AOMA Blog

Thanksgiving: The Food Stagnation Holiday

Posted by Tara Lattimore on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Happy Thanksgiving Austin from AOMA

Thanksgiving is fast-approaching and while I mostly associate the holiday with contemplation and gratitude, I find myself preparing for two other activities: travel and overeating. The bad news is that both often loom large during the holidays and can negatively impact our ability to enjoy them. The good news is that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can help with both and I’m going to share some easy, approachable herbal options to treat the latter! 

Ideally, we should eat mindfully and avoid overeating altogether but when these behaviors happen, it’s unproductive to judge ourselves. Instead we should enjoy the journey and treat the destination as best we can. While I always recommend making an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist so they can prescribe a Chinese herbal formula tailored to your constitution, you may not have a chance to make an appointment before you travel or before the clinics shut down for the holiday. I have also found that powder and bulk/dried herbs don’t travel as easily as pills, especially when going overseas and factoring in different customs restrictions. In these situations, prepared, over the counter (OTC) formulas are a convenient option to throw in your carry-on.  

Food Stagnation

Before I make recommendations, I think it’s important to understand what these TCM herbal formulas are treating. When we temporarily over-tax our digestive system with high quantities of dense, fatty, greasy, processed foods and alcohol, we shock our bodies and run the risk of developing what we refer to in Chinese medicine as food stagnation. It’s like when you force too much food into the garbage disposal and it stalls. If you keep adding more, it’s going to back up and you have no chance of getting the disposal to perform again until you fix the blockage.

In humans, the disposal is the Stomach and Spleen and the “stall” is food stagnation, presenting with symptoms like abdominal distention, belching, flatulence, nausea, fatigue (hello, food coma!) low appetite, and even vomiting and diarrhea. This is because the digestive system is temporarily unable to do its job of receiving, transforming and transporting nutrients because it is overwhelmed. Ideally, we should have a mindful, balanced and moderate approach to eating and try not to over consume in the first place; however, stress and obligation get in the way of even the best laid plans. When that happens, the following formulas can help transform the food, break up stagnation, and get your digestive system back to optimal function. I have included a variety of forms so you can choose which is most convenient for you:

Encapsulated Powder Tincture Encapsulated Tea Pills Tea Pills
Bao He Wan AOMA Austin Herbal Tincture Austin TX Curing Pills AOMA Austin TX Culing Pills Austin TX
Bao He Wan Bao He Wan Curing Pills Culing Pills
Qualiherb Far East Summit Plum Flower Chu Kiang Brand

All of these formulas contain Shen Qu also known as massa fermentata or medicated leaven, which is useful in treating food stagnation but not appropriate for those with celiac disease. If you are interested in a gluten-free option, you should definitely make an appointment to see a practitioner in one of our clinics where they can prescribe a customized or prepared formula that will work with your specific dietary restrictions.

Happy Holidays

Usually, my husband and I join our adopted Austin family at a ranch outside the city and Chinese medicine food stagnationour hostess is a doctor of Chinese medicine. We are spoiled at the end of the night with a customized decoction that’s been bubbling on the stove throughout Thanksgiving dinner. It’s one of my favorite traditions. This year, we will fly home to see my parents for the first time in 3 years and they live all the way in Indonesia. Bulk herbs are not convenient for this trip so I will be turning to prepared formulas. I know I can’t control everything that will be on the dinner table, and quite frankly, I don’t want to. Part of the joy of travel is to enjoy other’s traditions and I plan to mindfully indulge in everything in moderation out of respect for my host and my own experience. 

As part of your pre-travel preparations, I highly recommend a stop by AOMA Herbal Medicine to stock up on whatever support you might need. Personally, I decided to pack the Chu Kiang Brand Culing pills. The dosages are divided into individual packets making them especially easy to transport and I like the consistency of the tiny pills. I even keep a pack in my wallet for emergencies!  My husband prefers tinctures so he will pack the Far East Summit Bao He Wan. He can bring it in his carry-on because it is only 2 fluid ounces and TSA approved, provided he puts it in a quart-sized Ziploc bag with the rest of his appropriately sized liquids! We will also be drinking plenty of room-temperature water, getting sufficient sleep, practicing stretches and qigong, and continuing a regimen of probiotics throughout our trip!

Wherever you are spending your holidays and whatever your traditions, I hope you find time to rest and contemplate how amazing you are. This year has been challenging for so many and I am grateful for the many people in my life who inspire me to appreciate what I have, most especially my patients, coworkers, family and friends. From my family to yours, happy holidays and happy eating!

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Topics: chinese herbalism, food stagnation

6 Things You Can Do with a Degree in Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 04:22 PM

 

6 Things

Have you ever considered a career in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine? Many students choose this path because of a personal journey to serve others, while some have profound experiences as a patient that inspire a lifetime of study and a new career path. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a growing field within healthcare in the United States. Many new doors and opportunities are coming available to licensed acupuncturists, therefore boosting an overall growth of the integration of Chinese medicine into the western healthcare system. More and more healthcare providers are adding employment opportunities for acupuncturists, leaving the profession very hopeful for its future workforce. As of today, there are many different things you can do with a degree in acupuncture – including some you probably haven't heard of yet.

Currently, in the United States, to be a licensed acupuncturist, one must earn a four-year master’s degree as well as pass the national board examinations (NCCAOM). You will also need to qualify for state licensure requirements depending on your location. Doctoral degrees are also being offered in the field now, including a Professional Doctorate and Clinical Specialty Doctorate. Chinese medicine continues to grow as a field and more and more opportunities are being presented, such as hospital positions, solo practice, treating on a cruise line, or working as a professor. There are no limits to what the future may hold for acupuncturists. Here we will dive into some of the exciting opportunities that are presently available.

hospital acupuncture
Photo Credit: ELIZABETH FLORES, STAR TRIBUNE

Become a Hospital Acupuncturist

As acupuncture becomes more highly regarded in the medical field, healthcare delivery institutions are taking notice and discovering for themselves how powerful acupuncture can be. In Austin, Texas, one of the top hospitals – Baylor Scott & White, currently employs acupuncturists for their integrative medicine program. This program includes an integrative care program working with other specialties including massage therapists.

Acupuncturists have the ability to work with other healthcare providers in a dynamic setting, allowing them more hands on experience with western medical diagnosis and ways of thinking. Two AOMA graduates, Tiodoso Bustillo and Ashley Oved are working at Baylor Scott and White as acupuncturists. Some benefits acupuncture can serve specifically for the hospital setting could include anesthesia and post-surgery recovery. In addition, Adam Reinstein, an AOMA alumnus, serves as one of the first emergency room acupuncturists in Minnesota working with high trauma patients.

Work in an Integrative Healthcare Clinic

Integrative healthcare clinics are becoming a popular new model for clinics around the country. In an integrative healthcare office, an acupuncturist will work with other practitioners such as chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, psychologist/psychiatrists, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. This model is very patient-centered, that is, a patient can go to a single location to get the care they need, also while health data can be shared by all the practitioners to ensure collaborative care. This is also a good setting for acupuncturists, as they can offer their services to any patient of any other specialist in the practice.

Working cooperatively, these integrative practitioners can share practice costs, and approach patient care from a teamwork perspective. Patients are searching for more than one answer to their illness and want various options for treatment strategies, which is why integrative clinics are being sought out. One of our alumni and current faculty, as well as clinic supervisors, Anne Cusick, works at a Family Care Clinic in an integrative setting. Her environment allows her to work collaboratively with a family medicine doctor.

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Work at an Established Acupuncture Practice

Don't want the stress of opening up your own practice? Another great option is to work at an established acupuncture clinic looking to expand or rent out a room. Many have offices with more patients coming in than they can handle in their schedule and would love to have another acupuncturist to take on some of the workload. This could allow you to make a paycheck and not worry about overhead costs. Modern Acupuncture is one example of a clinic emerging in Austin with plans to expand and hire recent graduates. This model also gives you time to apprentice and learn from more advanced acupuncturists, and develop client rapport with patients that have already developed trust with the office. There are also other local acupuncture clinics in the Austin area that regularly hire recent graduates, such as Turtle Dragon and South Austin Acupuncture.

Oasis_of_the_Seas 

Sail the World as a Cruise Ship Acupuncturist

A big attraction for recent graduates in the field is to work on a cruise line. There you gain experience giving health related talks to crowds, marketing acupuncture to people on the cruise line, and seeing a variety of patients with a steady income. Plus, you have the bonus of travelling the world on a cruise line! The Onboard Spa by Steiner offers jobs to recent graduates as well as other licensed acupuncturists on their cruise lines. There is a three day training prior to the job, and each contract lasts seven months. Many graduates love this option because it gives them time to save money on living costs, while earning money to put towards their loans, and travel the world at the same time.

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Teach Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

As the acupuncture field grows, so does the need for passionate teachers. There are more than 50 acupuncture schools in the United States, with three in Texas. This can give one the opportunity to share their passion for the field of acupuncture by teaching. While a master’s degree is currently required to seek licensure as an acupuncturist, many TCM schools such as AOMA offer doctoral degrees, designed to add advanced clinical speciality training, but also provide an avenue to achieve more prestigious teaching jobs at the nation’s top AOM schools. This environment can help you get support for research in the field. Schools such as AOMA hire esteemed acupuncturists in the field from all over, such as Elizabeth Fordyce who teaches advanced needling classes focusing on AOMA’s Dr. Tan’s Balance Method, as well as Aaron Rubinstein who teaches an advanced needling class focusing on Japanese style acupuncture.

Conduct TCM Research Projects

Acupuncturists are turning to other avenues to use their education as well, such as participating in and conducting research. With goals to help promote the awareness and education of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, research on acupuncture is growing with support from large healthcare organizations and medical research universities, funding studies such as pain management with acupuncture in response to the current opioid crisis.

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Open your Own Acupuncture Clinic

Majority of acupuncturists want to open up a solo practice upon graduation. The appeal of being an entrepreneur and creating their own flexibility with scheduling and how they want to run their business is huge. The advantages include independence and being able to work for yourself. Through this enormous challenge, you will develop the skills to establish yourself in the field and be successful. Many schools like AOMA offer practice management courses to give you the skills you need to succeed after graduation.

Whatever career path you think is best for you in the field of Chinese medicine, know there are many options and the opportunities are growing. The AOMA Career Services department can help guide and mentor you to choose the best career path. An exciting career in one of the rising fields in healthcare awaits you!

Contact Admissions today to learn more about how AOMA can prepare you for a career in the field of Chinese medicine.

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Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture school, chinese medicine school

8 Chinese Medicine Treatments You May Have Never Heard Of

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

acupuncture chinese medicine treatments 

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

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

cupping therapy Austin

Cupping

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

 

Guasha Chinese medicine Austin

Guasha

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

Moxibustion Chinese Medicine Austin

Moxibustion

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

 

eStim acupuncture austin

Electrical Stimulation (e-Stim)

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

Bloodletting

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

 

Tuinia chinese medicine bodywork

Tuina

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

Medical Qigong

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

Seven Star Needling

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

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

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

5 Reasons Why Austin is Different from the Rest of Texas

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 @ 02:20 PM

5 reasons why austin is different from the rest of texas.png

Those of us that live in Austin LOVE it and the ones that visit always wish they could stay. Some call Austin “weird,” or the “blue dot in a red state,” while others call it the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Regardless of what you have heard about Austin, one thing is certain - it is VERY different than the rest of Texas for a number of reasons. Austin has its own culture and is known as a tolerant, open-minded city that attracts a wide variety of people –college students, tech entrepreneurs, artisans, nature enthusiasts, alternative health practitioners, and many others. To top it off, Austin was ranked the best place to live in 2017, according to US News and World Report! Let’s be honest here, we couldn’t agree more that Austin is the best, which is why we came up with 5 reasons why Austin is strikingly different from (and arguably better) than the rest of Texas.

Environmentally Friendly

Lady Bird Lake Austin

What you’ll notice about Austin that’s different from the other concrete-jungle cities in Texas is the vast amount of parks and nature preservations located close to the city center. Austin caters to any outdoor enthusiast with prized urban nature conservations such as the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Spanning a length of 7.9 miles with gorgeous trails and swimming spots along the way, “the greenbelt” is considered one of the best hiking trails in Texas. Zilker Metropolitan Park (350 acres), one of Austin’s most used parks, is just 2 miles from downtown. Zilker connects to the Barton Springs swimming pool and Lady Bird Lake, where anyone can paddle board, kayak, or canoe. Such centrally located access to outdoor recreation is rare in most Texas cities, making Austin even more special. Oh, and did we mention how dog-friendly Austin is? People love to bring their pets most anywhere, so you’ll find many outdoor restaurants and cafes offering dog-friendly patios!

Music

Austin TX Live Music

You’ve heard Austin is the live music capitol of the world, but have you experienced the live music here? Austin hosts large scale music events every year, such as Austin City Limits (ACL), South by Southwest (SXSW), and the Pecan Street Festival. Besides the large mainstream festivals hosted here, there is always live music being played at other smaller venues such as the Broken Spoke for country and two-stepping or the Elephant Room for an eclectic basement with live jazz. We have every kind of music you would want to hear, and more you didn’t realize you would like. With a venue at almost every corner, Austin has your entertainment covered for a night out on the town.

Tech Savvy

Austin Tech Startups

Austin is considered the technology hub of Texas spawning with growth from companies such as Dell as well as an explosion of new companies formed during the dot.com era. Today, we host a full-blown tech ecosystem that many consider 2nd best to Silicon Valley in the United States, and dubbed the “Silicon Hills”. Austin is home to some of the newest up and coming high-tech startups as well as a large presence by many national corporations like Apple, IBM, and AMD. Many of these companies also embrace alternative and renewable energy sources. In addition, Austin was also chosen as one of the first cities in the country to offer Google Fiber access for its residents.

Local Business-Minded

South Congress Austin

Austin’s economy thrives on local merchants such as coffee shops, micro-breweries, farmers markets, boutiques and local art studios. In addition, some of these local ventures have taken off and grown to national prominence such as Whole Foods Market, Kendra Scott, Tito’s Vodka, Chuy’s Restaurant, and YETI Coolers. Austin is a city where all dreams are possible, where small businesses get bigger, and where consumers are more conscious of the products they buy with the intention of keeping the economy balanced. Let’s not forget to mention that our local and organic food movement is prominent with many local farms, herbal shops and community gardens. Trust us when we say there are more than enough places to discover here and whatever it is you like, we’ll have it!

Access to Alternative Health Options

Austin acupuncture clinics

Austin’s residents tend to be healthier, fitter, and more interested in alternative health therapies. We have a plethora of yoga studios, group fitness classes, CrossFit gyms and running groups. Because of the wide variety of residents in Austin, we have even more variety of health care options for those residents, such as acupuncture and reiki practitioners, as well as meditation and nutritional classes. Our city also provides many restaurants and food trucks that cater to our growing population of vegans and vegetarians. But just so you know, we love our breakfast tacos, and no matter how healthy you are - they can be hard to resist!

Still not convinced Austin is the best? Guess you’ll just have to come see for yourself!

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Topics: Austin, moving to Austin, Austin acupuncture

Summer Cookout at Tara’s House, A TCM Perspective

Posted by Tara Lattimore on Fri, Jul 07, 2017 @ 01:00 PM

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It’s that time of year when family and friends come together to celebrate with a good, old fashioned cookout. The problem is these emotionally nurturing gatherings can often leave one feeling overheated, bloated, and requiring an extra day of recovery.  From a Chinese medicine perspective, many of the foods we eat, coupled with alcohol and the Texas heat, can lead to a toxic buildup of internal heat and dampness which makes us feel heavy, lethargic and vulnerable to getting sick. Luckily, there are simple modifications to classics you can use to naturally balance your menu and your belly. 

watermelon mocktailFull disclaimer: I am a Licensed Acupuncturist and I love having friends and family over. I am not a chef and I am not saying you can’t occasionally indulge in your traditional dietary staples. Sometimes, we let loose by splurging, and if we’re going to do so, the last thing we need to add to the aftermath is guilt. However, I’ve found that over the years, I don’t bounce back from poor lifestyle choices as easily as I used to, and with a little planning, celebration doesn’t have to mean indigestion and pain. So I’m going to invite you into my kitchen and share a few tips and recipes my family and I will be indulging in this year. I will not be writing out exact recipes for the most part because that is not how I cook. I want cooking to be an organic and playful practice that I can do every day with ample wiggle room to experiment.

Hydration

If you are planning to drink soda or alcohol throughout your celebration, it’s good practice to drink enough water to balance out the sugars and toxins. For example, if you drink a glass of water (preferably without ice) for every alcoholic beverage, you’re going to help keep your body hydrated which will lessen that dreaded hangover the next day. If you don’t like plain filtered water, you can prepare a pitcher of cucumber-mint water. It’s so easy and your guests will appreciate it. Simply grab a bunch of mint, chop up cucumbers (I peel mine first but you don’t have to) and pop them in a pitcher of water. I do this the night before and keep it in the fridge so the water has enough time to soak up the flavor. Cucumbers and mint have a naturally cooling effect on the body and the taste is refreshing but not overpowering.

Mocktails & Cocktails

watermelon and lime TCM

We don’t drink sodas in our household so I offer a flavorful alternative for my alcohol-free friends. An old favorite for summer is a watermelon and bitters mocktail. Blend 3 cups of chilled, seedless watermelon chunks with 4 dashes of bitters and the juice from 2 squeezed limes. This will yield 2 servings of a refreshingly balanced and frothy drink. If you want to make this into a cocktail, it pairs well with rum, vodka or gin. You can also run the mixture through a strainer to top off a sparkling brut or Topo Chico.

Burgers

I grew up overseas and I remember learning at a young age that burgers were tied into this idea of being “American.” In fact, my school dedicated one day annually to celebrate the diverse backgrounds of our student body, culminating in a food fair where parents would set up tables and serve dishes from their represented country. The United States table always had watermelon and someone at the grill cooking burgers and hotdogs. I know the origin of the burger is more complex - stemming from Germany for a start - but I admit I still associate it with this country and it is rarely left off our summer cookout menu. 

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This year, we will be having 2 types of burgers: Portobello and chicken. My husband Brian and I try to cater to our guests and their dietary allergies and one of the easiest ways to do that is to keep processed foods to a minimum and utilize a ton of whole foods. If I use something that came from the store packaged in a container, I want there to be roughly fewer than 5 ingredients and I want my guests and I to understand exactly what every ingredient is. For example, the ingredients in most organic bottled mustards are going to be distilled white vinegar, water, mustard seed and some other spices (really easy to make at home, by the way) so I feel comfortable serving that to my loved ones. If it has preservatives or long chemical names that my guests can’t pronounce, I don’t want to risk putting their immune system through the hassle. My personal goal is to have a healthy ratio between foods that are going to make my guests feel great and foods that might cause them discomfort. The lesser the latter, the better!

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Marinate the Portobello burger for a couple of hours in a Ziploc bag with balsamic vinegar and spices of choice – I included my favorites here. If you want to skip this step or you forget to, it’s not necessary but I like how soft and succulent the “patty” becomes. Brush the top of the cap in your marinade and start grilling smooth side down, flipping them as needed and averaging 5 minutes on each side. You can use this in place of a meat patty and unlike many vegetarian burger patties you’ll know exactly what’s in it.

chicken patty-1.pngIn place of a heavy red meat this year, we are choosing local ground chicken. We buy ours from the farmer’s market and 1 pound yields 4 patties. Farmer’s markets are great because you can find out where your food comes from and how the animals are treated. You are also supporting your local community. The spleen and stomach are responsible for digestion in Chinese medicine and they are connected to the Earth element. The less time (and tampering) food spends between the Earth and our mouths, the stronger the connection and the more nourishing. If my “food” spends a long time in a cold factory, it’s not going to have the same type of nutritional or energetic value as something cultivated in Austin by friendly Austinites.

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This burger is easy to make. Simply mix the ingredients together, form 4 patties and place on a medium-high heat grill. For photography purposes, I tried cooking these on a grill pan and they came out just as well as the outside grill. You want to make sure they cook all the way through, about 4-5 minutes. If you are concerned or don’t have a meat thermometer, you can always finish them off in the oven.

I don’t tend to use buns. This is more to avoid processed flours and chemicals that are used to make commercial bread than gluten specifically. In fact, many gluten free breads are filled with so many other products and binders to achieve the look and feel of wheat based bread that you end up with an equally unhealthy food. Again, I want my body to recognize what I’m putting in it so it’s not overwhelmed. To do this, I play with ways to wrap my food using what grows in nature. My favorite is the reliable lettuce wrap. Yes it is messy but what burger isn’t?! It’s also ridiculously delicious. 

lettuceburger-1.pngNow, you might notice a lot of bright colors from the fruits and veggies in these photos. While this is great, you do want to be mindful and not overload your system with too many raw foods as these can tax the digestive system and lead to loose stool if done all the time. It’s all about balance. For example, I don’t consume salads and smoothies daily, especially in the winter months, but they can hit the spot at a hot cookout. My favorite is a combo of baby arugula, chopped tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries. I blend ripe avocado, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper to make a dressing. I usually use half an avocado and play with the proportions of the other ingredients, tasting until I get a consistency and flavor that I like. My husband likes to use the dressing on his burger while I like using mustard or a homemade pesto (blended basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts and some salt and pepper.)  We will probably also make some baked sweet potato fries on the day of, and you can find many delicious recipes online.

Balance ☯ 

Everyone’s individual relationship with food is sacred and it should shift with the seasons.  Awareness about what you’re eating and how it makes you feel in your environment is a practice I continue to cultivate every day and one I encourage in my patients. Contrarily, we shouldn’t obsess over what we eat or psychologically punish ourselves when we make the occasional toxic choice. I use every splurge as a learning opportunity to gain clarity about how my body and mind are doing and how they adapt. Own the decisions you make, soak up the company of your loved ones on a hot summer day, be curious about your relationship with food and enjoy cooking with ingredients you have a connection with and make you feel good. Above all, be kind to yourself in all ways and you will benefit. Thank you for joining me and my family this holiday. I’d like to end with a Texas proverb from a dear friend: a good pair of cowboy boots can last you your whole life if you treat them well and the same goes for your body. Wishing you and your family a happy (and healthy) summer season!

Tara Lattimore, L.Ac. is the Clinical Operations Manager and Academic Advisor at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. She treats in the South Professional Clinic on Saturdays and Tuesday nights.

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Topics: tcm nutrition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Lisa:

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

Three Reasons to Attend this year’s Integrative Healthcare Symposium

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

Southwest Symposium Austin

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

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

1. New Connections

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

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

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

2. Reconnect

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

3. Enjoy Austin

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

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

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

Register Now!

Topics: continuing education, acupuncture

TCM Nutrition - The Nature (Temperature) of Food

Posted by Violet Song on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 @ 02:33 PM

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When we talk about Western nutrition, we generally think about the seven basic nutrients necessary for our body:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Fiber
  • Water 

However, when talking about nutrition in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the basic factors of food are separated in a completely different diagram. According to TCM, the properties of food are analyzed as:

  • Nature (temperature)
  • Flavors
  • Moving tendency
  • Functions

Let’s talk about the nature (temperature) of food today. In TCM, a food’s nature is described as hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold, just like temperature types. But what is meant by the food’s “temperature” in TCM is not the absolute temperature. For example, whether the food is taken out from the refrigerator or kept in a room-temperature cabinet, the same food has the same nature or temperature according to TCM principles. The nature (temperature) of the food depends on the body reaction of those who eat it. For example, warm mint tea can make people “chill out” and feel cooled down, while iced cayenne pepper can still make people feel hot and sweaty. Because of the nature of food, certain foods can be used in TCM dietary therapy to correct imbalances of the human body’s yin and yang. Cold-natured food are used to clear heat from the body, while hot-natured food can be used to strengthen the body’s heating energy, such as yang essence.

Animal food sources are high in protein and fats that can be beneficial for the human body. But different meats have different natures (temperatures) according to TCM:

Meat

Nature (Temperature)

Beef

Neutral, slight warm

Pork

Neutral, slight cool

Chicken

Warm

Duck

Cool

Lamb, mutton

Slight hot

Venison

Hot

In a colder season, warm or hot-natured meats are generally suitable seasonal foods and can bring warmth to the body; for example, mutton or chicken. However, some people have a body constitution characterized by yang deficiency. In the same room temperature, yang-deficient individuals typically feel colder than others, they’re frequently tired, and they tend to easily have indigestion. Some commonly related diseases are hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. In this type of case, warm-natured foods are recommended, like Lamb Masala: (http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/lamb-masala/7d4dada3-fc97-44db-95c5-e5fe8dbe05b9)

On the other hand, for people who have a heat pattern condition, lamb is not a very suitable choice. Heat conditions can manifest as the person easily feeling hot, desiring cold water, having red burning pimples break out often, etc. In this case, cooler temperature meat is recommended, like Pork Lotus Root soup: (http://thewoksoflife.com/2016/02/lotus-root-pork-soup/)

TCM teachings encourage you to choose foods according to both the nature of the food and your body condition. Many of AOMA’s acupuncturists incorporate TCM diet therapy into their clinical practices and can help you identify your body constitution, as well as create a diet plan individually suited to your symptoms and body condition.

Learn more about TCM nutrition by scheduling a consultation at one of our clinics.

Request an Appointment

Topics: nutrition, tcm nutrition

5 TCM Apps for any Acupuncture Student

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about the AOMA   Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Programs

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture, apps

Prevention is the Best Medicine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Topics: acupuncture, prevention, preventative medicine

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