In Full Bloom

Ah, summer – when lush, warm breezes nudge heavy-headed garden flowers. When birds whistle to the rising dawn and crickets chirp away the day’s last, rich gleams. When the strong, true brilliance of the sun reveals the shadowed paleness of our winter-worn skin…and suddenly we come face to face with ourselves in the mirror and the honest reality of all those wrinkles, lines, brown spots, sags and bags that time and stress have been busy creating all year! Ahhh!

Janet Cook is well-versed in such honest reality. Trained as a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (DTCM) she is a Registered Acupuncturist with over 13 years of training, education and experience. Her passion and commitment to the promotion of health and well-being has made her a devoted and life-long student of the ancient wisdoms and their modern applications.

And one such modern application is the use of acupuncture to promote a facial rejuvenation. Janet just recently returned from a course offered in Berkeley, California taught by the renowned instructor, Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, where a segment of the treatment process is used to specifically target the muscles of the face, first relaxing them and then initiating a ‘re-setting’ of the muscle’s spindles to resume their former elasticity and positioning. Gradually the face begins to lift itself, operating more efficiently and resiliently; revitalized with the glow of inner health and skin that is beautiful. "In Chinese medicine, a beautiful face is a clear face,” Janet explains. "As well as stimulating the muscles, what this acupuncture procedure does is help to bring Chi (energy) and blood to the face, which also helps to moisturize and smooth it. It can make you look younger and keep you feeling younger as you’re getting older. I’m really happy to be able to help people with this – I’ve seen it build their self-esteem.”

It is this, the constitutional treatment of the entire person, the working with the body as a whole to help people age properly in health, happiness and balance that first inspired Janet’s fascination and future.

Ironically, it was a facial of the more typical sort that led to her education and career: "I went in for my facial and everything was done naturally with vegetable-based products, and one of the people there started telling me about different health foods and restaurants, and vitamins and why they were good for the body. I went back regularly and we’d end up in two hour conversations. We started talking about a Chinese doctor that he knew and the things the doctor was doing. It (the passion) must have been showing on my face, because he said, ‘You can go to school for this you know.’ I learned there was an English speaking school in Vancouver, the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, so I checked it out, and I started the next week in class. I met some amazing people and it was the first time I’d felt truly happy about what I was training for in life. It felt like I was in the right spot.”

That was the beginning of three years of intensive study, which Janet says she still loves to do. Her fourth year of schooling was spent in China, working with patients in hospitals and with herbs and medicines, learning about how and where the herbs grow and what their uses are. She says being there and learning hands-on was an incredible experience.

She returned to Vancouver and then settled in Nanaimo, opening her "To the Point” acupuncture office. She continues to commute back and forth to Vancouver for more training with a Master Herbalist. "There’s at least another 2 or 3 years of intense study that I’m planning to do before I can teach. I wanted to concentrate more on the acupuncture first: pick one modality and do as well as I could at it, and then pick another. They’re complementary practices – the acupuncture and the herbology – with the same principles, but it’s so much to study both at the same time. I’m really excited about offering them together soon, after I’m licensed as an Herbalist.” Her licensing will involve a two day-long exam, which she is looking forward to. "There’s never any time that you stop learning, it’s really fascinating. It’s fun for me and I want to do it for the rest of my life.”

And while she’s learning and living the rest of her life, she wants to help others live their best lives: in health, happiness and with a balanced lifestyle that takes people into their old age with grace and mobility. "I’m not scared of getting old,” she says, "I’m scared of being decrepit and old. When I’m 80, I want to be able to go golfing and go for a walk around the lake, and not think about it. Have the energy. Most people have a fear, and they don’t even realize that’s what the fear is: it’s not about the getting old, it’s about being able to do things, by and for yourself. If you live the right lifestyle, you can continue to do these things the rest of your life, live until 100 and be healthy and happy.”

The human body is a marvel that reveals its secrets to those who know how to seek them out and decipher their meaning. Janet uses all her training, observations and experience to diagnose symptoms and determine the underlying causes of strain and illness, and then provides specific treatments, information and referrals to help people as they make their own lifestyle changes. "I want to try and help people own their own lives.”

The feeling and the occurrence of rejuvenation, for the body, mind and the spirit is a fundamental element of the Traditional Chinese Medicine that Janet practices. "When people are dealing with stress or grief or other emotional battles, they’re constantly thinking about something, and they don’t even realize that they’re doing it. The face reflects everything that is going on in the body. People have this furrowed brow because of internal anger, and then they get two lines etched in the forehead because they’re expressing the anger. Or lines going across the forehead are reflection lines about memories, or pain. And maybe you can help them with information and by doing the acupuncture and Chinese medicine for them while they’re going through that. And they see the changes. When the whole body responds to treatment, it shows up on the face. You look in the mirror and you can actually see that your body is healthier by looking at the face.”

"There’s quite a buzz right now about the Facial Rejuvenation,” she notes. "You can lift the smile again – and the nose! As people get older their noses seem to get bigger: it’s because the muscles are getting older. Holding muscles in one position for long periods of time causes them to remain tense and then finally to lose their resilience – they atrophy. So you re-energize them. The nose can be set back up and appear shorter. You can diminish crow’s feet, smoker’s lines along and above the lip, the forehead lines. Certain lines in the face tell you that there are things going on. Like along the lips, there may be lines because a woman could have had a hysterectomy or c-section, so there’s scar tissue through the abdomen area. And you can help with the lines on the face by helping to reduce the scar tissue in the body. The acupuncture is good for those dark brown patches that come on the face, and dark circles under the eyes. It’s not like a surgical facelift, where it’s invasive and traumatic to the body. It’s not a quick fix. It’s just something that helps with your lifestyle and helps you do things differently.”

The real rejuvenation comes about through nourishing people both from the inside and the outside. Using everything she knows, as well as masks and teas on the skin to support the acupuncture, Janet has seen the results: "People’s smiles come back. That’s pretty exciting.”

Blossoming with colour and vibrancy, blooming with health and vitality – that’s how we’re meant to live. And in the summer especially, when the long days themselves seem to be smiling down on us with warmth and light, how wonderful to look up with a clear and beautiful face – and smile right back.