AOMA Blog

TCM for Travel

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Wed, Jul 28, 2021 @ 05:32 PM

Human beings love to travel – in 2019, a total of 2.3 billion individuals took trips in the United States alone. We travel for many reasons: to experience new people, places, and cultures, to broaden our horizons, to escape our everyday lives, and to see the world through new eyes. But nothing ruins a good vacation like not feeling your best! Motion sickness, pain, and illnesses like allergies and the common cold can derail pexels-gustavo-fring-3885493even the best-laid trip plans. Throughout the 5000-year history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), clinicians have been developing methods to preserve and restore health to the human body. Acupuncture is arguably the most well-known TCM practice; combined with traditional Chinese herbal medicine and other lesser-known modalities like cupping and gua sha, can be extremely effective at relieving the symptoms of motion sickness, reducing pain, and helping the body heal from injuries and infections.

My experiences with travel have been some of the best – and unfortunately also the worst – experiences of my life. I often say that I have the heart and soul of a traveler, but just not the constitution of one! I suffer from terrible motion sickness, whether traveling by car, air, or sea. I’ve never traveled by train, but I’m guessing that those would give me motion sickness too. And after my last cruise, I even had seasickness after getting back on land – a type of motion sickness known as disembarkment syndrome. Motion sickness, travel sickness, seasickness, or disembarkment syndrome occur when the body, the inner ear, and the eyes send conflicting signals to the brain. People may feel fine one moment and then suddenly experience various symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, dizziness, and headache, as well as other uncomfortable symptoms. This most often happens when people are in a car, boat, airplane, flight simulators, and amusement park rides. The good news – and I can attest to this from personal experiencepexels-spencer-davis-4353813! - is that TCM, including acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine, can help. Nausea is the result of rising stomach Qi. According to AOMA clinician and licensed acupuncturist Dr. Nelson Song Luo, normally, stomach Qi should descend rather than ascend. What happens to people with motion sickness? In traditional Chinese medicine, the Qi and blood in the inner ear are provided by the san jiao (SJ), small intestine (SI) and gallbladder (GB) channels. The eyes are nourished by the liver channel. In a moving vehicle, the Qi and blood circulation in the SJ, SI, GB, and liver channels are disturbed by abnormal movements, which will cause the stomach Qi to rise, causing symptoms of nausea or vomiting. As a result, people suffer from motion sickness. During an acupuncture treatment, acupuncture points on SJ, SI, GB and liver channels are selected to rebalance the Qi and blood circulation in the inner ear and eyes. In Dr. Luo’s practice at AOMA, some evidence-based effective acupuncture points such as SJ21, SI19, GB2 and P6 (pericardial channel 6) have been selected to treat motion sickness; as a result, patients with motion sickness are soon asymptomatic.

Aside from motion sickness, travel can often cause other symptoms of digestive distress. Ideally, we should eat mindfully and avoid overeating, but part of the joy of travel is to experience new things - and to indulge! But while enjoying the journey of indulging, the destination is often downright miserable. TCM teaches us that digestion begins with the Spleen. On a physical level, the Spleen handles the “Transformation and Transportation” of food. The stomach “governs the intake” of food, but the Spleen extracts nutrients from the food and sends that nutrition to other areas of the body. When we temporarily over-tax our digestive system with high quantities of dense, fatty, greasy, processed foods and alcohol, we shock our bodies and run the risk of developing what is referred to in traditional Chinese medicine as food stagnation. Food stagnation presents with symptoms like abdominal distention, belching, flatulence, nausea, fatigue, low appetite, and even vomiting and diarrhea. This is because the digestive system is temporarily unable to do its job of receiving, transforming, and transporting nutrients because it is overwhelmed. Acupuncture helps calm the digestive tract, and traditional Chinese herbal formulas can help transform food, break up stagnation, and get your digestive system back to optimal function.

Chances are you know someone who experiences either chronic or acute pain daily. Although acute pain is a normal sensation that is triggered by the nervous system to inform your body of a possible injury that may need more care, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain can persist because an injury never fully healed or because pain signals continue to fire in the nervous system. And either acute or chronic pain can greatly interfere with your ability to enjoy travel! Acupuncture sends signals to the brain to reevaluate an injury and turn off any pain receptors that are unnecessary, which can help to relieve chronic pain. Acupuncture also relaxes muscles, increasing blood flow and bringing relief to tight or stressed tissues, often helping with acute pain and promoting healing of a recent injury. The best part? Unlike pharmaceutical pain-relievers, acupuncture is free of cumulative side effects and is completely non-addictive.

Even minor ailments can prevent you from fully enjoying your travel experiences, whether you’re experiencing allergies, the flu, or a common cold. Your immune system is made up of special organs, cells, and chemicals that fight infection in your body. Acupuncture strengthens a weakened immune system by increasing red, white, and T-cell counts and enhancing cellular immunity. It can speed up the healing of infections and normalize the body’s immune response. Regular acupuncture boosts the immune system to prevent illness and can treat conditions such as allergies, colds, and flus.

If, like me, you have the heart and soul of a traveler but not the constitution of one, I highly recommend giving acupuncture a try! It might help relieve your discomfort and get you back to enjoying your journey. And while I hope that your next travel experience is free from any illness, digestive distress, or pain, should you experience any of these symptoms, I hope this article inspires you to think of TCM as a possible solution. Safe travels!

Consulting acupuncturist:

Luo, Nelson Song, PhD., MD (China), LAc.

https://aoma.edu/patients/professional-clinic/providers/nelson-song-luo-phd-md-lac

References:

Holmes, C. “Chew on This: The Role of the Spleen.” April 6, 2016.

https://blog.aoma.edu/blog/chew-on-this-the-role-of-the-spleen

Lattimore, T. “Thanksgiving: The Food Stagnation Holiday.” November 22, 2017.

https://blog.aoma.edu/blog/thanksgiving-the-food-stagnation-holiday

U.S. Travel and Tourism Overview (2019) – Research and Fact Sheet

https://www.ustravel.org/system/files/media_root/document/Research_Fact-Sheet_US-Travel-and-Tourism-Overview.pdf

Topics: herbal medicine, chinese herbs, lifestyle, aoma, tcm, prevention, acupunture, travel

Migraine and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Posted by Nelson Song Luo, PhD, MD on Wed, Jun 30, 2021 @ 01:48 PM

A migraine is a complex neurologic disorder characterized by significant disability due to pain and symptoms associated with attacks. According to the World Health Organization, migraines are the eighth most disabling disease worldwide, the most burdensome neurologic disease, and responsible for 5.6% of years lost to disability. The disability includes missed school or work, inability to perform household chores, and missed time with family and friends. Migraines are most common between the ages of 18 and 44, with higher rates in females, and a peak in prevalence in both men and women in their 40s. 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children experience migraines. Migraines tend to run in families, and about 90% of migraine sufferers have a family history of them.

There are several types of migraines which include migraine without aura, migraine with aura, hemiplegic migraine, etc. Migraine without aura is the most common type, defined as at least 5 attacks lasting 4 to 72 hours, with at least two defining characteristics (unilateral, pulsating, moderate or severe pain, aggravated or caused by deliberate avoidance of physical activity), at least one related symptom (nausea, vomiting, photophobia-sensitivity to light orfemaleacupuncture-017650-edited phonophobia-sensitivity to sound). Around 36% of migraines have an associated aura. Migraine with aura describes a migraine in which the person experiences some type of sensation associated with the onset of a migraine. The common aura symptoms include blind spots in the field of eyesight, colored spots, sparkles or stars, flashing lights before the eyes, tunnel vision, zig zag lines or temporary blindness.

Four main phases have been described to characterize the progression of a migraine: premonitory phase, aura phase, headache phase, and postdrome phase. In the premonitory phase, functional magnetic resonance imaging study shows evidence of hypothalamic, thalamic, and cortical activation during this phase which correlates with yawning, polyuria, irritability, photophobia, mood changes, difficulty concentrating, and neck pain. The aura phase involves disruptive changes in the sensorium in which visual auras are the most common type. The pathophysiology of migraine in the aura phase is described by the concept of cortical spreading depolarization, in which vasoactive substances, such as nitric oxide, are released, resulting in increased cerebral blood flow. The headache phase is driven by pain perception communicated from peripheral afferents to central control centers for pain, including cortical, vascular, and autonomic locations which make up the trigeminocervical complex. The postdrome phase is the resolution of the migraine driven by vasoconstriction and reduced cerebral blood flow that often presents with symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and irritability.

The induction of migraine is related to factors such as emotion, body, diet, and environment. Emotional factors include stress, anxiety, tension, shock, depression, and excitement. Physical factors include fatigue, poor sleep quality, shift work, poor posture, shoulder and neck tension, and strenuous exercise beyond daily capacity. Dietary factors include irregular diet, dehydration, drinking alcohol, intake of caffeine, certain cheeses, chocolate, foods containing tyramine, including bacon, yeast extracts, pickled herring, smoked fish, etc. It is recommended to avoid freezing or refrigerating foods that may cause tyramine content to rise. Environmental factors include bright lights, flashing screens, smoking, loud noises, environmental humidity or temperature changes, and strong odors.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a migraine is caused by exogenous wind-cold, wind-heat, wind-phlegm invasion, or endogenous stagnation of Liver qi, Liver fire, hyperactivity of Liver-yang or Liver-blood deficiency, leading to obstruction or malnutrition of the Liver or Gallbladder meridians on the head. In TCM, many techniques can be used to relieve migraine headache effectively, which include acupuncture, electroacupuncture, cupping, gua sha, etc. Acupoints in the Liver meridian such as Liver 2, Liver 3 and Gall bladder meridian such as GB7, GB8, and GB40 are used to treat migraine. Meanwhile, certain Chinese herbal medicines such as Yan Hu Suo Zhi Tong Pian (Yan Hu Suo Pain Relief Tablet) is widely used for migraine. In addition, massage, meditation, and Qigong can also relieve migraine headaches by reducing stress level, relieving head and neck tension and balancing yin and yang.

Topics: herbal medicine, stress relief, aoma, tcm, Austin acupuncture, acupunture, ATX, headache, Migraine

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

Posted by Yongxin Fan on Mon, Apr 19, 2021 @ 01:16 PM

 

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

How Stress Affects the Body

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

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

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

acupuncture for stress

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

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

Case Studies from AOMA professor, Dr.Yongxin Fan

Yongxin Fan acupuncturist

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

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

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

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

Chinese Herbs for Stress

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

Exercise and Diet for Stress

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

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

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

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

 Download our  Intro to Chinese Medicine  eBook

Sources:

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

HONORING SHERRY GADDY COOMBES  (1943 – 2021)

Posted by Pam F on Mon, Apr 05, 2021 @ 06:50 PM

IMG_4626

- A tribute from Pam Ferguson (AOMA's ABT dean emerita)

      AOMA alums from our north campus days will remember Sherry Gaddy Coombes with great affection from her years (2004-2009) as student adviser/recruiter. Yes her husband (retired USAF Colonel and Vietnam Vet) Jimmie Coombes was our AOMA President at the time (1998-2009).

     Sherry – a longhorn graduate and long time campaigner against the death penalty – was also an ardent pet rescuer. She had a wit second to none. Time in her office was always informative, and loads of fun. Mutual friends and I met Jim and Sherry regularly for hilarious lunch dates – our last date in March was canceled when she told me she was in hospice care, and she passed peacefully a couple of days after our phone call.

     A few months ago I interviewed Sherry extensively for my recent column in Acupuncture Today about her decade long battle with metastatic cancer that wouldIMG_4627 have floored anyone else. I used a pseudonym for her, and marveled at her ability to survive multiple surgeries, rounds of chemo and ongoing metastases.

     Her secret? Apart from a buoyant love of life and a wonderfully caring family, Sherry worked out rigorously each day for an hour. Besides walking – she completed 30 mins of cardio on her elliptical machine, reps of bench pressing and leg lifting of fairly light weights, some hand weights, partial push ups, stretching and balance practice. Early on she also received Acupuncture from one of our wonderful AOMA deans, and excellent bodywork.

     Sherry always looked stunning throughout the last decade, and claimed workouts helped her maintain the fitness to endure.   I'll never forget her magical laughter each time I called her “the poster child of cancer survival” as she bucked all the stereotypes.

     Sherry is survived by Jim, their two children and five grandchildren. Her obit was in the Austin American Statesman 3/26/2021. A memorial service is planned at the First Unitarian Universalist church on 49th St. Time and date to be determined later. Donations in her name can be made to NOCC (ovarian.org) or Tiger Haven Sanctuary (tigerhaven.org).

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Some of the Amazing Women of AOMA who are Transforming Lives

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Wed, Mar 31, 2021 @ 06:52 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!

Qiao ‘Chelsea’ Xu, MD (China), L.Ac.

Why did you choose to become an acupuncturist?

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 - help

Faculty_Headshot_HiR__Xu

ing 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.

What qualities make a great acupuncturist?

First and foremost, caring.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?Faculty_Headshot_HiR__Song_(1)

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 wouldReaganLea_Selfie 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.

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 hystera, 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: faculty spotlight, aoma, tcm, tcm education, acupunture

New Year Resolutions for 2021

Posted by Charline Liu on Sat, Jan 09, 2021 @ 04:20 PM

New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year! I hope that 2021 brings health, prosperity and happiness for everyone. 2020 was different in many ways and even though the new normal has settled in, there are many health related New Year resolutions to make 2021 better. Both our north and south clinics are open at this time with covid-19 safety regulations listed here. If any of these resolutions made it onto your list, consider making an appointment at our clinics! 

Weight Loss

One of the most popular new year's resolutions is weight loss. From fad diets to weightlifting at the gym, many Americans are changing their lives for the better. But did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine are just as effective in weight loss? To read more about how Acupuncture can help weight loss, read this blog post by Dr. Violet Song, Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Stress Relief 

Stress relief is one of the most common chief complaints treated at AOMA clinics. If lowering or managing stress better is one of your new year resolutions, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can lower your stress levels, alleviate anxiety and help with your overall health. 

Alleviate Pain 

Pain is another condition that is also commonly treated at AOMA clinics. Both chronic and acute pain can keep you from living your life to the fullest, and Acupuncture has been proven to help relieve pain without the use of medications. 

Quit Smoking 

Acupuncture has been proven to help patients quit smoking. Quitting smoking is another common health new year resolution that can drastically improve your health. The NADA protocol of fine needles inserted into 5 points has been especially useful. Click here to read more on Acupuncture for Nicotine Addiction

Conclusion 

Even in the unprecedented events of 2020 and 2021, your healthy new year resolutions are important to us. Make an appointment with either our South and North clinics and start 2021 off right! 



Topics: self-care, stress relief, acupuncture for stress relief, aoma

Checking in on Pam Ferguson, former Dean of Asian Bodywork Therapy at AOMA.

Posted by Brian Becker on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 @ 02:35 PM

Give us a brief synapse on your latest book, which we understand is going live on Amazon very soon

Crossing Lines

CROSSING LINES is now live on Amazon as an e-book! Later on a paperback will be available. But as the work is set during the week of Halloween/el Dia de los Muertos - I was keen to launch it before the end of October.  This is my 11th book published to date. Previous books - including textbooks that are in the AOMA library - were published on both sides of the Atlantic.  Living in Austin inspired the storyline of CROSSING LINES including a range of Border politics and what it means to be a Border state.  CROSSING LINES is a sad murder story within a family dynamic in Austin and the Border, and involving a land inheritance controversy dating back to Spanish Texas. The story also involves the heartbreaking reality of femicide.

Tell us about your journey with TCM and Asian Bodywork Therapy. 

Ah, my first career was as an investigative journalist  in the UK and USA and author of books on topics ranging from  the Middle East conflict, to political thrillers based in the Olympic Games, to works of fiction based on my investigative reporting on the tobacco and liquor industries. I came upon Asian Medicine quite by chance when I lived  next door to an Acupuncture clinic in Japantown San Francisco at the end of the 1970s and my partner gave me the classic book on Zen Shiatsu by Shizuto Masunaga. I realized this was what I had to study as I always had a knack  - instinctively - for finding acupoints that released pain while nursing my mother through endless migraines. I trained at the Ohashi  Institute in New York City and was asked to become an instructor - and they sent me to teach courses in Canada and  Switzerland. That kicked off my 3 decades of helping expand Shiatsu training in  Canada, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria -  prompting me to write textbooks on Shiatsu, and on the Five Elements. That's how my two careers became one.  In 2008 I co-edited, co-authored SAND TO SKY with Debra Duncan Persinger PhD, as the first anthology of interviews with global authors of Asian Medicine in the 21st century. We honored several AOMA instructors in this work - including Stuart Watts, AOMA's founder.

You've had a long relationship with AOMA. Share with us how you first became involved and some of the work you've done with us.

Stuart Watts first recruited me to develop AOBTA compliant training in Asian Bodywork Therapy at AOMA when I joined the fledgling school in 1996. Both Stuart and I spent years on the AOBTA board. It was a joy to create a whole new Zen Shiatsu program styled to fit in with the Acupuncture curriculum and with one semester devoted to the Five Elements.  We arranged offsite student clinics at St David's North Austin Medical Center,  at retirement centers, the Safe Place, at the School for the Blind, and at a residential  addiction rehab center. I'm deeply proud of this community outreach and how it spread AOMA's great reputation and the skills of really talented and pams_pic_in_back_garden-smallenthusiastic students.  I left AOMA about a decade ago as Dean of  Asian Bodywork Therapy, but continued to teach one of the Ethics classes until 2019, and CE workshops. I'm so proud to have been a part of the teaching foundation of AOMA, with Drs. Wu, He, Wang, Shen, Fan, Qiu,  Mandyam, helping move AOMA from Stuart’s dream and a couple of rooms on West Anderson Lane into the wonderful, expansive  Westgate campus of AOMA  today. I will always be a part of the AOMA spirit.  And I relive that spirit as the ABT columnist for Acupuncture Today.  Writing this column has also  enabled me to  weave in some biting issues of the day - like racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia,  and body shaming  - within Asian Medicine. See my  AT columns for November and December 2020.

You are one of the  former Presidents of the (former) Vermont based Breast Cancer Action Group, what are some of the things you’ve done in support of those living with Breast Cancer? 

As a survivor of metastatic breast cancer , I transformed the experience into a teaching tool and innovated new ways of working with cancer patients . I developed a range of Qi-inspired postmastectomy exercises I titled DRAWING CIRCLES, and  have taught these exercises to Acupuncturists, Shiatsu Therapists, Physical and Occupational Therapists, RNs and MDs working with cancer survivors globally. I have also taught breast cancer survivor groups how to move with Qi to prevent lymphedema and overcome the fear and hesitancy many feel. I've written extensively about these experiences in my books and articles, and also created a DVD titled Drawing Circles.

What hobbies do you enjoy when you're not teaching or writing? 

Photography!  I created a range of studies of bicycles in every possible context in my global travels and have enjoyed exhibiting them. This  actually started as a fun project I could share with my students to encourage cycling, and evolved into an obsession. I cycle daily!! I am also passionate about gardening and created a cacti jungle in my north Austin home. My other hobbies include watching movies and reading an eclectic range of books. I also have fun writing a column  titled "Pedaling around with Pam" for our North Austin  community newsletter.

Topics: continuing education, asian bodywork therapy, acupuncture, aoma, tcm education, ATX

Alumni Spotlight: Rocio Lopez, LAc

Posted by Mary Faria, PhD, FACHE on Wed, Oct 07, 2020 @ 02:53 PM

Rocio Lopez, lac

 

Tell about your journey with TCM and Acupuncture and how your education at AOMA made a difference.

I was first exposed to TCM when I was treated for migraine headaches years ago. Back then; my intention was to obtain a graduate degree in psychology so studying alternative medicine was not in my plans. However, the experience I lived as a TCM patient was very transformative. I felt a drive to help others the same way I was helped. When I decided to pursue my career in TCM, I researched programs and AOMA stood out from the rest. It is a highly ranked school and the compact number of students in the classroom gives the opportunity for one-to-one guidance. When I visited the school, the beautiful and tranquil courtyard really gave the icing on the cake. At AOMA, I learned so much in and out of the classroom. Our professors were always willing to share their knowledge and experience with us. Today those teachings have proven to be invaluable in my everyday practice.

 

You chose to serve in South Texas where you are from. Tell me about that decision and how you are building your practice there.

When I decided to pursue my career in Chinese Medicine, one promise I made myself was to come back to the Rio Grande Valley, or RGV, a region that consists of 4 counties and 9 cities located along the Texas border with Mexico. My decision to build my practice in Brownsville was mostly influenced by the love I have for my hometown and because I wanted to bring the RGV more accessibility to this medicine. I am currently practicing in a private space with two treatment rooms in a centric part of Brownsville. I see patients who are from Brownsville and the cities surrounding it. I am very grateful for my patients who have put their trust in what I do. I hope my practice continues to grow to give more individuals an opportunity to receive TCM treatments.

 

You do some impressive missionary work at the borders of Texas and Mexico. Please share why you do this and what the experience has meant for you.

The reason why I have volunteered with Acupuncturists Without Borders is because I love to help others. The populations living in the Matamoros camp are experiencing very difficult living conditions. They are living in what it is referred to as a “tent city” therefore they are affected by climate changes, violence, poor hygiene, and abuse. We go and offer NADA treatments outdoors on lawn chairs. At first, most individuals do not believe that needles can do anything other than sting. However, we are always fortunate to have a brave and willing individual to try out our treatment. When other passerby notice how relaxed and how individuals sink into the treatment, they begin to show interest and slowly one by one sit on our chairs to receive treatment. It is a beautiful experience. Even though we as acupuncturists are not receiving the NADA treatment, we can definitely feel the relief and the peace these individuals are feeling during the treatment. It is very gratifying.

 

Please share anything you’d like us to know about you, your interests, passions, hobbies, etc.

One thing my fiancé and I love to do as a hobby is to plant. We started with a mango seed and we now have over 20 kinds of plants of which are mostly fruits. It helps that we live a very tropical and humid environment because our plant babies love it.

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Thank you so much for your time, Rocio! We miss seeing you on campus, but Brownsville is very lucky to have you!

 

 

Topics: alumni spotlight, chinese medicine, acupunture, disaster relief, medical volunteer

A Necessary Change for the Better

Posted by Brian Becker on Wed, Sep 09, 2020 @ 05:56 PM

In recent weeks you may have noticed some small yet important changes the world of Acupuncture, Acupuncture school, and AOMA. Although still the same degree our Master’s, which for years was known as a MAcOM is now called the MAc, and our Professional Doctorate has gone from DAcOM to DAc. In both cases the letters OM originally stood for Oriental Medicine, representing the herbal components of the respective degrees. In fact the name AOMA was at first an acronym, the letters standing for Academy of Oriental Medicineat Austin. The wording behind each of the letters has since been dropped, and today the name AOMA represents our institutional identity.

The removal of the word “Oriental” from our degree and even the name of our organization has been a long time coming, but why is that? To answer this question we must look into the history of the word itself. Where it originated and how it evolved over the course of two millennia.

The word “Orient” comes from the Latin oriens, meaning East. In fact the word literally translates as rising, and thus the Roman name for the East was a reference to the rising sun. This was common cultural phenomenon. The Chinese character  dōng is meant to represent the sun rising behind a tree, while Japan is referred to as “The Land of the Rising Sun”.Dioecesis_Orientis_400_AD

The association of the word Orient with a specific territory began in the Fourth Century AD when the Diocese of the Orient (Dioecesis Orientis) was established by Rome. The idea of the Orient as a reference to the Middle East remained cemented in place for quite some time. Even the famed Orient Express, which ran from 1883 to 2009, ended in Istanbul.

It was during the mid-1800s that the geographical meaning of the word began to shift, and the word Orient came to encompass India and to some extent China as well. By the middle of the 20th century the word was generally used as a reference to East and Southeast Asia.

What’s revealed by this is the Eurocentric nature of the word, referring to a location based on what is considered eastern by various cultures which have dominated Europe and later the Americas since the days of the Roman Empire, and by extension the people who live in the east.

While not as overt as other terms, the word took on increasingly negative connotations throughout the age of colonization, especially in the 19th century and on into the early 20th. For many the word is now forever tied to the racism of the age. In fact many western novels of the time depicted “Oriental” peoples and nations as backwards and savage in nature. “Oriental” women were often depicted as simplistic and hypersexualized while “Oriental” men were shown as meek, cunning, or downright barbaric. Pulp magazines such as Oriental Stories, published in the 1930’s, heavily reinforced these racist stereotypes. Artistic representations of the East did much the same.

The problematic nature of this was first discussed in the 1960’s, and in 1969 Karen Umemoto, director of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center stated “Many of the stereotypes of Orientals and Orientalism was part of the project of imperialist conquest — British, and later, American — in Asia, with the exoticization of the Oriental as well as the creation of threat and fear, as evidenced in the yellow peril movement.”

From the 1970’s on the phrase “Asian-American” began to replace “Oriental” when speaking of Americans with Asiatic ancestry, and by 1980 the word “Oriental” no longer appeared on the United States Census. In 2016 President Obama signed a bill prohibiting the word “Oriental” in all federal documents.

It is with these negative stereotypes in mind, and the damage caused by them, that AOMA 3-2019AOMA along with the world of Acupuncture as a whole has moved away from the usage of the word. The medicine taught and practiced at AOMA comes not from the falsely depicted “backwards nations” of colonial fiction, but from the rich, vibrant cultures of Asia which were just as diverse and advanced (more so at times) as those of Europe. By shedding this burdened word from our lexicon we seek not to abandon the roots of Acupuncture, but rather to continue integrating this medicine into American society.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, AOMA Herbal Medicine, chinese herbalism, herbal medicine, herbal studies, curriculum, chinese herbs, herbal program, aoma, acupunture

6 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Products to Help You Sleep

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Mon, Aug 24, 2020 @ 11:48 AM

6 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Products to Help You Sleep

 

  1. Over-the-counter herbal formulas Insomnia herbs_Mar 18 newsletter-1

There are several safe and effective over-the-counter traditional Chinese herbal formulas to help with insomnia, whether you have trouble with falling asleep, staying asleep, waking feeling unrested, or all of the above. AOMA clinician Nelson Song Luo mentioned the two formulas below in this great blog post; here's some more information!

Suan Zao Ren Tang

  • Nourishes Heart Shen and Liver Blood
  • Clears deficient heat and calms the Spirit; helps with stress, anxiety, and irritability
  • Can also help with restlessness, inability to or difficulty in falling asleep, palpitations, night sweats, dizziness, vertigo, thirst, and dry mouth and throat
  • Studies have shown its safety and effectiveness at helping patients with menopause-related insomnia

Gui Pi Wan

  • Nourishes Spleen Qi and Heart Blood
  • Tonified Blood and Qi
  • Helps with fatigue, insomnia, and poor sleep or dream disturbed sleep
  • Can also help with poor memory, heart palpitations, anxiety, phobias, low appetite, and night sweats
  1. Salt lamp Salt lamps_stock

Made from pink salt crystals native to the Himalayas, salt lamps are said to release negative ions, helping to cleanse dust particles from the air and boost energy levels. Some salt lamp users have even reported elevated mood, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and reduced allergy and asthma symptoms. While no major studies have supported these claims, the warm pinkish glow of a salt lamp will make a welcoming and beautiful addition to your bedroom. Recent studies have shown that exposure to bright lights suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, so the dim light of a salt lamp might even make you sleepy if used in place of brighter bedroom lights.

  1. Green tea Tea cup

Caffeine is a stimulant, and once consumed, it stays with you for longer than you might expect: it takes about 6 hours for just 1/2 of the caffeine you consumed to be eliminated! So the closer to bedtime you take in caffeine, the more likely you are to experience sleeplessness. Cutting out caffeine at least 6-7 hours before your bedtime would be best but may not always be possible! If you just CAN’T say no to a late-afternoon pick-me-up, try reaching for green tea instead of coffee to reduce the amount of caffeine you’re consuming. On average, one cup of green tea contains 35-70mg of caffeine as opposed to a cup of coffee, which contains 100mg of caffeine. Green tea is also high in antioxidants and polyphenols, and it contains catechin which can enhance immune system function. Green tea, or Lu Cha, is also a traditional Chinese medicine herb! It has cooling properties and works with the Heart, Lung, and Stomach meridians to reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and boost the metabolism. Bonus points if you drink your tea from a beautiful cup that puts a smile on your face!

  1. Meditation candles Candle_chakra

According to a study cited on Harvard Medical School’s blog, 6 weeks of regular meditation scored higher than 6 weeks of sleep education for improving insomnia, fatigue, and depression among adults who reported trouble sleeping. But meditation can often seem too difficult or downright unapproachable, especially for beginners. Concentration meditation can be an easy way to jump into meditation, as it only requires focusing your awareness on one specific thing; for example, a candle flame. Having a point of focus can help you quiet the mind and relax fully; try starting with a few minutes before bed and work your way up to 5, 10, and then 15-20 minutes a day.

  1. Spirit-Quieting massage oil Spirit Quieting massage oil

If your mind won’t stop racing long enough to allow you to sleep, Blue Poppy’s Spirit Quieting massage oil might be just what you need! It incorporates several traditional Chinese herbs formulated together to help to resolve depression and calm stress and anxiety of the mind and the emotions. It can be used as a relaxing massage oil for your whole body or as a pre-bedtime bath oil.

Functions of Specific TCM Herbs Used in Formula:

  • He Huan Hua (Flos Albiziae): courses the Liver, quickens the Blood and quiets the Spirit.
  • Bai He (Bulbus Lilii): nourishes and enriches the Heart, clears heat from the Heart and quiets the Spirit.
  • Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii): opens the orifices, dispels phlegm, and quiets the Spirit.
  • Chen Xiang (Lignum Aquilariae): courses the Liver and moves the qi, reduces counterflow.
  • Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae): quiets the Heart and calms the Spirit, dispels phlegm and opens the orifices.
  • Sweet Orange oil is added as a fragrance, and also moves and harmonizes the qi.

Ingredients/functions source: https://www.lhasaoms.com/blue-poppy-spirit-quieting-massage-oil

  1. Qi gong CD or DVD Qigong dvd

A recent UCLA study showed that a slow-moving meditation practice like tai chi or qi gong works just as well as talk therapy, and better than medication, at helping patients with insomnia. Qi gong is a whole-body exercise that integrates the breath with body movements. It is designed to loosen the joints, promote deep breathing, and relax the body. Body movements in tai chi and qi gong are used to aid the Qi in its journey along the acupuncture meridians, dissolve blockages that can lead to sickness and disease, and increase general energy level.

In case you’re asking yourself, “how the heck do I do qi gong?” AOMA’s amazing alumni Nicole and Jenna host a fantastic educational YouTube channel that will teach you! I highly recommend all of their content, but a good place to start would be the video series entitled… wait for it… “HOW THE HECK do I do Qigong?!” You can find Nicole and Jenna’s YouTube channel here.

AOMA Herbal Medicine also has a few great qi gong resources to support you in your practice. In Master Li’s “A Return to Oneness,” you will practice the qi gong of unconditional love to begin a journey of rediscovery, a journey back to your true home. “Where does one's true home lie? The saying 'home is where the heart is' does not mean only that one's affections lie where one's home is. Its deeper meaning is that the Heart is where the true home is.” (ShengZhen.org).

Sources:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/caffeine-and-sleep

https://www.choiceorganicteas.com/much-caffeine-tea/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726

https://www.nqa.org/index.php?option=com_dailyplanetblog&view=entry&year=2017&month=06&day=25&id=12:tai-chi-and-qigong-for-insomnia

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5034925/

https://shengzhen.org/

https://www.lhasaoms.com/blue-poppy-spirit-quieting-massage-oil

Topics: stress relief, qigong, chinese herbs, insomnia, aoma, tcm

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