Blog by Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Highlight: Dave Goes Cacao Crazy!

Happy New Year's Eve!

Here's a highlight from 2009 that is only now appearing for the first time on this blog!

We made this video for our friend's blog (www.PureJeevan.com), and it got a bit silly!

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best of 2009: Acupuncture Treats Peripheral Neuropathy

Here we are, inching closer to the end of 2009!

We hope you received our Season's Greetings and special offer...if you're not on our mailing list, please sign up today!

In 2009, Birch Center acupuncturist Melissa Sokulski became a citizen journalist for Natural News, publishing many articles ranging from medicinal uses of wild edible plants, to benefits of acupuncture on different conditions.

Here is one that was a favorite: Acupuncture Treats Peripheral Neuropathy, first published in Natural News on May 6, 2009:

(NaturalNews) Neuropathy, or Peripheral Neuropathy, is defined as having numbness, tingling or pain in nerves apart from the spine or brain, often in the hands and feet. It is a fairly common symptom, occurring in people with spinal injuries, diabetes, and genetic conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth Syndrome. Acupuncture can be an effective way to treat these symptoms, bringing energy, life and feeling back into the extremities. (...More)

Thanks so much for reading, and we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons!

Love,
Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Sign up today and receive your free gift: 10 Ways to Improve Your Health Right Now. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Acupuncture Produces Amazing Results In Reversing Infertility

Recently, Mike Adams of Natural News put together interesting research and findings about how acupuncture often successfully treats infertility.

Of course, it may not be a secret to those in the Pittsburgh area...many people diagnosed with infertility find their way to the Birch Center! We can attest that acupuncture treatments have a very high success rate for reversing infertility.

Here is an excerpt from Mike's article in Natural News:

(NaturalNews) Of all the available treatments for infertility, acupuncture isn't one that people usually think of first. But as you'll see here, it's actually one of the safest and most effectiveness treatments for infertility known to modern science.

Why does it work so well? Because infertility isn't usually a physical problem. It's often an issue related to circulation or energy channels that govern the vitality of your body's organs (including reproductive organs). Rebalancing those bioelectric channels can create enormous healing changes in the function of your reproductive organs.


Read the rest of his article here.

To make an acupuncture appointment at The Birch Center, please call us at (412) 381-0116.

If you are wondering what acupuncture can do for you, feel free to take advantage of our no-cost no-obligation 20 minute consultation with Birch Center Acupuncturist David Sokulski. Call (412) 381-0116 to set up and appointment for that as well. You can also send us an email: BirchCenter@gmail.com.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Sign up today and receive your free gift: 10 Ways to Improve Your Health Right Now. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Buy Gift Certificates Online!

You can now buy gift certificates to the Birch Center for Health online!

You can purchase a specific service or package, or choose an amount and let the recipient decide on which services they'd like! (If you'd like an amount different than what is offered, simply call us at (412) 381-0116 and we can take your order over the phone.)

Give the gift of health: Buy a Gift Certificate from The Birch Center Today!





Choose Services and/or Amount






Thanks and enjoy!

Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Sign up today and receive your free gift: 10 Ways to Improve Your Health Right Now. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Use Traditional Chinese Medicine to Prevent or Treat Swine Flu (H1N1)

Birch Center's own acupuncturist Melissa Sokulski's article on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Swine Flu was published in Natural News:

(NaturalNews) There is a lot of fear of Swine flu (H1N1) this season, but Traditional Chinese Medicine has effective techniques both to boost immunity and recover from flu, which are thousands of years old.

In Chinese Medicine, flu and colds are considered ... read more


In case you missed it, we did a 4-part series on Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) right here on this blog! Check it out if you missed it:

  • Part 1: Prevention of Swine Flu with TCM
  • Part 2: Treatment of Swine Flu with TCM
  • Part 3: Chinese Herbal Treatments of Swine Flu
  • Part 4: Building Immunity with Fermented Vegetables

We hope you enjoy the information we provide on our blog and newsletters. If you have other questions, especially specific questions about your own condition or health, or would like an appointment, please contact us online or by calling (412) 381-0116.

Thanks again,
Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Sign up today and receive your free gift: 10 Ways to Improve Your Health Right Now. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chinese Herbs Show Promise For Diabetes Prevention

An article by Amy Norton was recently published in Reuters about Diabetes Prevention and Chinese Herbs.

Here is an excerpt:

A number of traditional Chinese herbs may help control blood sugar levels in people at high risk of diabetes, a new research review suggests.

The review, which examined 16 clinical trials of 15 different herbal formulations, found that the herbs generally helped lower blood sugar levels in people with "pre-diabetes" -- those with impaired blood-sugar control that can progress to full-blown type 2 diabetes.
(Read the full article here.)

How exciting that studies like this are being published in the mainstream media!

We carry many Traditional Chinese Herbal Formulas
at The Birch Center for Health, and are happy to assist you choose the right one for you.

There are many other things that can be done to control one's blood sugar, including:

  • Eating a diet high in raw vegetables, especially leafy greens

  • Cutting out white and brown sugar, white flour and white rice from one's diet

  • Reducing (or eliminating) alcohol consumption

  • Drinking Green Vegetable Juices

  • Acupuncture treatments are an excellent way to balance the body's energy and optimize health

If you have specific questions about your own health condition or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (412) 381-0116, or send us an email: BirchCenter@gmail.com.

We hope you enjoy the information we provide on our blog and newsletters. If you have other questions, especially specific questions about your own condition or health, or would like an appointment, please contact us online or by calling (412) 381-0116.

To Your Health!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski

Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Keep Your Heart Healthy and Strong with Traditional Chinese Medicine

At the Birch Center for Health, we offer Traditional Chinese Medicine to keep the Heart healthy and strong, even when a person does not have typical symptoms of heart disease.

Heart health is fundamental to whole body health. Many people have a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure. The standard American diet contributes to high rates of heart disease in this country. Some people have symptoms correlating to heart conditions: heart palpitations, heart pain, shortness of breath, fatigue after light exertion. Hypothyroid conditions can also put us at risk for heart disease.

Yet many people do not know if they have heart weakness. With Chinese Medicine, one does not need to already have symptoms of heart disease for heart weakness to be detected and corrected.

Historically physicians in China were paid to keep people well; when someone became sick it meant the physician did not do their job.

At The Birch Center, we consider all symptoms: sometimes even insomnia or anxiety can be indicative of a weakness of heart energy. They also look at the tongue (the heart reflects at the tip, and the color of the tongue indicates the state of the blood in the body), and feel the pulse: the first position on the left side reflects heart energy. When a weakness is felt in any meridian, needles are placed to help the body balance the energy and correct the weakness.

There are also powerful Chinese herbal formulas which can help the energy and blood of the heart meridian and whole body. We carry these formulas at The Birch Center, and can help choose the correct formula:

  • Si Wu Wan: to boost the body's blood
  • Ba Zhen Tang: to help the whole body's qi(energy) and blood
  • Gui Pi Tang, when the energy and blood of the Heart and Spleen are effected
  • An Mian Tang: when the Heart weakness shows up as insomnia


Other remedies can also help the heart. Hawthorne Tea and CoQ10 are two important supplements to take. We often purchase supplements such as these at www.iherb.com. With coupon code MEL526 you will receive $5 off your first order.

Leafy green vegetables also play an important role in heart health. Chlorophyll, found in dark green leafy vegetables (the pigment which gives plants their green color), is excellent to build our blood.

The molecule of chlorophyll is almost identical to a molecule of hemoglobin, except instead of iron at its center, chlorophyll has Magnesium, which is highly beneficial to the heart.

Swiss chard, collard greens, and kale are high in chlorophyll, as are wild edibles such as dandelion greens and lambs quarters. As winter approaches, we also like to use green powders, such as Vitamineral Green, an amazing raw food powder by Healthforce Nutritionals which we are pleased to now carry at The Birch Center for Health.

Ways to get greens more greens into your diet include:

  • Salads
  • Green Smoothies
  • Green Juices
  • Blended Salads or Energy Soups

Recipe for Green Juice:

Feed the following vegetables and fruits through a juicer for a delicious, green, heart-healthy juice:

  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 1 large apple
  • 1/4 organic lemon, with peel

We hope you enjoy the information we provide on our blog and newsletters. If you have other questions, especially specific questions about your own condition or health, or would like an appointment, please contact us online or by calling (412) 381-0116.

Thanks again,
Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Q and A: Answering Your Questions

I wanted to take some time to answer some questions we've been receiving for the benefit of everyone who may be wondering about these things.

The first one is about the coupon we've been giving out:

Hi,
Saw the coupon for $5.00 coupon at iHerb.com (coupon code MEL526). Are you at the Birch Center, recommending these products?
Want to order a few, however, hesitant about ordering these supplements on line without know anything about them.I am assuming you are, as they were in your newsletter, however, just wanted to confirm.

Would appreciate your input before I order anything.Trusting your opinion.

Hope to hear from you.


Thanks so much for the question! Sorry I didn't make that more clear:

Yes, we order our supplements online from iherb. They have a huge range of brand names, so if you have other questions about specific products, let us know and we can try to help. We are very happy with iherbs prices, discounts, service and selection. We have bought all sorts of vitamins and supplements, as well as sea vegetables like nori sheets, cacao (raw chocolate), goji berries, green powders, essential oils, bath salts and homeopathic remedies.

Just let us know if you have other questions, but I do recommend them. They ship very fast and the customer service has also been very nice and helpful to us (when we needed it) as well.

The coupon we offer is for $5 off your first order, and it is with coupon code MEL526.


The second question was also supplement related:

Hi Melissa/Dave,

Dave mentioned taking a mix of mushrooms, as a supplement to help my immune system. Is there a specific product that you recommend?

By the way, thanks for recommending iHerb - I'm finding all the vitamins and supplements I'm looking for on this site, and they do have the best prices I've found on the web.

Thanks for sharing all the good info on this blog!


Thank you for the compliment and the question! The product Dave mentioned is called Immune Renew, and it's from NOW Foods. We actually carry this at the Birch Center. It is a blend of medicinal mushrooms plus the Chinese herb astragalus, which is greatly beneficial for the immune system. This time of year is an excellent time to take this supplement, as we described in Part 3 of our 4-part series about Swine (and other) Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Make sure to take the Immune Renew when you are feeling healthy to keep yourself strong. If you find yourself with symptoms of cold or flu, it is often best to switch to an herbal formula specific to that, such as Yin Qiao, Gan Mao Ling, or Echinacea. More information about herbs to keep yourself healthy during flu season can be found here.

As we mentioned, Immune Review and the Chinese herbal supplements are now available at the Birch Center, but Immune Renew, Echinacea, Emergen-C (the vitamin C supplement we love) and other supplements can also be found on www.iherb.com, and coupon code MEL526 gets you $5 off your first order.

Thanks so much for all your questions, please keep them coming!

We hope you are enjoying the information we provide on our blog and newsletters. If you have other questions, especially specific questions about your own condition or health, please contact us online or by calling (412) 381-0116.

Thanks again,
Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swine Flu Part 4: Building Immunity With Fermented Vegetables

Here is the final part in our 4-part series on Swine (and other) flu and Chinese Medicine.

In Part 1, we discussed flu prevention.
Part 2, we discussed what to do to recover from the flu quickly.
Part 3 was Chinese Herbal Medicine and Remedies
And now we have Part 4: Building Immunity with Fermented Vegetables.

Our body's immunity is enhanced by having the proper intestinal flora. Often, if we have taken antibiotics or have otherwise compromised our bowel health (balance), yeast has overgrown and we suffer symptoms such as poor immunity.

We have many dietary tools at our disposal to help remedy the problem:

  • drastically reduce our sugar intake; sugar causes yeast to flourish and impedes our immunity more,
  • take probiotics to restore the “good bacteria” in our intestine,
  • eat cultured or fermented products, which are filled with live cultures which are beneficial to our intestinal flora and our health.

Some products which contain live cultures include

  • unpasteurized miso (and when you make miso soup, do not boil the miso or the live cultures will be killed, see part 2 for a miso soup recipe)
  • raw sauerkraut (often called cultured vegetables)
  • raw pickles
  • raw kim chi
  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • kombu
  • rejuvelac (a fermented beverage made by soaking sprouted wheatberries in water overnight.)

These live foods restore balance to our bodies and greatly enhance our immunity.

Many of these foods are eaten in the East, and are a staple in Macrobiotic cooking – a healing style of diet which has its roots in Japan. Kim chi is a hugely popular spicy Korean style of fermented vegetable, and pickles are very common in the East and West, though many of the ones you buy in the store are made with cooked cucumbers and then pasteurized, so there is actually no live culture in them.

Real pickles
are simple to make. I prefer using the pickling cucumbers and cutting them into fourths lengthwise.



I put them in a canning jar and fill the jar with filtered water. I also add two peeled and crushed garlic cloves and about a Tbsp of dill seeds. I've also read that adding a grape leaf (if you have one on hand, which we do have growing in our garden) will keep the pickles crispier. Finally, I add a couple Tablespoons of sea salt, and check it for taste.



I usually cover with the regular canning top, but the next day I will open the jar and taste one of the cucumbers to test for saltiness: usually I add more salt at this point. I taste them every day and in only a day or two more you have delicious live dill pickles, better than you will find at any store!

Coming up I will share a step by step pictorial of how to make cultured vegetables and kim chi: equally as simple, healthy and delicious as the pickles were to make. I'll also post a book review of my favorite book on the subject: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, which we now carry at the Birch Center, along with canning jars (and sometimes we even have extra SCOBYs for making kombucha!)

Thank you for tuning in to our series on Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Swine Flu. I hope you feel more empowered to take control of your health this season, and know the healthier you are the less you have to fear about what goes around.

If there is any topic you'd like to see us cover on the blog, please comment below or send us and email to BirchCenter@gmail.com. Also, if you'd like to make an appointment for a health consultation or an acupuncture treatment, please call us at (412) 381-0116. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,
Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. We'd love to stay in touch. Thank you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Part 3

Part 3: Herbs and Supplements to Keep you Healthy and Strong During Flu Season

Welcome to Part 3 of our 4-part series on Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Part 1: we covered Prevention
Part 2: we covered what to do if you find yourself with the flu

Today we will discuss herbal ways to keep yourself healthy and strong during flu season.

One thing we want to stress: receiving acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal supplements for whatever symptoms you have, will only bring you more in balance, and make your immunity stronger.

You may find yourself giving an herbal supplement not mentioned here: that is ok. Chinese medicine is specific and unique to each individual. The herbs mentioned here are general recommendations, if you want to find out the best supplements or herbal medicines for you, please give us a call at (412) 381-0116 to set up and appointment. We would love to see you and take the time to personalize a program for you.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the actions the herbs have on your body is very important. The herbs we mention to strengthen immunity should not be taken if you already have a cold or the flu. Instead, it is important to switch to herbs which will expel the exterior, which means push the invading pathogens out. We will mention herbs for both situations below.

If you are in generally good health and what to stay that way, one supplement we have available at the Birch Center is called Immune Renew. This is a combination of the Chinese herb astragalus, reishi and other medicinal mushrooms. This combination is excellent for the immune system, and is often recommended to people with lowered immunity in general, for example people going through chemotherapy, or have immune deficiency syndromes.

Chinese herbal formulas which are good to tonify qi include:

  • Immune Renew: discussed above

  • Four Gentlemen, which is a basic formula to boost the qi

  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, boosts the body qi but also has a "lifting" action, if there are sinking symptoms such as bleeding and prolapses

  • Gui Pi Wan - boosts the qi and blood, when there are also signs of blood deficiency, which may show up as anxiety, irritability and insomnia

These all help boost general qi and affect the immune system, but in slightly different ways. Again, there are other formulas which may be more beneficial to you based on your individual symptoms. The one that matches you best is the best one for you to take to make you stronger and boost your own immunity. If you would like to consult with us, we'd be happy to see you. Just call (412) 381-0116 to set up an appointment.

If you find yourself coming down with something, feeling a bit run down but no general symptoms, you can take Echinacea and vitamin C. We love the brand Emergen-C, which has 1000 mg of vitamin C, plus B vitamins, magnesium and a few other things, and mixes into water for a delicious beverage. These products can be found at health food stores, or can be ordered online through www.iherb.com. Use coupon code MEL526 for $5 off your first order with iherb. We order from iherb regularly, their prices are awesome!

Another option is the Chinese herbal formula Yin Qiao Wan. This is especially good to take if you notice signs like sore throat, headache, thirst, or yellow tongue coating.

If you find yourself with a full blown bad cold or flu, Gan Mao Ling, is a wonderful Chinese remedy.

We do carry both Yin Qiao and Gan Mao Ling at the Birch Center.

Nutritionally, we mentioned miso soup yesterday, with scallions, garlic and ginger, all of which have the action of pushing the "invaders" out of your body.

The miso has the added benefit of being a live fermented food: tomorrow we will talk about how beneficial fermented (or cultured) foods like cultured veggies, sauerkraut, natural pickles, yogurts, etc are for your immunity. We'll talk to you then!

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for Acupuncture or to discuss a program of herbal medicines or supplements, or come by to pick up any of the herbs we mentioned, please call us at (412) 381-0116 or send us an email to BirchCenter@gmail.com.

Thanks!

Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs
Birch Center for Health
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 381-0116

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 2: Recovery

Welcome to Part 2 of our 4-part series on Swine Flu. Yesterday we discussed ways to prevent the flu and keep our immune system strong and healthy. Today, we are going to discuss what to do if you happen to find yourself with the flu.

Symptoms of flu include sore throat, fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, and digestive upset. In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, these are symptoms of an "external pathogen invading the body." The symptoms you feel are signs of your body fighting to expel it.

Steps you can take to help yourself get better, faster include:.


  • Rest, but allow yourself fresh air, consider opening windows to air out a room

  • Miso soup with ginger, garlic, onions/scallions (recipe below)

  • Acupuncture: to help the body release the external invasion.

    There are excellent points such as TW 5 (on the forearm) and LI 4 (on the hand) which can help the body expel the pathogen. We also typically include points such as Sp 6 and St 36 (both on the legs), which strengthen the immune system and settle digestion. At the Birch Center we also include local points and manual treatments such as moxabustion (heating of an herb on or above the skin or on acupuncture needles), cupping, gwa sha and massage to help your body expel the pathogen, symptoms diminish and energy increase.

    To schedule an acupuncture appointment, or come in for a free 20-minute consultation (with no obligation) please call (412)381-0116, or email BirchCenter@gmail.com.


  • Chinese Herbal Formulas such as Yin Qiao and Gan Mao Ling (both available at the Birch Center).

    Yin Qiao is often taken at first signs of the flu, especially when a sore throat is present, and Gan Mao can be taken if the flu has settled in, causing cough, stuffiness, and eye symptoms. We can help you choose depending on symptoms and how long you've had the flu.


Recipe for Miso Soup

Soup is always comforting when we are sick. Miso soup is beneficial on many levels, including the addition of unpasteurized miso (can be picked up at Health Food Stores), which contain live cultures full of beneficial bacteria which help strengthen our body's immune systems. It's important not to boil the miso, as this will kill the bacteria.

In addition to the miso:


  • sea vegetables such as wakame (purchased at Asian food stores or natural food stores) are also extremely strengthening to the system
  • onions, garlic and ginger all help expel external pathogens

Directions:

Heat 4 cups of water in a pot to just above body temperature: from 105 to 115 degrees. It should feel hot to you, but you should not burn your finger when testing the water.

To this heated water, add:

  • 3 Tbsp chopped scallions
  • 1 clove crushed or chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp dried wakame seaweed (if not already in small pieces, cut the dried seaweed into tiny pieces with a scissors before adding it to the water. It will expand greatly and soften once it's in the water)

In a bowl, take a heaping Tbsp of miso and mix with some of the warmed water until it's a thin paste, then add it into the pot of soup. Taste and season with dried ginger and sea salt, if necessary.

Enjoy.

Tune in tomorrow when we discuss in more detail the herbal remedies and supplements that can help you prevent and recover from colds and the flu.

If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, please call The Birch Center at (412) 381-0116, or email BirchCenter@gmail.com.

Thank you!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Swine Flu (H1N1) and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Part 1: Prevention

There is a lot of fear of Swine flu (H1N1) this season, I thought I'd take a moment to give our take on Swine Flu, flu in general, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

This post got very long, so we decided to do it as a series this week, and break it into parts.

Today will be:

Part 1: Prevention: Keeping the body's immunity strong

The rest of the week you will see:

Part 2: Recovery and Swine Flu: What to do if You Get the Flu
Part 3: Chinese Herbal Medicine and Swine Flu: A Review of Some of the Best Herbal Formulas and Supplements to Keep you Healthy and Strong
Part 4: Fermented Vegetables: The Way to Health

We hope you enjoy this series. If there is anything specific you'd like to see addressed, either about Swine Flu or any other condition, please comment below or send an email to BirchCenter@gmail.com.


Part 1: Prevention


Much of the hype and fear around this flu has thankfully settled down, as it turns out this flu does not seem to be any more deadly than any other flu. If you are in good health, your chances of coming down with the flu are decreased, and your rate of recovery is faster.

Please do not feel the need to rush out and get the vaccine. This vaccine contains mercury in the form of thimerisol (preservative), and has not been widely tested. For more information with a cautionary view of vaccines, please check out 9 Reasons not to Give Your Child Get the H1N1 Vaccine by Dr. Mercola, and at the end of this post is an interview with an MD (on Fox news) cautioning against this vaccine.

In Chinese Medicine, flu and colds are considered an invasion of the body of external pathogens, usually cold or heat. Cold often turns to heat in the body, and we have signs of sore throat, fatigue, achiness, cough, and stuffiness.

When our body's Qi (Energy) - especially Wei Qi (Immune Energy) is strong, we are able to fight off these invasions. The energy pathways responsible for keeping the Qi strong are the Digestive energy and Lung Energy (which controls the Wei Qi.)

To keep our Qi strong and prevent the flu and common cold:

  • Eat a Healthy Diet, full of fresh raw fruits and vegetables

  • Cut out sugar, especially white and brown sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. These lower our immunity

  • Wash your hands frequently with regular soap and water (here is why we do not recommend anti-bacterial soap)

  • Get outside in the fresh air. Take walks and expose yourself to sunshine (Vitamin D).

  • Acupuncture - Acupuncture is fantastic to strengthen the entire body, balance energy, and strengthen the Qi and Wei Qi. Even if someone does not have other symptoms, they can still use acupuncture to help boost their immunity. Also, when someone is coming in for other symptoms, the balancing of the body done during acupuncture will impart an increase in immunity, even if that is not what we are working on specifically during the treatment.

    To schedule an acupuncture appointment, or come in for a free 20-minute consultation (with no obligation) please call (412)381-0116, or email BirchCenter@gmail.com.

  • Herbal Medicine and Supplements to keep immune system strong. We carry quite a few Chinese herb formulas at the Birch Center to strengthen immunity and keep one strong, including:

    • Immune Renew, which contains the Chinese herb astragalus and medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi and Maitaki

    • Four Gentleman - a classic herb formula to keep the Qi strong

    • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a combination of ginseng and astragalus, used in specific cases to strengthen the body's Qi


Additional Ways Keep Digestion Strong, which will in turn keep the whole body's Qi, including Immunity, strong:

  • Fresh Raw Foods, which are full of natural enzymes

  • If trouble digesting foods, can take enzymes with food

  • Bao He Wan is an excellent Chinese herbal formula to help with digestion, especially if there is a feeling of fullness, bloating, gas and slow digestion after eating (we also carry this at the Birch Center.)

  • Fermented Vegetables

  • Probiotics: supplements, yogurts, kefir, fermented/cultured veggies, miso

  • Acupuncture to Strenghten Digestion: Control Points such as Spleen 6 and Stomach 36 keep the digestion strong and flowing


Please check back on Thursday for Part 2: Recovery: What to do if you find yourself sick with the flu this season.

Here is the video of an MD explaining why he would NOT give his own children the H1N1 vaccine:



If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, we would love to hear from you. Please give us a call at (412) 381-0116 or email BirchCenter@gmail.com.

To purchase any of the formulas mentioned, please call our office at (412) 381-0116. You may stop by Monday through Thursday, but please let us know first, that way we can make sure someone is there to help you.

Thanks so much!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski
Acupuncturists
Birch Center for Health

(412) 381-0116

Friday, October 2, 2009

Raw Food Potluck and Wild Edible Walk Sunday

If you are interested in raw foods and wild edible plants, please join us in Schenely park this Sunday, October 4 at noon (Steeler game is not until 8:20 pm this Sunday, so you won't miss a thing!)


Black Walnuts - still in their green hulls - which we will likely see on Sunday


This event is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Raw Food Meetup Group, so if you'd like to attend (it's a free event), please join the meetup group (there is no charge to join) and RSVP on the meetup invitation page. This way you will be contacted if there are any last minute changes (weather!), and given the full information about the whereabouts and who to contact with questions. We hope to see you there!!!

If you are new to raw foods: this is a potluck, so please bring a dish containing only raw (uncooked) fruits and veggies...a simple fruit salad is always welcome (no canned fruit, though, only fresh.) If you are feeling adventurous, check out some of the many raw recipes on sites like www.goneraw.com or the wonderful recipe page of the All Raw Directory. If you are really inspired, you may want to check out some of the raw "cook" books we recommend in the raw food section of our bookstore.

Here is a simple recipe I am preparing tonight:

Garden Fresh Tomato Salad


5 Garden Tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed (or finely chopped)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or you can use fresh thyme or oregano)

Mix all ingredients together well and serve...delicious!

See you soon!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Autumn: The Metal Element

Autumn is here! In Chinese Medicine, the fall corresponds to the Metal Element (of the Five Element Cycle). The metal is the element of the Lungs and Large Intestine (paired organs.) The emotion is grief and letting go, the color is white.

It is the time of year to harvest what we have sown (in the garden and life), clean out the garden beds, tidy up. It is a wonderful time of year to let go of things: that which is cluttering our space (I was just in the garden, pulling lots of overgrown weeds, making space for some paw paw seeds and kale...can you tell?)



Speaking of Paw Paws (pictured above), fall is the time of year for some wonderful wild edible plants! Take a look over at Food Under Foot, where I have posts about two of my favorites: paw paws and black walnuts.

Back to the metal element, the change of seasons is a great time of year to come in for an acupuncture tune up. Changing seasons often bring to the front any small imbalances we may have going on...this time of year we may notice (all which may be related to the metal element):

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • acne
  • sinus issues
  • constipation
  • sadness or depression

as well as other imbalances coming to the forefront:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • low energy
  • headaches, etc.

Sometimes just coming in four or five times a year (at the change of seasons) is all an otherwise healthy person needs to keep themselves on track and functioning at their best.

If you'd like to come in for a treatment give us a call at (412) 381-0116. We're back in Pittsburgh and regular office hours have resumed: Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 9 pm, by appointment.

If you are wondering about acupuncture and what it can do for you, please take advantage of our 20 minute, free with no obligation consultation with acupuncturist David Sokulski of the Birch Center for Health. He will be happy to sit down with you and discuss your questions and condition, and offer his thoughts about acupuncture and other health options for you. Just call us at (412) 381-0116 to set up an appointment.

And if you are in the Monroeville area, you can meet David on Friday evening, September 25, from 4 pm to 8 pm, at a FREE Wellness Fair, hosted by Palms Therapeutic Massage, LLC. The Fair will be held in the Parkway Office Complex (upper level – right above Palms Therapeutic Massage, LLC.) The address is: 4280 Old William Penn Highway, Monroeville, PA 15146.

Thanks so much! We hope to see you soon!

Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health
(412) 381-0116

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Acupuncture Effectively Treats Insomnia

Acupuncture treats the person, not the disease, therefore there is really no limit to what acupuncture can treat. Acupuncture helps balance the body's energy, strengthening weak areas and moving energy where it's stuck.

That being said, there is a large and growing list of conditions which acupuncture has been proven to help, as published by the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health.

In this series of articles, we'll be addressing these conditions and more, explaining how acupuncture and Chinese medicine, including massage, herbs and lifestyle adjustments, can bring balance and relief safely and effectively.

If you'd like us to address a specific condition, you are welcome to comment below or email BirchCenter@gmail.com.. You are also welcome to take advantage of our 20 minute free health consultation, with no obligation, with Birch Center Acupuncturist David Sokulski. Call today to schedule that appointment: (412) 381-0116.

Acupuncture and Insomnia


Insomnia is a common condition we see at The Birch Center. Sometimes people come in with insomnia as the main complaint, other times it is revealed that they have insomnia (or difficulty falling or staying asleep) during the in-depth questioning we do as part of the intake.

The burning of the herb mugwort on the heel of a person who has difficulty falling asleep.

Insomnia can have many causes; figuring out the cause is an important part of diagnosis and treatment. For instance, pain can cause insomnia because the person is not able to get into a comfortable position for sleeping and the pain wakes them up. In that case we treat the pain (pain management with acupuncture often has excellent results.)

Eating late at night is also a common cause of insomnia. When people stop eating after 7 pm, sleep often comes much more easily and is more peaceful.

Other causes we see are yin deficiency, and imbalance of yin and yang, spleen deficiency and stagnant liver qi.

At the Birch Center for Health, we take a detailed history which includes questioning, pulse and tongue diagnosis, which gives us a more complete picture of that person as a whole. So even if it is determined that two different clients have insomnia as a result of over-thinking/spleen deficiency, their treatments may still be different, depending on each person's constitution (strength and type of overall body and health), and other factors.

This is what makes acupuncture so individualized and effective: there is no one prescription for a condition. Each time you come in, you are re-evaluated, and each treatment is selected specifically for you. This is also why it is so common to see all sorts of symptoms clear up - not just the one someone has come in to treat. We are never just working on a symptom alone; in every treatment, the whole person is being addressed and treated.

We hope you enjoy this series! If there are other conditions you'd like to see addressed, please to comment or email us BirchCenter@gmail.com.
If you'd like to come in, please call (412) 381-0116 to schedule an appointment. If you just want to ask us questions about your condition, you can call or schedule a 20 minute free consultation, which is a more in depth personalized way to really address your issues.

Thanks so much!

Melissa and David Sokulski
Licensed Acupuncturists
The Birch Center for Health

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September Travel and Birch Center Hours

Lots of exciting things going on this September! We just returned from Raw Spirit Festival outside Washington DC. We were happy to hear Dr. Brian Clement of Hippocrates Health Institute, and Paul Nison (among others) speak, have a tasty raw food demo from chef Kepra Anu, hear amazing music like the kirtan from Kamaniya and Keshavacharya Das and screen Jenna Norwood's awesome new movie Supercharge Me.


Birch Center Acupuncturist David Sokulski hooping it up at Raw Spirit Festival


Wild Edibles came up A LOT during the festival: how intensely nutritious and amazing for you they are, and how most people know so very little about them, and what we can eat. For LOTS more information on this, visit our new website, devoted entirely to Wild Edible Plants: Food Under Foot. You'll be in the dark no more!

Next we are heading to Maine to attend my cousin Elijah's wedding. Elijah is an amazing musician...you can hear his music on his myspace page.

The Birch Center is open and we are seeing clients the following days:


  • Tuesday, Sept 1
  • Wednesday, Sept 2
  • Thursday, Sept 3
  • Wednesday, Sept 9
  • Thursday, Sept 10
  • Friday, Sept 11

We will then be closed for a week, but will return to our regular hours on Monday, September 21.

Please do call us if you'd like to talk or schedule an appointment (412) 381-0116. We will be checking messages and will return your call. Computer time, however, will be sporadic if at all, so it may take us a bit to return an email, but we will get back to you!

Thanks so much!

~ Melissa and David

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

www.BirchCenter.com

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Walking with the Western PA Mushroom Club

Mushrooms!

Today Dave, Ella and I did something new: we went for a hike with the Western PA Mushroom Club!

Our two day camping trip to Raccoon Creek State Park prompted our interest in mushrooms. While there to get a glimpse of the Perseid Meteor Shower away from the city lights, we noticed an abundance of mushrooms! We stopped in to the nature center at the Wildflower Reserve, and the woman brought us out some great books on mushrooms that we poured over.

One thing we learned was that although mushrooms can be extremely dangerous and deadly, not to be afraid to dig them up and take a look at them. (I have always been too afraid to even touch anything!)

So we took pictures, took notes, went back to the books and found a huge amount of interesting information! By observation, I noticed some mushrooms had “gills” and others “pores.” When we returned to town we looked up the Mushroom Club, found that they walk just about every Saturday morning from spring through November, and so we set out with them today.

Mushroom Hatching from an "egg".
Many Amanitas are deadly poisonous, and some people just avoided them.

Old Man of The Woods, edible, turns black when picking (we did not eat yet)

Chanterelle Harvest (edible!)

Identifying the mushrooms after the walk

The exciting thing was the harvest of tasty chanterelles! Look for our entry on them coming soon on Food Under Foot!

A few good books we found for identifying mushrooms are
North American Mushrooms: A Field Guide to Edible and Inedible Fungi , and National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms.

Visit our store for all our book recommendations!

Please check out Food Under Foot for future entries on how we prepared the chanterelles, Old Man of the Woods, and other mushroom adventures.

Mushrooms are powerful medicine so check back here for entries on there healing qualities.

Love,

Melissa and Dave

Birch Center for Health

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

www.BirchCenter.com
Have fun, stay safe!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Article About Us in City Paper!

There's a great article about us in this week's City Paper, if you haven't picked one up yet you can read it here.

It's mainly about our new website, Food Under Foot, and the bounty of Wild Edible Plants (especially these warm summer days.)

Check it out
if you get a chance.

Thanks!

~ Melissa and Dave Sokulski

Birch Center for Health

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

www.BirchCenter.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fundraiser for Daniel Patch: Screening of God Grew Tired of Us





God Grew Tired of Us, The Movie
Film Screening and Fundraiser for Daniel Patch


We noticed a lot of interest in a flyer that was posted in our office, about a fundraiser that is coming up Saturday, July 11. It is a screening of the movie God Grew Tired Of Us, and Daniel Patch - one of the film's subjects and someone many people know from Whole Foods, where he works in the produce department - will be in attendance to talk about his experience. The hope for the fundraiser is to help Daniel bring his family safely to American from the Sudan, and if you want to attend the screening or help in any way, the information is below.




July 11, 2009 7 PM

2534 Mount Royal Road
Squirrel Hill, 15217

RSVP: Cayce Mell at (724) 689-5790


Please join us for a screening of the powerful film: God Grew Tired Of Us.

Daniel Patch (one of the film's subjects, some may know him from Whole Foods where he works in the produce department) will be in attendance to talk about his experiences.

Our hope is to raise funds to help Daniel reunite with is family members who survived the war in Sudan, and to assist Daniel in bringing his family to safety here in America.

RSVP: Cayce Mell, (724) 689-5790
* If you can't make the screening but would like to help Daniel by offering a donation, please call Cayce at the number above. 100% of the proceeds go directly to helping Daniel and his family. Thank you.*

Monday, July 6, 2009

Enjoy the Sun (And Leave Harmful Sunscreens Behind)





David Sokulski
Enjoy the Sun (and Leave Harmful Sunscreens Behind)
by David Sokulski, L.Ac.

The sun has many health benefits, and most sunscreens contain chemicals that are extremely damaging to your health.

The benefits of sunlight are many, including:

  • Supplies the body with vitamin D, which promotes the absorption of Calcium and transfers Calcium across cell membranes, thus strengthening the bones
  • Lowers blood cholesterol
  • Prevents infections from bacteria, mold, and viruses
  • Increases white blood cell count and gamma globulin count, thus enhancing the immune system
  • Strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system.
Sunlight aids in preventing:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancers of the bladder, breast, cervix, ovaries, colon, prostate and stomach.
However, you don't want to get too much sun, and avoid getting burned. Be careful to do this naturally, though, and avoid using commercial sunscreens, which are loaded with harmful chemicals that are not approved by the FDA (but don't have to be, since they are applied to the skin.)

One such chemical is called oxybenzone, which has been linked in studies to allergies, hormone disruption, cell damage, and low birth weight in girls whose moms were exposed during pregnancy. Oxybenzone is actually a penetration enhancer, which means it aids in helping get itself and other chemicals into your body through your skin.

The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database web site lists 1270 sunscreens for use by adults, children and even babies which contain oxybenzone. Among the worst on the list are sunscreens specifically made for babies, so please check this list out.

(This article has full details about oxybenzone and where to go for a list of safe sunscreens.)

Sunscreens, even organic sunscreens, may also contain titanium oxide, which can cause heavy metal poisoning and cell damage, especially in young children.

Things you can do to stay protected from sunburns but enjoy the sun's amazing rays and health benefits are:

  • Do not eat deep fried foods and fast foods. Unhealthy fats in our system enhance likelihood of sunburn.
  • Eat healthy oils, like coconut oil and omega three oils such as flax oil.
  • Avoid being out in the sun during the hottest times of the day.
  • If out and you feel you are getting too much sun, cover up with a long sleeved shirt and a hat.
  • Use a pure oil on the skin, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. This keeps the skin from drying out and jojoba has a natural SPF of 15.
Be smart in the sun, but please enjoy this gift of summer (and all seasons), and learn to avoid putting toxic chemicals on your skin. It's better for you, your children, those around you, and the environment.

Here, again, is list of helpful references and links:

Also, please visit our blog for the latest links and information.

Thanks!

David Sokulski. L.Ac.
Birch Center for Health


Monday, June 29, 2009

Herbs East and West: Mulberries

I've been having an interesting online conversation with someone who read my article about mulberries in Natural News, and felt that mulberries don't cure tinnitus, since he has tinnitus and he's eaten huge amount of mulberries...sometimes as much as a pound a day.



So I've been thinking about this, and it brings up the difference between the way Chinese herbs and Western herbs are used.

In the West, we think of a specific herb to treat a specific condition. For example: Headache? Try skullcap. Migraines? Give feverfew a whirl. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Why is this?

I believe the answer lies in the East. The way Eastern herbs are used is not symptom-specific. Instead, the root cause of whatever is going on is what the herbs are given for.

So, if someone does have tinnitus, we don't just say: Try eating some mulberries. Instead, we ask more questions about the onset, the pitch of the ringing (high or low.) Is it constant or does it come and go? We also ask about other things: how is the person's digestion? Emotions? Other symptoms? And we look at the tongue and take the pulse, all to truly get an idea of what is going on with the person.

Mulberries don't treat tinnitus, per se. Mulberries help tonify yin and build blood. Often tinnitus is caused by Yin and Blood deficiency, and if so, perhaps eating mulberries will help. However, sometimes tinnitus is caused by Liver congestion, sometimes a trauma to the ear, and there are other causes as well.

In Chinese Medicine, we try our best to get to the root cause of the person's total imbalance, and then we prescribe herbs (usually in formulas, less often singly, which is also a difference between Chinese and Western herbal medicine.)

I've studied herbal medicine in both traditions, and this is one of my favorite topics to think about and discuss.

There is also much more to learn. Please feel free to keep sending in (or writing in the comments) your thoughts, ideas and questions about this.

Thanks so much!

~ Melissa

Birch Center for Health

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

www.BirchCenter.com

Friday, June 19, 2009

Upcoming Events

We have a couple things coming up within the next week you may want to know about:

Saturday, June 20, 2009, 3 pm:

Wild Edible Walk
Hunker, PA
Maggie's Organics Farm Festival (Festival is from 1 pm - 8 pm)
Admission to the Festival is $10 adults, $5 children
Click Here for more information, or call Maggie's Organic Farm: 724-925-9474



Thursday, June 25, 2009, 7 pm:

Acupuncture and Natural Treatments of Seasonal Allergies

East End Food Coop, 7516 Meade Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Join Acupuncturist David Sokulski of the Birch Center for Health as he discusses acupuncture and other natural treatments for seasonal allergies.

David is a PA licensed acupuncturist and owner of the Birch Center, located in Pittsburgh's historic South Side.

The talk is free and open to all, call the coop at (412) 242-3598 for more information.

We hope to see you there!

~ Melissa and Dave

Birch Center for Health

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

www.BirchCenter.com

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Acupuncture Treats Depression, Anxiety

One of the most common questions we get these days is if/how acupuncture can treat depression and anxiety.

Acupuncture is often very useful in both these conditions.

Health, in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) depends on the smooth flow of qi (energy) throughout the body. This is important for mental health as well as physical health. In fact, problems in the energy flow often show up first as difficulties in mental health, whether it is feeling stuck in a current situation, not being enthusiastic about life, to experiencing anxiety and clinical depression.

When someone comes in for an acupuncture treatment or consultation, we assess the energy flow in the entire body and see where the cause may be for any symptoms (physical, mental or emotional) they may be experiencing. Often even seemingly unrelated symptoms may have a similar root in Chinese medicine. We find where energy flow may be blocked, weak, or not flowing in the proper direction.

There are many ways to address these imbalances. Of course, acupuncture - placing small, sterile needles in specific points on the body designed to balance energy flow, is one safe effective method we use at The Birch Center.

We can also address the root of the problem with herbs. For example, if smooth flow of energy needs to be restored, we may prescribe a Chinese formula called Xiao Yao Wan. Other formulas, which calm the Heart and settle scattered qi, can often address anxiety and sleeplessness. Depending on each person's specific case, formulas can be given to strengthen digestion, or the overall yin or yang of the body.

We also may discuss lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, modifications of which can often be extremely helpful to a person's mental and physical well-being.

Finally, we can look at what is available around us. Blooming all around Pittsburgh right now is St. John's wort (pictured above), which is a traditional European herbal treatment for depression. St. John's Wort is used in Germany and other European countries much more often than the prescription medications we use in this country. St. John's wort can be taken as pill, tincture or tea, and is fun to gather yourself, once you learn to identify it.

So if you or someone you love is struggling with depression, anxiety, or other issues, please know that acupuncture can often be a great help.

You can call our office to speak with an acupuncturist directly (412) 381-0116, and can even schedule a free 20 minute consultation with David Sokulski, our head acupuncturist.

For more information about herbs and plants growing locally, please visit Food Under Foot.

Thanks so much!

In Health,

Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Ac
Birch Center for Health

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter! We have raw recipes, information about Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and overall wellness information. Thank you!

www.BirchCenter.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Podcast is Up!

The Podcast is up!

Now you can listen to our interview with Rhio on NY Talk Radio for free, at your convenience.



We know you'll enjoy this interview! It's light and humerous, and full of interesting information. Rhio is an excellent interviewer...I think we covered everything from Birch Center to Food Under Foot to Wild Edibles to Raw Pregnancy (and more)!

Please listen when you get a chance, and let us know what you think by commenting below.

Thanks so much!

~ Melissa

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wild Edibles Walk for Folks from MAFA


This past weekend I had the pleasure of leading the folks of the Middle Atlantic Folklore Association on a wild edibles walk.

Their annual meeting was close to Pittsburgh this year, and they brought me in to do a walk, talk, and food demo (wild green smoothies, of course!)

We were about 1 1/2 hours south east of Pittsburgh (in the Laurel Highlands) and our walk was around a little pond. We did see the usual suspects: plantain, dandelion, clover, garlic mustard, violet, chickweed, and burdock, but we saw some other things as well:

  • skunk cabbage (not edible, though some books say otherwise…it is used to make medicine, though)
  • cattail
  • horsetail
  • daisy
  • wild raspberries
  • wild blackberries

They were also interested in herbal aspects of the plants, so I got to talk about that, including the differences between Chinese herbal medicine and Western botanical medicine (one of my favorite topics.)

I demonstrated a wild green smoothie using bananas, mangoes, water, ice, plantain leaves and red clover flowers and leaves:



I also did some chair massage for them:



It was such a nice meeting with a wonderful group of people. Thanks so much for having me!

~ Melissa

*** To schedule a walk or chair massage for your next function or event, please view our services page for details, or call The Birch Center at (412) 381-0116. ***

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reshape Your Life/Redesign Your Destiny


by Trish Casey
of Serenity Yoga

August 7-9, 2009

Pittsburgh will host the World Renowned Yogi Amrit Desai at California University Campus.




Don't miss this opportunity to spend in-depth time with a living master of yoga!


Yogi Amrit Desai, lovingly known as Gurudev, is widely recognized throughout the world as one of the leading authorities of yoga. He began teaching in the 1960's and is one of the earliest masters to bring the practice of yoga to the West. Author of several books on personal growth and transformation, Gurudev is the founder of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the largest center of its kind in North America . Thousands of teachers are certified in his methodology and teach in more than 33 countries throughout the world.

Yogi Desai's teachings are filled with insight and depth. His special gift as a teacher is to present the most profound essential truths in a joyful light-hearted manner. These teachings are great in impact yet easy to understand. His presence radiates warmth, joy, wisdom and a spiritual energy which is the outward expression of an awakening consciousness. Thousands have experienced the power of shakti embodied by Yogi Desai.

Aimed at deep personal expansion, this program includes satsang, guided Yoga Nidra meditation, intention, yoga, chanting, pure living foods instruction, art, dance, film performances, and transformational discourse with Yogi Desai.

What is Yoga Nidra?

The focus of this workshop is Yoga Nidra. The literal translation of Yoga nidra is yogic sleep. It is an ancient form of meditation that will take you to the deepest levels of relaxation while still remaining fully aware. When practicing the Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra, your brain waves drop into the alpha and theta states. It is from this unified state that visions become reality and you gain acess to the extraordinary powers of your own intuition, creativity, health, and abundance.


This workshop is designed to help you:


  • Clarify and act on your purpose in life
  • Promote healing in the body and boost your immune system
  • Release blockages that hold you back from living life joyously and fully
  • Let go of destructive habits and beliefs with ease rather than with struggle
  • Revitalize your personal and professional relationships

Program Cost:

The cost of the program is minimal and has been kept so to allow Gurudev's teachings to be accessable. The program is only $259.00 which includes:

  • workshop sessions with Yogi Desai
  • 2-nights/3-days lodging at California University Campus
  • six meals
  • yoga classes
  • dance instruction
  • art instruction
  • evening drumming and chanting sessions
  • film performances
  • pure living foods demonstration
  • access to fitness facilities

Continuing Education Credits (CECs) are available for Mental Health Professionals, Yoga Instructors, and Body Workers.

Please note: free space is available for participants who wish to advertise, sell products, or offer services. If you are interested in table space, please contact Trish Casey at 412-580-3287 or trishcasey@verizon.net to reserve an area.

For registration: Please contact Trish Casey: (412) 580-3287, or trishcasey@verizon.net

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wild Foods and Wild Times at the Birch Center


We had an exciting weekend at the Birch Center for Health!

On Saturday morning, we had our Wild Edibles Workshop, which was a blast! We took a walk in Frick Park and saw:

  • garlic mustard
  • burdock
  • chickweed
  • cleavers
  • motherwort
  • mugwort
  • plantain
  • wild raspberries (not yet ripe)
  • prickly lettuce
  • dandelion

Then we returned to our beautiful Squirrel Hill location and we all made garlic mustard vinegar:



We sampled delicious food made with wild edibles, including Red Clover Apple Cookies, Plantain Crisps and Dandelion Wine. Melissa demonstrated Wild Green Smoothie, Mint and Lamb's Quarters Pesto, and Burdock-Apple-Ginger juice. (Recipes are available in our free eBooks, which you get when you sign up at Food Under Foot.)



It was a great time with great people! Thanks to all who attended.

Then, on Sunday morning, we were interviewed by Rhio, of NY Talk Radio!



Our interview - about both The Birch Center and our new Wild Edibles endeavor: Food Under Foot - will be on Hooked On Raw this week, and available for podcast ever after. We'll put in podcast link as soon as it goes up.

Our monthly newsletter will be out soon - full of very exciting upcoming events and in depth articles - if you're not on our email list, please sign up.

Also, if you are interested in Wild Edible Plants and haven't received our free 5-eBook series (starting with Burdock!), please visit Food Under Foot and sign up there.

Thanks and Live Healthy!

~ Melissa