AOMA Blog

5 Things You Didn’t Know About AOMA Herbal Studies

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 12:15 PM

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Before I started the master’s degree program at AOMA, I did not realize the degree to which herbal studies would be a major part of what I would learn in acupuncture school.  It turns out that Chinese medicine is a vast field that encompasses much more than just the practice of acupuncture. In fact, herbs are an important facet of how we as acupuncturists help our patients get to a better state of health. They can be used in addition to acupuncture or as a stand alone treatment and they are an important staple of Chinese Medicine. So, in honor of being “in the know”, here are 5 things you may not have known about herbal studies here at AOMA!

  1. You don’t need to read Chinese to study Chinese Herbs: The herbs you learn about here at AOMA are all named in Pinyin- the phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet. For instance, we learn fresh ginger as “Sheng Jiang” and ginseng is “Ren Shen”. Often times, the pinyin names give a description of the herb itself, like Da Huang translates to “Big Yellow” in English. It is a very powerful herb that is yellow in color. Wu Wei Zi translates to “5 flavored seed” because this herb is said to contain all the 5 flavors in Chinese Medicine- sour, bitter, sweet, salty, and pungent.
  1. Herbs can multi-task:  Some herbs are highly versatile and can treat a wide range of illnesses and health issues. Many times, it is baffling how many seemingly unrelated illnesses one herb can help treat. For instance, Huang Qi, one of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese Medicine, can be used to treat bleeding disorders, general fatigue, organ prolapse, dizziness and vertigo, the side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy, excess leakage of body fluids (like profuse sweating and urine due to deficiencies), compromised respiratory and digestive function, chronic sores and ulcers, various types of edema, numbness and pain experienced because of lack of blood flow to extremities, post stroke complications, and the wasting and thirsting symptoms of diabetes. Yet, this speaks to the complexity of natural substances made up of a myriad of compounds. And in combination with other substances, there is a synergistic effect that focuses on the target – the condition being treated.
  1. Not all herbs are plants: Some herbs used in Chinese medicine are in fact, unfathomable under common notions about what comprises “herbal medicine”. Certain insects make it onto the list of important herbs used in Chinese medicine. For instance, Ban Mao is derived from a type of beetle and can be used to treat various skin conditions. Also there is Ge Jie, which is derived from a type of gecko. Ge Jie is great for treating chronic cough, weakness and soreness in the lower back and knees, impotence, and diarrhea. Yes, it is a little gross to imagine ingesting these things, but they can be very helpful to some of our patients.
  1. You can find many Chinese herbs at your local grocery store: Goji berries or Gou Qi Zi are really great for brightening eyes and treating blurry vision. With other herbs Gou Qi Zi can also treat great for dizziness, lower back weakness, night sweats, and tinnitus. Also, if you ever eat pho, a type of noodle soup, you are probably eating Zi Su Ye or Purple Perilla Leaf. This herb is not only tasty, it helps treat certain types of colds, alleviates nausea, vomiting, and seafood poisoning, and it helps quell morning sickness. Gui Zhi or cinnamon twig is also a Chinese herb that treats pain, edema, dysuria, irregular menses, and is commonly used today to treat myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, and cardiac insufficiency.
  1. It matters what part of the herb you use: Different parts of the same plant can be different herbs with different qualities. For instance, Ma Huang, also known as Ephedra sinica, is the body (aerial or above ground portion) of the plant and treats the common cold by opening the pores and allowing a slight sweat, stops cough, relieves edema, and warms the body. Ma Huang Gen, on the other hand, is Ephedra sinica root, and only treats the symptoms of excess sweating. Further, in Chinese medicine, these different parts of the same plant treat opposing problems- Ma Huang releases the exterior while Ma Huang Gen does the opposite by stopping sweating.

Through AOMA's challenging graduate program I have been able to learn extensively about herbs and their uses, furthering my own practice in Chinese Medicine. Here at AOMA, graduate students complete over 500 hours of herbal education and take courses such as Herb Singles, Herbal Formulas, and Herbal Treatment of Disease. Though these courses can be difficult, they are also very valuable in an acupuncture practice. And no, I am not going to explain what “releasing the exterior” is. I will leave that for when you come to herb class!

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Topics: herbal studies, chinese herbs, herbal program

5 Ways to Survive Cedar Fever Season

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 @ 02:15 PM

Combating-Cedar-Fever.jpg

I’ve heard reports that this is the worst year for cedar fever on record, but somehow I’m managing to keep my symptoms minimal. Sure, I’ve had a few sniffles and occasional itchy eyes, but in comparison with people who are really suffering this year, I’m doing great!

cedar fever pollenBeing a native Austinite (I moved here from a family farm just outside of Georgetown in high school) I was pissed when I started getting allergies in college. I figured locals should be immune, right? Wrong! Back then the only way I knew how to cope was to take Sudafed which worked okay. I soon realized pseudoephedrine made me feel hyped up and anxious. I decided I’d rather suffer a few sniffles and coughing attacks and thus began my journey to find an alternative. [photo credit: KXAN]

Turns out I’ve figured out quite a few effective remedies and common sense practices to lessen the plight known as “cedar fever season” (which typically goes from about December to February).

Rinse inside and outside

neti potMany people know about the benefits of nasal irrigation. Some people just snort salt water up their nose from a bowl, but I prefer to use the neti pot. If you’ve never done it before, I promise it is not like getting water up your nose when you are swimming. It doesn’t hurt at all (unless you’re already really congested).  Using a neti pot works best as a preventative. You’re basically rinsing all of the pollens and pollution out of your nose and sinus cavities. I think it’s best to rinse in the evening, especially if you’ve been outside during the day.

 

outdoor allergies

One more product I’ve been using is Xlear made with xylitol. This supposedly coats the inside of your sinus cavities and keeps pollens from latching on. Ideally, I would use Xlear before I go outside and neti at the end of the day.

Speaking of being outside, I know many folks who are suffering just avoid going outside. That’s one tactic. But it’s been so beautiful lately – that’s such a big sacrifice if you like the outdoors.  I rode my bike and worked in my yard this weekend for several hours but I wore a mask the majority of the time and I took a shower (and did the neti pot) as soon as I was done. If taking a shower isn’t a possibility, at least change clothes and wash your face to get the majority of the pollen off.

Probiotics – the good stomach bugs

A few years ago my friend, who is an acupuncturist, told me to start taking a high quality probiotic. She recommended Dr. Ohhira’s which are expensive, but I think are worth it. One reason I like them is they don’t need to be refrigerated, so I can keep them out on the counter and actually remember to take them daily.

I’m not sure why probiotics help with allergies. I think it has something to do with the fact that “80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive tract” [Dr. Mercola]. A strong immune system means your body can fight off allergens more easily. I can testify because the first year I took probiotics regularly, I had almost zero cedar fever symptoms. I was sold.

Side note: this could also be why I haven’t gotten that awful stomach bug that’s going around, even though I know I’ve been exposed to it.

allergy homeopathicHomeopathy – Treat Like with Like

I don’t know why so many western medicine folks still doubt the efficacy of homeopathy considering it is a similar principle to that of vaccines. Homeopathy treats like with like, using highly diluted substances to trigger the body’s natural system of healing.  Most natural food stores carry “cedar” (really juniper) homeopathic drops which you take under the tongue several times a day. This year I’ve been taking the one for cedar fever specifically, although they do make some that have a mix of trees in the region which can be helpful for folks who are allergic to other flowering trees year-round.

Chinese herbs

easy breather cedar feverWhile I haven’t been as consistent with Chinese herbs this year, they have helped me significantly in the past. My usual regimen is to start taking the Jade Screen formula in early November to boost my immune system (wei chi). There is another formula that I think is considered to be similar to an antihistamine called Pe Min Kan Wan that my acupuncturist usually prescribes. By the way, most Chinese herbs require a prescription for a licensed acupuncturist/herbalist. An herbalist can help make sure you take the herbal prescription that is specific to your symptoms, whether they are runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, or sinus headache. And while you’re there, you might as well get some acupuncture which can also help lessen symptoms and boost your immunity. One formula that you can get over-the-counter in most natural food stores/pharmacies in Austin is Easy Breather (actually developed by some AOMA alumni).

Zyrtec (well, the generic)

Okay, time to come clean. While I’ve been using all these “alternative” treatments, I have also been taking cetirizine, more commonly known as Zyrtec. I know everyone reacts differently to over-the-counter antihistamines, but this seems to be the one that has the fewest side-effects for me personally.

So, why am I doing all these other things if I’m taking a western drug? I honestly don’t think it would do the trick. I’m trying to give my body a fighting chance. That’s why I’m also exercising, drinking nettle tea, local honey, and getting lots of sleep.

Salud! To your health!

 

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Sarah_Bentley-w-253325-editedSarah Sires Bentley worked as the director of community relations at AOMA. She oversees the marketing department for the institution, including the website, social media, and blog. Sarah is not a licensed practitioner. This blog post is for entertainment and educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

Topics: chinese herbalism, cedar fever, chinese herbs, allergies

6 Local Chinese Herbs That You Probably Walk By Every Day

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Fri, Oct 04, 2013 @ 01:56 PM

When I started studying Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) I was overwhelmed with what seemed like the exotic nature of the plants we used. I developed a reverence for these plants and imagined they were somehow different, that they must be grown on the misty sides of mountains and tended by enlightened monks. I kept this notion for an embarrassingly long time, which was confirmed by my inept attempts to grow some of the herbs I thought would be able to take the Texas heat.

(protip: turns out you have to water and care for plants and just because the nursery sells it doesn’t mean it is a good match for my special kind of neglect.)

Fast-forward a couple of years and I had a nice little coincidence convince me just how wrong I was. We have to use the Latin names for herbs on our labels, so I started to get used to going back and forth between pin yin and Latin. Then I did a little work with the City of Austin invasive plant monitoring team, which involved a lot of pouring over lists of, you guessed it, Latin plant names. I started to see Chinese herbs everywhere and quite a few of them are considered invasive. So let’s go through a quick list of some Chinese herbs that you probably walk past almost daily.

 

Number one on the list of Central Texas invasive list that is also a Chinese herb:

study herbalism dandelion1. Taraxicum officinale or T. mongolicum – Common Dandelion – Pu Gong Ying

This perennial aster long considered the scourge of the suburban lawn also has an extraordinarily long history of use as medicine and food. The common name dandelion is a corruption of the French “dent de lion” meaning “tooth of the lion” which refers to the toothed or lacerate leaf margins.  The younger tender leaves are tasty in salads, the flowers can be used to make wine and the whole plant is used in TCM where it is listed as a Clear Toxic Heat herb and is one of the five herbs that makes the formula Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin so effective.

Harvest this plant when it starts to flower but before it goes to seed and dig as much of the long root as you can get. Let it soak in tepid water to loosen dirt and then remove any additional dirt with running water. Dry the whole plant on drying screens in the sun. You can separate the leaves and flowers as they will dry faster than the root and don’t need as much cleaning.

chinese herbalism2. Cyperus rotundus – Purple nutsedge rhizome – Xiang Fu

Hated is probably not too strong a word to describe how people feel about purple nutsedge. In fact, it is listed as one of the world’s worst weeds because it propagates vegetatively, is a perennial, and resists almost all control measures. It produces about inch long rhizomes, which is the part we want to use. The rhizomes can be separated from the roots and aerial portions of the plant, pressure washed and then put on a screen in the sun to dry. Xiang Fu is used in TCM as a qi-regulating herb mainly focused on liver qi stagnation.

 

 

 

chinese herb honeysuckle3. Lonicera Japonica – Japanese Honeysuckle – Jin Yin Hua

Honeysuckle does very well in Texas. It can take the heat and is pretty drought tolerant. If you are out hiking around in a greenbelt in Austin and keep a sharp eye you are likely to come across some. The key way to identify the Japanese honeysuckle is contained in the Chinese name. Jin Yin Hua translates as “gold silver flower”. If it has coral colored flowers then it is L. sempervirens and not what you want although the nectar is just as sweet and there is something about sucking the nectar out of honeysuckle that just brings out the kid in you.

Harvest this flower right as it about to open. If it has already opened it is too late. Then, because this flower is delicate, you should dry it quickly. It would be hard to get any appreciable amount of product from a wild stand of L. japonica as you will work pretty hard just to get a couple of grams of dried flowers.

 

So let’s talk about some trees that are everywhere in central Texas.

herbal program ligustrum4. Ligustrum luciduim – Glossy Privet – Nu Zhen Zi

This is so invasive that in just about any disturbed area near water you will find them, in fact unless controlled they can easily take over large stretches of mid-canopy trees in established forests. In the spring they have a very nice cluster of flowers that develops in late summer to a cluster of dark purple fruits. Each fruit contains one or two seeds and that is the portion used in TCM. Pick them when they are ripe, but you will have to beat the birds to them. Dry on a drying screen. You do not have to remove the seeds from the fruit to use as an herb.

In TCM Nu Zhen Zi is used as a Yin tonic and is frequently used in formulations for menopause.

 

 

 

 

herbal school5. Mimosa Julibrissin – Persian silk tree – He Huan Hua and He Huan Pi

This invasive is as likely to be found in disturbed park areas as it is to be in someone’s yard planted as a specimen tree because of its unusual and beautiful flowers. Both the flower and the bark are harvested but harvesting the flowers can be fiddly work. They are delicate and sticky and don’t all flower at the same time. They need to be cooled after harvest and then dried. According to Wilson Lau, president of NuHerbs, it takes 3 man-hours to properly clean half a kilo of He Huan Hua so that it looks like you are used to seeing it in clinic. Peg Schafer, author of The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm harvests the flowers but recommends leaving them whole with the calyx and a bit of stem if need be, but to warn potential buyers that there are stems. The bark can also be harvested but, by in large, requires cutting down the tree or at least large branches.

Both the flower and bark of M. julibrissin are listed in the Calm Shen category of TCM herbs for constraint due to liver qi stagnation.

white mulberry6. Morus alba – White Mulberry tree

            Sang Ye                  Leaves

            Sang Bai Pi               Root Bark

            Sang Zhi                  Twigs

            Sang Shen Zi            Fruit

You are probably more likely to find M. rubra (red mulberry) here in Central Texas, but if you look closely you will find the species, M. alba (white mulberry) that is indicated for so many uses in TCM. If you do find one, what you have found is a runaway. M. alba was imported from China in an attempt to start a silk industry that was floundering because M. rubra, a sort-of native, was not the silk worm’s preferred species. That industry floundered further when they could not compete with the low wages paid in China and Japan. (Sound familiar?)  However large stands of M. alba still can be found in the panhandle of Texas where they were also planted as windbreaks. Some of our runaways come from those too.

So what is the difference?  Well, you can’t really tell from the fruit or the bark but you can see the difference in the leaves. Both M. alba and M. rubra have leaves that are anywhere from simple ovate leaves to ones that are deeply lobed but there are two distinguishing characteristics.  M. alba has leaves that are really shiny on the topside and the leaf margins have teeth, but think molars (slightly rounded) and M. alba has duller topsides and its leaf margins have teeth but think incisors (much sharper) You are also much more likely to find M. alba in full sun and M. rubra is more shade tolerant.  

This tree’s uses in TCM are varied, from dispelling wind heat, helping with cough, directing herbs to the shoulders and yin tonic. The most likely plant part you will be harvesting will be the leaves, which are frequently used. Pick them then wash in warm water and leave out on screens to dry. It’s just that easy. The twigs should be harvested from the higher parts of the tree, which can be dangerous over a certain height and will require some cutting and drying. If you want to prepare them the way the are prepared for use in China you will need some heavy duty cutting gear.

This is not a simple preparation and will require specialized equipment. However, the fruit doesn’t require anything but beating the birds, raccoons, and possums to it. Everybody loves mulberry.

 

So get out to the parks around central Texas and see if you can find all six of these Chinese herbs and if you do, think about processing them for personal use. Some things to think about when you are wild crafting is pollution, both air and water. If you are harvesting along Shoal Creek, say in Pease Park, think about where the water came from. It is largely rain runoff and it washes down oil, herbicides, and fertilizers just to name a few. Lamar Blvd. is a pretty well traveled street and every car that goes up and down it, is leaving behind combustion residue. The good news is that most of this stuff will make it into the soil where it often gets mechanically filtered and then bacteria and fungi in the soil go to work on many of the toxic substances. Of course, some of these chemicals are filtered out by the plants and not taken up in the roots and rarely make it to the leaves and fruits. As far as airborne pollutants go, washing the part of the plant you are going to use is a pretty good way to remove most of them.

About the author:

David Jones L.Ac., a graduate of AOMA, is one of the founders of The Third Coast Herb Co. where he is chairman of the board and the vice president of new product development, which is quite a mouthful so he prefers Chief Herb Nerd. 

Illustration notes and credits

T. Official – Medicinal Plants – An illustrative and descriptive guide Charles F Millspaugh M.D. 1892

C. Rotundus – Flora of China

L. Japonica – Fleur de Jardiner 1836

L. Lucidium – Curtis’s Botanical Magazine vol. 52 1825

A. Julbrissin – Missouri Botanical Society

M. Alba – Saint Hilaire Arb. Pl. 44 1824

Introduction to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

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Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, chinese herbalism, herbal medicine, chinese herbs

Chinese Herbs: Zheng Gu Shui

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Oct 03, 2012 @ 03:56 PM

Zheng Gu Shui (juhng goo shway) is a Chinese herbal liniment known for its analgesic properties. The Chinese word "zheng gu" means "bonesetting" and "shui" means water. So, Zheng Gu Shui means "bonesetting water" or liquid. This external analgesic is known to relieve blood stagnation, promote healing, and soothe pain. As the name suggests, this herbal remedy can help promote the healing of broken bones. If the skin is not broken, it can be applied topically to the area of injury to relieve pain until the bone is set at the hospital.

 Well known in many athletic and martial arts circles, this “miracle” balm can be used for all sorts of injuries, including those involving muscle and nerve pain.  The most common indications are traumatic injuries, bruises, and sprains. Many people have found Zheng Gu Shui helpful for all kinds of pain from carpal tunnel to arthritis.

The Chinese medical explanation of how it works is by dispelling blood stagnation, moving qi, opening the channels, and invigorating the blood which will help to relax tendons and muscles, and reduce swelling.

The herbal formulation contains mostly camphor and menthol. Other ingredients include: alcohol, polygonum cuspidatum, camphor wood, fragrant angelica, moghania, zedoary, san-qi ginseng, and water.

Chinese herbThe medicinal effects of the herbs are as follows:

Polygonum cusidatum rhizome (Bushy Knotweed): relieves pain, reduces inflammation, stops bleeding

Camphor Wood (Radix Crotonis crassifolii, Chinese Ji Gu Xiang): increases local circulation, relieves pain

Frangrant Angelica (Bai Zhi): anti-inflammatory, relieves pain, treats muscle spasms and cramps

Moghania (Yi Tiao Gen): relieves musculoskeletal pain, stiffness, and soreness

Zedoary rhizomeor curcuma (a different species than Turmeric): anti-inflammatory relieves pain (especially shoulder pain)

San-Qi Ginseng (Tian Qi): stops bleeding, reduces bruising, swelling, inflammation and pain, relieves trauma

The suggested use is to apply the ointment directly to the (external) area of pain 2-3 times a day or as needed. Wrap the area with gauze, as it may stain clothing. Wash hands thoroughly after applying. Do not use Zheng Gu Shui on open wounds. Do not use Zheng Gu Shui near an open flame as it is flammable.

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Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, chinese herbalism, acupuncture research, chinese herbs

Are you ready for Cedar Fever season?

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Fri, Nov 18, 2011 @ 01:33 PM

While we all enjoy living and working in Austin, breathing in Austin can sometimes bring unwanted cedar fever. Austin is listed on many "Best Cities" lists.  But, unfortunately, Austin is also considered one of the top "allergy capitals" in the US. There are allergens in the air throughout the year in varying amounts in Central Texas, but Cedar Fever is often one of the most annoying.


"Cedar Fever" is actually a misnomer, as it is actually the pollen from the juniper tree (juniperus ashei) that attacks with a vengeance from December to February every year. Cedar Fever is caused by inhaling these pollens, which are mainly dispersed by the wind. If you are an individual sensitive to pollen, you will experience an allergic reaction. Out of the more than 67 million Americans who suffer from allergies, 24-40 million suffer from airborne allergies.


General symptoms of Cedar Fever include:

* sneezing

* clear and watery nasal discharge and congestion

* itchy eyes, nose, and throat

* watery eyes

* low grade fever


Many people with allergies seek out "alternative" medicine when they find that over-the-counter drugs or even prescriptions don't help, or they aren't worth the side-effects. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are effective allergy-fighting methods which have been around for centuries, and are recently gaining recognition.  The most well-known traditional Chinese medical procedure, acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into the body at specific points to relieve pain or treat a disease. Acupuncture triggers spontaneous healing reactions in the body, and scientific studies have proven its efficacy for treating inflammation, pain, depression and a host of other disorders.


Prevention is key in Chinese medicine. By planning ahead by getting regular acupuncture "tune-ups" and taking herbs, one can drastically reduce the frequency and severity of allergic reactions as well as common colds.  According to traditional Chinese medicine, wei qi (defensive energy) or our immunity is located at the exterior surface of the body and protects us against pathogenic factors. When wei qi is strong, pathogenic factors cannot penetrate the body. When it is weak, a variety of infections can occur. In China, Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used to relieve allergic symptoms successfully for centuries. Luckily, we're finally catching on and integrative medicine is becoming more available in the mainstream.

Introduction to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Topics: cedar fever, chinese herbs

Traditional Chinese Medicine: First Aid Kit

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 @ 01:47 PM

firstaidkit-222535-edited.jpg

Looking to incorporate herbs and natural remedies into your regular first aid kit? Chinese herbs have been used for millennia. There are roughly 13,000 medicinals used in China and over 100,000 medicinal recipes recorded in the ancient literature.

Dr. Violet Song, a full-time PhD staff member at AOMA Herbal Medicine, has compiled this list of Chinese herbal remedies to enrich your medicine cabinet. “Often times it is easy to prevent a small problem from developing into a more serious medical situation by incorporating simple Chinese herbs into your home first aid kit,” Dr. Song says. “Chinese herbs work naturally with your body to balance disparities and prevent ailments.”

AOMA Herbal Medicine has a selection of over 350 bulk, powder, patent formulas, tablets, capsules, and extracts. AOMA Herbal Medicine carries only cGMP herbal products.

Common cold

  • Yin Qiao tablet: wind heat type of common cold
  • Gan Mao Ling: clear heat
  • Jing Fang Bai Du Pills: wind cold with dampness (chills, fever, soreness in the body)
  • Gan Mao Jie Du Chong Ji
  • Ban Lan Gen Chong Ji: common cold with severe sore throat
  • White Flower oil: for headache, stuffy nose

Allergies

  • Pe Min Kan Wan: nasal congestion, runny nose

Diarrhea

  • Huang Lian: clear heat

Stomach Flu

  • *Huo Xiang Zheng Qi liquid vial: vomiting, diarrhea, summer heat induced
  • Curing Pills: food poisoning, nausea, diarrhea

Traumatic injury

  • *Yun Nan Bai Yao (oral & topical): stop bleeding and move blood
  • Zheng Gu Shui (topical): tendon and joint pain, sprains, bruises

Burns

  • Chin Wan Hong ointment (topical)

Food stagnation

  • Bao He Wan: indigestion, bloating, acid reflux

Bug Bites

  • White Flower oil (topical)

Motion Sickness

  • *Huo Xiang Zheng Qi liquid vial (oral)
  • White Flower oil (topical)

Warning: If symptoms persist or worsen see a health care practitioner. It is wise to check with your doctor before using herbs, as they may interact with medications you take regularly.

*These formulas require a prescription for a licensed herbalist.

Acupuncture treatments at the AOMA Clinics include an herbal consultation. At the AOMA Professional Clinics you can also specifically request a personalized herbal prescription without the acupuncture part of the treatment. AOMA patient Samantha Robinson has been coming to AOMA for years. "Since becoming a patient at AOMA, I no longer take allergy and asthma drugs, so thankfully, I also don't have the side effects that come with those drugs. At AOMA, the herbs are custom-prescribed for me every time I go in.  When I take herbs, I get good results from them without all of the side effects that Western drugs have."

Both AOMA clinics have herbal apothecaries next door while other area acupuncturists may call in your prescription to our large dispensary at AOMA Herbal Medicine. Chinese herbs are generally much cheaper than western prescriptions. You can use your health savings account to pay for them at AOMA Herbal Medicine!

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Nutrition

Topics: chinese herbalism, Dr. Violet Song, chinese herbs, tcm

Alumni Success: David Jones, Class of 2006

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Feb 01, 2011 @ 01:48 PM

dave jones chinese herbsAll students at the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine are required to study both acupuncture and herbs. Some students tend to gravitate toward one or the other of those disciplines, as is the case with AOMA alumnus David Jones, who sees himself more as an “herb guy.”

Before entering graduate studies at AOMA, Jones earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. Although he knew AOMA was located in Austin, he didn’t know much about it until he began exploring options to go back to school. He finally decided to enroll at AOMA for graduate studies after he sat in during a class and thought it was, as he says, “the coolest thing ever.”

AOMA is known for drawing some of the finest professors from China, making its herbal program one of the most comprehensive and challenging in the country. During Jones’s studies at AOMA, he was especially attracted to the herbal curriculum because of his long-time interest in the chemistry of medicinal plants, and he wanted to take advantage of the knowledge and experience the professors at AOMA had to offer him in this rigorous program.

Following his 2006 graduation from AOMA, Jones chose the path many graduates do, launching a small acupuncture practice with a well-stocked herbal dispensary and working hard for the three years that it normally takes to build a successful practice. However, in 2007, AOMA alumnus and friend Jeanine Adinaro pitched Jones the idea that eventually led to the formation of Third Coast Herb Company (TCH). Jones says, “It was one of those ‘this might just be crazy enough to work’ moments.”

herbalogicWhile Jones still sees a few acupuncture patients, he says most of his time is focused on building Herbalogic into a national brand. Although he acknowledges it is a lofty goal, “We have a pretty good start on it. We sell retail in about 60 outlets in four states and all 17 Texas Whole Foods. We have recently extended ownership to two nationally recognized marketing and branding professionals who bring over 40 years of experience to the table and we have hired on a couple of brokers so you can buy Herbalogic from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Boerne, Texas. We also have a large number of happy practitioners. Although we sell mostly retail our line makes a very accessible entry point to herbs for some patients who are resistant to the idea of barks, bugs, lizards and leaves” Jones says. “To develop the line, we made a list of the most common ailments we saw in the clinic. We then matched those ailments with herbal formulas we knew would work really well and work really well in an extract form.” The original five conditions the business partners decided to address are allergies, insomnia, stress, low energy, and musculoskeletal pain. Four new formulas are currently being tested and as Jones says, “some of them are going to change lives.”

Jones and Adinaro have seen the company through challenges. “You just have to be flexible, be prepared to revise your business plan again and again, and never lose sight of your goal. One of my goals is to sell one million units in a year. If we can do that, then I get to have touched people’s lives with Chinese medicine a million times,” Jones says. The most satisfying aspect of his business is, Jones says, “is when someone I don’t know sends us an email telling us how much our products helped them or when I have practitioners call us to tell us a story about how much our products helped a patient.  We are passionate about Chinese herbs and to see someone who may have only had this small exposure to them spreading the word is one of the reasons we went into business.” 

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Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, chinese herbs, herbal program

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