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Acne Treatment with Eastern Medicine

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Teenage years are usually when you are most susceptible to severe and visible acne, while adult acne may also be a common problem for some. Regardless of the age, acne is undesirable and can leave many feeling vulnerable and self-conscious. These feelings of sensitivity can lead to other more damaging issues to the body, such as depression and anxiety, which can have an adverse effect on one's overall health. Fortunately, Eastern medicine has a positive effect on acne treatments that work from the body’s inside out.


The Reason Behind Acne


In Eastern medicine, acne and other inflammatory skin conditions are seen as a result of a combination of two factors: excess heat and dampness. When either of these factors are in excess in the body, a variety of skin problems may arise including acne.


Heat is also referred to as yang and is needed in the body for movement, however too much of it can cause problems. Heat can be shown in the body either internally or externally.


Internal heat refers to the emotional pressure that is constantly restrained. The period of adolescence is particularly a time of experiencing various emotions with most being bottled inside and not released, which can lead to serious internal issues when not expressed for long periods of time. Teenage years are also a time of intense hormonal fluctuations which can cause an excess of hormones for some. An excess in some hormones can also be a reason for internal heat. Blood deficiency can also be the cause of too much internal heat. Not consuming enough or the right amount of nutrient-dense foods can lead to blood deficiency in the body. It is quite common for many teenagers to not be eating proper amounts of healthy food which can make them more susceptible to being blood deficient. Blood is a way for the body to remove waste and without a sufficient amount of blood to be transported, inflammation can appear on the skin.


External heat refers to a variation of chemical irritations on the skin, excess physical exertion and consumption of overstimulating foods.


Dampness is very similar to heat in that the cause can be both internal and external. Yin or moisture, is necessary for everyone to function properly. In Eastern medicine, dampness refers to the inability for the body to metabolize fluids well which can lead to excess fluids remaining in the body. Bacteria flourishes in damp conditions making a great environment for acne.


An internal cause for dampness can be a weak digestive system struggling due to irregular eating habits, whereas an external cause can result from the consumption of fatty or greasy foods.


Acne Treatment with Eastern Medicine


Western medicine treats acne solely as an inflammation disorder, however the benefit of Eastern medicine is that the root cause is determined and treatment is directed towards targeting that root cause. Whether it is inflammation associated with gastrointestinal problems such as gastritis or constipation, or inflammation correlated with stress such as physiological impoverishment or anxiety disorder, Eastern medicine is a reliable source of treatment.


A combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine is seen as the most effective form of treatment for acne. Depending on the patient’s conditions, there are different herbs to target different needs. Some herbs also have antibacterial properties that are highly effective when targeting acne-related problems.


To learn more about acne treatment and to determine the reason behind your acne, visit here:

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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As summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter, we experience various changes in our lives. From shorter daylight hours to colder temperatures and less motivation to get outdoors, some people are affected by these changes more than others. Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a condition that is considered as a form of depression. SAD is a relatively common condition for many people around the world. However, SAD appears to have a stronger effect on people living in higher altitudes where the shift from day to night is more intense. Some of the symptoms of SAD include mood swings, changes in eating habits, hypersomnia, lethargy, decreased social interaction and decreased libido.


Why it happens from an Eastern medicine perspective


According to Eastern medicine, there is the yin and yang, which are opposing forces that complement each other to form a greater whole. Yin is positive in sign and refers to masculinity, warmth, activity and brightness, whereas yang is negative in sign and refers to femininity, cold, passiveness and nourishment. In relation to the seasons, the yin cycle starts in autumn when the number of daylight hours begin to decrease and ends in time for the spring equinox when the days and nights are relatively the same. During the period of time in between when the yin cycle is in effect, people tend to lean towards more sadness, darkness and isolation as the days get shorter. In addition, everything seems to slow down in the winter months due to the nature of yin. With the same busy lives that people are living, additional exhaustion and stress can be added as a result. Yang energy in contrast, can work to counteract the effects of these symptoms to restore a healthy balance.


Another reason for SAD is the body’s inability to properly adjust to a new circadian rhythm. With the transition of the seasons, our body’s undergo a new circadian rhythm to adapt to the darker days and new schedule. When we have difficulty adjusting is when SAD can occur and create a jet lag effect in our bodies.


Eastern medicine solutions to SAD


Eastern medicine can be an effective form of treatment for people suffering from SAD. Eastern medicine’s way of treating patients is to look at the body as a whole which is very important in ensuring a healthy balance mentally and physically when it comes to treating SAD. Eastern medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, has the ability to tap into the body’s qi or energy flow to restore balance. Acupuncture works to target specific points and meridians so that blocked areas of the body can flow naturally to achieve properly functioning flow in the body. Food is also an important part of Eastern medicine which is why herbal medicine is seen as a powerful tool. With the right food, vitamins and herbs to warm up the body during the cold winter months, you are one step closer to restoring balance in the body.


SAD can be a great interference to one’s daily life. If you are struggling with any symptoms of SAD or depression-like symptoms, it may be hard to search for recovery solutions by yourself. Speak to a health practitioner to ensure you are taking the necessary steps to get back to good health.

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The Role of Liver & Tips to Improve Liver Health

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The Liver plays an important role in overall health and wellbeing. The role of the Liver is different in Eastern and Western medicine. In Western medicine, the Liver is in charge of regulating the body’s digestion, metabolism, detoxification and immune modulation. In Eastern medicine, the Liver has a much more complex role in the human body.


Eastern medicine views the Liver as being a connection to other internal organs to ensure that the flow of Qi or energy flow is regulated and that blood is properly stored. Without a properly functioning Liver, Qi cannot be efficiently pushed to all relevant organs. An ineffective Liver and Qi flow can cause problems in the future where stagnant diseases and symptoms can arise.


Tips to Improve Liver Health


1. Diet


Eastern medicine views food as a form of medicine. What we eat and put in our body directly has an effect on our health. Foods that are good for the Liver are green foods, sour foods and ‘cooling’ foods. Green foods include vegetables that are green such as asparagus and broccoli. An example of a sour food is a lemon which can provide a good form of detox for the body and eliminate toxins. ‘Cooling’ foods are those that have cooling properties and not necessarily cold foods, and can be both fruits and vegetables.


2. Healthy Mind


A healthy mind supports a healthy body. How we react and feel is directly associated with the flow of Qi. Suppressed emotions such as anger and frustration can affect Qi flow which can then harm the function of the Liver. Therefore, it is best to express emotions rather than to suppress them for long periods of time.


3. Natural Remedies


An imbalance Liver can be treated naturally in a variety of ways. Acupuncture treatment is viewed as an effective method in Eastern medicine. Acupuncture can unblock vital energy channels to promote a better flow of Qi. Cupping therapy can also be beneficial as it detoxes the body and encourages a restoration of normal energy channels. Acupressure massage or Tui Na is another natural treatment that uses rhythmic compression along energy channels of the body to manipulate and lubricate the joints. Tui Na directly affects the flow of energy by holding and pressing the body at acupressure points.


4. Herbal Medicine


Similar to how the food we eat affects our health, herbal medicine is an alternative method of treatment for Liver protection. The benefits of herbal medicine are the use of all natural herbs for the direct benefit of Qi movement, and the formulation specifically designed to suit each individual’s health concerns. Consuming herbal medicine can repair liver damage or assist proper liver function. Herbal medicine is non-invasive and can easily be added to daily routines.



Liver health is a vital element in the human body and is especially important in ensuring other parts of the body are able to function properly. A weak Liver may not be evident at first which is why it is highly important to always ensure the Liver is being taken care of at all times. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort associated with a weak Liver, contact us to book a consultation.

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Causes of Insomnia from an Eastern Medicine Perspective

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Insomnia is a form of sleep disorder that refers to an interference in normal sleep patterns. A person with insomnia will experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Symptoms of insomnia include frequently waking up during the middle of the night and having trouble falling back asleep. In Eastern medicine, insomnia is recognized as an imbalance of energy, also known as the yin and yang qi.


Sleep is considered to be a part of the natural rhythm of yin and yang qi in the body. The role of yin and yang qi in the body is one of opposite roles. The yang qi functions during the day to fuel the body’s activities and keep us warm and alert. Meanwhile, the yin qi takes over during the night to provide a cooling, quiet and nourishing energy for the body. The yin qi helps our bodies slow down in preparation for the night’s sleep. However, a disruption in the yin qi can cause an imbalance and therefore result in insomnia.


Some factors behind yin and yang qi imbalance:


  • Dietary habits including heavy consumption of food, caffeine and alcohol
  • Emotional burdens such as anger and extreme happiness
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Prolonged illness


Some factors behind the cause of insomnia in Eastern medicine:


  • Liver fire
  • Heart qi deficiency
  • Heart fire
  • Spleen qi deficiency


Insomnia, though may seem harmless at first, can develop into a much more serious health issue if left untreated. Luckily, Eastern medicine has been observed to show significant improvements in sleep through acupuncture and herbal medicine. With the ability to cure irregular sleep patterns, Eastern medicine is an effective, safe and reliable alternative of treatment. To learn more about how Eastern medicine helps treat insomnia, read our case study:

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How to Strengthen the Spleen

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We discussed the importance of the spleen qi in our previous blog post, now let us talk about some helpful tips to strengthen your spleen. In Eastern medicine, different organ systems in the body have different responsibilities, and each works in conjunction with one another to keep the body healthy as a whole. One of those organs is the spleen. The spleen is one of the most commonly weakened organs in the body as daily lifestyle patterns can naturally cause our spleen to weaken. Common health problems include digestive issues, insomnia and depression. Keeping the spleen healthy is the same as keeping our body’s very core foundation strong and healthy, which is why it is crucial we take care of our spleen.


Avoid Cold Foods and Drinks


As the spleen in Eastern medicine is responsible for a healthy digestive system, reducing cold foods and drinks can help the spleen function properly. It is best to keep the spleen warm and dry. Cold foods can cause the spleen to experience a heavy toll as it works harder to digest the cold foods. Cold foods can refer to any food that has a cold thermal nature such as raw foods and seafood, as well as foods that are physically cold like iced drinks, ice cream and frozen food. An easy tip to follow is to stick to lukewarm water rather than iced beverages.


Get Rest


Getting enough sleep is one of the simplest yet easily overlooked steps to maintaining good spleen health. Lack of sleep is not just tiring on your body, but it also causes the spleen’s energy to be exhausted. An exhaustion in the spleen can lead to a variety of other health issues such as digestive problems and depression. Aside from getting enough sleep, it is important for our bodies to regularly recharge itself by taking breaks. Especially during stressful times, taking short breaks can go a long way for our spleen.


Chew Your Food


The spleen in Eastern medicine is commonly known as the stomach, and the stomach is in charge of breaking down all the food in our body. As the spleen needs to break down foods to be used for the rest of the body as energy, the spleen needs to be strong enough to do so. Chewing your food carefully and thoroughly is a great way to take some burden off from the spleen. By chewing your food for a longer time, the less overworked the spleen is, and the better it can use its energy for other functions in the body.


Other Alternatives


Eastern medicine is an effective alternative to strengthening your spleen. Acupuncture and herbal medicine both focus on spleen qi deficiency and aim to create a better qi flow in the entire body. Some herbs that help with spleen qi deficiency are red ginseng, jujube dates and pseudostellaria root.



If you feel as though you feel generally weak, tired, experience poor appetite, shallow breathing, as well as other symptoms, it is advised you seek a medical practitioner. Eastern medicine can greatly improve your spleen’s health as well as your overall well-being, and is an effective alternative to consider.

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Spleen Qi Deficiency in Eastern Medicine

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Eastern medicine looks at the body as a whole with various inter-connected systems working together in harmony. Problems in one part of the body may be a result of a lack of energy flow or qi through the entire body. While the spleen in human anatomy refers to the immune system and is responsible for the production of white blood cells, spleen qi means something entirely different in Eastern medicine. The spleen in Eastern medicine is one aspect of the body that has tremendous responsibility in the overall health of the body.


What is spleen qi?


In Eastern medicine, the spleen is paired with the stomach and is responsible for ensuring food substances are properly broken down into nutrients in the digestive system. Once digested, it is then transported to the lungs, where the heart and lungs function to generate qi and convert the nutrients into blood. Thus, the spleen is tremendously important as it is at the core of producing qi, blood and fluids for the body.


With proper flow of qi from the spleen, the digestive system functions smoothly. However when the qi is blocked, issues of flow may arise. Blood and all fluids may become backed up or cause sagging of the organs. Other symptoms may arise as well, such as a loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, pale skin, shallow breathing and dizziness.


Why is the spleen qi important?


As the spleen is responsible for transporting the nutrients, blood and fluids to the lungs, the pushing action of the qi is greatly important. When the spleen qi cannot properly ascend to the heart and lungs, issues concerning flow blockage may arise. The spleen qi is also responsible for the descending action of the digestive system. The descending process allows for the spleen qi to excrete the undigested food out of the body. Similar to how the ascending action is important, the descending action is just as important and complements the ascending process to achieve a well-functioning digestive system.


Another reason behind the importance of the spleen qi is its ability to regulate the blood within the blood vessels. A weak spleen qi causes the person to be more susceptible to bruises, blood in the stools and urine, and other bleeding problems.



The spleen qi holds great significance in the body’s overall health and should not be easily ignored. A healthy spleen qi means a healthy flow in the body as a whole and a proper balance of the spleen. Strengthening your spleen function is one of the most important considerations of Eastern medicine, and will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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Acupuncture for Anxiety

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Many of us have felt anxious at one point in our lives and for some, anxiety may be a recurring condition. Anxiety, which refers to excessive worrying that can lead to difficulties in daily life, can be hard to control alone. Especially now with the ongoing pandemic, mental health issues and anxiety in particular, may be a common problem that many of us are struggling to overcome. Acupuncture is an effective method of treatment for those suffering from anxiety. Acupuncture’s low-risk treatment option can help relieve symptoms of anxiety in a relatively short time frame and with no side effects.

Symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, nervousness, fatigue, rapid breathing, trembling, insomnia, excessive worrying, and more. As you can see, anxiety can cause significant discomfort in one’s life.


Method of treatment


When a person is anxious, the qi becomes scattered or knotted due to the individual’s habit of worrying or overthinking. Acupuncture helps restore the natural flow and calm the mind through specific acupoints. Acupuncture treats anxiety mainly through its effect on the nervous system which has two components. The first is the sympathetic nervous system and the second is the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system, also known as the “fight or flight system,” directs the body to react to dangerous or stressful situations. The parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest system,” controls the bodily functions when at rest.


How acupuncture can help


Acupuncture can provide instant relief depending on the patient, but it also helps your body to support itself for the long-term. Generally, after receiving acupuncture treatments, patients feel a sense of calmness and increased stillness of the mind. Symptoms of any form of panicking and worrying are reduced and no intrusive thoughts interfere with the patient’s mind. Some say acupuncture helps them feel more grounded and aware of their mental and physical wellness. Overall, regular acupuncture treatments support individuals to better adapt themselves to stressful conditions.


To read more on acupuncture for anxiety case studies, click here.

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Acupuncture for Auto Injuries

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The aftermath of a car accident can be painful to deal with and debilitating for some if left untreated. Acupuncture has shown to be an effective method of treatment for those sustaining auto injuries. This gentle and safe form of treatment helps to alleviate pain and speed up the healing process to get you on your road to recovery as quickly as possible. Acupuncture’s approach to treatment looks at the body as a whole, rather than solely focusing on the symptoms, supporting a more holistic form of medicine.


The most common type of injury is a whiplash. A whiplash occurs when a powerful force causes a sudden jolt in movement that causes your head to move violently back and forth in response. A whiplash causes the body to experience unnatural movement that harms the structure of the body. The body undergoes an overextension of the muscles and ligaments in the neck that can cause serious damage if not treated quickly.


Symptoms of Whiplash


The most common symptoms of whiplash include:


  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Shoulder pain
  • Numbness


Treating Whiplash with Acupuncture


Acupuncture can help the healing process of a whiplash by reducing, treating and eliminating pain. The pain experienced from a whiplash is usually a result of a tissue inflammation. Acupuncture can reduce this inflammation by improving blood flow and increasing circulation. Acupuncture can also help the body release endorphins which can act as natural painkillers. Other ways acupuncture can help the body is by increasing the range of motion for the neck and shoulder area and increasing the speed of the healing process in the neck and back. While Western medicine places greater focus on the specific symptoms patients experience, Eastern medicine looks at all the different elements in the body and how one area works with another. As a result, acupuncture’s greatest benefit is the overall improved quality of life.



Auto injuries can be extremely painful with many people struggling to go back to their normal lifestyles. Do not put your body at more risk of other health problems by not getting the necessary treatment. If you are looking for a different approach to recovery, acupuncture can be an effective form of treatment.

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Acupuncture for the Winter Season

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Transitioning from summer and fall to winter may be more difficult for some than others. With winter comes the cold and the darkness that may put many people in a sluggish and depressed state. This feeling is normal and is simply our body’s natural cycle and response to the environment. As our surroundings seem to slow down, utilizing this time to recharge and strengthen our bodies can be highly beneficial.


It is common for many people to catch colds or the flu in the winter, as well as feeling a lack of energy. Our body’s immune system becomes weaker and slows down in the cold temperatures causing our bodies to become easy targets for sickness. Acupuncture is a great method to fight off these illnesses while also strengthening the immune system for the long-term. With acupuncture, the body’s immune system can be enhanced to fight colds while also work to recharge the body.


Prevent Colds


In Eastern medicine, colds and flus are viewed as pathogenic invasions that can be expelled using certain acupuncture points and herbs. Acupuncture improves the immune system by invigorating the body’s organs with fresh blood and body fluids, which help to cleanse and protect the body’s defensive barrier against any viruses. If the symptoms are already present, acupuncture treatments can help relieve symptoms. Common symptoms include chills, fever, body aches, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and cough. In some cases, acupuncture can bring immediate relief, while in others, treatments can reduce the likelihood of upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the duration of the illness. If symptoms are not yet present, acupuncture is still an excellent method to prevent future illnesses. Acupuncture treatments in certain key points in the body strengthen the immune system by improving blood circulation and increasing the defense layers for protection.




A feeling of lack of energy is very common during the cold months of the winter. In Eastern medicine, the winter time is a good time to recharge the body’s energy also known as Qi. Qi runs through the body in paths called “meridians.” Qi consists of two energy forces: Yin and Yang.


  • Yin energy is slow and cold, and derives from quiet and slow activities.
  • Yang energy is fast and hot, and often derives from activities that involve great physical or mental force.


Recharging the body’s Qi will help to feel, look and live in a better state. Acupuncture works to manipulate certain Qi meridians. In this case, acupuncture would calm Yang energy and stimulate Yin energy. By stimulating the balance and flow of Qi energy, acupuncture can both treat the symptoms while also finding the root causes of any illnesses if present. Acupuncture is an effective method to target the body’s energy system as it directly affects Qi energy and therefore works very quickly.



The winter time can consist of slower months for many people but it is important to not let these symptoms linger and develop into potentially bigger problems in the future. If you are experiencing any type of cold or flu symptoms, or would like to feel generally better, speak to an acupuncture practitioner to find the best solution for your body’s needs.

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Vote for Greenleaf Clinic for the Best of Vancouver!

Greenleaf Cinic, Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Eastern Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Vancouver



Best of Vancouver 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards has returned!


The Georgia Straight is hosting its annual Best of Vancouver Reader’s Choice Awards this year where locals can vote for their favourite people, places and businesses that they believe deserve the recognition and support. The winners of the Best of Vancouver Reader’s Choice Awards will be included in the Georgia Straight’s issue of the Best of Vancouver 2020.


Greenleaf Clinic has been nominated for the Best of Vancouver for the past five years in a row thanks to our wonderful clients, friends and family. Please continue to show support for our clinic and vote for Greenleaf!


Vote here:


Voting will close in mid-October and the results will appear in the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver issue on November 19.

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