How I See Toronto, As a Chinese Acupuncturist
Toronto is a wonderful place full of people coming from all over the world . Toronto is big in tasty foods and all kinds of flavours brought by people from around the world.
Similarly , we have a lot of cultural activities in Toronto, such as Caribbean Carnival, Asian Heritage Month... and of course we have a lot of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine clinics in Toronto too. I wonder if Toronto has the largest Traditional Chinese Medicine community outside of China.
Life in Toronto is highly distinguished by the season. To be more precise, life in Toronto is highly distinguished by "summer" and "winter". I don't remember I cared so much about winter or summer when I was in Beijing. In Toronto, winter is much longer than summer. Heating is on in households from mid October until beginning of May. People don't receive enough sun light during these long cold months, which damages our yang energy. We stay in and watch sports and news on TV...The long cold months give us more pain aches and depression. Except pain and depression, I often hear in clinic "My metabolism is really slow"," I have slow bowel movement", "I feel constipated", "I'm gaining a lot of weight", "Can acupuncture help losing weight ?"
The warm months in Toronto are short. Summer is the time to cultivate yang energy, but we don't have enough summer. We don't get enough time to expel the cold we contract in cold months. Therefore I see a lot of cold symptoms in my acupuncture practice, such as aversion to cold, cold hands and feet, lassitude, clear nasal discharge,,, and many other yang deficiency symptoms. Gaining weight is also a result of yang deficiency.
In warm months, people are much more active and social. Sports, cultural activities, and of course a lot of drinking and eating... It seems that most of the activities after weekday work have to involve food and/or drinks. Food and drinks do give us a lot of satisfaction and happiness... However just think about all the stuff we are taking into our bodies. Are we taking more than what we need? Especially to those older ones, with a slowing-down metabolism, how can we discharge them in the end?
An old Chinese saying says "Different water and soil raise different people" （一方水土养一方人）. Chinese believe that human beings are shaped by the land (and its climate) around them. Unfortunately the natural environment in Toronto doesn't support good yang energy and we have to find ways to cultivate and protect it. Seeing increasing number of people who are dealing with weight issue, as a Chinese acupuncturist, I advocate a healthier lifestyle: be active, eat warm and less, use some warming herbs, go to bed early...you may also go to your acupuncturist for treatments. Acupuncture, moxa, cupping etc. are all great modalities. They help. But it helps more if you understand the health-preservation ideas and follow through daily.
In fact, with the amount of good foods over the past decades of years, the previous lean Chinese population are gaining weight too. This is a universal problem that demands every individual's strong will power to balance amongst food, entertainment, work, exercise and life.