Currently operated out of Matt Walton’s beautiful boutique home studio clinic.
College at Ossington in Toronto’s Little Italy.
What is Roots to Sky?
Roots to Sky envisions a world where we as one people recognize the deep value of our whole health, and our own responsibility over it. Empowered, we take back the Earth beneath our feet, and see her not as a resource, but a sacred Giver of Life: the foods we eat – the bedrock of our vitality; the herbs which surround us – the precious medicine we honour. Our own created tools of isolated chemical substances and surgical interventions come not from a system of unquestioned profit, but one of social and environmental equality and mutual aid – used with care as a last resort – and instead we prioritize prevention. A world where medicine for our bodies is medicine for the Earth; where ancestral knowledge is heard, honoured, and respected; where the collective paradigm has shifted from fear to love: love of self, of other, and of the world. Guided by compassion and gratitude we reclaim the power we gave away so long ago, and take our lives and health into our own joined hands.
What is Roots to Sky?
The Present (Roots)
Roots to Sky is a small, private wholistic health & guidance clinic in its early stages of growth with dramatic community-based visions ahead. Using integrated Traditional Wholistic Medicine – specifically Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, nutrition, life coaching and comprehensive training programs – Roots to Sky uproots mental, emotional, and physical blocks from its clients’ paths towards living at their unique potentials. Roots to Sky is insured and licensed by CTCMPAO, the regulating body of Chinese Medicine in Ontario, and currently operates by-appointment-only in downtown Toronto. Roots to Sky is founded and operated by Matt Walton R.TCMP, R.Ac, who brings years of deep personal experience, extensive training & research, and his passionate skills to benefit clients at any level of their needs.
The Future (Sky)
Roots to Sky will continue to expand its teaching programs to reach wider audiences, and will transform from a clinical model to a complete sustainable retreat community known for its commitment to creating a politically grounded and spiritually aligned expression of a sustainable future of humanity. This as-yet-unnamed retreat & education centre will aim for complete self-sufficiency: growing the majority of its own foods & herbal medicines, produce its own electricity, and support visitors with temporary lodging. A hub of cooperative education & development, it will provide a space for teachers and visionaries from all walks of life to reach their own communities and will offer scholarships/grants assisting individuals – especially those from marginalized communities – in their journey towards their dream projects.
If this is something that deeply resonates with you, Roots to Sky is on Patreon and welcomes financial donations and investments no matter how small.
Serving You (Roots)
I help people identify and heal what blocks them from living their ideal life. Often these blocks are chronic health issues & emotional instability/fears…
My mission is to have you leave my treatments calm yet energized, with a clear grip on the path to restore your vitality and happiness, or how to maintain the vitality you already have. I want you to leave feeling inspired, to aim a little higher, and by taking care of yourself you affect others and together we can bring more light into the world. As you make inspired changes while accepting where you are, like a drop of water in a pool you become a ripple of positive in the world, from your family to strangers. You are your priority, and by freeing up physical health and psychic stresses, joy & presence naturally blossom. Reclaiming your own health is an act of revolution, and while often a scary path, this brings the deepest joys and true health to one’s life, and in turn inspires others. I am here to help you navigate these ups and downs as you transform into your potentials, to take the reigns and be the creator of your life, no matter how small the steps, from muscle aches to chronic and more severe complaints. My Mission is simple: I want help unblock you from living your life with passion, purpose, vitality and inspiration.
Serving our World (Sky)
My mission is to be the central health and well-being practitioner and adviser in my client’s life, and a model for this central role in the future of healthcare. I want to participate in reclaiming the term healthcare – dropping ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ to highlight the differences between healthcare and ‘disease care’, and advancing the mainstream & scientific recognition of true wholistic care for deep health & well-being. I act as a bridge-builder, integrating modern and traditional, spiritual and scientific, promoting respect for native human medicines in the modern world. By building these bridges together we can improve the definition of what it means to be truly healthy today, with stronger integrated communities dedicated to the true health of our world, from you to the planet, from Roots, to Sky.
FAQ Table of Contents
Last Updated: April 2020
ROOTS TO SKY FAQ
- What is Roots to Sky?
- What does the name “Roots to Sky” mean?
- So how does the Roots to Sky “Journey” work?
- What payment methods are accepted?
- Why are most of your sessions 1.5hrs?
- Are you a Naturopath/Homeopath?
- I tried Chinese medicine, it didn’t work for me/Why should I come to you?
- Is Roots to Sky or Chinese Medicine regulated/insured?
- Does Roots to Sky charge taxes/HST?
- I’m bad with remembering to take herbs – Will they still work?
- You always refer to my “Inspired Life” – What does this mean?
- You frequently use the abbreviation ‘TWM’ – What does it mean?
TRADITIONAL/CHINESE MEDICINE FAQ
- What is Chinese Medicine?
- Aren’t the TCM “organs” or concept of “Qi” just primitive/don’t exist/are unscientific?
- Doesn’t Chinese Medicine advocate eating meat? What happens if I’m vegetarian/vegan?
- I’m afraid of needles/does acupuncture hurt?
- What’s the deal with Dampness?
- I’ve heard some herbs are toxic/unethical/endangered. Is this true?
- Do you need to believe in Chinese Medicine for it to work?
Roots to Sky FAQ
The name Roots to Sky has many meanings. On one hand it refers to the ever present Yin (roots/Earth) and Yang (Sky) of Chinese Philosophy & Medicine. It is also a play on words as it is pronouced as “Routes to Sky” meaning the pathways to reach our personal Skies – our goals, freedoms and dreams. Deeper still, Roots to Sky believes that by cultivating the “soil” of our lives – addressing the roots of our particular health imbalances and conditions – and then adding a little guidance & clarity to our path, we can blossom into our greatest potentials: presence, purpose, and fulfilment – and reach the Sky. This is the wholistic picture of “Inspired Living” that Roots to Sky aims to help all of its clients achieve.
So how does the Roots to Sky “Journey” work?
Once your initial consultation is booked, you will receive a Welcome Email with everything you’ll need to know about getting started with Roots to Sky, including the Medical History form to fill out & submit. For a more detailed overview, tap here to learn more :)
What payment methods are accepted?
Cash, E-Transfer, also accepting Cheque & Credit.
This simply comes down to quality over quantity. The standard 1 hour time is often not enough to really get at the root of the issue. Roots to Sky sessions can essentially be considered lifestyle training sessions. I would much rather sit down with you with enough time so that we can actually explore your experience, rather than moving you along so that I can move onto my next client. Once you sit down with me for a session, you’ll see the difference. That said, as time moves on and we’ve covered all the bases, when I see fit we can shorten your sessions and apply the according rate. I’ve rarely had to do this, so essentially I don’t offer it as a standard option.
Alternatively, you can also book a ‘Spa/Tension Relief Session” and jump right onto the table if you have a very specific pain or just need to unwind without checking in too deeply on your overall progress.
No. This is a very common mix-up. Naturopathy & Homeopathy are very recent therapeutic approaches when compared to Chinese Medicine and TWM in general.
Homeopathy is a technique that uses infinitesimally small doses of a substance absorbed into sugar pills with are then dispensed to the patient. The (debatable) concept here is that “like treats like”, so micro-doses of a substance that would otherwise normally cause the same reactions you are experiencing instead aim to give a vaccine-like treatment to supposedly alleviate the symptoms.
Naturopathy on the other hand is what I regard as an halfway-point between TWM and conventional modern biomedicine. It is a relatively patchwork combination of different therapeutic tools: Orthomolecular Medicine (vitamins, minerals, nutraceuticals etc.), Western Herbalism, Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Homeopathy. While TCM/TWM may use different treatment tools as well, the difference in TCM is that these are all united by a common theoretical and diagnostic glue – five element/phase theory as a common example. Whereas in Naturopathic medicine these tools are very different treatments, with very different backgrounds, histories, and theories.
So should you choose one over the other? No. TCM goes hand-in-hand with these complementary treatments, especially the Orthomolecular and Western herbal approach of Naturopathy. However (and I’m obviously biased here) I do regard TCM as much more of an advanced primary method of care due to its solid foundation in both its treatments and diagnostics as it has been refined for millennia of trial and error and is now being validated by science. Also here!
For the same reason why you may want to switch from one family doctor to another: Different practitioners have different personalities, approaches and treatments.
A key feature of Chinese medicine is how many diagnostic approaches & layers we can uncover. What this means is sometimes, even after quite some time of exploration, we may uncover a specific tidbit of information, or a specific symptom that your body has been expressing and it can completely revitalize our treatment strategy and produce significant results. This is obviously the exception and not the rule as one can certainly expect to see results quicker, either way the key here is persistence. So if Chinese medicine didn’t work for you, it is likely because you or your practitioner gave up before examining at a deeper level – often psycho-spiritual. In this sense, Chinese medicine can be an exploratory approach. We may try different combinations of acupuncture points and herbal formulas to find the right key to unlock your health condition & return your vitality.
So why come to see Matt specifically? Passion. Purpose. Laughs. Dedication. Skill. Wit. Clarity. Wisdom. Humour. Above all Success – and onwards. Let’s sit down for a session, and see if we match.
Yes. In 2013, Ontario joined British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec in provincial regulation of Chinese Medicine. Practitioners must now pass rigorous examinations as well as ongoing quality assurance and continuing education to retain status as a member of the provincial regulating body – the College of TCM Practitioners & Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO). Qualified acupuncturists earn the title “Registered Acupuncturist” (R.Ac). Practitioners who received advanced training in acupuncture, herbal formulation and specialized internal medicine earn the designation “Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner” (R.TCMP). In order to retain membership with the College, all practitioners must have passed the (seriously intense) provincial exams and have secured insurance coverage.
Acupuncture is HST exempt and covered by many workplace health insurance plans – simply ask for a receipt.
Other TCM therapies such as herbal consultations & formulas however, do have additional taxes applied.
I’m bad with remembering to take herbs – Will they still work?
This is a common question for many clients. Our standard reply is “if you don’t take them – they won’t work!”. That said – coaching routines & habits is built into what Roots to Sky offers, so I have many tricks & tips to help find what works for you to make sure the medicines fit into your likely busy lifestyle!
You seem to always refer to my “Inspired Life” – What does this mean?
Your Inspired Life can essentially be boiled down to achieving your perfect typical day. If you were to imagine this day, what would the tiniest details look like? Would you wake up refreshed, drink a morning herbal tonic, then some yoga or hit the gym, followed by a meditation session before work? Would you make time to play with your kids or tend the garden? The Inspired Life Stream starts with the vision of how you want your life to look then using traditional medicine we work backwards to reach your health & life goals and bring you the joy you deserve.
Stay tuned for my beautiful upcoming book & blog where this philosophy will be explored in depth :)
TWM is a term I have coined to refer to the collection of all Traditional Wholistic Medicines of our ascestors – both ancient and alive today. It is an umbrella term which includes Ayurvedic medicine (from India), Tibetan Medicine (Sowa Rigpa), the many traditions of Turtle Island (North America); as well as Africa, the Middle East and the increasingly mainstream interest in South American “shamanistic” medicine; as well as indigenous European traditional medicine.
A startling common glue unites essentially all of these traditions the world over – the Five Element Theory. (Some commonly acknowledge four, with the fifth being ‘Spirit’ or ‘Space’ – the ground in which the others arise). What makes these all ‘wholistic’ is that they do not seperate the body from the mind. As a powerful example, regions of Native North American medicine rely heavily on storytelling to achive health of mind and subsequently body.
Traditional/Chinese Medicine FAQ
Chinese medicine is a tradition that is rooted in the premise that we are not separate from nature, that the same forces that exist outside and around us, manifest within our bodies and minds as well. For literally thousands of years it has carefully observed, analyzed and modified its theories on how we adapt and react to our ever-changing environments, both internal and external. This includes the weathers of emotions, mind-states, the foods that course through our bodies, seasonal climates, time of day, and the day-to-day weather itself. In this time it has also developed advanced clinical tools such as complex herbal formulas, massage and bodywork (‘Tuina’ medical massage from China is considered the mother of all massage styles on earth), acupuncture and psychology, all to treat the complete totality of an individual – true wholistic medicine.
In TCM the ‘Spleen’ is the central Organ of digestion, and it only takes a quick internet search to reveal that the anatomical spleen has absolutely nothing to do with this process. While many skeptic types scoff at this, and then proceed to throw the baby out with the bathwater, the explaination is quite simple: the traditional Chinese regarded the anatomical spleen as an extra lobe of the ‘Liver’ (which is actually close to accuracy due to the deep associations with the Chinese ‘Liver’ functiond and the blood).
When referring to the Spleen in the traditional sense, were more accurately naming the digestive organ the pancreas. This is most clearly illustrated in Five Phase theory, where the Element or Phase associated with the Spleen is ‘Earth’, which is positioned in the Centre – where the pancreas is physically located (among numerous other associations). This is regarded as a case of broken telephone – for example, some authors correct this misnomer by refering to this system as the “Spleen/Pancreas system”. When seen in this light, a great many functions of the so-called Spleen begin to make perfect sense, when actually examining the functions of the anatomical pancreas.
In regards to another favourite scapegoat for skeptics to (arrogantly) skewer is the concept of the “Triple Burner” organ. This is again easily explained if one makes an effort to look beyond a passing glance. The Triple Burner (lit. San Jiao) commonly refers to two functional aspects: a division of the body into 3 cavities (or ‘Burners’), which are essentially direct equivalents to the thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic anatomical cavities. The second function relates to the movement of Qi and fluids – which in modern TCM texts is now theorized to directly correspond to the interstital fluids which transport biological chemicals and water throughout an organism. So together, what can be seen here is that the ancient Chinese were essentially describing the functions of all non-visceral/extracellular spaces of the body. I have only skimmed over this topic, it should be known that the amount of detail regarding these functions is advanced and fills entire textbooks – certainly not something to brush aside.
Finally, the most commonly eviscerated term in TCM is likely “Qi” as “it doesn’t exist”! To begin – I challenge anyone to think outside the box as even withing the last decades or last century, entirely new understandings of our phenomenal universe have been discovered that were not only theoretical – but further, hadn’t even been conceived of to begin with. (I will provide citation here). Second – Qi is a simple convention in language as we simply do not have an equivalent term in English. For this, I have coined the term “Vital Inertia” meaning the optimal continual functioning of any physiological system. I have also termed it “Functional Vitality“: Are all immuno-modulator markers (T-cells, NK cells etc) in their ideal range? Then “Wei Qi” is vital. Is the digestion operating smoothly without complaint, all enzymes and gland secreting correctly? Then “Spleen Qi” is sufficient. Are periods flowing smoothly without pain, clotting, or mood swings? Then ipso facto, “Liver Qi” is coursing correctly.
Quite simply – Stop isolating terms without taking the tradition, translations, and conventions in language into consideration!
Just as it is hard to translate from one language to another without losing subtle connotations, the same is true for these concepts. We work with the ‘Kidney’ which is defined in our TCM terms, and then use herbs which treat the ‘Kidneys’ – which from a Western point of view these herbs may be cerebral tonics, hormone regulators, or tonics which strengthen the bones. The key here is that the tradition defines and dictates the functions of these systems, and should at no point be taken out of this context – unless to draw overlapping similarities between the two medical systems.
The key point here, is to no get lost in translation. Just because something speaks a different language, even an ancient one – does not mean they are not describing the same physiological functions. Physiology is physiology, TCM may map and describe functions from a more metaphorical perspective – but the treatments are what matters, and the results speak for themselves: 1, 2.
(Lastly, please note this is simply a FAQ! I am very deep into a comprehensive separate article version of this above debate, complete with citation etc.)
As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, my job is to work with you to restore your health based on the theories, clinical experience, and interpretations of symptoms of the body as taught by the tradition. There are times when there is simply no herbal substance more powerful than animal products to replenish deficiencies and treat severe diseases.
While I absolutely advocate a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle for the sake of our planet, its wildlife inhabitants, and for the many people who certainly need to cut excess meat out for health reasons; on the other side of it I have seen many people, especially women, rendered infertile or many other complications from excessively long periods of strict veganism. This is all completely predictable from the TCM theory view point – they have essentially become what is known as ‘Blood Deficient‘. From an evolutionary standpoint, reproduction is the highest goal of a species, and if something loses the ability to reproduce, it is an evolutionary dead-end. In these cases of infertility due to pure Blood Deficiency, patients respond essentially immediately once meat or fish is introduced. Granted, my personal clinical experience is anecdotal, however due to the fact that TCM theory predicts and explains this mechanism it is most likely the single biggest causative factor in such cases.
Further, most if not all of our strongest medicinals come from animals, marine life or insects, and are most commonly used in dire cases. While we as Western TCM practitioners are all too aware of the hugely unethical aspects of some of the terrible practices used to obtain these (this is a separate discussion), these substances can all be obtained from much more ethical sources, and increasingly more ethical as the modern world demands it. These medicinals have the power to treat the most severe conditions – Parkinson’s, coma, hypothermia, severe mental disorders, stroke, extreme elderly debilitation to name a few. No plants can compare in their strength. For a more detailed discussion on ethics, please refer to my herbs page.
In most vegetarian/vegan cases I respect the ethics of my clients and do my absolute best to work within their requests. While I have mentioned that plant substances are often not as strong, there are still a great many to choose from and I will take my clients as far as they can go using these amazing and powerful herbs.
The goal of the acupuncturist is to minimize or cause no pain on insertion of the needles. Most of the sensory nerves (that signal pain) are in the skin – with correct insertion the needle quickly moves through the skin into the muscle layers below. Here a warming, radiating, pressure or glowing sensation is experienced. This is known as “Deqi” or the arrival of Qi – and is to be expected. That said, there is no real way of sugar coating the fact that we are still sticking needles into you and on occasion you may feel a prick, or even a mild twinge of a nerve. There is no damage caused here, it is simply always a matter of readjusting the needle and the sensation immediately subsides. At Roots to Sky you are always in control of your sessions, and we will remove a needle at your request – you do not have to “endure” anything thinking that it is part of the treatment.
Are you afraid of needles but interested in acupuncture? In China, the actual insertion of needles only represents half of the picture – the term “acupuncture” also includes what is known as Moxabustion. This is the therapeutic burning of a specific herb (mugwort) over the acupuncture points to illicit a similar effect as the needles. As well, Roots to Sky incorporates Reiki and Medical Qi Gong, as well as acupressure into sessions, all working along the same channels and points as we do with the needles. So we have many options available besided needles – however it is still always worth a try using only a point or two in our first session to see how you respond. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need upon your arrival :)
Chinese medicine is based on the concept that we are at one with nature, that the same forces that exist outside us in our environment, mirror within us as well. This is not as foreign as it may seem. Even our modern science based medicine regularly uses the term “inflammation” – which is to say, activity that mirrors fire – a natural phenomenon of nature. The ancient Chinese just took this idea further, and named groups of symptoms after these forces across the board.
Imagine going down into a poorly ventilated old basement. The air is thick, even smells of mildew. Moisture blankets everything and mold grows freely. Likewise, “Dampness” represents a thick heavy energy in our bodies, it clouds our minds, generates excessive mucus or discharges, and tends to settle in the lower body. So we may treat Dampness with herbs that improve these conditions. It is important to not get lost in literalism, the herbs work on these symptoms regardless of the terms or language used.
Please refer to my Herbs page.
Absolutely not. The sheer amount of research on PubMed (whether conclusive or not) demonstrates that there certainly is something to TCM, something beyond placebo effect. Indeed there is a substantial amount of research, especially in the herbal medicine aspect and certainly of acupuncture to show that not only does TCM work, but that due to its safety and deep collected treatment experience it can even be relied on as primary medical care (in the sense that you can see your TCM doctor before or as your family physician).
So is TCM superstitious? Chinese medicine is in fact quite the opposite. It is regarded as one of, if not the first medical departure from the purely ritualistic/ceremonial medicines which came in the ages before. So while TCM does acknowledge the Spirit World, it showed for the first time in human history the causal effect of our actions on our health & our responsibility over it – rather than supernatural misfortune due to a lack of appeasing gods or spirits. It is a highly rational, cause & effect science in itself – simply wrapped in a nature based symbolic language which any qualified practitioner should be able to explain in modern terms.
Welcome to Roots to Sky :) by Matt Walton R.TCMP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.