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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!

Download Free eBook: Intro to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Topics: herbal studies, chinese herbs, herbal program

Massage Therapists go to Acupuncture School, Study Chinese Medicine

Posted by Christina Korpik on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 @ 09:49 AM

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AOMA has an incredibly diverse student body that consists of gifted practitioners with a wide variety of different histories, ethnicities, and hometowns. Many students come into their studies already having obtained a background in a particular healing modality or healthcare field. Specifically, a great deal of talented massage therapists have chosen to further their education by studying Chinese Medicine and herbal medicine at AOMA. We decided to interview them and share their knowledge and stories around returning to school after receiving massage training and combining the two complementary modalities.
 
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Massage Therapist/Acupuncturist in Training:Ammathyst Rose

What prompted you to return to school?

Returning to school was always part of the master plan. My decision to get my massage license was to assist me in being able to pay the bills while returning to school, but the Universe must have felt I wasn’t ready to do that for another five years because, I wasn’t generating enough cash to make it easy to drop down to a part time worker and a full time student. Also, I still had a young child at home which required more home responsibility.

Why did you choose AOMA?

It has the reputation for being a good school and it’s regionally accredited which is an important factor for licensure. I had looked at another school in Hawaii because a friend had recommended it, and I thought with the amount of projects, friends and adventures I had going on, living here in Austin would make it very difficult to study and do well. Plus, it was Hawaii, need I say more? But my child did not want to move to Hawaii. So, when I let go of the idea of moving to there, staying in Austin and attending AOMA just clicked. I had an “Ah-ha” moment and after that, the process unfolded quite easily.

What is your background in massage therapy?

I have worked in the clinic setting at Collette Zygmonts Chiropractics and 27 Bones podiatry clinic. Polished my spa skills at the Woodhouse Day Spa and The Austin Omni Downtown. I have done volunteer work for Power to the Peaceful in San Francisco. I have offered massage at yoga conferences such as Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree, and Tadasana Fest in Santa Monica, California.  I have also had my own practice for the past 8 years.

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

As a bodyworker, I felt like I had worked through the initial awkwardness of working rather intimately with other people’s bodies – some times total strangers – so I was able to hop into the role of being a practitioner fairly smoothly. I had also developed a relationship with the anatomy of the body through massage and so this particular aspect of learning at AOMA, whether it be locating the acupuncture points by way of feeling them with my hands or understanding verbal description of body landscape. Also physical assessment and Anatomy and Physiology classes were a bit easier because I had already studied those as part of the massage school curriculum.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

I have had a great experience. There are great teachers here and AOMA is very supportive and full of a lot of good people.

What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Jump on board! Keep up your massage therapy skills, and see how you can keep helping people, but in an expanded way.

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Vanessa Huffman

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What prompted you to return to school?

The physical nature of doing massage full-time for many years lead me to realize that I was going to need to return to school for something more sustainable. I was in the process of applying to law school when I became a patient of TCM. The experiences I had with my acupuncturist (who was also a licensed massage therapist) really opened up my interest in TCM and showed me that what I really wanted was to continue my path in the healing arts. After reading “The Web That Has No Weaver” and “Between Heaven and Earth” at his suggestion, I was fascinated. The rest is history!

Why did you choose AOMA?

I transferred to AOMA after realizing that I wanted my TCM education to be strong in both herbs and acupuncture as well as containing biomedical integration.

What is your background in massage therapy?

I received my training from The New York Institute of Massage. It’s a very medically grounded, and oddly enough, Shiatsu heavy curriculum. After graduating, I followed my passion for medical massage but quickly found that I was experiencing very powerful energetic experiences with many clients. This led me to discover Reiki and I am now a Certified Level 1 practitioner. Over the course of my career, I also absolutely fell in love with Ashiatsu. I took an advanced Ashiatsu training in 2011 and have been working almost exclusively in this modality ever since. It’s a technique where you hold onto bars suspended from the ceiling and massage clients with your feet! AWESOME!

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

I was a small business owner as a massage therapist, but I also networked with a lot of other therapists and healthcare professionals. I think this has prepared me well for the realities and logistics of setting up a successful acupuncture practice.

In terms of clinical context and patient care, I’ve had the honor of building very profound therapeutic relationships with my massage clients. These relationships have taught me a lot about working with different personality types, energy profiles and dynamics in order to achieve therapeutic results. Each patient teaches me how to be their healer and in return, this process makes me both a more skilled practitioner and a more compassionate human being. All of the interactions and lessons learned (both successes and failures) doing massage inform my current interaction with TCM patients.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

Studying TCM has been both a challenging and gratifying experience academically, personally, professionally and spiritually. It has fundamentally changed the way I see and interact with myself, others and the world around me for the better.

What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Studying TCM will be challenging but it will be worth it! Everything you already know tactilely and intuitively from being a bodyworker will apply and be an advantage to you (and your patients), especially when working in clinic. An education in TCM will help you master powerful healing tools that will be able to impact state change in patients on a level that massage therapy alone has difficulty achieving. Studying TCM will deepen your ability to help others as a healer.

Careers in Acupuncture: Download free eBook!

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Gene Kuntz IIPicture3-1

What prompted you to return to school?

When I was a kid I watched Kung Fu movies all the time. In one of my favorites, "Hard to Kill" with Steven Segal, not only did he use acupuncture on himself with smoke coming off the ends (what I now know is moxa) he said, "anyone can hurt someone, it takes a true master to heal." That was the first time I really became inspired to learn about Oriental Medicine. Years later, while studying Martial Arts, my master was able to not only kick through baseball bats but also help heal his students with Tui Na, acupuncture and massage. That was it! I figured I had learned how to fight long enough and would learn to heal people and myself. The next step for me was obvious: to get a feel for the energy and mechanics of the body with massage therapy before furthering my education with Oriental Medicine. Step one: check.

Why did you choose AOMA? 

First, I should say that I chose Austin. It is an amazing city and only five hours from my home, and what can I say? I love my family. Of the two schools in Austin, I chose AOMA initially because of what I had read of Master Li and the qigong program. When I found out I didn't have enough hours to attend AOMA I started my Oriental Medicine education at THSU, the other acupuncture school here in Austin just a stones throw away. Whenever I had enough credits to attend AOMA, I had to make a choice of whether to stay at THSU or transfer to AOMA. Both schools have amazing teachers and have acupuncturists graduate several times a year. I chose AOMA for three reasons:

1. The credits I receive from AOMA can be transferred to a credited University.

2. The number of clinic opportunities and community outreach they provide.

3. The professionalism with which I was received the first time I walked in the door.

What is your background as a massage therapist?

I have been a massage therapist for 6 years. I received my license in Lake Charles, LA, at the Louisiana Institute of Massage Therapy. The owner of the school was Susan Salvo, who literally wrote the book on massage therapy. (Seriously, most schools in the U.S. use her book. ) After I graduated, I got a list of every massage therapy place in town and began calling them asking for a job. After a few days, I started at Massage Clinique and apprenticed under a talented sports and deep tissue therapist. Next, I got a job at Lake Charles's claim to fame, Lau Berge du lac, the local casino. I worked there for 4 years before moving to Austin. While in Austin, I have worked at Woodhouse Day Spa, Hess Chiropractic, Massage Harmony and am currently employed at what has become literally one of my favorite places to ever work: milk + honey day spa. In that time, I have had training in: Repetitive Use Injury Therapy, Medical Massage, Supreme Science Qi Gong, Reiki, along with a myriad of spa treatments.

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

Massage therapy has helped me in so many ways as a student of Oriental Medicine. I am comfortable doing intakes with clients/patients. I am aware of my energy and the energy of others, and how they can affect one another. I have become familiar with insurance billing and other administrative aspects of the business. From intake to treatment plan, the process is similar whether giving massage or performing acupuncture. The most important impact massage has had on my Oriental Medicine skills is my sensitivity to touch, feel and palpate. It will be my hands and my ability to feel that guide the needle.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

My experience at AOMA has been awesome. I came in as a transfer knowing about three people, and my first semester landed me in about 4 different cohorts. Lots of people to meet. In every class I felt welcome and am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many people in such a short time. With just a few terms in, it already feels like home. As far as academia, the school is legitimate. A serious endeavor with four years and a big chunk of change.
 
What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Massage Therapy has been great to me while in school. It has given me a source of income and allowed me to feel more bodies as I learn a new art. If you are coming into Oriental Medicine school, be aware that it is much more intense than massage therapy school; a longer time and financial commitment. When I first looked into Oriental Medicine school I had no idea of the intensity that would ensue. Think of getting a master's degree in any other subject: it is like that. So, if you're thinking of studying Oriental Medicine, get ready for some intense awesomeness. This schooling has brought my knowledge to a level that I thought I could only find being trained by a sage on a mountain in China, and I still have a year left. My advice... if you're interested in studying healing arts for a good portion of your life, sign up.

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Jessica Healy    

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What prompted you to return to school?

I decided to return to school because I felt that during massage sessions the body was communicating more information to me than I had skills to interpret. I felt like there was more I could be doing for my clients if I could only learn how to understand better the feedback that the body was giving me. So, I decided to try and expand my knowledge through acupuncture, which has proven to be very useful. I also returned to school because after five years of practicing massage it was beginning to take a toll on my body. So, I wanted something I could do that would be a nice addition to my massage practice but would also give my hands and body a bit of a break.  

Why did you choose AOMA? 

I chose AOMA because they have a strong herbal program, they have a great national reputation, and because my acupuncturist at the time recommended it to me, despite graduation from another school.  Once, I visited AOMA I was sold on the good energy, friendly people and nice learning environment found on campus.

What is your background as a massage therapist?

I graduated from The Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy in 2007. From there I went on to work in several different environments, from spas to wellness centers as well as having a small private practice on the side. The type of massage I enjoy the most is integrative deep tissue and CranioSacral work.

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

My massage background has helped me greatly in the clinical setting, and has enhanced my learning process. Already being comfortable touching and talking with people has helped me to be able to dive right in and focus on the Chinese medicine theories, without worrying about developing those basic skills.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

Being a student at AOMA has been life changing. It has been a challenging, but also very rewarding experience. 

What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Returning to school is a big commitment and it is easy to lose yourself amongst all the books, so be sure to set aside time for yourself to do something you love. :)

 Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: acupuncture school, chinese medicine school, herbal program, massage

3 Reasons to Start Acupuncture School at AOMA this Summer

Posted by Justine Meccio on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 03:30 PM

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AOMA’s Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program is a transformative educational experience that prepares students to begin careers as professional acupuncturists and herbalists. The program combines extensive clinical education with rigorous & comprehensive coursework in acupuncture theory & techniques, Chinese herbal medicine, biomedicine, mind-bodywork, and Asian body-work therapy.

Here are 3 reasons to begin your studies this summer at AOMA: 

1. Small Class-size Supports Learning & Connection

New students can apply to begin the program at three points per year: the summer, the fall, or the winter quarters. However, the summer term often sees the smallest incoming cohort with typically about 15 students starting the master’s program each July. For new students, a small class size fosters a tight-knit sense of community, allowing you to get to know your peers very well.

start acupuncture school this summer student body cumbo quote2. Flexibility

The summer quarter is only 8 weeks long. As a result, students’ academic load is often is lighter in the summer – meaning students frequently take fewer total credit hours than during other terms. Starting as a new student in the summer term with a lighter load is a great way to soften the transition to graduate school – especially if several years have passed since you were last in a classroom. You’ll become acclimated to the classroom environment, learn to incorporate school into your personal life, and “get into the groove” academically with fewer courses to balance.

Start Acupuncture School This Summer Robert Laguna

3. Make the Most of Your Summer

Summer in central Texas is often the season when many locals take it easy or even take vacations. Why not spend your summer in Austin,TX getting to know the city and enjoying the laid-back lifestyle? You can dodge the summer heat by spending your days inside air conditioned classrooms pursuing your passion and taking study breaks at beautiful Barton Springs!

Start Today Acupuncture School Karen Lamb QuoteBegin your journey this summer with classes starting on July 20, 2015!

Apply Today to Begin Classes in 2015!

 

Topics: acupuncture school, masters program, herbal studies, Austin, admissions, herbal program, professional acupuncturist, MAcOM

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.” 

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

Discover the Art & Spirit of Healing: Introduction to Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

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

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