A lot of this page is focused on Colleen and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) because of how much specific information is useful to know about the techniques, and because of how she ties it in with Integral Medicine.
You'll find less specific information about the work that Dana does on this page, because in a way it is simpler to understand. In his Life Strategist capacity he does one thing - really really well. When someone as skilled and intuitive as Dana really listens to you, they can help you dive to the heart of what is really going on so you can get to it and change it 100 times faster than on your own. He expertly guides you to a deep understanding and facilitates transformational healing that changes the way you interact with your life from that moment onward.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) is an ancient, complex and comprehensive medical system which has helped billions of people over thousands of years. Having withstood the test of time, TCM still proves to be one of the most thorough and comprehensive systems people have developed, producing powerful results for anything from simple to complex health challenges.
With unity & balance at its heart, a practitioner cannot use it to treat symptoms or parts like allopathic medicine, but rather must treat the underlying syndrome/s along with the whole person. This not only makes it an excellent adjunct to Western Medicine, but a powerful technique in its own right. Focusing on the person's whole being and life, TCM aims towards prevention and seeks to balance: yin & yang, heat & cold, qi & blood, and the 5 elements. It is a system that believes that everything, including your emotions, your physical state, your interactions with others, and even nature, can influence every aspect of you.
Acupuncture is one aspect of TCM which has become so common in North America that some Western MDs incorporate very basic elements into their practices. However, TCM also includes QiGong, acupressure, herbal therapy, cupping, gua sha, food therapy, and more. For the needle-phobic there is the very modern, gentle, and powerful acu-laser, or ear seeds which can be used to stimulate acupoints for days, further enhancing your treatment. Most clients find they leave a session either rejuvenated or very relaxed.
There are some brilliant practitioners out there, and Colleen works with and refers to several of them. Some practitioners specialize in acupuncture, others in herbology, QiGong, and others. Colleen prefers to use several techniques in conjunction wherever possible and useful, and combines them with other forms of Integral Medicine.
Integral and Energy Medicine (we prefer the term Integral for what we do) are broad terms which have been used to describe everything from acupuncture and Reiki to aspects of Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the vast spectrum in between. Different techniques deal with different aspects, focusing on how to influence a person through the "subtle energies" that pervade our bodies and our world. Some emphasize intuition, others on protocols. After many years of exploring, we have chosen to include techniques that integrate well with each other and with other things you may be doing to help yourself (including Western Medicine prescriptions, physiotherapy, yoga, etc), with proven track records, and, often, with clinical case studies to back up their effectiveness.
That used to be a simple question to answer - and it’s getting to be delightfully more complicated every day! Colleen and Dana always start from their own platforms (Colleen's TCM and Dana's Life Strategist techniques). Between the two of them, they have also studied, certified in, trained in, and researched dozens of forms of Integral/Energetic medicine, including QiGong, BodyTalk, Matrix Energetics, NMT, Core Shamanism, LifeSpan Integration, and more. They have developed a technique unique to them which is non-invasive and gently collaborative with each individual client. Through it, they help translate the 40-million-bits-of-data-supercomputer-part-of-you to the day-to-day-conscious-mind-part-of-you, and facilitate a greater understanding of why your system has done what it's done, along with how to allow it to let go of the patterns that are no longer useful to you.
TCM is a brilliant, complex, and very old art/science. Symptoms aren’t treated per se - they’re just the body’s outward manifestation of some internal imbalances. For instance, liver qi stagnation might cause irritability in one person, PMS in another, or depression, digestive distress, or more, depending on the person being affected. So if you’re experiencing headaches caused by liver fire (brief aside - how beautiful and picturesque is TCM language?!) and your friend is experiencing headaches caused by blood stagnation, your formula will work wonders for you and not for your friend. This is also why we don't have a one-size-fits-all solution we can give you in one minute: this is a system that takes the time to get to know the wonderfully complex and unique person that is you, so we can suggest something that will work best specifically for you.
Depends on who’s doing it! That’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek answer, but here’s the thing: some people like their acupuncture to hurt, some don’t. Some practitioners like using thinner needles than others, or using a stronger needling technique than others. The needles we use at Crimson Door are so thin that insertion is painless or nearly so for most people.
There’s a feeling called ‘de qi’, which roughly translates into ‘the arrival of qi’, and it’s the feeling that comes when the qi arrives at the needled point. It might feel warm, tingly, heavy, pressured, sharp, achy, or throbbing. Traditionally, Chinese needling is done until you achieve ‘de qi’, which means you manipulate the needles until the feeling arrives. Some people love this: some really don't. Colleen tends to use other needling techniques that are more gentle 99% of the time. She finds that the results are just as good and you don’t need to worry about being system-shocked after you’re already in discomfort. If you want harder needling, let her know and she can oblige. If not, her focus is on making sure to not traumatize the body in new ways if you're coming in to clear out old trauma.
Oh, and of course there’s always laser acupuncture for those of you who are really committed to needle-free healing.
Cupping is amazing. It is. It's easy to fall in love with. They should sell cupping sets at drugstores and grocery stores and gas stations so everybody can get one whenever they like, seriously.
Cupping is a process of pulling the air out of a cup placed on the skin - usually the back (at Crimson Door we use plastic ones with a hand pump, some other people use more traditional glass cups with 'fire cupping'). It can pull out toxins (great if you’re sick), but what is extra incredible is that it lifts up muscles, tendons, tissue and bone up to 4 inches deep - how crazy is that? Everything sits quietly in the vacuum of the cup for a little while, releasing and relaxing. Then, when the air is allowed back in to the cup, things are free to settle back into place properly. It’s like a reverse massage that your body can’t really get any other way. For back pain, tight muscles, pinched nerves, and knots, it’s like a dream. If there’s stasis and the blood isn’t moving well, you’ll get lovely red or purple ‘hickeys’ where the cup is. If there isn’t, you won’t. For most people, it’s well worth the colour change for the relief!
This falls into the category of "love it or hate it" techniques. Roughly translated, Gua means to scrape and sha means sand; this is a technique of using a specialized tool (we use hard plastic because of how easy it is to sterilize) to scrape over tight or sore areas (usually the back) in order to release the congestion. The marks that often rise up after this has a somewhat sand-like texture and appearance. Gua Sha is often used quite intensely, but we often prefer to use a gentler approach unless you prefer otherwise. And of course, you don't need to embrace this technique if it's not something that appeals to you!
Short answer, yes.
In North America, we tend to think that different body parts and different symptoms are entirely unrelated. In TCM and Integral medicine, not so much. In fact, most things are intricately related. We don’t treat symptoms, we work with people. Together or separately, we’ve worked with people coming in for concerns that run the gamut of what you could imagine . If it’s something that stymies us, we’ll tell you. Otherwise, we’re excited to work with you to feel better, regardless of the cause or official diagnosis.
That’s a tough question, and it would be great if we could answer that right off the bat. What we do is offer your system opportunities to change, and then support you as your system makes those changes. We never know how fast any individual’s system is prepared to go.
Some people have come in with a laundry list of problems and only needed 1 session to feel significantly better and tick most or all of the items off the list. Some people have come in with one concern and needed repeated sessions to clear it. We will always do our best to help you move forward as gently, quickly, and fully as possible.
For acupuncture, our per session cost is higher than some, but for a per-minute cost, it's actually less than most. Most acupuncturists work with at least 2 rooms, some with 4 or more. They come in and do a tongue and pulse check and have a chat and then pop in the needles and head to the next room. They’re usually working on several people over the course of an hour. It’s a great system, and many people love it (please look below for some recommendations for acupuncturists who work that way).
When you come in for a session with Colleen, she works on you and just you for the entire session. She takes the opportunity to do the needles, of course - and then to unravel as much as possible as quickly as possible, of what’s bothering you, whether that means clearing an allergy or clearing a trauma, using QiGong, and more, and she wants to focus her full attention on you and no-one else.
Of course, you’re welcome to come for acupuncture alone, but we usually recommend that people wanting straight-up needling go elsewhere, simply because you’re likely to find treatment more cheaply someplace that’s just doing acupuncture during a session.
We usually recommend Colleen's friends and previous teachers, Dr. Wendy Xu (pronounced ‘shoe’, sorry Wendy, but it’s the fastest way to explain it!) and Dr. Jim Han. They’re brilliant, dedicated, and whiz-bang masters at herbs. They're people we trust to needle us, and that’s saying something. Their web page for contact info is in the Links and Lists page. Some of our clients also like Poke Community Acupuncture (acupuncture in a group setting) on East Broadway. We haven’t tried them so can’t personally recommend them, but a number of folks we know like them, and they have a sliding scale to make acupuncture accessible to more people.
Well, the fact of the matter is, we don’t find any of this very weird any more. When we started exploring 'alternative' techniques, acupuncture needles and qi sounded crazy. After years of studying quantum physics, neuro-anatomy, bio-chemistry, trauma release, and more, these techniques seem like a natural progression of how we as humans help ourselves and those we care about feel better; they just make sense.
You may have had some experience with herbs in the western sense, where a particular symptom can be treated with a variety of herbs. However, TCM uses herbs in a very different way. For one, TCM formulas treat syndromes, rather than symptoms, and for another, they build formulas to treat the whole body and compensate for underlying issues.
A syndrome is the way your body behaves that results in problems or symptoms. So treating symptoms from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is about as effective as picking dandelions - they will keep growing back if you don't get to the root.
An individualized formula allows the syndrome to be corrected while dealing with the results of that treatment. For instance, a formula to clear stomach fire (resulting, for instance, in acid reflux) would not only include herbs to cool the stomach but could also include something to make sure that digestion isn't impaired. The purpose is to help the body correct without causing undesirable side effects.
We have a fantastic supplier who allows us to create custom tinctures from organic herbs. They come in a small bottle that you can easily take with you anywhere, and you usually take multiple drops once or twice a day. If you've ever taken Traditional Chinese herbal teas you know that they are wonderful, effective, time-consuming to prepare and can smell and taste "interesting", to say the least. Alternatively, taking TCM tinctures is quick, easy, usually less costly, and provides similar results.
These tinctures are a way that you can help yourself on a daily basis when you are not in a session, and because they are treating the underlying pattern or syndrome, you can address multiple symptoms with one tincture. As your body moves more into balance you can find that things that you weren't even specifically working on can change in a positive way, as the rest of the underlying pattern shifts and heals.
Great! We second that!
The point of using a TCM herbal formula is not to get you to take it for the rest of your life. In fact, they basically make themselves obsolete. These herbs are gentle and are designed to nudge or teach your system to self-correct. As you feel better, we'll talk to you about how to dose down and/or off in order to make sure that your system can continue to maintain the new state of being.
The Qi Gong used at Crimson Door is a gentle version of an age-old, powerful practice. Qi Gong essentially translates to a practice of moving/utilizing Qi, often referred to as life force or vital energy. Qigong can be used internally on the self, or externally on others. It is divided into categories of medical QiGong, martial, or spiritual. While there are some amazing reports and videos out there of QiGong adepts world-wide performing mind-blowing feats, we use a gentle form of QiGong that most people don't notice. Those who do, usually report feeling tingling, or energy moving, and find it pleasant. Now, that either makes you feel comforted, or you just roll your eyes. Either response or any in between is fine, so if you love the idea or dislike it, just let Colleen know when you're planning how to work together.
If, like some of our clients, you are averse to touch because of old trauma, this aspect can be performed hands-off, or skipped altogether.
Food therapy isn't for everyone, but the people who love it really love it. It's sort of like getting advice about nutrition, but suggestions are based on your individual TCM syndrome. For instance, raw vegetables can be wonderful and chock full of goodness, but people with spleen deficiency won't be able to digest them, often won't crave or enjoy them, and in fact will feel worse after eating them. In contrast, eating soups, stews, and root vegetables will help tonify the spleen and result in better digestion and energy.
And absolutely, you could take tinctures or herbs instead or as well, but adding a component where you're supporting your health with every meal can help you feel better much more quickly.
Stress is probably the number one cause of illness, injury, and unhappiness out there. Some theorists go so far as to say it's the only one.
Regardless of which of those is true, stress itself isn't bad per se; it conditions us; helps us learn and change and grow. There's stress in pushing your muscles at the gym, stress in learning a new language or skill set, stress in having a baby. As humans, we literally can't breathe or digest or walk without a certain level of physiological stress moving those muscles and doing that work.
What we call problems can occur when we aren't well-resourced enough to process the stress we're undergoing. For instance, walking in new shoes can cause blisters, so most of us, given the chance, will reduce that stress by cleaning the skin and switching to gentle shoes while we heal. Problems could occur, though, if we didn't have anything to clean our heels with, didn't have another pair of shoes to put on, or didn't have a bandaid to safeguard that area.
The challenge with stress - physical, emotional, energetic, mental, or spiritual - is that we don't always notice it piling up. We can get through a stressful day at work because we feel we have to, then snap and yell at someone at home who has added a tiny piece of wood to the Jenga pile of stress in front of us by asking if we remembered to pick up the groceries. Similarly, old patterns of stress can be tipped over the edge months or decades after the fact when exactly the right stress gets added to the pile.
So yes, we will ask about stressors, old and new, not to drag you through thornbushes and leave you feeling tender, but because we want to find the stress pile that's impacting you and help you move it before it hurts you any more.
That's a great question! The Integral Medicine we practice may seem like it's functioning on a level you don't understand, but it's a dance that's done with your nervous system, your brain, and your mind. The technique we utilize is a permission-based practice. Essentially, at every step, we're pointing out something to your system, in essence saying "Did you notice that this allergy (memory interpretation, toxin, mental pattern, etc) is causing these problems? Would you like to change that?" The vast majority of this is happening in that super-computer in your brain, moving at 40 million bits of data per second. This means that your wellness and safety are doubly protected: we are doing everything we know how to do to safeguard it, and we are asking your system at every step if there is a concern with changing or clearing something.
There are more complicated ways of explaining Integral or Integrative Medicine, but those require not only paragraphs, but chapters and entire books. If you'd like a very short description, feel free to check out Dr. Amit Goswami's blog here: http://www.amitgoswami.org/2014/11/25/quantum-activism-integrative-medicine/ or grab his fantastic book called "The Quantum Doctor". He's a theoretical quantum physicist who is doing the world a great deal of good by exploring how we interact with each other on all levels, and since he's rather genius, he'll be able to explain this concept beautifully to you.
Many of our clients who have experienced positive changes in their health, emotions, and lives tend to describe it this way: "I have no idea how it works. But I know that it works because I'm feeling better". In that respect, Integral medicine isn't very different from a carburetor, penicillin, meditation, or the chips in our phones: most of us don't really understand how they work, but we know that we feel like they're making our lives better.
Muscle testing is a system that works very much like a computer accesses the internet, except that in this case, your body and through it your energetic system / nervous system are the "computer terminal" and the "internet" is the universal system of energy that impacts us all. You can look at this in a number of different ways. For instance: in quantum physics terms it is a way to access connections that exist on a sub-atomic level and link us all together; in religious terms it is a way of accessing the higher part of yourself that resonates with whatever name you choose to call that higher power; in other scientific language it is a way of accessing shared morphic fields of knowledge and information; in psychological terms it is a way of accessing both your conscious and subconscious mind and getting rid of any undue influences of ego. Regardless of the lens you prefer to view it with, or the science or metaphysics you choose to ascribe to it, it can be an extremely effective tool of discernment and clarity to help you move forward.