Optimal Living YYJ

Ear Acupuncture – What?

Author: Diana Alvarez, R.Ac.

There are many ways to understand the body and your health, one of which is by using a microsystem. You might have heard of such approaches as foot or hand reflexology. Well, in Chinese Medicine, we use the microsystem of the ear as a representation of the whole body. The use of a microsystem allows each part of the body to be accessed with a corresponding point or area on an external part of the body – in this case, the ear.

Source: acu-clinic.com

Why the Ear?

The ear is directly connected to some of the 12 cranial nerves stemming from the brain, so it is quick to relay a message back to the brain and create a change. The ear also has a unique capacity (because it is such a thin membrane of tissue) to access and stimulate the nervous system. Specifically, the sympathetic nervous system, related to our “fight or flight” response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, related to calming responses. Yes, this is an intelligent sense organ!

How Is Ear Acupuncture Done?

To stimulate the ear point, an ear seed, magnet, or very thin acupuncture needle is placed in a specific spot which relates to the area of the body or internal organ function that needs to be addressed. There are 90 ear points listed that relate to limbs, head, bodily function and senses to treat conditions internally and externally. 

Source: gpcacupuncture.com

However, ear acupuncture is not just for physical pain. It also stimulates emotional and mental wellness, as one of the most common points used is to calm the mind and reduce anxiety and stress.

What Does It Help Treat?

Ear acupuncture is commonly used to treat sciatica, low back pain, OCD, smoking and other addictions, digestive disorders, brain trauma, chronic pain, hormonal conditions, migraines, insomnia, and depression. All of these conditions and more can be effectively assessed and treated when using the ear.

Modern Day Use of Ear Acupuncture

The United States is known for an approach called the NADA protocol. It is an ear acupuncture approach used for trauma, addiction and stress. The five points used in the ear immediately stimulate the body to shift from being on high alert to a less agitated state. It is widely put into practice in high stress aid relief situations. For example, after people have witnessed something traumatic such as an earthquake, where a whole community may be affected. Ear acupuncture is being used as a first aid response, and is a helpful way for those affected to find their way back to balance.

In Europe, Germany is especially well known for it’s research and use of Auricular Acupuncture (ear) to treat pain and break the pain feedback loop. Used by over 14,000 German physicians, it has been shown to work so well that body acupuncture is actually the less common approach used in Europe!

My Own Experiences With Ear Acupuncture

As an acupuncturist, I have seen ear acupuncture work well for anxiety, obsessive thinking, insomnia and depression. One of my clients who suffers from panic and racing thoughts was transformed in just one visit. His mind calmed down, his physical fidgets reduced and facial skin tone shifted. Seeing him for consecutive sessions really helped get him back to a more peaceful place.

Another client came to see me due to her stressful job and a lifetime of living with both depression and anxiety. After the session she looked rejuvenated, a quiet overcame her mind and her body, and she was no longer holding the tension she came in with. Ear acupuncture is a safe, effective and accessible approach and is being used all over the world with good results.

Come into Pure Body Health and book in with myself, Melissa or Brook and see what ear acupuncture can do for you! Hear hear to good health!

Your First RMT Visit, Demystified

Author: Barbara Wilkinson, RMT

As a registered massage therapist, my friends are often curious about what it’s like to come in for a treatment and what exactly to expect, so I’ve written up a guide that takes you through an initial visit with an RMT and how to get the most out of your visit.

  1. Fill out our required intake forms, including health history forms that allow your massage therapist to create a treatment plan specifically designed for you, as well as direct billing consent forms if you have coverage and want the wellness center to direct bill on your behalf.
  2. If your schedule allows it, take a shower or bath before your massage appointment (or call to book a sauna session) to relax your muscles a bit before coming in.
  3. Eat a light meal up to one hour before your massage. It can be difficult to lay face down if you’ve just had a large meal but have something in your system so you don’t feel light-headed after getting off the massage table.
  4. Show up a few minutes early to your appointment so you can drink some water, use our washroom facilities and make sure we have all of the information we need from you.
  5. Your RMT will greet you in the waiting room, introduce themselves and take you to their treatment room.
  6. Your RMT will review your health history form with you and ask questions to get a good idea of what you’re coming in for and how you can achieve your health goals together. This is a good time for you to ask questions too. If you are unsure of anything, from the necessary level of undress needed that day to how you’re to lay on the massage table, do not be afraid to ask for clarification!
  7. To begin your treatment, your therapist will undrape the area that they are to work on, one body part at a time to keep you warm and comfortable. Most often, your RMT will start the massage using light pressure and build up to a therapeutically comfortable depth at your discretion, checking in with you along the way in case some areas are more tender than others. You are in control of your session – you have the right to speak up if you want the depth, area treated or any aspect of the massage to change.
  8. When your appointment is nearing its end, your RMT will often ask if you want to learn any home-care techniques. These are specific stretches, exercises, or hydrotherapy techniques that are specifically chosen and adapted for your comfort and ability level to help you achieve a greater range of motion, decrease pain, or strengthen muscles in relation to our clinical findings that help you improve between treatments. Your therapist will ask you to get dressed so we can go over them together, leave the room and ask that you open the door when you’re ready to go over your home-care together. This is important so we can make sure you’re doing the prescribed activities properly, assess your ability and make amendments to ensure the best modifications for you, and go over your goals and treatment plan for future visits if necessary.
  9. Take it easy for a while after your massage. Take a few minutes at least to get yourself grounded, most folks feel a little sleepy or get an endorphin rush and feel woozy so feel free to have a glass of water and relax in the waiting room until you feel safe to drive or walk back home, or off to your next activity.
  10. One of our friendly receptionists will go through billing if you haven’t already and ask if you want to book another appointment. If your RMT suggested another modality such as acupuncture, the receptionist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding those kinds of treatments and book your appointments at that time, or if you prefer, you can use our online booking system found on our website!

I hope this guide has been helpful!
If you have any questions or would like to book an RMT treatment, email us at purebodyhealthvictoria@gmail.com or call us at 778-265-0043!

What Brings You Back to Balance?

Author: Dr. Angeli Chitale, BSc ND 

When you are feeling good, in control of your life and the world is smiling back at you – you are in your happy zone. POP! Suddenly you realize you have missed an important meeting or deadline and the mountain overwhelm begins as your mind starts racing to lists, deadlines, meetings, and appointments looming for what seems like miles ahead. Time feels like it is shrinking and pausing is long forgotten.

How do you get back to balance?   

We all feel this way from time to time. It is important to recognize that most of our daily stress is mental – and for the most part, there is no immediate threat to our life. How we perceive what is going on and respond to it is what makes an event, person, or thing stressful or not stressful. Easier said than done, I know…but consider this:

We have the ability to create AND control our inner reality:

When we look within, and aknowledge our needs, we may find signposts on a roadmap to create a more balanced approach and perspective. We may notice we spend too much time in one zone (mental) and not enough in another (emotional or physical). By refocusing and prioritizing we can bring ourselves back to balance by reclaiming and nourishing neglected parts of our lives.

How important is it?

Simply put, stress is when the body and mind are not in balance with what is actually happening in the outer world. The impact of stress on health is well studied and documented. Research studies point to 4 areas where stress can contribute to illness:


The gut-brain connection is well recognized in medicine and research is pointing to the many ways stress interferes with digestive function. Bloating, gas, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, pancreatic insufficiency, nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances and chronic GI inflammation can all be symptoms of stress.

ND TIP:  Avoid eating too fast (chew each bite 30 times) and avoid foods which deliver a quick fix (sugar rush) and lead to an energy crash later (focus on good fats, proteins and fiber for lasting energy).  

Immune Health

Feeling run down or like you catch every bug that is going around?

Immune function can become depressed under stress. Stress decreases levels of the body’s natural antibody defense such as secretory IgA. Secretory IgA is produced by mucous membranes lining all the body’s openings to the outside world: our eyes, nasal passages, throat, lungs, skin, digestive and reproductive tracts all produce secretory IgA to protect these vulnerable areas from infection from the outside.

ND TIP: Many published studies have demonstrate taking vitamin A can boost secretory IgA levels

Pain and Inflammation: The root cause of the disease process…  

Stress and inflammation go hand in hand. Inflammation is the beginning of every disease process. Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones made by your adrenals.  Glucocorticoids are important because they work as natural anti-inflammatories. Studies have shown glucocorticoids are reduced in states of chronic stress experienced by caregivers. This reduction of glucocorticoids causes inflammation to go up in the body. And where there is inflammation, there is pain.  Pain from chronic injuries, myopathies and neuropathic pain, can all be addressed by treating inflammation and supporting adrenal gland recovery.

ND TIP: Support adrenal function during times of high stress and activity by taking extra Vitamin C and B-complex.  For Chronic Adrenal Stress: Many adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt to long term stress. Ashwaghandha (indian ginseng), Rhodiola, Eleutherococcus (siberian ginseng) are wonderful tonics to restore function of the adrenals.  

Depression and Anxiety

Serotonin the “feel good” neurotransmitter (brain chemical) has been widely researched. Did you know it is made in the digestive tract and then travels to the brain?  

Serotonin makes us feel content. Stress decreases blood flow to the digestive organs, slowing down digestion and serotonin production. Serotonin is not the only neurotransmitter affecting mood, but is the focus of many conventional medical treatments for both anxiety and depression through the prescription of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications such as SSRI’s and SNRI’s.

ND TIP: Restoring digestive health may help reduce anxiety and depression in succeptable individuals (Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia) . The gut-brain connection and gut flora (good bacteria) is cited as a key factor in treating mood disorders in several studies. In other words, a good probiotic may improve your gut health as much as your mood!


We asked some team members at PBH what brings them back and here is what they had to say:


  1. Spending time outdoors in nature
  2. Music
  3. Connecting with people


  1. Working out
  2. Riding my motorbike for hours down a long road
  3. Sitting and relaxing with good food and good wine


  1. Hot Yoga
  2. Gardening
  3. Meditation and quiet time to reflect

So we want to hear from you – What brings you back to balance?

Here is a hint: it is likely something you really enjoy doing and feel good after doing it.

What You Can Do (Right Now) to reduce your stress and get back to balance:  

  • Meditate for 5 minutes (breath in for count of 7 sec count, hold for 4sec count, release for 8 sec count).
  • Take a 10 – 30 minute fast or slow walk.
  • Have a mini dance party to your favourite song.
  • Have a cup of nerve tonic herbal teas (lavender, peppermint, oatstraw, hops).
  • Eat a nourishing treat (ex dark chocolate, almonds, smoothie, bone broth immune tonic).
  • Make a list of all your accomplishments so far (today, or this week).
  • Take a nap!

How to Restore Your Health – Naturally:

Restoring balance is the key to preventing the downstream effects of illness. Illness can be triggered by stress, infection,  inherited tendancy / genetics, medications, wear and tear, accidents and surgeries.

Naturopathic Medicine focuses on health recovery, wellness and prevention. The naturopathic approach shares diagnostic tools with conventional medicine such as routine check ups, physical assessments and lab tests. Naturopathic treatments focus on a proactive approach to create a health management plan. Think of it as your roadmap to recovery! Natural and non-invasive methods are used to restore health such as diet, nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, physical therapy, counselling and acupuncture.

Dr. Angeli Chitale is a Naturopathic Doctor and has been granted prescribing authority in BC for the prescription of medications. Dr Chitale takes a balanced approach to patient care using both conventional and naturopathic medicine with the understanding that the art of practice is getting the patient the right medicine at the right dose at the right time.

Questions? Ask the expert on us!  Book a FREE 15 min Meet and Greet consultation with Dr. Chitale.

The Inside Scoop on Our Infrared Sauna

Author: Abbie Hentges, Clinic Manager

I think the question I get asked most by people who are curious about using our sauna is: How is an infrared sauna different from a conventional sauna? That’s a good question!

The main difference is the way the heat is produced. In a conventional sauna, heat is created indirectly through convection (air currents) and conduction (direct contact of hot air with the skin) This is why some people (myself included) find it difficult to stay in a conventional sauna for long because breathing warm air can feel quite uncomfortable.

In infrared saunas less than 20% of the infrared energy heats the air leaving over 80% to be directly converted to heat within our bodies. As the body’s core temperature slowly rises, blood vessels dilate increasing blood flow. As heat from the blood moves toward the skin’s surface, the body’s nervous system sends signals to the sweat glands stimulating perspiration. This allows for a greater depth of heat penetration while the surrounding air remains at a relatively low temperature.

This difference explains the unprecedented health benefits of far infrared saunas not attainable with conventional saunas.

I am fortunate enough to have regular access to our sauna. I go on average 3 nights a week after work and it’s the perfect way to end my day. It’s just a quiet warm place for me to go where I can process my day, relax and unwind. I have found a 30 minute session to be my sweet spot, enough time to get a good sweat on but not so long that I feel restless or bored.

I had never used an infrared sauna before I started working at Pure Body Health but I had heard good things about them from friends. I definitely notice a difference in how I feel after using the sauna. I think the word serene most accurately describes my experience. I feel calm and clear and a tangible increase in well being.

Here’s what some of our regulars have to say:

I wanted to try it out because I had read it would be good for my health. I have tried regular saunas before but found the hot dry air hard to breathe. I like the  infrared sauna because it gives a good heat and I sweat a lot. I also enjoy the sauna because it gives me a quiet moment in my day.” – Robert

I am a major infrared sauna fan, I come at least 4 times a week. I definitely notice if I don’t come for a while. The sauna is my hot box, I actually work in there! It’s a space of hyper focus for me, a clarity spot for my day. It’s great for my skin and I feel revitalized afterwards. Regular sauna use allows me to stay focused and on top of my game. I have found the sauna to be one of my keys to wellness and managing stress. I love the lights and find them very therapeutic.” – Sasha

Intrigued? Book your first infrared sauna session with us today!

Facial Acupuncture: The Answer to Healthy, Glowing Skin

Author: Brook Paulin, R.TCM.P

Are you looking for support in maintaining or reclaiming a vital and radiant appearance? Perhaps you’re already taking steps to live a healthy life and are seeking some assistance in making those efforts manifest outwardly in your physical appearance, to glow from the inside out? You may have heard that acupuncture can be applied as a cosmetic procedure without the risk of toxic chemicals or having to go under the knife, but you might also be wondering how it works, or if it will be effective for you?

It’s no secret that a healthy mind and body is a beautiful thing. Your natural beauty is something that you can harness when you take care of your body and allow your inner radiance to shine through. So, how can facial rejuvenation acupuncture help?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the state of the physical health, emotions, and spirit is reflected on the skin of the face. You look your best because your internal health is reflected on your face. Cosmetic Acupuncture is an exciting alternative to plastic surgery and potentially unhealthy ‘non-invasive’ techniques, because it not only focuses on the face but on the whole body as well.

What cosmetic results might people expect from Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture?

  • Improvement in the fine lines and tone of the face.
  • Diminishing effect on deeper wrinkles by relaxing facial muscle tension.
  • Moisturized, radiant, and softer skin.
  • Improved muscle tone and firmer jaw line, as well as reduction in the beginning of jowls.
  • Reduction or elimination of rosacea and acne and scar tissue.
  • Brighter and clearer eyes.
  • Diminishes and improves the presence of deep winkles and puffiness.

General Health Benefits include:

  • Relaxation and Overall Well-being.
  • Improved Sleep and increased energy.
  • Reduction of Hot flashes and Night sweats
  • Reduced Depression and Mild Anxiety.
  • Benefit to Digestive Symptoms.
  • Pain relief.

How Does it Work?

Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture utilizes a needling technique that is very superficial. The needling brings increased Qi and blood to the face and can improve or increase the production of collagen and elastin. Since this system is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture points on the body are also selected based on your unique presentation to address underlying imbalances and complete the balancing of energy. This results in an overall rejuvenating effect of body, mind, and spirit.

There are two beneficial aspects to this treatment. One is a “root” treatment, which regulates the flow of energy (qi) and removes blockages in the meridians (channels of qi and blood) to improve overall health and restore balance to the body. This constitutional treatment addresses underlying causes, like digestive problems, hormonal imbalance and emotional stress, which become reflected in the face. The other is a local treatment, which directly affects facial appearance. Since many of the meridians begin or end on the face, there is an increase in circulation of blood, lymph and qi to the face that aids in moistening and creating a radiant colour and glow to the skin.

What is the recommended treatment frequency?

Recommended treatment frequency involves 2 treatments per week spaced 2 days apart for a series of 10 cumulative treatments, followed by maintenance appointments that are scheduled every 2 – 4 weeks to optimize results. Commitment to adequate and regular treatments is very important as the matrix of collagen and elastin takes 4 weeks to become fixed.

Since each individual is unique, the response to treatment will vary depending on your age and lifestyle. Generally, results are noticeable after 6-7 sessions, although a radiant complexion and brightness in the eyes may be seen after the first treatment. The recommended course of treatment is 10 sessions, and should be done 2 times a week. A treatment lasts about 90 minutes.

Book a free consultation to find out if Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is right for you!

Myofascial Release

Author: Lauren Wills, RMT

Myofascial Release

Many people ask what is fascia? What does it do? Where is it found? What causes us to get constant fascial restrictions? I am hoping to answer some of these questions in my blog post today. Many of you know I use Myofascial work regularly in daily massage treatments. I find it very helpful in reversing muscle imbalances and dysfunctional muscle patterns. This technique focuses on pain or discomfort believed to arise from fascial layers. Myofascial pain syndrome can be classified as any pain disorder caused by sensitivity, tightness or hypertoned muscle groups or connective tissue. Lets go over some common misunderstandings about Myofascial work.

Myofascial release is a massage modality often used to release trigger points, muscle imbalance, muscle restrictions and myofascial pain syndrome. Fascia is a tough membrane that wraps and acts as a support system of the human body connecting, surrounding and supporting muscles through out the body. Fascia, unlike muscles, does not start and end at insertions points it runs continuously throughout your body. Some myofascial lines have been shown to connect the feet and shoulders. Myofascial work is a safe and very affective technique that can be performed directly or indirectly applying gentle sustained pressure or faster cross pressure. It is performed using no lotion or oil because the therapist needs to have a stronger connection with the tissue for optimal effectiveness. Fascial work is being used more and more in alternative medication due to its marvellous results in aiding with short and long term aliments. A patient with myofascial restrictions may present with tissue restrictions and limited range of motion. Some common benefits of Myofascial release are corrected muscle imbalances, improved joint range of motion, relieved muscle soreness and joint stress, improved neuromuscular efficiency, relaxed muscle tension, advanced optimal length-tension relationship. Myofascial work can be used for rotator cuff issues, sciatica, low back pain, strains, sprains, headaches, frozen shoulder, neurological movement patterns, whiplash, over use injures and many other impairments that would limit a clients actives of daily living. This technique works through the muscular network of the human body relieving all over aches and pain aiding in the patients recovery.

MOOD-FOOD Connection

Author: Dr. Angeli Chitale, BSc ND  

Synapse and Neuron, sending electrical and chemical signals.

Why does food affect our mood?

At times you may unexpectedly find yourself short with people, irritable or just in a bad mood. Have you stopped to consider it may be what you ate (or did not eat) that is affecting how you behave and your mood? Here is some insight into how and why this happens and how you can improve your mood by making a few key changes in what you eat every day:

ARE you LOW in SUGAR? What makes blood sugar go low?

  1. Eating processed foods, which are high in sugar cause high glucose and high insulin. Studies show that when blood sugar levels fall, an increased expression of depression, hostility and aggression / anger in people who have insulin resistance.
  2. Irritable or “hangry” moods are worsened when missed a meal while under stress – low sugar impairs brain function and the ability to suppress emotion by the cerebral cortex (higher brain).
  3. Nutrient deficiencies such as low zinc, chromium, and B6 can also impact mood during hunger.


Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins which are vital to physical and mental/emotional wellness.

Protein provides a lasting source of energy and protects from rapid low blood sugar crashes.


Neurotransmitters are chemicals your brain responsible for regulating mood. Certain neurotransmitter deficiencies, such as low serotonin levels, are linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder. In fact, it is the serotonin receptor that is the target of many of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). However, research is now providing a growing body of evidence that many neurotransmitters which regulated mood are actually manufactured in the digestive tract.

Serotonin, the neurotransmitter linked to good mood – 90% is made in the gut:

90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract. In fact, altered levels of peripheral serotonin have been linked to diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.  

Dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to reward – 50% is made in the gut:

If that is not enough, about half of the Dopamine, the “reward” neurotransmitter is made in the stomach.  

6 ways to BOOST NEUROTRANSMITTERS in your body:

  1. Improve nutrition – are you getting enough amino acids, fats, minerals, water, and fibre? Focus on the quality and quantity of food by choosing more nutrient-dense options.
  2. Are you using medication which may interfere with nutrient absorption? Ex. Antacids block mineral absorption over a period of time.
  3. Use natural alternatives to manage stress by practicing deep breathing, yoga, meditation, relaxation – all of these practices helps regulate the stress response which impacts digestive function, mood regulation and insulin levels.
  4. Find out and correct underlying causes of poor nutrient absorption Ex. zinc tally, stool testing, digestive functional, parasite, dysbiosis, IBS, IBD etc.
  5. Improve gut flora by eating fermented foods and/or taking probiotics.
  6. Take digestive nerve tonics such as lemon-balm and catnip, which serve to relax and support the digestive process, which enhance nutrient absorption.

Want to feel better through nutrition?

Eating a balanced diet of fibre, protein, good fats and complex carbs helps maintain blood sugar balance and a balanced mood. Choose to consciously include these foods for improved mood:

  • Amino acids (ex. protein supplement).
  • Cofactors (vitamins and minerals) in your diet.  
Serotonin PleasureEggs, Cheese, Pineapple, Tofu, Salmon, Nuts, and Turkey all support Tryptophan production which converts to serotonin.
DopamineRewardDairy (milk, cheese and yogurt). Unprocessed meats (beef, chicken and turkey). Omega-3 rich fish such as salmon and mackerel, Eggs. Fruit and vegetables, in particular bananas. Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts. Dark chocolate 75% or higher.
OxytocinLoveEggs, bananas, black pepper.  
Endorphins High/elatedExercise, laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release. Even the anticipation and expectation of laugher, e.g., attending a comedy show, increases levels of endorphins. … Studies have shown that dark chocolate and spicy foods can lead the brain to release endorphins.
CatecholaminesMojo “get up & go” Beef, fish and eggs, and also triggered by: Caffeine (through the release of adrenaline), chocolate, wine and beer
(although hard on the body).



Sex differences in the relation of depressive symptoms, hostility, and anger expression to indices of glucose metabolism in non-diabetic adults. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-08842-005

A Message from the Owner

Author: Gavin Henderson-Peal, Owner

Gavin Henderson-Peal, Owner of Pure Body Health

Welcome to Optimal Living YYJ – your source for alternative health knowledge in Victoria, B.C. 

Since the opening of Pure Body Health in December of 2016, our team has been committed to sharing our wealth of knowledge in alternative medicine with everyone that comes through our doors. As our practice continues to grow, we always look for new ways to connect with our clients and friends, and what better way than to communicate holistic health knowledge than through a blog! 

Once a week, Optimal Living YYJ will feature either one of our practitioners from each modality or another one of our team members. They will share their knowledge, research-based findings in the field, and personal experiences to name a few. 

As the Owner of Pure Body Health, I am very excited to see Optimal Living YYJ launch and bring value to the local community!


Gavin Henderson-Peal