AOMA Blog

AOMA to Provide Acupuncture to Central Texas Veterans

Posted by Rob Davidson on Thu, Dec 01, 2016 @ 02:48 PM

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Austin, TX – AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine (AOMA) is pleased to announce a new affiliation agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Austin Outpatient Clinic (Austin OPC) to provide acupuncture and traditional Chinese medical services to veterans at the Austin OPC.  The Austin OPC is part of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.

Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in improving control of chronic pain in patients with and without the use of opioid medications. We are pleased to offer this adjunctive therapy to our Veterans. Acupuncture and its related methods (e.g. cupping, as made popular during the 2016 Olympics) provide low-cost, low-risk approaches to pain management that can enhance standard care, leading to improved outcomes and higher patient satisfaction. Veterans referred by their VA ambulatory care provider can make an appointment for acupuncture at the Austin OPC.

The acupuncture and traditional Chinese medical services provided by AOMA at the Austin OPC will be under the supervision of licensed acupuncturist (LAc) faculty supervisors on Fridays, beginning in December. Up to 24 Veterans can be seen each week by AOMA’s practitioners. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, as we work together to improve the health of our Veterans.

Topics: veteran affairs, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, veterans

9 Things to know about Musculoskeletal Health

Posted by Jing Fan, LAc on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 @ 02:21 PM

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Back pain and general muscle soreness are common problems for many people. Understanding correct force postures and maintaining your musculoskeletal system will help to both treat and prevent pain and disease. 

What causes musculoskeletal pain? 

The most common causes of musculoskeletal pain are soft tissue injuries (such as car accidents and sports injuries) and aging. Qi stagnation, Blood stasis, poor posture, and some life factors such as lack of exercise and excessive muscle use, can also contribute. In addition, dietary factors, mental factors, and other diseases such as cancer, gastrointestinal discomfort, dysmenorrhea, etc. can cause musculoskeletal pain.

The above factors cause muscle contraction, vasospasm, lactic acid accumulation, accumulation of inflammatory substances, and nerve excitement. They also lead to spasms of muscle and blood vessels which are not easily relieved, causing more metabolites to be developed. Such an abundance of inflammatory substances is too much to be taken away by normal blood flow, leading to a vicious cycle of dysfunction of muscle contraction and metabolism. Then the body will feel soreness, pain, pressure and tingling. So any methods which can increase blood circulation would be excellent ways to treat musculoskeletal pain!

What are the correct postures to prevent musculoskeletal pain?

The most common musculoskeletal pains are due to poor posture; for example, back pain. Being aware of correct posture during all activities can prevent back pain, but most especially when:

1. Picking up items

Bend your knees instead of bending your back. Avoid lifting heavy items with a bent back and straight legs, and do not twist the body when lifting. Try lifting items close to the body using your legs to provide the force, and you should not lift items higher than your chest. Sometimes using a pad will help, and of course it would be better to find someone to help you when lifting a very heavy item.

2. Standing and Walking

A good walking position is with raised head and lowered chin, with the toes facing forward and wearing a pair of comfortable shoes. When you are standing, do not stand too long in one posture. Avoid bending back with straight legs. Do not wear high heels or flat shoes to walk or stand for a long period of time. 

3. Sitting Position

Chair height should be moderate in order to keep the knees and buttocks at the same height. It is appropriate that the feet can step on the ground. Your back should be close to the back of chair. Pay attention to the height of the chair armrest and make sure to keep your arms naturally drooping with both elbows resting on the armrest. Do not sit in a chair which is too high or too far away from your work in order to prevent your upper body from leaning forward and your back from arching. Do not slouch in the chair, which has the potential to cause cervical spondylosis and numbness of hands. Such problems most often occur in people who use the computer for long periods of time.

4. Driving a Car

Your seat should move forward in order to keep the knees as high as the waist. Sit straight and hold the steering wheel with both hands when driving. Protect your lower back with cushions or rolls of towels. Do not sit too far away from the pedal, which may cause excessive stretching of the foot and leg or straightening of the arm, which can reduce the curvature of the spine.

5. Sleeping

Sleep on a solid mattress. A good sleep will do great help to your back. When side sleeping, slightly bend your knees. A pillow can be caught between the legs. When sleeping on your back, it is better to put a pad below the knees.

Traditional Chinese medicine for musculoskeletal pain 

6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture, with the theory of "Pain to Shu" to find the appropriate point of pain to do the needling, often has a magical effect on pain. Modern studies have shown that acupuncture can improve blood circulation, increase endorphin levels, and inhibit nerve conduction in order to relieve pain.

7. Tuina

Tuina, which is a type of traditional Asian bodywork therapy, can soothe fascia, activate meridians, promote muscle rigidity, improve fibrosis, relieve pain and fatigue, and restore the original muscle function. Asian bodywork combined with acupressure can often achieve a better effect than either modality used alone. 

8. Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy

Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy integrate hyperthermia and traditional Chinese herbal medicine to increase muscle blood circulation, reduce pain, and restore the original muscle function.

9. Chinese herbal medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that pain comes from the stasis or malnutrition of Qi and Blood. Chinese herbal medicine can adjust the patient’s constitution to improve blood circulation and PH and strengthen bones and tendons. Commonly used herbal formulas for the treatment of pain can regulate Qi, stimulate blood circulation, dispel wind, drain cold and dampness, and tonify the Liver and Kidney.

This article is written by Dr. Jing Fan, a practitioner at AOMA Clinics. AOMA Acupuncture Clinics offers all of the above Chinese Medicine treatment options, as well as the benefit of an herbal medicine store on site. Please make an appointment with us today!

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Topics: acupuncture, tcm health, musculoskeletal health

5 Tips for Self-care: TCM and Beyond

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 02:59 PM

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Self-care is a buzzword that’s mentioned a lot these days, but I feel like the meaning can get lost when tossed around so frequently. What does self-care really mean? Care of oneself, sure, that’s easy. We eat, we drink, we sleep – our needs are met, we are cared for. Right?

“Self-care” can be defined as intentional actions that you take in order to care for your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. While eating, drinking, and sleeping would all technically be considered self-care, I’d like to explore the idea a bit further than the basics to stay alive. Our bodies are generally pretty good at making sure our physical needs are met, so what often falls by the wayside is our mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are some approachable and affordable suggestions for incorporating more self-care activities into your daily routine:

1. Get Acupuncture

Being poked by needles may not be the first item on your “self-care and relaxation” to-do list, but it should be. Hear me out! Symptoms of stress can manifest physically (fatigue, muscle tightness, insomnia, illness, etc.) or emotionally (depression, anxiety, mood swings, poor concentration, etc.) and vary greatly from person to person.

Acupuncture acts on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, also promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which handles anxiety and worry (www.acupuncture.org). Research done on a specific acupuncture point (yintang) has shown that, when used during acupuncture or acupressure, this particular point lowered the reported stress levels of volunteers (Fassoulaki). Other research done on the success rates of In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, found that women undergoing acupuncture combined with IVF had higher successful implantation rates compared with those who did not receive acupuncture (Balk). The World Health Organization lists physical stress symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and pain among the problems that acupuncture has proven effective in treating. You can receive acupuncture when these symptoms arise or go in for regular "preventative" visits to stay ahead of any imbalances. 

2. Meditate

For many people, meditation might be the most intimidating item on this list. I used to think of meditation as something completely unapproachable, something that only tai chi masters and yoga gurus have the discipline to do. I thought meditation wasn't for me. Not true! I’ve since found that simple, approachable meditation practices such as “Alternate Nostril Breathing” (below) can be effective at reducing stress and bringing my awareness back to the present. Also, apps like Buddhify and Headspace offer a variety of guided meditations for all moods and situations, and you can always check out a class at AOMA! Every Sunday evening from 5-6pm there is a free meditation class at the AOMA South campus - no registration or materials are required.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: 
•    In this exercise, the breath should be relaxed, deep and full. 
•    Use the thumb of the right hand to close the right nostril, and the index finger or ring        finger of the right hand to close the left nostril. 
•    Close the right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. 
•    Then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. 
•    Then inhale through the right nostril. 
•    Close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. 
•    Continue repeating, alternating nostrils after each inhalation. 
•    Inhale left, exhale right: helps to make you calm and integrates unwanted negative          emotions and stress, excellent by itself before bed. 
•    Inhale right, exhale left: Gives clarity and positive mood, helps us to focus on what is        important. (www.3ho.org)

3. Exercise

Aerobic exercise causes your brain to produce more endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and "feel-good" neurotransmitters. Exercise also maintains both physical and mental fitness, reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances cognitive function. It doesn't have to be high-intensity or long-duration; even just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-stress effects (www.adaa.org). My personal recommendations include yoga, qigong, tai chi, walking, running, or swimming, but any activity that inspires you to get up and get moving is perfect! Studies have shown that both brisk walking and tai chi can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improve mood (Putai). 

4. Hydrate

This is the easiest item on the whole list yet the one that I struggle with the most! All our organs need water to function, and studies have shown that being just a half-liter dehydrated can increase your body's cortisol levels (Shireffs). Stress also causes your body to release more water by elevating your heart rate and increasing both ventilation and perspiration (Maresh). Drinking a glass of water won'tmake your problems disappear, but dehydration will make you feel worse! Keeping your body fully hydrated will enable you to perform better under pressure and may help you feel less stressed. I use an app called Plant Nanny that reminds me to hydrate throughout the day and helps me track my daily water intake in a cute, fun way.

5. Think Happy Thoughts

An important aspect of self-care is thinking about and focusing on things that inspire you to feel more positive and hopeful. Research has shown that negative thinking can both produce and sustain depression, which can then affect memory and cognitive brain function (Teasdale). There’s a quick and easy “positive words” exercise that I like to do in the mornings, sometimes while the coffee is brewing or even before I even get out of bed. I stand or lay quietly for a minute or two and brainstorm a list of random positive words – no order, no logic, no pressure – just a free-flow of any positive words that come to mind. It can be challenging some days but it’s always fun, and most of the time I’m smiling before I even realize it. Typically I don’t write anything down, but this morning I did so that I could share my list with you:

Laugh

    Smile

Abundance

Love

Share

Joy

Mercy

Compassion

Inspired

Blessing

Happy

Fulfilled

Embrace

Brave

Enjoy

Thankful

Goal

Accomplish

Success

Friend

Brilliant

Positive

Giving

Awesome

Connected

Sunshine

Ready

Cherish

Healthy

Fun

Making this list took me just 3 minutes; I smiled while I was writing it and I’m smiling again as I re-type it now. Try it for yourself! It’s amazing how powerful a few words of affirmation can be when they brighten your day and remind you of the positivity that already exists inside your own head.

6. Bonus Tip: Ask for Help

If you try all the items on this list and don't feel any positive improvements in your sense of wellbeing, it may be time to look outside yourself for help. Reaching out to a trusted friend or another member of your support system might help, or you may need to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional like a therapist or counselor. Your body might also be trying to tell you something, and a visit to your primary care physician could reveal an underlying medical cause for your symptoms. Please feel free to contact the AOMA Clinics for recommendations on local acupuncture-friendly physicians and specialists.

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Resources:
Balk, Judith, et al. “The relationship between stress, acupuncture, and IVF patients: a pilot study.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Volume 16, Issue 3, August 2010, Pages 154–157

Fassoulaki, Argyro, et al. “Pressure Applied on the Extra 1 Acupuncture Point Reduces Bispectral Index Values and Stress in Volunteers.” Anesthesia & Analgesia: March 2003 - Volume 96 - Issue 3 - pp 885-890

Maresh, C.M. et al. "Effect of Hydration State on Testosterone and Cortisol Responses to Training-Intensity Exercise in Collegiate Runners." Int J Sports Med 2006; 27(10): 765-770

Pomeranz, Bruce. “Scientific Research into Acupuncture for the Relief of Pain.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2007, 2(1): 53-60.

Putai, Jin. "Efficacy of Tai Chi, brisk walking, meditation, and reading in reducing mental and emotional stress." Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 36, Issue 4, May 1992, Pages 361–370

Shirreffs, S M. "Markers of Hydration Status" Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 40.1  (Mar 2000): 80-4.

Teasdale, John D. “Negative Thinking in Depression: Cause, effect, or reciprocal relationship?” Advances in Behaviour Research and Therapy. Volume 5, Issue 1, 1983, Pages 3–25

www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety

https://www.3ho.org/files/pdfs/alternate-nostril-breathing.pdf

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/stress.html

http://johnsoncook.com/positive-words-exercise-nobody-is-watching/#.V30_SfkrKUk

 

 

 

 

        

        

Topics: acupuncture

Medicine from the Bottom of the Heart: AOMA Student and Pediatric Stroke Awareness Advocate

Posted by Diane Stanley on Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 03:42 PM

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In Mandarin, there is a character pronounced “de" 得. It's a neutral tone, and it's typically translated as "virtue". There's nothing particularly wrong with this translation, but something that people don't know is that it's part of a grammatical structure that indicates how you do something. While adverbs are optional in English, in Mandarin Chinese, you never miss a verb complement or this "de"-structure to indicate how you do what you do. This is an important aspect of our medicine we often miss. Deeply rooted in the culture behind our medicine is the emphasis on how we approach the things we do in our lives.

I became a mother in June of 2015, and leading to that point, I would rub my bump everyday, especially when I could feel where Logan was and say, "I love you, but you should know, I have no idea what I'm doing. Please, be sturdy." Everyday, "Dear baby, I love you. I have no idea what I'm doing. Please, please, please, be sturdy." Logan was born, after 25 hours of labor, in the 99th percentile for height, weight, and head size. He also had an infection, shoulder dystocia, a ring of hematomas around his crown, and required a cpap machine and pharmaceutical intervention to help his lungs absorb oxygen due to the prolonged compression of his chest.

On our fourth day in the NICU, my husband and I left to get dinner and received a call. Logan was having focal seizures localized to his right arm and leg, and they would need to do an immediate CT scan to look for the cause. We arrived as they received the results, and our neonatologist told us that our son suffered a stroke. His CT scan looked like his left sensory motor cortex hadn't develop at all. However, an MRA and MRI showed that his brain developed perfectly and, most likely, the injury occurred during my delivery. The neonatologist and the neurologist also told us that we could expect Logan to start showing symptoms as early as eight or nine months. I thought, "Thank God, I have time to research."

At four and a half months, I noticed that Logan always had his right arm forward at tummy time. I always just thought it was cute until I realized it was because he wasn't putting weight on his right arm. I thought I had time, but he already quit using his right arm, which never left a fist. I immediately took him to see Dr. Song Luo at AOMA acupuncture clinic. After one treatment, Logan slept with his hand open for the first time ever. After a few days and a follow up treatment, I was holding Logan and felt this slimy sensation on my cheeks. After the initial thought of how much drool was covering Logan's hands, I realized he was grabbing my face with both hands!

Regular, local treatments have kept Logan's development on track. Even when he started to show weakness in his right leg, just two points on the stomach channel followed by massage led to him crawling forward for the first time. I talk to parents around the country caring for children who have suffered from strokes and hemiplegia, and without acupuncture, many of these children grow up not being able to use their arm and often unable to walk unassisted. Dr. Luo tells me that Logan's experience is not uncommon. To see these children who aren't recovering and to know that acupuncture is so effective even with just three points and without needle retention is unacceptable to me.

Dr. Luo once shared a story about his great grandfather who taught him TCM. He was in his nineties and without hesitation, got up and got dressed in the middle of the night to help a patient in need. Dr. Luo said he taught him to practice medicine from the bottom of his heart, and it is this complete and utter compassion with which he approaches medicine that I feel makes him Logan's favorite doctor. His compassion and dedication combined with Logan's recovery have inspired me to dedicate myself even more in my studies in hopes of becoming a better acupuncturist when I graduate. These days, I don't generally ask the universe to keep Logan sturdy anymore. I know acupuncture has him covered. I just try to approach medicine and motherhood from the bottom of my heart.

Schedule an appointment at the AOMA acupuncture clinics in Austin:

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Learn more about the AOMA Master's Program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine:

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: pediatrics, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, acupuncture patients

Acupuncture and TCM for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Posted by Yongxin Fan on Fri, Apr 08, 2016 @ 10:40 AM

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and altered bowel habits; for example, chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or both – either mixed or in alternation. It has become a major health concern. 

IBS affects 10% to 15% of the population in the United States, and 9% to 23% of the population worldwide. As many as 20% - 50% of patient visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms. Most people with IBS are under the age of 45 – 50, and about 2/3 of IBS sufferers are female. (1)

The exact cause of IBS is not known, and Western doctors consider IBS to be a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders happen when your GI tract behaves in an abnormal way without evidence of damage due to a disease.  

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), IBS is a condition caused by Spleen and Liver disharmony, which manifests as Liver Qi stagnation and Spleen Qi deficiency. 

TCM relates the symptoms associated with IBS to stress. Stress affects the Liver Qi (energy), which handles the smooth flow of Qi throughout the whole body; excess stress then results in Liver Qi stagnation. The Spleen is in charge of digestion according to TCM, and stress weakens Spleen Qi, leading to disturbances of the GI system. The major IBS symptoms such as abdominal bloating or pain, mixed or alternated constipation or loose stool, mucus in the stool, or incomplete evacuation, are all results of Liver overacting on the Spleen and Stomach.

A study done in 2009 in the USA on managing IBS symptoms with acupuncture showed that after 4 weeks of twice-weekly acupuncture treatment, average daily abdominal pain/discomfort improved, whereas the control group showed minimal reduction. The intestinal gas, bloating, and stool consistency also showed improvement. These findings show that acupuncture treatment shows promise in the area of symptom management for IBS. (2)

In addition, a large amount of clinical research in China has showed that TCM therapies, which include acupuncture, acupuncture with electric stimulation, moxibustion, auricular acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine and external application, have positive results for patients with IBS.

Clinical studies have also shown Chinese herbs to improve the effectiveness of IBS treatments. For example, Fuling (Poria) and Shanyao (Rhizoma Dioscoreae) can relieve diarrhea. Baizhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae) is well known for its regulating and dual effect on the gastrointestinal tract: it treats diarrhea at low doses and constipation at high doses. With this dual effect, it is the ideal herb for relieving the major IBS symptom of alternating diarrhea and constipation.

Since stress is a major factor that can worsen or trigger IBS symptoms, another important point for IBS patients to keep an eye on is the diet. Patients should avoid gas-producing foods such as:

  • onions
  • soda
  • beans
  • cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • milk

Other foods containing lactose may also induce symptom flare-ups in some people. It is important to remove spicy and acidic foods from the menu that stimulate the lining of the intestine. It is also necessary to stop smoking and reduce the intake of coffee, since both may irritate the bowel.

At the AOMA acupuncture clinics in Austin,TX, practitioners of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine may use a variety of methods to restore a patient’s Liver and Spleen disharmony. Application of acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, and Qigong and other lifestyle changes will promote the healing of IBS. 

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Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

(1) http://www.aboutibs.org/site/what-is-ibs/facts/

(2) Anastasi, Joyce K, McMahon, Donald J Kim, Gee H MA 2009 Gastroenterology Nursing

Topics: acupuncture, tcm health, digestion, IBS, digestive health

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:

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Topics: insomnia, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture

Catching Up With Ashley Oved, Acupuncturist, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Nov 04, 2015 @ 11:57 AM

On Thursday, October 15, AOMA Alumni Ashley Oved presented “Acupuncture in the Integrative Hospital”, a Brown Bag Lecture about her experience in the increasingly common practice of acupuncture in an integrative hospital.

We caught up with Ashley to ask her a few questions about her life at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and how she felt her education at AOMA helped prepare her for the challenges she faces each day. 

What does a typical work day look like for you at the hospital?

There are two acupuncturists at this location and we each treat between 9-14 patients a day. It’s a fast paced environment but quite manageable. We treat most of our patients in the Outpatient Clinic but we also treat patients in the Intensive Care Unit or will visit them when they are receiving chemotherapy in the Infusion Center. Just recently, we’ve started Group Acupuncture twice a week which has been a huge success. Our patients really love acupuncture, so there is rarely a dull moment around here.

Do you feel like your training at AOMA adequately prepared you for work in an integrated environment? 

I really do! Working at Seton Topfer and Austin Recovery gave me a ton of experience. Austin Recovery intimidated me so much the first couple of weeks (shout out to Claudia Voyles for being my pillar of strength) but it was probably the best clinic I ever had at AOMA. It exposed me to a different patient population and prepared me for leading Group Acupuncture here at CTCA.  The information I learned in the Physical Assessment classes has also come in handy.  The first time I saw “No Babinski, Negative Romberg” on a patient’s chart I thought, “I know what that means! 

Any advice for current students or alum who are interested in working in an environment like CTCA?

It’s a good idea to focus in on a specialty.  Whether it’s pediatrics, oncology, or fertility it really is up to you. Get some books on what interests you, or take some online CEU’s. Having that leg up gives you an advantage when applying to jobs.  But truly my best advice is to just go out and apply. The clinical experience you gain in the student clinic has prepared you more than you know. You don’t have to be the greatest acupuncturist that has ever lived. You just have to be confident in yourself and your abilities. If you continue to learn new techniques and keep up to date on the latest studies, you will be well on your way.  There are many hospitals that already incorporate acupuncture into their model of care, and many more on the verge of it. So don’t get discouraged! There are definitely jobs out there.

To learn more about the Student & Career Services’ Brown Bag Lecture Series check out our website.

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: efficacy of acupuncture, acupuncture, licensed acupuncture, cancer treatment

From Patient to Practitioner: Two Perspectives on Chinese Medicine

Posted by Stephanie Madden on Thu, Oct 08, 2015 @ 03:00 PM

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Many acupuncture students begin their journey as patients before becoming fully invested in the academics and practice of oriental medicine. For one reason or another, this functional medicine resonates with the healing process better than others you have tried before and the interest is sparked. At some point the fascination exceeds the mystery and develops into a desire to understand how it works. Like many others before me, I was incredibly curious about this profound method of manipulating qi.

When I was having complications with my own health going to doctors became a fearful chore. In the waiting room I would work myself into a clammy sweat anticipating whichever test they would need to run next, but unfortunately, leave feeling the same as the day before and without conclusive results. There were so many follow-ups and referrals to get to a place of homoeostasis it seemed the horizon would never come.

The experience with my acupuncturist was a world of difference – the closer I was to the office the better I felt. As soon as it was my turn to be seen I could feel my muscles unlock from the base of my skull to the tips of my toes. I could release my tension onto the floor and finally take a breath. The building my acupuncturist worked in including the treatment rooms were nothing special, but there was something about the energy of the space my practitioner created for me that was more therapeutic than any other place I had known at the time. Walking into that space with her made me feel confident I would leave feeling better than I came, which I always did.

I admired her. She portrayed freedom with her personal style underneath her lab coat and by the way she was accompanied by her small child at work. I felt her mind was completely focused on me and my healing while I was in her presence. The passion and independence she had as a businesswoman was something I had only fantasized about. Seeing it right in front of me was promising for my dreams.  It was about more than the incredible healing I achieved while I was under her care that convinced me I had found my divine decree – the harmonious lifestyle she portrayed is what held a mirror to my future.

Now as a young practitioner and student of the medicine at AOMA, I aspire to create the same atmosphere my acupuncturist did for me. When I see patients I always try to meet them from wherever they are coming from. For several of them this is their last resort, a shot in the dark, because they have been in pain for so long. For others, it's an intricate part of a well thought out therapeutic plan. The essence of transitioning from patient to practitioner is that I am now the one who creates the space.

Whatever was happening before they stepped into my treatment room has lost all of its power. I open the space to allow my patients to leave whatever misfortunes they have on the floor, jump up on the table, and heal. At the end of each session I watch my patients walk away with a lighter heart as I wash their pain from my hands and, we both leave the day behind us on that floor and go home.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, acupuncture patients

Beyond the Yang of Acupuncture: Yin in Practice

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 @ 11:27 AM

The reason why most people choose to go into the field of Integrative Medicine and attend school at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine may not be what you think. More often, it is not about the money or the title. In actuality, people are choosing this field because, as acupuncturists and integrative medicine practitioners, they have a fantastic opportunity to connect with their patients on a deeper level than most medical professionals. Needling is only a very small part of what we learn in school and an even smaller part of an acupuncturist’s practice.

Needling is part of the yang portion of our studies- the part of physically doing something, of direct intervention. However, it is my opinion that the yin side of our studies here at AOMA may be the more interesting of the two. The yin nature of a practice – what goes on beyond the needles, is about nurturing; it is about presence and solidness. Yin is the substance with which yang can be utilized. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine know that one cannot have yang without yin; there has to be a balance of both within the body and within any good medical practice. Therefore, here at AOMA we learn and practice how to bring the yin into our practice.

Every Friday morning of the summer term of 2015, Rupesh Chhagan leads his Clinic Communication class in a mind-body practice – a series of qigong movements, followed by a guided meditation. Only after the students have taken the time to check in with their own wellbeing through movement and deep inner connection can class lecture begin. But class lecture in Clinic Communication is anything but a lecture.

As a practitioner of Hakomi, a form of mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy, Rupesh believes that the body is a gateway of the unconscious mind. The body reflects what is happening internally- emotionally, spiritually, and physically. In Clinic Communication class, Rupesh reminds his students that that their patients have individual feelings, emotions, beliefs, and thoughts, and they are not just a set of symptoms and complaints in the clinic.

Instead of being instructed on how to act in the clinic setting, students are asked to actively participate in listening exercises. Instead of formulating their next response and interjecting their ideas immediately, listening students are asked to embody the idea of “the person sitting in front of me is an inspiration to me." They practice feeling what real listening is like, what it looks like. Each of the students in the classroom teams up with another student and they each present the other with a mild problem they are experiencing in their lives while the other student listens. They are not just practicing listening, but they are learning to actually hear what the other student is saying and feeling. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, you learn to “listen with your whole body” and at AOMA you learn to embody loving presence, you learn to see your patients and those you listen to as inspirations for you.

If there is one thing to take away from the Clinic Communication course with Rupesh, it is that even when we feel that we have nothing in common with another person, we always share the human experience. Patients are people. We all have our own set of beliefs, emotions, histories, and thoughts but we are all so similar. We are all in search of balance. As acupuncturists, it is our job to find our own sense of balance so that we can help our patients find theirs. We practice listening to our patients and in turn, they inspire us. We are not just needling - we are connecting with our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters as student interns and one day as practitioners. Through empathic listening along with mindfulness in providing treatment, yin and yang are balanced.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: acupuncture school, yin/yang theory, acupuncture

5 tips for Applying to Acupuncture School

Posted by Justine Meccio on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 @ 11:02 AM

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Pursuing a master’s degree in Chinese medicine is a choice that will lead you to a rewarding professional career, one that enables you to have a real impact on the health of people in your community.

Now that you have made the decision to attend acupuncture school, what’s the next step? Your journey will most certainly start with the admissions department!

Check out these handy tips for students applying to the graduate program: 

  1. Connect with admissions before applying.

    Before you apply, it’s a good idea to contact the admissions staff. Not only can they address any questions you have about the admissions requirements, the required application materials, they can even help you decide what term to apply for. It’s important to keep in mind that the admissions staff is here provide guidance during the application process – they’re ready and available to help you!
  1. Apply Early.

    AOMA conducts admissions on a rolling basis, meaning applications are processed individually as they are received. Applying well in advance of the application deadlines ensures that you have plenty of time to gather all of the required application materials. Similarly, by completing the application process as early as possible, you are giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for classes and make your post-acceptance plans.  
  1. Order your transcripts first.

    Official transcripts from your undergraduate education are required as part of the application process. Unfortunately, obtaining official transcripts can take several weeks, potentially extending the length of the application process. To prevent issue, the first step after completing the application form, should be to request official transcripts from your previous school(s) be sent to the AOMA Admissions Office.
  1. Address concerns in your personal statement.

    If you are concerned about factors such as your previous undergraduate GPA, limited experience with health sciences, or anything else that you feel may be relevant to the strength of your application, it’s best to address these issues in a straightforward manner. The personal statement is a wonderful place to do this!
  1. Choose your references wisely.

    As part of the application process, each candidate is required to submit two letters of recommendation. The individuals you select to write these letters on your behalf should be able to address your skills and abilities that are relevant to graduate-level study. Choosing references who can speak to your academic or professional background such as former professors, professional supervisors or colleagues lends strength to overall quality of your application.

With that stated, if you have an author in mind, and you’re not sure whether they’re an appropriate reference, you can always contact the admissions team for guidance.

For more information about applying to acupuncture school, visit AOMA’s website at aoma.edu/admissions or contact the admissions office today!

Begin Your Journey: Apply to AOMA Contact the Admissions Office

Topics: acupuncture school, admissions, acupuncture

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