Tincture Spotlight: the Lamplighter

If you’ve perused the front shelves of the Heart & Hands lobby and been
curious about some of the tinctures being sold, then you’ll know that it
can be hard to choose! This month I want to give some words of description to one of the most useful tinctures for this particular time of year, the Lamplighter!

It’s 4pm as I sit down to write this and the sky is already darkening. It’s
been down-pouring all weekend, I’m cold and damp to the bone from
stubbornly trying to work in my muddy garden. Even though I wouldn’t
describe myself as someone who struggles with depression, I am a devout sun
worshipper and these winter blues are hard to deny. And, ahem, we’re still
over a month away from the darkest day of the year…

This is the season of death, decay, letting go and darkness. It’s the
season where the hard stuff, the old stuff, the stuff we like to flee from,
rises to the surface; and our job is to face it. So while the most
important task of this season is to embrace the darkness and face it’s hard
medicine, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little help from your plant
friends; enter the Lamplighter.

Since all good medicine formulation seeks to balance out current
imbalances, the Lamplighter, which was formulated for winter blues, is
spicy, warming and connects us to the light when we need it the most; the
plants that make up this formula are all oranges, yellows and reds. With
Damiana, St John’s Wort, Turmeric, Cinnamon and Mustard flower essence,
this formula is perfect for depression of the milder kind. This describes
the kind of blues that come and go, and would likely dissipate with the
appearance of a gorgeous sunny day and the feel of sunshine on your skin.

The Lamplighter is also great for warming up our physical system, getting
the blood pumping and digestion stoked, warming our stiff and sore joints
and igniting creativity and confidence. It’s even an aphrodisiac <3

For a custom formula, contact Jenny at j.frances.poppy@gmail.com

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H&H Story from E.C. & N :)


My baby boy came within the 48 window you predicted. He stayed head down and we were able to have our home birth. Labour was really easy (comparatively) and quick; and was really relaxed throughout it. It was a really positive experience. These are all things I feel you had a helping hand in.

Thank you so much for all your help in the final weeks of pregnancy. I really think I would have ended up with a planned cesarean, and robbed of the birth experience I wanted, had you not flipped him.

You and your needles are magic!

E.C. & baby N

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Heart & Hands turns 7!!

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H&H story from K.J.

A good friend of mine one day convinced me to tag along with her to H&H.  Acupuncture was definitely outside of my wheelhouse and not something I new much about.  After that first session, I was in.

I go as often as I can.  With all that I have going on in my life, that hour or so I spend surrounded with people from my community, has been paramount to helping me through a tough time.  I always feel like a better person after a session.

And time and again, Christina has gone above and beyond to support me.
Thanks Heart & Hands!

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H&H story from G.D.

Back in September 2016, I received a serious head injury that resulted in a long lasting concussion and a prolonged period off work. My friend, Lauren, recommended I see Christina to help me deal with the persisting symptoms including severe headaches, neck strain, memory issues, difficulty regulating my emotions and foggy brain. I tried acupuncture once before for this same injury at a different place, but I found it made my symptoms worse.

I started seeing Christina in January, and after a few sessions, I noticed my symptoms began to abate. Most importantly, I was able to go to Heart & Hands and relax after suffering for so long. I’m still amazed at the way Christina can provide accurate assessments of how I’m doing using techniques that seem magical, and I appreciate the personal care she provides. The treatment room is a very tranquil environment and a healing place. Also, Christina went above and beyond to advocate for me with Worksafe so I could get coverage for many of my sessions. I went back to work a month and a half after Christina first started treating me and I finally feel like I’m my old self again.

Thanks so much for everything Christina! I couldn’t have done it without you.

Much Gratitude,

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From Jenny McCartney, Medical Herbalist, formula of the Month: Digest

If you’ve perused the front shelves of the
Heart & Hand’s lob
by and been curious about some of the tinctures being sold, then you’ll know that it can be hard to choose!  This month I want to give some words of description to one of my simplest and most dependable tinctures: The digestive elixir!  

When you begin to learn about herbs for digestive health, you’ll be quick to notice that the list of digestive herbs looks a lot like your spice cabinet and your standard herbal teas (ex. chamomile and peppermint).  Digestive issues are some of the most common ailments, and the herbs used to treat these ailments are some of the most well known herbs that many of us already have a relationship with. Virtually any spice in your cupboard has a digestion promoting quality to it, which is pretty neat.  This particular digestive formula is made up of Fenugreek, Cardamom, Fennel and Citrus. 

Most of the herbs in our spice cabinets, such as: turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, fennel, thyme, and oregano, support our digestive system to be warm, moving and dryish.  This means that formulas like my own are great for common indigestion that is characterized by bloating, gas, heaviness, bogginess and lack of appetite.  There are, however, as many types of digestive ailments as there are people; some require moist demulcent herbs like marshmallow, or cool, bitter herbs; so do remember that one size does not fit all.  For this reason, it can be a good idea to consult with you herbalist.

Jenny McCartney, Medical Herbalist

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Formula of the Month: The Sensualist’s Elixir

If you’ve perused the front shelves of the
Heart & Hand’s lobby and been curious about
some of the tinctures being sold, then you’ll know that it can be hard to choose! This month I want to give some words of description to one of the most misunderstood of my tinctures: The Sensualist’s Elixir!

I find this elixir quite delicious, it’s resiny, aromatic, spicy and warm. This formula could be labelled as a moderate aphrodisiac, In that it stimulates circulation and blood flow to the erogenous zones of the body. But then I don’t want to pigeonhole it. It’s really about embodiment and the creative flame, and it becomes specially ideal during these cloudy coastal winters. Summer’s flame circulates our energy; it dazzles and distracts our senses with the flamboyancy of its armfulls of flowers and swollen fruits – everything flirting and buzzing in fat flowering elation. Winter is when the frills fall away and we’re left in the bone marrow of it all.

Many of us are acquainted on some level with the winter blues – when the emotions and energy stagnate. We puddle, sink, and things slow down without the sun’s heat and energy chasing away our demons, warming our creaking joints and casting light into our dusty, dark corners. And when we can’t count on the sun, plants make a fabulous substitute. They are, of course, premier feeders and transformers of light!

The plants used in this particular formula are solar and sacral in nature, coming in shades of red, orange and yellow, and offering warm circulation. The star of this formula is Damiana, which helps folks to come home to their bodies, reconnect with the base instincts and warm and open the pelvic area. Damiana is also wonderful for those experiencing a type of blue depression that could likely perk up if the sun came out for a few days (or a few hours!) or for the kind of depression which is connected to a feeling of needing one’s fire stoked.

If your blue feelings are a bit more pervasive, deeper and darker, I would try the Lamplighter formula. Be well!

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Shine a light: an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression, in which the onset is related to changes in seasons. Symptoms commonly start in the fall and continue through the winter months, due to declining daylight hours and temperature, sapping your energy, turning your body into a bag of bricks and giving you the “winter blues”, to put it lightly.

The TCM approach is unique and relevant as it takes many of its cues from the season and changes in climate that we live in. The dark of winter, especially our dreary, rainy west coast winters align at this time of year with the “Water element”. Water being the most yin of the 5 elements (Earth > Metal > Water > Wood > Fire), it is associated with coldness, low energy, darkness and a natural tendency of our energy to turn inwards. The ancient founding texts of Chinese Medicine, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” states, “In winter, all is hidden”. You will observe in the natural world, that winter is a time of rest, an opportunity to replenish itself for the upcoming rise of energy in the spring. In turn, this is a time of year for introspection, rest, rebuilding and embracing the darkness. It is only natural to succumb to the desire to lie low.

Here are 3 different approaches from your H&H acupunks on their personal preferences for addressing the seasonal blues.

Stefanie’s Approach
Diet therapy and herbal medicine can often be overlooked when assessing your health and self care regime. You may have heard of eating with the seasons, according to Chinese Medicine some of those foods for winter may include root vegetables like beets, yams, turnips, carrots and squash, foods that are cooked slower over a longer period of time, and warm foods like soups and strews.

When addressing Seasonal Affective Disorder, diet can play a strong role in how your body is physically feeling and how you are coping mentally and emotionally.

One of the notable things about winter is the cold. We can look at this as the body not getting, or generating enough heat on its own to function optimally. This can manifest as a cold body and limbs, weakened immune system, and sluggish digestion. Another notable winter trait is the feeling of stillness or being stuck, we can look at this as a sort of stagnation or lack of movement in the body. This can manifest as physical aches and pains, emotional upset or turmoil, headaches, and stress.

How can diet help with these symptoms? By using foods whose properties (hot, cold, bitter, spicy, etc) nourish the body during the winter, you will be more equipped to thrive physically and emotionally.

One of my “go-to’s” during the winter season is bone broth. Bone broth is best made by simmering organic animal bones in a slow cooker for 12+ hours. Bone broth is mineral rich (calcium and phosphorus) and full of constituents that benefit the body in numerous ways (cartilage is great for the joints, immunity and inflammation in the bowels and bone marrow helps blood cell function, which helps boost the body’s immunity as well). If I need an extra boost I will add additional
herbs like Huang Qi ( astragalus), dang gui (angelica root), and gou qi zi (goji berry).

Warm and spicy foods can be great additions to your diet in the winter, in moderation, to warm the body, aid digestion, and promote movement of qi and blood which will help with any stagnation. Some of my favorites are ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice; all of these can be boiled to make tea.

Susan’s approach
Feel your feelings. If you are tired, and bummed out, then feel that. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling this way. There is never anything wrong with you. It sucks to feel bad, but it is an essential part of being human. Don’t take it so personally. Be curious about it. Notice how things change. The trick is to not get caught in those feelings.
Feel them, but don’t believe the stories you tell yourself to justify those feelings you are having.

Change your expectations. Winter is not summer. You will feel different.

Move your body. Eat good food (see Stefanie’s advice) . But if you need to fill your belly full of chocolate chip cookies to get through a lonely cold night, then go for it. Notice the things that overall make you feel not so bad and do more of that. Don’t beat yourself up; practice self-compassion. Spend time with people you like spending time with. Get outside. Find some trees or a body of water. Breath. Let yourself rest when you can.

Notice the moments. Appreciate the ones you can. Ask for help when you need it.
Come get pokes. Let yourself feel the feels.

Christina’s Approach
Our bodies during this distinct change in
daylight hours and climate will consume more energy and calories to keep you warm. Your body’s thermostat originates in the Kidney organ and specifically, Kidney yang, which functions as your furnace and in the west coast chill, it can work over time. I like to think of Kidney yang synonymous with thyroid-adrenal function, which regulates your metabolism and specifically, body heat and stamina/energy levels. Weakness of Kidney yang can result in a plethora of symptoms including sensitivity to cold + cold extremities, lumbar weakness, weak, dull hair and finger nails and restless sleep and mood. Therefore, in our damp-cold climate, this is an important time of year to protect your Kidney yang. Here are some suggestions:

  • Dress for the weather: Keep vulnerable parts including your ankles/calves, neck/chest and flanks (home of Kidneys) covered to prevent excessive loss of your precious yang. This is also the time of year to avoid going outside with wet hair!
  • Thyroid/adrenal supportive foods: (see Stefanie’s post) + include seafood, homemade liver pate, organic eggs, sea veggies, good fats (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado) to provide all the necessary trace nutrients for their healthy function and maintenance of temperature regulation and metabolism
  • Vitamin D drops: with shorter days & winter clothing, there is less sun exposure, take your liquid sunshine for optimism
  • Practice the nordic tradition of “Hygge” (pronouced hooga): as per Susan’s suggestion, spend meaningful cozy time, be social or not, be productive or not, but the key is to stay warm and comfortable and sync up with the flow of the season, which is low and quiet and to be introspective and observant with what is happening around you.
  • The warming TCM tradition of moxabustion: the igniting of the herb “Artemesia vulgaris” and warming specific acupoints on the body. It is said that only a few things can regenerate Kidney yang, namely, herbs, qi gong and moxabustion.

Those who are interested in a traditional way to build and protect your Kidney yang, might we suggest our Moxa 101 workshop on Sunday Jan. 29!

Hopefully, this information sheds so light on this dark time of year.
We wish you warmth, health and coziness :)

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Non-discrimination, part 2

It seems only fitting on Martin Luther King Day that we shout out our Non-Discrimination Statement loud and proud today.

Unfortunately today, a client decided to verbally abuse several of our practitioners and sadly, this was not an isolated incident. They carried the MIS-belief that the “customer is always right” and that the staff at our establishment should put up with abuse and hostility. We have finally had to revise our statement with a reminder of how to conduct yourself in a mutually safe and respectful manner at Heart & Hands.

All of our community members are encouraged to express themselves in a dignified and peaceful manner, but behaviour that attacks or oppresses the rights of anyone (practitioner, volunteer, client) at our clinic will not be tolerated.

We exercised the extremely rare right to refuse service to someone who violated our safety of a space we work so hard to courageously protect.

Heart & Hands supports big hearts & open minds.
We thank you for YOUR continued support <3

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H&H story from M.L.

I have been receiving acupuncture treatment regularly since 1991, usually once a month. This was a result of very good advice from my “forward-thinking” medical doctor, as a last-ditch attempt to resolve long-standing digestive issues that could not be diagnosed by conventional medicine. Acupuncture was fairly new to Victoria at that time, and I hadn’t even considered it. One treatment and I was hooked; my overall health improved almost immediately. Over the years, acupuncture has helped me in many ways, not only with physical ailments, but with mental and emotional challenges as well. Acupuncture is my first choice in addressing any health issues. It truly is the closest thing to magic.

I have been a client of Heart & Hands since May 2012, being first introduced to the community acupuncture model by my long-time acupuncturist when she closed her private practice.


Heart & Hands provides a safe, warm and nurturing environment, a quiet cocoon in which to replenish. The staff are efficient and welcoming; the practitioners caring, supportive, and knowledgeable. Because treatment is so affordable, I can usually attend weekly as part of my regular health maintenance.

Heart & Hands is a great place to relax, get healthy and meet new friends. I also appreciate that Heart and Hands gives back to the community, with their many food /clothing drives, information sharing and volunteer opportunities. Thank you Heart & Hands!

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