Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

Posted on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

How Stress Affects the Body

Our bodies are hardwired to handle stress, but over time too much stress takes a toll on the body.  When we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system is activated causing the heart rate to increase, the pupils to dilate, and blood to be directed towards the extremities. Digestion can temporarily shut down. This is also known as the "fight or flight" response and is why when we are stressed, we may feel agitated or want to run away from our problems. Cortisol, sometimes called “the stress hormone”, is also released, causing increases in both blood pressure and inflammation while suppressing the immune system. If our bodies continue to experience high amounts of cortisol, symptoms can evolve into anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive issues and tension headaches.

Stress is defined as an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures. In a medical or biological context stress  is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

In Chinese medical theory, strong emotions like stress interrupt the body’s energy from acupuncture for stressflowing smoothly. When these strong emotions are present for long periods of time they create a blockage in the body’s “road” system creating an energetic “traffic jam.”  Acupuncture increases the circulation of blood and oxygenates the tissues throughout the body while cycling out cortisol and releasing natural pain-killers called endorphins. Other benefits of acupuncture include decreasing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing the muscles to help the body feel less stressed.

The traditional Chinese medicine approach is to focus on restoring the balance of energy in the body, such as soothing the liver Qi, tonifying the liver blood and spleen Qi, clearing the heat in the heart and liver, etc. A combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are generally applied and combined to treat stress; diet therapy and exercise is suggested as well.

Case Studies from AOMA professor, Dr. Yongxin Fan

Dr. Yongxin Fan has over 20 years of clinical experience in treating muscular-skeletal Yongxin Fan acupuncturistdisorders, pain, digestive disorders, and psycho-emotional disorders including stress.

“One patient had intense stress from her job and was having insomnia. I treated her with acupuncture and the herbal formula wen dan tang. After the first treatment she was sleeping much better and after two weeks the stress was much reduced.

A patient with more severe stress symptoms (anxiety, panic attack, insomnia, and heart palpitations) recovered in 3 weeks after receiving acupuncture and taking the herbal formulas gui pi tang & huang lain e jiao tang.

Sometimes the symptoms are less severe but still can be debilitating. I had a patient who complained that ever since childhood she cried very easily, making her uncomfortable. I gave her acupuncture and Chinese herbs (xiao yao wan & gan mai da zao tang), and after 2 months she is much better.”

Chinese Herbs for Stress

Chinese herbsThe most commonly prescribed Chinese herbal formulas for stress are xiao yao wan (also known as “Free and Easy Wanderer”), gan mai da zao tang, chai hu shu gan san, yi guan jian, yue ju wan, and gui pi tang. To find out the right herbs for you, make an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. The practitioner will take a full medical history and do pulse and tongue diagnosis to determine the best acupuncture plan and herbal prescription.

Exercise and Diet for Stress

Exercise should be a part of everyone’s stress management plan, as it helps the body produce more endorphins, also known as the “runner’s high”. Many types of physical activity can stimulate this response and each person must find the right type of exercise for him or herself. For some, walking is enough, but others will want to get more of a workout to get their blood pumping and break a sweat.

Taiji, qigong, and meditation are forms of mind-body exercise and have been shown to help induce the “relaxation response.” The relaxation response makes the heart beat slower, muscles relax, breathing become slower, and blood pressure decrease.

As far as dietary therapy, most vegetables and fruits that are rich in color can help the body deal with stress. For example, in Chinese nutrition, blueberries, purple cabbage, beets, tomatoes, and eggplant are believed to be stress reducing. A diet high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B & E is recommended, as these nutrients are easily depleted by stress.

Fruits and vegetables such as apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, and broccoli, brown rice, dried fruit, figs, salmon, green leafy vegetables, and most rich colored fruits are high in vitamin B. Even if you eat a healthy diet, vitamin B complex is a good supplement to consider if you suffer for chronic stress.

 

Sources:

Topics: Dr. Yongxin Fan, stress relief, stress management

AOMA Hosts Thanksgiving Food Drive to Help Families in Need

Posted on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

grocery_bag_food_drive

The members of AOMA's campus community are giving back to individuals and families in need this Thanksgiving by hosting a food drive with all donations benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas is an important part of Austin, providing food assistance to 329,400 unique clients annually. AOMA's community can make even just a small difference by providing extra food items during the busy Thanksgiving holiday.  

When to Donate:

Monday, November 17 -  Friday, November 21, 2014
 **All donations must be dropped off by 3pm on the 21st**

Where to Donate:

Donations are being collected in two convenient locations: 

AOMA Campus- Building C
4701 West Gate Blvd.
Austin, TX 78745

AOMA North Clinic - Reception Area
2700 W. Anderson Lane, Ste. 512
Austin, TX 78757

What to Donate:

The items most in need are:

  • Healthy, non-perishable foods
  • Canned vegetables (pop-tops cans preferred)
  • Canned meats like tuna, stew, and chili (pop-tops cans preferred)
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Beans (canned or dry)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Healthy Cereals
  • Rice & other dry grains

 When selecting items to donate please choose:

  • Items with intact, un-opened, consumer or commercial packaging
  • Food within expiration date printed on package
  • Items with non-breakable packaging (NO GLASS, PLEASE)

Who to Contact with Questions: 

North Clinic drop-site: Stephanee Owenby, Clinic Business Coordinator / sowenby@aoma.edu

AOMA Campus drop-site: Justine Meccio, Director of Admissions / jmeccio@aoma.edu

 

 

AOMA Announces New Tuition: Starting in Winter '15 Ensures Lower Cost

Posted on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 12:00 PM

Throughout its history, AOMA has been committed to providing the best quality education at the most reasonable cost to students. These values must be balanced with quality and care for AOMA's community. In the coming 2015 year, AOMA will increase tuition in order to continue to invest in the quality of its academic offerings, faculty, and campus community.

 

classroom
About the Increase:

AOMA’s graduate program tuition has consistently fallen well below the national average for the top-ranked schools of acupuncture & Oriental medicine. The decision to increase tuition and fees was reached after careful consideration of the institution's values and to ensure the continued well-being of AOMA's community. AOMA has worked with the Tuition Task Force to hear the concerns and needs of students, as well as with senior administrative leaders, and the board of governors to ensure AOMA is able to meet needs of future students.

In a comparison of tuition at the best acupuncture & Oriental medicine colleges, the cost of AOMA’s program is commensurate with the national average.

What This Means for Students:

Master’s Program:

The majority of the increase will take effect for students starting the program in the summer 2015 term or later. By beginning their studies in either the winter 2015 term, new students can ensure a lower program cost.

New Students - Winter 2015 & Spring 2015: For new students beginning the graduate program in the Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 terms, tuition will increase by 3% from its current rate.  This increase represents an anticipated total program cost of $55,158.

New Students – Enrolling in Summer 2015 and after: For new students beginning the graduate program in Summer 2015 or later, the anticipated cost of tuition & fees for the entire program will increase to approximately $72,500 from its current rate.

Students interested in beginning their studies in Winter 2015, should apply by December 1st. Contact the Admissions Office at admissions@aoma.edu or (800) 824-9987, ext 213 for additional information about the application process and requirements.


Additional Resources:

To help new and current students understand the tuition changes for 2015, AOMA has created a web page that contains estimated cost breakdowns, frequently asked questions about tuition, and financial literacy education.

 

 

 

Topics: masters program, admissions, tuition, winter 2015

Chinese Medicine for Addiction and Recovery

Posted on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 09:58 AM

claudia voyles, acu detox trainingClaudia Voyles, LAc, is the founder and director of Remedy Center for Healing Arts, an acupuncture and psychotherapy practice in south Austin. In her private practice, Claudia typically will treat about 10 patients per week who are recovering persons, as well as others with mental health diagnoses. “The goal of acupuncture is always to restore balance, flow, and maximum functioning.”

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a unique way of assessing physiology and psychology. One fascinating pattern in the assessment of addiction is called "empty fire," the flaring up symptoms, including emotions and behavior due to the loss of a calm center. Treatment then is designed to nourish the Yin aspect, restore balance, and support the recovery process by making the person stronger from the inside. Treatment is appropriate as support throughout the continuum of care, from pre-treatment or harm reduction through aftercare and recovery maintenance (relapse prevention). “‘Addiction’ is not a Chinese medical diagnosis. Sometimes we are supporting the withdrawal process, minimizing the symptoms and cravings. Sometimes we are working on the underlying complaints which can be triggers: stress, anxiety, depression, and/or history of trauma and abuse. People in recovery are eager to manage symptoms of chronic illness without medication whenever possible and often have chronic pain or other imbalances that will undermine their recovery and/or quality of life if not addressed."

The NADA protocol – Acudetox

acupuncture for addictions and recovery

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) promotes the integration of acudetox, a simple ear acupuncture protocol with appropriate modalities of care. NADA is a not-for-profit training and advocacy organization that encourages community wellness through the use of a standardized auricular acupuncture protocol for behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster and emotional trauma.

Texas allows a limited set of treatment professionals to cross-train in the NADA protocol. This includes acupuncturists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, registered and vocational nurses, chemical dependency counselors, medical doctors, and osteopathic doctors. “Acudetox is not a stand-alone treatment, and in my opinion is best provided by a clinician on a treatment team, not by an independent acupuncturist,” said Claudia.

AOMA Provides Acupuncture at Austin Recovery

nada protocol

Claudia is also a clinical preceptor at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas. She supervises interns at a specialty clinic in behavioral health at Austin Recovery. Claudia is a NADA-Registered Trainer and co-chair or training for the organization. She also conducts continuing education programs at the acupuncture college and in the community.

In early 2014, AOMA interns began providing auricular acupuncture treatments (NADA protocol) at Austin Recovery’s Hicks Family Ranch, a 40-acre, in-patient addiction treatment facility in Buda, Texas. Austin Recovery serves between 800 and 1,000 clients each year, providing individual and group counseling, education about addiction processes, 12-step programs, life skills classes, musical journey experiences, and now acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

AOMA incorporates the NADA training into the Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program. At Austin Recovery, acupuncture students provide acudetox with the treatment staff for 10-25 clients, and then a full-body acupuncture clinic for eight. “We treat withdrawal--usually post-acute with that population--as well as chronic/acute pain, anxiety, stress, insomnia, digestive issues, libido/sexual function issues, etc.,” said Claudia. After a recent acupuncture treatment an Austin Recovery, a patient shared, "I have never breathed so deep before. I didn't realize I wasn't fully breathing." Restoring simple quality of life to recovering persons can be truly transformative.

Natalie Villarreal, a senior acupuncture intern at AOMA, feels very lucky to be able to learn and treat patients at ‘the Ranch’.  “Austin Recovery provides a unique integrative clinic opportunity.  The integrative team encourages a supportive environment, with acupuncturists and social workers working side by side. I love that we can get a better perspective on the experience of our patients through attending classes and meetings that they are going to. This advanced clinic epitomizes the true meaning of integrative medicine.”

Topics: addiction, recovery, NADA, Claudia Voyles

AOMA Alumni Veteran Spotlight: Sean Hanna

Posted on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 @ 11:57 AM

Sean Hanna, LAc, MAcOM
Class of 2005Acupuncturist Sean Hanna

Military Branch: US Navy
Rank: Hospital Corpsman Second Class (FMF)
Years Served: 8

What prompted you to return to school?

I was still in the Navy when I decided to begin studying TCM.  Stationed at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, I visited Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and immediately found a fascination for TCM.  Eastern philosophy had provided me with much comfort during my naval career and I was overjoyed to discover a medicine aligned with such a worldview.

Why did you choose AOMA?

Due to the death of my step-father in 2002, I needed to return to Texas in order to be closer to my family.  While at PCOM, I had heard of AOMA and the strength of the program, so I chose to transfer to AOMA to continue my studies.

What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use while attending?

While still on active duty, I utilized the Navy Tuition Assistance program to help with the cost at PCOM.  Upon exiting service, I began using my Montgomery GI Bill at PCOM and exhausted those benefits finishing at AOMA.

What has your experience been like as a student and/or alumnus?

combat medic acupunctureComing from a Western medicine practice in the Navy as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman, the transition to the Eastern medicine view posed some difficulty.  For the first couple of years, I tended to attempt translation in my mind to figure out how acupuncture "really" works. Through the guidance of the excellent professors at AOMA, I was able to finally separate the two medicines in my mind and take a beginner's mind approach to TCM.

Finding peers that I could relate to also posed challenges.  My experiences as a combat field medic left me with a perspective that did not fit easily with my cohort in school.  It took a lot of personal work, on my part, to find common ground rooted in the study of TCM with my fellow students.  Being a combat veteran with almost nine years of service, married father of two boys and full time student was not the typical demographic.  I made some lifelong friends, however, I never truly felt that I belonged.  I know now, through my work in service to Texas' veterans and their families, that my situation was not unique and only wish I had made more veteran connections in the community earlier and learned that there are people and services from which I could have benefited.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?

Connect with veteran service organizations and remain involved with the local veteran community.  I believed my military service was in my past and was blind to how those years had affected me and were continuing to influence my life.  I believe my path could have been much smoother had I known how my service continued to be a part of who I am.

What challenges and rewards have you experienced while working with military and veteran populations in clinic?

Upon gaining licensure, I opened a private practice clinic with Jacob Godwin, one of my fellow students and friend.  I struggled to make connections with potential patients in the community.  I still had the mindset of a combat medic, and mistakenly missed out on many opportunities to serve my community through my own ignorance.

A typical example is a potential patient would inquire my advice concerning trying acupuncture.  If the condition was not limiting their functioning, I would dissuade them spending money seeking treatment.  I would recommend lifestyle/choice changes and leave it at that.  Needless to say, my clinic did not remain open when the lease expired.

I then decided to turn my attention toward the veteran community and almost immediately doors began to open.  I joined up with other veterans and advocates to serve the veteran community, and together, we began developing volunteer treatment opportunities for veterans and their families that they otherwise could not afford or may not even know existed.  I found a potential patient population that had a similar worldview to my own and we spoke the same language.  I appreciated the opportunity to expose the veteran culture to a medicine and worldview completely different from one they had previously experienced. Within a short time, I accepted a position at a local counseling center, integrating TCM with clinical counseling services.  I have learned to meet the patient where they are, without judgment, and treat them accordingly.  Working to serve the veteran and family community, in direct patient care, and eventually program development and expansion, has afforded me the joy of seeing patients get relief when they thought none was to be had and provided me with continuous opportunities to serve.

Watch video interview with Sean

 

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, veteran affairs

AOMA Student Veteran Spotlight: Tasha Gumpert

Posted on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

Tasha Gumpert

Tasha Gumpert veteran

Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Degree Student
Class of 2016

Military Branch: US Army
Rank: Sergeant
Years Served: 4.5

What prompted you to return to school?

I spent four and a half years in the Army. I deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic, and spent my deployment patrolling in combat situations. My deployment affected me tremendously both physically and emotionally. After western medicine failed me I began searching for other healing modalities, and found natural medicine- including Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. I always knew that I was meant for the medical field, but wasn't sure where. The amount of healing I was able to achieve through Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine prompted me to look for a school and enroll. I knew for the first time in my life what my calling was, and had a tremendous need to learn more about it and share it with others.

Why did you choose AOMA? 

My first acupuncture experiences were from people who had attended AOMA, and they were fabulous!!! They encouraged me to check it out. After spending a lot of time searching for/researching schools, it became apparent that AOMA was one of the best schools for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, and here I am...

What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use while attending?

I am currently using the Vocational Rehabilitation program through the VA. It is a program much like the GI bill, but is only for medically retired/disabled veterans. It is an outstanding program. 

What has your experience been like as a student?

For the most part my experience has been phenomenal. I love the campus, the administration has been more supportive and helpful than I ever could have imagined, all of the teachers/doctors have exceeded my expectations, and most of the student body has been accepting and become a family to me. Going to school this time has been different than before I deployed- I definitely have some different cognitive functioning, and it has taken some time to figure things out and adjust to how my brain works now.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?

My biggest advice is be kind to yourself, and give yourself grace. Some of the discoveries I made about my personal learning process were hard and unexpected- take them in stride, and understand that the school admin knows and understands these things happen, and are there for you. Give yourself room to make adjustments and get to know the scholarly side of yourself again, because it probably won't be the same. Don't be afraid to ask for help or make changes. It is important for you to understand that school in itself can trigger stress responses because it is so challenging at times- if you are prepared for this ahead of time you will be able to deal with it in a much better way. Also, give the same grace to your classmates, they can't ever understand what you've been through or how different you may be, and you should never expect them to. Be proud of what you have done and who you are, embrace your experience and knowledge, and use it to be an outstanding practitioner.

What challenges and rewards have you experienced while working with military and veteran populations in clinic?

 I have only observed [in clinic] thus far, but my strong advice would be to make sure you get acupuncture once a week and take herbs. Take care of yourself, take care of your health needs- especially if you have PTSD or anxiety. I would also recommend staying connected with a social worker or counselor. Situations will arise in clinic that may take you to a place you don't want to go- if you are taking care of yourself and your needs, it will be easier to stay present and focused and deliver a good treatment. Use your ability to relate and experiences to your advantage- your clients will be able to respond to you in a way they couldn't to a civilian, and you will be able to understand them better than a civilian could if they struggle from the same issues. It is incredibly rewarding to see another veteran or trauma victim helped and healed using our medicine, there are few better feelings in the world than seeing someone walk in or out of clinic feeling better than they ever could have imagined! This is a powerful medicine for us, and now is the time to share it. I am honored to be a part of something so great.

Watch a video interview with Tasha

 

 

Topics: student spotlight, veteran affairs

What Acupuncturists Should Know about Ebola

Posted on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 @ 02:45 PM

facts about ebola

Many questions have emerged pertaining to how acupuncturists should deal with the threat of Ebola. Your state association wants you to be aware of late breaking news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the message set forth by one of its epidemiologists with special CDC Ebola training. This epidemiologist states that the CDC has only published official guidelines for acute care facilities. However, more recently, the CDC addressed outpatient facilities that include acupuncture practices. We wanted to provide you with the following information and key resources to assist you to educate your patients, your staff, and your professional and student practitioners.

Among the most important points made are the following:

  • Ancillary services, such as acupuncture clinics, should have a plan of action.
  • Before treating clients, ask if they have been in areas affected by Ebola during the past 21 days.
  • Ask if they have been in contact with anyone else who has been in areas affected by Ebola in the past 21 days and has been sick or experiencing any fever.
  • If the answer is yes, ask the patient to step into a private area, after which a trained medical professional should complete further screening (call either a Health Department official or other contracted service).
  • Patients are not contagious until they have a fever and do not feel well
  • Even at the first signs of fever they are not contagious in general.
  • If you screen patients and rule out any with risks of Ebola, clinical staff should be able to practice safely.

Given this vital information, it would be wise for acupuncturists to develop a plan as soon as possible.  Access a checklist that you could use for patients with suspected Ebola Virus Disease in the United States.

Be aware of the instructive posters pertaining to Ebola developed by the CDC that can be hung in your clinic. Click on this link to access.

We recommend checking the CDC homepage for late-breaking information.

Topics: infectious disease, Ebola

3 Ways Essential Oils Helped Me Grow My Acupuncture Practice

Posted on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 10:55 AM

With all the powerful benefits acupuncture and Chinese herbs have to offer my patients, you may be wondering why I chose to add an additional modality to my practice. For years, I was a closet essential oil user. I used them at home in my own personal wellness routine but feared sharing this information with my patients would somehow dilute my focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, once I began to study essential oils through the lens of TCM taking into account the temperature of the oils, their indications, and their affinity toward particular organs and meridians, my confidence level grew and so did my practice. In particular, three keys areas of my practice expanded: patient empowerment, complementary treatment options, and patient education.

Patient Empowerment

On a good day, my patients leave my office (or report back later) feeling relief from whatever brought them to my practice. On a great day, they’ve left not only feeling better but have learned some sort of valuable skill that helps keep them well and enhances their ability to handle future challenges. Along with proper diet, exercise, and acupressure, essential oils are a wonderful way for patients to extend the healing benefits of our time together as well as handle some common health challenges when they arise.

Complementary Treatment Options

I have also found essential oils to be beneficial when my patients are taking a large number of prescription medications and the uncertainty of adding an herbal formula would be too great (either due to possible herb/drug interactions or due to the uncertainty of how well their liver and kidneys are functioning under the additional stress). For them, essential oil inhalation or topical application can provide much needed stress relief, mental clarity, and soothe overworked muscles.

Patient Education

Since essential oils can be used to make natural household cleaners and as part of a healthier skin care routine, the addition of essential oils into my practice has opened up a broader discussion of how to eliminate unnecessary exposure to chemicals and toxins in our environment and replace these products with ones that support and boost our immune system.

Over the years, essential oils have become a fantastic way for me to connect with my patients and teach them additional tools to enhance their health and well-being. I hope you will give it a try!

 

diane lowryAOMA alumna, Diane Lowry happily resides in Glen Allen, VA where she is the owner and Licensed Acupuncturist of HealthFocus Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She holds Diplomate status in both Oriental Medicine and Asian Bodywork Therapy from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and is an American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA)-Certified Practitioner. www.HealthFocusAcupuncture.com

Topics: alumni, practice management, essential oils

7 TCM Tips for Staying in Harmony with the Fall Season

Posted on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 @ 10:38 AM

by Lauren St. Pierre-Mehrens

Open your windows, everyone... fall is here! As the Autumnal Equinox just happened, we look forward to dusting off our sweaters for cooler days, apple- and pumpkin-picking, and digging into nourishing comfort foods. We are transitioning out of the active, highly social energy of summer. Fall is ruled by the metal element and is a season for letting go. It ushers in a time for wrapping up projects from the previous months and looking more toward introspection and stillness, and it’s a wonderful time to reflect and spend quality time with loved ones.

In TCM, during fall we are most susceptible to dryness which can affect the lungs, skin, and digestion. Common signs of disharmony in the fall are thirst, dry nose and skin, itching, and sore throat. There are a number of things we can do to combat dryness and fortify our bodies for the coming winter months.

1. Drink waterDollarphotoclub water w

So simple, yet often overlooked. It’s always beneficial to be hydrating with teas and water, and it’s an especially good idea during the fall when dry skin and constipation are a bigger issue.

2. Sleep more

As the days grow shorter, allow your body to rest. In a city like Austin, with so many fun things to do at night, it can be hard to rest. But if you feel ready for bed at 9pm, allow yourself to snuggle in with a good book and move with the energy of the season. It can be restorative for your body and mind.

3. Incorporate moistening foods and thoughtful meal preparation

The raw, cold foods that sustain us in the summer can be too harsh on the system at this time of year. Soups, steamed foods, and cooking “low and slow” are all in harmony with fall.

Ingredients that have moistening qualities:

  • Pears, Apples, Persimmons, Loquatspears are moistening
  • Lotus Root (available at many specialty stores and Asian markets), Yams, Spinach
  • Edamame, Tempeh, Tofu
  • Almonds, Pine Nuts, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds
  • Lily bulb (bai he) and Chrysanthemum (ju hua) are good herbs to use in teas or in a congee. Ask your acupuncturist about using Chinese herbs in recipes.

4. Organize what feels scattered and let go of what you don’t need

It’s a great time to transition from the outward energy of summer in preparation for the contracting energy of the coming winter.

  • Pay your bills
  • Organize your kitchen pantry
  • Check expiration dates on food, medication, and personal care products
  • Donate those shoes you haven’t worn in three years

5. Avoid processed sugar

It’s acidic and drying and in nearly every tempting treat that will come your way in the following months. Make conscious choices with food, and your immune system will thank you for it during flu season. Cravings too much to take? Drink a glass of water and eat some apple or pear lightly drizzled with honey and a bit of cinnamon.

6. Dress for the season

acupuncture austin aoma

While fall in Austin sometimes feels like summer, it’s a time when we again can be more susceptible to common colds, sore throats, and coughs. Make sure to layer your clothing in case a cold snap or an unexpected thunderstorm hits. Scarfs and cozy sweaters for everyone!

7. And of course...get acupuncture!

What better way to harmonize your body and boost your immune system than a restorative session with your acupuncturist at AOMA. The great thing about working with an acupuncturist is the opportunity to get tailored information, herbs, and food recommendations based on what your specific body constitution needs.

About the author

lauren st pierreLauren has lived in Austin since 2006 by way of Lake Tahoe, California. While pursuing her MAcOM at AOMA she continues to work with The American Cancer Society as a cancer information specialist. She counts ATX as her home with her husband and two Boston terriers. http://www.earthspringacupuncture.com/

Topics: nutrition, chinese medicine philosophy, self-care

Rewards and Challenges of Starting an Acupuncture Practice

Posted on Sun, Sep 28, 2014 @ 09:31 AM

When you chose to become a licensed acupuncturist (LAc) you chose a fulfilling, exciting, and sometimes challenging career. To become a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine you must complete a 4-year master’s degree, pass the national certification exams, and apply for state licensure. As many practitioners of Chinese medicine will attest, that is just the beginning of the journey. AOMA alumni share their experiences starting their acupuncture practices.

Jacob GodwinJacob Godwin, Class of 2005

Where do your practice?
Spokane, Washington | godwinacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Having to realize where and how acupuncture fits into modern healthcare was a grueling lesson. Most acupuncturists are woefully unprepared to face the harsh realities of practice, and I was no exception. Learning to prioritize my understanding of biomedicine, particularly the biological approach to acupuncture, and to communicate effectively with other doctors has made an enormous difference. Those skills plus time and clinical effectiveness have helped me create a successful practice.

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
Making a living by helping thousands of people simply by following my passion is the best reward for me.

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Acupuncture has the potential to make huge contributions to medicine. The future of acupuncture relies on our participation in science and research. Learn your biomedical science. Indulge in the mystery and the tradition of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, but don't let them prevent you from developing acupuncture into a modern practice based on science. Accept nothing on authority or tradition alone. Press, probe, and investigate every nook and cranny of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine theory.

alison larmee, lacAlison Larmee Born, Class of 2006

Where do your practice?
Wilmington, North Carolina | capefearacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Community

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Educating the public on the advantages of community acupuncture (though I provide both community and private treatments). Finding the right space (physical building) to accommodate both styles as my practice grows.

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
Being able to help many different walks of life by offering both private and community. Being my own boss, setting my own hours. Making a profit!

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Starting your own practice is very rewarding but also extremely time consuming. There are no days off like when I was an independent contractor for another practice. Now with a 10 month old child some days running the business, attending to patients and my child seems really... well, overwhelming. It's not an undertaking to be taken lightly - it's wonderful in many ways - but oh so hard in others. Just my two cents. Feel free to contact me through my website if you'd like to talk about challenges and rewards.

Alyson BayerAlyson Bayer, Class of 2009

Where do your practice?
Conroe, Texas | clearchoiceacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Getting over the fear of starting my own business.      

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The most rewarding part of having my own practice is the confidence it has given me.  I also enjoy setting my own schedule to give myself plenty of time with my family and to relax and enjoy life.         

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Networking is one of the best ways I have found to grow my business. This field is very much up and coming.  More and more people are seeking alternatives to allopathic, overly busy doctors with little time for them. One thing I do in my practice is to make sure to give every single one of my patients enough of my time to listen to them every time they come into see me.

Cynthia ClarkCynthia Clark, Class of 2011

Where do your practice?
Sarasota, Florida | longevitywellnessclinic.com 

What type of practice are you in?
Private

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Figuring out my identity as a practitioner           

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
It's who you are as a person that has the greatest effect on your patients.                          

Gregory CareyGregory Carey, Class of 2011

Where do your practice?
Old Bridge, New Jersey | oldbridgeacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Generating Patient Visits  

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The opportunity to engage in a profession that I deeply care about is the most rewarding aspect of running my own acupuncture clinic.

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Follow your passion and you can create success in what you do.

Josh SaulJoshua Saul, Class of 2012

Where do your practice?
Atlanta, Georgia | SunWellATL.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
I think this question should be " What ARE your biggest challenges and starting practice?"   While I am seeing a study number of patients I am still not where I'd like to be. I think some of the biggest challenges to starting a practice is getting a system in place so that each new patient who walks in the door has a consistent, rewarding experience.  

Right now, my biggest challenge is getting all the administrative things done that I should have done in school like building a fully functional website that helps people know I’m out here and able to help.  Other administrative items include getting my LLC setup, setting up my practice management software and electronic health records (using Office Ally) and getting together promotional material like a business name, logo, business cards, informational rack cards, signs and other material.  If I had done this in school, even if I didn’t know what my business name would be, the content would be in place and all name information could be easily changed. 

Part of the system should also educate new patients as to what we do, how it works and why it's valuable to them and their healthcare.   Figuring out how to do this properly has definitely been challenging and is an ongoing work in progress.        

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The most rewarding part for me has been feeling like I have started to create something out of nothing. While starting a business is extremely difficult  I feel good about saying that I have worked harder at this than anything in my life. School was challenging but starting a business was by far much more difficult.  As I start to see patients and watch them get better there is something humbling, motivating and exciting in the  realization that I am serving my purpose.

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
I love what I do and I knew it when I started school.  What I didn't know was how much work was in store for me after school! If you are a current student my advice is to get started now! Whatever it is that you can do to start your business do it now!  Decide in what area you want to specialize, build your website, start figuring out your business model, start saving some cash - the list is long and time in school is not the hard part. If you aren't working on school and getting your business ready a solid 40 or more hours a week you aren't working hard enough.  Start now.  It will be worth it.

Abigail KarpAbigail Karp, Class of 2013

Where do your practice?
Austin, Texas | reproductiveacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
It's a challenge knowing where to begin when starting your own practice, and I found it to be a blessing to join a practice of experienced acupuncturists.                      

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The most rewarding party of starting practice has been getting to know a new community of patients and working closely with seasoned acupuncturists in my chosen specialty. It has been amazing having the opportunity to gain new insights from my coworkers. So much learning and growing happens outside of acupuncture school, and I've been loving having the chance to continue to grow!

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Trying to keep an open mind and being flexible has been very helpful for me in finding my way. It's hard to know what sort of practice you will enjoy until you try different options post-graduation.

Topics: job opportunities, alumni, alumni spotlight, practice management