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Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Help Control Diabetes

  
  
  

acupuncture for diabetes28.5 million men, women and children have diabetes in the U.S. This  dis-ease affects the function of the pancreas. Classic Chinese practitioners were writing about the symptoms of diabetes (excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination, and rapid weight loss) over 2,500 years ago in the ancient medical text called the Nei Jing.

Food therapy can also be an effective way to control blood sugar. Acupuncturists can recommend combinations of foods that help the individual to regulate the blood sugar and the internal heat created by the dysfunction of the pancreas.

Acupuncture & TCM can help Diabetics

The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine published a study recently that showed regular acupuncture treatments can help control the function of the pancreas and help regulate the blood sugar levels in diabetics. Other symptoms that acupuncture and herbs can address for diabetics are fatigue, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst, urination and hunger, poor wound healing, infections, irritability, blurry vision, and numbness in fingers and toes.

What is acupuncture?

The most well-known traditional Chinese medical procedure, acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into the body at specific points to relieve pain or treat a disease.  Acupuncture triggers spontaneous healing reactions in the body, and scientific studies have proven its efficacy for treating inflammation, pain, depression and a host of other disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes 28 diseases, symptoms, or conditions for which acupuncture has been proven to be an effective form of treatment. The WHO also recognizes acupuncture’s therapeutic effects for over 55 diseases, symptoms, or conditions, but noted additional controlled trials are needed.

Introduction to Acupuncture \u0026amp\u003B Herbal Medicine

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine 2013 Commencement

  
  
  

master of acupuncture and oriental medicineOn September 15th, during the annual commencement exercises of the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, 33 scholars from the Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program walked across the stage at the Hyatt Regency on Town Lake in Austin, Texas.  After completing a four-year graduate program in Chinese medicine, these graduates are prepared with the knowledge to transform lives through compassionate, patient-centered care.

Master’s degree program director Lesley Hamilton led the procession of graduates. Proceedings included the presentation of the Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award, faculty recognition, awarding of degrees, and a healer's oath led by the doctoral program director Dr. John Finnell.

acupuncture schoolThe keynote address, delivered by Rey Ximenes, MD, invited graduates to enjoy the journey and pursue life-long learning. Dr. Rey Ximenes is the owner and director of The Pain and Stress Management Center, an integrative, multi-disciplinary clinic. Dr. Ximenes began his career in medicine as an anesthesiologist working in such places as M.D. Anderson Hospital, Texas Heart Institute, St. Luke's Hospital, Hermann Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, and The Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. Dr. Ximenes is the current President of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture and a Board Member of the Texas State Board of Acupuncture.

acupuncture college graduate“My wish is that you can persist in the face of adversity, no matter what. Take what you have learned in your classes and expand on it, learn more, fail, and learn more. Most of all persist. We need you to succeed. For you are the future of medicine. You are practitioners who understand that the true meaning of holism is to include ALL we know in an integrative model.” He ended the speech by inviting guests to participate in a qigong blessing.

In honor of the late Cal Key Wilson, a student who would have been graduating this year a new award was announced: the Cal Key Wilson Community Leadership Award. Graduating student Joe Phiakhamta announced the award, “Cal was selfless, humble and lived to serve others. His gestures and actions were never about him. He moved with a purpose, to make our days just a little bit better.”

Twenty years after the founding of AOMA, the class of 2013 carries on the tradition of embodying the art and spirit of healing, poised to transform lives and communities through acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Congratulations to all the graduates and their families!

Explore Styles of Clinical Practice for Acupuncturists

Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award 2013

  
  
  

herbal studies awardAt the 2013 commencement ceremony on September 15th, AOMA student Leila Plummer was recipient of the Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award. Since 2006 this honor has been bestowed upon a student who excels in the study of herbal medicine. The recipient is chosen by the previous year’s beneficiary, as someone who strives for superior herbal knowledge and shares the love of learning herbs with fellow students.

In 2012, the award went to Vivian Linden, who chose Leila as this year’s recipient. Vivian shares, “I believe that our most rewarding relationship with herbal medicine will be achieved through fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with our herbal allies –making them friends instead of just servants. Leila exemplifies this and it is what makes her truly excellent!”

It is clear to her fellow classmates that Leila holds a great respect for the study of herbal medicine as an academic, clinical, and extracurricular pursuit. But what is most notable about Leila is her reverence for the plants themselves.

Leila’s extracurricular herbal studies have included:

herbal studies

  • Serving and training in Nicaragua in 2012 with master herbalists providing free natural medicine to the underserved

  • Certified Community Herbalist and Herbal Apprentice from the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine (Western herbalism)

  • Member of the American Herbalist Guild (student member) and United Plant Savers

  • Working as a wellness consultant, helping people with herbs and nutrition at herb stores and health food stores

“I am humbled and grateful to the AOMA community for thinking of me for this award. AOMA has a strong herbal program, which is why I chose this school; it is an honor to get to learn from such knowledgeable and caring faculty.  The kindness of the student body has also always impressed me -- here, learners look after each other and help each other out,” said Leila.

Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007)

The award is named in honor of Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007). Michael graduated from the University of Kentucky Phi Beta Kappa with distinction from the Honor's Program with degrees in Political Science and Sociology.

In 1990, Michael moved to Austin, Texas where he eventually continued his education at AOMA. He was a loved and cherished classmate, tutor, mentor and friend. While at AOMA, Michael was instrumental in the development of the Herbal Outreach Program. Because of Michael's generosity, many patients have been able to receive necessary herbs.

One of Michael's greatest passions and loves was tennis. Michael founded the Austin Tennis Club, a local tennis organization that has grown to over 100 members and has raised thousands of dollars for local charities. Michael loved being on the tennis court as a player, teacher and coach, and he used his talents and eye for the game to teach many tennis camps.

herbal awardMichael Garcia Prendes contracted a terminal illness and died before he could graduate. AOMA framed a beautiful print that Michael painted of a tennis player (with acupuncture meridians) about to serve a ball.  Michael painted the piece for Pam Ferguson’s shiatsu class.  The print hangs in the student lounge with the sentiment that suits Michael’s character: “Be present and focus, Lift up and Serve.”

Michael's generosity, compassion, sincerity, selflessness, and kind heart will always be an inspiration to his family and friends. Michael lived his life with integrity, honesty, and courage. Michael was a true gift to all who were lucky to know him and who were blessed by his humor, love and kindness.

How Michael helped students learn Chinese herbs

One of many students who benefited from Michael’s herbal tutoring was Consuelo Gonzalez, class of 2009.

“Michael had very special teaching qualities. He would explain with patience and humor the terminology of the herbs. Michael made it easy for us to identify the herbs. He would use pneumonic words to relate the herbs with funny stories or events to get them connected all at one category. We always had a blast each time we get together with him. It is hard to find someone like him, but before he left he gave us the guidelines to imitate him.”

Classmates remember Michael

Michael has touched me deeply and will always be a part of who I am no matter if I'm playing tennis or treating a patient. I feel so lucky to have been on the receiving end of so much love and generosity which he shared with everyone, and for which he will always be remembered. - Adrienne Kam, class of 2009


I have never met a more selfless, loving, giving man than Michael Garcia Prendes.  His concern for his fellow students overrode everything else, and up to his last days, he put others welfare before his own. - Kathy Kerr, class of 2008


Michael helped so many people, including myself, to see the true potential in themselves and build confidence in their learning capabilities.  - Sarah Wilson, class of 2008

I knew Michael to be a compassionate and wise soul. He was always kind and offered me valuable comfort when I was going through a sad time.  His donations and support of Herbal Outreach were unsolicited and showed him to be thoughtful and generous with his time and efforts. I am grateful to have known him. - Jessica Fritz, class of 2005

Previous Recipients of the Herbal Excellence Award

Erin Taliaferro, 2006

Rebecca Benson, 2007

Marc Smith, 2008

Alison Beard, 2009

Cat Calhoun, 2010

Joshua Shain, 2011

Vivian Linden, 2012

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Eye Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Eye Massage Video

  
  
  

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are effective in treating a wide range of conditions of the eye. For some conditions, such as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt's disease and other retinal diseases which have limited treatment in Western medicine, acupuncture is the treatment of choice. For other diseases, such as cataracts (in the early stage) and chronic (open-angle) glaucoma, acupuncture can be beneficial as an adjunct therapy to Western treatment.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis

The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic or Nei jing, the most important ancient text in Chinese medicine, teaches “the Liver opens into the eyes”. The Liver is the primary organ relating to the eyes in Chinese medicine, although in practice, all of the internal organs have some relation to the eyes. That is why diagnosis of eye disease is not just based on symptoms and signs but also on a more extensive pattern of the entire body. The causes of eye and bodily diseases are the same: the dysfunction of the internal organs leads to eye and other disorders. You cannot separate the eyes from the rest of the body.

eye healthIn traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is said that the spirit “shows in the eyes” and “is housed in the heart.” These sayings indicate a direct relationship between thinking and eye function. The attitude of a person has a direct and immediate effect on the Qi in the eyes. TCM eye reading or eye diagnosis combined with pulse and tongue diagnosis are the most effective ways to determine the best treatment for each patient, and can aid in early detection for preventive management. It is also helpful if patients bring their medical records from recent eye exams.

Someone who is educated in TCM ophthalmology can provide thorough treatment of eye diseases through acupuncture and Chinese herbs. As a practitioner, my main objective is to bring Qi to the eyes while treating the overall organ imbalances and the person’s unique constitution. I also usually coach my patients to assess their attitude towards life, as well.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is the most common of a number of degenerative conditions that can affect the retina. It is also the leading cause of blindness in older adults. According to epidemiologists, there are almost 5,000 new cases diagnosed each day and by the year 2010 there will be 30 million cases of ARMD in the United States alone.[i] There are some studies that suggest that almost 25% of adults over the age of 65 show some evidence of deterioration in the macular region.[ii] Right now, there is no cure and no treatment for ARMD in conventional medicine.

Macular Degeneration Case Study

Linda came to me with the "wet" form of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65. She had had laser procedures 3 months prior to coming into the clinic. After reviewing the medical records from Linda's recent eye exams, I treated her with acupuncture (body points, scalp points, ear points) and prescribed herbal medicine. Two months later she showed improvement as measured in visual acuity testing and also showed marked improvement in her scoring on color testing and overall visual fields.

Eye Massage

I also teach my patients how to do self-massage around the eyes. Eye massage is popular in China to prevent children from becoming near-sighted. For mild eye problems, these simple massage techniques can be of great benefit. In severe cases, eye massage is a useful supplement. Through the guidance of an acupuncturist who has been trained in this therapy, a patient can easily learn eye massage and do it at home for mild eye disease like dry eyes and eye strain.

Eat Right for your Eyes

There has been extensive research done on the importance of specific foods and dietary supplements for people with degenerative eye diseases. Diet, supplements and vitamins can slow the progression of macular degeneration and retinal disease[iii], and when combined with acupuncture and herbal treatment provide a course of treatment that is more effective. For example, blueberries improve night vision, affecting the production of visual purple and assisting the optic nerve.

Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China to protect the liver, help goji berries eye healtheyesight, 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 red berries that look like red raisins.

Goji berries are rich in 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).[iv]

About the author

Shengyan ‘Grace’ Tan, PhD, MD (China), OMD (China) served as an acupuncturist, herbalist, and clinical supervisor in the ENT and Ophthalmology Department of the teaching hospital of Chengdu University of TCM for four years. She has also served as a clinic interpreter, instructor, and lecturer and has published several peer reviewed papers. She is the first PhD-trained TCM practitioner specializing in ophthalmology to teach in the United States. Dr. Tan brings energy, knowledge, and clinical experience to the AOMA faculty. At AOMA Tan teaches TCM Diagnostic Skills I and II, Herbal Safety, Herbal Patents, and Clinic Theater 1, and supervises clinic rotations. She has been a faculty member, clinical supervisor, and acupuncturist at AOMA since 2011.


[i]  http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDUQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.acupunctureworks.organicmd.com%2Fmacular%2Fwhatismd.htm&ei=xwVWUZSoD4_Y9ASkk4H4DQ&usg=AFQjCNGjg1NsJvcavH7qYQyzmlZbzx2zVw&sig2=SPgibEc92ZM1HWxgs3LzZg&bvm=bv.44442042,d.eWU

[ii]  http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&ved=0CEkQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com%2Fsymptoms_remedies%2Fmacular_degeneration%2F104-1.html&ei=FwZWUayqLJG-9gS674DQBA&usg=AFQjCNGTqpVEQ4csUXFvevxTGuopmEc4LQ&sig2=St7cLHKbnPotG7douKOkaQ&bvm=bv.44442042,d.eWU

[iii]  http://www.maculardegeneration.org/activities.html

[iv]  http://www.nhiondemand.com/hsjarticle.aspx?id=1101

Introduction to Acupuncture \u0026amp\u003B Herbal Medicine

Retrospective Reflection: An AOMA Career Observed

  
  
  

When I came to AOMA, all I really knew was that this stuff was magic and I wanted to do it.  I knew very little about traditional Chinese medicine, although I was fairly learned in general Taoism.  It was a long path, beginning in my religious studies curriculum in my undergrad program that culminated with me enrolling here ten years later.  I changed a lot in that time, but I’ve changed more since.

I started in the program having most recently worked as a sixth-grade teacher, something I knew I never wanted to do again.  But I got into that business to “help people”, or whatever I assumed would bring some personal value to my professional life.  This would be a one-on-one version of helping people, and that was something I’d never really done.  Also, I would be touching people familiarly, which I’d also never done.  I was nervous, but it was still very theoretical at that point, and clinic was still two years away.

I felt very at home in class from the outset.  I’ve been a scholastic overachiever my whole life, so reading interesting texts, listening to brilliant professors, and getting A’s on tests fit right into my established personality.  Only in Point Location did I really start to see a different side of the coin: we’d be touching each other, and we’d be taking our clothes off in front of each other to some extent.  I’m modest and wasn’t particularly excited about this second part.  But I realized immediately that this business required people taking their clothes off in front of me.  I challenged myself and volunteered to be a Point Location model anytime it could be embarrassing, and eventually got pretty comfortable with it.

I made some friends my first term, but they moved on without me when my father died during my second term and I withdrew.  I joined the next cohort and had to reestablish myself.  It took some time, but I forced myself to be open to the new class, partially because they were with me all the time and partially because it was an exercise in fighting my shyness and practicing networking, neither of which come naturally to me.

My father’s death had a profound effect on my time at AOMA.  I questioned my new path and decided his death didn’t change what I was going to do.  But depression settled into the lives of my wife and me, and I took little pleasure in anything.  But somehow, at school I didn’t feel the same.  I was working on something larger, and I was able to divorce my emotional turmoil from my sense of purpose in my education.  Still, I was always cognizant of an inescapable fact: I would never have the opportunity to put needles in my dad.

There is a varied student body at this school.  My wife and I threw a Super Bowl party every year, and one year I realized I was sitting on my couch between two doctors, one a chiropractor and one a naturopath.  I never previously saw myself as being in a social circle with doctors, but there I was.  Equally notable among students are the esoteric, energy-focused students, the kind who always know what the moon is doing, the kind who regularly speak about feeling the love in a group or about their heart energies opening.  I am not this kind of person.  I am analytical.  I majored in English because it interested me, not because it came naturally to me.  The theoretical and informational aspects of this education are right in my wheelhouse.  The energetic, esoteric aspects I’ve had to develop, and in this I am still very incomplete and must continue to progress in it.

Herbs was the first subject here that really tested me.  It was more information than I’ve ever had to learn, with more detail and various angles than I’m used to dealing with.  I actually had to study, and this was difficult.  I made myself do it, and I found that I could be successful in it.  This gave me more confidence that I was doing the right thing.

By far, the clinical education in this program has been the most transformative.  I’ve seen the power of the medicine promote healing, even when I thought I’d performed a sub-par treatment.  I’ve seen patients cry right in front of me, and I’ve learned how to maintain a professional but caring presence for them.  I’ve grown comfortable with touching patients of all genders, sizes, and ages.  I’ve seen the ravages of disease, both physical and psycho-spiritual.  I’ve learned what it means to have a level of trust put in me that I would have previously thought impossible.  I’ve feigned confidence, and then grown into it.  In my time in clinic, I’ve felt myself grow from a student into an acupuncturist, and I like the way it feels.

As I graduate and move into this profession, I must stay motivated.  Typically, I excel in formal classes, because I feel a sense of obligation to the professor and I want to get good grades.  I usually want to use my free time to read fiction and watch movies.  But now there are many aspects of my professional career that I need to study, and I must study to promote my abilities.  Initially, I will focus on subjects to support building a new business, accepting insurance, recognizing red flags.  I feel that I still need significant practice with herbal medicine to be truly effective, and I have several resources that I will begin studying, primarily from a Classical viewpoint.  I also want to continue developing my acupuncture technique, and I think I will focus first on perfecting my mirroring and imaging techniques and on Master Tong acupuncture. This is just the beginning of my life-long learning in the field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Concerning the educational outcomes at AOMA, I would say I feel very confident in collecting and analyzing patient data, producing a correct diagnosis, and coming up with a solid treatment, both with acupuncture and with herbs.  I have a fair understanding of the basics of biomedical assessment.  I’m comfortable with recognizing red flags or important times for referrals, as well as in basic physical assessment for range of motion and determining involved structures.  I’ve grown more effective in including the patient in their treatment in a collaborative way, but I can continue to improve.  I want buy-in, I want their trust, I want their compliance, and collaboration is the best way to earn these.  I’m confident in my literature reviews and outcome measures of any single patient, though I must stay on top of current studies and outside literature to continue to increase my efficacy.

I’m comfortable with my professionalism at this point.  I believe that I act, behave, and perform in this medicine as professionally as I possibly can at this point.  I have a strong sense of medical and personal ethics, and I keep the good of the patient always at the forefront.  This is not to say that I cannot continue to improve.  I can, and I will.  I truly do believe in the utmost importance of true rectitude and professionalism.  I believe that what we as acupuncturists, moxibustionists, and herbalists can drastically alter the health outcomes for a wide range of people, and eventually for the Western medical landscape as a whole.

As I look back at this educational experience, the place that I have the most room for improvement is in implementing what I’ve learned in my own life.  At times, I feel like a dried-out husk of a person.  As a new father and soon-graduate, I’ve been burning the proverbial candle on both ends, as well as in the middle.  I picture my adrenals as a couple of dehydrated raisins.  Finally, in just one week, I will again have some time to devote to myself and my own health.  I know the transformative abilities of qigong, daily exercise, regular acupuncture treatments, meditation, herbal intake, and rest.  For the most effective clinical outcomes, I want my clients to grow in each of these areas.  It is now time for me to do the same.  I need to show my clients that I buy what I’m selling, and that I’m the better for it.  It’s time for me to be an example of a life well lived and enriched by Chinese Medicine.

bryan ellettBryan Ellett, MAOM, L.Ac.

Bryan was first introduced to acupuncture while studying Eastern religion at SMU.  When acupuncture successfully treated his own allergies and saved his wife from undergoing surgery, he decided to pursue this ancient science as a full-time career.  Bryan graduated from the prestigious AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin where he was recognized as a top student of acupuncture, herbology, and Asian bodywork.  He is licensed by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners and is board certified by the NCCAOM.  Bryan has training in modern biomedicine, allowing him to work together with physicians to address varying health issues.  In his clinical practice, he has successfully treated clients for a wide variety of conditions including digestive disorders, pregnancy-related discomforts and menstrual irregularities, emotional issues, smoking cessation, chronic hepatitis, vertigo, sports injuries, and chronic pain.  Most recently, he edited a book on pediatric acupuncture with respected physician and acupuncturist Dr. Jamie Wu.  He speaks conversational and medical Spanish, and is trained in cosmetic acupuncture.

Bryan believes that the best way to benefit the world is to enrich his corner of it, which is why he is committed to staying local and treating the people in his very own neighborhood.  When he is not curing what ails his community, Bryan can be found playing frisbee golf, strumming his guitar, or reading.  He lives in Lake Highlands with his wife Heather, young son Emerson, loud dog Capote, and ornery cat Syd Franklin.

Lake Highlands Acupuncture serves the communities of Lake Highlands, East Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, and Richardson, Texas.

Master of Acupuncture \u0026amp\u003B Oriental Medicine

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