AOMA Blog

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

AOMA OUTREACH – NO LIMITS!

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. (www.acupuncturetoday.com/columnists/Ferguson).

 

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.

2-Feb-04-2022-07-33-14-08-PM

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!

An Integrative Approach to Epilepsy Care

Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Fri, Dec 10, 2021 @ 10:29 AM

Epilepsy is one of the most common brain disorders in America, actively effecting roughly 3.4 million people nationwide. A disorder housed in the Central Nervous System (CNS), Epilepsy is primarily characterized by the presence of seizures that can effect the whole brain (generalized) or a portion of the brain (focal). Given the dynamic existence of the disorder, it has proven to be a very challenging one to treat. Utilizing the benefits of multiple medical practices, patients often see a benefit in including a more integrative and holistic care approach to their health plan, opposed to a singular one.

Candace Parsley, an AOMA Doctoral student who is studying epilepsy, has seen firsthand the benefits of an integrative approach both for her patients, as well as herself.

Candace Parsley Headshot

One of the primary benefits she has seen is Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine’s ability to help alleviate some of the common challenges of epilepsy, including the side effects of anti-seizure medication. Acupuncture and TCM have a long-standing history of being helpful in treating digestive issues, stress reduction, and sleep deprivation and disorders, all of which are common issues individuals with epilepsy face. In collaboration with Western Medicine and pharmaceuticals, holistic medicine provides a way for individuals to customize their health treatment programs in a way that is better tailored towards individual success and well-being.

An integrative approach to epilepsy care can be increasingly beneficial in optimizing the full scope of patient care. Lifestyle management, an important element in treating epilepsy, can take on a new and potentially more impactful position under the guidance of a Chinese Medicine Practitioner. In response to the topic of agency, Parsley mentions that “the capacity for integrative medicine to empower choice and agency on the part of the patient and have that vested interest in their health where they are the ones making the decisions and they are actively involved in making their care plans, is a game changer for a lot of people. Especially in regard to the epilepsies.”

For many individuals with chronic illness, the ability to have an option on how their health is managed is often limited within a singular care system. Regarding epilepsy, integrative care has the potential to restore a sense of agency and control for an individual’s health story by providing them the option to customize a treatment plan that best works for them. While epilepsy is often a lifetime diagnosis, with proper patient care, individuals can find a way to live a happy and healthy life with this chronic disorder. The beauty of integrative medicine is in its ability to gift such a life to its patients, reinforcing the power of integrative care.

Looking to learn more about how Acupuncture and TCM can help assist in epilepsy care? Check out the following resources!

https://www.epilepsy.com/learn

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21689988/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29763803/

Meet The Veterans of AOMA!

Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Thu, Nov 11, 2021 @ 01:51 PM

In honor of Veterans Day, our Senior Director of Student Services, Dami Tokoya recently sat down with a few of our veteran students to discuss the impact being in the military made on them, and how their time serving the Nation influenced them to practice integrative medicine here at AOMA. 

Meet Caitlyn Kelly!

US Army, SPC, 2012-2017 

1. What motivated you to join the military?Caitlyn Kelly Image 1

CK: I won't lie, I was working three jobs and still about to lose my house, so I joined the military. Plus, I really needed health insurance.

2. How does your military experience translate into being a student?

CK: It definitely puts a lot of the stresses of student life into perspective. My military experience enables me to compartmentalize efficiently and get my work done in a timely and effective manner. Also, since I worked as a linguist (Persian-Farsi, some Dari, and German) I learned to process vast quantities of information in a very limited time and recall them accurately as needed;.

3. What are your hobbies?

CK: I very much enjoy working out, I mix it up a lot between yoga, running, and lifting. I am experimenting with being a novelist, I love reading so it seems like the logical next step. I also do hobby taxidermy!

Caitlyn Kelly Image 2

4. As a Veteran, can you describe the positive impact practicing integrative medicine, acupuncture, etc has had on you?

CK: I am very much enjoying the ability to continue to serve in the new capacity as a healer. It also gives me a chance to continue to support my brothers and sisters at arms after retiring from the military.

5. What are your plans for after graduation?

CK: I’m opening my own clinic down in Spring Branch, Tx.

 
 

Meet Monique Jones!

MJ Image 1
MAJ (R) Monique Jones is native of St. Louis, Missouri (which is home to Missouri Botanical Gardens-among the top three botanical gardens in the world). She enlisted in the U.S. Army February 2000 as an Admin. Specialist with assignments at 42nd Military Police (MP) Detachment, 16th MP Brigade at Ft. Bragg, NC, 6th Ordinance Battalion, 23rd Area Support Group, South Korea, and Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA), Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. In 2005 she reclassed to 91V/68V, Respiratory Therapist assigned to WOMACK Army Community Hospital, Ft. Bragg, NC. In 2007 she was selected to the Army Active-Duty Option Green to Gold Commissioning program. She received her commission as Second Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps May 8, 2009, from Campbell University, Buies Creek. She graduated Cume Laude with a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) and minor in Psychology. She went on to serve on Active Duty as a Medical Operations and Plans Officer for the Army Medical Department. Her duties and assignments include: Executive officer for the Headquarters and Headquarter Battery of 75th Fires Brigade, Medical Platoon Leader 218th Field Artillery Regiment, and Brigade Medical Operations and Plans Officer for 75th Fires Brigade, Fort Sill, OK; Brigade Medical Operations Officer and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Officer for 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Katterbach, Germany; Operations Officer for 212th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) the only forward deployed CSH, and Commander for the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of 212th Combat Support Hospital, Miesau, Germany; Senior Observer Controller and Headquarters Team lead 3-409th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th CAV Multifunctional Training Brigade, Fort Knox, KY. Monique deployments include Afghanistan, Poland and Ghana. Monique retired June 2020, culminating her 20-year career assigned as the Deputy Surgeon for the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Fort Hood, Tx. 
 

1. What motivated you to join the military?

MJ: I was living with my mom after I graduated high school, feeling like I was grown and had life all figured out. My mom had a problem with me coming home at all hours of the night. I of course with very little perspective on what adulting was believed I shouldn’t have a curfew because I was “grown”. One night I came home at around 3am. My mom was furious. She told me if I couldn’t respect her rules then I had to leave. I stormed off to my room to grab some things before I left. I really had no idea where I was going. I reckon my mother knew that. She stood in front of the door with her arms spread wide shouting at me repeatedly “where do you think you’re going”. I just looked at her with a dumb look and went back to my room. I didn’t go to sleep. I just sat there watching the screen not paying attention to what was on. Then the infamous song played “Be all that you can be, in the Army”. That night I didn’t sleep. In the morning instead of going to work as a salesclerk at Victoria Secret, I went to the local recruiting station. Just like that I was grown enough to make the impulsive decision without any approval. Still today it’s the best decision I’ve made in my life thus far. Oh, I did do a lot of growing up over the years. I must say the I’m blessed and honored to have worked in such a profession with amazing leaders, peers, and subordinates. All of them have contributed to my success and growth over the years. There are words I can express to thank them all enough. If my mom were alive, she would say the same. She was so proud of me.

2. How does your military experience translate into being a student?

MJ: Perseverance and grit! I don’t think there anyone in the world who would say the life of a service member is easy. At times it’s a thankless job with immeasurable task. Throughout the years it has been the greatest challenges that I didn’t think were humanly possible that made me a better person. Along with serving in the military, being a parent has also been instrumental in my development process. It’s such an honor to be a mom but being a service member and a mom presents great challenges. I’m not sure I would have made it without my kids. There are times I feel like they teach me more than I teach them. Their resilience and stand-up character should be emulated by all. Providing for them was and still is my number one mission. When service members across the world have a mission, no matter how demanding it maybe it has to be accomplished for the greater good. It takes a lot of faith, perseverance, and grit to be successful. What I’ve come to realize is discipline and dedication will get you through. You can’t just be a part of something or an idea because it sounds good or its popular. You must have conviction in what you’re doing, be dedicated, and disciplined in your execution. To be an Acupuncturist is no easy task. The curriculum is quite challenging and demanding. I want to be an Acupuncturist to serve the community. In order to serve the community best in the future I must be disciplined in my studies now. I must be willing to persevere through challenges and know that it’s all part of the process.

MJ Image 23.What are your hobbies?

MJ: Finding a hobby is one of my post military goals. I want to learn to play violin and piano, mentor the youth and host socials for women. I don’t really have a hobby at the moment. If I had to choose, I would say I’m a professional learner. I love learning new things, speaking, teaching, traveling, and quality time with my kids and family.


4. As a Veteran, can you describe the positive impact practicing integrative medicine, acupuncture, etc has had on you?

MJ: The greatest impact has been what I’ve learned about my body and how it operates. Prior to learning what I’ve learned thus far I didn’t pay attention to how much the mind, body and spirit were connected to influence harmony for us as beings. Understanding symptoms in my body that I previously ignored, then being able to identify a food source that has healing properties to relieve the abnormality is simply amazing to me. The medicine is so amazing. I wouldn’t say everyone should fire their current healthcare plan and only use Traditional Chinese Medicine, but I do believe everyone should be educated on how it works.

5. What are your plans for after graduation?

MJ: The most important thing for me after graduation is to educate the community on how to observe and listen to their bodies as a prevention method for illness. It important to me that the community know that there are alternative methods for treating illnesses, pain and cognitive/emotional conditions that don’t require medications with side effects. I want to influence the community to take a more personal approach to their own healthcare. I want to specialize to treat pain and cognitive/emotional conditions. At the moment I’m projecting my target client population to be service members, veterans and children. At first thought I would like to have my own private practice though I’m aware of the various benefits of integrative medicine.
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6. How do you feel both your military experience and your education have prepared you for your future?
 
MJ: God doesn’t make mistakes! Without my military career I wouldn’t be here. As a healthcare professional in the military, I’ve gotten to honor to work with allies all over the globe. Every opportunity taught me valuable lessons on the effects of treating patient’s vs symptoms. As a student of acupuncture one of the principles that first stuck to me was being able to understand the patient holistically. It’s not just about the chief complaint but also external and internal factors that can influence it. Sleep hygiene, good nutrition and exercise are consistent themes that I’ve witnessed being taught in both my military career and during my education her at AOMA. I will continue to educate the community on why these are so important for vitality.

 

Meet Robin Boyles!

US Army, 1SG, 1990-2010

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I am a 20-year Army veteran. I served in the Army Veterinary Corps from 1990 - 2010. My first assignment was overseas in Rota, Spain for three years. Dream job and place to live on the southern border bay of Cadiz. Loved it! I served mostly in Europe I spent a total of nine years in Germany, three years in Italy and one year in Iraq from 2004-2005. I joined the military because I wanted to see the world and it was a fantastic experience! I worked in the veterinary clinic seeing animals every day, x-rays, surgery, vaccines, you name it. Our main job was keeping military working dogs healthy and educating their handlers on how to care for them. It was a great job and I learned a lot.

My greatest take away was meeting and working with people from everywhere. I love experiencing new cultures and ways of being healthy. I retired as a first sergeant. My husband was also in the military, and I got out so we could go to Thailand for three years.
My experience in the military has given me the discipline and medical background I
needed for doing acupuncture. I want to treat veterans when I graduate and continue to serve military members and their families. I love that we have a partnership with the Austin VA, and I can’t wait to do my internship there. That is another reason to go to AOMA besides the fact that we have such a diverse group of instructors and students to learn from. I am very excited about the future of acupuncture and that the military is adopting it as a valuable resource for our veterans and active duty. AOMA is a great learning environment and supports us veterans!

 

Meet Khong Bouapraseuth!

1. What motivated you to join the military?IMG_0666

KB: I joined the military in a turbulent time a few years after 9/11. I was in the Texas Army National Guard (Ammunition Specialist) from 2005-2011 and in the Army Reserves (Water Treatment Specialist) from 2011-2013. Both my units were in Fort Worth, Texas. I was briefly part of the Oklahoma National Guard in Oklahoma City during my undergraduate. I was deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq (close to Baghdad) in the middle of massage school. My time in Iraq (2008-2009), I was an armored gun truck driver.
My company provided security for others to transport supplies, mail, people, construction from Camp Taji to various place in Iraq. I was trained in all positions of the gun truck: Truck Commander, Driver and Gunner; in case if one of my team member was incapacitated, I would take over their role effortlessly. I spent months training in tactical driving and maneuvers in convoys, basic maintenance on vehicles, learned how to use military GPS systems, radios, jamming devices, and a little bit of Arabic. Some weeks, I would go to the range every day to do target practice with machine guns. I also learn some combat field medic medicine for emergencies.

The military appealed to me because at the time, I was 17 years old and still in high school. I was thinking how I was going to pay for college. I am a first-generation American and my parent came to the United States with next to nothing. I was too young to sign up on my own. My dad had to sign a permission slip for me to join. The military has great education benefits, and with the National Guard and Reserves, you only have to serve one weekend a month and two week in the summer. Occasionally, there will be a state and national emergency where I would get deployed to help citizens evacuate from an area with natural disaster and/or deployed to war.


2. How does your military experience translate into being a student?IMG_0046

KB: My military experience has instilled the importance of adaptability and perseverance which as helped me as a student. I have a patient in the student clinic that does not want any needles. I was able to adapt and apply other TCM methods, such as, acupressure, cupping, bodywork, meditation, herbs, and medical Qi Gong to the patient. The patient still got great results. We absolutely need perseverance to finish the programs here at AOMA.

3.What are your hobbies?

KB: My hobbies include gardening, Kung fu movies, and of course spending time with friends and family.

4. As a Veteran, can you describe the positive impact practicing integrative medicine, acupuncture, etc has had on you?

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KB: The positive impact that practicing integrative medicine as a Veteran is immeasurable. Veteran are an underserve population. When I was in the military, it seem like pills were given for every condition. It is refreshing to see that Veterans are asking for more integrative approaches. I have talked to several veterans that have gotten acupuncture at the VA and they love it and want more of it!

5. What are your plans for after graduation?

KB: I would like to collaborate with other healthcare professionals while working for myself. I will most likely start a practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

6. How do you feel both your military experience and your education have prepared you for your future?

KB: My military experience combined with my education at AOMA has given me confidence about my future. There is always more to learn and what I have taken away from both experience will give me a good start.

 

Meet Nadja Profit!image1

Army, 2003-2011

1. What motivated you to join the military?

NP: I’d always wanted to do something “for the greater good” like the peace core, or teach America… and when I found myself in central Texas, the opportunity presented itself.

2.What are your hobbies?

NP: Information gathering, deep dives on lots of different subjects… My undergrad is in fine art & I still dabble in creating art.

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3. As a Veteran, can you describe the positive impact practicing integrative medicine, acupuncture, etc has had on you?

NP: To serve many populations of clients.

4. What are your plans for after graduation?

NP: I plan to start my own mobile clinic and hope to serve many different demographics in part by using a pay it forward type of community acupuncture.

5. How do you feel both your military experience and your education have prepared you for your future?

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This medicine is like a bridge that connects all of my life experiences and all of the different demographics of people that I’ve been honored to share space with and honed my skills in order.

Topics: masters program, doctoral program, veteran affairs, aoma, veterans

A Trip Down Memory Lane: An Interview With Robert Laguna

Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Thu, Oct 21, 2021 @ 11:18 AM

I recently sat down with former Dean of Students, and longstanding AOMA faculty member Robert Laguna to talk about how he got started in the world of Acupuncture & TCM, his over two decades of history with AOMA, and the impact community healthcare has to create life-altering change.

MP: How long have you been at AOMA and how did you first become acquainted with the school?

RL: If you put all of my time together at AOMA it's been close to 25 years. I started as a student in ‘94. I was in the second class of AOMA; they opened in ‘93. I graduated in 1997, then I went to private practice for about a couple years and then somewhere around late 1998/1999 they asked me to supervise a couple of Student Clinics. When I was in school, I would always help other students, and I also had a background in

 teaching. I had been a band director for many years. I had a teaching certificate and stuff like that, so I knew my way around a classroom especially teaching in the arts. I think around ‘99, they asked me to come around as a classroom teacher. Around that time the owner of the school, Stuart Watts was trying to limit the amount of administrative stuff he was doing, and he was actually bringing in administrators little by little, and he asked me to do some of the admin things he was doing, specifically with transfer students. Around 1999, he established a deanship, and I became the Dean of Student. I stayed in that position until about a year ago. I don't remember exactly when I did not become the dean of students [laugh].


Guoen Wang, Robert Laguna, 1995MP: That’s a very interesting start to becoming an acupuncturist. What made you want to shift from being a band director to entering into the field of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine?


RL: In my dad’s recovery from alcoholism, he became a licensed chemical dependency counselor (LCDC); this was in the late 70/80s. He established a small, outpatient detox clinic in San Antonio. I would help them, and I was basically working as a consultant for class instruction. I would help them with different stuff, with the paperwork, teaching classes, curriculum design, helping to recertify the counselors, etc. during the summer when I was off [from teaching]. Band Directors don't get the full summer off, just a month and a half but during those time I would help them and then any time during the year when I could help.

Around ‘93 or ‘94 there was a big debacle in Texas because back then the institution that oversaw detox clinics was called TCADA (Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse), and the person in charge had embezzled a ton of money in the organization and then they dissolved it because it caused a lot of hoopla, and in the process, many detox beds (in-patient facilities) went away. As a result, so we saw a lot more people in more emergency situations because [of the fact that] people were canceling these services.

Around that time an acupuncturist had moved into the same building we were in and he said that if we ever needed an acupuncturist he could help with detox. And we were really skeptical, rudely skeptical even. But later on, we had this client who was detoxing off of heroin. Heroin is painful to detox from by the way; it's not as critical as alcohol—an alcohol detox could kill you—but it is still really painful and uncomfortable. The hospitals had turned him down, and we just needed some help, so we called the acupuncturist. It did take him [the patient] sometime to feel comfortable with the needles—which is common—but they eventually convinced him to try one needle and as soon as the first needle went in, he stopped shaking. We continued working with him pretty frequently for a week, week and a half and the changes we saw initially showed that the help he was getting opened him up more to the other counseling he was getting. It was almost like an emersion. As soon as I saw that I though "I gotta do this, I gotta do this."

At that same time [as the detoxing clinics closed] in ‘93 the acupuncture law came to be in Texas, which is why the school arrived, as soon as the legislation was here the schools came. The law stated that no one in TX was allowed to practice acupuncture anymore without being licensed, which meant that all of the inpatient and outpatient facilities in Texas that were using acupuncture as a complement to regular treatment couldn’t do [so anymore]. [That action] really disenfranchised a lot of people, and it wasn't your more urban people it was more so people in more rural areas like Temple or Plano at the time. So, my dad and two other people brought up a lawsuit to sue the state saying this wasn't right, and one of the judges here in Austin, Judge Wisser, decided to issue an injunction stating that there would be an exception for people who were currently practicing in detox settings while the law was being revised. Later an addition was made to the law for acupuncture detox specialists. I say that because [it gives context with] what was happening in the background. That process [to become an] acupuncture detox specialists took about 5 years to be fully certified, and that left me hanging because I wanted to go down that route. I was already using NADA, and I was trained in that, and I was still helping too even though I wasn't a counselor or acupuncturist; I was just there helping in the trenches. But they weren’t going to let me do this anymore, so I realized I needed to learn the practice. One of the other people who helped [us] with the lawsuit she recommended AOMA to me and she’d said it was in Austin (at the time there was two acupuncture schools in Austin) but she told me I had to learn herbs too in the process, and at the time I was kicking and screaming at the thought of it. I just wanted to do acupuncture. It was just people being made to change and you just didn't want to do; it was very much like that.


Short story long, I went through the curriculum at AOMA, went through herbs learned to love herbs, graduated in 97 and then went to work right away at an integrative office. So, at the same time I was trying to establish my private practice on the side I had the chance to work with an osteopath at their clinic. With two osteopaths, two chiropractors, two nurse practitioners which was very rare at the times; it’s rare now but at the time it was more so, and I was really happy to [be a part of] that. That has been a large part of my approach since day one—an integrative approach.

MP: I personally didn’t know that acupuncture had so much to do with addiction recovery, and all the applications it had in different practices.

RL: Well, it's a subset of Chinese Medicine which is what you learn at the school. You learn Chinese Medicine, which is medicine. It’s like asking someone what biomedicine is for: Does it help with headaches? Of course. Does it help with menstrual problems? Yes, that’s what medicine does.

I will say that the way Chinese Medicine is practiced in the US, the one thing we cannot do well is trauma. If you get in a bad wreck the ambulance doesn’t take you to an acupuncturist’s office, [you should] go to an ER. Not only that, but we also fill a gap that biomedicine tends to leave open which are chronic disorders. They do what they do well and so do we. We tend to treat chronic problems well and they treat acute problems well; that doesn't mean Chinese Medicine can’t treat acute problems and vice versa. But those are our wheelhouses so to speak.

MP: I feel like chronic pain isn’t taken as seriously in biomedicine, whereas acute pain is taken a bit more seriously, in the fact that they are good at treating headaches, but they don’t ask WHY you have the headache.

RL: or how to prevent the headache from becoming a more serious issue.

 

"It really teaches you that you don't practice medicine in a vacuum."



MP: There have been so many people who have been here at AOMA for as long as you have, and more so, can you speak on a few of your favorite experiences you’ve had here at AOMA, and with the faculty?

RL: For me, over the years the two ongoing experiences that I have found really very enlightening are our presence at the Kerrville Folk Festival, which we started going to in 98, treating volunteers. It was a beautiful community filled with beautiful people, a very tightknit community. It was a community filled with hippies so to speak, and because they were hippies, they had this basic distrust of "The Man.” This goes back to the 60’s where there was a complete rebellion of what the system was doing, so a lot of them had never really been seen by doctors; they would get seen by their own. Acupuncture and specifically NADA acupuncture was really impactful to the hippies, not just in New York but [the communities] in California and especially New Mexico were really instrumental in creating an amalgam of medicine and they needed to rely on their own [so it made sense]. In fact, a lot of the authors of acupuncture texts in the United States were actually hippies because they had to rely on their own; some had to learn Chinese so they could read the texts and then teach the other people around them, etc. It's a very interesting topic. So, our presence at that Folk Festival was a great time, not to mention the music. The little clinic we had out there, an outdoor clinic, was filled with really great memories and it was a wonderful highlight for me.

Another one was my relationship with the Seton network. They had three community clinics, and we participated in all three of them; although they are down to only one now—McCarthy—but our ability to establish clinics at these facilities has been a really impactful experience for all of us, and students agree that it has been really outstanding for them too. One, you get to see a different group of people who are also underserved, that was the purpose of the community clinic it was a way to help people who didn’t have access to these services. But also, for us to have the provider’s right there, and a lot of the time they were treating patients right in front of you. It created a lot of communication between the providers and us, and a lot of the discussion 60% of the time or so was about how to get the patient to a better space, social economically and otherwise, not just medically. It really teaches you that you don't practice medicine in a vacuum. The person who has these health challenges is not coming into this practice ONLY for these health practice. These issues happen not just because of their health but because of everything that is happening around them, and you are trying to help them get to the next place [level]. There were a lot of people who didn’t speak English, and you deal with a lot of different cultures; it just beautiful. It really gives students another window into what community healthcare is really all about.

You [have a chance to be] a part of a broader product. We're all consumers and when you step back and you kind of look at it, we all have to eat, need shelter, we all have basic needs, and your provider should recognize all of you [and your needs] and so should your medicine.

MP: Over the years, what changes have you seen in more Western, Biomedical practices and their perceptions of Integrative medicine?

Faculty_Headshot_Robert LagunaRL: When I started my patients would tell their primary care physicians, they were doing acupuncture and they would get yelled at. And just in a period of 20 years that been changed completely, and many providers—not all—are very on board with the practice. Not all insurance companies are open to it, but now that Medicare has made it a part of their program the other insurance practices will follow.

I have seen a lot of change in the past 20 years. For someone who is in school, 20 years is a long time. But in relation to the age of the medicine we are practicing, 20 years is nothing. It’s come a really long way and the other important thing that I see, and that I always thought it was somewhat harmful to us as a culture in the United States, is to think of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine as so different than Biomed; that it is an either or [situation]. There was always this tension about each party thinking about the other party as evil and the only good medicine is the one you practice, and that kind of thinking has always been harmful. “What positive changes could you create in this patient’s condition?”—the goal is always that. “What can the patient take from that interaction?”

What I've seen is a kind of reluctant acceptance between the two but there has begun to be a foot-in-the-door that most practitioners are ready to have a conversation and that was not happening in the past. You still see a bit of that in classrooms, where students think that MDs and Biomed are bad and Chinese medicine is good, but you can’t look at it like that. I work with providers, regular MDs, etc., and they are just as dedicated to their patients as we are. There are these concepts that we bring into it; just out of ignorance like anything else when you are learning about a different culture. Just because we/they are different doesn’t make us/them good or evil.

"This institution has created a venue for me to grow as a student of the medicine and to practice my craft as a teacher and provider. I'm not punching a clock; I believe that I’m engaged in something that is constructive and meaningful and when you find something like that it’s not tedious work."


MP: To close us off, do you have any other aspects of integrative medicine, of AOMA and your time here that you'd like to share?

RL: I've always thought of AOMA as a family and that sounds kind of cliche-ish. Sometimes I wonder if that feeling is mutual – but that’s usually my insecure self-talk. This institution has created a venue for me to grow as a student of the medicine and to practice my craft as a teacher and provider. I'm not punching a clock; I believe that I’m engaged in something that is constructive and meaningful and when you find something like that it’s not tedious work. It’s a job because it’s an exchange of energy that you get paid for that’s true, but it’s not the feeling that "ughh I have to go to work". I have never thought that because that’s not true in this case. I don’t bemoan that I work. It’s similar to the feeling I have teaching music, but I have never been one to engage in something like that [meaningless]. Most acupuncturists I know don’t think of it like that, as a chore to go to work, to have to see a patient (or a student for that matter). If I ever feel that way in my profession, then I know it’s time for me to stop. I want to see them—I don’t have to see them. I feel that what I do is meaningful and AOMA has played an integral role in this for me.

 

Topics: faculty spotlight, aoma, Robert Laguna

Introduction of the AOMA Jingfang Institute

Posted by Jing Fan, LAc on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 @ 12:00 AM

Jingfang Partnership (2)

AOMA is proud to announce its historic partnership with Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. AOMA founded its Jingfang institution to partner with Dr. Huang Huang and the International Jingfang institute at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. Professor Huang Huang has been a guest professor for AOMA Doctoral program since April 2021.

Jingfang, also known as classical formulae in traditional Chinese medicine, is an ancient herbal remedy that was formed in China around 3,000 BC. These empirical herbal formulae that were solidified through human experimentation by the Ancient Chinese were primarily recorded in a medical book named Shāng Hán Lùn 1800 years ago.

Dr Huang

Professor Huang Huang is a world-renowned physician, professor, and one of the preeminent authorities on Jing Fang and Shāng Hán Lùn. He is one of the pioneers responsible for the resurgence of Classical Chinese Medicine in China and in the West. He dedicates his lifelong study to the differential diagnosis of herbal patterns. Professor Huang is also a prolific writer and editor who has many published texts, including the much-celebrated “Ten Key Formula Families in Chinese Medicine” and “Zhang Zhongjing’s Clinical Application of 50 Herbal Medicines”, which have both been made available in many different languages. Professor Huang currently holds the position of Dean of the International Jing Fang Institute of Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine and is engaged in promoting and lecturing about Jing Fang across the world.

To promote communication and cooperation in Jingfang education, clinical internship, and academic research, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine and AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine have signed the Letter of Intent for Cooperation on September 22nd, 2021.

  1. Both parties will explore how we might effectively exchange professors, students, researchers, and administrative personnel. This may occur virtually or in person.
  2. NJUCM will work with AOMA to set up a branch of the International Jingfang Institute at AOMA.
  3. Both parties will explore how we may jointly implement appropriate research projects of common interest in the field of Jingfang.

We hope the AOMA Jingfang Institute will practice and pioneer Jing Fang (Classical Formulas) in North America.

Topics: acupuncture school, study in China, aoma students, china, tcm, chinese medicine, acupunture, acunews, Jingfang Institute

An Interview With The President: Dr. Mary Faria

Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Mon, Sep 20, 2021 @ 02:38 PM

 

Dr Mary FariaIn honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we recently sat down with AOMA President and CEO Dr. Mary Faria to learn more about how she came to be at AOMA, her commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive environment on campus, and how the power of acupunture has helped her to be a better runner. 

Hi Mary! What is your role at AOMA and how long have you been with the school?

Hi Maxwell. I serve as the President and CEO of AOMA. I joined AOMA in January of 2018.

What initially drew you towards how the study of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine is practiced here at AOMA?

I worked for a large healthcare system for close to 25 years. We worked with AOMA in our community clinics. The value this medicine brought was extraordinary. The integrative model that was created not only demonstrated better patient outcomes through an integrative approach, but also reduced emergency room visits, hospitalizations and provided a more holistic approach to patient care that patients respond to very well.

I also have utilized an integrated approach for my own health. Through an active lifestyle, good nutrition, mindfulness and taking advantage of acupuncture and herbal treatments I’ve never needed to take medications or more invasive procedures. I’m passionate in my belief that integrative care models that include acupuncture, herbs and other alternatives can transform healthcare in this country.


AOMA has a diverse set of faculty, staff, and students from across the globe, and as one of the only Hispanic-American Presidents within the field of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, how important has creating a more diverse and welcoming environment on campus been to you?

It has been very important to me. I’m a believer in the richness that comes from diversity. It was important to have a role at AOMA dedicated to helping us find ways to be more inclusive and I’m so pleased we have that in place with our Sr. Director of Student Services and Inclusion and Diversity. Our Governing Board has embraced this, and we have begun the process of intentionally inviting new members who better represent people of color.


Pre-Covid Community Wellness Hours were a very popular event at AOMA and were a wonderful way for individuals of more vulnerable communities to receive free or reduced-cost treatment for topics such as pain or stress. As a longstanding and active Austinite, what have been some of your favorite moments during these engagements with your community?

I very much miss our in person community wellness hours. I participated as often as I was able. There is something so special about group meditation. Energy (Qi) shared is powerful. At the end of each wellness hour we go around the group and everyone shares something they want to share about the experience, if they choose. It is so gratifying to hear how much this time we offer is transforming lives through stress reduction, help with addiction, and providing peaceful time. It is clear for many it is the only outlet they have. How wonderful that we can help in this way.

Holistic Medicine has long been a standing practice in Hispanic Culture, have you noticed any similarities between how holistic medicine is practiced in Hispanic Cultures and Traditional Chinese Medicine during your time at AOMA?

I think there is a deep care for the person being treated that is common among all medicines. With traditional practices as in my culture (Mexican) and with TCM the mind body connections are much stronger. There are also generational aspects, things passed from grandparents to parents to children and so on.


As some may know, you are an avid runner and acupuncture has been known to help elevate some of the pressures that come with running and other forms of exercise. How have you noticed a difference in your running practice since incorporating acupuncture & TCM into your routine?

Yes, I’ve been a competitive age group runner for about 30 years now. I was actually introduced to acupuncture when I was dealing with a running injury and quickly became a fan. It was so effective in helping me overcome the injury. I’ve incorporated it in my integrative approach to staying healthy for running over the years. I’m training for a marathon now and getting acupuncture each week up to the marathon in October to help with some hip flexor strain I’ve been experiencing.


Lastly, when you are not at AOMA how do you like to spend your free time?

I love to spend time with the love of my life, my husband, even if it is just enjoying the back of our property in a hammock. We love to find new places for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Running of course, but I also swim and bike. I love reading, especially historical fiction and I love being creative through artwork and flower arranging.

Topics: integrative medicine, AOMA community collaborations, acupuncture, chinese medicine, Mary Faria, CEO, ATX

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