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Why are your posture, habit, and lifestyle so important when it comes to pain?


To answer the question, understanding why we have pain is important. Pain is a protective reaction and warning to let us know that something needs correction. Poor posture and overstraining tired and weakens your muscles.






For instance, looking down at your phone for a long time or repeating a motion that can overstretch and misuse your muscles will cause slight tear and inflammation. Our muscles play an important role, not only to facilitate movement but to firmly hold bones, joints, vessels, and nerves in place. As overstraining continues to wear out the muscles and one day, you try to move your neck or back; your joints will trigger the nerves or pull a muscle. This trigger will cause a protective reaction(pain), tightening the surrounding muscles to protect from hurting more.



Pain and Acupuncture


When you look up acupuncture on a search engine, pain relief is most likely the reason to seek acupuncture in Vancouver (apart from fertility). I see patients every day with various pain conditions that affect their daily lives, and they ask me what can be done with the issues.

                 Infographic office syndrome Template Design . Concept Vector illustration

Infographic office syndrome Template Design. Concept Vector illustration



– Working long hours in sitting/standing position
– Studying/typing/ texting with hunched back and turtle-like neck
– Work that involves continuous misuse of the same muscles. (ex. Serving, painting and etc.)
– Lack of stretching/core strengthening exercises
– Diet that lacks sufficient nutrients to nourish your organs, muscles, and tendons
– A poor quality bed that doesn’t support your spine as it should be.
– Desks or chairs that are too high or low.



How many of the above apply to you? Yes, it is true that acupuncture can do wonders to relieve your pain. However, without the efforts to change the derivation of pain, the relief easily becomes temporary. Even if it is work related, there are certainly ways to reduce the harm. For that reason, with each patient under intensive pain care, I go through their posture and give suggestions on daily exercises that can prolong the relief and ultimately eliminate the root of the pain. Lifestyle suggestions vary from patient to patient but there is one rule of thumb to maintain a good posture and make it a healthier habit.


core stability



Sit and stand with core stability!


What is core stability? It refers to one’s ability to control the movement and position of the core. Greater stability you have, you have the greater level of control over other parts of your body, thus lesser chance of misusing and straining your limbs or back during daily activities.
Easily put, tightening your core when you are sitting on the desk or standing up for a prolonged period can prevent your spine from misalignment. When your core is strong and stable, your neck shoulder naturally relaxes and deter you from unconsciously crossing your legs or standing on one leg.
The same rule applies when you are lifting heavy objects or carrying heavy plates on both hands. Contraction of your core muscles keeps your back straight and body weight centered to the ground, preventing you from straining or pulling a muscle in your arm or back.
It’s definitely not easy to constantly tighten your core while sitting or standing for hours, and this change of habit takes at least a few months to get used to. Eventually, however, many patients return to thank the advice and you can goodbye to your pain.





Here are some examples of core stability exercises that you can add to your exercise routine!




5 core stability exercises you need to know


Core Stability: 10-minute workout


Triathlon Core Stability Level 1,2,3,4




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Stress, anger and anxiety

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Elizabeth(pseudonym) has been stressed from relationships between her co-workers lately. She often feels heat flaring up to her face and palpitation during meetings, which makes her hard to converse normally. Even after she comes home, it is hard for her to calm down and it takes her 1-2 hours before she falls asleep. She also experiences frequent heartburn and occasional abdominal pain


Elizabeth is currently showing typical symptoms of SNS (sympathetic nervous system) hyperactivity. SNS comes into action when we have the flight-or-flight response (aka acute stress response.) For example, we confront a bear in the woods. To fight or flight, we require a large amount of blood supply to the muscle tissues, and our heart rate goes up to pump more blood. Thus the patient experiences palpitation. Increased blood flow to the muscle tissues naturally reduces blood supply to the gastrointestinal system, because digesting food matters very little when we are in life or death situation. Thus, digestive issues arise such as loss of appetite, heartburn, bloating and acid reflux altogether with sleep problem from being very alert to changes (confronting stress or a bear) to her surroundings.


Certainly, not everyone rapidly reacts to stress like Elizabeth. We know that there is always one friend who can sleep through a fire alarm no problem. Thus, those who are hot-tempered, strongly opinionated easily develop symptoms like Elizabeth. Of course, patients who are introverted can also suffer from hyperactivity of SNS, but they will not show skin sensitivity or red face (heat flare up to the face.)





Nei Guan (Pc6) and Gong Son (Sp 4)

Point located on hands and feet that worked together to relieve stagnant sensation in the chest. (ex. Chest oppression, chest pain and heartburn)

Yin Tang

Point between the inner ends of the two eyebrows that strongly calms the mind and treats insomnia.

Shen Men (Ht7)

Point on the ulnar end of the wrist crease that regulates palpitation.


Herbal Treatment


Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis)

Extremely bitter herb that is often used calm down the hyperactivity of SNS.

Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae Tematae)

Effective herb for nausea and acid reflux. Regulates secretions of mucosal tissues.

Gua Lou Shi (Fructus Trichosanthis Kirlowil)

Excellent herb for relieving chest tightness and pain


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Back pain? Your “psoas” is stressed!

LBP (lower back pain) accounts for a large number of population in North America. Acute pain becomes a chronic pain, and it often leads up to an irritable, grumpy and depressed character, and I kindly use that as an excuse to keep calm and be nice when I associate with such characters. Why not change up the mind and when you happen to cross someone who is irritable and negative, enlighten the person by offering to see an acupuncturist!


What is frustrating about the back pain is that there are too many cause factors to back pain. Reasons for back pain can range from sleeping on a low-quality mattress to a degenerative spinal disease. It may take months to years to just find out why you have pain in Canada, in which it becomes a waiting game more than a quest for the cure.


As acupuncture has been continuously raising awareness as a fantastic pain-relief treatment method for the past decade, many different approaches have been developed to treat back pain. Amongst all, I would like to talk about a treatment that has often been the solution in the clinic.


Most LBP originates from spinal and pelvic alignment, which can lead to other pain such as neck and shoulder pain, but lower back is usually the main complaint. When you have back pain from lying on your back, it’s most likely your Psoas muscle. The psoas is a deep-seated muscle connecting the lumbar vertebrae to the femur.  This muscle is often called the core muscle because psoas is the only muscle that connects your torso and legs, stabilizing your spine and posture. If your psoas is weak, it will be extremely challenging to do daily exercises.


Here is a classic example of how we commonly stress out (tightens) our psoas. A young female patient visits the clinic with right LBP; the chief complaint is unable to lie down on her back for a prolonged period.  Her right leg was shorter with pelvic elevation on the right. Her work is an office job, and she crosses her leg frequently.


When your psoas tightens, it creates pelvic imbalance because it will cause your pelvis to rotate anteriorly to create more curved hipline from the lower back, also known as Lumbar Lordosis (aka. the duck butt.) The rotated pelvic will pull the leg up, shortening the leg (leg length discrepancy). When this imbalance doesn’t get corrected, pain occurs as a result.

Tight-Psoas-back-pain-300x191 Image Citation

Acupuncture directly treats the psoas and related back supporting muscles which the muscles to relaxed states. Different treatments methods such as upping, stone massage electo-acupuncture are combined to maximize the results! In addition to the treatments, the psoas strengthening exercises are suggested to correct future onsets of pain as preventative measures.


Below are some useful links that can show you how to stretch and strengthen your psoas at home!

Yoga for psoas –

How to release your psoas –

Awaken your psoas





Northrup, Christiane. 2014, “Why psoas muscle is the most vital muscle in your body.” (

Berkley Wellness- University of California. 2016, “Get to know your Psoas.”(

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I’ve had lung problems from a young age, with asthma, shortness of breath, and more recently mucus build up in my lungs and coughing. I went to see a general practitioner and they said there is nothing wrong with me in particular and to keep using my inhalers. It reached a point where daily activities became difficult to do and my energy levels were affecting me mentally as well as physically.


I was referred to Greenleaf Clinic for acupuncture but I was skeptical at first, never having tried acupuncture before, but I was open minded about it. After my first session I felt a difference in my circulation, and after a couple weeks there was a significant improvement in my breathing. Dr. Na and the staff at Greenleaf Clinic were specific in finding the issues with my body and solving them at their source. Now my coughing of mucus and shortness of breath is gone, while my increased energy has benefited me mentally and physically.


I highly recommend Greenleaf Clinic to anyone who it willing to improve their overall wellbeing.


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A testimonial for vomiting

I was vomiting for 1 week none stop. I went to 2 private doctors and 3 times to emergency but in vain . I tried all kind of med until I went online and read about Greenleaf acupuncture and herb clinic. I said why not giving it a try . After the first session, I stopped vomiting for the first time . I gained my weight back after 1 week with the help of herbs and acupuncture.The clinic is very clean and Dr. Na knows what he is talking about. Highly recommend this place.


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Foods to Avoid While Taking Herbal Medicine

Foods that do not help with digestion and interfere with the absorption of herbal medicine.

Pork belly, flour, radish, mung beans and coffee

will likely reduce the effectiveness of the herbal medicine and should always be avoided while taking our herbal medicine. Pork belly is a very oily ingredient, so it can combine with the herbal medicine in the stomach which can lead to poor absorption of the herbal medicine once it reaches the small intestine. It is also important to remember that overeating, when your stomach and intestines are weak, can interfere with the absorption of the herbal medicine and therefore should also be avoided. Foods rich in flour can also interfere with the absorption of the herbal medicine as it can cause indigestion for those with a weak stomach.

The recommended amount of radish that you can consume will vary on the type of herbs you are prescribed. Herbs such as Sheng Di Huang, Gan Di Huang, Shu Di Huang have components that are incompatible with radish. If you have been prescribed an herbal medicine containing these ingredients, you should be careful to avoid or minimize your consumption of radish as it reduces the efficacy of the herbal medicine. Mung beans have a function to neutralize any herbs.Therefore, once you have Mung beans while taking herbal medicines, the efficacy will be ineffective.

The physical affects of Green tea and coffee vary from person to person. In general, about one cup per day does not significantly affect the efficacy of herbal medicine. If you are sensitive to iron or caffeine intake you should try to avoid them all together. Coffee is also an irritant and does not help people with stomach and intestinal issues and can, in fact, induce gastric ulcers, slow down bowel movements, cause diarrhea, or disrupt your gastrointestinal organs and prevent the absorption of the herbal medicine.

Depending on your condition and physical needs, the foods you should avoid will vary.

A patient suffering from a common cold or flue should avoid eating cold foods such as ice cream. Cold food interferes with the flow of your bloodstream and brings the temperature of your stomach down and can make your cold and flue symptoms worse.

A patient suffering from asthma should avoid eating dark fishes such as mackerel when taking herbal medicine; mackerel contains allergenic histamines that can make can make your asthma symptoms worse.  

A patient suffering from atopic eczema should avoid processed foods while taking herbal medicine. They should also avoid eating foods high in protein such as eggs and milk as it can cause the itching to become worse. A person who normally feels very warm or is suffering from other skin issues or disease should avoid eating spicy and salty foods. 

Herbal medicines for treating herniated disc are incompatible alcohol. Alcohol can increase inflammation and cause more inflammation from the herniated disc. If you do drink wait half a day or until you feel comfortable enough to resume your herbal medicine

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A testimonial for pelvic pain

I would recommend Dr. Byoung-Jin Na to anyone. He is kind, patient, knowledgable and I feel safe and taken care of whenever I go to his clinic. I have moderate endometriosis and PCOS. I used to have pelvic pain 3 weeks out of every month and when my period started my cramps were so bad I would miss a day or 2 of work. I had tried quite a few things to treat my pain: diet, exercise, meditation, supplements, herbs, prescription drugs and laparoscopic surgery. Nothing helped very much until I came to the Green Leaf clinic. After my first treatment my chronic pain stayed away for a full day. After 5 treatments my pelvic pain was almost completely gone. Not only that but my cycles are becoming way more regular. Before the acupuncture treatments my cycle would vary randomly from 33 to 91 days in length. Now they are between 32 and 40 days. I also no longer have cramps when my period comes and haven’t taken pain medication in months!



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The patient history form


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Stomach issues with anxiety



A patient has been visiting our clinic who has been suffering from a digestive disorder. She underwent an endoscope, but nothing conclusive was found in the results. Generally if nothing is found through the endoscope, the next step would be to assess the patient’s emotional and psychological state.


If someone has a digestive disorder, anxiety and insomnia at the same time, it will be difficult to achieve good results if we only treat the digestive system and not the other issues.


While the patient has mainly expressed concern about the digestive disorder, it is important to note that in actuality, it is a low degree of anxiety that is causing the digestive disorder and insomnia in the first place. For the best results we have to focus on calming the emotional status. Recently, medical researchers say that the stomach is ‘the Second Brain’ because the neurotransmitters and hormones that are found in the brain can also be found in the stomach. The brain does control the stomach, so by improving the patients anxiety we can in turn treat the stomach issues and vice versa; the stomach controls the brain so by improving the stomach issues we can treat the issues concerning the brain.


Patients often talk about a ‘butterfly sensation’ when nervousness or anxiety makes them feel nausea. Once such a nervousness keeps reoccurring, it can lead to food stagnation which can also cause insomnia and anxiety. When this happens it can feel like a vicious cycle.


These symptoms can be treated by ‘Fu Ling(Poria)’. I treated the patient with ‘Fu Ling’, and we saw improvement and good results. After taking herbs for 1 month, not only have the patients stomach issues greatly improved but her psychological issues have improved as well.


Acupuncture Treatment


For cases like this, the Pericardium 6 and Spleen 4 is commonly used. For optimal results patients usually require treatment for one month. In the first two weeks of treatment the patient should receive acupuncture twice a week, then once a week for the remaining 2-3 weeks of treatment.


Herbal Treatment


To relieve the patient of the ‘butterfly sensation’, herbal treatment is essential. Fu Ling(Poria) is the best herb for this type of symptom. Fu Ling has a calming effect for the stomach and is also used for palpitations and found to be very effective in treating edema and dysuria as well. We recommend a period of 1 to 3 months for this herbal treatment.



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The dangerous acupoints

Damage the Medulla oblongata Du 15, Du 16, GB 20
Occulomotor N ST 1
Get into cranial cavity & bleeding Wei Ming(0.3″ above out canthus, BL 1, Qiu Hou
Pnemothorax Jing Bi, Ren 22, GB 21
Abdominal wall Ren 2~13, ST 19~30
Nerve Damage
Facial SJ 17
Mandibular ST 7
Median PC 6, PC 7
Ulnar SI 8, HT 7, HT 5
Femoral SP 12, GB 30, BL 36, BL 37
Common peroneal GB 34
Tibial BL 40, BL 57
Artery & vein
Common carotid ST9, Qiang Yin(2″ lateral Adam’s apple)
Internal carotid GB 2
External carotid SI 17
Brachial PC 3
Radial LU 9
Popliteal BL 40
Spleen LR 14, GB 24
Kidney BL 49~52
Spine Du 3-16, BL 31~33
Heart KD 22~25, ST 17, ST 18
Liver Ren 14, Ren 15, LR 14, GB 24, KI 21, Ren 13
Joint infection
Knee ST 35, BL 40
Contraindication on pregnancy SP 6, SP 9, DU 1, LI 4, BL 60, BL 67
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