Friday, October 26, 2012

Autumn, Allergies, Ashtma (and Chinese Medicine)

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.

Hen of the Woods/Maitake - a wild medicinal and edible mushroom found in the fall

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.

The change of seasons is a great time of year to come in for an acupuncture treatment  or 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'd also be happy to answer any questions for you. You can also email us at

Thanks so much! We hope to see you soon!

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Menu Monday: Apples, Nettles, Soups and Pumpkin Latte

We're trying out a new feature here at Birch Center: Menu Monday, in which we post some menu ideas for the upcoming week. Based on fresh, seasonal (and sometimes wild) ingredients, there will also be some energetic explanation on the food choices based on Chinese medicine. Though it is hard to go wrong (energetically) when you are eating fresh, local foods!

This week we are incorporating foods from our garden:
  • kale
  • beets
  • arugula
from farmer's markets:
  • apples
  • squash/pumpkins (my favorite is delicata squash)
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • onions
  • potatoes
from the grocery store:
  • cucumbers
  • celery
chicken mushroom
from the wild:
  • nettles
  • chicken mushroom
  • burdock root
  • dandelion root
and from my pantry:
  • brown rice
  • beans, canned: black and kidney
  • red lentils
  • raw cashews
  • jar of Indian Curry (vegan)
  • tofu (refrigerated)

I like to start the day with fresh juice. Even though the season is getting colder and juice has a cold energy, it is detoxifying to the body and helps rid the body of excess (such excess weight, which can lead to excess heat which may show up as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, headaches, etc.)

juice ingredients with burdock root
This week's juices:
I may add ginger root to warm up the energy a bit, and I will water the juice down to cut the concentrated sugars.

red lentil, potato, nettle soup
Fall is a perfect season for soups! The soups I'll be making this week are:
A couple rice dishes include:
  • Tofu, Brown Rice, kale, broccoli and onions, tossed with a jar of vegan Indian Curry (I picked this up at the supermarket)
  • Stuffed Delicata Squash - baked squash (don't forget to save and roast the seeds!) stuffed with rice, celery, onions, mushrooms
Simple salads to complement the meals:
  • Romaine lettuce
  • "Garden salad" - using kale and arugula from my garden!
  • Coleslaw (cabbage and carrots)
  • Cucumber and onions
 Finally, as a yummy treat, this Pumpkin Latte, which is vegan and caffeine free!

 Dandelion Coffee:
  • Dig dandelion roots
  • Clean well, chop into small pieces and roast in oven at 350 degrees until dry and brown, about an hour
  • Add a couple Tablespoons of the roasted roots to 4 cups water, simmer 20 minutes.
Cashew Milk:
  •  1/2 cup raw cashews (dry or soaked)
  • 2 dates, pitted (you can omit dates entirely, or substitute with a couple tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup)
  • 4 cups water
Blend well in a high speed blender such as a vitamix. If you don't have a strong blender, soak the cashews first for at least 1/2 hour to soften. Then blend well. You shouldn't need to strain this milk because cashews are so soft and will blend entirely. 

To make latte, to blender:
  • Add equal amounts of dandelion coffee (hot) and cashew milk to blender. 
  • Add a tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • Add a couple scoops of baked squash or baked pumpkin
  • Optional: agave nectar, honey, maple syrup or dates to sweeten (it may be sweet enough if your cashew milk is sweet)
Blend well and enjoy.

I hope this menu gives you some great ideas for healthy seasonal foods this week.

~ Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac.

To schedule an acupuncture appointment, please call (412) 381-0116 or email

Questions about acupuncture? Call (412) 381-0116 or email

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Getting Stuck In Pittsburgh

We've been having fun tonight...creating fun products for Food Under Foot - aprons, t-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, journals, etc. We made a few designs: Mushroom Hunter with a picture of a morel, Eat Weeds and Thrive - one with a yellow dock seed heart and one with chicory flowers.

Then Dave had an idea: why not make something for the Birch Center?

My ideas were so boring...and then Dave came up with a winner: Getting Stuck in Pittsburgh, Birch Center for Acupuncture.

Here's the tote:

 I love it. I hope you do, too.

Make Custom Gifts at CafePress

Enjoy, my friends.

Buy t-shirts, mugs and gifts from our shop.

  Two New Awesome Designs! 

 We've added a couple awesome/rawesome designs on a bunch more products.

 This Rawckin' Rawesome design on t-shirts, totes, baby bibs, notebooks, etc:

And, for all the acupuncture enthusiasts out there:


 Visit our store

 Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get your free gift, 10 Ways to Improve Your Health Right Now.


 ~ Melissa and Dave