6 Books to Read Before Starting Acupuncture School

Posted by Kathie Nguyen on Fri, Jul 07, 2023 @ 11:41 AM

A student entering the world of traditional Chinese medicine needs to have an open mind about differences between tradition, science, and culture. It can be difficult to understand the concepts especially as students learning this medicine in a different language and mindset from the original material. The following books are some recommendations where authors, aware of this struggle, have deciphered the underlying philosophy in a readable way. Some authors in this recommendation list have even tried bridging the gap using western Biomedicine. These books can help develop your understanding of the definitions of wellness, illness, and healthcare. Before starting or even during acupuncture school, moving towards an understanding of evidence-based medicine, these books can help a student navigate this exploratory time.

Wood Becomes Water: Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life

Author: Gail Reichstein, L.Ac.

Wood Becomes Water introduces the most foundational theory in Chinese cosmology, the Five Element Theory, where physical, emotional, and spiritual phenomenon can be identified at a simplified level with the language of five elements. Chinese medical theory describes functional organ systems as the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The author gives profiles to each of the five elements; they break down the properties of each element and their relationship with each other while applying the concepts to everyday life and health. Additionally, they explain acupuncture, dietary therapy, qigong, and feng shui in relation to each of the elements. This book would be a great basic introduction for a complete novice student to start thinking about traditional Chinese ideas on the properties and interconnections of organ systems in the body.


Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine

Author: Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac. and Efrem Korngold, L.Ac., O.M.D.

Between Heaven and Earth is a great guide presented for an audience that may not have any background with traditional Chinese medical ideas. The book begins by describing the authors’ own experience of learning about Chinese medicine in the 1970s comparing the medical philosophies of the West and East. The authors explore the basic building blocks of Chinese medicine going through the Yin-Yang theory, Five-Phase theory, tongue, and pulse diagnosis. Additionally, they give a readable introduction of acupuncture, channel theory, herbs, and pattern differentiation. Lastly, the authors talk about “kitchen medicine” by describing the differences in food ideology while giving simple nutritional recipes and tips. This book is a classic introduction to Chinese medicine written in the voice of authors exploring this philosophy that intrigues many beginning students.

The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine

Author: Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D.

The Web That Has No Weaver, like the previous selection, is a staple read for beginning students to Chinese medicine. The author quotes from the classical ancient Chinese texts but also current clinical research to synthesize their own guide about the web that is traditional Chinese medical philosophy. They go into detail about the four fundamental substances, Zang Fu organs, meridian system, pathological factors, four clinical examinations, eight principal pattern diagnosis, patterns of health seen clinically, while thoroughly digesting Taoist theory and modern research in the new edition. The author demystifies and explains traditional Chinese medicine in an accessible way. This is one of the main books that beginning students like to read to introduce themselves to the way of thinking of traditional Chinese medicine.

The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine

Author: Daniel Keown, M.D., L.Ac. 

The Spark in the Machine describes the concepts of traditional Chinese medicine in the more commonly used terms of western Biomedicine to give the readers an explanation of concepts that may seem esoteric at first in an accessible, witty voice. The author begins the book by delving into some concepts that can be commonly overlooked in western Biomedicine including regeneration, fascia, piezoelectricity, systems theory, and anatomical landmarks; they combine these concepts to create their own functional definition of qi and acupuncture point energetics. Then, the author delves into how embryology relates to some foundational concepts of Chinese medicine. Finally, they combine these ideas to describe the meridian system in detail. This book bridges the gap for a student who wants to have more specific comparisons between western Biomedicine and traditional Chinese medicine. If a patient wanted to know where and why acupuncture points exist, this would be a great resource to recommend.

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive System for Health and Fitness

Author: Tom Williams, Ph.D.

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Chinese Medicine offers a comprehensive look into the fundamentals parts making up Chinese medicine. This is a great resource for beginning students to see an overview of the breadth of information that will be covered in a Chinese medicine program. The author briefly covers the basic principles and theory behind Chinese medicine including explanations about the meridian system, Zang Fu system, causes of disharmony that affect health and illness, and diagnostic techniques that can be used to identify these patterns of disharmony. They describe the treatment modalities that are used in Chinese medicine by introducing acupuncture, Chinese herbalism, qigong, and lifestyle ideas. Valuably, they offer example case studies that are insightful on what the clinical experience of a student may look like. This beautifully illustrated book would be a concise organized guide for a student imagining their journey in Chinese medicine studies.

Live Well Live Long: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition

Author: Peter Deadman

Live Well Live Long goes deep into the details of the causes and effects of health and illness according to traditional Chinese medical thought. The author explains the concept of the nourishment of life, or yangsheng, and applies it to how life is experienced in modern times by analyzing the effects of modern lifestyles in conjunction with body constitution and causes of disease. They describe the fine points of each aspect related to well-being using Chinese medicine and health cultivation theories developed over centuries alongside citations of modern lifestyle research. These topics include emotions, diet, exercise, sleep, sexual behavior, pregnancy, care of children, nature, music and dance, old age, and death. A student can learn about lifestyle principles that support health which will be handy bringing into personal and clinical practices. This book is a great all-encompassing resource about Chinese health philosophies applied to modern life.

Celebrating Pride Month at AOMA

Posted by Taryn Altendorfer, DAcCHM, IHP, L.Ac on Fri, Jun 23, 2023 @ 12:53 PM

Pride Month is dedicated to uplifting LGBTQ voices, celebration of LGBTQ culture, and the support of LGBTQ rights. 

I have been a part of AOMA since 2010, and I remember when I started my journey at AOMA I had the all-too-familiar worry of “will this be a safe place for me?”

Very quickly I learned that AOMA is not only a safe place for LGBTQ individuals, but it is also a place where people in the LGBTQ community can thrive.

In my experience, TCM in general, offers a safe and welcoming healing space for LGBTQ individuals.

In TCM there is the Yin-Yang Theory. While Yin is “feminine” and Yang is “masculine”, TCM is actually not a gender-binary form of medicine. The principles of Yin-Yang Theory make that clear:

  1. Opposition - There are two sides, (Yin and Yang) but the opposition is relative, not absolute.
  2. Interdependence - There is an inseparable relationship between two parts of a whole; Yin and Yang cannot exist without the other.
  3. Mutual Consumption – Yin and Yang are in a constant state of dynamic balance.
  4. Inter-transformation – Yin and Yang transform into each other.

Here we can see that Yin-Yang Theory is about a non-binary spectrum, much like how I associate with gender and sexuality. TCM sees individuals based upon the ever-changing, non-binary, endless variations that Yin and Yang can manifest and combine to create.

I was at a crossroads with my health in my mid-20s and TCM gave me hope when conventional medicine had left me hopeless. During my studies of this ancient wisdom medicine I not only learned how to be a practitioner and teacher in the field, I also grew in ways I never could have imagined. Studying TCM and working at AOMA was a huge part of my journey of awareness, understanding, and growth. Having a safe, LGBTQ-Affirming place to thrive was part of that.


The symbol of LGBTQ pride is a rainbow flag and each color has its own meaning:

Red = Life Force

Orange = Healing & Celebration

Yellow = Sunlight: New Ideas & Thoughts

Green = Nature: Prosperity & Growth

Blue = Serenity

Purple = Spirit

Black/Brown = People of Color & Inclusion

Light Blue/Pink/White = Trans Affirming

The rainbow flag is a visual reminder of the struggles and oppression that people in the community have faced and continue to face. However, the flag is also a sign of hope: no matter how you identify, the colors of the rainbow symbolize that you are included, you are welcome, and you are safe to be yourself, and are supported in your journey to thrive.

Topics: acupuncture, tcm, ATX, Pride, AOMA_Austin

TCM for Injury Recovery, Injury Prevention, and Improving Athletic Performance

Posted by Jing Fan, LAc on Thu, May 11, 2023 @ 09:59 AM

Introduction to TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for centuries to treat various ailments and promote overall health. Today TCM is gaining popularity worldwide due to its holistic approach to healing and prevention.

TCM originated in ancient China, with its earliest records dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE). It is a comprehensive system of medicine that encompasses a wide range of practices, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, qi gong, and tui na bodywork, among others.Dr. Jing 2

The Principles of TCM

At the core of TCM is the belief in the interconnection between the mind, body, and spirit. TCM practitioners aim to achieve balance and harmony within the body by addressing underlying imbalances that cause illness or injury. The primary concepts of TCM include the theory of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and the concept of Qi (life energy).

TCM for Injury Recovery

  1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a popular TCM method that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. It has been proven to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation, thus promoting faster recovery from injuries. Athletes can benefit from acupuncture as it can help reduce muscle soreness, alleviate joint pain, and improve circulation for faster healing.

  1. Herbal Medicine

TCM herbal medicine consists of natural plant-based remedies that can be used to promote healing and recovery. These herbs can be consumed in various forms such as teas, powders, or capsules. For athletes, specific herbal formulas can help reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and support muscle and tissue repair.

  1. Tui Na Bodywork

Tui Na is a form of Chinese therapeutic bodywork that combines acupressure, stretching, and manipulation techniques to promote healing. It is particularly beneficial for athletes as it can help release muscle tension, reduce pain, and improve joint mobility. Tui Na can also help in injury recovery by stimulating blood flow and promoting the body's natural healing process. By addressing muscular imbalances and promoting relaxation, Tui Na also can play a crucial role in preventing injuries and maintaining overall athletic health.

TCM for Injury Prevention

  1. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a gentle martial art that focuses on slow, controlled movements and deep breathing. It is often referred to as "moving meditation" due to its calming effects on the mind and body. Regular practice of Tai Chi can help athletes prevent injuries by improving balance, flexibility, and overall body awareness.

  1. Qigong

Qigong is a system of coordinated body movements, breathing, and meditation used to improve overall health and well-being. It can help athletes prevent injuries by enhancing their flexibility, strength, and coordination. Additionally, Qigong's focus on deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and improve mental focus, which can also contribute to injury prevention.

TCM for Improving Athletic Performance

  1. Dietary Therapy

In TCM, food is considered to be a form of medicine, and dietary therapy is an essential aspect of promoting overall health and well-being. TCM practitioners often recommend specific foods and herbs to enhance athletic performance, including those that support energy production, endurance, and recovery. Some examples of performance-boosting foods include goji berries, ginseng, and cordyceps, which are believed to increase stamina and strength.

  1. Cupping Therapy

Cupping is a TCM technique that involves placing glass or silicone cups on the skin to create suction. This process is thought to help improve circulation, remove toxins, and release muscle tension. Many athletes, including Olympic swimmers and professional football players, have turned to cupping therapy to enhance their recovery and performance. The increased blood flow and reduced muscle tension from cupping may help athletes to perform at their best and recover more quickly from intense training sessions.

  1. Mental Focus and Meditation

Meditation is a cornerstone of TCM practices that can significantly benefit athletes in terms of mental focus and concentration. By incorporating meditation into their training regimen, athletes can develop greater mental resilience, leading to improved decision-making and enhanced performance under pressure.

Integrating TCM into Your Training Regimen

To fully harness the benefits of TCM for injury recovery, prevention, and improving athletic performance, it is essential to incorporate these practices into your regular training routine. Consult a qualified TCM practitioner to develop a personalized plan based on your unique needs and athletic goals. This may include a combination of acupuncture, herbal remedies, dietary recommendations, and specific exercises such as Tai Chi or Qigong.Canva Design DAFing1bKI0


Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a holistic approach to injury recovery, prevention, and athletic performance enhancement. By incorporating TCM practices such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, Tai Chi, Qigong, and dietary therapy, athletes can improve their physical and mental well-being, leading to better overall performance. Consult a qualified TCM practitioner to develop a personalized plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.


  1. Is TCM safe for athletes? Yes, TCM is generally considered safe for athletes when practiced by a qualified practitioner. However, it's essential to consult with a professional before starting any TCM treatments or therapies.
  2. How long does it take to see results from TCM therapies? The duration of results may vary depending on the individual and the specific therapy or treatment being used. Some athletes may experience immediate benefits, while others may require several sessions or weeks of treatment.
  3. Can TCM be combined with conventional sports medicine? Yes, TCM can often be used in conjunction with conventional sports medicine practices. Many athletes find that combining TCM with other treatments, such as physical therapy, can provide enhanced benefits.
  4. Do I need a referral from my doctor to see a TCM practitioner? While a referral may not be necessary, it's a good idea to consult with your primary healthcare provider before seeking TCM treatments, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
  5. How can I find a qualified TCM practitioner? To find a qualified TCM practitioner, it's important to research their credentials and experience. Look for practitioners who have completed accredited TCM training programs and are members of recognized TCM professional organizations.


Topics: sports medicine, acupuncture, aoma, tcm, ATX

TCM For Stress Relief

Posted by Violet Song on Mon, Apr 24, 2023 @ 02:05 PM

Nowadays stress can be generated by various aspects of everyday life, such as work, relationships, living environment, etc. Long-term stress can create imbalances in our body systems, causing symptoms such as sleep disorders, fatigue, digestion disorders, hormonal imbalances, and so on. Acupuncture and herbal medicine may not be able to change the factors that create stress in your life, but they can help with stress-related symptoms and disorders.  Stress-1


Acupuncture is based on the theory of meridians and acupuncture point energetics. Most stress-related cases manifest as the pattern of Qi stagnation. Qi is the fundamental terminology used in the field of acupuncture. Qi can be explained as the active energy or substance in our mind-body system. Stress interferes with the movement of Qi, thus leading to Qi stagnation. Traditional Chinese medicine practice applies different modalities to remove Qi stagnation and bring balance back to our mind-body system. These modalities include but are not limited to acupuncture needling, cupping, Tuina, Gua Sha, Qigong, and Tai Chi

Herbal medicine can particularly help with soothing Qi stagnation to relieve stress-related disorders. To practice herbal medicine safely and effectively, a licensed acupuncturist will formulate an herbal prescription based on each patient’s individual case. Licensed acupuncturists in Texas are not only certified by the Texas Medical Board, but they are also required to meet NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) Herbal Board education requirements and to pass all board examinations.

There are different forms of herbal medicine, such as traditional herbal decoctions, herbal tea, herbal capsules, and tinctures, that can be selected based on efficacy, convenience, and patient preference. One of the most commonly used herbal formulas to sooth Qi flow and relieve stress disorders is Jia Wei Xiao Yao San (Free and Easy Wanderer Plus). This herbal formula is composed with multiple herbal ingredients to assist Qi flow, strengthen Qi and nourish blood. To ensure Jia Wei Xiao Yan San is prescribed effectively and safely, please consult a licensed acupuncturist.

There are multiple ways to support stress relief besides acupuncture and herbal medicine. Nutritional balance, adequate exercise, and sleep schedule adjustments can all be a part of a solution to stress disorders. A licensed acupuncturist can make recommendations and support you in all these areas, helping you along your journey to reducing stress in your life.

Topics: chinese herbs, tcm, acupunture

Women's History Month

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Fri, Mar 10, 2023 @ 08:01 AM

Women’s History Month, first beginning as Women’s History Week in 1981, honors the contributions women have made to a variety of fields, commemorating and encouraging the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women throughout history.

AOMA is fortunate to have several brilliant women acupuncturists in our Professional Clinic, all of whom are also faculty members and clinic supervisors at the Student Intern Clinic. Every day they contribute to the world and to the AOMA community by transforming the lives of patients and sharing their knowledge and wisdom with the future acupuncturists of AOMA’s student body. In honor of Women’s History Month, join me in learning more about these incredible women – I know you will find them as amazing and inspiring as I do!


Zhenni Jin, DAOM, L.Ac.

Why did you choose to become an acupuncturist?

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine were my first majors at the university; with 10 years of study, I’ve realized that this medicine helps people and supports health in a holistic way which is my goal and ambition with healing.

What qualities make a great acupuncturist?Zhenni-Jin-228x300 

Modesty, patience, and intelligence.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Studying and practicing TCM in three different countries and regions.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in the TCM field?

Certain treatment modalities (like tuina) can be hard for women to practice considering body strength and keeping boundaries with patients.

What woman in your past has inspired you and how?

My first supervisor during my undergrad residency; she was the chief physician in the department, but she was so patient with me and guided me step by step.

Do you want to change any assumptions about women? Why?

There can be an assumption that women’s health should be all female practitioners’ strength. This is not true, and female practitioners have the ability to do other fields of medicine.

How do you balance your career with your family life, volunteer work, hobbies, and other interests? Has that balance changed over time?

There is no conflict between my career and life so far, luckily. As a practitioner there can often be some pressure and stress from your cases, and I can talk with my family about my stressful feelings. Listening to your trusted ones helps a lot with the emotional stress from work.

Can you tell us about a university or education experience that shaped your future career as an acupuncturist?

I joined a two-year Fellowship program by AIHM (Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine) last year as a White House Scholar. This educational experience connected me with many integrative practitioners over the states and largely expanded my vision of medicine and human health.

How important is higher education to the future of women and the world?

Higher education is crucial for the world, not only for women, not only for healthcare providers. Higher education provides a higher level of opportunity and challenges.

What message or advice would you like to share with other women acupuncturists or future acupuncturists?

I wish for you to seize any opportunity in your practice and career to become a better practitioner and serve the world. 

Qiao ‘Chelsea’ Xu, MD (China), L.Ac.

Why did you choose to become an acupuncturist?doc5.png-228x300

I heard a lot of stories about traditional Chinese medicine as a child. My mother once told me a story from her own childhood, over 80 years ago where my aunt had gotten shingles. Through using a combination of moxibustion and acupuncture, my grandmother was able to help my aunt recover very effectively. As I grew up, this story really resonated with me and helped drive me towards studying acupuncture.

What qualities make a great acupuncturist?

A great acupuncturist needs to be detail oriented, but also compassionate and mindful.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

There are two components to this: educating patients to empower themselves in their own life. Whether it be through qigong, dietary adjustments, mindfulness - helping patients balance their physical and mental health preventatively, not just symptomatically has been very fulfilling. As a teacher, I'm very proud of helping my students use TCM concepts to emphasize the connection between themselves and the universe around them. That mind-body balance and applying this to their treatment style.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in the TCM field?

The biggest challenge has been balancing work and my family.

What woman in your past has inspired you and how?

My mother is my biggest inspiration. She is loving, strong, and hard working - and fascinated with TCM. I saw her treat conditions that my father was enduring using TCM that even MDs failed to treat properly really. She really inspired me to become the practitioner I am today.

How do you balance your career with your family life, volunteer work, hobbies, and other interests? Has that balance changed over time?

Before getting married - I worked long hours in the hospitals. Finding the right balance after starting a family meant I had to figure out how to manage my time in new ways. For me this meant finding new efficiencies throughout the day. Listening to lectures while making a meal, or simple toe raises while sitting. A balance between maintaining an active mind and body without feeling like I was forcing anything. I'm proud of the effort I put into my family and career. That balance has to come from what feels right to each person. Over time as my children leave home, I've had time for more hobbies.

Can you tell us about a university or education experience that shaped your future career as an acupuncturist?

While a medical intern I remember an experience with a professor that was a very experienced eye acupuncturist. He was over 80 at this point, having developed many of his own techniques and practices. I'm nearsighted. My very first experience being treated by him was transformative - I could feel a lightness in my eyes. This experience really inspired me on how effective acupuncture could be.

How important is higher education to the future of women and the world?

Higher education is important not just for economic liberation and women's careers - but also to uplift and be an example for the next generations.

What message or advice would you like to share with other women acupuncturists or future acupuncturists?

Love your patients. Love your job. The community and bonds formed are just as important as the career driven aspect of this profession. Take pride in your work with passion.


Yaoping ‘Violet’ Song, PhD, L.Ac.

Why did you choose to become an acupuncturist?

I wanted the opportunity to be able to help people.doc13.png-228x300

What qualities make a great acupuncturist?

First and foremost, caring.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Having helped people back to health.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in the TCM field?

Not really challenge nowadays, but more advantages.

What woman in your past has inspired you and how?

There are a lot of them! My mom, my teachers, my coaches. They taught me to be Kind, Brave, and Smart.  

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?

I really don't care about assumptions.

How do you balance your career with your family life, volunteer work, hobbies, and other interests? Has that balance changed over time?

It's a dynamic balance. I'm always adjusting it.

Can you tell us about a university or education experience that shaped your future career as an acupuncturist?

I appreciate all my education experience and it's an ongoing process.

How important is higher education to the future of women and the world?

Higher education is equally important for both men and women.

What message or advice would you like to share with other women acupuncturists or future acupuncturists?

Don't give up!


Reagan Taylor, MAcOM L.Ac.

Why did you choose to become an acupuncturist?

I used to work as a direct care staff for adults with intellectual disabilities, which can be incredibly challenging and deeply rewarding. As enriching as my experiences were, I knew I didn’t want to be a direct care staff forever, nor did I want to work as an administrator for a facility. This left me wondering how my desire to work with this community would manifest…then I had my first acupuncture treatment that changed everything. My world opened up, and I set on a path to become a Chinese medicine practitioner or the specific purpose of bringing it to the special needs community.Reagan Taylor-1 

I worked at a facility during the entirety of my undergrad, throughout my master’s degree at AOMA, and remained working there after I graduated and became licensed. At the same time, I explored opportunities to treat the residents where I worked and build a practice. Since then, my career goals have shifted more towards clinical education, but I still have a deep desire to dedicate my time and expertise to this amazing community.

Now, as a full-time faculty at AOMA, I still hope to bring this incredible medicine to the special needs community by way of developing a student clinic. I can’t imagine a better way to serve those with cognitive disabilities than train and educate future healthcare professionals to work with these individuals with compassion and competency.

What qualities make a great acupuncturist?

Generally, I would say knowledge, compassion, confidence and a deep philosophical understanding of yin and yang. Ultimately, patients decide what makes a good acupuncturist according to their world views and values.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

My career is really just getting started, but as a practitioner, I must say I’m most proud of my attentiveness to my patients and the quality treatments I offer. I genuinely love Chinese medicine and providing patient care, and I believe that comes through when I’m with my patients. This also translates into my work as an instructor at AOMA with the students I teach and mentor. I feel that I’m trusted, and that truly means a lot to me.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in the TCM field?

I’m a rather opinionated person who isn’t afraid to use my voice when necessary (even when it’s not). Let’s just say I’m no shrinking violet, so I wouldn’t say that I personally have felt challenged as a woman in the world of TCM…yet. Although in the field as a whole, women are sorely underrepresented. Most of the practitioners in the United States are women; however, most of the people who have the most lucrative careers are men. Most of the well-known scholars of TCM are men. Most of the highest-paid educators are men. Most of the books are written by men. In this aspect, the world of TCM is no different from other industries. Knowing how many brilliant women there are in this field, I hope that dynamic shifts in the near future. Something tells me it absolutely will.

What woman in your past has inspired you and how?

Two women immediately come to mind: one of my oldest and closest friends, Shelagh Brown, and my teacher and mentor, Lesley Hamilton.

Shelagh has always been a force. She has challenged me in ways that provoke deeper analysis and critical thinking regarding society, spirit, and myself. Shelagh’s wide breadth of knowledge from plant medicine to racial injustice to history continually amazes and inspires me. I am the woman I am today because she constantly pushed me to be better and to do better, and I owe her the world.

AOMA is where it is today because Dr. Lesley Hamilton’s hard work, and anyone who knows anything will agree with me wholeheartedly. I have no idea how she does all of the things she does while maintaining her sanity and composure. She is quite literally Wonder Woman, and I have never met a more capable woman in all my life. The example Lesley set as an educator is what altered my career path to what it is today. When she can finally retire, her constant presence on campus and in AOMA’s community will be sorely missed.

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?

These days, a lot of the common misconceptions and assumptions about women are being challenged and are finally changing. If I had to choose one belief about women to change, it would be one that has plagued us for literally thousands of years and can be summed up in one word…hysteria. This word originates from the word hysteria, which is Greek for the uterus.

It doesn’t take a linguist or a scholar to see the blatant link between women and emotional upset. It’s time that this ridiculous view of women being so volatile in how we handle our emotions is set aside. Instead, I think it’s important to normalize everyone expressing natural emotion in healthy, productive ways. There is also value in showing compassion and understanding in the moments of emotional overwhelm, because that happens too.

How do you balance your career with your family life, volunteer work, hobbies, and other interests? Has that balance changed over time?

Everyone, regardless of their gender identity, needs to find a harmonious balance between work life and living life. In this day and age, it can be challenging to strike a true equilibrium. For myself, I’ve made it a point to focus on the aspects of life that keep my emotional cup full. While there are times I struggle with maintaining a perfect, peaceful balance, I always take time for my family, friends, and to get in some good snuggles with my dogs.

Can you tell us about a university or education experience that shaped your future career as an acupuncturist?

For myself, it goes the other way around. My desire to become an acupuncturist is what shaped my educational experiences. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was 27. With only a few college-level classes under my belt, I basically had to start from the ground up and develop myself as a student with the end goal to become an acupuncturist.

AOMA was always the school I wanted to go to. I’m a local Austinite, so knowing the high quality of education that AOMA has, I didn’t see a need to go anywhere else. I studied the curriculum and built my undergrad experience with classes to best prepare me and serve my educational experience at AOMA. I focused on advanced sciences, particularly biology. I took psychology and sociology classes to expand my world views and understand different human experiences, which helps me in clinical practice, serving my patients the best way possible.

How important is higher education to the future of women and the world?

I find a lot of value in higher education, but not everyone has access to this privilege. I think women should be appreciated and respected, regardless of their educational level or career choices. We all have something to offer and things to teach one another.

With that being said, the world of higher education, and most trades, are dominated by men. This is changing rapidly, and women are now demanding recognition and respect in these spaces.

What message or advice would you like to share with other women acupuncturists or future acupuncturists?

Throughout every age of human history, women have a tradition of being healers…we shouldn’t shy away from embracing this powerful legacy. We are the backbone of this profession, and our contributions cannot and should not be understated, overlooked, or undervalued.

Topics: chinese herbs, acupuncture, aoma, tcm, ATX

Fat is Flavor!

Posted by Joel Cone, DC on Mon, May 23, 2022 @ 01:43 PM

By Dr. Joel Cone

Gordon Ramsey said it best when he said, “Fat is flavor.” And it’s true. Some of the best things are entirely made of fat or supremely enhanced by it. Think of truffle-buttered eggs, olive oil-rich tapenade, the Brazilian fish moqueca with its rich coconut flavor, or the ever-classic beverage: Hollandaise Sauce! But fats don’t only add a richness and flavor to our foods, they also pack in powerful metabolic regulation, for better or worse. You all know the adage you are what you eat, and a lot of who you are is fat: your brain, your stored energy reserves, your cell membranes and myelin. The type of fat you eat is important, as the regulatory cascade that it sets up can determine whether an injury resolves quickly without pain, or becomes chronic and unresolving and debilitatingly painful. Remember most pain-relieving medications, NSAIDs and corticosteroids, are drugs that influence the manufacture of eicosanoid particles. These molecules are directly pulled from fat in your cell membranes and the type of fat available can influence these molecules.Fat Is Flavor Images (2)

So how do we assess inflammation? We can get a thorough history and look for inflammatory indicators: smoking, sedentary lifestyles, poor food quality in a diet diary, and symptoms of pain, repetitive injury, allergies, etc. These can all be important clues to gather and assess. We can also look to blood tests. Frankly, some patients won’t trust you until they see a test in hand. You may have told them what they need, but they had to go spend the $100 on the lab tests to adopt your ideas. Such is human nature. So, what lab tests could you get? C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate often come to mind, though I very rarely see these elevated on blood tests, even with other signs of inflammation in the history or physical exam, so they aren’t very usefully in the general ambulatory population, in my opinion. They are still an option. I do think the Omega 3-to-Omega 6 ratio is a good test, and available through Quest Diagnostics, CPL, or other blood diagnostic labs. It gets to the dietary roots of what your patients look like internally. It looks at the roots of the inflammatory cascade and how the person is relatively set with regards to fats, and thus inflammatory processes.

Fat Is Flavor Images (1)The typical Western diet contains a considerably increased ω-6 fatty acid relative to the ω-3 fatty acids (FA). Essential fatty acids (EFAs), taken in via diet or supplements, are essential components of cell membrane phospholipids, and appropriate membrane fatty acid content is pivotal for optimal membrane fluidity, receptor activity and cellular metabolism. The same FAs eventually give rise to hormone-like substances (eicosanoids) that are involved in the regulation of blood pressure and coagulation, lipid levels, immune response, allergy and asthma, tumor growth and inhibition (1), the inflammatory response to injury and infection, and they may play a role in seizure disorders, depression, and dementias such as Alzheimer's disease (2). Increased blood flow to the brain is seen with persons with improved ω-3 FA levels. Talk about an important group of molecules!

Historically, evidence is indicative that early hunter-gatherer diets had ω-6 to ω-3 fatty acids ratiosclose to 2:1. Estimates of modern ratios are now 10:1(3) to 18:1 to 50:1(2) by some estimations! And throw in the novel trans fatty acid isomers and we have a disaster on our hands (4).

Needless to say, we (...most persons anyway) need considerably more ω-3 fatty acids and considerably less ω-6 fatty acids than we currently are getting. It’s probably safe to assume the patient has a ratio greater than 2:1. High levels of ω-6 fatty acids are found in refined grains and vegetable oils, such as safflower, soy, corn, peanut, and canola oils… think fried foods, chips, crackers, cookies, chain restaurant type-foods. The ω-6 fatty acids are found in green leafy vegetables and ocean fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, or krill and other sources from plankton.Fat Is Flavor Images (3)

There are other ω-6 fatty acids, such as flax seed oil, that can convert to essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA. However, flax seed conversion can be as low as 2%! This is a hard-to-rely on source for EPA and DHA.

Another category of fat is arachidonic acid. Small amounts are needed, but elevated levels can be unhealthy, if not balanced with other fats. High concentrations of arachidonic acid are found in dairy, eggs, meats and shellfish.

The trouble with ω-6 fatty acids is when they are elevated, they convert to arachidonic acid, which drives up the arachidonic levels, and the unhealthy and proinflammatory effects can be quite high. Vegetarians and vegans, in some studies, have been shown to have higher levels of arachidonic acid than omnivores, due to elevated consumption of ω-6 fatty acids coupled with lower levels of ω-3 fatty acids and elevated insulin levels due to higher consumption of carbohydrates! Crazy, right? Conversion of ω-6 fatty acids to arachidonic acid is slowed by the presence of eicosapentanoic acid (in fish oils) and sesame seed oil (raw).

Although often women have elevated ω-6 fatty acids, estrogen from female physiology or estrogen-containing birth control pills can inhibit the formation and use of ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids (lenolenic and linoleic) and sometimes women can benefit from additional types of ω-6 fats (such as found in Evening Primrose Oil, Black Currant Seed Oil, or Borage Oil) along with EPA (fish or krill oil). Severe cramping around the menstrual cycle can hint at this being an issue(5).

Fat Is Flavor Images

All of this sound confusing? Well, it’s not as confusing as I’m probably making it. A simple rule is to try to balance your fat categories. Here are some simple ideas that can help:

  • Increase fruit and vegetable consumption! Green and leafy vegetables are low in omega-6 fats and arachidonic acid and often contain omega-3 fats, too
  • Reduce your refined carbohydrates, total carbohydrates, and sugar, as increased insulin drives the conversion of ω-6 fatty acids to arachidonic acid.
  • Reduce take out, restaurant foods, and packaged foods (as these often contain higher levels of ω-6 fatty acids). Look at the oils used in potato chips, crackers, fried foods, shelf stable packaged foods… they all have ω-6 fatty acids in common.
  • Consider adding more salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring to your diet, and/or add around 1,200mg or more Eicosapentanoic Acid (EPA) to your diet in a pill form (I like Nordic Naturals brand fish oils).
  • Low protein diets can drive up arachidonic acid levels (as protein is typically replaced with carbohydrates). Take in adequate protein for your body mass. General recommendations are 0.8gm/kg and up to 1.6 gm/kg body weight, with 1gm/kg bodyweight being a good recommendation generally. Athletes and very active persons need on the higher end of this range (4).
  • Eliminate or considerably reduce vegetables oils, and consider cooking with either coconut oil or olive oil as your first choice.
  • Arachidonic acid conversion to pro-inflammatory end products is inhibited by ginger,turmeric, bioflavinoids and boswellia, FYI.

I always try to consider what will make the biggest impact on my patient's physiology with the least cost or annoyance. Fatty acid ratios and consumption patterns are an approach that has very broad effects on a person’s physiology and can be a good place to start when inflammation may be involved.

Work Cited:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, membrane remodeling and cancer prevention. Natividad R. Fuentes et al. Mol Aspects Med. 2018 Dec.
  • Omega Fatty Acids – Proper Ratio is Key. BrainMD Life. June 13, 2017.
  • Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Loren Cordain, S Boyd Eaton, Anthony Sebastian, Neil Mann, Staffan Lindeberg, Bruce A Watkins, James H O’Keefe, and Janette Brand-Miller Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:341–54. 2005 American Society for Clinical Nutrition
  • The Big Book of Health and Fitness. Phil Maffetone. 2012 Skyhorse Publishing.
  • Clinical Nutrition for Pain, Inflammation and Tissue Healing. David Seaman,1998 NutrAnalysis, Inc.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutrition, integrative medicine, holistic healing, acupuncture, aoma, tcm, ATX


Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Fri, Apr 22, 2022 @ 11:08 AM

A tribute from Pam Ferguson Dipl.ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA-CI, LMT, AOMA's ABT Dean Emerita

 During Covid's peak, I loved the way early and recent AOMA alums rallied to my call for volunteers to join us in giving 15 minute “stress busting” sessions for the ICU and ER day and night crews at St David’s North Austin Medical Center. We set up in the ICU waiting room with windows overlooking the main corridor, so we were on full display. We arranged chairs in a friendly circle around the central table with our gear. We piled healthy snacks, mandarins, and bottled water on the adjoining table. Our collective Qi was friendly and welcoming for the steady stream of RNs, Respiratory Therapists, Patient Techs, some MDs, and also the cleaning crew!

We offered a variety of techniques. The licensed acupuncturists maximized the NADA protocol - ideal for short sessions, and well tested for group therapy in disaster and crisis situations. Connie Randolph L.Ac included her tuning forks to “amplify Qi or address any specific areas of discomfort.” We added Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) - either Tuina or Shiatsu - after the needles were inserted, or where folks just wanted bodywork to ease stress.

Pam Ferguson

We worked on shoulders, necks, arms, hands, and sometimes feet. Sessions ranged from 10-30 minutes, whatever time the ICU crew could give us between their patients, during their breaks, or when patients were receiving another procedure. For many, it was their first experience with acupuncture needling and /or ABT and they loved it. They experienced Qi: “Energy is moving from my ears to my feet!” one RN exclaimed in surprise.

We provided calming Qi, light, and joy during 12-hour shifts where the St. David’s crew was grappling with critically ill patients, premature deaths, and family demands. AOMA’s President and CEO, Dr. Mary Faria, was so supportive that she opened free appointments at the AOMA Student Intern Clinics as a follow up for these crews. This is an ongoing generous offer.

My deepest appreciation goes out to all AOMA alums who volunteered: Connie Randolph and Suzanne Rittenberry, who also volunteered when we organized sessions for hurricane evacuees a couple of years ago, as well as Ainge Lin, Robyn Brush, Adriana Martins, Nicole Fillion-Robin, Emily Tennison, Jameson James, Victor Manuel, Lauren McLaughlin, and Steven East. We were also joined by three massage therapists from Massage Envy.

For a longer article about our volunteering, tap into my February column Stress-Busting Sessions for ICU and ER crews in Acupuncture Today. (


In Qi! Pam


How Chinese Herbal Medicine Can Support Women's Hormones

Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Thu, Mar 10, 2022 @ 02:05 PM

By Dr. Jing Fan, M.D.(China), Ph.D., L.Ac.

Endocrine disorders are very common issues for women, often closely related to stress, diet, work, and rest. It is believed that hyperinsulinemia is related to increased androgen levels and obesity, and type 2 diabetes. In turn, obesity can increase insulin levels, which exacerbates polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Several other causes can manipulate the endocrine system to create problems with female reproduction, including obesity, thyroid disorders, adrenal hyperplasia, and tumors in the pituitary gland. It can also cause acne, irregular menstruation, insomnia, emotional instability, infertility, etc.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), endocrine disorders are primarily manifestations of Yin deficiency (caused by stagnation of Qi and blood, which blocks the body's channels); this issue is very common in women. Therefore, for its treatment, we must start with regulating human hormones to make the body's blood flow unblocked, thereby promoting blood circulation throughout the body. According to the principles of syndrome pattern differentiation and treatment in traditional Chinese medicine, for patients with the heat excess pattern, we should use treatment for nourishing Yin; for patients with the deficiency pattern, we should pay attention to the treatment of tonifying blood and Qi and supporting the kidney.

The traditional Chinese herbal medicines that regulate the endocrine system include Bai Shao, He Huan Pi, Chai Hu, Yu Jin, Suan Zao Ren, and Dan Shen. We will introduce them in detail below:

  1. Bai Shao (Paeonia lactiflora Alba Radix)Untitled design-4

Bai Shao is a good herb for women. Not only can it nourish yin and blood, but it can also help regulate menstruation and relieve pain. It also has a specific protective effect on the liver. It can help chest tightness, abdominal pain, night sweats, and hot flashes caused by endocrine disorders. It also can improve women's irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, and metrorrhagia. However, it is not suitable for patients with gallstones.

  1. He Huan Pi (Albizia julibrissin Cortex)

He Huan Pi can not only soothe the liver Qi but also detoxify and invigorate blood. According to TCM, it has a positive effect on activating blood, dredging the collaterals, improving depression, and reducing swelling and toxin. It is also suitable for treating restlessness, insomnia, depression, internal and external injuries. Therefore, it is effective for liver Qi stagnation-induced endocrine disorders. When using it, one can take 10-15 grams of decoction orally or use the appropriate quantity of powder for topical use.

  1. Chai Hu (Bupleurum chinense Radix)

The primary function of Chai Hu is to soothe the liver Qi to play a very targeted treatment effect on endocrine problems caused by liver Qi stagnation. For women with irregular menstruation, Chuan Xiong (Ligusticum chuanxiong Rhizoma), Bai Shao, and Xiang Fu (Cyperus rotundus Rhizoma) are often used in combination. These herbs have a positive effect on blood circulation and menstrual relief. For breast tenderness and loss of appetite caused by liver Qi stagnation, Bai Shao and Bai Zhu (Atractylodes macrocephala Rhizoma) are often used in combination.Untitled design (3)

  1. Yu Jin (Curcuma aromatica Rhizoma)

Yu Jin is a commonly used herb in Chinese herbal medicine, especially for diseases caused by Qi stagnation. For endocrine disorders, it can soothe the liver Qi, promote blood circulation, dispel blood stasis, and dredge the collaterals, according to TCM. Therefore, problems like irregular menstruation and dysmenorrhea can be treated with this herb. In the case of liver Qi stagnation, it can be combined with Chai Hu and Xiang Fu. In the case of liver heat, it can be combined with herbs such as Zhi Zi (Gardenia jasminoides Fructus) and Chuan Xiong.

  1. Suan Zao Ren (Ziziphus Spinosa Semen)

The recommended primary function of Suan Zao Ren is sedation. Many Chinese patent herbal medicines for insomnia and restlessness contain the ingredients of Suan Zao Ren. It goes through the channels of the liver, gallbladder, and heart, and it has a soothing effect on symptoms such as upset, insomnia, heart palpitations, night sweats, and so on. The taste of this herb is somewhat sour, so it can also restrain the Yang in the liver and clear the liver fire. It is generally used with herbs such as Bai Shao and Mai Dong.

  1. Dan Shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza Radix)

Dan Shen is a commonly used traditional Chinese herbal medicine. It is generally used together with Chuan Xiong and Dang Gui (Angelica Sinensis Radicis). It positively promotes blood circulation, promotes Qi, dispels blood stasis, regulates menstruation, and relieves pain. Therefore, it works especially well for women’s endocrine problems, such as dysmenorrhea, dark blood clot, irregular menstruation, etc. Dan Shen can dissipate blood stasis and generate new blood, according to TCM records. It is a perfect Chinese herbal medicine for regulating the endocrine system for women.

Untitled design (2)

Summary: Many Chinese herbal medicines can regulate the endocrine system, not limited to the above. However, herbal medicines also have some limitations. It cannot cover all issues. Therefore, we should always pay attention to lifestyle adjustment and proper exercise, which can also help maintain an optimistic mood conducive to endocrine healthy.

In addition, TCM treatment of endocrine disorders pays great attention to mediating emotions. From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, “Qing Zhi” (emotions) also significantly impact the endocrine system. The so-called "Qing Zhi" actually refers to people’s mental and psychological state. The great Chinese classic text, Huang Di Nei Jing, repeatedly discussed the damage to human organs caused by bad mental and psychological state, saying that "extreme anger hurts the liver," "extreme happy hurts the heart," "extreme worry hurts the spleen," "extreme sorrows hurt the lungs," and " extreme fear hurts the kidneys." Emotions directly affect the secretion of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Therefore, it is necessary to actively regulate emotions and maintain a stable mood to improve the skin condition before and after the menstrual periods. 

Topics: menopause, women's health, aoma, mensuration

Chinese Medicine and Sinus Allergies

Posted by Brian Becker on Mon, Feb 07, 2022 @ 12:07 PM

By John Scott, DOM

In this article on treating patients with sinus allergies with Chinese Medicine I would like to focus on treating root causes. Quite often when treating sinus allergies the immediate focus is on symptoms which are really considered a branch treatment. In Chinese medicine we don’t treat the allergen; we treat the weak or the system that is out of balance. Since in Chinese medicine there are no isolated systems we see different systems involved in this particular pattern of disharmony.


Allergies represent an attempt by the body to enclose harmful foreign substances. Stress is an important factor with allergies. When an individual is under increased stress they are more likely to be more reactive in general.

Once this foreign substance elicits an allergic response, such as itching, swelling or sneezing, it is there after deemed an allergen. An allergen can be anything that triggers an allergic reaction. Foods pollen mold chemical family member, a spouse. Of course certain substances can be more likely than others to be reactive. Juniper, cedar, chamisa and certain damp foods like wheat and dairy have large hard to assimilate proteins which can cause more irritation that other substances. Desert and dry weather pollens tend to be more irritating because they have adapted to be stickier and resistant in order to survive without water.

Usually, the systems that I see that are the most often out of balance are usually relating to the liver/kidney systems. There are two primary patterns that I see with environmental allergies; stress is a factor in both of these presentations.

Wind Cold Presentation

This type of allergic presentation is characterized by clear copious nasal drainage. There may also be sneezing, sniffling, post nasal drip, fatigue, feeling chilled, weak low back, and low back pain. There may be psychologic issues around safety. This will be caused by adrenal exhaustion, and kidney yang or qi deficiency.

In these cases the tongue will be pale, maybe swollen, while the pulse will be weak and or deep especially in the deep, third position on the right wrist.

Herbal treatment: Xanthium & Magnolia Formula to al

To address the allergic symptoms. Nourish Essence Formula is a good formula to work on the causes of the allergies; It has a number of astringent herbs that help to dry up excessive fluids as well as supporting the kidneys and the adrenal glands. The Essential Yang Formula is an excellent formula for supporting the kidney yang. Other Chinese formulas that support kidney qi and yang are: Ba Wei Di Huang Wan and You Gui Wan.

Ear Acupuncture Points: Suprarenal gland, kidney, endocrine, lung, inner1-Feb-04-2022-07-45-05-81-PM nose

Acupuncture points: Fuliu (Kid 7), Zusanli (St 36), Hegu (Li 4), Lieque (Lu7), additional point possibilities: Shangjuxu (St. 37), Shanglian (Li 9), Shousanli (Li10), Shenshu (Ub 23), Fengmen (Ub 12), Feishu (Ub 13), Gaohuangshu (Ub 43)

Moxabustion: Mingmen (Du 4), Shenshu (Ub 23), Qihai (Ren 6), Guanyuan (Ren 4)

Wind Heat Presentation

This type of presentation is characterized by inflammation and heat symptoms. This is usually described as wind heat or heat excess. There patient will have sinus congestion and or inflammation, headaches, burning eyes. The most common root cause of this is an imbalance in the liver and or gall bladder meridians, as well as heat in the lung meridian. Treating the liver and gall bladder channels will provide a treatment that will be more effective that just addressing the symptoms. This will greatly assist the body in coping and clearing the inflammatory response to the environmental irritants like pollen.

The tongue will be red and there may be scalloped edges, there may also be a yellow coat. In addition the pulse will be tight and maybe rapid or wiry.

Herbal Treatment: The formula of choice for symptom relief is Jade Screen & Xanthium Formula. Xanthium Nasal Formula is appropriate when the heat and inflammatory symptoms are more severe. This formula can be used during the season that the patient has allergic problems or just when symptoms arise or nearly constantly. I find it is effective to use a formula to address the constitutional imbalances that the patient is presenting. Usually the formulas that I recommend are Free and Easy Wanderer Plus or Bupluerum and Tang Kuei Formula. Free and Easy Wanderer Plus is also a very good formula for chemical sensitivities.

Ear Acupuncture Points: Liver, kidney, endocrine, lung, inner nose

Acupuncture points: Zhaohai (Kid 6), Zusanli (St 36), Hegu (Li 4), Lieque (Lu7), Taichong (Liv 3), Xingjian (Liv 2), Extra points Yintang, Pitung, Zanzhu (Ub 2) Chai Pai, additional point possibilities: , Fengmen (Ub 12), Feishu (Ub 13), Gaohuangshu (Ub 43), Ganshu (Ub 18), Danshu (Ub 19)

Zhaohai (Kid 6) and Lieque (Lu 7) used if combination for sinus congestion, inflammation, headaches and burning eyes. Use Zhaohai first followed by Lieque leave in for about an hour then remove and replace in opposite order for five minutes. Use of gold needle for this treatment increases the effectiveness.

There can of course be other pattern presentations a patient may possess besides these 2 basic patterns. Please consider other constitutional factors and possibilities. Just keep in mind that you will get fantastic results and relief with patients with sinus allergies when you support the constitution and treat the root in addition to the branch symptoms.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, AOMA community collaborations, aoma

The AOMA Difference

Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Thu, Jan 27, 2022 @ 10:57 AM

When searching for an Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine program it is important to look for programs that will help you optimize your success long-term. To help you navigate the process, we put together a list of academic and institutional benefits that AOMA's Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine programs offer to help you reach your highest-level of success.  

1. Regionally/Institutionally Accredited Universities

SACSCOC_Stamp_ColorSchools that have been regionally or institutionally accredited have been approved by the accreditation board and are bound by this accreditation to follow a set of shared rules and values across a certain geographical location. In the south, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions, such as AOMA. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices primarily among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and certain other international sites approved by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees. Their mission is to assure the educational quality and improve the effectiveness of its member institutions. In addition to being institutionally accredited by the SACSCOC, AOMA is also programmatically accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine (ACAHM). To read more about all of the accreditations AOMA abides under head to the Accreditations tab on our website!


2. California Accredited UniversitiesCalifornia Flag

Schools that have both Regional/Institutional and California Accreditations allow students to have a wider set of choices when it comes to picking where they want to practice. The California Acupuncture Board is a regulatory body under the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The Board’s legal mandate is to regulate the practice of Asian medicine through acupuncture in California and is the sole issuer of acupuncture licenses in the state. Their mission is to protect the people of California by upholding acupuncture practice standards through the oversight and enforcement of the Acupuncture Licensure Act. Only individuals who obtain a degree through California Accredited universities can obtain licenses to practice in California. AOMA is accredited by the California Acupuncture Board, and graduates of AOMA’s master’s program are eligible to practice in all US states with an acupuncture practice act. 

3. International PartnershipsNanjing University logo

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are practices that have been utilized all over the world for hundreds of years. Creating a space for student and faculty members to continue to learn from individuals both internationally and locally fosters a deeper and richer understanding of the practice and its applications. AOMA maintains multiple international partnerships, including a partnership with the Jiangsu Province Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which enables our students to engage in virtual clinic experiences with doctors at a major Chinese hospital. Additionally, since April 2021 AOMA has partnered with Dr. Huang Huang of the Jingfang Institute, where he has served as a visiting scholar and professor at the university. Following the success of this partnership in September of the same year, the two universities—Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine and AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine—signed an official letter of cooperation making AOMA the first school in the South to partner with the honorable Jingfang Institute. To read more about this partnership head to our blog post on the subject here.

4. Local & Community-based Partnerships

Clinical based learning is a large portion of your learning process during acupuncture school. Attending a university that works with multiple community clinics and healthcare spaces gives you the ability to have a more diverse learning environment and experience. For over a decade AOMA has worked with countless community groups in the Austin area, such as the McCarthy Community Clinic, the Peoples Community Clinic, and the Austin Veterans Affair outpatient clinic. Through these experiences students have come to have a greater understanding of the important of community-based health care, and so have even transitioned into working within a community care clinic or community-based health field after their experience doing so at AOMA.

Julie Lott Lab AOMA PNG

5. Alumni Success Rate

Alumni success rate can be a great model to showcase how a certain university is helping to assist and foster potential careers for their students. It can also provide a gage for how individuals in your field are experiencing their new career lifestyle. In 2020 it was reported that roughly 85% of AOMA’s alumni had received their license within two years of finishing their program and within that group 61% of AOMA's alumni members reported feeling fulfilled or very fulfilled with their career life after finishing their graduate program. Many universities also include Alumni specific resources on their website to provide graduates with access to library materials and in some instances even job postings. Head to AOMA's Alumni section of our website to see more of the resources we provide to our alumni members!

6. Student-to-Staff RatioAOMA Cover Image Two

Being able to interact with and ask questions of your professors and teachers is a pivotal part of many individuals learning process. A lower student-to-staff ratio can be helpful in ensuring you can communicate more readily with the individuals you are learning from. At AOMA we have a 12:1 student to faculty ratio for our masters and a 4:1 ration for our DAcCHM doctoral program. This allows us to keep our class sizes down, and really pay attention to the questions and concerns of our students during their time on campus.

Lastly, the most important tip to remember is that the best school is the one that fosters your ability to learn and makes you feel heard and well supported during your time in the program. Doing research on prospective programs is a great way to ensure you are making the best decision for you.


Looking to learn more about AOMA's admission process and programs? Head to our Admissions page to learn more or reach out to our Admissions Director Brian Becker directly with your questions!

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