectation that my lawn be green, neat and short.


Conformity, sameness and bland is what the world expects, wants and is comfortable with. The trend in the populated areas is houses on streets with restrictive covenants to ensure some level of sameness. Gardens organized and planned to have colour splashes, height and textures in just the right spots. Lawns that are uniform green and “weeded” so only the chosen plants grow.


Then I thought about what I love about my home and why I want to be here. We live in paradise. Each of us has carved out our own unique, unconventional homesteads dotted in every nook and cranny along the shore. I love our collection of non-matching homes, yard structures, escaped gardens, wild roses on the sides of the roads, chicken coups, sheds of all kinds, garages without a roof, beached boats and old cars in fields on blocks.


People from town are sometimes uncomfortable at first as they travel along our roads. They find it unsettling to see big houses, small ones, bright and many colours, additions in odd configurations, lavish and humble, all mixed together. Could this randomness be a reflection of who we are? Rebels against conformity?


Did you know that a small drop of water in a lupin leaf looks exactly like a diamond? This small gem would have gone un-noticed if I had not been paying attention and asked my husband to take a picture of it. I almost missed it. Nature in all its randomness is so much more beautiful than any landscape or structure we try to create.


So I have come to a decision. I don’t have to mow if I don’t want to. I am vowing to not mow again this season. Sorry neighbours, but I have a whole meadow of healing herbs that I want to explore before the summer is over. I am going to try and stay strong… Power to the beauty of the shore and the freedom to live among the wild flowers!



Wind and Water Part 4

Posted by Heart's Discovery on April 20, 2013 at 11:00 PM

As mundane as this area might seem, the bathroom is worth mentioning again because you want good energy to enter, linger and flow nicely through your home. A badly placed toilet (such as one close to the main door) can cause your good fortune to go directly down the toilet. I like to keep the door closed; the toilet lid down and a silk plant next to the toilet, shielding it from the door, no matter where the bathroom is located in the house. Making it as spa like, enjoyable and pleasant as possible is good for this area.


The most important area for enhancing wealth and prosperity is in the Southeast area of the home. This area is related to both Wind and Wood and the colour is green. It represents academics, achievements, creativity and morals. It is good to add healthy plants and flowing water (perhaps a water fountain) to keep prosperity moving towards you. You want things made of wood, accents of green or purple or vibrant artwork of trees or flowers.


The East also represents Wood but instead of Wind it is Thunder. This is the area that influences family and is about planning, vision, courage and life direction. Green colours and wood items also enhance the energy in this area, but accents in blue are recommended because this area is supported by water. This is a good place to put happy pictures of family members. Improving this area can enhance family dynamics in a positive way.


The West and Northwest areas are also about people. The West area is Metal/Lake while NW is Metal/Heaven. The West is about creativity, children, self-worth, righteousness, letting go and grief. The NW is about helpful people/spirits, authority and respect. Metal objects and the colours gold, silver and white benefit both areas, while I would add black accents to the NW area. The West would be a great place to put children’s art work and the NW would be a good place for religious pictures or pictures of people who have helped or inspired you.


In the end, you need to love the changes you make to your living space and it needs to be practical. The furniture should be spaced so there is a good flow without blocking movement or sight lines. Other tips: The bed should have a good headboard, not directly facing a door or a mirror, or placed so your head is under a window, on the same wall as a toilet or where you can see a toilet. The desk in your office should not cause you to have your back to the door and be placed at the far from the entry, with the seat facing towards the door…of course you need a big enough space to do this.


It is not possible to do everything. Just change a little at a time, do what you can and have fun with it. It is about balance. To get a summary chart of what I presented over the past few weeks, request it at http [:/] /www.acupuncturenovascotia.ca/apps/contactme/sites/show. You can also sign up for my newsletter on many health topics, at http [:/] /eepurl.com/xAlgz. Next time I want to discuss enhancing your life with scents.

Wind and Water Part 3

Posted by Heart's Discovery on March 24, 2013 at 11:05 PM

There are a few different schools of Feng Shui (Wind Water) to optimize good energy and good fortune. The modern methods divide up areas of your home using the front door as point 0. The older more traditional methods divide the nine areas of the house by compass direction.


Each area of the house has unique qualities and is believed to affect specific areas of your life. Readings can get complicated because each area has a specific relationship with the others. The key is to have good balance and good flow throughout the house. However if one area is weak, it can throw the balance off. It is easiest to just enhance all areas equally.


For example the area in the North, represents the element water. In the modern model this is also point 0 and corresponds to the main formal entrance of your home. This is the area of career and success. In terms of health it affects kidney, bones, hair, ears and is about restoration, philosophy, fear and wisdom. To enhance this area, install a healthy plant, water fountain or something representing gentle or slow moving water. The colours for this area would include accessories in dark blue or black.


The opposite side of the house (South) is fire and affects fame, reputation and future wealth. It is about propriety, joy, relationship and affects the heart, tongue, blood vessels and complexion. This area can be enhanced with a tall healthy plant (no dead or dried plants), objects representing recognition and fire, a light source (tall lamp) and red, orange, yellow or green accents. A red candle is good in this area.


The centre of the house represents Earth, health, well-being, integrity, sympathy, self-care, the intellect and affects the spleen, muscles, mouth and lips. The North-East and South-West areas are also earth elements and are also enhanced by accents in yellow, brown and beige (earth tones). However NE is also the mountain and is about knowledge and wisdom. Books, items in deep blue or green and spiritual representations are also good. SW is the love and relationship area. It affects fertility and is enhanced by pink, red, white and peach colours. Items representing marriage (union), photos of happy couples or items representing love are appropriate here.


In general, other things you need to look for are areas of clutter, sharp corners, ceiling beams or low sloping ceilings. These features can negatively affect the energy causing it to stagnate, become too sharp or oppressive. Steep stairs and long hallways can also cause the energy to speed up. These deterrents can be improved through placement of furniture, plants, use of mirrors, crystals and wind chimes, for example.


The bathroom is another area that needs attention. Energy can be flushed away or lost down the sink and can influence a draining of financial resources. I will discuss this, the other four areas of the house, and more pitfalls and fixes, next time.

Wind and Water Part 2

Posted by Heart's Discovery on February 20, 2013 at 10:10 PM

This title is very appropriate for the weather we have had over the last week! “Wind Water”, however, is the English translation of “Feng Shui”, the practice of positioning our man made world in balance with the natural world, to maximize good energy and good fortune. We could all use a bit of that.


The front of the house is deemed where the formal entrance is and where most of us have large windows and the living area. Having a house sitting with its back on a gentle slope is ideal with the slope behind the house a little higher. If you are in a residential area, a building behind you, can act as a “mountain” to offer a sense of protection. Small slopes (or other buildings or trees) on either side of the house are also beneficial. Ideal positioning of a house is like sitting in an armchair.


If you find yourself facing a street coming towards you (at the end of a dead-end, T intersection or a corner lot), or if you have busy traffic (along straight stretch of a highway for example), you may want to buffer that with a small fence or hedge of trees. Being in close proximity to a hospital, church, fire station, cemetery, police station etc., may also present an overwhelming influx of energies (positive and negative), so you will want to buffer yourself from these, as well.


If you are at the top of a hill, on a steep incline, overlooking a cliff or right at the edge of the ocean, the view is great but it may be too much of a good thing. There is so much energy coming at you that you may have trouble sleeping. It is like always being “on watch” (sleeping with one eye open). As long as you can close the curtains and shut off the view or retreat from the view, you should find refuge.


Once you are inside your house, the walls are your mountains. There are 9 areas of your house that reflect areas of your life. If you improve the energy in each of these areas, you can improve specific aspect of your life (Wealth, Love, Fame, Family, Creativity, Health, Wisdom or Career). The “fixes” to enhance each of these areas should fit your tastes and does not have to use accessories from Chinese culture. When I started, my husband was afraid I would “Feng Shui” him right out the door, with all his stuff sent to the workshop. That didn’t happen, but I did organize his office area.


The center of this house is the “Health and Well-being” area. This area correlates to the Earth element and you want this area to be vibrant, healthy and grounded. Living green plants (with rounded, not sharp leaves), stone or pottery accents and colours with yellows or browns are good. Some recommend pictures of the earth, stars or sunrise, vegetables or fruit.


The other 8 areas depend on what school of Feng Shui you adopt. Some schools use special compasses, stars, numerology etc. while other modern practices focus on everything in relationship to your front door. I will use a combination, so for next issue, a compass reading to determine what direction your front door faces, will be beneficial.

Wind and Water Part 1

Posted by Heart's Discovery on January 18, 2013 at 10:15 PM

We have lots of wind and water in Nova Scotia, especially here on the Eastern Shore. We are blessed. In Chinese “Wind Water” translates to “Feng Shui”. This is an ancient practise of positioning homes and designing structures, to ensure good energy and proper flow of energy. Originally this was used in the placement of gravesites to bring prosperity to families by honouring their ancestors.


Have you ever walked to an area or been inside a home that just feels good. Sometimes you can’t explain it. Lakes, ocean views, lush forests with rolling hills are a pleasant sight for most of us. (Unless you still have painful memories of raking those fall leaves). There is a reason for that. Living things create good vibrant energy and life force.


The practice of Feng Shui has evolved from different philosophies and schools and is believed to bring good fortune. Good luck depends on good people, good timing as well as good energy. I practice Feng Shui because feeling good about my surroundings is important to me and it fits with the Chinese medicine I practice.


As an acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, I help people balance the energy in their bodies to promote healing. However, external energy in our environment and in our relationships also affects our health. Have you ever felt depressed when your house gets cluttered and messy? This is because the energy gets stagnant and affects how we feel (Plus we know there is a ton of work waiting for us and it drags us away from what we really want to do).


Ultimately we want to bring fresh air and lots of light in to our homes. We want the good energy to come in and linger there with a nice flow throughout the house. Being clutter free is important as is the layout, design and decorating, placement of the house, and the geographic features of the land surrounding it.


If you are purchasing a new house, getting a Feng Shui reading could be beneficial. I recommend it. A house with land sloping upward behind it and sloping downwards in the front is good. Look for lush vegetation and water in the front would be ideal. However, most of us however are stuck with what we already have. Do not despair.


There are tons of ways to improve the energy and work with what you have. Getting rid of clutter is the first thing you need to do. The rest can be done with proper placement of furniture, accessories and colours. You do not need to spend lots of money. Over the next several issues, I will impart more information, share some tips and ideas and describe some of my own adventures with Feng Shui to help you enjoy your home more.

Not Just Needles

Posted by Heart's Discovery on December 23, 2012 at 8:50 PM

Needles are not the only tools used by registered/licensed acupuncturists. Acupuncture is part of the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a standardized body of knowledge, modernized in the 1950s, from a collection of health practices used in China for thousands of years.

TCM has its own medical framework of disease concepts, theories, diagnostic systems and disease patterns. The most important skill, of a trained acupuncturist, is the ability to formulate an accurate diagnosis based on the knowledge and understanding of TCM. This is done through observation of demeanour, speech, skin colour, eyes, examination of the tongue, palpation of pulse quality and specific interview questions.

A western medical doctor may not see any connection between irritability, floaters in the eyes, red face, headache and pain under the rib cage. They don’t look to see that the tongue has a dry yellow coat and red prickles on the sides. But I do. Small symptoms, like this, when grouped together, indicate a specific diagnosis and imbalance like “Damp Heat in the Liver/Gall Bladder”.

Acupuncture points are areas where energy bubbles up to the surface from along specific pathways in the body. Each of the over 400 body points has been classified according to TCM with specific actions. For example, the point on top of the foot between the big and second toe, Liver 2 (Xingjian or Moving Between), is a fire point on the liver channel and it clears heat in the channel (good for Damp Heat in the Liver/Gallbladder).

Herbs, moxibustion (burning of mugwort), guasha (scraping), cupping (suction), tuina (massage), acupressure, nutrition and lifestyle counselling are used to support and intensify the healing affects of the needles. However, any of these modalities can be used alone or in combination without needles. I use traditional herbal formulas that are very popular as standalone medicine.

Acupuncture (as defined by the entire scope of activities described above) is effective for hundreds of conditions. It is not a weird, fluffy, feel good folklore. It is part of a solid, well-proven, standardized medical framework built on thousands of years of careful observation. There is a lot of scientific evidence to support the healing affects of acupuncture, but we have only begun to explain why or how it works.

People often turn to acupuncture, as a last resort. I can always help, but it is better to get acupuncture before things stop working. Don't ignore the small clues that something is not quite right. Acupuncture is good preventative medicine and is the best way to optimize self-healing for maximum well being. I have an herbal pharmacy and welcome patients who want to explore herbal treatment, in addition to, or instead of acupuncture.

Acupuncture and Science

Posted by Heart's Discovery on November 23, 2012 at 9:00 PM

“Evidence based” is the new catch phase used in many disciplines like medicine. It refers to the application of the best available evidence gained from the scientific method to clinical decision making. This is a good thing but it can lead to the exclusion of other good practices that may not be easily proven using the scientific method.

The scientific method, even though it is the best tool we have, has limitations. It is relatively easy to apply the scientific method in well controlled environments like the test tube, or with genetically-alike lab rats. When doing field studies or human clinic trials, however, the number of unknown variables increases as does the ability to control the study environment.

Experiments need to be properly designed, based on valid assumptions and even then it is sometimes difficult to interpret the results when things don't go as expected. How you handle missing data is a whole area of its own. The strength of the scientific method and statistical analysis starts to fall apart when looking at complex systems. I have over the past years worked with a number of principle investigators with study design, execution and statistical analysis in a variety of scientific disciplines.

The definition of science in the past was never confined to just data produced by the scientific method. If you look at Wikipedia, the definition of science has changed over the centuries. In the broadest sense it is an large explainable body of knowledge. There are areas of science, like natural sciences or phenomenological science are not derived from experiments but from observations used to develop explanations and form the fundamental theories.

Therefore, in this light, and in my opinion, the data behind the validity of acupuncture, constitutes one of the greatest bodies of scientific knowledge in the world today. Acupuncture, as practised within traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is thousands of years old. Some say 3000-5000 years while a recent discovery in Britain now speculates it may be as old as 9000 years and not necessarily just a product of China. TCM and acupuncture is widely accepted and growing in many parts of the world, including North America. The World Health Organizations quotes 104 aliments that are scientifically proven to be effectively treated with acupuncture.

There are far too many studies on acupuncture to list here. I post scientific reports on a variety of topics on Twitter at [email protected] and I try to keep up with all the emerging scientific information on acupuncture on Facebook at http [:/] /www.facebook.com/EasternShoreHolisticAcupuncture.

Good Medicine?

Posted by Heart's Discovery on October 23, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Is there such as thing? When I was young medicine was always something that was good for you. Mom's were always plying their latest remedies like cod liver oil tablets, chewable vitamins or Vick's vapo rub.

Then there is the everlasting search for miracle drugs. Remember the movie Medicine Man. The jungle was combed for an exotic flower with amazing cures. I loved that movie because of the scenery, Sean Connery, and because, in those days, I was working in a pharmacology research lab. I was amazed how they could get that chromatograph to work in the jungle [:)]

One of the pharmacology PHD students, in the lab, complained about a headache one day. When I offered an aspirin or tylenol, she flatly refused. “I don't take any pills ever. You and I both know that there are bad side effects with every drug.” She would know better than anyone else and so would I.

Drugs truly save lives and prolong life. I spent many years in pharmacology research. I believed in developing new and better drugs. I still do however, drugs always have good wanted actions, bad unwanted side effects and if not taken in the proper therapeutic dosage range, for a specific situation in the recommended conditions, either didn't work at all or were poisonous and lethal.

As years went by, I wanted to be in a healing profession in a new way. As I prepared to apply to medical school, one of my children had bad migraines that nothing conventional was helping. Out of desperation, we tried acupuncture. It helped her. I tried it and it helped me. I then embarked on a quest to learn more and it changed my life.

I discovered, fell in love with and studied to become an Acupuncturist. Acupuncture as practised within traditional Chinese medicine is the “Good Medicine” I had been looking for. The results and side effects are always positive. Acupuncture fuels and facilitates our bodies own natural healing abilities.

Often I will treat a physical pain somewhere in the body and discover how other unrelated problems, also get better. As the pain goes away people often sleep better, feeling more relaxed, have more energy, better digestion, a better color to their complexion or feel less edgy.

Acupuncture is not just for pain. It can also increase fertility, improve libido [:)] , improve vision, relieve stress, heal mental/emotional problems and is really good for chronic conditions. The World Health Organization lists 104 conditions acupuncture can treat. If you haven`t tried it I highly recommend it. It doesn`t hurt like you might think. And guess what?, there is such a thing as “Good Medicine”.

Musings: The Future of Modern Medicine

Posted by Heart's Discovery on September 23, 2012 at 10:20 PM

I worked in science research for decades but I always wondered why the path to health and longevity was so expensive, technology dependent, difficult to achieve and in the hands of so few? Surely we came into existence with more accessible tools for health and survival? If the birds and little creatures in this world have everything they need to thrive, why not us?

Having a background in botany, I always thought perhaps the tools we were meant to use are found in nature. For example we can use dandelion (for liver), coltsfoot (for lungs), plantain leaves (for bleeding), yarrow (for fever/colds), and self-heal (as an anti-inflammatory and many other things).

My first time in a Spanish pharmacy, I was surprised to see wall-to-wall shelves of dried herbs. It looked totally different than any pharmacy I had seen before. I also saw many stores in the Chinatowns of our bigger cities filled with dried herbs and formulas (combinations of herbs) for every kind of ailment you can imagine.

Now that I am an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner, I have first hand knowledge of the value of herbal medicine. Western drug companies are now investigating Chinese herbs because they have healing benefits and treat conditions that have no treatments in western medicine. I have formulas that are anti-viral and antibiotic; some that can help chronic pain like sciatica, arthritis or joint pain; others for immunity, blood deficiencies, menstrual disorders, fertility, sleep, fatigue, digestion, bowel issues, vision loss, lung problems, menopause and emotional imbalances to name a few.

The herbal companies in China continue to grow and become better regulated in terms of quality. I get my herbs from a company in the US that oversees quality production in Taiwan. Well-respected doctors in my field, endorse the products, they are safe, well balanced and effective from years of usage and perfecting of the recipes.

China’s traditional medicine, that includes acupuncture and herbs, is regarded a national treasure and is exported around the world. They integrated their thousand-year-old traditions with modern medicine, partly because it was the only way to affordably treat such a large population of people. At a hospital in China you will have your modern MRI and surgery in the same place as your herbal medicine, acupuncture and qigong.

We have preserved our western herbal heritage to some extent; we have local herbalists with lots of knowledge and our natural food and supplement stores are growing in popularity. We too have a “national treasure” that needs to be developed further for a healthier, sustainable and affordable way to keep ourselves well.

Paracelsus has a quote that confirms my suspicions that everything we need to be healthy exists in nature. He said: “The art of healing comes from nature and not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature from an open mind”.


Posted by Gwen Williams on March 3, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Over the past year or so, things have become more quiet here. The friends who were boarding, moved out and moved on leaving just myself, my daughter and of course the five "little ones". I have beeing very much at peace and have been resting and repairing.


The cottage needed some work. I put in new flooring (nothing expensive), put in a nice garden door by the fireplace (for winter protection & more light), bought a new leather coach and chairs (cats enjoyed that - no longer looks new) and had a new deck with a "bridge" built at the back of the house.


The "bridge" is a walkway that extends from the end of the deck, goes through the air into the woods landing 2/3 the way up the hill to the top of my driveway. This was my mother's idea and at first I thought it was strange but the idea grew on me.  Now I love it. No more scrambling down the hill in the winter snow. It is like sitting in a park with a walkway surrounded by trees. I also have a new view of the lake I had not anticipated.


I love the seclusion really but after a year of this, I am getting bored. So after much thought, I decided to go back to school. This should be the last time in my life that I do this once again. I truly am a life-long learner. I have chosen to study acupuncture. It fits my belief system and my desire to help others AND it is something very complex and deep enough to keep me learning for the rest of my life.


Peace and quiet will soon dissolve to peace and busy.

A New Day

Posted by Gwen Williams on September 10, 2008 at 5:05 PM

Everyday the light on the leaves of the trees changes it's angle. The shadows get longer and the air gets cooler. Life goes on but it never stays the same.


Once I took a weekend job, the frequency of parties of teenagers dwindled. They had to start cleaning up themselves and some of them outgrew the parties. Some moved on to new friends.


It is sad but at the same time I am relieved to see them grow into maturity, getting jobs and learning to be more self-sufficient. Afterall isn't that the point of youth, gathering skills that eventually allow you to leave the nest.


One young friend moved in with us to stay as did an older friend of mine. We are now a family of four women, five cats and one little dog. Our home is truly a joyful one.


Everyone is welcomed here at our cottage on the lake. Truly it is a place of peace, acceptance and beauty. We are really blessed.

Good Friday

Posted by Gwen Williams on April 6, 2007 at 2:55 PM

The teenagers are here again. We moved the weekly party to Thursday night because of the holiday. We live in rural Nova Scotia and the kids live everywhere along a 40 kilometer stretch of the coast. The kids get to our house by taking my daughter's school bus instead of their own.


This morning instead of going to church, we recounted the funny events from last night and listened to American Pie, Spanish Train, some Mommas and Papas and Hotel California. Last week, the morning after started with Mr. Tambourine Man, Age of Aquarius and Hotel California. I see a little ritual starting up with the playing of Hotel California.


The other rituals include me frying several pounds of bacon and/or baloney and mixing up 3/4 of a box of Aunt Jemima Original Pancake Mix (just add water - it's cheaper). Today one of the other mothers made a sizable donation of food goods which was much appreciated. The other morning ritual is gathering in my daughter's bedroom on the morning after to play Zelda and Duck Hunt.

House Full of Teenagers

Posted by Gwen Williams on March 15, 2007 at 6:05 PM

I have to admit I was not really looking forward to the March break. My youngest is home from school and our home is now a drop in center. It used to be just one party every Friday night but this is the 4th "sleep-over" this week.


I am pleasantly surprised however. I am actually enjoying it. These kids are really great people. I am learning about all sorts of interesting topics. They are just as adept (or more so) in carrying a good converation than many adults I meet. I learned that the video game (God of War) they play is actually based on actual facts from Greek Mythology and they showed me how to go about setting up this web site.


All but 1 of the 12 teenagers who come through this house (we call it a cottage), play 1 or more muscial instruments very well. They are creative and artistic. I allow some of them to paint on one of the large bedroom walls. My daughter and her boyfriend are among some of the best artists in thier school.


This week I am keeping similar hours as the kids, up all night and sleep during the day. Even though I natually gravitate towards solitude, I appreciate having them around. It is a nice change to have the house so alive!

Time for Change

Posted by Heart's Discovery on October 27, 2006 at 7:25 AM

Great winter Eh! Not much snow, mild temperatures and the election campaign is keeping us entertained. At least some of us...I need to be more careful with my Spell Check. Instead of "election", I almost corrected the misspelling to say "ejection" campaign. However, I guess that is how it all started. The opposition wanted to eject Paul Martin. The pollsters say that people are looking for a change in government. I think the word "change" needs to be qualified. Does that mean a little change to the known political party or a big change to the unknown, little experience in governing party? Most of us are afraid of change. In fact we hate change. It really messes up our plans for the weekend.


I admire people who are change enthusiasts. These brave souls will step out into a new world without knowing what the future holds, with only their faith in themselves as an anchor to hold on to. I know some of these people. I work with a couple of them. They have a healthy integrity, know themselves well, connect with others and have the drive to live life. I have heard one of them comment: "You need to be true to yourself", "It is the right thing to do". I admire you guys!


Change has started in this workplace. Change is happening in our government. We want to know all the details. Will I have a job tomorrow? What are the leaders saying about the direction of this company? What do the news reports say about the election platforms and possible election results? Will we get stuck with Steven Harper as a prime minister who will change the face of our Canadian identity?


No matter what we try to do, change is necessary and imminent. Life would be terribly boring if everything stayed the same, wouldn't it? According to Marilyn Ferguson: "It's not so much that we are afraid of change or so in love wit the old ways, but it is the place between that we fear...It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There is nothing to hold on to."


Therefore as we watch the results of this 2006 Federal Election, I suggest we get our blankets out of the dryer and place them on the floor between the trapezes. If Steven Harper is elected, that will give us something to fall on as we fly through the air with the greatest dis-ease.

Playing Nicely?

Posted by Heart's Discovery on November 28, 2005 at 7:00 PM

Kids don't always play nicely. A little wrestling is Ok but it always goes too far no matter how many times you say, "stop before someone gets hurt". It is a wonder that children survive childhood. When my children were young, I felt more like a referee than a mother. I am now discovering that if you have more than one pet, the dynamics between pets is similar to those between children.



Monster is my nine pound Mini-Pincher and Bandit is my nine pound Siamese cat. Both are similar ages, approximately one year old. Just kids. When the pets are resting they cannot let peace and quiet reign for very long. Bandit lies close enough to stretch out her paw and touch Monster. Monster reacts by biting Bandit's tail. Bandit then tackles Monster by wrapping her paws around Monster's midsection and lying on top of her. The fight is on. Soon fur is flying accompanied by yelping and hissing.



On Sunday morning I was alerted to how adults don't always "play nicely" either. CTV news had a special report on Workplace Bullying. According to the Canada Safety Council (http://www.safety-council.org/info/OSH/bully-law.html) and related links, highly skilled employees are often the targets of bullying. Bullies who are insecure and lack social skills, feel threatened and "take-out" their targets using slander campaigns and strategic moves to render the target unproductive and unsuccessful.



Victims of workplace bullying suffer a wide range of stress related problems. When targets complain, they are often perceived as "the problem". Targets of bullying are often forced to leave their jobs because they succumb to the effects of stress or are the recipients of a constructive discharge (a case fabricated to have them fired). Over time, the effects can be long term and tragic.



Techniques used by bullies include focus on exposing the target's minute flaws or inventing errors in the target's work. Bullies focus on defaming the reputation of the target. The nasty stuff that is often mislabeled or dismissed as "personality conflicts" or "politics" is bullying. Canada's Bill C-451, once passed, will amend the Canada Labor Standards Code to prevent workplace bullying. This Act is cited as the Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention Act.



Bandit and Monster are learning to play nicely with the introduction of a deterrent. My third pet Trigger is a ten year old ninety pound Doberman mix. When he has had enough of the fighting, he breaks up the episode with loud barking and intimidation. Trigger wouldn't hurt the little guys but barks within a few inches of their ears and has a row of teeth more than half the length of their little bodies. Their heads must vibrate from the impact of the sound waves. Headaches and big teeth are great deterrents.


I wonder if Bill C-451 will be a deterrent for us human adults?

Workplace Bullying

Posted by Heart's Discovery on November 27, 2005 at 5:35 AM

Highly skilled employees are often the targets of bullying. Bullies are often those who are insecure, lack work skills, education and social skills. Bullies feel threatened so they "take-out" their targets with slander campaigns and activities to make their target unsuccessful. Bullies often focus on exposing the target's minute flaws or inventing errors in the target's work with the intent to ruin the target’s reputation.


Victims of workplace bullying suffer a wide range of stress related problems. The effects can be long term and tragic. When targets complain, they are often perceived as "the problem". Victims of bullying are often forced to leave their jobs because they succumb to the stress or are fired (often a case is fabricated to have them fired). The nasty stuff often labeled or dismissed as "personality conflicts" or "politics" is bullying.


Bullying has many faces.

It occurs in many places and situations.

It is often not recognized as bullying

It hides behind supposed “acts of kindness” or "just joking".

It pretends to be helpful or concerned.

It uses “good” deeds to cover evil intentions.

It is a terrible menacing action.

It is an impassioned, collective campaign.

It is the act of cowards.

That excludes, punishes, and humiliates its target.

It travels through the workplace like a virus.

It infects one person after another.

Until the victim is viewed as a terrible person,

With no redeeming qualities.



Other Examples of Bullying: Spreading malicious rumours or gossip that is not true; Excluding someone socially; Deliberately trying to intimidate a person thru threats or yelling and using profanity; Undermining or deliberately impeding a person's work; Removing areas of responsibly without cause; Constantly changing work guidelines; Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information; Making offensive jokes by spoken word or e-mail; Intruding on a person's privacy by pestering, spying or stalking; Assigning unreasonable duties, workload or establishing impossible deadlines (ensuring the individual will fail); Under work - creating a feeling of uselessness; Criticising a person persistently or constantly; Belittling a person's opinions; Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion; Tampering with a person's personal belongings or work equipment….



Every thought, word and deed sends out ripples altering life for everyone…We can transform ourselves and our world by changing the way we communicate…” - Judah Freed



Let’s Stop Bullying from Happening. Understand and recognize bullying for what it is.