AOMA Blog

Nelson Song Luo

Nelson Song Luo, PhD, MD (China), LAc “Being a doctor means you must burden yourself and enlighten your patients.” As a child, Dr. Luo spent time every day with his great-grandfather, who practiced traditional Chinese medicine. “My great-grandfather always put his whole heart into patients’ well-being,” Dr. Luo recollects. “When he was 90 years old, a patient’s husband knocked at his door at midnight and asked him to help his wife who was having severe abdominal pain. Even though it was cold and dark outside and he was tired from working all day, my great-grandfather got dressed and went to help her without any hesitation. The most important thing I learned from him was how to take care of patients from the bottom of your heart.” Song Luo received his medical and his PhD degrees from the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Over the course of thirteen years, Luo served at the national neurological center in the China Sichuan State Hospital and Sichuan Provincial Academy of Medical Science; the latter is an academic center where physicians from around the world are able to study the treatment of neurological disease. During his tenure at the hospital Dr. Luo was inspired by the opportunity to work collaboratively with other doctors. Describing this period of his professional development, he says, “It was so interesting to communicate with different doctors to help patients who were experiencing health disasters in their lives. When I see my patients’ symptoms have improved significantly, you cannot imagine how happy I am.” With 19 years’ experience, Song Luo has become an expert in treating neurological diseases, especially pain and muscle weakness related diseases. Speaking of traditional medicine, he notes that, “In Chinese medical philosophy, human beings are intimately connected to nature; we know that many diseases have environmental causes. My job is to get to the root of the cause and help balance my patients’ bodies with individualized treatment.” Song Luo also has abundant experience in treating patients with cardiac, digestive, respiratory, and endocrine diseases. The diseases he has treated include, but are not limited to stroke, insomnia, headache (tension headache, migraine, cluster headache, giant-cell arteritis), back, shoulder and neck pain, wrist pain (carpal tunnel syndrome), facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia), leg pain (sciatica), poor memory (Alzheimer's disease), arm and leg muscle weakness (multiple sclerosis, bell's palsy, erb-duchenne palsy, klumpke's palsy, Saturday night palsy, peroneal nerve palsy, Guillain-Barre syndrome, myelitis, syringomyelia, myasthenia gravis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), stress, limb numbness (diabetic neuropathy), slurred speech (bulbar palsy), and urinary problems (post-surgical urinary retention). Dr. Luo has given lectures to foreign doctors and students from more than 15 countries in Europe, America, and Asia. Here in Texas, Luo has also been invited to give presentations by the Seton Healthcare Family and St. David’s Medical Center to help educate physicians and other health care providers on how Chinese medicine works and the benefits for their patients. Due to his extensive clinical experience, Luo was invited twice by UNESCO and UNAIDS to present at their conferences in Africa and Mexico. The themes of the conferences were infectious disease in underprivileged countries and access to therapies (traditional scientific). Luo’s presentation focused on the treatment of neurological disease with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. “I will never forget my experience treating children in Africa,” he says. “Seeing the poverty and morbidity of children there has affected me personally and professionally. It was a great honor and pleasure to be invited by UNESCO to help patients with such a great need with acupuncture and herbal medicine, especially for those helpless children.” Song Luo moved from his hometown of Chengdu, China to work at AOMA in 2005, where he teaches, supervises student interns, and maintains his private practice in the professional clinic. He loves Austin and says it has a similar lifestyle to Chengdu where people enjoy drinking tea, eating good food, and listening to Chinese opera. He says “in Austin, people enjoy themselves by listening to music, jogging, and eating barbecue”. Dr. Luo loves jogging in the park early in the morning: smelling the fresh air, and listening to the birds singing in the trees. He also enjoys meeting new friends through his students, his church, and in his traveling. Many people don’t know that Dr. Luo has an English name. As he explains, “I had a patient with severe arthritis whose name is Nelson. The acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments were very effective for him. We became very good friends and when my family was going through a hard time his family gave us sincere and selfless help. Ever since then, I have a new English name - Nelson Song Luo. Sometimes, in our lives, naming is the best way to honor a friendship and show your gratitude.”

Recent Posts

Acupuncture and Insomnia

Posted by Nelson Song Luo on Tue, Mar 08, 2016 @ 11:38 AM

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If you've ever deprived yourself of sleep, you know that deep and restful sleep is a human necessity. The average adult needs 8 hours of sleep a day. A good night of sleep improves learning and helps you pay attention and make decisions. Sleep also promotes physical growth and development in children and teens. Yet, as many as 95% of Americans have reported an episode of insomnia at some point during their lives.

People with insomnia may experience one or more sleep disturbances such as: difficulty falling asleep at night, waking too early in the morning, waking often throughout the night, or sleep that is chronically non-restorative. In addition, ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes and hypoglycemia
  • Immune disorders

In the practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), insomnia represents an imbalance of the fundamental substances (Shen (spirit), Qi, Blood, Yin, Yang), or the major organ systems (Lungs, Heart, Spleen, Liver, Kidneys). For example, when a person suffers from insomnia due to an imbalance between the Heart and the Liver, the resulting Shen disturbance in the patient can cause insomnia, mood disorders, and heart palpitations.

Insomnia is organized into several different patterns according to TCM.

  • Difficulty falling asleep is often related to excess conditions of the Liver and/or Gall Bladder, where people lie awake, tossing and turning for hours.
  • When people fall asleep easily, yet wake early, they tend to have Heart and Liver deficiency.
  • Waking at specific times each night is often due to functional disorders of particular organs.

As a biorhythm, Qi is considered to circulate through the twelve meridians over a 24-hour period. Each meridian relates to an internal organ. People waking at the same time every night, may have an imbalance in the organ system that is "highlighted" at that time of day. Energy peaks in the Liver meridian at 3:00 a.m., which is why people often wake up then. In Chinese medicine, Liver problems can result from stress and anger.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for treating any of these patterns of disharmony that are related to insomnia. Acupuncture can balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This balancing process increases levels of serotonin, which can improve sleep quality.

Acupuncture balances the Yin and Yang and tonifies Qi and Blood. Based on different patterns of insomnia, many auricular or body acupoints are effective in the clinic. For example, if insomnia is due to Heart and Liver deficiency, auricular Shenmen Xue or Liver 8 and Heart 7 points may be used to nourish Heart and Liver Yin or Blood. Acupuncture treatments combined with meditation often turns out to have an even better result.

Traditional Chinese herbal medicine can be effectively used for insomnia as well. One of the most popular Chinese herbs for treating insomnia is Suan Zao Ren (Zyzyphus combination), which nourishes Heart Shen and Liver Blood. This herb makes it effective at "calming the Shen" and dealing with stress. Gui Pi Wan (Ginseng and Longan), yes ginseng assists sleep and in this formula nourishes Spleen Qi while other ingredients nourish Heart Blood. It is often combined with Suan Zao Ren.

Acupuncture promotes natural sleeping patterns without the hangover effect of sleeping pills. If you have been having sleep problems, it may be worthwhile to give acupuncture a try before taking medications. Consider talking to your doctor or a Chinese medicine practitioner about alternatives.

In addition to acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine, your practitioner may share tips on dietary modification and exercise therapy during an acupuncture appointment. As you begin to find balance through these treatments, you'll be sleeping soundly in no time!

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Luo at the AOMA Clinics:

Request an Appointment 

Topics: insomnia, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture

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