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!

Download Free eBook: Intro to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Topics: herbal studies, chinese herbs, herbal program

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: Wally Doggett, Class of 2004

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 @ 03:27 PM

Wally DoggettWally Doggett, owner of South Austin Community Acupuncture and 2004 AOMA alumni moved to Austin in the 80’s from Richmond, Texas to live the musicians’ dream.  The seeds for Chinese medicine were planted in his teenage years by an older musician friend but did not bloom till many years later.  The two would discuss all types of ideas including Asian philosophies and religion.  He began his journey in Austin working at a biotech company running their shipping department during the day and playing drums at honky-tonk bars at night.  He was also participating in qigong at the Keishan Institute.  A profound shift and deep healing happened when the institute brought Praveeta Rose (also an AOMA alumna) and Ward Tummins to talk about various theories in medicine.  As Wally states this lecture spurred him to, “take off after Chinese medicine as if my life depended on it.”  

South Austin Community Clinic has been open since 2006 and was developed while Wally was researching “acupuncture marketing” on the internet.  Wally says, “When I stumbled upon Working Class Acupuncture about four pages into a Google search …the pieces fell into place.”  He immediately booked a trip to Portland to meet Lisa Rohleder, the founder of Working Class Acupuncture, and check out her movement for community acupuncture.  Already feeling connected to his neighborhood in South Austin it was apparent to him that Austin could support a much broader market for acupuncture than charging $60+ per treatment.  Wally wanted to reach as many people as possible with this medicine and it was clear that this was the model to support his vision.  Now he says, “The diversity of people that come though the clinic is one of the most satisfying parts about my work.”

While in school Wally worked at Allen Cline and James Phillip’s clinic Turtle Dragon.  It was here that he was able to work with raw herbs and fill herbal prescriptions.  He learned a lot from this experience including the confidence to make herbal formulations a large part of his current practice.  Wally says, “I value my training at AOMA and my experiences at Turtle Dragon too much not to use Chinese herbal medicine as an integral part of my practice.”

When reflecting on his time at AOMA he remembered the rich experiences he had with professors in conversations between the breaks.  He said, “You just never know when or where someone is going to drop an extraordinary pearl of wisdom that will just connect the dots for you in a profound way.”  Wally has found that it has worked for him to follow his bliss and create his business based on what was most appealing to him.  His advice for current students is to “Follow your heart.  Find a way of working that resonates with you, and pour yourself into it.”  This philosophy has worked for him for more than five years.  He has also expanded to support two other AOMA graduates, Mike Sobin and Erica Chu.

When Wally is not busy with the clinic he is working as the president of Texas Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (TAAOM) as of May 2012.  Being in this position, he has been able to make a stronger alliance between the different styles of acupuncture such as community style acupuncture and other more mainstream models.  Wally says, “It is an honor to serve as a board member, and just as I enjoy the diversity of my patient population as a practitioner, one of the more satisfying pieces to me about being president of the TAAOM is the diversity of practitioners, and getting to know them all.”

 

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

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, herbal studies, community acupuncture

Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award 2013

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 02:52 PM

herbal studies awardAt the 2013 commencement ceremony on September 15th, AOMA student Leila Plummer was recipient of the Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award. Since 2006 this honor has been bestowed upon a student who excels in the study of herbal medicine. The recipient is chosen by the previous year’s beneficiary, as someone who strives for superior herbal knowledge and shares the love of learning herbs with fellow students.

In 2012, the award went to Vivian Linden, who chose Leila as this year’s recipient. Vivian shares, “I believe that our most rewarding relationship with herbal medicine will be achieved through fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with our herbal allies –making them friends instead of just servants. Leila exemplifies this and it is what makes her truly excellent!”

It is clear to her fellow classmates that Leila holds a great respect for the study of herbal medicine as an academic, clinical, and extracurricular pursuit. But what is most notable about Leila is her reverence for the plants themselves.

Leila’s extracurricular herbal studies have included:

herbal studies

  • Serving and training in Nicaragua in 2012 with master herbalists providing free natural medicine to the underserved

  • Certified Community Herbalist and Herbal Apprentice from the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine (Western herbalism)

  • Member of the American Herbalist Guild (student member) and United Plant Savers

  • Working as a wellness consultant, helping people with herbs and nutrition at herb stores and health food stores

“I am humbled and grateful to the AOMA community for thinking of me for this award. AOMA has a strong herbal program, which is why I chose this school; it is an honor to get to learn from such knowledgeable and caring faculty.  The kindness of the student body has also always impressed me -- here, learners look after each other and help each other out,” said Leila.

Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007)

The award is named in honor of Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007). Michael graduated from the University of Kentucky Phi Beta Kappa with distinction from the Honor's Program with degrees in Political Science and Sociology.

In 1990, Michael moved to Austin, Texas where he eventually continued his education at AOMA. He was a loved and cherished classmate, tutor, mentor and friend. While at AOMA, Michael was instrumental in the development of the Herbal Outreach Program. Because of Michael's generosity, many patients have been able to receive necessary herbs.

One of Michael's greatest passions and loves was tennis. Michael founded the Austin Tennis Club, a local tennis organization that has grown to over 100 members and has raised thousands of dollars for local charities. Michael loved being on the tennis court as a player, teacher and coach, and he used his talents and eye for the game to teach many tennis camps.

herbal awardMichael Garcia Prendes contracted a terminal illness and died before he could graduate. AOMA framed a beautiful print that Michael painted of a tennis player (with acupuncture meridians) about to serve a ball.  Michael painted the piece for Pam Ferguson’s shiatsu class.  The print hangs in the student lounge with the sentiment that suits Michael’s character: “Be present and focus, Lift up and Serve.”

Michael's generosity, compassion, sincerity, selflessness, and kind heart will always be an inspiration to his family and friends. Michael lived his life with integrity, honesty, and courage. Michael was a true gift to all who were lucky to know him and who were blessed by his humor, love and kindness.

How Michael helped students learn Chinese herbs

One of many students who benefited from Michael’s herbal tutoring was Consuelo Gonzalez, class of 2009.

“Michael had very special teaching qualities. He would explain with patience and humor the terminology of the herbs. Michael made it easy for us to identify the herbs. He would use pneumonic words to relate the herbs with funny stories or events to get them connected all at one category. We always had a blast each time we get together with him. It is hard to find someone like him, but before he left he gave us the guidelines to imitate him.”

Classmates remember Michael

Michael has touched me deeply and will always be a part of who I am no matter if I'm playing tennis or treating a patient. I feel so lucky to have been on the receiving end of so much love and generosity which he shared with everyone, and for which he will always be remembered. - Adrienne Kam, class of 2009


I have never met a more selfless, loving, giving man than Michael Garcia Prendes.  His concern for his fellow students overrode everything else, and up to his last days, he put others welfare before his own. - Kathy Kerr, class of 2008


Michael helped so many people, including myself, to see the true potential in themselves and build confidence in their learning capabilities.  - Sarah Wilson, class of 2008

I knew Michael to be a compassionate and wise soul. He was always kind and offered me valuable comfort when I was going through a sad time.  His donations and support of Herbal Outreach were unsolicited and showed him to be thoughtful and generous with his time and efforts. I am grateful to have known him. - Jessica Fritz, class of 2005

Previous Recipients of the Herbal Excellence Award

Erin Taliaferro, 2006

Rebecca Benson, 2007

Marc Smith, 2008

Alison Beard, 2009

Cat Calhoun, 2010

Joshua Shain, 2011

Vivian Linden, 2012

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: student spotlight, herbal medicine, scholarship, herbal studies

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