AOMA Blog

Meditation & The Five Senses: How to Enhance Your Meditation Practice

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 @ 02:28 PM

Meditation Austin AOMA

Meditation is a mind-body practice that allows one to calm their mind from the fast pace and stresses of life. When we take time to slow down and focus on the present, we eliminate many of the stress responses in our bodies. Some enjoy seated, silent meditation, while others enjoy triggering each of their senses to enhance their relaxation. Soothing our five senses can help us more easily enter a meditative state. As meditation becomes more popular and more people begin to cultivate a regular practice, it becomes important to find things that make it easier to make meditation a habit. There are some helpful props and accessories that will make your meditation more practice comfortable and centered. We have compiled five items that will help aid in each sensory aspect of your meditation practice.

1. Sense of Sight in Meditation

Salt Lamps AOMA Austin

Salt lamps create a dim lighting for any room perfect for a meditation practice. Along with the relaxing lighting, salt lamps are said to create negative ions and can increase overall energy in your space. Salt lamps are made by a large chopped off chunk of Himalayan pink salt with a light bulb in the middle causing the salt to glow and warm from within. In addition to salt lamps, candles also create a meditative lighting and focal point for deepening your meditation.

2. Sense of Smell in Meditation

Essential Oil Diffuser AOMA Austin

Essential oil diffusers are commonly used in homes and offices as an alternative to chemical-based air fresheners and purifier sprays. They are also a safe and easy way to receive relaxing aromatherapy during your meditation practice. Choose from many different oils for your desired effect! Some oils can be sedating while others energizing. The benefits of aromatherapy include stress relief, mental focus, allergy relief, and more!

3. Sense of Touch in Meditation

Meditation Pillows AOMA Austin

Meditation pillows are essential for any meditation practice. Sitting for long periods of time can cause discomfort in the body, even sometimes causing body parts to feel “asleep”. Pillows can help in a seated meditation to keep posture straight and relieve pressure from their buttocks. Making a meditation practice comfortable is a great way to stick with it! Mala beads are another powerful and symbolic tool for meditation. Mala beads can be held during meditation practice as a tactile point of focus. The 108 beads on a traditional mala are said to help focus your meditation on your internal mantra, or focused thought that guides your practice. By repeating over and over again as you grip each bead in your hand going all the way around the mala, you can meditate on your mantra through mindful repetition.

Sense of Sound in Meditation

Chakra Bowls Austin TX

There are many forms of sound therapy and meditation audio technology that assists you in going deeper in your meditation practice. Bowls can also be used to create soothing tones that help to focus the mind. Many meditators also enjoy guided meditation audio, or simply the sounds of nature. Whatever audio source you decide on for your meditation practice, pick something that will not be distracting and help your mind focus you on the present moment.

Sense of Taste in Meditation

Herbal TEA AOMA Austin

Tea can be a calming way to relax and reflect after a meditation practice. The act of sipping tea in and of itself can be meditative. Tea can even be enjoyed before meditation as a way of slowing down to prepare one’s self to enter a calm state of mind. Tea can be both stimulating and relaxing. A good combination of both could help keep you both alert yet relaxed while you meditate.

Helping yourself relax by way of incorporating all the 5 senses will help you have a deeper meditation experience. We hope you consider enhancing your meditation practice with these above tools.

Most of these meditation tools can be purchased from the AOMA Store.

AOMA Herbal Medicine:

North Austin: 2700 W. Anderson Ln. Suite 504, Austin, TX 78757 (512) 323-6720
South Austin: 4701 West Gate Blvd. Building B, Austin, TX 78745 (512) 693-4372

Alumni Spotlight: Tio Bustillo

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 12:42 PM

Alumni Spotlight Tio Bustillo.png

Tio Bustillo, LAc, graduated from AOMA’s Master’s program in 2011 and currently is enrolled in the Doctoral program. Since graduating, Tio has been a big part of the movement to incorporate Chinese medicine into the Western healthcare system. Tio was hired to join the Integrative Medicine Department at Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, one of Texas’ largest non-profit healthcare systems. Through this position, he has been able to collaborate and work with some of the leading physicians and medical specialists in Texas. Tio is leading the charge to create even more new jobs for acupuncturists in the hospital system and also helping to provide substantial and meaning research for Chinese medicine.

Below is a brief interview with Tio:

What made you decide to study acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

Truthfully, it was never on my radar. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started. One day I was walking into Half-Price Books searching for several fitness references. While I was thumbing through a book I heard a ‘thud’ behind me. A random book had fallen off the shelf. I figured it was meant to be, so I purchased it for $7.98, plus tax. It was The Web That Has No Weaver. I went to a local coffee shop and started to read a little. Soon after, I visited AOMA and was enrolled the following week. Years later, I am still learning and practicing.

What are some of your top accomplishments since graduating?

One of my top accomplishments is being part of the Integrative Medicine Department of Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, one of Texas’ largest non-profit healthcare systems. I have been able to collaborate and work with some of the leading physicians & specialist in Texas. I feel like I am truly integrating Eastern & Western medicine and proving that it is possible. Even more helping my industry by creating more jobs and awareness in the medical community.

Why did you chose to continue on with doctoral studies at AOMA?

I decided to do the doctoral program because I feel like this will give me the credentials needed to create a strong and successful integrative medicine department within a large healthcare system. Even more, learning new methods and treatment strategies is something that I feel one has to do in order to become a well-rounded practitioner.

What did your AOMA education mean to you/prepare you for?

“One of the most impactful lessons that I learned during my time at AOMA was self-reflection and self-transformation.” – Tio Bustillo

I think AOMA gave me a strong foundation to become a Doctor of Acupuncture & Chinese medicine. This allows me to grow in any direction. One of the most impactful lessons that I learned during my time at AOMA was self-reflection and self-transformation. Your limits are truly tested, but there is personal growth that you don’t expect to happen. In the end this transformation makes someone a better health care provider.

What is your vision for your career moving forward?

I see myself being a leader in the Integrative Medicine Department at Baylor Scott & White Healthcare creating new jobs for my industry and providing substantial research for Chinese Medicine. 

What advice would you give to recent graduates about to enter the field professionally?

Your journey as a health care provider is not over. It just started. My advice is to find someone who you admire as a practitioner and learn as much as you can. Then practice what you have learned. Secondly, treat as many patients as you can. There is a big difference between theory and clinical experience. Lastly, become comfortable with Western medicine principles because you need to evolve as a practitioner and with the industry standards.

AOMA is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. What is your fondest memory of your studies here?

My fondest memory of AOMA was when I first walked into the AOMA store at the North campus. It used to be near the front parking lot where the dermatology clinic is currently located. I walked in as a first year student and headed towards the back of the store where they kept all the herbs. The smell of was over powering to the senses. I stood there looking up, then down, across and back. I was excited that I was going to know each and every one of these herbs and how they affect the body. I am still amazed that I learned and retained so much information about herbal pharmacology. Happy Anniversary to my friends and family at AOMA!

For other AOMA alumni stories, click here: AOMA Alumni Stories

Learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA:

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: alumni spotlight, alumni

An Interview with AOMA CEO, Dr. Mary Faria

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 @ 08:57 PM

MaryFaria.jpgHave you ever worked with AOMA before?

I have! I had a relationship with AOMA for many years before working here. I knew AOMA through my position at Seton Southwest Hospital. When we held community health fairs, we always invited AOMA to educate patients about acupuncture. 

Have you tried acupuncture?

Yes! I’ve been a long time patient of Dr. Zheng Zeng at AOMA acupuncture clinics. I  had trouble with hip pain from running and other inflammation problems that she helped with immensely. 

Wow! So you’re a runner?

I’m a big marathon runner! I’m in a group that races competitively. I just finished the 3M half marathon and won the division for my age group. I run or cross train  everyday except for Fridays.

Are you married? Does your partner run?

Yes! My husband and I actually celebrated our 41st anniversary this past December. He got me started with running and I joke that he’s created a monster! He can’t run anymore because of knee issues, but he travels all over the country and world  to support me at my races.

What’s something surprising about you?

I only learned to swim 10 years ago - it terrified me before! I was so determined to race in Ironman events that I finally sought the help of a recommended fitness trainer to start. I love it now! It is such a gift. I now teach others afraid of water how to swim. So if anyone out there thinks they can’t swim I’d love to help. If I can swim, anyone can!

What was your work life like before AOMA?

I first got into healthcare as a respiratory therapist. I started as an ICU therapist and was moved into supervisory and management roles. I was following my husband’s career at that time and that took us away from Austin for a while. When we returned, I got my Master’s in Healthcare Administration and immediately started working in hospital administration after that. I spent 30 years as a healthcare executive;  21 of those years with the Seton Healthcare System here in Austin, 17 of those 21 as the VP/Administrator/COO at Seton Southwest Hospital. 

So I see that also you have a PhD! Tell me about that!

Yes! In 2000 I received my PhD from UT Austin. I have a dual one in Business Administration and Educational Administration. My dissertation research was in the area of organizational change. I serve as an adjunct professor at Texas State and Concordia University in their Healthcare Administration and Business Schools.

Wow. That’s incredible, we’re really lucky to have you. What’s your best piece of advice to students, as someone who’s done a lot of school?

What I have found is sometimes people don’t recognize the value and gift of education, when you are sometimes struggling to get through it. It’s such a gift. We’re so blessed to have so many opportunities in schooling available to us, especially here in Austin. I’m a believer in lifelong learning.

What are your goals here in your position as CEO?

My biggest goal is to help AOMA achieve it’s established Strategic goals. One of the most important is the desire to find an academic partner so that we can grow in a lot of different ways. We had hoped the Bastyr partnership would be a good fit, but as you know it wasn’t. The good news is that there are plenty of wonderful organizations out there  who would make very good partners.

Another very important goal is to heighten awareness in the community about AOMA and all the great work we do in education, in direct care, and in our community. We’ve already started work with some publications I have connections with. AOMA has been around for 25 years and it’s still a hidden, secret jewel. It should be top of mind when anyone thinks about holistic care in Austin.

If you had a superpower what would it be?

Wow that’s a great one. If I had a superpower, it would be to instill compassion in all relationships. I think compassion builds empathy and empathy helps us work together much more effectively and peacefully. I think that would be a great superpower!

Well… I was going to ask you what do you do when you’re not helping AOMA run… and it sounds like you’re literally running! Do you have time for anything else?

*Laughs* so true! Running is one of my passions. I’m also very passionate about making a difference in Community Health and making the City of Austin a healthier community. I am on the Mayor’s Health and Fitness Council and Board Chair for the 2nd year, in a 3 year term. We’re doing this wonderful work with schools, neighborhoods and faith based groups, giving them the skills and incentives to eat well, exercise and take care of themselves. We’re trying to address these kinds of issues. I think it’s really important to look at the whole person.

I also serve on several advisory councils and am involved in research on human resilience. We presented  on human resilience at SXSW and the Healthier Texas Summit. We haven’t published anything yet, but we’re working on it and hoping to continue broaden our research in this field.

Is there anything else you’d like students to know about you?

My door is always open  - I’d love to know what’s on their minds, what they love about AOMA and what we can do to support them better. If you have anything you would like to share with me, you can make an appointment, send me an email, or leave a voicemail. We’re working on setting up a town hall meeting on a regular basis, so I am hoping to meet more of you then!

Read more about Mary here

Topics: Mary Faria, CEO, AOMA leadership

Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments for Cedar Allergies

Posted by Yongxin Fan on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 @ 03:45 PM

Austin Cedar Allergy treatment

Are you familiar with seasonal allergies? If you live in Austin,Texas, you probably know more about periodic wheezing, sneezing, and sniffling than just about anyone! It’s not all doom and gloom, though.  According to the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) 2016 fall Allergy Capital list, Austin is ranked at 46th place compared to 35th place in 2015(1). It appears things seem to be improving for us here in the live music capital of the world.  But while the rest of the nation generally only has two pollen seasons (fall and spring), Austin is unique in that we have three distinct pollen seasons, plus an intense winter pollen season. That is why some people call Austin the Allergy Capital of the World!

Mountain cedar pollen season extends from December to March, with peak levels usually hitting in January. Cedar pollen counts in Central Texas are among the highest pollen counts of any plant anywhere in the world. Cedar allergy, commonly referred to as "cedar fever," can be intense and debilitating. Cedar fever is a seasonal illness that affects people during pollination of the mountain cedar tree(3). As you may know firsthand, people experience severe symptoms when afflicted by cedar fever and can find that their daily activities are greatly impacted while it runs its course (2).

If you are new to Austin and have not yet experienced cedar fever (lucky you!) then you might have at least heard of this form of seasonal allergic rhinitis that comes with some extra symptoms.  On top of the usual hay fever symptoms (runny nose, itchy and watery eyes nasal blockage, and sneezing), some sufferers of cedar fever also complain of fatigue, mild headache, facial discomfort, sore throat, partial loss of smell, and ear pressure or a sense that the ears are plugged.The inflammation triggered by the allergen can even cause a mildly elevated temperature, hence the nickname “cedar fever!”

Western medicine relies on two forms of allergy treatment: medication and immunotherapy. Decongestants and antihistamines are the most common allergy medications, and they can help to reduce a stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, and itching. Corticosteroids are generally effective in treating inflammation in the nose in the form of nasal spray. Immunotherapy is a preventive strategy designed to ward off allergic reactions to substances such as pollens, etc. This involves giving gradually increasing doses of the allergen or substance to which the person is allergic. The incremental increases of the allergen cause the immune system to become less sensitive to the substance, which ultimately reduces the symptoms of the allergy. 

How TCM can help

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) relies on a more holistic approach to allergy relief.  By virtue of satisfactory clinical results due to a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbs, more and more people are realizing that seasonal suffering caused by allergens can be avoided without exclusively relying on invasive Western medical treatments. 

But, you might be asking, how does this work?

According to TCM, people who suffer from allergies experience what we term a wind invasion to the body combined with defensive Qi (vital energy) weakness of the body itself. TCM treatments are designed to treat both the root of the disease as well as the symptoms that you are experiencing. Acupuncture can treat allergies by controlling the body’s inflammatory reactions to allergens, and specific points that your practitioner selects, such as acu-points on face and foot, can relieve the nasal and facial symptoms by stimulating the far ends of the channels, or meridians, where Qi flows. 

Specific herbs can also help to reduce the inflammatory reaction and desensitize the body to allergens. Treasures from the Chinese herbal tradition, such as Huangqi (astragalus) can modulate immunity, while still others, like Cangerzi (fructus xanthil) and Juhua (Chrysanthemum flower) can lower histamine production to relieve the nasal and eye symptoms. Regular moxibustion, or heated herbal therapy, can boost the body’s immune system to prevent allergy symptoms in the first place.

Generally, people with allergies would be wise to begin TCM treatment one to two months before the allergy season, in order to allow the body to build up the necessary immunities. However, during the allergy season itself, immediate treatment can also provide great relief. Your best bet is to talk to your practitioner and find a strategy that best suits you, especially if you have a chronic allergic response that recurs each year.

Your at-home activities can also make a difference in the allergy symptoms you experience.  Do you take vitamins?  Study results demonstrate that Vitamin D supplements can alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms and treat chronic hives.  In addition, Vitamin C is a well-known immune antioxidant that lowers histamine levels to prevent the onset of allergies. Are you mindful of your diet? Dairy products, sugar, and wheat are all common contributors to allergy symptoms, so limiting your intake of these foods may help reduce your symptoms.

TCM highly values the proactive nurturing of one’s health, and there are several modalities that can help. Striving for balance in your daily life and regular self-care make a positive difference in your Qi and promote overall wellbeing.  Mind-body exercises such as qi gong can teach you to cultivate your body’s natural healing energy as well as reduce stress. Reasonable amounts of work followed by rest, a plan for managing stress, and proper diet are also important for preventing allergy symptoms. Acupuncture reduces stress, boosts mood, and helps you sleep better. By avoiding overwork and receiving sufficient hours of sleep each night, the body’s vital energy remains strong and less susceptible to allergens If you take time to enjoy yourself and maintain a happy mood, then you are doing a wonderful job supporting your health during the allergy season!

 Request an appointment at AOMA Acupuncture Clinics to get started on your allergy relief!Request an Appointment

 

(1). http://www.aafa.org/media/Fall-Allergy-Capitals-Report-Dec-2016.pdf

(2). https://www.quora.com/Why-does-Austin-TX-have-a-reputation-for-bad-allergies

(3). https://www.texasmedclinic.com/symptoms-remedies-cedar-fever-and-allergies-austin-san-antonio/

(4). http://acaai.org/allergies/treatment

Topics: tcm education

11 Best TCM Accounts to Follow Right Now

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 @ 02:54 PM

AOMA Instagram TCM accounts to follow

Ever wondered how the ancient principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine translate into the modern world of social media? As acupuncture and Chinese medicine continue to grow in popularity in America, many practitioners are turning to social networks like Instagram. Instagram can be used as a powerful tool to promote one’s practice as well as educate the public on this ancient form of healing.

Many of the Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques are visually appealing and catch the eye, such as fire cupping or burning of moxibustion. As acupuncture practitioners continue to shed light on these often mysterious and less common practices via social networks, the curiosity and interest by patients will increase as more attention is given to alternative health therapies.

We’ve done our research and found the 10 best TCM social media accounts to follow, while highlighting what sets each of them apart. Continue reading for some of the most fascinating TCM accounts to follow and hopefully you’ll have a new perspective on acupuncture and Chinese medicine. :)

(In no particular order)

1. Bob Wong - @art_of_acupuncture

Bob Wong’s focus on social media is providing high quality photos of acupuncture and cupping, while educating the public on what TCM has to offer. Most of his photos are monochromatic, which creates unique and powerful imagery, showing the artistic side of acupuncture. He uses primarily his wife as an acupuncture model out of their home, in which he has set up a black backdrop. Bob also posts videos of various TCM treatments and has a blog interviewing TCM practitioners. His social media presence is one of a kind, and one you’re definitely going to want to follow.

2. Carolyn Barron, L.Ac. - @Botanarchy

 

A post shared by Carolyn Barron, L.Ac. (@botanarchy) on

Carolyn Barron is a licensed acupuncturist practicing out of Los Angeles, California. Her practice has an emphasis on herbal medicine, with her Instagram page highlighting photos of various herbs and recipes. Her images are warm and welcoming, and she showcases other treatment tools on her page such as tuning forks, mindfulness and nutritional recipes. Carolyn draws importance and attention on self care and women’s health issues with a muted color palette collection of photography and graphics.

3. TCM Herb a Day - @tcmherbaday

 

A post shared by TCM Herb a Day (@tcmherbaday) on

TCM Herb a Day is one of the best educational Instagram pages to follow, highlighting various Chinese single herbs everyday. The photos are bright and vibrant, showing the raw herb form used medicinally and the plant the herb is derived from. Posts are daily including explanations of the herbs and how they are used medicinally with Chinese herbal medicine. If you are still learning Chinese herbs, or want a daily review, this is the best page to follow.

4. LILYCHOINATURALHEALING.COM - @Lilychoinaturalhealing

Lily Choi is a licensed acupuncturist currently practicing in NYC. Her instagram page is educationally informative as well as visually pleasing. Her photos start health minded conversations, with each day highlighting either a health food item, natural remedies, or general health concerns. Lily uses instagram as an educational tool, highlighting how food can be used as medicine and explaining Chinese herbs and other natural remedies in layman's terms. The conversations she starts are common questions and concerns many patients have, and her opinions are holistic in nature, providing a safe place for open discussion. 

5. Anthony Guadamuz, AP - @Integrative_medicine

Anthony Guadamuz is an acupuncture physician working out of Miami, Florida. He is also an AOMA alumnus. His social media highlights the power of tai chi and meditation on overall health and wellness, as well as how Chinese medicine can treat a variety of health concerns. It is clear that Anthony practices what he preaches with his personal photos of his mind-body exercises. His images are bright with contrast and he frequently posts live videos and stories regarding health concerns via Instagram.

6. Dr. Laurie Binder - @Acupuncture_la 

Dr. Laurie Binder is a L.Ac., MS, RNCNP, and LCCE practicing in Santa Monica, California. Her page is bright and colorful highlighting mostly health recipes and motivational quotes. Dr. Binder promotes healthy eating and how easy it can be to make these healthy meals at home. Follow her page for nutritional inspiration.

7. Evolution Acupuncture - @Acuevolution

Catherine Craig, L.Ac. has a boutique acupuncture studio located in the heart of downtown Red Bank, NJ. Her page includes pictures of herbs, outdoors, yoga, acupuncture, and clinical photos. She uses bright, simplistic images overall and uses these images to highlight holistic health minded topics. 

8. Magnolia Acupuncture - @magnoliaacupuncture

 

2018 is starting off just the way it should: delicious and colorful!

A post shared by Magnolia Acupuncture (@magnoliaacupuncture) on

Magnolia Acupuncture is out of Costa Mesa, CA showcasing the practice through very bright, fun images of work and personal life with family. Angela Sinnett inspires others who may want to achieve an optimal work/life balance as a professional acupuncturist. You’ll also find nutrition and food images, pictures and videos of her treating clients, as well as scenic shots of the Pacific Ocean!

9. Chinese Medicine PortMacquarie - @empiricalhealth

 

Getting it all sorted out #chinesemedicine

A post shared by Chinese Medicine PortMacquarie (@empiricalhealth) on

Empirical Health heavily focuses on the beauty of raw Chinese herbs! Here you’ll find up close and personal shots of these colorful and beautiful Chinese herbs, teas, and capsules. Explore the multitudes of variety in the Chinese herbal spectrum!

10. Acupuncture Collective - @Acupuncturecollective

Acupuncture Collective hosts a beautiful community acupuncture space where they treat clients. You’ll discover many images of patients being treated in community style acupuncture, along with some images of herbs and nature photographs. Here you’ll find a variety of TCM visual inspiration and new found appreciation for community. Interested in trying community style acupuncture but feared the open door aspect? Follow this page, and you’ll be sure to change your mind. 

11. Charlotte Alvarez - @Onemedicine

Charlotte is an acupuncturist licensed by the state of Minnesota. She has beautifully put together media with a smooth flow of images using similar themes and filters for the images. Her images typically show patients receiving treatments, with cupping and acupuncture needles. Other images show off the relaxing and clean treatment space with many plants and a basic white/clean look. She also sprinkles in shots of herbs and whole foods, to add a nicely balanced page, covering all there is to Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine can feel foreign and because of that, it may deter you from trying it. Social media can allow us to have a better awareness of things we might not otherwise be exposed to. Take some time to check out these pages and familiarize yourself with the beauty and wonder that is Chinese medicine. If you aren’t already - also follow us on Instagram for more TCM related posts. We love hearing from our readers. Let us know what TCM accounts you follow!

Topics: tcm education, tcm, acupuncture social media, social media, acupuncture

5 (Attainable) Self-Care Resolutions for the New Year

Posted by Rob Davidson on Mon, Jan 08, 2018 @ 12:30 PM

AOMA New Year Resolutions Self Care

Everyone likes the idea of a fresh start at the dawn of a new year. From making resolutions for self improvement, to creating new healthy habits, and ending bad ones, we all have something to work on. Yet, we often set goals for ourselves that are unattainable, either because they aren’t sustainable, or they are simply unrealistic. What makes setting goals more effective is creating small goals for ourselves that we know can be 100% achieved. We can then build confidence in ourselves and become more inspired to cross off those bigger goals down the road.

Self care is an excellent place to start when it comes to bringing in the new year right. It can be as simple as making a few small changes that will have a dramatic, long term impact. Self care doesn’t have to mean a stringent new diet of deprivation or an abrupt new vigorous fitness routine. If our mind, body, and nutrition are all in order, it sets us up to have to more energy, better health and greater confidence in the new year.

Here, we have cultivated a list of 5 attainable self-care resolutions you can actually stick with. What’s best is that they will require minimal effort, and the rewards will be huge.

Regular Acupuncture Treatments 

AOMA acupuncture treatments

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a complete and holistic healing system, taking care of both our mind and body. Acupuncture has shown to reduce stress and pain in many patients, depending on the underlying cause of the pain. Add a regularly-scheduled acupuncture session to your new year goals and let your energy be balanced. This will help you decrease that new year stress and allow your mind and body to stay healthy throughout the year.

Acupuncture sessions typically run between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours and can also be surprisingly affordable. You will find that many areas offer sliding scale prices, and many acupuncturists take insurance from patients. AOMA’s student clinic offers reduced-price treatments of only $30 for a 1.5 hour session. Remember to always see a licensed acupuncturist or a student intern who is supervised by a licensed acupuncturist, so you will know your practitioner has the proper training or oversight!!

Interested in what other modalities acupuncturists have to offer? Check our out blog on 8 chinese medicine treatments you may have never heard of.

Incorporate Outside Time

Austin TX outdoors relaxation

Weather permitting, spending more time outside in the new year will also help reduce stress levels. Talking a walk in nature for example can connect you with your natural surroundings, helping you unwind and relax. Nature walks can also act as a type of moving meditation. Being outside also means a much needed break from screen time, as constantly working with mobile devices and computers can cause eye strain.

Take a short 15-30 minute walk around your neighborhood or during your lunch break from work. This will reduce cortisol levels, the chemical responsible for stress. Other outdoor activities, such as walking, bicycling, hiking, jogging, or canoeing will also allow you to connect with the natural world.

We also recommend daily qigong, a system of body movements and breathing exercise taught as part of Chinese medicine. This practice can be done inside or outdoors.

Journaling - Goals & Gratitude 

gratitude journal new year

Gratitude is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean and how can you incorporate it into your life? Appreciating what you’ve been given is an excellent exercise to becoming a more fulfilled person. This can be done through starting a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is a way to document all of the things you are thankful for each and every day. The act of journaling has been shown to help reduce mental clutter resulting in more self awareness and clarity. Using your time in nature to journal is an excellent way to unwind and connect. Journaling could also incorporate setting goals for the new year, whether they’re personal, professional or spiritual.

TCM Nutrition and Incorporating Healthy Foods

TCM nutrition

Starting a new year and trying to change your diet all together can be overwhelming, and not always beneficial. Did you know a lot of Chinese herbs are foods that can be found in local grocery stores? In addition to providing acupuncture, your Chinese medicine practitioner is also well-versed in herbology and nutrition. This is a great opportunity to work with your acupuncturist and incorporate healthier foods into your diet that will help put your body back in balance.

Chinese medicine has easy and friendly recipes such as soups and congee. Certain vegetables and herbs are excellent for supporting the immune system and creating overall balance of health. You’ll be more likely to avoid illness, and stay on top of your health goals for the new year.

Read more about TCM nutrition in our blog post "Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Nutrition: Eat What You Need".

Tea Time! 

Chinese herbal tea

Herbal teas can be relaxing or energizing, and they can also be used for treating various health conditions. Take some time out of your day to enjoy a hot cup of tea in a relaxing environment. Maybe substitute your coffee for green tea, or find a calming tea to drink before bed- helping your get those extra zzz’s. Traditionally, Chinese herbs are used in raw forms and steeped with boiling water, then strained for a healing tea. Depending on the type of tea you want to start drinking, you can either visit your local herb store, or see an acupuncturist to incorporate these Chinese herbs into your regular health routine.

Click below to request an appointment at one of the AOMA Acupuncture Clinics!

Request an Appointment

Topics: self-care, acupunture, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Thanksgiving: The Food Stagnation Holiday

Posted by Tara Lattimore on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Happy Thanksgiving Austin from AOMA

Thanksgiving is fast-approaching and while I mostly associate the holiday with contemplation and gratitude, I find myself preparing for two other activities: travel and overeating. The bad news is that both often loom large during the holidays and can negatively impact our ability to enjoy them. The good news is that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can help with both and I’m going to share some easy, approachable herbal options to treat the latter! 

Ideally, we should eat mindfully and avoid overeating altogether but when these behaviors happen, it’s unproductive to judge ourselves. Instead we should enjoy the journey and treat the destination as best we can. While I always recommend making an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist so they can prescribe a Chinese herbal formula tailored to your constitution, you may not have a chance to make an appointment before you travel or before the clinics shut down for the holiday. I have also found that powder and bulk/dried herbs don’t travel as easily as pills, especially when going overseas and factoring in different customs restrictions. In these situations, prepared, over the counter (OTC) formulas are a convenient option to throw in your carry-on.  

Food Stagnation

Before I make recommendations, I think it’s important to understand what these TCM herbal formulas are treating. 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 we refer to in Chinese medicine as food stagnation. It’s like when you force too much food into the garbage disposal and it stalls. If you keep adding more, it’s going to back up and you have no chance of getting the disposal to perform again until you fix the blockage.

In humans, the disposal is the Stomach and Spleen and the “stall” is food stagnation, presenting with symptoms like abdominal distention, belching, flatulence, nausea, fatigue (hello, food coma!) 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. Ideally, we should have a mindful, balanced and moderate approach to eating and try not to over consume in the first place; however, stress and obligation get in the way of even the best laid plans. When that happens, the following formulas can help transform the food, break up stagnation, and get your digestive system back to optimal function. I have included a variety of forms so you can choose which is most convenient for you:

Encapsulated Powder Tincture Encapsulated Tea Pills Tea Pills
Bao He Wan AOMA Austin Herbal Tincture Austin TX Curing Pills AOMA Austin TX Culing Pills Austin TX
Bao He Wan Bao He Wan Curing Pills Culing Pills
Qualiherb Far East Summit Plum Flower Chu Kiang Brand

All of these formulas contain Shen Qu also known as massa fermentata or medicated leaven, which is useful in treating food stagnation but not appropriate for those with celiac disease. If you are interested in a gluten-free option, you should definitely make an appointment to see a practitioner in one of our clinics where they can prescribe a customized or prepared formula that will work with your specific dietary restrictions.

Happy Holidays

Usually, my husband and I join our adopted Austin family at a ranch outside the city and Chinese medicine food stagnationour hostess is a doctor of Chinese medicine. We are spoiled at the end of the night with a customized decoction that’s been bubbling on the stove throughout Thanksgiving dinner. It’s one of my favorite traditions. This year, we will fly home to see my parents for the first time in 3 years and they live all the way in Indonesia. Bulk herbs are not convenient for this trip so I will be turning to prepared formulas. I know I can’t control everything that will be on the dinner table, and quite frankly, I don’t want to. Part of the joy of travel is to enjoy other’s traditions and I plan to mindfully indulge in everything in moderation out of respect for my host and my own experience. 

As part of your pre-travel preparations, I highly recommend a stop by AOMA Herbal Medicine to stock up on whatever support you might need. Personally, I decided to pack the Chu Kiang Brand Culing pills. The dosages are divided into individual packets making them especially easy to transport and I like the consistency of the tiny pills. I even keep a pack in my wallet for emergencies!  My husband prefers tinctures so he will pack the Far East Summit Bao He Wan. He can bring it in his carry-on because it is only 2 fluid ounces and TSA approved, provided he puts it in a quart-sized Ziploc bag with the rest of his appropriately sized liquids! We will also be drinking plenty of room-temperature water, getting sufficient sleep, practicing stretches and qigong, and continuing a regimen of probiotics throughout our trip!

Wherever you are spending your holidays and whatever your traditions, I hope you find time to rest and contemplate how amazing you are. This year has been challenging for so many and I am grateful for the many people in my life who inspire me to appreciate what I have, most especially my patients, coworkers, family and friends. From my family to yours, happy holidays and happy eating!

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Topics: food stagnation, chinese herbalism

6 Things You Can Do with a Degree in Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 04:22 PM

 

6 Things

Have you ever considered a career in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine? Many students choose this path because of a personal journey to serve others, while some have profound experiences as a patient that inspire a lifetime of study and a new career path. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a growing field within healthcare in the United States. Many new doors and opportunities are coming available to licensed acupuncturists, therefore boosting an overall growth of the integration of Chinese medicine into the western healthcare system. More and more healthcare providers are adding employment opportunities for acupuncturists, leaving the profession very hopeful for its future workforce. As of today, there are many different things you can do with a degree in acupuncture – including some you probably haven't heard of yet.

Currently, in the United States, to be a licensed acupuncturist, one must earn a four-year master’s degree as well as pass the national board examinations (NCCAOM). You will also need to qualify for state licensure requirements depending on your location. Doctoral degrees are also being offered in the field now, including a Professional Doctorate and Clinical Specialty Doctorate. Chinese medicine continues to grow as a field and more and more opportunities are being presented, such as hospital positions, solo practice, treating on a cruise line, or working as a professor. There are no limits to what the future may hold for acupuncturists. Here we will dive into some of the exciting opportunities that are presently available.

hospital acupuncture
Photo Credit: ELIZABETH FLORES, STAR TRIBUNE

Become a Hospital Acupuncturist

As acupuncture becomes more highly regarded in the medical field, healthcare delivery institutions are taking notice and discovering for themselves how powerful acupuncture can be. In Austin, Texas, one of the top hospitals – Baylor Scott & White, currently employs acupuncturists for their integrative medicine program. This program includes an integrative care program working with other specialties including massage therapists.

Acupuncturists have the ability to work with other healthcare providers in a dynamic setting, allowing them more hands on experience with western medical diagnosis and ways of thinking. Two AOMA graduates, Tiodoso Bustillo and Ashley Oved are working at Baylor Scott and White as acupuncturists. Some benefits acupuncture can serve specifically for the hospital setting could include anesthesia and post-surgery recovery. In addition, Adam Reinstein, an AOMA alumnus, serves as one of the first emergency room acupuncturists in Minnesota working with high trauma patients.

Work in an Integrative Healthcare Clinic

Integrative healthcare clinics are becoming a popular new model for clinics around the country. In an integrative healthcare office, an acupuncturist will work with other practitioners such as chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, psychologist/psychiatrists, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. This model is very patient-centered, that is, a patient can go to a single location to get the care they need, also while health data can be shared by all the practitioners to ensure collaborative care. This is also a good setting for acupuncturists, as they can offer their services to any patient of any other specialist in the practice.

Working cooperatively, these integrative practitioners can share practice costs, and approach patient care from a teamwork perspective. Patients are searching for more than one answer to their illness and want various options for treatment strategies, which is why integrative clinics are being sought out. One of our alumni and current faculty, as well as clinic supervisors, Anne Cusick, works at a Family Care Clinic in an integrative setting. Her environment allows her to work collaboratively with a family medicine doctor.

Clinic_Waiting (7)

Work at an Established Acupuncture Practice

Don't want the stress of opening up your own practice? Another great option is to work at an established acupuncture clinic looking to expand or rent out a room. Many have offices with more patients coming in than they can handle in their schedule and would love to have another acupuncturist to take on some of the workload. This could allow you to make a paycheck and not worry about overhead costs. Modern Acupuncture is one example of a clinic emerging in Austin with plans to expand and hire recent graduates. This model also gives you time to apprentice and learn from more advanced acupuncturists, and develop client rapport with patients that have already developed trust with the office. There are also other local acupuncture clinics in the Austin area that regularly hire recent graduates, such as Turtle Dragon and South Austin Acupuncture.

Oasis_of_the_Seas 

Sail the World as a Cruise Ship Acupuncturist

A big attraction for recent graduates in the field is to work on a cruise line. There you gain experience giving health related talks to crowds, marketing acupuncture to people on the cruise line, and seeing a variety of patients with a steady income. Plus, you have the bonus of travelling the world on a cruise line! The Onboard Spa by Steiner offers jobs to recent graduates as well as other licensed acupuncturists on their cruise lines. There is a three day training prior to the job, and each contract lasts seven months. Many graduates love this option because it gives them time to save money on living costs, while earning money to put towards their loans, and travel the world at the same time.

Classroom_HiR (2)

 

Teach Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

As the acupuncture field grows, so does the need for passionate teachers. There are more than 50 acupuncture schools in the United States, with three in Texas. This can give one the opportunity to share their passion for the field of acupuncture by teaching. While a master’s degree is currently required to seek licensure as an acupuncturist, many TCM schools such as AOMA offer doctoral degrees, designed to add advanced clinical speciality training, but also provide an avenue to achieve more prestigious teaching jobs at the nation’s top AOM schools. This environment can help you get support for research in the field. Schools such as AOMA hire esteemed acupuncturists in the field from all over, such as Elizabeth Fordyce who teaches advanced needling classes focusing on AOMA’s Dr. Tan’s Balance Method, as well as Aaron Rubinstein who teaches an advanced needling class focusing on Japanese style acupuncture.

Conduct TCM Research Projects

Acupuncturists are turning to other avenues to use their education as well, such as participating in and conducting research. With goals to help promote the awareness and education of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, research on acupuncture is growing with support from large healthcare organizations and medical research universities, funding studies such as pain management with acupuncture in response to the current opioid crisis.

AdobeStock_133533212 

Open your Own Acupuncture Clinic

Majority of acupuncturists want to open up a solo practice upon graduation. The appeal of being an entrepreneur and creating their own flexibility with scheduling and how they want to run their business is huge. The advantages include independence and being able to work for yourself. Through this enormous challenge, you will develop the skills to establish yourself in the field and be successful. Many schools like AOMA offer practice management courses to give you the skills you need to succeed after graduation.

Whatever career path you think is best for you in the field of Chinese medicine, know there are many options and the opportunities are growing. The AOMA Career Services department can help guide and mentor you to choose the best career path. An exciting career in one of the rising fields in healthcare awaits you!

Contact Admissions today to learn more about how AOMA can prepare you for a career in the field of Chinese medicine.

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Topics: acupuncture school, Traditional Chinese Medicine, chinese medicine school

8 Chinese Medicine Treatments You May Have Never Heard Of

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 @ 03:41 PM

acupuncture chinese medicine treatments 

Acupuncture, an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has become very popular in the United States as a form of alternative healthcare. Many physicians are referring patients to an acupuncturist for pain, while some hospitals are incorporating acupuncture treatments into their integrative care models. While you might have heard of acupuncture - the treatment of inserting small sterile needles into special energy points called meridians, you might not have known that acupuncture is only one part of the overarching Traditional Chinese Medicine system.

Students of TCM and acupuncture spend four years of training to complete a Chinese Medicine degree, learning acupuncture in addition to a whole slew of other techniques, diagnostic principles, and herbal medicine. Do you remember seeing the circular imprints on Michael Phelp’s back at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro? He had received cupping therapy, (explained more below) which is an example of another treatment tool commonly used by acupuncturists. In this article we will discuss eight frequently used techniques in Chinese medicine that the general public might not be aware of. 

cupping therapy Austin

Cupping

Cupping therapy can be viewed as a reverse massage by pulling up on the skin versus the pressure applied down on the skin in a traditional massage. This releases muscle tension by creating better blood flow to the area. Some acupuncturists also use cupping therapy for facial rejuvenation and lymph system drainage. Not only can cupping therapy be used for a variety of health reasons, but there are also various types of cupping sets. There are glass cups, known as “fire cupping,” silicone suction cups, plastic cupping sets and smaller cup sets used for facials and lymph drainage. Cupping therapy is often used alongside acupuncture to go deeper on certain points in the body where the pain is most severe.

 

Guasha Chinese medicine Austin

Guasha

Guasha, also known as “scraping technique,” is another tool acupuncturists use. The health functions are similar to cupping therapy; using pressure to break up fascia and muscular tension, thereby creating better blood flow to those areas. Commonly used tools for guasha include ceramic spoons, stainless steel made tools, and jade or other stone material shaped into a tool. Although this technique is used less frequently than cupping, it has tremendous healing benefits. Guasha, while being a mostly painless treatment, can often leave behind what’s called “sha”, or a redness on the skin.

Moxibustion Chinese Medicine Austin

Moxibustion

Moxibustion, also referred to as “moxa,” is made from the mugwort plant, and is used as a healing modality. Using moxibustion can be a great way to treat a disease in which one cannot use acupuncture needles. Burning moxibustion can heal tissue and allow blood to circulate better at a specific area. There are different forms of moxibustion use, such as direct or “rice” moxa, warm needling, and indirect or “stick” moxa. Some styles also use large moxa cones on slices of ginger or garlic.

 

eStim acupuncture austin

Electrical Stimulation (e-Stim)

Electrical stimulation, also referred to as “e-stim,” is a machine that creates an electrical current. This is used by attaching small clamps to the end of acupuncture needles and running a current through them. Because metal is an electrical conductor, there is a set of needles that are used, allowing the current to flow between them. Therefore, activating those acupuncture points and muscles even more. Some devices have multiple channels so that the practitioner can use multiple sets of points with the estim. Estim is used for musculoskeletal disorders, bell's palsy, paralysis, and much more. This technique is similar to the use of TENs units.

Bloodletting

Bloodletting is a way to oxygenate the blood by allowing stagnate blood to be released and newer blood to fill the vein up. This can be used to release the tension and appearance of varicose veins, as well as reduce swelling and inflammation from acute injuries. Bloodletting is used with a hypodermic or lancet needle to prick the area needed to bleed. Sometimes a practitioner will use a glass cup to place on top of the local area pricked to bleed in order to draw more blood from the area.

 

Tuinia chinese medicine bodywork

Tuina

Tuina, literally translated to mean “pinch and pull,” is a form of asian bodywork, which is similar to massage. With tuina, practitioners use acupressure points and specific techniques in order to treat musculoskeletal and digestive issues, insomnia, and aches and pains. This system uses the same theories and basis from acupuncture, just incorporating a pinch and pull bodywork method. Tuina is a great treatment style used by pediatric practitioners because it can be very gentle and effective.

Medical Qigong

Medical Qigong is an energy healing method, without the use of needles, and can have direct or indirect contact from the practitioner. It’s a way for the practitioner to manipulate the energy of the body to help things flow better, or get rid of disease. Medical Qigong treatments can also include the use of meditation and teaching the patient gentle movements to help strengthen one’s physical, mental, and spiritual self. This treatment style is very relaxing, and at the same time energizing.

Seven Star Needling

The seven star needle, also known as plum blossom needle, is made of five to seven needles which are placed together at the end of a long handle. This style of superficial tapping can be used to treat skin diseases, headaches, nervous system disorders, hair loss, paralysis, and painful joints. Plum blossom needles aren’t as commonly used, but most practitioners are trained in the style and may use it if they feel it is necessary.

Come experience the benefits of these treatments at our 2 Austin area acupuncture clinics!
Request an AppointmentWant to learn more about TCM treatments and study Chinese medicine at AOMA? Click below to get more information on becoming an acupuncturist.

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Topics: chinese medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, cupping, guasha, moxa

5 Reasons Why Austin is Different from the Rest of Texas

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 @ 02:20 PM

5 reasons why austin is different from the rest of texas.png

Those of us that live in Austin LOVE it and the ones that visit always wish they could stay. Some call Austin “weird,” or the “blue dot in a red state,” while others call it the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Regardless of what you have heard about Austin, one thing is certain - it is VERY different than the rest of Texas for a number of reasons. Austin has its own culture and is known as a tolerant, open-minded city that attracts a wide variety of people –college students, tech entrepreneurs, artisans, nature enthusiasts, alternative health practitioners, and many others. To top it off, Austin was ranked the best place to live in 2017, according to US News and World Report! Let’s be honest here, we couldn’t agree more that Austin is the best, which is why we came up with 5 reasons why Austin is strikingly different from (and arguably better) than the rest of Texas.

Environmentally Friendly

Lady Bird Lake Austin

What you’ll notice about Austin that’s different from the other concrete-jungle cities in Texas is the vast amount of parks and nature preservations located close to the city center. Austin caters to any outdoor enthusiast with prized urban nature conservations such as the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Spanning a length of 7.9 miles with gorgeous trails and swimming spots along the way, “the greenbelt” is considered one of the best hiking trails in Texas. Zilker Metropolitan Park (350 acres), one of Austin’s most used parks, is just 2 miles from downtown. Zilker connects to the Barton Springs swimming pool and Lady Bird Lake, where anyone can paddle board, kayak, or canoe. Such centrally located access to outdoor recreation is rare in most Texas cities, making Austin even more special. Oh, and did we mention how dog-friendly Austin is? People love to bring their pets most anywhere, so you’ll find many outdoor restaurants and cafes offering dog-friendly patios!

Music

Austin TX Live Music

You’ve heard Austin is the live music capitol of the world, but have you experienced the live music here? Austin hosts large scale music events every year, such as Austin City Limits (ACL), South by Southwest (SXSW), and the Pecan Street Festival. Besides the large mainstream festivals hosted here, there is always live music being played at other smaller venues such as the Broken Spoke for country and two-stepping or the Elephant Room for an eclectic basement with live jazz. We have every kind of music you would want to hear, and more you didn’t realize you would like. With a venue at almost every corner, Austin has your entertainment covered for a night out on the town.

Tech Savvy

Austin Tech Startups

Austin is considered the technology hub of Texas spawning with growth from companies such as Dell as well as an explosion of new companies formed during the dot.com era. Today, we host a full-blown tech ecosystem that many consider 2nd best to Silicon Valley in the United States, and dubbed the “Silicon Hills”. Austin is home to some of the newest up and coming high-tech startups as well as a large presence by many national corporations like Apple, IBM, and AMD. Many of these companies also embrace alternative and renewable energy sources. In addition, Austin was also chosen as one of the first cities in the country to offer Google Fiber access for its residents.

Local Business-Minded

South Congress Austin

Austin’s economy thrives on local merchants such as coffee shops, micro-breweries, farmers markets, boutiques and local art studios. In addition, some of these local ventures have taken off and grown to national prominence such as Whole Foods Market, Kendra Scott, Tito’s Vodka, Chuy’s Restaurant, and YETI Coolers. Austin is a city where all dreams are possible, where small businesses get bigger, and where consumers are more conscious of the products they buy with the intention of keeping the economy balanced. Let’s not forget to mention that our local and organic food movement is prominent with many local farms, herbal shops and community gardens. Trust us when we say there are more than enough places to discover here and whatever it is you like, we’ll have it!

Access to Alternative Health Options

Austin acupuncture clinics

Austin’s residents tend to be healthier, fitter, and more interested in alternative health therapies. We have a plethora of yoga studios, group fitness classes, CrossFit gyms and running groups. Because of the wide variety of residents in Austin, we have even more variety of health care options for those residents, such as acupuncture and reiki practitioners, as well as meditation and nutritional classes. Our city also provides many restaurants and food trucks that cater to our growing population of vegans and vegetarians. But just so you know, we love our breakfast tacos, and no matter how healthy you are - they can be hard to resist!

Still not convinced Austin is the best? Guess you’ll just have to come see for yourself!

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Topics: Austin, moving to Austin, Austin acupuncture

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