‘Buying time’… Pre-fertility tips from Chinese medicine

cute-asian-babyAt my age, many of my friends and family are considering whether or not to start families. As more folks are waiting until later to have kids, fertility support has become an increasingly relevant topic. The Ontario government recently announced they would fund one IVF transfer. For those who are undecided, or still searching for a partner/ co-parent/ intentional community/ other support, I wrote an article (primarily for people who menstruate) about how Chinese medicine can help you manage (and perhaps prolong) your reproductive health.

Important Update: Sabbatical starting Sept 2014

Tzu Chi University in TaiwanI will be taking a sabbatical year away from Toronto from September 2014 to August 2015. I have recently received news that I will be receiving a scholarship from the Government of Taiwan. I am excited and honoured for the opportunity to live in Taiwan, deepening my understanding of the Mandarin Chinese language. I also plan to delve deeper into the cultivation and use of medicinal herbs, and the integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine with biomedical practice. For details on measures I have put in place to support my clients and patients during this time, please click here.

Free self-care workshop

On June 3 and June 18 in downtown Toronto, I’m offering a free self-care workshop for LGBTQ immigrants and refugees, in coordination with the Griffin Centre’s reachOUT Newcomer Network, and the Centre for Women and Trans People at U of T. Free dinner, ASL interpretation, and TTC tokens are provided, and the location is wheelchair accessible. Click here for details and to register.

Nicer November Massage Sale!

Head massage photoGet a 60-minute Traditional Meridian Massage for only $49! (Value: $70)

Excellent for clarity, emotional balance, relaxation, sleep promotion, and energy renewal, try this form of Traditional Meridian Massage – a circuit of the head, neck, shoulders, hands, and feet to balance the major energy channels of the body. Meridians are the main pathways that Qi (life force/energy) flows along, and that we usually work with in acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, and exercises (like qi gong, tai chi and dao yin yoga).

This type of massage is practiced comfortably through clothing, and can be customized to the priorities and goals of each individual.

– Sale ends November 30th! However, after purchase, you can book sessions ANYTIME (no expiry).
Gift certificates available (holiday present, anyone?).
– Maximums: Buy up to 3 for yourself, up to 10 as gifts for others.

Booking/info: Email info@paulinehwang.ca or phone 416-890-7770.

fall food & health tips

Maple LeafAh, fall. The dry, crisp air fills with the sounds of kids going back to school, crunching through red and yellow leaves. The flavours of spiced harvest soups and pies, the soft comfort of sweaters pulled out from hidden shelves.

Ah, the beauty of autumn – overshadowed for some by colds and flus, allergies, mood changes with less sun time, more pain (whether joint, muscle or menstrual pain), drier and itchier skin and throats. How can our bodies, minds and spirits cope with the drastic changes in climate and season? Here are a few simple tips.

NOTE: In reading below, please keep in mind that when using food in a medicinal way, it’s actually best to tailor your diet according to your personal Traditional Chinese Medicine constitution and balance (e.g. your hot/cold, yin/yang, organ and element balances, etc.). This should take priority over general guidelines or seasonal changes, so if your practitioner has recommended something specific to you that contradicts what you read below, please follow their recommendations!

Chinese medicine believes that wellness increases as we live according to the rhythms and flows of Nature. Plants and animals use the fall to harvest, store, and prepare for the winter. We can do that physically by:

  • Focusing more in preparing our food
  • To draw one’s focus more internally, use lower temperatures, less water, and longer cooking times than in the summer – bake or sautee food, including concentrated foods like root vegetables
  • Moving toward heartier foods, with some sour taste (which contracts energy). Some sour flavoured foods include sourdough bread, (raw) sauerkraut, leeks, aduki beans, (raw) vinegar, yogurt, lemons, limes, sour apples, etc.
  • Gradually introduce more salty and bitter foods as we progress toward winter, as these draw energy in and down
  • Rise and wind down with the sun. Sleep earlier as the sun sets earlier. Ensuring we get adequate rest will also help preserve our immunity against colds and flus.
  • Do regular, moderate exercise that you ENJOY!
  • Spend more time quietly and alone.

Emotionally, fall is a time of Yang changing into Yin – it is the dusk time of the year. To help yang move into yin, put an increased focus on meditation and awareness practices. The Chinese medicine organs associated with autumn are the Lung and Large Intestine, both associated with “letting go” of waste. Time to let go of unnecessary attachments and clutter in one’s life, and to allow grief and sadness, the emotions associated with fall, to resolve. Letting go of the old creates room for the new. Deep breathing, self-massage and acupressure, talking, and mindfulness can all help with moving forward through grieving processes.

To offset dryness in the climate that may make itchiness, dry skin/nose/throat, etc. worse, you can use more moistening foods: soy foods, spinach, barley, millet, pear, apple, seaweeds, black and white fungus, along, sesame seed, barley malt, cooking with salt, etc. If you are very dry and thin, use caution when cooking bitter, aromatic or warming foods.

Many useful articles exist about minimizing cold and flu. It is important to reduce exposure to external ‘pathogens’ by protecting yourself, especially your neck, from the wind, and to wash your hands frequently. However, Chinese medicine also emphasizes prevention by keeping your own energy and immunity strong. Acupuncture and herbs are some of the best ways to do this. Foods that help include mushrooms, ginger, garlic and the onion family in general, turnip, cabbage, radish, fiber foods (grains, fruits, vegetables), golden-orange and dark green vegetables.

General eating tips (not just for autumn): In all seasons, the most important factors for digestion are: eating in a mindful, relaxed and unhurried manner, chewing very thoroughly, and not thinking about or doing other things while eating. It is also centrally important to eat tasty whole unprocessed foods, lots of fresh vegetables including leafy greens, and minimizing sugars, alcohol, most fats and oils (except “good fats” such as flax, hemp, fish and small amounts of olive oil), dairy (with some exceptions depending on your constitution). Finally, most people do better with a fair amount of cooked food in the diet, and not primarily uncooked or cold-temperature foods (e.g. salads, sandwiches).

For more information on Traditional Chinese Medicine and it’s approach to dietary therapy, an excellent resource (from which much of the above is sourced) is Paul Pitchford’s book Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition.

de-stress to decolonize! (oct 21)

destress to decolonize logo


Want to get a wellness treatment or yoga class for a low, sliding scale price? Maybe check out a new healing approach you’ve never tried (cranio-sacral, Ayurveda, Reiki, or pranic healing)? AND, want to support a great cause at the same time?

Don’t miss DE-STRESS TO DECOLONIZE, a fundraiser in support of a grassroots gathering of indigenous and other racialized peoples. Click here for details!



  • Stressed out and exhausted?
  • Taking care of everyone except yourself?
  • Making the world a better place, but worried you might burn out?

You support so many others; I enjoy supporting you. Often caregivers and changemakers are so busy meeting the needs of family and community, our own health suffers. Let’s work together to help you manage stress, anxiety, depression, cancer, insomnia, chronic pain, burnout, menstrual health, digestion, and trauma recovery. You’ll receive thorough, well-researched care, with safe space, non-judgmental listening, and attention to your whole person.

I work with you to balance your whole person – body, mind, emotions and spirit. I aim to help you relax and rest deeply, to feel calm and focused. When you nurture your own health, your work, relationships and creative projects will benefit. You’ll feel rejuvenated and have more than enough energy for the long haul.

For my cancer-focused clinical practice, please click here: https://oncologyacupuncture.ca

Acupuncture in the park! PWYC!

imageInterested in an unusual healing adventure?  Want to relax your body and mind?

See you at our…Pop-Up Stress Clinic #1: The park
Monday June 25, 2012. 5:00-6:30 pm. Alexandra Park.

Come get some acupuncture or acupressure at this momentary, outdoor PWYC de-tox and de-stress clinic.

A unique and creative group experience. Treatments under the trees. Calming live music. Flow your Qi amidst the Qi of green grass, shaded breeze — and other suddenly-quiet, relaxed urbanites.

Ear acupuncture / acupressure is effective for relaxation, sleep, pain relief, emotional balance, trauma recovery, managing substance use and/or withdrawal. (Scared of needles? Get acupressure beads instead!)

Bring: A yoga mat/picnic blanket/lawn chair/tarp if you have one. A limited number will be provided. If possible, have a light snack or meal in the few hours beforehand (better before acupuncture).

Cost: PWYC ($5-10 suggested, no one turned away!) to cover costs.

Place: Alexandra Park, southeast corner of Dundas and Bathurst (near Scadding Court CC). Rain location: 51 Kensington (416-890-7770 to confirm if it’s moved)

RSVP: 416-890-7770 or info@paulinehwang.ca

Who: Pauline Sok Yin Hwang is an acupuncturist, activist, popular educator, and community health worker who works independently and at the Women’s Healthy Environments Networks.

Lauren Stein runs Laurentina’s Improv Club, which will host us in the case of rain (51 Kensington). Laurentina’s Improv Club offers drop-in workshops every Monday and Wednesday nights, as well as running performances and other events.

Chris Luckhardt is an entrepreneur (specializing in Drupal, podcasting and photography), founder of Motionblur Media podcast network, and avid guitar enthusiast. He will provide twenty-ish minutes of soothing live acoustic music.

Electro Therapeutic Devices Inc. (ETD) has helped make this event (and other similar events) affordable and accessible through donating some supplies. Thank you!

(Optional post-treatment fun: Now that you’re all relaxed, those who wish can then head over to Laurentina’s Monday Night Magic drop-in improv session, starting at 7 pm.)

SPRING SALE! Until June 8th

Stressed?  Tired?  In pain?  Allergic?  Anxious or depressed?

Spring is in the air! Time for fresh starts, new discoveries, and renewing your health, vitality and creativity. Let me work with you to: spring cleanse your body and spirit, relieve pain, sleep better, and feel calm and focused.

WHAT: To celebrate this season of rebirth and renewal, I’m offering a big sale! Get 3 treatments for only $165, or 5 treatments for $250 (incl tax). Buy your package by June 8, but treatments can be used anytime (no expiry). Gift certificates and insurance receipts available.

WHEN: “But… I don’t need 5 treatments in the next few weeks!” Ah yes, of course. Just buy your package before June 8th, and redeem the visits ANYTIME – no expiry. Appointments are available in the Queen/Spadina area.

WHO: Traditional Chinese medicine is for everyone, in whatever condition. It balances the whole person – your body, mind, emotions and spirit. When you nurture your own health, your work, relationships and creative projects will benefit. You’ll feel rejuvenated and have more than enough energy for the long haul. My treatments are personally tailored to your health condition and goals, and combine:

  • acupuncture
  • massage (tuina)
  • nutrition
  • moxibustion
  • meditation
  • lifestyle coaching

HOW: Buy your package by calling 416-890-7770 or email info@paulinehwang.ca.

New section: resources!

I’ve started a new Resources section of my website here. The section features the lists I’ve been compiling for my clients, of affordable, accessible health and wellness resources in Toronto. There’s also other PDF downloads, such as a copy of my workshop handouts. Check it out!