AOMA Blog

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

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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

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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.

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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

AOMA to Provide Acupuncture to Central Texas Veterans

Posted by Rob Davidson on Thu, Dec 01, 2016 @ 02:48 PM

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Austin, TX – AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine (AOMA) is pleased to announce a new affiliation agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Austin Outpatient Clinic (Austin OPC) to provide acupuncture and traditional Chinese medical services to veterans at the Austin OPC.  The Austin OPC is part of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.

Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in improving control of chronic pain in patients with and without the use of opioid medications. We are pleased to offer this adjunctive therapy to our Veterans. Acupuncture and its related methods (e.g. cupping, as made popular during the 2016 Olympics) provide low-cost, low-risk approaches to pain management that can enhance standard care, leading to improved outcomes and higher patient satisfaction. Veterans referred by their VA ambulatory care provider can make an appointment for acupuncture at the Austin OPC.

The acupuncture and traditional Chinese medical services provided by AOMA at the Austin OPC will be under the supervision of licensed acupuncturist (LAc) faculty supervisors on Fridays, beginning in December. Up to 24 Veterans can be seen each week by AOMA’s practitioners. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, as we work together to improve the health of our Veterans.

Topics: veteran affairs, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, veterans

AOMA named Military Friendly® Schools for 2017

Posted by Rob Davidson on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 @ 11:35 AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

AUSTIN, Texas, November 10, 2016 — AOMA Graduate School of Integrative MFS17_Designation-1.jpgMedicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced today that it has been designated a 2017 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, the leader in successfully connecting the military and civilian worlds. 

The Military Friendly® Schools designation and list by Victory Media is the premier, trusted resource for post-military success. Military Friendly® provides service members transparent, data-driven ratings about post-military education and career opportunities. 

The Military Friendly® Schools designation is awarded to the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation. The methodology used for making the Military Friendly® Schools list has changed the student veteran landscape to one much more transparent, and has played a significant role over the past six years in capturing and advancing best practices to support military students across the country.

AOMA is an approved institution of higher learning for Veterans and participant of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Education Benefit program for the training of veterans and other eligible persons. In order to receive Veteran’s Benefits, the veteran must first establish his/her eligibility with the VA directly. Once eligibility has been established, AOMA certifies the veteran’s enrollment. 

In addition, AOMA has an active Student Veteran Organization whose purpose is to provide education to our peers, practitioners, and the community on the needs and challenges facing our nation's Veterans. The group provides support and resources to ensure continued success and the well-being of our student Veterans and AOMA. For more information about AOMA’s commitment to attracting and supporting military students, visit www.aoma.edu.

Media contact:

Rob Davidson
512-492-3034

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About AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine                              

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine offers regionally accredited master’s and doctoral-level degree programs in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, preparing its students for careers as skilled, professional practitioners. AOMA is known for its internationally recognized faculty, graduate programs, and herbal medicine program. AOMA provides more than 16,000 patient visits annually in its student and professional clinics, and collaborates with healthcare institutions including the Seton Healthcare FamilyPeople’s Community Clinic, The Veterans Affairs Austin Outpatient Clinic (AOPC), and Austin Recovery. AOMA gives back to the community through nonprofit partnerships and by providing free and reduced-price treatments to people who cannot afford them. AOMA is located at 4701 West Gate Blvd. AOMA also serves patients and retail customers at its North Austin location, 2700 West Anderson Lane.

Topics: veteran affairs, veterans

9 Things to know about Musculoskeletal Health

Posted by Jing Fan, LAc on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 @ 02:21 PM

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Back pain and general muscle soreness are common problems for many people. Understanding correct force postures and maintaining your musculoskeletal system will help to both treat and prevent pain and disease. 

What causes musculoskeletal pain? 

The most common causes of musculoskeletal pain are soft tissue injuries (such as car accidents and sports injuries) and aging. Qi stagnation, Blood stasis, poor posture, and some life factors such as lack of exercise and excessive muscle use, can also contribute. In addition, dietary factors, mental factors, and other diseases such as cancer, gastrointestinal discomfort, dysmenorrhea, etc. can cause musculoskeletal pain.

The above factors cause muscle contraction, vasospasm, lactic acid accumulation, accumulation of inflammatory substances, and nerve excitement. They also lead to spasms of muscle and blood vessels which are not easily relieved, causing more metabolites to be developed. Such an abundance of inflammatory substances is too much to be taken away by normal blood flow, leading to a vicious cycle of dysfunction of muscle contraction and metabolism. Then the body will feel soreness, pain, pressure and tingling. So any methods which can increase blood circulation would be excellent ways to treat musculoskeletal pain!

What are the correct postures to prevent musculoskeletal pain?

The most common musculoskeletal pains are due to poor posture; for example, back pain. Being aware of correct posture during all activities can prevent back pain, but most especially when:

1. Picking up items

Bend your knees instead of bending your back. Avoid lifting heavy items with a bent back and straight legs, and do not twist the body when lifting. Try lifting items close to the body using your legs to provide the force, and you should not lift items higher than your chest. Sometimes using a pad will help, and of course it would be better to find someone to help you when lifting a very heavy item.

2. Standing and Walking

A good walking position is with raised head and lowered chin, with the toes facing forward and wearing a pair of comfortable shoes. When you are standing, do not stand too long in one posture. Avoid bending back with straight legs. Do not wear high heels or flat shoes to walk or stand for a long period of time. 

3. Sitting Position

Chair height should be moderate in order to keep the knees and buttocks at the same height. It is appropriate that the feet can step on the ground. Your back should be close to the back of chair. Pay attention to the height of the chair armrest and make sure to keep your arms naturally drooping with both elbows resting on the armrest. Do not sit in a chair which is too high or too far away from your work in order to prevent your upper body from leaning forward and your back from arching. Do not slouch in the chair, which has the potential to cause cervical spondylosis and numbness of hands. Such problems most often occur in people who use the computer for long periods of time.

4. Driving a Car

Your seat should move forward in order to keep the knees as high as the waist. Sit straight and hold the steering wheel with both hands when driving. Protect your lower back with cushions or rolls of towels. Do not sit too far away from the pedal, which may cause excessive stretching of the foot and leg or straightening of the arm, which can reduce the curvature of the spine.

5. Sleeping

Sleep on a solid mattress. A good sleep will do great help to your back. When side sleeping, slightly bend your knees. A pillow can be caught between the legs. When sleeping on your back, it is better to put a pad below the knees.

Traditional Chinese medicine for musculoskeletal pain 

6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture, with the theory of "Pain to Shu" to find the appropriate point of pain to do the needling, often has a magical effect on pain. Modern studies have shown that acupuncture can improve blood circulation, increase endorphin levels, and inhibit nerve conduction in order to relieve pain.

7. Tuina

Tuina, which is a type of traditional Asian bodywork therapy, can soothe fascia, activate meridians, promote muscle rigidity, improve fibrosis, relieve pain and fatigue, and restore the original muscle function. Asian bodywork combined with acupressure can often achieve a better effect than either modality used alone. 

8. Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy

Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy integrate hyperthermia and traditional Chinese herbal medicine to increase muscle blood circulation, reduce pain, and restore the original muscle function.

9. Chinese herbal medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that pain comes from the stasis or malnutrition of Qi and Blood. Chinese herbal medicine can adjust the patient’s constitution to improve blood circulation and PH and strengthen bones and tendons. Commonly used herbal formulas for the treatment of pain can regulate Qi, stimulate blood circulation, dispel wind, drain cold and dampness, and tonify the Liver and Kidney.

This article is written by Dr. Jing Fan, a practitioner at AOMA Clinics. AOMA Acupuncture Clinics offers all of the above Chinese Medicine treatment options, as well as the benefit of an herbal medicine store on site. Please make an appointment with us today!

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Topics: acupuncture, tcm health, musculoskeletal health

Chinese Medical Approaches to Depression and Anxiety

Posted by William Morris on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 @ 09:26 PM

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Depressed and anxious, what is the experience? I ask this question because people have unique experiences operating under the words anxiety or depression. Other questions might be: “when you say you are depressed or anxious, where do you feel it in your body?”… “What do you feel?”… “When do you feel it?” Such nuances are vital to the understanding and treatment of these conditions.

Patterns of Depression

Chinese medicine has an elegant approach to assessing health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Given the name of a particular disease, there may be an array of patterns that a person expresses in unique form. In this article, we will explore a few patterns of disharmony and some ways that they might be understood from a physiological point of view.

If the blood is insufficient or lacks smooth circulation, there can be insufficient nutrient supply and waste removal from brain tissues. This pattern is called blood deficiency with blood stasis. The pulse will be thin due to low circulating blood volume, and the tongue will be pale. I also like to pull down the lower eyelid so I can see how the blood fills the vessels. The surface under the tongue may be pale and the vessels congested with blood which fails to flow smoothly. We can increase total circulating blood volume by consuming blackstrap molasses or bone broth soups.

If there is low vitality, then the fatigue contributes to depression. This can become complicated with a lack of exercise and poor eating habits, resulting in poor nutrient supply and waste removal to the brain.  This pattern is called qi (chee) deficiency due to lifestyle and damage by food. Regular eating of good quality organic produce with small amounts of regular exercise will put a break in the chain.

Stress induced depression takes place in the overworking of the nervous system and endocrine systems with increased adrenaline. This causes the blood vessels to become tense and can be observed by the practitioner when they take the pulse of the person whom they are treating. The pattern is called liver qi (chee) stagnation. Intensity of emotions such as shock may affect the emotional state, leading to depression and anxiety. Chinese medicine lists 7 emotions as internal causes of disease. Meditation, self-reflection and exercise are our paths to reducing stress.

These are just a few examples of disharmonies and patterns that might produce what a person calls depression or anxiety. It is important to do what is necessary to correct the entire picture in order to produce good long term results. Herbs and acupuncture provide conservative, low risk solutions to the deeper problems of our lives by adjusting how we respond.

Often, there is a story related to why a person is depressed or anxious. But the state which is experienced, be it depression or anxiety, has an origin. This may be from the family in the form of intergenerational trauma or various epigenetic imprints. In Chinese medicine, such influences are addressed by the idea of the kidney system.

Kidneys in Chinese medicine are a trans-systemic expression that includes the central nervous system, bone marrow blood production, reproductive system, endocrine system and urinary tract. The treatment of conditions related to inheritance, the central nervous system and the endocrine system require a lifestyle of relationship with the plant kingdom as healers. A professional herbalist is the ideal person for guiding such a journey.

 

Topics: chinese medicine, depression, anxiety

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