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Alumni Success: Cat Calhoun, Class of 2011

  
  
  

cat calhoun acupunctureCat Calhoun is the first in her family to go to college and the only one thus far to receive a master’s degree. Before she came to AOMA she was a Senior Network Administrator for the city of Austin. Cat was involved in several car wrecks that damaged her neck. She found an acupuncturist who not only fixed her neck, but also cured her recurrent tension headaches. When her job shifted to more desk work and less face-to-face interactions with clients she decided to do some soul-searching and change careers. She researched and visited many acupuncture schools and found that AOMA was one of the best schools in the country. She says “we have some truly world class professors, both in knowledge and spirit. They are the power and the gems of the school.”

 

While in school Cat became known for her giving, communal spirit that is always ready to offer encouragement to her fellow students. She became famous at AOMA for her donation based website called CatsTCMnotes.com. The website started when a fellow classmate missed a couple of classes and asked Cat to take notes for her. Her notes were so detailed that other classmates wanted copies. She decided to put them on the web to share them with anyone who wanted another perspective on the information presented in class at AOMA. This website is now being viewed by people from all around the world. Cat says, “I’ve gotten appreciation e-mails from TCM practitioners and students in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Thailand, and most recently from Israel.” She has done a fantastic job organizing complex ideas and putting them into accessible charts for current students to study.

 

Cat graduated from AOMA in Summer 2011 and is already well on the way to becoming a successful business owner and practitioner. Although she has done most of the “normal” things graduates do once they leave school to become business owners, her philosophy is starkly different than most. Cat’s approach to building her patient base starts with building community. She is drawn to “communal style acupuncture” and has always been open and willing to help anyone who crosses her path. Her first piece of advice to new graduates is to remember “there are going to be rough spots you will hit and you will live through them. Get serious about a meditative practice like yoga, tai chi, qigong, transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation. You’re going to need it!”

 

Cat has continued this philosophy of building community by moving her practice into her own zip code. She thinks “our culture suffers from lack of ‘neighborhood’ and connection. I want to work in my own community, helping people to find healing and connection.” In the next five to ten years Cat desires to start a residency program for students that are newly graduated. “I want to build a clinic with a ‘neighborhood’ of acupuncture specialists in different fields who are willing to take on a new graduate protégé, teach them our business model and help them get on their acupuncture feet before we send them out into the world.” She currently gives students discounted acupuncture rates to both keep them in her life and share what she has learned with them on her path. She is also currently offering Reiki and herbs to treat a variety of health concerns, but focuses on insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, gynecological, hormonal imbalances, and pain relief. She says, “I want to make acupuncture as accessible to as many people as possible while still giving a quality treatment in a safe private space.” Visit Cat's website.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master\u0026#39\u003Bs Program

Treatment of Menopause with Traditional Chinese Medicine

  
  
  

Menopause is the natural termination of the menstrual cycle, lasting from a few months to years. The average woman experiences menopause at approximately 51 years, and it usually occurs between the ages of 40 to 55, at around the same age as the woman’s mother began menopause. Common physical symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, urinary problems, and headaches. Menopause is also characterized by emotional symptoms such as sudden mood changes, depression, irritability, insomnia, and nervousness.

During this time of hormonal and energy fluctuation, menopausal complications reduce the quality of a woman’s life and result in uncomfortable or even debilitating symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy is the standard Western treatment for menopausal difficulties; however, estrogen supplements have been linked to undesired side effects and increased health risks. Traditional Chinese medicine offers an alternate way to reduce menopausal symptoms through diet, herbal remedies and acupuncture.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Offers an Alternative

According to Chinese medicine, imbalanced interaction between kidney yin and yang leads to difficulties during menopause. The theoretic framework of yin-yang is used to explain aspects of the human body as well as to guide diagnosis and treatment. Women may have yin or yang deficiencies that affect how they experience menopause.

The kidneys are viewed as the central organs responsible for controlling other bodily functions, and kidney yin and yang deficiencies lead to certain associated menopausal symptoms, with different treatment existing for each type. Symptoms of yang deficiency in menopause may include tiredness, lower back pain, incontinence, and aversion to cold. Symptoms of yin deficiency (the far more common type) include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and irritability.

Nutrition for Menopausekidney bean

Some common foods that help build yin for yin-deficiency type menopause include wheat germ, mung bean, seaweed, cucumber, millet, black bean, tofu, kidney bean, barley, black sesame seed, and royal jelly. Women should follow a low-fat, high-fiber diet. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and reducing stress are all important. Chinese medicine can effectively and quickly treat symptoms such as hot flashes through many herbal formulas, commonly including dang gui (Chinese angelica) and yi mu cao (motherwort). Thus, traditional Chinese medicine can alleviate menopausal symptoms without the risks of hormone replacement therapy.

About the author:

In addition to her thirty years of acupuncture and Chinese herbal experience, Dr. Qiao “Chelsea” Xu has also practiced qigong and yoga over twenty years, utilizing concepts from these practices in her treatments. She offers treatment in pain management, female and digestive disorders, allergies, asthma, and stress. In her spare time, she likes to practice qigong, taiji, and meditation.

Chinese Medicine Nutrition: 5 Foods for Summer Heat

  
  
  

The practice of Chinese dietary therapy comprises of choosing specific foods to cause a desired change in health. Summer is the season of active growth and heat. Energy is strong and rises easily. Here are some TCM nutrition tips on how to “eat for the heat.”

The dominant organ in the summer according to TCM is the Heart[1]. A common excess pattern in summer is known as “Heart Fire.” Some of the symptoms of heart fire are: irritability, mental restlessness, dream-disturbed sleep, thirst, mouth ulcers, red face, and palpitations. When this pattern occurs the “fire” dries out fluids (yin substances). Due to the intimate relationship between the Heart and Small Intestine, the heat tries to eliminate through increased urination. It is best to eat foods that are cooling in nature and to avoid excessive alcohol as well as spicy, rich, and greasy foods.

5 Foods for Summer Heat

Mung Beans

Sweet & cool
Nourish Heart & Stomach
Clear toxic heat, summer-heat, and promote urination
Help lower blood fat and renew arteries
Low fat, high fiber, high protein, high iron
Cautions: Not suitable for Spleen deficiency type diarrhea (chronic loose or watery stools, poor appetite, fatigue, abdominal distention after meals)

 Eggplanttcm nutrition eggplant

Sweet & cool
Strengthens Spleen, regulates Stomach, nourishes Liver
Clears heat, promotes urination, and reduces edema

Coconut Milk

Slightly Sweet, ranges from warm to neutral
Nourishes Spleen, Stomach, & Kidney
Generates fluid, relieves thirst

Cucumber

Sweet & cold
Nourishes Stomach & Small tcm nutrition cucumberIntestine
Clears heat, relieves thirst, promotes urination, clears toxins

Watermelon

Sweet & cold
Nourishes Heart, Stomach, Bladder
Clears summer-heat, eliminates restlessness, relieves thirst, & promotes urination
Cautions: Not good for diarrhea due to Spleen deficient cold or for diabetics

Recipes

Chilled Cucumber Soup

4 cups cucumber, chopped
2 cups water or broth
1 cup yogurt
1 clove garlic (optional)
Several fresh mint leaves

Puree everything in the blender. Serve chilled. Serves 4-6.

Jade Green Soup

1/2 cup tofu, diced
2 cups leafy greens, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon oil (optional)
3 cups broth

Sauté or steam tofu 5 minutes. Add salt.
Add greens. Sauté 2 minutes.
Add broth and simmer until greens are bright-colored.

Enjoy!

References:

Lu, Henry. Chinese Herbs with Common Foods: Recipes for Health and Healing. Kodansha International 1997.

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 2002. North Atlantic Books.



[1]  Within Chinese medicine, each “organ” is not just the actual, individual organ, but rather a whole system unto itself that regulates many aspects and functions of the body. There is a close relationship between these organ systems, the five flavors of food, and the elements.

InterTransform Mentoring Circle: Professional & Personal Prowess

  
  
  

Calling all leaders, coaches, teachers, role models, and guides!mentoring

After in-depth assessment & re-envisioning, AOMA Admissions is pleased to present a newly-designed  mentor program for new students that better reflects the needs, goals, and ideals expressed by AOMA’s student body.

AOMA is excited to introduce the NEW InterTransform Mentoring Circle!

Mission Statement:

InterTransform Mentoring Circle offers a structured extracurricular environment for students to build peer relationships and cultivate professional prowess. The program:

  • Fosters community amongst and between  student cohorts,  helping new students lay a  foundation for success,
  • Features  group-mentoring cohorts,  positioning the program as a
    microcosm of the AOMA community at large,
  • Trains participants to model collaborative, inclusive, and
    appropriate relationships in a professional and academic setting,
  • Provides opportunities for self reflection, and to practice building
    confidence in networking with peers .

Program Description:

For many new students, AOMA’s MAcOM program represents their first entry to a professional career. For others, the MAcOM is a reimagining or transformation of their professional career. InterTransform Mentoring Circle helps new students from any background acclimate to the culture of AOMA’s student and academic communities.

The program’s model featuring group-mentoring cohorts positions the program as a microcosm of the AOMA community at large. The program benefits participants and the greater AOMA student body by increasing and promoting sustained, meaningful connections across cohorts, levels of study, and social groups.

Program participants are trained to model collaborative, inclusive, and appropriate relationships in a professional and academic setting. The program sets a standard for thoughtful communication and relationship building, thereby encouraging similar behaviors across all facets of AOMA’s student community.

The program provides opportunities for students to reflect upon, and practice building confidence in networking with advanced peers, ultimately supporting the development of behaviors that may be beneficial in future professional and/or academic settings.

Program Components:

Joining the Program:  Nominations for mentors are solicited from faculty members, AOMA Student Association representatives, and staff. Eligible students must be in good academic standing and have completed at least 6 terms at AOMA or have begun clinical internship. All mentors must complete an application form to be considered for the program.

Participation as a mentee is voluntary and new students may apply to participate as mentees at the start of their first 3 terms within the master’s program. Mentees are required to complete an application form prior to enrollment in the program.

Training: Mentors are required to participate in all training activities and to review all training materials. Training for mentors focuses on developing effective leadership and communication skills, establishing interpersonal boundaries and expectations, and goal-setting. Both mentors and mentees have access to student services support throughout the program and mentors are given information about how to make appropriate referrals for student services.

One of AOMA’s faculty, Rupesh Chhagan, LAc, MSOM, LMT, serves as an advisor to the program and assists with mentor training. Chhagan teaches the Clinical Communication Skills series within the graduate program.

Duration: An individual mentoring period lasts 3 academic terms. Participants’ satisifaction with the program is assessed at the end each mentoring period.

To apply to be a mentor, or to request more information, contact Elizabeth Arris at student@aoma.edu.

 

Acupuncture Student Spotlight: Gregory King

  
  
  
   

acupuncture student, greg kingAOMA student, Gregory King can usually be found by his resounding laughter echoing in the hallway.  Greg comes from Louisville, Kentucky where he discovered martial arts. During the first year of the program at AOMA he was working as a mentor for inner city youth. His case load included children who struggled with suicidal motives, depression, gang violence, and social isolation. Greg says, “I am grateful for the learning of the experience but it was extremely difficult. I overcame by really taking myself to the mat.” He began collaborating with world renowned martial artist Tom Callos and joined Ultimate Black Belt Team. Greg says, “This simple practice gave me a focus on becoming stronger because I was feeling the weakest and most vulnerable I have ever felt in my entire life.”

Greg received his first acupuncture treatment from Umaru Jutte, one of the most experienced practitioners in Tennessee. Another friend that studied acupuncture and had Umaru as a mentor Umaru really inspired me. “Lisa always encouraged me to practice medical qigong for hours a day to augment the treatments I was receiving from her. This made me a better student and martial artist.”

Greg did his undergraduate senior project on “Meditations on Medicine” where he integrated his own health philosophy with medical traditions of Kamet, Tibet and China. While engaged in this project he felt called to ministry and began applying to seminary schools. After the passing of several family members Greg ended up regrouping in Austin with a set of close friends. Around the same time, his health started declining and he felt that beginning acupuncture school at AOMA would help center him and improve his health. Now, with the help of AOMA professor Dr. Joel Cone, practicing martial arts, and receiving regular acupuncture treatments, Greg feels like he as healthy as he has ever been.

Greg is involved in AOMA Jujitsu club and continues his martial arts studies. In clinic, he is inspired by working with Dr. William Morris because of his passion for Chinese medicine. He says, “Will is excited and knowledgeable about what he does and that invokes excitement in me. He is able to teach a method that is practical and able to integrate what I am currently learning in my classes.”

Greg is also very politically minded when it comes to healthcare. He participated in one sit-in against the state of Tennessee for cutting 350,000 people from state funded TennCare. His passion for health and wellness is marked by his personal mission to study models of healthcare that are accessible to the underserved. He is also moved to educate people about investing in local and organic foods and the dangers of big farm industry and genetically modified foods.

Greg is the first from his family to graduate with a college degree and upon receiving his masters at AOMA he has big ideas of how to promote the medicine. He would like to do research to better understand the biomedical overlap of western and Chinese medicine. He wants to provide acupuncture to individuals that cannot afford healthcare, particularly the Appalachian community that has been devastated by industrial development. He has also been thinking about opening a healthcare coop as a viable solution to get people invested in their own health and promoting the ginseng industry to help people become more connected to making their own medicine.

 

Explore AOMA Weekend: Master\u0026#39\u003Bs Program Session April 4 \u0026amp\u003B 5, 2014   Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master\u0026#39\u003Bs Program

Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment of Arthritis

  
  
  

chinese medicine for arthritisApproximately 27 million Americans suffer from the pains of arthritis, making it one of the most common causes of physical disability among adults. Although it becomes more common as one ages, arthritis can affect adults of all ages.

Symptoms of arthritis include joint or muscle pain in any joint area including the spine, hips, and fingers. Other symptoms include morning muscle/joint stiffness, loss of appetite, low-grade fever and loss of energy. Joints may become swollen when inflamed and even turn red.

Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid arthritis

The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting an estimated 21 million adults in the US. It begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness in the fingers, knees, hips, and spine. Repetitive injuries and physical trauma may contribute to the deterioration of osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the joints and in some cases, may affect the blood, lungs, or the heart. Inflammation is the main cause of the pain, stiffness, and swelling. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are familiar with “flares” or active symptoms and “remissions” when the symptoms dissipate for a period of time. This ebb and flow of symptoms can go on for years or a lifetime.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

According to Chinese medical theory, arthritis occurs when the Qi (energy, life-force) in the body becomes blocked. Unique acupuncture points will be determined after a careful evaluation of the patient’s medical history and once the licensed practitioner pinpoints the root cause of the patient’s Qi blockage. The practitioner will also likely prescribe Chinese herbs and make lifestyle and/or dietary recommendations.

In a study by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, acupuncture was shown to reduce the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants had a 40% decrease in pain and improvement of joint function from baseline evaluation after only 14 weeks of treatments.[1]

Lifestyle and Dietary Recommendations

Lifestyle and diet can make a huge impact on quality of life for people who suffer from arthritis. A healthy diet can ease arthritis pain and help keep your joints healthy. Chinese medicine nutritional therapy would recommend avoiding “damp” foods such as greasy and spicy foods, as well as dairy products.

Here are some other foods to consider adding to your diet:[2]

Ginger - A natural anti-inflammatory. Take according to supplement label or make a tea with half a teaspoon of grated ginger root and eight ounces of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pineapple - Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, reduces inflammation.

Cherries - Cherries are an excellent source of nutrients that may help to reduce joint pain and inflammation related to arthritis.

Fish - Cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce pain and swelling as well as keep joints healthy.

Turmeric - A natural anti-inflammatory. Take according to supplement label and use as a cooking spice whenever possible.



[1]  Acupuncture Relieves Pain and Improves Function in Knee Osteoarthritis. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2004/acu-osteo/pressrelease.htm

[2]  Acupuncture for Arthritis by Diane Joswick. https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Acupuncture+for+Arthritis

Chinese Herbalism: Goji Berries

  
  
  

goji berryGoji berries have been used for 6,000 years in Chinese herbalism to protect the liver, help eyesight, boost immune function, improve circulation, and promote longevity. Goji berries, also known as Lycium barbarum, wolfberry, gou qi zi, and Fructus lycii are usually found dried. They are shriveled orange-red berries that look like red raisins.

Goji berries have been eaten in Asia for ages to promote longevity and currently are used to help treat diabetes, women’s health, high blood pressure, and age-related eye problems. Goji berries can be eaten raw or cooked and are becoming more prevalent in juices, herbal teas, and medicines. Since they have short shelf life it is a good idea to store them in a cool place or even in the refrigerator.

What are the health benefits of goji berries?

Goji berries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin's key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. In fact, increased intake of foods containing zeathanthin may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).[1]

Some studies using goji berry juice found benefits in mental well-being and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health. Significant animal research has demonstrated anticancer, antidiabetes, antihypertensive, anti-infertility, anti-myelosuppressive, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, immune-stimulating, and radiosensitizing properties.[2]

Goji berries are a member of the nighshade family, so if you are sensitive to nightshades, it may be a good idea to avoid or limit your intake of goji berries.

Goji Berry Congee Recipe

Traditionally known as “rice wagoji berryter”, congee is eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. It is a thin porridge, usually made from rice, although other grains may be used. [3]

1 cup rice, millet, or quinoa
6 cups water
1/4 cup goji berries
1 pear, cut in half (optional)
2-3 dates (optional)

Cook in a covered pot four to six hours on warm, or use the lowest flame possible; a crockpot works well for congees and can run on low overnight. It is better to use too much water than too little, and it is said that the longer congee cooks, the more “powerful” it becomes.

Five more ways to eat Goji Berries

  1. Put them in your cold cereal or oatmeal like raisins.

  2. Make a cold or hot tea infusion.

  3. Bake them in cookies or muffins

  4. Combine them with your favorite nuts and dried fruit in a trail mix.

  5. Cover them in chocolate!


Chinese Medicine School: Basic Five Element Theory

  
  
  

7 chakras elementsThe theory of the natural elements is an enduring philosophy across cultures, appearing in separate countries in vastly different eras around the world.

The ancient Greeks used the five elements of earth, water, air, fire, and “aether” (quintessence/spirit) as a guiding principal to better understand the universe. Both ancient Egyptians and Buddhists understood the elements as fire, water, air, and earth. Hinduism utilizes the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, and “aether”) as well. In fact, the seven chakras pair with Hindu and Buddhist five element theory. Western astrology also makes use of the four classical elements in astrological charting.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Five Element theory (also called Wu Xing) is a powerful, foundational lens through which medicine, our bodies, and the world at large can be viewed. Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood are understood to be the Five Elements in TCM.

Each element is awarded a number of characteristics and correspondences. They all have their separate natures, movements, directions, sounds, times of the day, and much more. Similar to Yin Yang theory, many specific aspects of life and the world can be attributed to a certain element.

In addition to these basic qualities, the elements also correspond with certain internal organs, tastes, emotions, and sense organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine—a very important feature of the theory with great implications to the medicinal practice.

Below are the Five Elements and their commonly discussed and widely held attributes.

Fire

  • Season: Summer
  • Direction: South
  • Color: Red
  • Environment: Hot
  • Taste: Bitter
  • Emotion: Joy
  • Organs: Heart; Small Intestine
  • Sense Organ: Tongue
  • Bodily Tissue: Blood vessel

Earth

  • Season: Late summer
  • Direction: Center/Middle
  • Color: Yellow
  • Environment: Damp
  • Taste: Sweet
  • Emotion: Worry
  • Organs: Spleen; Stomach
  • Sense Organ: Mouth
  • Bodily Tissue: Muscles

Metal

  • Season: Fall
  • Direction: West
  • Color: White
  • Environment: Dry
  • Taste: Pungent
  • Emotion: Grief
  • Organs: Lung; Large Intestine
  • Sense Organ: Nose
  • Bodily Tissue: Body hair

Water

  • Season: Winter
  • Direction: North
  • Color: Black
  • Environment: Cold
  • Taste: Salty
  • Emotion: Fear
  • Organs: Kidneys; Urinary Bladder
  • Sense Organ: Ear
  • Bodily Tissue: Bone

Wood

  • Season: Spring
  • Direction: East
  • Color: Green
  • Environment: Windy
  • Taste: Sour
  • Emotion: Anger
  • Organs: Liver; Gallbladder
  • Sense Organ: Eye
  • Bodily Tissue: Tendons

 

five elementsIn TCM, the Five Elements are dynamic: they create, control, and constantly interact with each other.  Each element is said to generate—give rise—to another element. This generating sequence is a type of “mother-son” relationship, where the parent gives life to and nurtures the child. In Five Element theory, Fire generates Earth. Earth generates Metal. Metal generates Water. Water generates Wood. Wood generates Fire. One jumping off point for remembering this sequence is to think of how rubbing twigs (ie: wood) together can create fire.

Additionally, each element controls and is controlled by another element, creating a system of checks and balances. Ideally, this system guarantees that one element will not over-dominate another element for any lengthy period of time. The controlling sequence is as follows: Fire controls Metal. Metal controls Wood. Wood controls Earth. Earth controls Water. Water controls Fire. An easy way to begin memorizing the controlling relationships is to think of how water can easily douse—control—fire.

Disturbances in these natural generating and controlling orders give rise to pathological symptoms. For instance, if the Wood element is too excessive in the body it may begin “over-controlling” the Earth element. This is a common pathology in clinical practice. One way it can be used is to understand why feeling excessively angry (Wood’s emotion) can give one a stomachache (the Stomach is one of Earth’s organs).

These symptoms are intricately analyzed in AOMA’s didactic classes and utilized to great effect in clinical settings. Even without going into the depth required in Chinese medicine school, however, Five Element theory can provide structure to our daily lives, an understanding of the interconnectedness of our planet, and a richer appreciation of our bodies. Put simply, the Five Elements can be seen as a natural law of the universe.  

About the author: Carly Willsie enjoys putting Yin Yang theory into practice as an acupuncture school student and tutor. Carly grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York and has a background in journalism and publishing.

How to Become an Herbalist

  
  
  
Herbalists are trained in the healing properties of medicinal plants and consult with their clients about how to improve their health with these natural preparations. The two most recognized ways to become a professional herbalist is by either becoming a Naturopathic physician or Chinese medicine practitioner.

herbal programHerbal Medicine Careers

Herbal medicine can be practiced and integrated into other professions in a variety of ways:
  • As a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist (in most states)
  • As a naturopathic physician (in some states)
  • As herbal educators in institutions/schools, industry/retail or community settings
  • Medicinal plant research (may include phytochemistry, pharmacognosy, agriculture/horticulture, botanical authentication, etc.)
  • Herbal medicine can create a niche market or clientele for landscapers, medicinal herb growers or plant nurseries
  • Massage therapists with herbal training, often include/utilize topical herbal preparations
  • Small scale herbal manufacturing with emphasis on tonic teas, medicated honeys and topical preparations (food-like preparations or topical preparations are the least invasive and least problematic legally)

Herbal Medicine Programs

Herbal medicine programThe American Herbalist Guild (AHG), a non-profit, educational organization that works to promote a high level of professionalism and education in the study and practice of therapeutic herbalism, recommends that a program of herbal education includes courses in botany, therapeutic herbalism and pharmacognosy (the study of drugs derived from plants and other natural sources). Classes in basic human sciences, including anatomy, pathology, physiology and nutrition are also a fundamentally important part of the curriculum. In addition, the AHG recommends students get training in counseling, physical assessments, dosing strategies and other clinical skills.

The study of Chinese herbalism usually occurs within an accredited acupuncture and Oriental medicine program. The herbal curriculum within most Chinese medicine programs will include an in-depth study of the Chinese Materia Medica, theoretical principles and practical application of traditional Chinese dietetics, individual herbs and their functions, hands-on herbal labs, preparation of herbal formulations, and modification of classical formulas.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are incredibly helpful in integrating the “knowing and the doing”.  Apprenticeships are not a typical component of most western herbalism programs but are often sought after by herb students looking for a supervised introduction to working with clients and gaining valuable clinical experience.

The American Herbalist Guild has a mentoring program that supports student practitioners (or mentees), to develop their clinical skills by linking student practitioners with those who have significant clinical herbal experience.

Students who study herbal medicine within an accredited Chinese medicine degree program students practice herbal formulation with modifications as well as prescribe Chinese patent herbs under supervision. A minimum of 72 hours of herbal clinic internship hours are required in AOMA’s herbal program.

Recognition

Currently, the US healthcare system does not recognize western herbal practitioners as healthcare providers in and of themselves. There are currently no federal or state agencies that regulate western herbal practice. Naturopathic doctors are licensed to use this therapeutic modality in the 17 states that recognize ND’s as primary care providers.

While some countries have minimum education standards to be an herbalist, standards are not the same between or even within countries. Medical herbalists are licensed by The National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH), the UK’s leading professional body representing herbal practitioners. Members are required to have professional indemnity, public liability and medical malpractice insurance.

To practice Chinese herbal medicine in most states, one must also hold an acupuncture license, although states vary in their requirement of other TCM components like herbal medicine. Almost all licensing states require completion of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s(NCCAOM) national written exam which offers distinct certification programs in acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and Asian bodywork.

About the author:

Jbecome an herbalistenny Perez has been working to re-connect plants and people for more than 15 years by sharing her passion and practices of urban horticulture, kitchen medicine and therapeutic nutrition. She managed the Bastyr University medicinal herb garden for 7 years, was adjunct faculty for their Botanical Medicine Department for 5 years and created and directed the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.  Currently, she works as the Education Coordinator for the American Botanical Council. Founded in 1988, the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofit organization using science-based and traditional information to promote responsible use of herbs, teas, medicinal plants, essential oils, and other beneficial plant-derived materials.

 

Understanding Accreditation and Why it Matters

  
  
  

What is Accreditation?

When looking at an educational program of any nature, one important factor to consider is accreditation. Accreditation is the process used within higher education to evaluate the quality of colleges, universities, and educational programs. It is a form of endorsement signifying that a college, university, or educational program offers a legitimate form of education.

Obtaining Accreditation

Schools obtain accreditation by applying to have their institution or curriculum reviewed by an independent accrediting agency. Accrediting agencies are private, nongovernmental educational associations designed to conduct external quality assessments. Each agency sets educational and institutional standards for the types of programs, colleges, or universities it accredits.

Within the U.S. there are many different accrediting agencies that evaluate and accredit programs based on criteria specific to the nature and purpose of each agency, or to a specific field of study. While the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) does not accredit institutions directly, it does determine which accrediting agencies receive official recognition by the DOE.

Institutions may become eligible for federal funds by achieving accreditation. To be eligible to receive federal funds, including federal student financial aid, institutions and educational programs must be accredited by an agency recognized by the DOE.

Regional Accreditationregionally accredited acupuncture school

Regional accreditation is a form of institutional accreditation that is granted after a school has completed a comprehensive peer review process of all its institutional functions. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes regional accrediting agencies for six geographic regions of the United States. These include:

Because the institutional standards for obtaining regional accreditation are rigorous, regional accreditation ensures a high level of educational quality and effectiveness for students. In general, credits obtained at a regionally accredited institution can be accepted as transfer by other schools, including other regionally accredited colleges or universities.

Regional accreditation may be granted to public and private, nonprofit, and for-profit, two- and four-year institutions.

National Accreditation

National Accreditation is typically granted by an accreditation agency that focuses on a particular type of education. National accreditation agencies are often specific to institutions that offer single-purpose degree programs, occupational, vocational, or professional education and training and degrees. Examples of national accreditors include:  

Many national accrediting agencies are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA is a private, nongovernmental agency that recognizes independent accrediting agencies, though it employs a different process and criteria for recognition than the US Department of Education. CHEA maintains an online list of accrediting agencies it recognizes.

Specialized Programmatic Accreditationgraduate program in acupuncture and chinese medicine

Programmatic accreditation refers to a type of accreditation for a specialized discipline or field of study offered by an institution, but does not necessarily evaluate the college or university as a whole. Specialized accreditation exists within more than 90 disciplines, encompassing the fields of education, health care, law, the arts and humanities, community and social services, and personal care and human service.

Programmatic accreditation agencies ensure that a program of study offered by an institution complies with current educational standards for a specific professional field or academic discipline. Some programmatic accreditors may require regional accreditation as a foundation prior to granting accreditation, and many specialized programmatic accrediting agencies are recognized by the US Department of Education.

Examples of specialized programmatic accreditors include:

Asking about Accreditation

To determine if a specific college, university, or educational program is accredited consult the school’s website, catalog, or ask the school’s admissions department. The U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of recognized accrediting agencies with information about the nature and purpose of each accreditor.

To learn more about AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine’s accreditation and affiliations, please visit www.aoma.edu/about-aoma/accreditation-and-affiliations/. For more additional information about accreditation for the field of acupuncture & Oriental medicine, please visit the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)

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Sources:
Schray, Vickie. "Assuring Quality in Higher Education: Key Issues and Questions for Changing Accreditation in the United States, Issue Paper, The Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education (Fourth in a series of Issue Papers released at the request of Chairman Charles Miller to inform the work of the Commission)" (PDF). U.S. Department of Education, Washington D.C.
"Understanding Accreditation of U.S. Colleges and Universities." Web blog post. Http://www.petersons.com. Nelnet, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. <http://www.petersons.com/college-search/us-colleges-universities-accreditation.aspx>.
"Accreditation in the United States." College Accreditation in the United States -- TOC. US Department of Education (DOE), n.d. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html>.
Eaton, Judith S. Accreditation and Recognition in the U.S. Rep. Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), 2012. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www.chea.org/pdf/AccredRecogUS_2012.pdf>.
Jang, D. "What Is Regional Accreditation and Why Is It Important?" Weblog post. Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE, 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www.wiche.edu/knowledge/14295>
"Types of Accreditation." Western Assocation of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC, n.d. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www.wascsenior.org/about>
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