AOMA Blog

Fat is Flavor!

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

By Dr. Joel Cone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fat Is Flavor Images

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

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

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

Work Cited:

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

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

How Chinese Herbal Medicine Can Support Women's Hormones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. He Huan Pi (Albizia julibrissin Cortex)

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

  1. Chai Hu (Bupleurum chinense Radix)

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

  1. Yu Jin (Curcuma aromatica Rhizoma)

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

  1. Suan Zao Ren (Ziziphus Spinosa Semen)

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

  1. Dan Shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza Radix)

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

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

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

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

Chinese Medicine and Sinus Allergies

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

By John Scott, DOM

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

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

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

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

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

Wind Cold Presentation

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

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

Herbal treatment: Xanthium & Magnolia Formula to al

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

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

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

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

Wind Heat Presentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, AOMA community collaborations, aoma

Meet The Veterans of AOMA!

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

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

Meet Caitlyn Kelly!

US Army, SPC, 2012-2017 

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

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

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

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

3. What are your hobbies?

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

Caitlyn Kelly Image 2

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

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

5. What are your plans for after graduation?

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

 
 

Meet Monique Jones!

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

1. What motivated you to join the military?

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

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

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

MJ Image 23.What are your hobbies?

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


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

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

5. What are your plans for after graduation?

MJ: The most important thing for me after graduation is to educate the community on how to observe and listen to their bodies as a prevention method for illness. It important to me that the community know that there are alternative methods for treating illnesses, pain and cognitive/emotional conditions that don’t require medications with side effects. I want to influence the community to take a more personal approach to their own healthcare. I want to specialize to treat pain and cognitive/emotional conditions. At the moment I’m projecting my target client population to be service members, veterans and children. At first thought I would like to have my own private practice though I’m aware of the various benefits of integrative medicine.
MJ Image 3


6. How do you feel both your military experience and your education have prepared you for your future?
 
MJ: God doesn’t make mistakes! Without my military career I wouldn’t be here. As a healthcare professional in the military, I’ve gotten to honor to work with allies all over the globe. Every opportunity taught me valuable lessons on the effects of treating patient’s vs symptoms. As a student of acupuncture one of the principles that first stuck to me was being able to understand the patient holistically. It’s not just about the chief complaint but also external and internal factors that can influence it. Sleep hygiene, good nutrition and exercise are consistent themes that I’ve witnessed being taught in both my military career and during my education her at AOMA. I will continue to educate the community on why these are so important for vitality.

 

Meet Robin Boyles!

US Army, 1SG, 1990-2010

Robin B Image 1-1

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

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

 

Meet Khong Bouapraseuth!

1. What motivated you to join the military?IMG_0666

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

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


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

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

3.What are your hobbies?

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

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

IMG_4737

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

5. What are your plans for after graduation?

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

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

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

 

Meet Nadja Profit!image1

Army, 2003-2011

1. What motivated you to join the military?

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

2.What are your hobbies?

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

image4

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

NP: To serve many populations of clients.

4. What are your plans for after graduation?

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

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

image3

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

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

A Trip Down Memory Lane: An Interview With Robert Laguna

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

Topics: faculty spotlight, aoma, Robert Laguna

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

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

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