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

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:

Request an Appointment

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 Insomnia

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

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

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

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

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

Insomnia is organized into several different patterns according to TCM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Request an Appointment 

Topics: insomnia, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture

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

Can you Love Acupuncture and still Fear Needles?

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 03:13 PM

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Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles, is fairly common, affecting an estimated 10% of Americans. Chances are that either you or someone you know experiences stress and anxiety at the thought of a medical professional sticking them with a needle. And it’s no wonder! I’m sure that very few of us can say that we have ever had a positive interaction with a needle. From a very young age we’re taken to the doctor for injections, accompanied by promises that “it won’t hurt a bit!” This is of course a lie, which then associates needles with both deceit and pain. From tattoos to stitches to blood draws and vaccinations, all of our needle experiences are uncomfortable and/or unpleasant, which eventually takes its toll. In extreme cases the fear of needles can lead to people avoiding doctors and medical care altogether, which can definitely make acupuncture a tough sell. But hear me out.

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Most people that I talk to about acupuncture have one major question: does it hurt? The quick answer: no it doesn’t. But we’re going to explore that question a bit more. Let’s talk numbers. Needle widths are measured in a term called gauge, with the gauge of commonly-used hypodermic needles (the kind used for injections) being anywhere from 7 (largest) to 33 (smallest). To compare, the largest commonly-used acupuncture needle is 28 gauge, and the smallest is 42. That’s anywhere from .35-.14 millimeters in width! To the naked eye, acupuncture needles are thinner than a human hair. Additionally, hypodermic needles are hollow to allow for fluid transfer, whereas acupuncture needles are solid. This combined with their thinness allows for a lot of flexibility in acupuncture needles. They are less invasive than hypodermic needles, and as a result you feel them significantly less. Upon insertion you might feel a tiny tingle, or a warm sensation, which is completely normal and usually fades within seconds. You may also feel very relaxed or drowsy during your treatment; I generally nap through my acupuncture sessions. After your treatment you will probably leave the clinic with an increased sense of well-being or even mild euphoria. This is also completely normal, and is one of the best side effects of acupuncture.

The other main question I often get asked about acupuncture is if it’s safe. At the AOMA clinics we take great care to make sure that our policies and practices follow the strictest guidelines of cleanliness, and patient safety is our highest priority. All of our clinicians, including student interns, are required to take and pass the CCAOM’s Clean Needle Technique (CNT) course prior to treating patients in our clinics. Acupuncture needles are factory-sealed to ensure sterility, and open packs of needles are properly disposed of if not used. Acupuncture needles are used once and only once; we never re-use them. Following CNT guidelines, once they are selected by your practitioner the necessary acupuncture points will be cleaned with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol. A clean cotton ball will be used to close the points once each acupuncture needle is removed.      

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Now that we’ve talked about needle size and clean needle techniques, let’s talk about the overall experience. An acupuncture session will be the most positive needle experience you will ever have in your life. The acupuncture experience is highly focused on relaxation, as relaxed bodies heal more quickly than tense ones. You will rest on a massage table in a dimmed room with soft music playing, and your practitioner will do their best to make sure you are comfortable and relaxed. The temperature of each room can be adjusted with fans or heaters, and we have blankets, pillows, and bolsters available for your comfort. Your acupuncturist will spend time with you before your treatment discussing the points they’d like to needle and why; please feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like! We love for our patients to be actively involved in the care they receive at our clinics.

I am a huge fan of acupuncture, and not only because I work at an acupuncture clinic! I myself have experienced the amazing transformative power of this medicine; I have witnessed its healing potential on numerous friends and family members, and I am privileged every day to see the positive changes it brings into our patients’ lives. Give acupuncture a try, even if you’re nervous or afraid. It’s definitely possible to hate needles but still love acupuncture!

Request an appointment at our Austin acupuncture clinics below:

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Topics: efficacy of acupuncture, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, acupuncture needles

5 Things To Look for in An Acupuncture Clinic

Posted by Arden Yingling on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 12:01 PM

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So you've decided to check out acupuncture? Awesome! Acupuncture is a wonderful way to treat many health conditions, from the common cold to chronic pain to insomnia (and so much more). How do you decide where to make that first appointment, though? In a city like Austin, we're fortunate to have many options for our healthcare, including acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Here are a few tips on finding an Austin acupuncture clinic that meets your needs:

1)     Choose a licensed acupuncturist: While other professions sometimes incorporate acupuncture into their practices, receiving treatment from a licensed acupuncturist is the best choice for accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment. Licensed acupuncturists in Texas possess master's degrees and have completed nearly 3,000 hours of education, including coursework in Western medicine and supervised clinical hours. They must also pass four national board exams before receiving licensure from the Texas Medical Board. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which handles national certification, is a good place to start looking for someone in your area.

2)     Look for someone who works with you as a team: Depending on your diagnosis, your acupuncturist may ask you to consider lifestyle changes such as eating differently or exercising more. Incorporating such changes can be a key part of improving your health, so you want to do so in a way that's realistic. Don't hesitate to be honest about what feels possible for your life, and find a practitioner who listens to your concerns and works with you to develop an achievable plan. 

3)     Check out areas of specialization: All acupuncturists are trained to work with a wide variety of conditions. However, some choose to focus in certain areas. There are acupuncturists who work specifically with sports injuries, with pregnancy, with autoimmune conditions, and so on. If you'd like help healing a chronic or complex health issue, see if anyone in your area has a relevant specialty. Don't hesitate to call an acupuncture clinic and ask if they have experience working with your condition! 

4)     Financial policy: If affordability is a concern, you'll find lots of options. Many private practitioners are willing to work with those in financial need. If your health insurance covers acupuncture, some Austin practitioners accept insurance. Community acupuncture clinics offer lower-cost treatments in a group setting. And of course, schools such as AOMA have a student clinic, where you can receive affordable acupuncture from interns supervised by licensed professionals. 

5)     Make sure you like your acupuncturist: Here's the the most important part! Just as there are all kinds of people in the world, there all kinds of acupuncturists too. The most effective healing comes when you feel safe and supported, so follow your instincts and work with someone who listens with compassion and takes care to make you feel comfortable and relaxed while you're in their acupuncture clinic. Enjoy your treatments!

About the Author

Arden Yingling, LAc, is a graduate of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. Her south Austin private practice, Songbird Acupuncture, focuses on wellness for mothers and children. She also works as a graduate teaching assistant at AOMA classes and clinics.

 

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Topics: AOMA clinic, acupuncture clinics

What is Integrative Healthcare?

Posted by Lauren St. Pierre, LAc on Fri, May 08, 2015 @ 03:53 PM

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Some people think of acupuncture and Oriental medicine as alternative healthcare, shying away from Western medicine. While it is true that in the modern world of Traditional Chinese Medicine a holistic approach to care is at the heart of our practice, we like to think of our approach at AOMA as integrative healthcare. When we feel the radial pulse we are differentiating between choppy, slippery and dai mai, to name a few, but we are also looking for red flags like tachycardia and hypertension so we also take blood pressure.

Integrative healthcare as defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, "combines mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness." So we get the best of both worlds while providing the best possible care for our patients. We take into account the whole person's mind, body and spirit.

Providing care that's within our scope and utilizing the other medical fields as would best serve the patient needs: pretty straightforward. In using an integrative approach, we are not limited by one therapy because we access both alternative approaches as well as conventional ones. A good example is using acupuncture to help with post surgical pain and inflammation. Acupuncture alone wouldn't be sufficient treatment for a structural issue, like a broken bone or severely torn muscle. But after the x-rays have been taken, the bone set back into place, the use of acupuncture can be instrumental not only to reduce physical pain but also the care for the emotional component of the injury.

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco describes that "integrative medicine seeks to incorporate treatment options from conventional and alternative approaches, taking into account not only physical symptoms, but also psychological, social and spiritual aspects of health and illness."

As acupuncturists, we might ask why it matters to be integrative. Well, it may mean jobs for one. According to the American Hospital Association, the percentage of U.S. hospitals that offer complementary therapies has increased dramatically in less than a decade, from 8.6% in 1998 to almost 42% in 2011. That's good news for practitioners but it's great news for patients.

Part of being a good integrative healthcare practitioner is understanding the health landscape for that patient and being able to speak intelligently about it with other practitioners that may have a background different than our own. Qi, yin and yang are incredibly important to us but if we're working on a case and the patient primary wants to understand what you are treating and herbs you intend to prescribe, we need to be able to have that conversation. Not to say you can't use terms like zang fu and xue xu, just back it up.

AOMA is hosting our own integrative healthcare symposium with the Southwest Symposium, May 5-9, in Austin, TX. One of the best ways to understand TCM and how to speak about it with patients and other healthcare providers is to get many different points of view. Be sure to check out this year’s line-up! aoma.edu/sws

Careers in Acupuncture: Download free eBook!

 

 

Topics: acupuncture school, integrative medicine, acupuncture clinics

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