9 Things to know about Musculoskeletal Health

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


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

What causes musculoskeletal pain? 

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

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

What are the correct postures to prevent musculoskeletal pain?

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

1. Picking up items

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

2. Standing and Walking

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

3. Sitting Position

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

4. Driving a Car

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

5. Sleeping

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

Traditional Chinese medicine for musculoskeletal pain 

6. Acupuncture

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

7. Tuina

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

8. Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy

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

9. Chinese herbal medicine

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

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

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Topics: acupuncture, tcm health, musculoskeletal health

Chinese Medical Approaches to Depression and Anxiety

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


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

Patterns of Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Topics: chinese medicine, depression, anxiety

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine Announces 2016 Commencement Speaker

Posted by Rob Davidson on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 @ 04:20 PM


Sean Hanna, Director of the Veterans Mental Health Program at the Texas Veterans Commission to deliver keynote address to AOMA graduates on September 11

AUSTIN, Texas, August 5, 2016 — Mr. Sean Hanna will deliver the keynote address at the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine (AOMA) 20th annual
commencement ceremony on September 11, 2016.

Sean Hanna, MAcOM, LAC, is a licensed acupuncturist in the State of Texasand Director of the Veterans Mental Health Program at the Texas Veterans Commission. Working with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Sean co-created and coordinates the Military Veteran Peer Network throughout the State of Texas as part of the Veterans Mental Health Program.

Sean_Hanna_Veterans_Mental_Health_Program_Dir.jpgSean spent 8 1⁄2 years (1991 to 2000) as a US Navy Hospital Corpsman. He saw tours of duty at National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Maryland; Naval Medical Center San Diego, California; as well as 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton. While stationed at 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Sean deployed to multiple international locations and saw combat action in support of Operation United Shield, Somalia in 1995.

Sean earned his Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree from the Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin, now known as the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine (AOMA), in 2005. He served as President of the AOMA Alumni Association in 2009, served on the Board of the Austin Veterans and Family Advocacy Council (AVFAC) from 2009 to 2011 and served on the Board of Directors for Bring Everyone in the Zone from 2010 to 2014. Sean is also a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4443. He is a devoted husband, and a father of two boys, ages 19 and 14, and lives in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Hanna will address an expected 40 graduates of the Master and Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Degree programs who will be attending the exercises on Sunday, September 11 at the Omni Hotel Southpark in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Violet Song will lead the procession of graduates starting at 1:30pm. Proceedings will include the presentation of the Calvin Key Wilson Community Leadership Award, faculty recognition, awarding of degrees, and a healer's oath lead by Dean of Students Robert Laguna, followed by a reception in the lobby.

This year's Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine graduating class represents the second DAOM graduating class at AOMA, one of only nine schools nationally to offer the doctoral program. Masters students complete a rigorous four-year masters degree program, which includes over 900 hours of clinical internship. AOMA graduates are at the forefront of their field, integrating eastern and western medicine in clinics and hospitals. Upon graduation, these 40 professionals will work in independent private practice, multi-disciplinary clinics, substance abuse treatment facilities, hospice programs, oncology centers, community acupuncture clinics, military/veterans facilities, and corporate wellness programs.


About AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine                             

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine offers regionally accredited masters and doctoral level degree programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, preparing its students for careers as skilled, professional practitioners. AOMA is known for its internationally recognized faculty, award-winning student clinical internship program, and herbal medicine program. AOMA provides for over 16,000 patient visits annually in its student and professional clinics and collaborates with healthcare institutions including the Seton Healthcare FamilyPeople’s Community Clinic, and Austin Recovery. AOMA gives back to the community through nonprofit partnerships and by providing free and reduced price treatments to people who cannot afford them. AOMA is located at 4701 West Gate Blvd. AOMA also serves patients and retail customers at its North Austin location, 2700 West Anderson Lane. For more information see or call 512-492-3034.

Topics: tcm school, tcm education

ED: The Effects and Prospects of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Posted by Jing Fan, LAc on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 @ 03:54 PM


Erectile dysfunction (ED), defined as the consistent inability to attain or maintain penile erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance, has become a global health issue with a high prevalence and considerable impact on the quality of life of sufferers and their partners. In addition, ED may share a common pathologic mechanism with cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndromes, and other endocrine disorders. The cause of ED is complicated and may be divided into three categories: psychogenic causes, organic causes (including endogenous, vascular and drug causes) and mixed causes.

Currently, research focuses on the dysfunction of endothelial cells of the cavernous body of the penis and disordered release of NO. To date, several phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors have been developed. Despite the advances in clinical and basic research which have led to several new options, the ideal treatment of ED has not been identified [12].

TCM has been used to treat sexual dysfunction such as ED in China for more than 2,000 years. Many studies show that TCM treatment could significantly improve the quality of erection and sexual activity of ED patients [13–17]. TCM achieves better regulation, especially with regard to ED patients’ anxiety, fatigability, changing hormonal levels, insomnia, and gastroparesis.

Correct syndrome differentiation (“Bian Zheng”) was the prerequisite for achieving the hoped-for efficacy of TCM for treating ED. Syndrome differentiation is one of the essential characters of TCM. It means analyzing and judging the data obtained from the four diagnostic methods (inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiry, and pulse-taking and palpation) so to differentiate the nature, location, and cause of disease. So pattern differentiation is the premise and foundation of treatment. 

In the past, traditional treatments based on syndrome differentiation (an overall analysis of signs and symptoms) placed importance on the kidneys and liver. Herbs and acupuncture points to invigorate qi can enhance physical fitness, and to warm the kidneys can regulate sex hormones, increase sexual drive, invigorate the spleen, regulate the stomach and improve the overall situation. Herbs and acupuncture points used for a stagnated liver provides tranquilisation and helps stabilize the mind, which can improve mental processes and emotional wellness. This treatment can not only increase the effects but also improve the patient’s overall condition and quality of life. More research also shows that using the concepts of integrative Chinese medicine, sexual dysfunction, especially ED with premature ejaculation, should be treated concurrently based on syndrome differentiation of the heart.

This approach does not conflict with the concept of TCM that the heart controls mental activities, blood circulation, and eroticism. Concurrent treatment of the heart and kidneys can coordinate these organs. Thus, the concept of integrated medicine offers a perfect, traditional treatment for erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

According to the latest pharmacological research on TCM, many Chinese herbal medicines (e.g., ginseng, epimedium and pilose antler) function as the male sex hormone. According to domestic and international research, ginsenoside and red ginseng extracts can stimulate penis tissue to produce NO and phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors. Additionally, ginsenoside and red ginseng extracts can also regulate the function of sex glands and increase semen volume to reinforce sexuality. Epimedium and Lycium berry can inhibit nitric oxide synthase and are helpful for improving endothelial cell function in the penis and promoting the formation of NO.[18] Research has shown that Chai Hu Shu Gan San can increase the duration of erection in the male rat and can increase NO content in penis tissue. Medicine that promotes blood circulation, such as Tao Ren Si Wu and Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan, can help to regain an erection that was lost or achieve a repeat erection. Therefore, the treatment of ED with TCM has practical effects and is supported by scientific research.

In ED, acupuncture also has shown moderate efficacy, with an early study in 1999 of 16 men with ED treated with twice weekly acupuncture for 8 weeks demonstrating an improvement in erectile function in 39 % of men [19]. The potential mechanism of acupuncture for ED is that it may modulate the nitric oxide related to the treatment of ED [20].

Overall, TCM treatment for sexual dysfunction can not only increase the effects of simultaneous treatments but also improve the patient’s overall condition and quality of life.

Dr. Jing Fan treats at the AOMA acupuncture clinics. Request an Appointment with us today! 

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[1] “Impotence: NIH consensus development panel on impotence,” The Journal of the AmericanMedical Association, vol. 270, no. 1, pp. 83–90, 1993.

[2] I.A.Aytac¸, J. B.McKinlay, and R. J.Krane, “The likely worldwide increase in erectile dysfunction between 1995 and 2025 and some possible policy consequences,” BJU International, vol. 84, no. 1, pp. 50–56, 1999.

[3] R. K. Mutagaywa, J. Lutale, A. Muhsin, and B. A. Kamala, “Prevalence of erectile dysfunction and associated factors among diabetic men attending the diabetic clinic at muhimbili national hospital in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania,” Pan African Medical Journal, vol. 17, article 227, 2014.

[4] J. F. Guest and R. das Gupta, “Health-related quality of life in a UK-based population of men with erectile dysfunction,” PharmacoEconomics, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 109–117, 2002.

[5] A. U. Idung, F. Abasiubong, S. B. Udoh, and O. S. Akinbami, “Quality of life in patients with erectile dysfunction in theNiger Delta region,Nigeria,” Journal ofMentalHealth, vol. 21,no. 3, pp. 236–243, 2012.

[6] R. E. Gerber, J. A. Vita, P. Ganz et al., “Association of peripheral microvascular dysfunction and erectile dysfunction,” The Journal of Urology, 2014.

[7] E. Vicenzini, M. Altieri, P. M. Michetti et al., “Cerebral vasomotor reactivity is reduced in patients with erectile dysfunction,” European Neurology, vol. 60, no. 2, pp. 85–88, 2008.

[8] A. Sai Ravi Shanker, B. Phanikrishna, and C. Bhaktha Vatsala Reddy, “Association between erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease and its severity,” Indian Heart Journal, vol. 65, no.

2, pp. 180–186, 2013.

[9] K. T. McVary, “Sexual dysfunction,” in Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, A. S. Fauci, E. Braunwald, D. L. Kasper, S. L. Hauser, D. L. Longo, and J. L. Jameson, Eds., chapter 49, section 8, pp. 271–275, McGraw-Hill, Chicago, Ill, USA, 17th edition, 2008.

[10] S. H. Golden, K. A. Robinson, I. Saldanha, B. Anton, and P. W. Ladenson, “Prevalence and incidence of endocrine and metabolic disorders in the united states: a comprehensive review,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 94, no. 6, pp. 1853–1878, 2009.

[11] J. Buvat, M.Maggi, L. Gooren et al., “Endocrine aspects of male sexual dysfunctions,” Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 1627–1656, 2010.

[12] D. K.Montague, J. Jarow, G. A. Broderick et al., “American urological association guideline on the management of priapism,” Journal of Urology, vol. 170, no. 4, pp. 1318–1324, 2003.

[13] L. S. Yaman, S. Kilic, K. Sarica, M. Bayar, and B. Saygin, “The place of acupuncture in the management of psychogenic impotence,” European Urology, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 52–55, 1994.

[14] P. F. Engelhardt, L. K. Daha, T. Zils, R. Simak, K. K¨onig, and H. Pfl¨uger, “Acupuncture in the treatment of psychogenic erectile dysfunction: first results of a prospective randomized placebo-controlled study,” International Journal of Impotence Research, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 343–346, 2003.

[15] Y. Cui, Y. Feng, L. Chen et al., “Randomized and controlled research of Chinese drug acupoint injection therapy for erectile dysfunction,” Zhongguo Zhen Jiu, vol. 27, no. 12, pp. 881–885, 2007.

[16] W. G.Ma and J. M. Jia, “The effects and prospects of the integration of traditional Chinese medicine andWestern medicine on andrology in China,” Asian Journal of Andrology, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 592–595, 2011.

[17] J. Jiang and R. Jiang, “Molecular mechanisms of traditional Chinese medicine for erectile dysfunction,” Zhonghua Nan KeXue, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 459–462, 2009.

[18] Fu J, Qiao L, Jing TY, Lin GT, Wang YY et al. Effect of icarrin on cGMP levels in penile corous cavernosum of rabbit. Chin Pharmacol Bull 2002; 18: 430–3.

[19] Lee MS, Shin BC, Ernst E. Acupuncture for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. BJU int


[20] Kho HG, Sweep CG, Chen X, Rabsztyn PR, Meuleman EJ. The use of acupuncture in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Int J Impot Res. 1999; 11(1)


Topics: tcm, men's health

TCM Tips for Back to School

Posted by Qiao Xu on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 @ 01:25 PM

TCM watermelon health for summer

According to the lunar calendar, the hottest days of 2016 will be from July 17 to August 25 – but Texans don’t need that reminder, with triple-digit heat continuing into August. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) emphasizes holistic practice and our connection to the surrounding universe. Seasonal changes have a large impact on our bodies. For the latter part of this hot summer, here are some general tips to maintain the health of you and your families.

First, despite the temptation, try to avoid extreme cold in the form of either icy-cold beverages or gusts of AC. Drinking cold beverages can cause stomach pain and indigestion. Many people do not realize how important their digestive systems are. Chinese medicine emphasizes the stomach as a critical part of your body’s strength -- “Take care of your stomach for the first half of your life, and your stomach will take care of you for the second half,” as a saying goes. Even if you don’t experience any such symptoms now, a little care now goes a long way.

A common TCM recommendation to all patients is that they drink water and other liquids at room temperature or as close to it as is palatable for them. Also take care not to drink too much water at once to avoid shocking your system – instead of chugging your water after a day out, try to drink smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day.

Another side effect of summer comes from artificially cold environments. Be careful not to blast your AC directly on your neck, shoulders, and back, because this can cause muscle spasms or colds, especially if you were sweating beforehand. Overly air-conditioned buildings can even contribute to arthritis. 

Dietary suggestions are a key component of TCM, as different vegetables and fruits have a wide range of actions essential to our health. Since it’s so hot outside, we should try to eat foods that are cooling in nature to reduce the heat in our bodies. For vegetables, this includes cucumbers, avocados, asparagus, spinach, celery, bok choy, mushroom, seaweed, bittermelon, mung bean and mung bean sprouts, radish, dandelion greens, and tomatoes. Recommended fruits include apples, pears, watermelon, bananas, strawberries, grapefruit, and rhubarb.

Given the soaring temperatures and physical activity characteristic of summer, we sweat more than usual and exert greater energy, making it easier to experience fatigue. Some may also find that their appetite is suppressed. To prevent colds and maintain general health, you can drink a glass of lightly salted water (with 1/8 tsp of salt) to help replenish salts and fluids within the body.

Finally, as the kids get ready to go back to school, they may experience excitement or anxiety over the new academic year. A little bit of stress is normal, but if your child cannot overcome this anxiety, then consider seeking professional help. At AOMA, we can use Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture to help with focus and stress reduction.

In addition, there are certain things that can be used to help boost your child’s immune system, apart from a regular schedule, healthy food, and exercise. Chinese medicine emphasizes improving your bodily constitution to prevent catching disease. We can use pediatric tuina massage and herbal medicine to help combat germ exposure. Such treatments can be implemented both before sickness as a preventative measure, or during illness to reduce symptoms.

If you have any questions about these general wellbeing tips, or specific health issues, please feel free to request an appointment in our clinics! Enjoy the rest of summer, and our eventual transition into fall.

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Topics: tcm nutrition, tcm health, heat

Qigong: Chinese Yoga as Mind Body Medicine

Posted by Charlton Holmes on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 03:48 PM


Over the last 30 years, yoga has become increasingly popular in the United States. People do yoga exercises not only for the physical benefits but also the mental and emotional benefits as well. Yoga connects the mind and body through focus and balance. It's generally safe and most people can do it regardless of their fitness level. Yoga has been further popularized by the celebrities who practice it. Woody Harrelson, Jessica Biel, Ashley Tisdale and Madonna are among the list of celebrities that have been known to practice yoga.

There are about as many styles of yoga as there are flavors of ice cream. There’s hot yoga, Kundalini yoga, and even prenatal yoga, to name a few. There is even a style of yoga native to China. This Chinese yoga is qigong.

Qigong means “Life Energy Cultivation”. The people of China practiced qigong for over 4,000 years and it is an integral part of Chinese medicine as well as Chinese martial arts. According to tradition, daily practice of qigong prolongs life and improves vitality. Many illnesses can be treated, or avoided altogether with regular practice of qigong and the exercises are simple enough that most people can learn them regardless of their fitness level.

Qigong practice has three main components. These are sometimes referred to as the three regulations. The first is the regulation of breathing. By focusing on breathing, the practitioner of qigong begins to turn their gaze inward, letting go of external distractions. Deep slow breathing can slow the heart rate, producing a calming effect.

The second regulation is regulation of the mind. Regulating the breath helps to regulate the mind because it is a point of focus for the practitioner of qigong. This aspect of qigong is about focusing mental energy and blocking out distractions. The attention of the mind shifts to an area in the abdomen, near the umbilicus. This area is known as the lower dantian

The third regulation is the regulation of the body. This involves becoming more aware of the body. Wherever the muscles are tense - focus on relaxing them. Most people are not aware of the physical manifestations of stress that they carry around with them on a daily basis. Tense muscles can hinder the flow of qi and blood. Positioning yourself in a good posture and relaxing the body can improve your body's energy flow.

Some forms of qigong are more dynamic than others. Some use complex movements and postures, while others elicit perfect stillness. There are many varieties of Chinese yoga, or qigong. Yet, just as the differences in styles of yoga that originate in India, the benefits are all the same. 

*Qigong is taught as part of the curriculum of our Master's program at AOMA:

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: qigong

5 Tips for Self-care: TCM and Beyond

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 02:59 PM


Self-care is a buzzword that’s mentioned a lot these days, but I feel like the meaning can get lost when tossed around so frequently. What does self-care really mean? Care of oneself, sure, that’s easy. We eat, we drink, we sleep – our needs are met, we are cared for. Right?

“Self-care” can be defined as intentional actions that you take in order to care for your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. While eating, drinking, and sleeping would all technically be considered self-care, I’d like to explore the idea a bit further than the basics to stay alive. Our bodies are generally pretty good at making sure our physical needs are met, so what often falls by the wayside is our mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are some approachable and affordable suggestions for incorporating more self-care activities into your daily routine:

1. Get Acupuncture

Being poked by needles may not be the first item on your “self-care and relaxation” to-do list, but it should be. Hear me out! Symptoms of stress can manifest physically (fatigue, muscle tightness, insomnia, illness, etc.) or emotionally (depression, anxiety, mood swings, poor concentration, etc.) and vary greatly from person to person.

Acupuncture acts on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, also promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which handles anxiety and worry ( Research done on a specific acupuncture point (yintang) has shown that, when used during acupuncture or acupressure, this particular point lowered the reported stress levels of volunteers (Fassoulaki). Other research done on the success rates of In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, found that women undergoing acupuncture combined with IVF had higher successful implantation rates compared with those who did not receive acupuncture (Balk). The World Health Organization lists physical stress symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and pain among the problems that acupuncture has proven effective in treating. You can receive acupuncture when these symptoms arise or go in for regular "preventative" visits to stay ahead of any imbalances. 

2. Meditate

For many people, meditation might be the most intimidating item on this list. I used to think of meditation as something completely unapproachable, something that only tai chi masters and yoga gurus have the discipline to do. I thought meditation wasn't for me. Not true! I’ve since found that simple, approachable meditation practices such as “Alternate Nostril Breathing” (below) can be effective at reducing stress and bringing my awareness back to the present. Also, apps like Buddhify and Headspace offer a variety of guided meditations for all moods and situations, and you can always check out a class at AOMA! Every Sunday evening from 5-6pm there is a free meditation class at the AOMA South campus - no registration or materials are required.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: 
•    In this exercise, the breath should be relaxed, deep and full. 
•    Use the thumb of the right hand to close the right nostril, and the index finger or ring        finger of the right hand to close the left nostril. 
•    Close the right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. 
•    Then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. 
•    Then inhale through the right nostril. 
•    Close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. 
•    Continue repeating, alternating nostrils after each inhalation. 
•    Inhale left, exhale right: helps to make you calm and integrates unwanted negative          emotions and stress, excellent by itself before bed. 
•    Inhale right, exhale left: Gives clarity and positive mood, helps us to focus on what is        important. (

3. Exercise

Aerobic exercise causes your brain to produce more endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and "feel-good" neurotransmitters. Exercise also maintains both physical and mental fitness, reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances cognitive function. It doesn't have to be high-intensity or long-duration; even just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-stress effects ( My personal recommendations include yoga, qigong, tai chi, walking, running, or swimming, but any activity that inspires you to get up and get moving is perfect! Studies have shown that both brisk walking and tai chi can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improve mood (Putai). 

4. Hydrate

This is the easiest item on the whole list yet the one that I struggle with the most! All our organs need water to function, and studies have shown that being just a half-liter dehydrated can increase your body's cortisol levels (Shireffs). Stress also causes your body to release more water by elevating your heart rate and increasing both ventilation and perspiration (Maresh). Drinking a glass of water won'tmake your problems disappear, but dehydration will make you feel worse! Keeping your body fully hydrated will enable you to perform better under pressure and may help you feel less stressed. I use an app called Plant Nanny that reminds me to hydrate throughout the day and helps me track my daily water intake in a cute, fun way.

5. Think Happy Thoughts

An important aspect of self-care is thinking about and focusing on things that inspire you to feel more positive and hopeful. Research has shown that negative thinking can both produce and sustain depression, which can then affect memory and cognitive brain function (Teasdale). There’s a quick and easy “positive words” exercise that I like to do in the mornings, sometimes while the coffee is brewing or even before I even get out of bed. I stand or lay quietly for a minute or two and brainstorm a list of random positive words – no order, no logic, no pressure – just a free-flow of any positive words that come to mind. It can be challenging some days but it’s always fun, and most of the time I’m smiling before I even realize it. Typically I don’t write anything down, but this morning I did so that I could share my list with you:































Making this list took me just 3 minutes; I smiled while I was writing it and I’m smiling again as I re-type it now. Try it for yourself! It’s amazing how powerful a few words of affirmation can be when they brighten your day and remind you of the positivity that already exists inside your own head.

6. Bonus Tip: Ask for Help

If you try all the items on this list and don't feel any positive improvements in your sense of wellbeing, it may be time to look outside yourself for help. Reaching out to a trusted friend or another member of your support system might help, or you may need to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional like a therapist or counselor. Your body might also be trying to tell you something, and a visit to your primary care physician could reveal an underlying medical cause for your symptoms. Please feel free to contact the AOMA Clinics for recommendations on local acupuncture-friendly physicians and specialists.

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Balk, Judith, et al. “The relationship between stress, acupuncture, and IVF patients: a pilot study.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Volume 16, Issue 3, August 2010, Pages 154–157

Fassoulaki, Argyro, et al. “Pressure Applied on the Extra 1 Acupuncture Point Reduces Bispectral Index Values and Stress in Volunteers.” Anesthesia & Analgesia: March 2003 - Volume 96 - Issue 3 - pp 885-890

Maresh, C.M. et al. "Effect of Hydration State on Testosterone and Cortisol Responses to Training-Intensity Exercise in Collegiate Runners." Int J Sports Med 2006; 27(10): 765-770

Pomeranz, Bruce. “Scientific Research into Acupuncture for the Relief of Pain.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2007, 2(1): 53-60.

Putai, Jin. "Efficacy of Tai Chi, brisk walking, meditation, and reading in reducing mental and emotional stress." Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 36, Issue 4, May 1992, Pages 361–370

Shirreffs, S M. "Markers of Hydration Status" Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 40.1  (Mar 2000): 80-4.

Teasdale, John D. “Negative Thinking in Depression: Cause, effect, or reciprocal relationship?” Advances in Behaviour Research and Therapy. Volume 5, Issue 1, 1983, Pages 3–25







Topics: acupuncture

Medicine from the Bottom of the Heart: AOMA Student and Pediatric Stroke Awareness Advocate

Posted by Diane Stanley on Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 03:42 PM


In Mandarin, there is a character pronounced “de" 得. It's a neutral tone, and it's typically translated as "virtue". There's nothing particularly wrong with this translation, but something that people don't know is that it's part of a grammatical structure that indicates how you do something. While adverbs are optional in English, in Mandarin Chinese, you never miss a verb complement or this "de"-structure to indicate how you do what you do. This is an important aspect of our medicine we often miss. Deeply rooted in the culture behind our medicine is the emphasis on how we approach the things we do in our lives.

I became a mother in June of 2015, and leading to that point, I would rub my bump everyday, especially when I could feel where Logan was and say, "I love you, but you should know, I have no idea what I'm doing. Please, be sturdy." Everyday, "Dear baby, I love you. I have no idea what I'm doing. Please, please, please, be sturdy." Logan was born, after 25 hours of labor, in the 99th percentile for height, weight, and head size. He also had an infection, shoulder dystocia, a ring of hematomas around his crown, and required a cpap machine and pharmaceutical intervention to help his lungs absorb oxygen due to the prolonged compression of his chest.

On our fourth day in the NICU, my husband and I left to get dinner and received a call. Logan was having focal seizures localized to his right arm and leg, and they would need to do an immediate CT scan to look for the cause. We arrived as they received the results, and our neonatologist told us that our son suffered a stroke. His CT scan looked like his left sensory motor cortex hadn't develop at all. However, an MRA and MRI showed that his brain developed perfectly and, most likely, the injury occurred during my delivery. The neonatologist and the neurologist also told us that we could expect Logan to start showing symptoms as early as eight or nine months. I thought, "Thank God, I have time to research."

At four and a half months, I noticed that Logan always had his right arm forward at tummy time. I always just thought it was cute until I realized it was because he wasn't putting weight on his right arm. I thought I had time, but he already quit using his right arm, which never left a fist. I immediately took him to see Dr. Song Luo at AOMA acupuncture clinic. After one treatment, Logan slept with his hand open for the first time ever. After a few days and a follow up treatment, I was holding Logan and felt this slimy sensation on my cheeks. After the initial thought of how much drool was covering Logan's hands, I realized he was grabbing my face with both hands!

Regular, local treatments have kept Logan's development on track. Even when he started to show weakness in his right leg, just two points on the stomach channel followed by massage led to him crawling forward for the first time. I talk to parents around the country caring for children who have suffered from strokes and hemiplegia, and without acupuncture, many of these children grow up not being able to use their arm and often unable to walk unassisted. Dr. Luo tells me that Logan's experience is not uncommon. To see these children who aren't recovering and to know that acupuncture is so effective even with just three points and without needle retention is unacceptable to me.

Dr. Luo once shared a story about his great grandfather who taught him TCM. He was in his nineties and without hesitation, got up and got dressed in the middle of the night to help a patient in need. Dr. Luo said he taught him to practice medicine from the bottom of his heart, and it is this complete and utter compassion with which he approaches medicine that I feel makes him Logan's favorite doctor. His compassion and dedication combined with Logan's recovery have inspired me to dedicate myself even more in my studies in hopes of becoming a better acupuncturist when I graduate. These days, I don't generally ask the universe to keep Logan sturdy anymore. I know acupuncture has him covered. I just try to approach medicine and motherhood from the bottom of my heart.

Schedule an appointment at the AOMA acupuncture clinics in Austin:

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Learn more about the AOMA Master's Program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine:

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Topics: pediatrics, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, acupuncture patients

AOMA Welcomes New President, Dr. Betty Edmond

Posted by Rob Davidson on Tue, May 03, 2016 @ 09:35 AM


AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine is pleased to announce that Dr. Betty Edmond is serving as the fourth CEO and President. Dr. Edmond brings strong leadership skills and experience to the organization, with experience as a physician, senior healthcare executive and advocate for the advancement of Oriental and Integrative Medicine.

She has 19 years of experience as Medical Director of Seton’s Children’s Hospital and VP of Medical Affairs at Seton Healthcare Family in Austin, and 20 years of academic and clinical experience as a faculty member and specialist in Pediatric Infectious Diseases. As former Governing Board member at AOMA, Dr. Edmond understands the challenges faced by integrative health practitioners seeking inclusion within the greater healthcare system.

Dr. Edmond employs a variety of healthcare modalities and has a passion for empowering people with the knowledge and tools to manage their own health. She studied at Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin as an expression of her interest in natural foods as preventative, health-giving care.

Regarding the future of medicine and patient care, Dr. Edmond feels the time has come for a rapid advancement of Integrative Medicine through collaborative teams of healthcare practitioners, coordinating care around the needs of each patient. Her unique perspective and experience brings new opportunities to AOMA to build bridges with western medical systems to offer patients a more comprehensive and collaborative approach to their care.

According to Dr. Edmond, a person-centered coordinated care model best meets patient needs and enhances patient outcomes – both in disease prevention and therapy. She is inspired by the holistic healthcare approach at AOMA and is excited about the organization’s position as a strong national leader capable of enriching Oriental and Integrative Medicine study as a critical healthcare field of practice and research. 

Dr. Edmond looks forward to working with the many committed leaders, faculty, staff and students at AOMA, to include AOMA’s past president Dr. Will Morris, a nationally recognized leader in Oriental Medicine who is continuing as President Emeritus and Research Scholar at AOMA.

About AOMA:

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine offers regionally accredited masters and doctoral level degree programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, preparing its students for careers as skilled, professional practitioners. AOMA is known for its internationally recognized faculty, award-winning student clinical internship program, and herbal medicine program. AOMA provides for over 16,000 patient visits annually in its student and professional clinics and collaborates with healthcare institutions including the Seton Healthcare Family, People’s Community Clinic, and Austin Recovery. AOMA gives back to the community through nonprofit partnerships and by providing free and reduced price treatments to people who cannot afford them. AOMA is located at 4701 West Gate Blvd. AOMA also serves patients and retail customers at its North Austin location, 2700 West Anderson Lane. For more information see or call 512-492-3034.

Topics: acupuncture school, aoma, aoma president

Acupuncture and TCM for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Posted by Yongxin Fan on Fri, Apr 08, 2016 @ 10:40 AM


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and altered bowel habits; for example, chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or both – either mixed or in alternation. It has become a major health concern. 

IBS affects 10% to 15% of the population in the United States, and 9% to 23% of the population worldwide. As many as 20% - 50% of patient visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms. Most people with IBS are under the age of 45 – 50, and about 2/3 of IBS sufferers are female. (1)

The exact cause of IBS is not known, and Western doctors consider IBS to be a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders happen when your GI tract behaves in an abnormal way without evidence of damage due to a disease.  

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), IBS is a condition caused by Spleen and Liver disharmony, which manifests as Liver Qi stagnation and Spleen Qi deficiency. 

TCM relates the symptoms associated with IBS to stress. Stress affects the Liver Qi (energy), which handles the smooth flow of Qi throughout the whole body; excess stress then results in Liver Qi stagnation. The Spleen is in charge of digestion according to TCM, and stress weakens Spleen Qi, leading to disturbances of the GI system. The major IBS symptoms such as abdominal bloating or pain, mixed or alternated constipation or loose stool, mucus in the stool, or incomplete evacuation, are all results of Liver overacting on the Spleen and Stomach.

A study done in 2009 in the USA on managing IBS symptoms with acupuncture showed that after 4 weeks of twice-weekly acupuncture treatment, average daily abdominal pain/discomfort improved, whereas the control group showed minimal reduction. The intestinal gas, bloating, and stool consistency also showed improvement. These findings show that acupuncture treatment shows promise in the area of symptom management for IBS. (2)

In addition, a large amount of clinical research in China has showed that TCM therapies, which include acupuncture, acupuncture with electric stimulation, moxibustion, auricular acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine and external application, have positive results for patients with IBS.

Clinical studies have also shown Chinese herbs to improve the effectiveness of IBS treatments. For example, Fuling (Poria) and Shanyao (Rhizoma Dioscoreae) can relieve diarrhea. Baizhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae) is well known for its regulating and dual effect on the gastrointestinal tract: it treats diarrhea at low doses and constipation at high doses. With this dual effect, it is the ideal herb for relieving the major IBS symptom of alternating diarrhea and constipation.

Since stress is a major factor that can worsen or trigger IBS symptoms, another important point for IBS patients to keep an eye on is the diet. Patients should avoid gas-producing foods such as:

  • onions
  • soda
  • beans
  • cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • milk

Other foods containing lactose may also induce symptom flare-ups in some people. It is important to remove spicy and acidic foods from the menu that stimulate the lining of the intestine. It is also necessary to stop smoking and reduce the intake of coffee, since both may irritate the bowel.

At the AOMA acupuncture clinics in Austin,TX, practitioners of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine may use a variety of methods to restore a patient’s Liver and Spleen disharmony. Application of acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, and Qigong and other lifestyle changes will promote the healing of IBS. 

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Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program


(2) Anastasi, Joyce K, McMahon, Donald J Kim, Gee H MA 2009 Gastroenterology Nursing

Topics: acupuncture, tcm health, digestion, IBS, digestive health

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