Natural Pain Relief Essential Oil Stick

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I suffer from a few musculoskeletal issues, including:

  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which often result in tension headache and tight neck
  • Frequent neck injuries
  • Scoliosis
  • Sacroiliac joint problems
  • Plantar Fasciitis

I also used to have knee problems (diagnosed with patella tendonitis), but that went away when I started lifting weights correctly. You hear that right – lifting heavy things fixed my knees, but I digressed.

These musculoskeletal problems were diagnosed years apart, so it’s not that I am a hypochondriac, but more like someone who was so competitive that I eventually accumulated all those injuries. Those are all despite having misaligned jaws and scoliosis, which has caused me to be injury prone. My competitive and athletic nature doesn’t help, either. (Although I do think that I do thrive and learned to survive these problems through training.)

Instead of simply calling it bad luck and telling myself that I would physically amount to nothing, I decided to use my body as a textbook and see what I could do with my body, as well as what would work the best to heal it.

Now, this is the attitude I take towards my musculoskeletal problems (subtracting the heartbreak).

Not only do I seek to heal from these problems, but, to a stronger extent, I simply wanted to be a beast despite the musculoskeletal issues. I am dying to get a kettlebell certification (which requires snatching a 16 kg/35 lb kettlebells 100 times in 5 minutes), but I can’t snatch a light kettlebell without injuring my neck. I want to compete in powerlifting and strongman, yet I keep hitting walls in my training because of my imbalances.

So far, I’ve tried (and will write about this later):

  • 4 different forms of Chiropractic Treatments
  • Osteopathic Manual Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Infrared sauna
  • Massage Therapy
  • Cupping
  • Physiotherapy
  • Foot Orthotics
  • Post-rehab Personal Training
  • Biofeedback Training
  • High dose curcumin extract

I can’t straighten out my scoliosis completely, and thankfully it’s not bad enough for a surgery. However, instead of a touch-and-go cure, this has been a journey. Some days, I am gloriously pain free. Other days, I am dealing with either nuisance levels of pain or full on full on debilitating pain.

Now, it comes to measures to overcome pain. I refuse to use a painkiller over the counter medications, especially NSAIDs, because it is a burden to the liver, and it can directly cause intestinal permeability. At first, NSAIDs can reduce pain and inflammation, but if you keep taking it day and night, the perpetual intestinal permeability is going to cause chronic, long term inflammation. And that can make the pain worse. Therefore, I choose to control pain naturally, be it acupuncture or essential oil.

Oil of wintergreen contains methylsalicylate, which is the same chemical as aspirin, an NSAID painkiller or analgesic. At first, I wondering if using oil of wintergreen on my skin can cause any of the side effects that taking it internally would. When my pharmacist friend who is also a functional medicine practitioner confirmed that it doesn’t cause the problem when used externally, I feel quite safe using it to mitigate my musculoskeletal pain.

When I received my first bottle of wintergreen essential oil, I tried to apply to the joints that are bothering me, and found that it did help to some extent. However, it does burn the skin, so I would have to dilute it. When it is mixed with other cooling, calming, and anti-inflammatory oils like peppermint, ginger, and frankincense, that’s when it works really well.

I don’t just go to the pharmacy and buy an analgesic well because, first, most of those products contain just menthol as an active ingredient. Second, most things in the pharmacy contain toxic preservatives that I would rather not have on my skin. Thirdly, I just like making my own things and having control of what goes into my body. Lastly, the small roller format is very convenient to always keep in my purse and dab on when and where I need it.

Now, the only caveat of using essential oils is that you will smell like it. But so far this is so effective that I don’t want to go back. I researched other oils that have some anti-inflammatory effects, and was able to create a synergistic blend that really works to reduce the pain. I’ve used it on my head, neck, and shoulders, lower back, hip, ankles, and on the arch of my feet for plantar fasciitis. Even when my sinuses get a little swollen, I dabbed a little on the sides outside of my nose (where the sinuses are), and this seems to take it away. I always have one of these sticks in my purse.

Natural Pain Relief Essential Oil Stick (for a 10 ml stick)


1. 3 ml peppermint essential oil

2. 2 ml oil of wintergreen

3. 2 ml jojoba oil with 3% helichrysum (equivalent to 2 drops of Helichrysum essential oil)

4. 1 ml of eucalyptus oil

4. 1 ml of lavender essential oil

4. 5 drops each of clove bud oil, ginger essential oil, vetiver essential oil, and frankincense essential oil


Measure each of the essential oils with a dropper or syringe and put in the 10 ml roll-on stick (for ones that ship in Canada, see this), mix well and use on areas of pain. Avoid contact with eyes and open wounds.

Alternatively, you can estimate 1 ml of oil by counting the drops. 1 drop is approximately 0.027 ml, so 37 drops is 1 ml.

PS I get my essential oils wholesale from New Directions Aromatics, which ships in Canada and the US. While I love essential oils, I am not an affiliate or independent distributor for any company, and will not be because I am happy with the quality and pricing of the oils from NDA.

Have you tried essential oil for pain management? Please share in the comments below.


What to do if your mind wander during meditation?


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I was born a Buddhist, and still am a practicing one. Since I was little, nearly everyone I knew had a meditation and prayer room in their house. I also got used to accompanying my mom to the temple many weekends. I climbed the Golden Mountain and eat ice cream while she meditated in her class for hours. In Thailand, meditation was more of a normal thing that everyone should do, rather than this hippy thing or a personal development thing that only hippies do.

Everyone in Thailand knows that you meditate in order to get better at Samadhi, which means focus and concentration, whether there was science to support it or not. It’s what we experienced for thousands of years, which is why it’s called “Samadhi Sitting” (Nung Samadhi) in Thai.

Solution to the wandering mind during meditation? Expectation management.

When meditation hits it big in the western world, many westerners complain that they can’t do meditation because their minds wander as they close their eyes. To me, it’s simply an issue with expectation management.

When we have a meditation session in Thailand, nobody that I know of complains that their mind wanders. It’s just something everyone deals with internally. Our minds are going to wander, and we just have to strive to get right back to meditate. When we sit down to meditate, we are there to grow and improve personally, and we don’t complain. If I was in a morning school ritual with thousands of other students, I just had to keep sitting there and deal with whatever demon I had in my head.

If your mind doesn’t wander, you are actually a very advanced meditator. After having meditated since I could sit (perhaps since 5 years old), the only time my mind didn’t wander for a few minutes was during one of my meditation retreats at Ampawan temple when I had been up to pray and meditate at 4 AM, and it went on until 9 PM. I hadn’t spoken to anyone for 3 – 4 days.

During the days leading up to that moment of still mind, it was as if I had a movie replay of my conversations with other people. Those thoughts came up in my head during my meditation sessions. It’s as if my mind was detoxing the thoughts as it cleared up. That means if you have had limited sensory input and no stimulation for extended periods of time, it is much easier to manage the wandering thoughts in your head.

My Most Healing Medicine: The Art of Being Present with and Forgiving to Myself

Years later, when I took a Qi Gong class just to try it out, the instructor made me do a wavy hand gesture for an entire hour and a half. Needless to say it was really boring. I asked the instructor if I could progress and learn another move, and he responded that if I could focus my mind for a minute straight, I could learn the next move. He then instructed me to keep doing the same move for half an hour every single day. Then I asked how long it would take me to achieve that state, and he said that it could probably take years of daily practice.

Meditation, or parasympathetic activities overall, can be just like that. It’s the practice of being in the present moment and letting go. You simply cannot type-A yourself into a more advanced stage of a meditative practice. In fact, it’s the opposite of being a type-A person, which might explain why it is so healthy and helpful to me. I am quite good at getting things done with intelligence, hardwork, and skills mastery. But what meditation got me as another component of success is the ability to be present, patience, and compassion, which is why meditation is my perfect medicine.

What do you do if your mind wander?

While I have practiced many types of meditation, Vipassana is my meditation of choice for religious reasons. Therefore, I’m only aware of the specific protocol of what to do if my mind wanders during Vipassana meditation.

The form of Vipassana meditation that I was taught always start with the walking part, which I find remarkably easier than the sitting meditation. It’s also said in the Buddhist canon that walking meditation makes it easier to concentrate during the sitting part. My teacher emphasizes that I should always do the walking and sitting meditation in equal duration.

Whenever another thought arise during the meditation, I am taught to think of the word “thinking”, then let go of the thought and continue the meditation. The key of Vipassana is to be conscious: to follow your thoughts, your movement, and your activities with your consciousness. It is with good consciousness that we get benefits from the meditation, and which will lead to enlightenment.

Without obstacles, we don’t grow or improve. Even though it seems like an obstacle, the wandering mind is an opportunity to train our consciousness. Therefore, you can still get the benefits of the meditation even though your mind wanders, so the gist is that it’s better to do it even though you are not perfect.

Tips to tame that wandering mind during meditation?

  1. Just let go and being present. Really do your best to focus on the present and not beat yourself up over what just went wrong. It is okay if your mind wander, just make your present the best. Let it go.
  2. Use binaural beats brain entrainment. Advanced meditators can achieve the theta brainwave during meditation, so you can “cheat” by using brain entrainment as an aid. I personally use the Binaural 32 Brainwave programs to entrain my brain during my Vipassana practice, and it can also be used to augment other practices. I find that it enhances the practice. Note that you will need headphones and use it at least 6 times to see results.
  3. Reduce your stimulating sensory inputs. More sensory inputs means that your nervous system has more things to process. Therefore, you want to leave your smartphone at home if you are going to a meditation retreat. Beyond that, it is a good idea to reduce exposure to social media, and really learn to do one thing at a time. (Read: no 20 tabs opened on a browser.)

How meditation has helped me

I was originally a type A, left-brain brainiac, neurotic, anxiety-prone, ADD-prone, stress-prone and perhaps anger-prone person. Meditation has helped me calm down, reduce anxiety, and focus. Meditation has improved my memory and makes me more intelligent, with increased ability to recognize patterns among things and learn what I know at a rapid pace. It has trained me to be a compassionate and wise person. Last but not least, meditation is the hero in my hero’s journey. It is the best thing in the world that has ever happened to me.

Having healed from an eating disorder solely through meditation, I became open to other less tangible things that may help me grow as a person and heal myself. This is why I continue to experiment with other healing modalities before I actually say something about it, because why analyze it when you can experience it?

How do you deal with your wandering mind? Please chime in in the comments below.

5 supplement mistakes that will waste your money and keep you from getting the results you want.

5 Common Supplement Mistakes (1)

In the instant gratification society where mainstream medicine has us believe that pills can fix health problems, we have to mistakenly believe that supplements or natural products can do the same. Often times, this is to our detriment.

As a general rule, you will get better results and effectiveness if you consult a qualified practitioner who understands your history and typically uses quality supplements in their practice.

I do believe that some supplements are necessary. In addition, our stress levels and special needs (such as exercises or some health conditions) may indicate increased needs for certain nutrients.

In this blog post, I discuss 5 common mistakes you may be making with your supplements that can prevent them from getting the desired results.

1. Thinking you can out-supplement poor diet and lifestyle

First, I need to emphasize that the role of supplements is to supplement. You should be taking it to supplement an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle. Sometimes, when life gets in the way, it may be okay to use supplements to mitigate the harms when one occasionally slips off healthy habits. (I certainly am not perfect and have been guilty of this many times thanks to graduate school.) But taking supplements is generally not a ticket to health, bikini physique, disease resolution or successful (permanent) weight loss for that matter.

Supplements can often do a few things beyond foods, as I like to summarize them as the acronym 4R – replace, repair and remove. The most common use of supplements is to replace the missing nutrients. For example, most Canadians are deficient in vitamin D, and it is often beneficial to replace it with supplements. Some supplements can support the body’s repair process from injuries, leaky gut or are sore from exercise, but they still need to eat nutritious foods and sleep well. Antimicrobial herbs, for example, can remove harmful pathogens when someone has an infection, while herbs like cilantro may help with removing heavy metals.

Remember, supplements do not give you superpowers. There is no such a thing as biological free lunch. If you want to get results, you have to make changes in your diet and lifestyle.

The sports supplement or bodybuilding industry, for one, is notorious for staging their brands in a way that make customers believe that their products are the golden ticket to the dream results. For example, they will sponsor physique competitors (or simply good looking people in great shape) to promote these products. Many highly-visited websites feature these physique competitors as users of these products and link to sales pages.

Even the product titles are misleading. Ironically, weight gainer shakes are meant to supplement an otherwise ridiculously high calorie diet. A “pump” product will get the drinker a pump during and perhaps a day or two after the workout before it subsides. Some of these substances may increase performance and provide results for well-trained people who are looking to improve the last 5 – 10% of their results. However, they are often completely unnecessary, distracting, and may even be harmful to the general population.

Needless to say, I am both disenchanted and amused with the sports supplement industry.

2. Buying supplements to self-treat a self-diagnosis or health problem you read about online

To follow up on the last point, when colleagues, friends and family saw that I had visible health improvements, I started getting health questions about how I did it. Of all the questions I got, 95% of them started with “What did you take for (insert health conditions here)?

There are times and places where natural remedies like herbs and vitamins can be used to self-treat simple health problems. These can be safe and effective, and sometimes even more effective than their conventional counterparts.

For complex chronic health problems like acne, eczema, most other skin problems, sleep problems, digestive issues, hormonal issues and stubborn weight gain, the solutions usually involve much more than just supplements. Most sufferers of these problems often have blindspots because they are not aware of the complexity of the problem. As a result, they end up adding supplements one by one based on what they find on Google. When each of the supplement fails to immediately produce any relief or visible results, these supplements end up in the “do not work” pile. Understandably, many of these people end up with piles of hundreds of not thousands of dollars’ worth of supplement graveyards in their homes.

The most time and cost-effective thing to do is to see a qualified practitioner who can evaluate the whole picture, identify key areas to be addressed with the most effective use of supplements. In addition, some supplements, especially ones that are used for repairing and removing, are more beneficial for a short period of time or may be harmful if taken beyond a certain periods of times.

3. Following dosages written on the bottle, or just taking 1 pill (or capsule, or softgel)

By law, supplement manufacturers are required to put dosages on the supplement bottles. They may be the recommended daily allowance (RDA) doses, which are simply sufficient for survival but not enough for optimal health. These doses may also bear no physiological relevance for you. In order to get results (and prevent harm from potential overdose), see a qualified practitioner to determine an optimal dose for you rather than following the dose on the bottle.

For example, my vitamin D is 1000 IU per softgel. The manufacturer recommends taking 1 softgel per day on the label. However, I personally need up to 5000 IU per day in the winter and 3000 IU per day in the summer to maintain a healthy blood level of vitamin D.

4. Supplementing based on genetic mutations

A human genome has about 3 trillion base pairs, and between any two people who are non-identical twins, we are 0.01% different. So, to do the math, there are 30 million SNPs you can find and supplement for. There are also numerous other types of genetic variants, some have yet to be discovered.

I say this not because I am ignorant, but rather because I have a PhD in molecular genetics. It is my area of expertise. As I wrote in a previous blog post, there are numerous other ways that epigenetics and the environment can influence your health. In addition, (with some exceptions) the state of the technology is about a decade or two premature to use these genetic information to determine supplementation protocols.

5. Purchasing supplements from a pharmacy, Walmart, Amazon or other websites that show up when you Google your health problems

The range of quality of products and profit margins are huge in this industry because of the rather lax regulation. In order to get good results from your supplements, you have to be a smart consumer.

In the US, the FDA claims that “the manufacturers are responsible for the safety and effectiveness” of these products. These products are often treated and regulated similarly to food, where the manufacturers and vendors can still get into trouble for safety issues. This means that some companies literally put cornstarch in capsules and market them as supplements (see example here). While it is true that these companies can get into trouble with false advertising, they may only get caught when someone decides to test the supplements or when someone is harmed. So, don’t be a guinea pig.

In Canada, the manufacturers have to apply for the Natural Health Product numbers (NPN numbers) and stay in compliant with Health Canada regulations. They must follow Good Manufacturing Practices on their manufacturing sites and provide evidences of safety and effectiveness to support their health claims. However, not all products will have solid evidences following gold standards such as large randomized controlled trials (as do drugs) to demonstrate safety and effectiveness of these products.

The problem with purchasing supplements from the wrong places: 

Remember, also, that the safety and effectiveness of supplements depend on more than just the amounts of active ingredients. For example, the more active forms of many B vitamins are much more expensive than the less active forms. Several well-known brands of vitamins are in a format that is very difficult to break down and absorbed in the digestive tract. Even worse yet, some of these products (including ones for prenatal and children) contain harmful ingredients like titanium dioxide, FD&C colors and sodium lauryl sulfate (AKA liquid soap).

Unfortunately, the supplements that can afford a high portion of their profit margins to be in the pharmacy or the national supermarkets tend to use the less expensive and less effective forms of vitamins. They add inedible chemicals to the products and also pay no attention to using responsible ingredients that will ensure no allergic reactions.

What to buy instead:

I usually recommend professional brands of supplements. A supplement company is considered professional brand if they require a professional training or licensing to purchase and sell. This means that end users can only access these products through their practitioners. These companies do not use national TV or other common means of advertising to the end consumers, which means that they can keep their pricing reasonable while providing high quality products. Because these practitioners have the skills and knowledge to evaluate the quality of the supplements as well as observe for clinical effectiveness, the supplement companies have to maintain rigorous production and quality standards to stay in business.

I also notice that these companies tend not to put health claims on their labels. They don’t use flashy or hypey marketing. It is the practitioner’s jobs to decide which products and dosages to use for their patients.

As a holistic practitioner, I remain unbiased in terms of supplement brands so I can focus on what give my clients the best outcomes. That means I am not committed to one brand and will even recommend a few different options that have the same effects. The professional brands that I have personally used and recommended to my clients include Thorne Research, NFH, Douglas Laboratories, Progressive, Genuine Health, Designs for Health, AOR, Metagenics, Physician’s Exclusive, Gaia Herbs, Biomatrix and Restorative Formulations. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

The problem with buying discounted stuff off the internet.

Even if you are aware of the distinctions between professional brands and other kinds of brands, you want to purchase them from reliable and reputable dispensaries like Emerson Ecologics, BMS Resources or a good health food store. Some professional brand companies will allow you to purchase directly from them if your healthcare professional has an account with them.

When I opened my accounts with many of these companies, I was required to sign an agreement that I would not re-sell these products on third party websites like Amazon or eBay. Therefore, unless the companies themselves list on these products, the odds of these products being legitimate on Amazon can be quite low.

Keep in mind that on these websites anyone can list anything for sale and make them cheaper than any other listings on there. That means that people can make counterfeit products and re-sell expired but relabeled products on there as legitimate.

Are you guilty of these supplement mistakes too?

Feel free to share in the comments below.

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5 Common Supplement Mistakes (2)

Gut healing gelatin frothy tea latte

Gut HealingI love lattes, and all things frothy. Unfortunately, dairy products can be very mucous forming and inflammatory. Some cafe will have almond milk, but those boxed almond milks are often highly processed and simply do not match up with the real latte.

It is April, and spring is in the air. If you suffer from nasal allergy symptoms, dairy may make it worse, except for Ghee. This recipe, using ghee, is perfect for you to curb that craving for lattes. Also, I like to put in stinging nettle, an herb that makes the tea richer both in terms of texture and nutrients. Studies have shown that nettle helps with allergic rhinitis and several inflammatory conditions (reference1, reference2 and reference3). Rooibos tea is also high in antioxidants.

Ingredients for gut healing healthy tea latte

10 oz of boiling water
2 tsp ceylon tea
1 tsp nettle tea leaves
1 tsp oatstraw
stevia to taste
(optional) 1/2 tsp rooibos tea for flavor
(optional) chai spice, whole or ground
1 tbsp butter or ghee
1 tbsp gelatin


1. Brew ceylon tea, nettle tea and oatstraw with the 10 oz of boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes
2. Steep the tea, place in a blender, add butter and stevia
3. Turn the blender on the lowest setting with the lid covered (so the tea won’t splatter).
4. With the blender on, add gelatin. Blend for a few more seconds.
5. Pour into a cup, garnish and serve.

Other ideas: use a strong matcha tea instead of ceylon tea to make a matcha latte.


Gut Healing


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