Blog by Melissa and David Sokulski, L.Acs.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Is Dandelion Wine Medicinal?

Historically, turning medicinal herbs into tasty wines was a common way to preserve the medicinal qualities of the herb year round. Making tinctures (soaking an herb in an alcohol such as vodka to extract the medicinal qualities) is much more common today, and a convenient way to market and sell herbal medicines. Herbal wines are similar, except that instead of simply soaking the herbs in alcohol, you make the alcohol yourself, using the herb (along with water, sugar and yeast.)



This year in May we made dandelion wine. We gathered a gallon of dandelion flowers,



Infused them into a strong tea, added sugar and boiled the tea with oranges, lemons, raisins and cloves.



We added yeast and fermented for weeks, bottled and left them to ferment for weeks more, until finally corking. The whole process and recipe can be found here.

We left the wine to sit until solstice, then we tried it. It is delicious: sweet, spicy with a kick. To keep the wine medicinal, the trick is not to drink the whole bottle at once! A common dose which cleanses the liver is a tablespoon to a small wineglass.

Some Europeans believed fairies were involved in the process of wine making: turning bitter medicine like dandelions into sweet wine. There is something magical about it! Herbal wines can be made from all sorts of herbs: roots and bark are decocted (boiled) into strong teas while flowers and leaves are usually infused (steeped in boiled water.)

It's a nice way to remember the freshness of spring during the darkest time of year.

Happy holidays and happy new year!!

In our sister blog Food Under Foot, you can read:



In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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, December 8, 2011

Read Our Past Newsletters

I'm behind on the newsletter again!

In the meantime, here are some links to some of our recent ones in case you missed them.

November, 2011

Summer, 2011

Spring, 2011

If you are not on our newsletter email list, please sign up! You'll receive our free gift: 10 Ways to Improve Your Health, along with great articles, recipes and special deals.

Thanks so much!

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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, December 7, 2011

Play it Forward Pittsburgh, Giving this Holiday

Many of you may have noticed that I renamed this blog to "Eat Play Live."

Today I want to focus on the "Play" section...because it's the holidays!

Did you groan and roll your eyes when you read that, or did you get all excited, clapping your hands together in glee? Because if you didn't do the latter, maybe it's time to rethink your idea of "holidays."

This time of year many of us celebrate: whether it's Christmas, Chanukah, the solstice, Kwanzaa, there is something to celebrate! Decoration and lights surround us. But so does the message: "buy buy buy!" and that is definitely enough to bring us down during the holidays. The expectations. The buying of things.

Many of us feel like we have enough. The toy bin is overflowing...we don't need more toys (and yet there is a little birdie in your ear chirping incessantly about American Girl Dolls...or wait, that's my ear.)

One wonderful thing to do this time of year is to share our abundance with others less fortunate. Giving, truly sharing from the heart is enough to put a smile on almost anyone's face.

Recently I learned about what is now my new favorite best place to donate gently used toys: Play it Forward Pittsburgh. Started by local women this is an amazing idea which has grown with overwhelming support. The idea is to drop off your gently used toys (drop off locations all around town and beyond, to the North, East, South and West, too...but best of all for us there is a location right on East Carson Street, one block from The Birch Center, at Mullen's on Carson. And if you don't want to make the trip, bring your toys to the Birch Center when you have your appointment and we will drop them off for you at Mullen's at the end of the day.)

Here's the info, from a note on their facebook page:

Play it Forward will take your used toys and offer them to families in need. Simply drop off your toys to a local mom (see drop off helpers Note) before Thursday, December 15.

Then, on Saturday, December 17th from 9am - 3pm, families in need of toys for their children can come and "shop for free" at the Propel Braddock Hills High School Cafeteria at 1500 Yost Blvd. Each family is invited to take up to 5 toys per child for FREE. We anticipate collecting toys for all ages, infants to teens.

But wait, there is something in it for those who donate! From 3pm - 5 pm that same Saturday, we would like to invite families that have donated to come and shop for toys for their children for a small donation. All proceeds will be given to a local family charity.



Isn't that great? They've even added a second location: Freedom Fellowship Church in Carnegie. If you are on facebook you can check them out and find your closest drop-off, but remember, if you get your toys to us we will get them to Mullens Bar for you.

That's enough to put a smile on my face, knowing how many kids will have smiles on their faces this holiday season due to the incredible generosity of the people in Pittsburgh!

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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, November 29, 2011

Eat More Greens - Make Delicious Dressings



One of the keys to good health is eating lots of greens. Greens like romaine (and other) lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, collards and mustard greens are rich in vitamins like C and A and minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium. They are full of vitamins, minerals, enymes, fiber and even protein, but are very low in calories.

A key to eating lots of greens is in making yummy healthy salad dressings. I bring my own dressing when I go out; dressings at restaurants are often full of strange gums and unhealthy things like corn syrup. Next time you go to a "healthy" sandwich shop ask to see their ingredient binder: I think you'll be surprised at how many things there (all the dressings for sure) have high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient! It's the same with dressings everywhere...don't be fooled into thinking a restaurant's "honey mustard" dressing is really made with honey! It may have a drop of honey in there, but really it's sugar and corn syrup just like everything else.

Here are recipes for two of my favorite easy and super delicious salad dressings that I always have on hand (and if I don't, they just take a few minutes to make) and I take with me to restaurants.

Both dressings are gluten-free and dairy-free. The honey can be replaced by agave nectar for vegan versions.

Real Honey Mustard Dressing

This only makes enough for a couple servings. It's so easy to make I just make it every couple times I have salad...the extra I store in the fridge.

  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard (brown mustard is better as it usually contains no added sugar, make sure you check the ingredients of the mustards you keep in your fridge and consider a natural sugar free brand.)
  • Juice from one Lemon, about 2 Tbsp (you can use vinegar, but I love the light refreshing taste the dressing has when I squeeze a lemon myself)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil (can be eliminated for a fat-free dressing, just add some water instead)
  • 1/2 tsp Wheat-free tamari (or sea salt)
  • Optional spices: pepper, dried thyme, dried basil
Whisk all ingredients together. Spoon over salad.


Dairy-free Creamy Cashew Green Goddess Dressing

I made this for a gathering of women and called it a Goddess dressing, in honor of the gathering. It was a big hit.

I use raw unsalted cashews because they are a very soft nut, which blends easily into a creamy consistency. I use a vitamix, but if you don't have a high speed blender simply soak the nuts in water for at least 30 minutes first, which will soften them even more. They will then blend smoothly in any blender.

  • 3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews (soaking them first will soften them, see above)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon (you can substitute apple cider vinegar)
  • handful fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp wheat-free tamari (or sea salt)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard (brown is best, usually has no added sugar)
  • water to cover

Blend well (using a blender.) Taste, adjust seasonings...add honey if it needs to be sweeter, salt/tamari if salt is necessary.

This dressing is so good you will literally be making salads just so you can have more. And isn't eating more greens what this is all about? Win, win!

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Healthy Holidays



The holidays are upon us! And while many of us are trying to eat healthier...often cutting out sugar, wheat, dairy, meat, even cooked food (!) for health purposes, sometimes our friends and family, who we love to gather with at this time of year, are not.

While it can be difficult to be around for many reasons: we may crave our old foods, or we may have given up something that we feel *everyone* should give up, I find it best to take a non-confrontation and non-judgmental attitude over the holidays, both with ourselves and our friends and family around us.

Over the years I have discovered some things that help:

1. Not making a big deal about different ways I eat. I find that even if I don't make a big deal about it, other people usually do. I just (try to) smile. This is not (necessarily) the time to convert others to my lifestyle!

2. Help in food preparation. It is nice to offer to make a vegetarian gravy, for instance, and vegetarian gravies can easily be made gluten-free by subbing potato starch for flour as a thickener.

3. Offer to make or just bring a dish or two that I know I can eat. Squash stuffed with rice and veggies looks beautiful, tastes delicious, and is often a hit with vegetarians and traditional eaters.

4. A big salad is often a healthy addition to a holiday feast, and not so very unusual (though sometimes lacking) so make and bring one!

The picture above is of a Raw Food Cranberry Sauce, which is delicious. It is gorgeous served in orange halves (the photo doesn't do it justice, it really is gorgeous!)

Cranberries are extremely high in vitamin C and A, and full of phytonutrients. When we do not cook them all their nutrition is preserved. To make the sauce above, I simply:

Juiced 3 oranges, saving the juice to add to the sauce and saving the orange halves to put the sauce in.

In a high speed blender (I use my vitamix), put

  • A package of fresh cranberries (washed)
  • Juice from the 3 oranges
  • 6-8 dates, pitted
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Blend and fill the orange cups.

They are topped with Candied Pecans, which is simply chopped raw pecans mixed with maple syrup (not raw) and pumpkin pie spice. You can also use walnuts or even wild black walnuts if you have those around. (Here is a video of how we crack our black walnuts.)

I bet everyone at the holiday table will enjoy these!!

Happy Holidays!

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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 11, 2011

Medicinal Mushrooms Sprouting Up in Local Parks

Ganoderma tsugae, a type of reishi

I love that mushrooms are their own kingdom - neither plant nor animal, they are uniquely themselves. Some are delicious, some supremely medicinal, some deadly poison. Interesting, beautiful, intriguing...we know comparatively little about fungi.

Above is a Ganoderma tsugae we found in June, up in Cooks Forest. This is one of the types of mushroom known as Reishi, an intensely healing mushroom prized in Asian medicine.

Medicinal mushrooms are said to benefit the immune system and many - like reishi (above), maitake (second below), shiitake, lion's mane (directly below) and turkey tail - have been proven to have anti-tumor properties.

The mushrooms below (lion's mane or bearded tooth and hen of the woods or maitake) were found recently in Frick Park, right here in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me to take a picture of them growing, but I did snap a few when I got them home (before eating them! Unlike Reishi (above) which is bitter, the mushrooms below are delicious edibles.)


lion's mane/bearded tooth or Hericium erinaceus


hen of the woods/maitake or Grifola frondosa


There is a wonderful movie about mushrooms called "Know Your Mushrooms" which we recently watched online, and captures the spirit of mushroom hunters well. You can watch it online here.

Enjoy the fall!

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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, September 27, 2011

Liver Toxins in Coltsfoot and Comfrey?

Today I'm going to answer a question which I get every now and then:

"Are comfrey and/or coltsfoot safe to use? There have been alkaloids in both which are identified as liver toxins/carcinogens and they have been taken off the shelves in this and other countries. Yet there is a long history of both plants being used medicinally. I am confused...are they safe or harmful?"

Great question!

Ok, so, comfrey (Symphytum officinale) has a thousands-year long history as one of (if not THE) most useful herb in Western botanical medicine. Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) has a similarly long history, used in both the East and the West to treat coughs.

Why are they so effective? asks modern scientific research/medicine. Let's take them apart and see! answers modern scientific research/medicine.

Instead of looking at the plants as a whole, science took it apart to find out what is the active ingredient. In both cases they isolated a specific alkaloid - pyrrolizidine - in the plants. Upon further research, when this alkaloid was fed to rats in large amounts, the rats developed liver cancer.

Now, please don't downplay the fact that comfrey and coltsfoot have constituents which can be harmful to the liver. In this day and age with the Standard American Diet (which has enveloped most the western world) of alcohol, greasy fast food, sugar, packaged food, and animal protein the last thing our livers need are more toxins to deal with. So yes, maybe it is best to avoid these herbs and reach for something else.

However, T. Colin Campbell in his book The China Study (please watch Forks Over Knives for a GREAT explanation of this...it's available as a "watch now" on netflix) discusses a study featuring another liver toxin: aflotoxin. This known liver toxin caused liver cancer in rats, yet when they fed the rats a diet of less than 5% animal protein the cancer would switch off!

So maybe there is more to getting liver cancer than eating something which may have liver toxins in it? Cancer is a relatively new disease, definitely a new epidemic, and our modern diet is a definite contributor. These plants have been eaten and used as herbs and medicine for thousands of years.

So, should you take comfrey or coltsfoot as herbal remedies? It's ultimately up to you. How much animal protein do you eat? How much of a Standard American Diet do you have?

My article Coltsfoot Cures Coughs Naturally shows how coltsfoot has been used historically in Eastern and Western medicine. But google "coltsfoot liver toxin" for the other side of the story. Similarly with comfrey. (I've included a link to the findings for toxicity for both herbs below.)

What do I do? I eat comfrey as a green. It grows in my yard and I add it to juice and smoothies. I love it. I also dry the leaves to make a tea and I make oil and salve from the leaves and root. I also use homeopathic symphytum (which is comfrey) as a bone healing remedy. I am more concerned with the pollution in the air and the water and the contaminants in our food (especially genetic engineering). But that is just me.

Also, using the herbs externally as oils and salves has always been considered safe, as has homeopathic use. Comfrey is very commonly used externally.

Check out:

Safety Issues Affecting Herbs: Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids

Coltsfoot Cure Coughs Naturally

The China Study

Forks Over Knives (movie)

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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, August 3, 2011

Testimonials - Send us Yours!

We have gotten a lot of thank you emails and notes over the years. Sometimes we post them on our website, blog, newsletter, lately on facebook. It is such a privilege to work with all of you on your healing process!

Someone recently suggested we add a "testimonial" page to our website, and we thought we may just do it!

I can go through old emails, but I would LOVE to receive an email from you if you have been helped by the Birch Center and would like to share your results with others!

Please send us an email: BirchCenter@gmail.com with your testimonial and we will add it to the site! We usually include your initials and where you are from, but if you would prefer us to use first name last initial, full name, remain anonymous, etc just let us know.

Here is a letter we received just today:

I can't fully express how much of an improvement I am feeling in my condition after your wonderful treatment. Not knowing exactly what to expect from my first acupuncture experience, I never expected to be this satisfied. On the way home, I was most notably surprised at how totally relaxed I felt, and that the sharp pain I had been having was gone from my back; It still had some soreness, but the pain had been eliminated. It seems to be feeling even better as time goes by, and today I'm very pleased with how it feels, the soreness is also much less. We are now new converts to the wonderful world of acupuncture.

~ P. M., Beaver


Thanks so much for letting us know how you are doing!!! We are blessed to work in a wonderful field with so many fantastic clients.

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Beat the Heat with Watermelon, A Chinese Herb

Though we often think of Chinese herbs as dark brown strong-tasting teas, when we look deeper we find the ancient Chinese also acknowledged and documented the tremendous healing power of fresh food. Watermelon is not only a delicious summer treat, but it is also a powerful effective medicine, which can clear a potentially serious condition known in Chinese medicine as "summerheat".

Food has long been used as medicine, a tradition strong in the East as well as the West. As temperatures rise across the United States and Europe, we look for natural healthy ways to cool our bodies without taxing the environment. Xi gua, or watermelon fruit, is not just a delicious food, but also a Chinese herb known to relieve summerheat. Similar to sun stroke summerheat is a condition with symptoms of fever, sweating, diarrhea and thirst.

Summerheat is described in Chinese medicine as a condition induced by overexposure to excessively high environmental temperatures. The symptoms described are similar to those of sun stroke and include:


* fever
* restlessness
* thirst
* sweating
* dizziness
* nausea
* poor appetite
* diarrhea
* sudden collapse


Watermelon, or xi gua, is listed in the Materia Medica as a sweet and cold herb, which not only clears summerheat, but also generates fluids. Watermelon is especially good when there is thirst and dark urine present. One cup of fresh or juiced melon is the dose given. Watermelon is so high in water content (92 percent by weight) that juicing is easy: simply blend watermelon pieces in the blender, no straining is necessary. For an especially cooling summer treat blend the watermelon with ice.

Watermelon is a good source of vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene. Watermelon and watermelon juice are cleansing and are often used to detoxify the body. It is also a good choice of food or juice to help lose weight.

In addition to clearing heat from the energy pathways in which it enters - the stomach, heart and bladder channels, watermelon is shown to have a positive effect on the liver: it expels jaundice and has been used in treating specific forms of hepatitis. Other foods which are used as herbs to clear summerheat include lotus leaf (he ye), mung bean (lu dou), and young soybean sprout (dou juan).

This summer use fresh watermelon as a way to keep yourself hydrated and cleansed and your body temperature down. Eating fresh watermelon is a safe healthy way to stay cool in summer.

In health,

David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

The Birch Center for Acupuncture
(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, July 21, 2011

Cooling Wild Purslane is also Powerfully Medicinal



(This article first appeared in Natural News. Here is a full list of all my Natural News articles. ~ Melissa Sokulski.)

Many plants which grow wild and are considered weeds are not only edible, but are also delicious, nutritious, and even medicinal. Wild purslane (Portulaca oleracea) which most consider a weed is actually a green vegetable with the highest amount of heart-healthy omega 3-fatty acids of any green. Purslane is also used extensively in Chinese Medicine as an herb which clears heat toxin.

Purslane is widespread across the United States, growing in fields, lots, lawns and gardens. It spreads along the ground, and it has fleshy leaves and a slightly sour taste. It is high in iron and has appreciable amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which are more commonly found in seeds like flax and in fish. Purslane has .01 mg/g, a very high amount for land based vegetable sources. Purslane is excellent when used fresh in salads, and it can also be steamed or cooked into soups or added to dishes as spinach would be.

In Chinese Medicine, Portulaca oleracea is known as Ma Chi Xian. It is commonly used to treat dysentery, urinary infections, sores, and abscesses, and it is even used as an antidote for snakebites. More recently it has been used to treat post partum bleeding.

Extensive clinical research has been done on purslane in China, and it has been found to have extraordinary results:

  • Antibiotic and antifungal effect
  • Increases uterine contractions
  • Prevention and treatment of dysentery: purslane was found as effective as sulfa drugs, over 90% effective in acute cases and 60% in chronic cases.
  • Kills parasites: in one study of 192 patients, 80% were cleared of parasites in one month of treatment.
  • Treats appendicitis: a decoction (strong tea) of purslane and dandelion (known as pu gong ying in China) treated 31 cases of clinically diagnosed appendicitis (only 1 needed surgery; all others recovered with no medical intervention).

People are beginning to become more aware of the edible and medicinal uses of plants which are known commonly as weeds. Purslane is turning up in farmer's markets, so keep an eye out. Next time you are weeding your own garden, look for this delicious weed. When you pull it, place it in the colander instead of the compost pile and toss it in to your next salad.

In health,

Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac.

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!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Join us on facebook

Have you joined us yet on facebook? If not, please do! We have regular updates, share interesting information about acupuncture in the news, recipes, specials, walks and workshops and up-to-date office info.

So please join Birch Center on facebook and tell your friends about us! Thank you!

How is your summer going? New posts (and newsletter!!!) to come. We are in the office with our regular hours this summer. Just call (412) 381-0116 to schedule an appointment.

See you soon!

In health,

Melissa and David Sokulski, Licensed Acupuncturists

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, June 16, 2011

It's windy again today



It's windy again today. It's been a windy spring.

In Chinese Medicine, wind is associated with spring. It is associated with the wood element, and in our bodies: the liver and gallbladder. This is the season that if our liver is strained or out of balance, we may experience symptoms related to the liver: anger, headaches, dizziness, aches and pains (especially ones which move around), digestive complaints, menstrual complaints, insomnia. Depression and mood swings can also be prevalent when this element is out of balance. Even jaundice and hepatitis can flare up this time of year.

Acupuncture at the Birch Center is a wonderful way to balance the liver energy. There are powerful points such as Liver 3 on the foot and Liver 8 near the knee which move and smooth the energy of the body. Gall bladder points on the back of the head and neck can ease headaches and help us sleep more soundly.

At the Birch Center we carry Chinese herbal formulas such as Xiao Yao San (Rambling Powder) which help move liver energy, easing menstrual complaints as well as elevating the mood. Western herbs such as dandelion, burdock, milk thistle and motherwort can also work on balancing the liver and often grow wild all around the United States: here in Western Pennsylvania motherwort and burdock are currently in bloom. (For more information on Wild Edible Plants, visit our sister site Food Under Foot.)

The spring has a lot of wonderful energy too: growth, green-ness, creativity, movement! There is a lot to enjoy about spring, we hope you are out there enjoying spring (and now heading into summer) to its fullest!

In Health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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!

Friday, May 20, 2011

May Wild Edibles Walks!


Our Next Walks are Scheduled:

The wild edibles walk in Beaver is postponed...date to be announced. But we'll still see you Saturday, May 28 at Frick Park! (see below.) Thanks!

Friday, May 27, 2011 6:30 pm

Join Melissa Sokulski of The Birch Center for an easy walk around Beaver, PA, identifying wild edible and medicinal plants.

We will begin at Sangha Center Yoga studio in Beaver at 6:30 pm. We will return to the studio for conversation and demo.

Where: Sangha Center Yoga (formerly Three Rivers Yoga Beaver)

428 Third Street, Beaver, PA 15009

When: Friday May 27, 2011, 6:30 pm

Fee: $5/person, children under 10 free

More information and registration at Sangha Center Yoga (formerly Three Rivers Yoga Beaver): Contact Andrea at (412) 901-6478


******* AND ********

Saturday, May 28, 2011, 11 am

Join Melissa Sokulski of the Birch Center/Food Under Foot and Leah Shannon of Pittsburgh Whole Food Nutrition Meetup Group as we walk around Frick Park identifying wild edibles.

Where: Frick Park Nature Center

2005 Beechwood Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15217

When: Saturday May 28, 2011, 11 am

Fee: $5/person, children under 10 free

More information and registration at Pittsburgh Whole Foods Nutrition Meetup Group

****

More information about Wild Edible Plants at our sister website, Food Under Foot.

We hope you'll be able to join us!

In health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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, March 23, 2011

Wild Ally Workbook Available Now



For all of you interested in learning more about Wild Edible Plants, I am excited to share this amazing new workbook with you.

It's called Wild Plant Ally Workbook, and it will take you through the process of learning all about wild edibles.

For more information on this book, please visit us here.

It has been wonderful having so many of you join us for Wild Edibles Walks over the years (the next one is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, 2011 - Earth Day at Frick Park, stay tuned!) One question I hear a lot is what is the best way to learn about wild edible plants?

That is why I put this book together. And I've made it accessible to all who are interested (you get to choose your own price!) Please go check it out now. I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks so much!

In health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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, March 22, 2011

Traditional Chinese Medicine Eases People Into Spring Without Allergies

by Birch Center Acupuncturist Melissa Sokulski

Spring is full of warmer weather, beautiful flowers and more time outdoors. Many of us enjoy these signs of spring but some find them intolerable due to seasonal allergies. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are widely available but do nothing to help overall health and come with a host of side effects. Natural remedies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine can clear symptoms of allergies and bring the body to balance thus allowing for a higher state of health and well-being.

People with seasonal allergies react to the pollen of flowers in trees, grasses and weeds with symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. Medications are widely available, even over the counter, yet come with their own host of side effects including being temporary loss of smell and taste. Other side effects include headache, fatigue, wheezing and abdominal pain. Medications do nothing to improve health and prevent further allergies.

Allergies are a sign of an imbalance in the immune system. Balancing and strengthening the body can decrease or even rid oneself of seasonal allergies altogether. Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture and herbal remedies, does just this. Treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine is two-fold: clearing the symptoms and balancing the meridians, thus improving overall health.

Acupuncture is excellent in treating the symptoms of allergies. Many allergy symptoms are located in the head (stuffiness, headache, itchy eyes) which reveals to the acupuncturist that the energy is not flowing smoothly from the head into the rest of the body, and vice versa. All the yang meridians flow from the hands up to the head and from the head down to the feet. Using needles on the head and neck opens the yang channels and allows the energy to flow. The use of traditional herbal formulas such as Bi Yan Pian (which we carry at the Birch Center) opens the sinuses and clears the head and eyes allowing for symptom relief.

Acupuncture also helps balance the body which improves overall health. This is done by taking a complete intake and assessment of every client who comes for treatment. At the Birch Center we treat very specifically and individually, making sure the underlying cause of allergies (or any other symptom) is cleared. When the body is in balance, symptoms disappear and health is restored. Along with needles herbal formulas may be given which are specific to each person to restore balance and health.

While allergies can put a damper on enjoying the best the season holds, there is natural relief for allergy sufferers. The relief need not be temporary: when the body is brought to a higher level of health renewed energy, flexibility and joy of living is restored.

For more information or to schedule and appointment, you can call us at (412) 381-0116 or email to BirchCenter@gmail.com.

Thanks!

In health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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!

*****

More of Melissa's Natural News Articles Here

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wild Tree Water: Making Maple Syrup

As many of you know, one of our passions is using wild plants as food and medicine. So much so that we have set up a separate website, Food Under Foot, on which we record our adventures.

For the past week we were fortunate to be able to tap maple trees in Western Pa and make the best maple syrup and maple sugar that I have ever tasted!



Above Dave and Ella are tapping a maple tree. Below we are boiling the water-like sap down into syrup.



Maple Sugar Candies:



You can read more step by step information on our adventures with maple tree tapping on Food Under Foot:

Fresh Maple Sap right from the tree is a wonderful elixir! If you have a maple tree on your property I urge you to go out and tap it, if only to taste the sweet wild water.

Thanks so much!

In health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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, January 11, 2011

Groupons Honored Through Jan 31


It's groupon week at the Birch Center!

Our groupon expires Jan 15 and it is wonderful to have so many people calling for appointments!

And now the snow....

So don't worry if you can't get in this week, we will honor the groupon through Jan 31, 2011.

Just give us a call to set up an appointment: (412) 381-0116...we see clients Monday through Friday, 9 am through 9 pm.

Thanks so much!

In health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sinus Issues Respond Powerfully to Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac. of the Birch Center

Sinus issues and infections are a problem for many people. As the nose becomes congested from cold weather, allergies, a cold or the flu, infection and inflammation often occurs. Acupuncture points, herbs, and lifestyle suggestions can keep the sinuses clear and infection-free.

Sinus issues may be acute or chronic, and are typically considered viral infections which last ten days. Many people suffering from chronic sinus infections go for months with headaches, teeth and jaw pain, low energy, and nasal congestion, among other symptoms.

Acupuncture often offers relief. Using a combination of local and distal points acupuncture can clear the sinuses and boost the immune system making it less likely for sinus infection to return. Points on the arms and legs such as Large Intestine 4 (hand), Large Intestine 11 (outside elbow crease), Lung 7 (wrist), and Stomach 36 (leg, below the knee) can open the meridians which run through the sinuses as well as boost the immune system. Local points on the face such as Large Intestine 20 (side of the nose), Stomach 2 (on the cheek bone under the eye), and GV 23 (start of the hairline) help to physically clear the sinuses.

Bi Yang Pian is an ancient Chinese herbal formula which is available at the Birch Center. It clears the sinuses and relieves headaches and other symptoms such as red itchy eyes, sore throat and sneezing which can be related to sinus issues. Bi Yan Pian contains herbs such as magnolia flower, forsythia flower and chrysanthemum flower which are said to clear heat from the sinuses and help clear infection.

Using a neti pot to clear the sinuses with salt water can also clear the sinuses, improve overall health and increase energy. Using one cup of body-temperature water and mixed with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt, pour gently into one nostril and have it flow through the sinuses and out the other nostril. This can be done throughout the day until the sinuses are clear, and then repeated once or twice a day to keep healthy, especially if prone to sinus issues.

If you have more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call the Birch Center at (412) 381-0116.

In health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Four Pack of Acupuncture Treatments

Happy New Year!

We have extended our special indefinitely!

You can continue to buy a 4-pack of acupuncture treatments for just $200, it's our new year's gift to you!

You can buy them below, on the store page or at the Birch Center (the website or the actual Center on East Carson Street.)




4 Acupuncture Treatment Package for $200





Here's to BEST HEALTH in 2011!

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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, January 6, 2011

Flax Fenugreek and Fennel Strongly Protect the Lungs and Large Instestine

Happy New Year!

I drank the 3-F Tea (flax, fenugreek, fennel...plus nettles and mint, I used spearmint) all day yesterday...it's delicious and makes me feel great! The recipe is at the end of the article.

Flax, Fenugreek and Fennel Strongly Protect Lungs and Large Intestine
by Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac. of the Birch Center

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Lungs and Large Intestine correspond to the metal element. Drinking a tea made from three common herbs and spices - fennel, flax, and fenugreek, is a wonderful way to strengthen and rejuvenate these organs.

Signs that the lung and large intestine may be taxed and would benefit from rejuvenation include: (...read whole article, including recipe)

We have some great things for you coming up this new year! We are so excited to unveil our latest project...stay tuned!

What are your plans for 2011? Write them down, make them happen!

In health,

~ David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.

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!