AOMA Blog

Pamela Ferguson on Compassionate Palliative Care

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 @ 12:23 PM

 

Why do so many of our colleagues shy away from palliative care? A few years ago, when I stood up at our Southwest Symposium to give a thumbnail sketch prior to my afternoon workshop in palliative care, two thirds of the delegates rose and left the conference hall. I kid you not. “Wow,” I said, “This can’t be because I’m wearing the wrong deodorant, surely!”

The dozen or so who attended my workshop later were all accomplished Licensed Acupuncturists who were also Asian Bodywork Therapists or Massage Therapists. Therein lies the key. Those of us with bodywork skills aren’t afraid to work with clients who are terminally ill. In fact, it’s a gift – an honor. Especially if you have the chance to work on a long-term client through their final few months or weeks. The experience can be profound, which is why it’s great that AOMA offers offsite clinics in hospice care!

On a practical level, pain control is crucial. This can often mean stepping outside standard protocols and working patiently with the client to see which combination of acupoints eases both physical and emotional pain. It’s helpful to focus on the client’s hands and feet, especially in a hospital or hospice setting. Having a skilled, compassionate, and mindful touch with a minimum of points is essential. It may not always be wise or possible to use needles. I often teach family members of clients some simple acupressure work for those long hours when they sit beside a terminally ill loved one, feeling helpless or staring at some noisy game on TV. Sometimes a practitioner provides a calming center or focus in the room (at home or in hospital) when family members of the client fall apart – or – start heated arguments. I’ve seen all shades of behavior. Qi work is paramount. Not only to keep the practitioner centered and focused, but to maintain a calming atmosphere around the client. It’s equally important to remind family members that the sense of hearing is the last to go, and to never assume that a loved one can’t hear even while appearing unresponsive or in a coma.

 

For more info – see Pam’s column “Compassionate ABT for Palliative Care” in Acupuncture Today of February 2014 (15,2).

Pam will teach a Palliative Care workshop on April 18, 2015 at AOMA for PDA points and LMT CEUs. Find out more at https://aoma.edu/calendar/event/2673/, and register at http://store.aoma.edu/product/cc-palliative-15.html.

pam_matte_300_350Pam Ferguson Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA® – CI, LMT (TX) teaches advanced classes in Asian Bodywork Therapy, mainly in Europe. She is AOMA’s Asian Bodywork Therapy Dean Emerita.

Topics: asian bodywork therapy, palliative care

5 Books to Read Before Starting Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine School

Posted by Kate Wetzel on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

Stepping into the world of traditional Chinese medicine as a student or a patient calls for an openness in acknowledging how tradition and science overlap. Some aspects of traditional Chinese medicine can’t be easily reconciled to a specimen under a microscope, yet the scientific community is increasingly expanding its understanding of how acupuncture and herbal medicine affect the body.

As an intern in the student clinic at AOMA, patients routinely ask why I’m immersed in this field, what the needles are doing, and about this word “qi” that keeps coming up.If you find yourself asking these questions, or are considering a life dedicated to Chinese medical practice, I recommend the following resources to help build your understanding of this medicine.

  

the_body_electric_robert_becker_gary_selden1. The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life 
Authors: Robert O Becker, MD, and Gary Seldon

Dr. Robert Becker’s writing offers a somewhat-rare voice from the modern medical community that connects compassionate medical care to scientific theory—a connection resonating with many of those curious about Chinese medicine. An orthopedist, Becker, opens his book with a description of his medical school experiences in crowded wards before the discovery and application of penicillin. Exposed as a student to this widespread suffering, he explores what it means to define pain as an objective and subjective experience. So compels his subsequent lifework researching electromagnetism as it shapes and heals our bodies. 

 

between_heaven_and_earch_beinfield_korngold

2. Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine
Authors: Harriet Beinfeld, LAc and Efrem Korngold, LAc

This text reads almost like an introductory course in Chinese medicine completely accessible to the Western lay reader. Beinfeld and Korngold describe their watershed introduction to Chinese medicine in the 1970s when it was first being introduced in the US. They quickly go through a stepwise comparison of Eastern and Western approaches providing a readable, informative explanation of Yin-Yang theory, the Taoist Five Phases, and tongue and pulse diagnosis—Chinese medicine concepts fundamental to every beginning student.  Rounding out the last chapter is a collection of therapeutic recipes resting on the ubiquitous concept that longevity and vitality require keen understanding of “kitchen alchemy.” Anyone who wants to dive into the world of Chinese medicine through the personal voices of American authors should check out this book.

 

the_web_that_has_no_weaver_ted_kaptchuk3. The Web that Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine
Author: Ted Kaptchuk, OMD

Like the previous selection, this book holds a place as a foundational staple for new students and curious patients of Chinese Medicine. The Web, however, dives into detail rapidly, quoting readily from classics in the canon of ancient Chinese medical text. It reads less like a personal narrative and more like a compelling cultural textbook. It moves beyond a basic overview of Taoist theory and digs into richer detail of TCM diagnosis, the zang fu (organ) patterns, and meridian system. This book is best appreciated as a cover-to-cover read, appropriate for someone wants to spend time delving into and ruminating on the broader implications of a life in Chinese medical practice.

 

staying_healthy_with_seasons_elson_haas4. Staying Healthy with the Seasons
Author: Elson M. Haas, M.D.

Many of us who enter the field of Chinese medicine--or merely seek care from an acupuncture and Chinese medical practitioner—appreciate to varying degrees that ancient healing is a life practice and not just a 1-hr session of needles with a bag of medicinal herbs. Staying Healthy with the Seasons fastens a Western life to manageable ancient Eastern practice. It takes the Taoist Five Elements and expands them heartily into a guide for diet, exercise, meditation, and disease prevention. Not only does this book provide great introductory information but also is a bookshelf staple in the homes of wellness-seeking families

 

the_spark_in_the_machines_daniel_keown5. The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine
Author: Daniel Keown, MD (England)

Dr. Keown commences his book by hitching together a functional definition of qi (“chee”) to the sheet-like bands of tissue under our skin called fascia. He continues in an explanation of how human anatomy develops prenatally, where acupuncture points emerge in this development, and how fully developed meridians course in the mature human body to connect these points. The book uses anatomical references to define more esoteric acupuncture landmarks. Any layperson can pick up this book for a concrete understanding of where and why major points in the body exist. If you have found yourself as an acupuncture patient asking about the where and why of the needling points, definitely check out this text! 

 

 

Download Free eBook: Intro to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine   

 About Kate Wetzel:

kate_wetzel_imageKate is a graduate student within AOMA’s Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program. Prior to beginning her studies in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine she completed a BA in English at Trinity University and worked as special education teacher for the Austin Independent School District.

 

 

 

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, chinese medicine philosophy, student spotlight, acupuncture school, yin/yang theory, chinese medicine school, admissions

4 Myths about Austin, Texas

Posted by Justine Meccio on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

MYTH 1: Austin is always hot.texas snowmen_image courtesy of lauraagudelo272.wordpress.com

TRUTH: Austin is hot during the summer. I moved to Austin from Massachusetts in July of 2011, which was later named the hottest, driest month in Texas’ recorded history, and it was brutally hot. The grass was bleached pale yellow and wildfires popped up around the city, in spite of the strict burn-ban, which extended so far as to prohibit Independence Day fireworks. After a few months I learned that such high temperatures are an anomaly for Austin, which generally boasts somewhat mild weather for much of the fall, winter, and spring. Unfortunately, I’d already joyously donated all my cold-weather wear before heading south, so sometime in November I had to reevaluate my wardrobe and purchase much of the gear I’d gotten rid of.

Since living in Austin, I’ve spent Thanksgiving in a wool pea coat and Thanksgiving in a tee shirt…the weather here can be unpredictable, except in its predicable variety.

MYTH 2: If you don’t like tacos or BBQ, you might go hungry.

daidue_image courtesy of daidue.com

TRUTH: While is true that Austin loves its BBQ (there are more than 200 joints in the Austin area) and may love tacos even more (you can buy tacos from  AT LEAST 400 restaurants and food trucks around town), the culinary scene is by no means limited to those two major food groups. Austin is home to hundreds of food trucks, which serve foods ranging from donut-burgers and deep-fried sandwiches to Mexi-Korean and Thai Kun. There are vegetarian restaurants (eg. www.casadeluz.org), vegan restaurants (eg. countercultureaustin.com), gluten -free bakeries (eg. www.wildwoodbakehouse.com),  locally sourced dinner-club inspired restaurants (eg. www.daidue.com), gourmet hot dog restaurants (hotdogscoldbeer.com), Thai restaurants, Southern Comfort Restaurants… I could go on and on. I’m not a food writer, but there are many enthusiastic bloggers in Austin. If you’d like to read more about the food and restaurant scene in Austin, here are a few that I recommend:
•    http://austinfoodbloggers.org/city-guide-2/
•    http://thetastingbuds.com/
•    http://www.southaustinfoodie.com/
•    http://austin.eater.com/

MYTH 3: Austin doesn’t have public transportation.bcycle_image courtesy of austin.bcycle.com

TRUTH: Austin does have public transportation:

The bus system extends into most of the city, serving 50 routes and 3000 bus stops, and is continuously growing and improving its service.  For more info check out : https://www.capmetro.org/

Additionally, Austin has followed places like DC, Amsterdam, and NYC in implementing a bike-sharing program - ours is Bcycle, and it’s extremely affordable. For more info check out : https://austin.bcycle.com/

Here’s the caveat, and it’s a big one:  people who don’t have cars and instead use public transit must plan carefully, and can only live and work in certain parts of the city. If you have personal experience with using Austin’s public transportation as your method of getting around, we welcome your comments and opinions!

As important as the presence of public transportation in Austin is its demand: the demand is constantly increasing with a so many people moving here every day. A recent study by the National Traffic Scoreboard raked Austin’s traffic congestion among the worst in the country (topping NYC). For the city to support its growth, it will have to continue offering public transportation and improve its existing systems. I am optimistic that our city planners and local businesses will make this happen.

MYTH 4: Austin is full of weirdoskeep_austin_weird_image courtesy of chucklesnetwork.com

TRUTH: Austin is unique, and so are its inhabitants. You may have heard the city’s popular slogan “Keep Austin Weird”, and wondered what the heck people mean when they say this. In his book “Weird City” Joshua Long explored this very question, and shows that people mean many different things when they use this phrase. Sometimes people are referring to the music, or local icons like Willie Nelson and Leslie, and other times people are referring to the city’s politics or aesthetics. When I hear people talk about Austin’s “weirdness”, it usually has an intangible, nostalgic quality to it. Legend has it that the slogan began as a bumper sticker imagined up by a guy named Red, who (according to Joshua Long) “didn’t want to make money. He didn’t want to be famous. He was just worried that the city he loved was becoming over-commercialized, over-materialistic, and less 'weird'.” Somewhat ironically, “Keep Austin Weird” was adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote local business and economic revitalization that preserves the flavor of the city, while allowing it to evolve. Long claims that “there is a kind of a self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling prophecy of nonconformity now in the city” related to this sentiment. What this non-conformity looks like varies a lot depending on who you ask, but it’s my experience that many people in Austin are here because there’s a  sense of inclusivity that accompanies the city’s embrace of “weirdness “. Maybe that does make us weirdos, but I like to think of us as movers and shakers and artists and non-conformists, who are trying to build a city-wide umbrella of inclusivity.

Download a guide to Austin

 

elizabeth_arris_-_round-1Elizabeth Arris is an advanced student within the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program. Prior to relocating to Austin to attend AOMA, she earned a BA in Biological Sciences at Smith College. When not in class, Elizabeth serves as Student Ambassador, administering the InterTransform Mentoring Program for new students.

Topics: Austin, moving to Austin

New Book by AOMA Staff, Julia Aziz, LCSW

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 @ 09:55 AM

Author_PhotoWe’d like to introduce you to the new book Lessons of Labor: One Woman’s Self-Discovery Through Birth & Motherhood by Julia Aziz, LCSW, Director of Student and Career Services at AOMA. Julia has worked at AOMA since 2012, supporting students through and after their time in school. Before AOMA, she worked as a counselor and hospice chaplain, and she has continued to lead private workshops and classes on rediscovering purpose and the self. Her new book is about the emotional and spiritual challenges of birthing and parenting, looking at the transition into motherhood as an opportunity for personal growth. You are all invited to her book release party at BookPeople on Thursday, February 26 at 7pm!

Lessons_of_Labor_Front_Cover-1About the book:

What if instead of trying to avoid the pain and uncertainty of labor, we asked what we could learn from it? In telling the intimate birth stories of her three children and miscarriage, Julia shows us how giving birth can be one of motherhood's (and life's) greatest teachers. Rather than giving advice on how to labor or how to parent, this book consistently offers the message that a woman can grow through the challenges that life presents her and learn to trust herself. For women who share a tendency for "getting it right," this honest and unguarded memoir is a reminder that the pretense of control is no match for the freedom of letting go.

Lessons of Labor is available now at BookPeople, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Congratulations, Julia! AOMA is very proud of  you.

BP

The Artemis Art Group for Women Veterans and AOMA's Connection

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

For years AOMA has raised awareness regarding the complex and subtle medical needs of our returning military veterans, many of whom are regular clients of the professional and student clinics. Some veterans (including military RNs, PTs, and Medics) expand their medical training at AOMA and now rank among the great list of alums and current students.

But there are limited creative opportunities for returning vets, especially women vets, in Austin. The ARTEMIS ART & PEER GROUP for women military veterans and those in active service was co-created by AOMA graduate Kim Layne LAc, AOBTA-CP, Director of Integrative Medicine at the Samaritan Center; Pam Ferguson, Dipl ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA-CI, AOMA’s ABT Dean Emerita; and Annie McMillin, decorated Army vet and artist. Annie chose the name after the free-spirited Greek goddess of hunting, strength, and health.

Artemisgroupshow_adj

The Artemis theme – From Combat to Art – provides a friendly, supportive setting for women vets who are accomplished artists, along with those who are just exploring their creativity in oils, watercolors, mixed media, and crafts. The first group exhibit was held recently in the art gallery at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Grover Lane at 49th Street, where the group met twice monthly during 2014 in an airy classroom space overlooking a garden. The eclectic mix of exhibits included Zentangle black-and-white drawings; aprons made of recycled materials; painted skulls to honor roadkill; jazz artworks in oil; and collages of art, photography, and verse. The exhibit was a huge success. Visitors were in awe of art by veterans ranging in age from 30 to 90 in all branches of the military (from WW2 to the present day). Folks stopped in their tracks to read ad hoc comments from the meetings, pinned between the artworks. Most reflected problems that veterans experienced adjusting to civilian life after deployment, especially around non-military family and friends. Quips included: “I was there for Them. Not for Myself,” and “I lost the normal range of emotions,” and “Civilians don’t understand.”

Upcoming 2015 exhibitions are planned at the Samaritan Center in May for Armed Services Day, and in October at the George Washington Carver Museum. Some members of the group are clients of Kim’s and Pam’s. Ongoing meetings will be held at the Samaritan Center, an appropriate shift as the center takes a comprehensive treatment approach and is home to the Hope for Heroes program, offering military veterans alternative integrative care on a sliding scale.

Some Artemists have experienced various layers of PTSD following combat and/or sexual abuse by military colleagues. But the Artemis purpose is not to be a “therapy group.” Annie McMillin describes it as empowerment through “non-therapy therapy.” That’s its charm. No one is under a spotlight. Artemis is just an informal gathering over coffee, muffins, and fruit, where participants talk freely and openly about their experiences while exploring different art forms. Accomplished artists generously share their technical expertise with those who haven’t touched a sketchbook since childhood.

All women military vets and those in active service are welcome. Yes, it’s free, but everyone chips in for refreshments! The next meeting is Saturday, February 21, 11 am-1 pm. Contact Kim at kim@samaritan-center.org or Pam at pamelacudot@gmail.com.

Pam’s regular ABT column in Acupuncture Today will feature the Artemis Group in May.

Topics: veteran affairs, AOMA community collaborations

AOMA Herbal Medicine Products: Staff Top Picks

Posted by Christina Korpik on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 10:00 AM

 

There is a vast array of little-known, hidden treasures in the AOMA Herbal Medicine (AHM) Store that many AOMA students, staff and patients are not aware of. To highlight the magic that abounds within this little shop of healing, we asked AHM staff to choose their favorite products and explain why they love each particular product so much. Of the many goodies available, we compiled a list of the best of the best, so the AOMA community can reap the benefits.

 

 

 

IMG_3516Sennenkyu Taiyo Self-Heating Moxa


Staff name:
Jane Riti


AHM Employee since: 2012

 

What is it used for? Moxa on acupuncture points

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? This is great for use in clinics without worrying about strong aromas bothering your neighbors. It is also easy to use at home.


photoLoquat & Fritillary Jelly

 

Staff name: Dan Knight

 

AHM Employee since: 2011

 

What is it used for? Cough Syrup

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for?  This is a great OTC product to have in your medicine cabinet. It can be used for acute and chronic cough with or without phlegm as well as helping with a sore throat. The jelly can be taken directly to help coat the throat or dissolved in water to make a soothing tea. Safe for both children and adults.


IMG_3510-1

Ching Wan Hung

Staff name:  Alishia Baxter              

     

AHM Employee since:  2012

What is it used for?  Minor burns and sunburn

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? This product can be used to heal minor scrapes and bruises as well.  I have recommended it to someone that cut off the tip of their finger cooking and the injury healed in record time.  Most importantly it is also an analgesic and helped with the pain.  I also have personally monitored its use on a necrosing spider bite, along with internal raw herbs, whereby the injury healed within a couple of weeks instead of the month or two this type of injury usually requires.


IMG_3524-9Blue Poppy Spirit Quieting Massage Oil

Staff name: Jeannie Evans  

 

AHM Employee since: 1995

 

What is it used for? Massage, Tuina, Cupping, Bath Oil, Moisturizing

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? This oil is a thoughtful blend of apricot oil, canola oil, olive oil plus Chinese herbs traditionally used to calm and quiet the spirits: He Huan Hua, Bai He, Shi Chang Pu, Chen Xiang, Yuan Zhi, and sweet orange essential oil. It’s especially wonderful for cupping when all that’s needed is a light, relaxing oil.  The aroma is subtle and unobtrusive and works very well when used for calming the shen.


 

IMG_3520-2Himalayan salt lamps

 

Staff name: Mary Zaloga

 

AHM Employee since: 2007 

 

What is it used for? The lamps are made from salt crystal rocks formed hundreds of million years ago in the Himalayas.  The warm glow beautifies any room in the house or office while the crystal produces negative ions.  Because dust and dirt are positively charged, they are attracted to the negatively charged lamp and the ions it emits.  The lamps are also used to neutralize the positive ions emitted by electronics.

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for?  The lamps provide a beautiful soft glow, while helping to reduce pollution in the indoor environment.  They are a great gift idea.

IMG_3522White Sage

Staff name: Chris Zaloga

AHM Employee since: 2008

 

What it is used for? For centuries, white sage has been considered a sacred, cleansing, purifying, and protective plant.  Traditionally, it is burned and the smoke helps to clear any negative or heavy energy from a space.

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? Cleansing with white sage is helpful anytime the energy in a space becomes heavy, but it is also used when moving to a new home to remove old energies and "start fresh."

Download a Free  Intro to Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine eBook.

Topics: AOMA Herbal Medicine, herbal medicine

Nurses Expand Scope of Practice, Study Acupuncture

Posted by Christina Korpik on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

AOMA is well-known in its field for attracting a highly diverse student body consisting of gifted practitioners with a wide variety of backgrounds under their belts. Many students come into their studies having already obtained a background in a particular healing modality or healthcare field.

Many students at AOMA studied Western medicine in nursing school and obtained a strong background in nursing before they decided to advance their careers with Chinese medicine studies. We interviewed them to share their knowledge and stories around returning to school after receiving a nursing education, as well as their thoughts around combining the two very complementary modalities.

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Nurse/Acupuncturist in Training: Natalie Ledbetter 

What prompted you to return to school?

I have been very interested in alternative medicine for years and have been wanting to gain education and training in other modalities of healing. My children are older now, and I thought it was a good time to go back to school now that they are more self-sufficient.

Why did you choose AOMA?

AOMA is a highly ranked and highly respected school for TCM. They are accredited, and I was impressed with the herbal program as well as the other classes offered.

What is your nursing background?

I taught nursing school at Galveston College, worked in ICU, obtained a master’s degree in administration, and then a master’s in nursing anesthesia. I currently work as a certified registered nurse anesthetist at the office of a local plastic surgeon, providing anesthesia for her patients undergoing surgery.

How has your background in nursing impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

In some ways I think it has made things a little more challenging, but it has made it easier in other ways. I had a difficult time at first with the concept of "organs" in TCM and how different it is from Western medicine. I often thought I was memorizing "facts" that were not really facts at all, but odd theories. I decided to suspend judgment and just learn all that the instructors had to offer and sort it all out in the end. This has been working well for me so far.

The fact that I am familiar with anatomy, physiology, physical assessment, and other biomedical subjects has allowed me to skip the biomedical courses, which gives me time to continue working. This is a huge plus, because I refuse to take out loans to pay for school.

What has your experience been like as a student of Chinese medicine?

I love most of the instructors and others who work at AOMA. I am learning so much. It can be hard to balance school, work, and family, but I believe it will be worth it. If AOMA would offer some of the courses online, it would make things so much easier to juggle. 

What advice do you have for other nurses returning to school?

Be ready to learn things that are very different from what you have been taught in the past. Be ready to be challenged in the area of time management if you are going to work while in school. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect as you juggle job, studies, home, family, etc. 

 

JasonSpees

Nurse/Acupuncturist in Training: Jason Spees

What prompted you to return to school?

I returned to school to shift my life practice of helping others into a more holistic direction. 

Why did you choose AOMA?

There were many factors, some of them more logistical, like family, a great job market, and that AOMA is in a counter-culture-strong city. The main thing that drew me to Austin was how strong AOMA is into integrative medicine, how they are research-driven, with several experienced teachers, and aligned with other healthcare disciplines. I believe every facet in healthcare needs to engage with the others in a harmonious and collaborative way to bring about the best results for the patient.

What is your nursing background?

Emergency medicine, chronic pain/rehab, and hospice/palliative care. 

How has your background in nursing impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

It helped to already have strong assessment skills and be informed on pathology and pharmacology. That is something that people who are just entering patient care struggle with in the beginning. It has been a challenge to start seeing medicine from the Chinese theory angle, but now I am a lot more empowered, being able to view disease in two or three different ways according to theory. It is like looking at different surfaces of a gem. I find that people are also uncomfortable speaking with acupuncturists if they don't have Western medical experience. For me, that is something to worry less about.

What has your experience been like as a student of Chinese medicine?

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

What advice do you have for other nurses returning to school? 

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

 

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Nurse & Licensed Acupuncturist: Katie Burke

What prompted you to return to school?

I have always enjoyed helping others and have been particularly drawn to assisting in the healing process and gaining optimal health. While nursing has been a wonderfully rewarding career in many ways, working within the confines of the hospital setting and having only medical interventions and pharmaceuticals as my ways of treatment were not completely fulfilling for me. I knew there was a more natural way to heal (and prevent illness). The feeling that something was missing prompted my path to delving into natural medicine.

Why did you choose AOMA?

Since I was already living in Austin and wanting to continue my work part-time as a nurse while going to school, I knew I wanted to choose a school in Austin, if possible. After doing some research I was delighted to find out that there were two acupuncture schools here. I have an acquaintance who was going to an acupuncture school, so once I had set my sights on a career change I talked with her about her experience. She told me she was going to AOMA, and she had nothing but positive things to say about the school. After that, I set up a tour of the campus with the director of admissions. After learning more about the program, I knew that AOMA was where I needed to be. I immediately felt like I was in the right place. Call it a hunch. And of course the school's outstanding reputation in the field didn't hurt, either.

What is your nursing background?

I graduated with my bachelor's in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2006. I started out working full time in Labor and Delivery prior to going back to school at AOMA. Once I started classes, I continued to work, but on a part-time level. Today I am still working at the hospital (but less frequently), in addition to my work as an acupuncturist.

How has your background in nursing impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

Having a nursing background had been extremely helpful when going through the program. You start off with a base knowledge of anatomy and physiology, disease processes/medical conditions, and pharmaceuticals before you even begin classes. Some of my bio-med classes also transferred, and I was able to get credit for them, which helped in lightening the course load and the financial burden of grad school. Aside from that, nursing helps you develop your interpersonal and diagnostic skills and gives you a leg up once you start treating patients in the student clinic. Now that I'm practicing, my clients are always interested in my work as a nurse and how I integrate both medical models. Being a nurse makes you a ‘familiar’ person in the eyes of people who are new to Chinese medicine. I have personally witnessed it reduce anxiety and increase receptiveness in clients once they realize that I also have a Western medicine background.

What has your experience been like as a student and alumna?

As a student I was probably a bit frazzled while going through the program (as were many of my classmates, I'm sure). Working part time while taking a full load of classes was hard, but I'm glad I continued my work in nursing while going back to school. The program at AOMA is rigorous but rewarding. As an alumna I have been fortunate in many ways. Continuing my work in the hospital allowed me to have a "career cushion" during the transition phase after graduation. I was able to have an income while determining what my next step would be (which was truly a blessing). I am now happily practicing acupuncture at a clinic in Austin that specializes in fertility. I’m working with a wonderful team of skilled practitioners. I am also continuing my work in Labor and Delivery a few days a week.

What advice do you have for other nurses returning to school?

If natural medicine is something that interests you, then AOMA is a great place to find what you've been missing. Western medicine and Chinese medicine go hand in hand. It's wonderful being able to practice and have a solid knowledge base in both fields.

Get a Guide to Careers in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Topics: herbal medicine, acupuncture school, chinese medicine school, nurses

Massage Therapists Advance Career, Study Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

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

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

What prompted you to return to school?

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

Why did you choose AOMA?

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

What is your background in massage therapy?

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

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

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

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

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

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

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

 

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Vanessa HuffmanPicture2-1

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

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

What is your background in massage therapy?

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

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

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

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

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

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

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

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

Careers in Acupuncture: Download free eBook!

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

What prompted you to return to school?

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

 
Why did you choose AOMA? 

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

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

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

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

What is your background as a massage therapist?

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

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

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

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

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

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

 

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Jessica Healy    Picture1-5

What prompted you to return to school?

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

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

What is your background as a massage therapist?

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

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

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

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

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

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

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

  Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

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

Type 3 Diabetes: Sugar-induced Alzheimer’s?

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 10:50 AM

Why a poor diet may be contributing to a rise in age-related cognitive problems

We often use the way our body looks as the barometer for health, but what if it was your brain that was suffering the consequences of our sugar addiction? New research suggests that Alzheimer's disease is intrinsically linked to insulin resistance of the brain and may be, in the most simplified terms, diabetes of the brain or Type 3 diabetes.

Millions of Americans with insulin resistance problems like Type 2 diabetes are being ravaged by health concerns, including heart disease, which is still the number-one cause of death in the United States, as well as a host of other maladies like eye problems, kidney disease, and neuropathy, to name a few.

Most of us are familiar to some degree with diabetes, but at times it can be confusing. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin and is something one is born with. Type 2 diabetes is acquired and used to be labeled “adult onset” until we saw the spike in childhood cases in recent years. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a breakdown of the body’s insulin receptors and is typically associated with over-consumption of processed carbohydrates and sugar. So what’s Type 3 diabetes? It appears to be an insulin resistance of the brain, causing memory problems and personality changes; in essence, Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease, discovered more than a century ago, is characterized by amyloid plaques building up in the brain, contributing to cognitive problems such as memory loss and personality changes. For as much as is known, it’s still a largely mysterious disease.

In 2005, a neuropathologist from Brown University, Suzanne de la Monte, published her research proposing that for those with Alzheimer's the brain has become insulin resistant and essentially the brain cells are starving to death. This appears to be especially true in the parts of the brain that have to do with memory and personality.

So what does this mean in Traditional Chinese Medicine? A few of AOMA’s most knowledgeable teachers and supervisors weighed in on the issue.

Dr. "Nelson" Song Luo explained some aspects to consider:

“In TCM, insulin resistance is related to stagnation of the Liver qi that begins to over-control the Spleen. Because of this, the Spleen either cannot generate blood, causing poor memory, or phlegm will accumulate which disturbs the memory. We call this phlegm ‘misting the mind.’ Memory issues are the primary early manifestation in Alzheimer’s disease.”

When exploring this further, AOMA’s Dr. Yongxin Fan brought up that in TCM, the brain is called the Sea of Marrow and is controlled by the energetics of the Kidney. If there is chronic Spleen and Kidney qi deficiency, which is what we will often see in Type 2 diabetes, it stands to reason that the Sea of Marrow, the brain, would be impacted by this.

Dr. Qianzhi “Jamie” Wu added that Type 3 diabetes likely involves the energetics of the Heart, Kidney, and Spleen, and is a complex condition involving both excesses and deficiencies in the body.

“We know that memory is supported by blood and essence. Poor memory could be a result of Heart blood and Kidney essence deficiency. To be more specific, the short-term memory is supported by Heart blood, while the remote memory by Kidney essence.”

Wu also suggests that the excess would be seen from phlegm misting the mind, leading to symptoms of forgetfulness and personality change. All of this leads back to the Spleen “as the source of blood, source of phlegm, and the postnatal root of essence.”

Wu notes that some TCM experts believe that what we call the Spleen in Chinese medicine is very similar to the pancreas in biomedicine. “Therefore, the TCM treatment should also focus on these three organs, but the Spleen could be the most important one among these three.”

Additionally, sugar in all its forms—white starches to straight off the cane—can cause dampness and damp retention in the body. Dampness is a result of poor diet and digestion when the energetics of the Spleen is not functioning properly. It’s that heavy feeling you may know so well. Slow to get moving until you mainline a pot of coffee. It can affect the body and the thought process, so theoretically the dampness could accumulate in the brain in a more permanent way with years of neglect. Dampness transforming into invisible phlegm which causes those cognitive changes.

There are myriad reasons to moderate our consumption of processed foods, and this is just another in a long list. For now, listen to your body and talk with your healthcare team, including your acupuncturist, if you have concerns about poor memory, lack of mental clarity, and insulin resistance.

acupuncture appointments in Austin

About the author:

lauren_st_pierre_acupunctureLauren St. Pierre-Mehrens, MAcOM, L.Ac

A recent graduate of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Lauren is in the process of setting up her practice, earthspring | acupuncture.

Lauren has begun working with the Texas Center for Reproductive Acupuncture to support their staff, and she continues to work with The American Cancer Society as a cancer information specialist.  

She has lived in Austin since 2006 by way of Lake Tahoe, California, and counts Austin as her home with her husband and two Boston terriers.

Topics: Dr. Yongxin Fan, Dr. Qianzhi Wu, Dr. Song Luo, alzheimer's

Winter Recipes for Optimal Health according to Chinese Medicine Nutrition

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 10:22 AM

With the gluttony of Thanksgiving behind us and a just few weeks until the next-biggest eating holidays of the year, maybe it is time to give your body what it is yearning for: nourishment. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) nutrition principles, during the winter months our energy begins to move inward. It is a time of quietude and the best season to tonify and store essence internally. We asked two of our esteemed faculty members to share their favorite recipes for the season. We hope you enjoy!

Winter Tonic Oxtail Soup

Dr. Violet Song recommends this Winter Tonic Oxtail Soup. It is warm in nature and is a great kidney yang tonic. It’s a superb dish for the winter season! Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls for “Winter Daikon, Summer Ginger.” Winter cold can bring the coagulation of qi flow in the human body. The oxtail can be so much of a tonic that it can be too greasy, but the daikon can move qi and offset this consistency. The soup can be served 1-2 times per week all through the winter.

tcm nutrition daikon

Ingredients:
1 lb oxtail
1 tbsp cooking wine
Water
1 lb daikon radish
Carrots, greens (optional)
Salt
Cilantro as garnish (optional)

Instructions:
1.    Chop the oxtail into 1-inch cubes.
2.    Put the oxtail cubes into pan with 1 tbsp of cooking wine and 1 cup of water. Boil for 5 minutes.
3.    Strain the liquid and use warm water to wash the oxtail cubes.
4.    Put the washed oxtail cubes in a crock pot with plenty of water (more water, more soup) and stew for 3 hours.
5.    Cut the daikon radish into 1-inch cubes. Add the daikon radish to the crock pot with the oxtail and continue to stew for 1 more hour. You may add other vegetables, like carrots and greens, depending on how long they will take to cook.
6.    Add salt to taste. You may garnish with cilantro.

tcm nutrition oxtail soup

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Nutrition

Ginseng and Walnut Congee

Dr. Grace Tan recommends Ginseng and Walnut Congee for a healthy sweet treat in the wintertime. This rice porridge boosts the qi and warms the kidneys. It also calms the spirit and generates moisture in a typically very dry season. It is not suitable for patients with a cold or fever.

nutrition ginseng

Ingredients:
5g ginseng (approximately 1 inch of the root)
½ cup walnuts
2½ cups rice
Water
¼ cup honey


Instructions:
1.    Soak ginseng in water at room temperature until soft. Cut into small pieces. (5g is a good amount if you are just starting to take ginseng, you can gradually increase amount up to 10 or 15g)
2.    Place first four ingredients in a clay pot and add more water. You can also do this in a crock pot, although if you do it overnight, make sure to add extra water.
3.    Bring the pot to the boil on high heat, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
4.    Add honey and continue to simmer until the soup turns into a paste-like consistency.

tcm nutrition walnut congee

Get more traditional Chinese medicine nutrition tips as well as a recipe for each seaon by downloading our TCM guide to nutrition.

acupuncture appointments in Austin

Topics: nutrition

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