AOMA Blog

8 Chinese Medicine Treatments You May Have Never Heard Of

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 @ 03:41 PM

acupuncture chinese medicine treatments 

Acupuncture, an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has become very popular in the United States as a form of alternative healthcare. Many physicians are referring patients to an acupuncturist for pain, while some hospitals are incorporating acupuncture treatments into their integrative care models. While you might have heard of acupuncture - the treatment of inserting small sterile needles into special energy points called meridians, you might not have known that acupuncture is only one part of the overarching Traditional Chinese Medicine system.

Students of TCM and acupuncture spend four years of training to complete a Chinese Medicine degree, learning acupuncture in addition to a whole slew of other techniques, diagnostic principles, and herbal medicine. Do you remember seeing the circular imprints on Michael Phelp’s back at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro? He had received cupping therapy, (explained more below) which is an example of another treatment tool commonly used by acupuncturists. In this article we will discuss eight frequently used techniques in Chinese medicine that the general public might not be aware of. 

cupping therapy Austin

Cupping

Cupping therapy can be viewed as a reverse massage by pulling up on the skin versus the pressure applied down on the skin in a traditional massage. This releases muscle tension by creating better blood flow to the area. Some acupuncturists also use cupping therapy for facial rejuvenation and lymph system drainage. Not only can cupping therapy be used for a variety of health reasons, but there are also various types of cupping sets. There are glass cups, known as “fire cupping,” silicone suction cups, plastic cupping sets and smaller cup sets used for facials and lymph drainage. Cupping therapy is often used alongside acupuncture to go deeper on certain points in the body where the pain is most severe.

 

Guasha Chinese medicine Austin

Guasha

Guasha, also known as “scraping technique,” is another tool acupuncturists use. The health functions are similar to cupping therapy; using pressure to break up fascia and muscular tension, thereby creating better blood flow to those areas. Commonly used tools for guasha include ceramic spoons, stainless steel made tools, and jade or other stone material shaped into a tool. Although this technique is used less frequently than cupping, it has tremendous healing benefits. Guasha, while being a mostly painless treatment, can often leave behind what’s called “sha”, or a redness on the skin.

Moxibustion Chinese Medicine Austin

Moxibustion

Moxibustion, also referred to as “moxa,” is made from the mugwort plant, and is used as a healing modality. Using moxibustion can be a great way to treat a disease in which one cannot use acupuncture needles. Burning moxibustion can heal tissue and allow blood to circulate better at a specific area. There are different forms of moxibustion use, such as direct or “rice” moxa, warm needling, and indirect or “stick” moxa. Some styles also use large moxa cones on slices of ginger or garlic.

 

eStim acupuncture austin

Electrical Stimulation (e-Stim)

Electrical stimulation, also referred to as “e-stim,” is a machine that creates an electrical current. This is used by attaching small clamps to the end of acupuncture needles and running a current through them. Because metal is an electrical conductor, there is a set of needles that are used, allowing the current to flow between them. Therefore, activating those acupuncture points and muscles even more. Some devices have multiple channels so that the practitioner can use multiple sets of points with the estim. Estim is used for musculoskeletal disorders, bell's palsy, paralysis, and much more. This technique is similar to the use of TENs units.

Bloodletting

Bloodletting is a way to oxygenate the blood by allowing stagnate blood to be released and newer blood to fill the vein up. This can be used to release the tension and appearance of varicose veins, as well as reduce swelling and inflammation from acute injuries. Bloodletting is used with a hypodermic or lancet needle to prick the area needed to bleed. Sometimes a practitioner will use a glass cup to place on top of the local area pricked to bleed in order to draw more blood from the area.

 

Tuinia chinese medicine bodywork

Tuina

Tuina, literally translated to mean “pinch and pull,” is a form of asian bodywork, which is similar to massage. With tuina, practitioners use acupressure points and specific techniques in order to treat musculoskeletal and digestive issues, insomnia, and aches and pains. This system uses the same theories and basis from acupuncture, just incorporating a pinch and pull bodywork method. Tuina is a great treatment style used by pediatric practitioners because it can be very gentle and effective.

Medical Qigong

Medical Qigong is an energy healing method, without the use of needles, and can have direct or indirect contact from the practitioner. It’s a way for the practitioner to manipulate the energy of the body to help things flow better, or get rid of disease. Medical Qigong treatments can also include the use of meditation and teaching the patient gentle movements to help strengthen one’s physical, mental, and spiritual self. This treatment style is very relaxing, and at the same time energizing.

Seven Star Needling

The seven star needle, also known as plum blossom needle, is made of five to seven needles which are placed together at the end of a long handle. This style of superficial tapping can be used to treat skin diseases, headaches, nervous system disorders, hair loss, paralysis, and painful joints. Plum blossom needles aren’t as commonly used, but most practitioners are trained in the style and may use it if they feel it is necessary.

Come experience the benefits of these treatments at our 2 Austin area acupuncture clinics!
Request an AppointmentWant to learn more about TCM treatments and study Chinese medicine at AOMA? Click below to get more information on becoming an acupuncturist.

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Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, cupping, acupuncture, chinese medicine, guasha, moxa

Chinese Medicine for Men’s Health, Alumni Spotlight with Lisa Lapwing

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Jul 05, 2017 @ 01:47 PM

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AOMA alumni Lisa Lapwing, MAcOM, LAc, practices in South East Austin, near South Park Meadows at Whole Health Acupuncture. Lisa’s practice focuses on men’s health, using Reiki and her knowledge as a personal trainer to compliment her acupuncture practice. In this blog post Lisa shares insights into her first introduction to the medicine, what led her to study Chinese medicine, how she approaches her own practice, and her vision for the future of integrative care.

What did you study before coming to AOMA?  A number of things beginning with graphic and web design, but ultimately landed on kinesiology and became a personal trainer, which I still consider myself.

What was your first introduction to acupuncture and how did you feel about it?  I have scoliosis and degenerative disk disease and was having terrible back pain around 2003. I worked at a health club where a chiropractor suggested that I try acupuncture. I had been a martial artist and a fan of cheesy martial arts movies for some time so I was familiar with what acupuncture was. I found an acupuncturist near Chicago, where I lived at the time and it changed my life! The various things I had done to try to manage my back pain never came close to providing the relief acupuncture did. I also was having menstruation problems around this time, which we attended to as well and acupuncture helped with that 100%.

When did you become interested in studying oriental medicine and why?  Around 2005 I was crawling around the floor with a personal training client while my body was screaming at me "why do you keep doing this!?” My knees hurt, my back and neck hurt! Right then I realized, I can't be doing this much longer. I was working 8-10 clients a day and that was destroying my body, on top of doing my own vigorous daily workouts. Doing acupuncture immediately came to mind as it had previously helped me so much – and I had many clients that had similar conditions that I could help only so much with just helping them on the gym room floor. I wanted to do more for them and myself! 

What made you choose AOMA as your school and/or shift your career focus to come to AOMA?  After spending about a year soul searching regarding my future, looking up numerous acupuncture schools online, I headed to Austin to check out AOMA. I loved Austin and AOMA! At the time, it was still a nice and small town with a lot of charm and it was still affordable. I'd always wanted out of the Chicago winters and the weather here had a large impact on my decision as well. I spent the next year putting my ducks in a row and enrolled in 2007.

What were some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?  I absolutely loved Foundations of TCM, Energetics and Point Location! Later, I did fall in love with Herbal Treatment of Disease. I don't think it's fair to say I had a "favorite" teacher as everyone who gave me this gift was important and impactful in various ways. I felt I resonated deeply with Dr. Wu, Dr. Shen, Dr. Song and Dr. Cone. 

What was your first job after graduating from AOMA?   I had already been personal training at UT RecSports and continued to do that as I was opening my practice, Whole Health Acupuncture, and then for about one year after my doors opened. Once I obtained my license (3 months after I graduated) I started seeing patients immediately. In that time, I talked up my coming practice to all of my clients, friends and family. It did help me get a few people in the door right away. 

When did you realize you were interested in specializing in men’s health?  I almost immediately gravitated towards men's health. I had male patients for other issues who, after becoming comfortable with me, would mention, some of their sexual health concerns too. I then noticed that no one I knew was approaching men's health, for whatever health conditions they maybe be experiencing, sexual or not, with the male mind and body specifically in mind. A lot of practitioners work with women's health from menstruation to fertility issues but I couldn't find anyone doing the same for men.

What kind of conditions do you treat within men's health? I treat erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, BPH, prostatitis, prostate cancer symptoms, Peyronie's disease, frequent or painful urination, painful genitals, pelvic floor dysfunction, PTSD and psycho-emotional disorders, to name a few.

What is it like treating men's health? It's amazing! It's very involved and there's a lot to learn. It's extremely rewarding! Anytime a patient improves, it's a wonderful thing. Often, men are given a pill or the boot being told "there's nothing else we can do" and this is crushing for them. Especially, since there IS something that can be done for their varying issues. Of course, as with anything else, it comes with its challenges, from patients who are looking for something other than acupuncture to patients who don't see improvement "quick enough."

What is the one thing that you wish other people knew about what you do?  That I have been a personal trainer since 2002 and am able to offer patients exercise, stretching, and diet advice and programs, as well as immediate on-the-table care.

If you were to give yourself another job title, what would it be? Other than Acupuncturist, Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

When do you do your best work? I do my best work when I'm busiest with back to back patients. I'm focused with my head in the care game. I have a lot of qi flowing through me that helps me tune into, heal, and understand my patients more deeply.

If you were a TCM organ, which one would you be and why? Heart, I'm fiery, passionate and an open, loving and compassionate person! 

What vision would you like to see for the future of healthcare?  This is a difficult question to answer. There's a lot of components of our current healthcare system that need to be changed. I do believe in the integration of all medicines. To keep my answer relatively simple, I think everyone should have easy, affordable access to every type of healthcare from Oriental medical care to massage to surgery, dental, and everything else in-between. In my personal and professional lives, I have seen and experienced that not everyone responds to various treatments equally. Some people respond incredibly to acupuncture, some just do not. I'm ok with that! But it doesn't mean I don't think they shouldn't be able to easily find what works for them. I've tried to build my referral network so that I can help my patients find other solutions to their issues, if I'm not it. I can't do that if a referral is required from an insurance company to see a specific practitioner, that bothers me. Hopefully, we can get to the point where medical care, in all of its forms, is a reality for all!

Any best-practice tips for future practitioners? I have so many! Here are a few:  Listen deeply to your patients rather than thinking right away "oh this is where I'm going to needle them for that." You'll pick up on a lot more of what's going on with them then they are telling you. Be open but don't drop your boundaries, people are quick to take advantage, even if they don't know it. If you choose to do men's health, you have to be very comfortable talking about men's genitals and sex, in which case, keep things very clinical and straightforward. If you’re not comfortable, be honest with them about it and refer them out. Referring out isn't a bad thing. Not every patient is going to mesh with you and that's ok. Remember, everyone makes mistakes; don't take it too hard if you make one as long as you learn from it. Don't spread yourself too thin, you can't care for others if you’re not taken care of. Don't forget who you are and how you got here – practice with that gratitude always in mind. 

How can we get in touch with you or follow you? Anyone can email or call me with questions, comments, or concerns! All the information is on my website and many other places on the internet, Google, Yelp, etc.

Whole Health Acupuncture: www.whole-healthacupuncture.com,

Contact Lisa:

Lisa Lapwing DOM (FL), LAc (TX)
Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine 
Chinese Herbalist
Reiki Practitioner
Personal Trainer
708-707-0383
 
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Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, acupuncture, men's health

Three Reasons to Attend this year’s Integrative Healthcare Symposium

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 @ 04:16 PM

Southwest Symposium Austin

As acupuncturists, we often work solo; one-on-one with patients. However, continuing to learn and expand our knowledge and our practice is a big part of our career. Many Continuing Education courses for acupuncturists can be fulfilled online, however, there’s something intangible that might be missed in those trainings. Attending an integrative healthcare conference such as the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas will not only bring you the knowledge and learning, but also the immersive experience. This includes valuable interpersonal connections with speakers, classmates, and new friends who you will be able to talk with at length if you so choose.

Here - we’ll highlight the top 3 reasons to make the trek to Austin, TX this May and attend the Southwest Symposium. This year’s theme, “the spirit and science of integrative medicine” touches on the fact that it’s not only knowledge, but spirit and connection with our patients that makes our medicine so powerful.

1. New Connections

Meet other like-minded individuals in the field and make connections for support and continued learning. Being able to lean on colleagues who share similar challenges is a priceless resource and win-win situation. Take advantage! Make new friends and discover your similarities and differences. As an acupuncturist, part of your job is to band together and build community to strengthen the field.

The Southwest Symposium is also a great chance to meet other health professionals with differing opinions or ways of treating to further knowledge of other modalities. The Symposium this year features panels from integrative practitioners, naturopathic doctors, nurses and acupuncturists. In this melting pot of ideas, there’s plenty of options to expand your horizons and explore new treatment options for your patients. You’ll have first-hand contact with our amazing lineup of speakers, so you’ll be able to pick their brain after a session or establish an opportunity to stay in touch.

Connect with our vendors! Come meet some of the world’s leading herbal and needle manufacturers, as well as many other companies that sell Chinese medicine books, accessories, and more! We’ve also got several acupuncture and oriental medicine professional associations hosting booths, so you’ll have a chance to hear about all the latest developments in the field!

2. Reconnect

Remember all those buddies you spent countless hours studying with in acupuncture school? Chances are they may be attending the Symposium. The Southwest Symposium is one of the best ways to interact, socialize, and catch up with classmates and professors outside of the classroom. Meet up between sessions to digest all the new learning. Sit in on lectures with your professors and even join them for lunch! Or best of all, attend the evening dinner and celebration at the end of the conference; complete with great food, music, and a photo booth.

3. Enjoy Austin

Lucky for you, Austin is a fun place to hang out. Austin is a thriving city that was voted best city to move to in 2016. The city is ever expanding and changing but is rich with culture and has some must-see places!

Austin nightlife is the perfect backdrop to kick back, soak in all that you learned during the day, and have some fun with your colleagues! Austin’s live music, eclectic restaurant scene and live music spots will set the stage for a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in Texas. Be sure to check out the Pecan Street Festival downtown, or maybe grab dinner and a drink on South Congress Avenue. Whatever extracurricular activities you decide on, we hope your Symposium experience is memorable, and that you have plenty of takeaways to bring back to your practice and patients.

We look forward to seeing you in May. Be sure to register now! www.aoma.edu/sws

Register Now!

Topics: continuing education, acupuncture

5 TCM Apps for any Acupuncture Student

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 @ 04:48 PM

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As an acupuncture student, finding reliable and inexpensive clinic tools can be tricky. That’s why we’ve picked a few apps and laid out their pros and cons for you!

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First choice app would be A Manual of Acupuncture, from The Journal of Chinese Medicine ($35.99). The pros being that the app is just like the book with descriptive locations of points and detailed photos that are easy to follow. One of the other great aspects is the videos that show how to locate points as well on human models. This app is extremely user friendly and is a great aid in the clinic or classroom. Includes sections with point categories such as luo connecting points and six command points for easy reference. The only con about this app is that it is a little pricey for an app, although much less expensive than the book ($100-$150). 

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Runner up app is TCM Clinic Aid from Cyber and Sons ($14.99). This one may just be the best bang for your buck, because it not only has point locations but it also includes Chinese herbs. Included in the app is point descriptions as well as images for each point. For the herbal portion it has categories for all 487 single herbs, and categories for herbal formulas. A bonus feature is would be that the app has in app purchases which allows you to quiz yourself on both herbs and point locations, master tung point locations, as well as detailed disease diagnosis categories including pulse diagnosis and six stages. Cons are that the picture quality could be better.

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Acu Pro is the next app on our list, ($14.99). The pros are that it’s a good general reference for all the acupuncture points, has point categories and short descriptions for locating points. Con’s are that there aren’t videos for finding points and the photos are not super detailed. In comparison with TCM Clinic Aid, it lacks herbal information and costs the same.

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Acu Points would be the next app ($9.99). If you’re looking to spend less than $15 on an app this would be your best bet. Pros for this app are that it shows points in relation to each other along meridians, has a search area for general issues such as headaches and includes a categories search section (ex: shu points). Overall the pictures used for point locations are not the best quality, and if just learning point locations might not be the best reference. This app is also not as user friendly as all the others and can be a bit trickier trying to navigate.

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Our last and least expensive app is Acupuncture Assistant, costing $6.99. This app is great for just points. Pros include good pictures of acupuncture points, shows points along channels relative to other points and a description for locating points. App has other general information on meridians, actions and indications for points, as well as search feature for points in relation to diagnostic patterns. Bonus features are that you can add notes to points and save them to the app, as well as the patient timer. Price is very reasonable for what you get. Cons are that photo details could be better, no video feature, no herbs, and isn’t the most user friendly. If you’re looking for something inexpensive as a reference, this is the app for you.

Learn more about the AOMA   Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Programs

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture, apps

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Posted by Shengyan (Grace) Tan, MD (China), LAc on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 @ 10:57 AM

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The world we live in is changing at a rapid pace. The American healthcare system has shifted in recent decades; notably, patients are asking more from their healthcare providers. The traditional Western medical approach of specialist referral for each symptom is giving way to alternative forms of healthcare like acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

In contrast to Western medicine, the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) looks at the whole person—his or her dietary preferences, lifestyle, exercise, and the strength of his or her connections in different types of relationships—as well as to the particular symptoms and signs which brought the patient in for treatment in the first place. In order to truly address the root of a patient’s illness or complaint, TCM pays great respect and close attention to what the patient eats and drinks and what preventive treatment the patient needs to receive according to the four seasons, as well as to the physical and spiritual living conditions of the patient.

According to TCM belief, we are what we eat, and we are also a part of the greater universe. Our wellness is affected by factors such as seasonal changes, monthly lunar changes, physical and spiritual activities, etc. The winter season, which we are currently in, requires hibernation and storage. Water turns into ice because of the cold; the earth is cracked because of the cold. Winter is considered the best season for rejuvenation and recuperation, conservation and revitalization. Ingestion of tonics in wintertime has been the traditional life cultivation method in China for several thousands of years.

Modern researchers believe winter is the season in which nutrients are most easily accumulated. Therefore, nutrients can be transformed into energy to the greatest extent and stored inside the body by means of recuperation with proper diet recommendations and preventive treatment, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, to maintain balance and nourish the internal organs and essence. TCM will change the patient’s overall condition so that both the symptoms and the underlying disharmony disappear. The body may then be sufficiently supported in such a way as to remove all unpleasant symptoms.

In addition to seasonal nutritional recommendations, the effectiveness of abdominal acupuncture to support and harmonize the body’s organ systems, treat illness, and strengthen Essence and Qi is based on ancient theories of Daoism. In the past, an old qigong master imagined a three-cun taiji (yin/yang) symbol centered below the umbilicus. Embraced in the center were two energies, one being yang and the other being yin, the ascending/descending, the entering/exiting of Qi and Blood throughout the body. Because most of the body’s organs or their external–internal pair reside in the abdomen, needling abdominal points can affect the entire internal system. 

The abdomen is recognized as our second brain; in ancient times, the abdomen was used for diagnosis, and still today the abdomen is used in TCM as a means of treating the entire body. In TCM, we believe our health does not occur in a vacuum; rather it has its roots in our total being. The body does not work as a series of parts in isolation, but rather as a whole, dynamically integrated with our entire system. Every cell is a nerve cell.

This biological awareness of every cell is really the foundation of wellness and health. The abdomen has more nerve cells than the brain and spinal cord combined; as a result it has huge control over our emotional wellbeing as well as on our overall health, and it is particularly important in the regulation of digestion, hormones, emotions, and pain. The abdomen produces about 80% of all serotonin, a hormone responsible for mood, sleep, learning, and blood pressure. Abdominal acupuncture therefore can have far-reaching effects on digestive problems, women’s health issues, stress, and immune and adrenal support, and can also help to relieve pain syndromes and sleep disorders.

Abdominal acupuncture can only be achieved with ideal effect through deep understanding and years of practice of the theory, philosophy, and techniques of abdominal acupuncture, which are all quite unique and different from other acupuncture methods. The AOMA Clinic team of highly skilled and trained professional acupuncturists can help you experience the preventative health benefits of abdominal acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, and season-specific and personalized diet and nutrition recommendations. Support your body, mind, and spirit this winter with the rejuvenating, recuperating, and revitalizing benefits of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

 

 

Topics: acupuncture, prevention, preventative medicine

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.

Request an Appointment

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:

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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

IBS_girl.jpeg

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. 

Request an Appointment

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

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