AOMA Blog

Reagan Taylor, AOMA Master's Graduate and DAOM Student

Posted by Brian Becker on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 @ 11:59 AM

 

Please introduce yourself! Where are you from? Where did you go to undergraduate?  What did you study?

My name is Reagan Taylor, and I am from Austin, TX. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up until I had to decide, but once I discovered how intriguing acupuncture and Chinese medicine I never turned back. In my research to find a good school, I didn’t need to look any farther than my hometown…I heard that AOMA had a great program with higher educational standards than other schools throughout the country.  I familiarized myself with the requirements for admission and studied AOMA’s curriculum. From there, I focused my studies at Austin Community College in biology, health sciences, sociology, and psychology to prepare me for patient care.

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

I lived in Oregon for several years learning how to blow soft glass; making vases, sculptures, paper weights.  While I was having fun, I didn’t feel like I was really serving a purpReagan Taylorose. I moved back to Austin and began work at a wonderful organization, The Marbridge Foundation, which is a residential care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities.  I worked there full-time before starting AOMA master’s program.  I stayed on as a part-time employee all throughout my time at AOMA, and left Marbridge all together about a year ago. It was a wonderful place to work and my experiences there instilled in me patience, communication skills, and stress management skills for myself as well as for patients.

What are some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?

What kind of trick question is this?!?  There is no way I can really choose a favorite instructor from AOMA because they are all wonderful in their own way.  As a current doctoral student, I recently took the Neurology class with Dr. Amy Moll because I have a special interest in neurological systems and disorders. Dr. Moll is an exceptional educator with incredible knowledge of functional neurology and ways to treat disorders with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

How would you describe the Student Culture at AOMA?

Personally, I have found the student culture at AOMA to be very welcoming and warm.  During my time as a master’s student, and now as a doctoral candidate, I have found a lot of support amongst my cohorts.  Friends I made as a master’s student are still some of my closest friends and biggest supporters.  Students always seem to be finding ways to lift each other up, whether it’s forming a study group or carving out much needed time for fun or relaxation.  The students here all have very diverse backgrounds, and everyone is here for their own reason so we learn from each other.

What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why? Describe your experiences at AOMA.

I have really appreciated the high standard of education I’ve received at AOMA.  I’ve also always felt very supported and heard by the faculty and staff here.  After graduation, I maintained a relationship with AOMA and worked as a part-time clinical teaching assistant, which then blossomed into my current position as the full-time clinical resident.  It’s been interesting to go from being a student, to faculty member, and now a hybrid of doctoral student and faculty member. I get to see and experience all sides of AOMA, which has only added to my appreciation for this institution.

What benefits do you feel earning your Doctorate will afford you, and how did you decide which one was the best choice for your career?

Earning my doctorate will not only open up a lot of doors for me as far as my career, but it’s also providing me with a deeper clinical understanding and exposing me to some amazing, more advanced techniques.  I started out in the DAcOM program (first professional doctorate) and made the decision to switch to the DAOM, which will challenge me in ways I never knew I wanted to be challenged.  Earning my DAOM, will open up doors for me to work in academia and research and provide me with vast clinical insights.  I decided to switch programs because, as AOMA’s clinical resident, I have found I really enjoy working with students in the clinical setting, helping them learn, while also working with patients.  The DAOM arms with the knowledge I need as well as the credentials necessary for a career in education.

What, if any perceptions of Chinese medicine have changed from when you started the program to now? What vision would you like to see for the future of healthcare?

Before starting the program, I viewed Chinese medicine and its founding philosophy as mystical and magical.  After learning so much more, I no longer see it quite like that.  Now, I understand it as an extremely logical and scientifically sound medical practice…ancient physicians just had a different language and ways to describe how our bodies function and the cause of disease.

What are you plans after completing your Doctorate?

I have developed a real passion for clinical education.  Once I receive my DAOM, I hope to serve in that capacity.  I always want to be a clinician, working with and treating patients, but I would also like to be deeply involved with teaching other people how to be great practitioners.  Developing clinical curriculum, treating patients, and helping students become confident in their abilities are all things I believe are well suited to my personality, strengths, and talents and I hope to be doing exactly that in my future.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, DAOM, MAcOM, aoma students, chinese medicine, tcm education, acupunture

How Auricular Acupuncture Can Help with Opiate Use Disorder

Posted by Victor S. Sierpina, MD on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 @ 11:37 AM

Previously published, Galveston County Daily News, Jan 23, 2019

Opiate Use Disorder is claiming lives by the tens of thousands. The Center for Disease Control reported 47,600 deaths in the US involving opioids in 2017, concluding that the opioid overdose epidemic continues to worsen with increased in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. In the state of Texas, deaths attributable to opioids rose three times from 1999-2015 with increasing impact on maternal mortality and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The UTMB Department of Family Medicine recently submitted a grant proposal to improve education and clinical practice by training and outreach to rural areas hardest hit by this growing scourge. Many of those with OUD started on prescription medications and then moved onto black market products like heroin, fentanyl, and diverted OxyContin.

Controlled substance contracts, the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program, limiting initial opiate prescriptions, automated electronic medical record notifications about the use of Naloxone, medical provider and public awareness are all part of the solution.

The use of auricular (ear) acupuncture for substance abuse, alleviating withdrawal symptoms, behavioral health, and pain management is a safe, widely researched, and long-standing adjunctive treatment modality. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA protocol) is the best known of the methods and has been practiced widely for over 30 years. It involves application of 3 to 5 needles at specified ear points, is simple to learn and to apply, and enjoys wide patient acceptance.

The clinical application of ear acupuncture for substance use since it was first found effective in easing withdrawal symptoms from opium and heroin in Hong Kong in the 1970’s. Since then, research and practice-based evidence continues to accumulate and drive its use along with safety, ease of application, and patient acceptance.

The broad application of NADA to alcohol, opiate, nada pictobacco, methamphetamine, and cocaine abuse makes it a promising adjunct to medical and behavioral treatment methods in a very challenging patient population. Additionally, the NADA protocol has been used for stress management, including post-traumatic stress, treating addicted pregnant women, sleep disorders, and anxiety. It has been used in refugee camps, post-hurricane settings, prisons, hospitals, rehabilitation treatment centers, as well as outpatient clinics, predominantly in a group treatment context.

Practitioners emphasize that so-called “acudetox” is an adjunctive, not a standalone treatment for easing withdrawal symptoms as well as maintenance of abstinence. It is most effective when applied with standard therapy, behavioral interventions, and/or 12-step programs.

Physiological studies have shown auricular acupuncture acts on neuroendocrinological pathways include serotonin, dopamine, endorphin, dynorphin, and GABA receptors which mediate its effects on pain management. The Battlefield Acupuncture protocol using 5 tiny tacks in each ear has been increasingly used since the early 2000’s when it was first applied in military settings. It can also be highly and immediately effective in acute problems like migraine and chronic problems such as back or muscle pain.

Other non-pharmacological treatments such as mindfulness, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, chiropractic, massage, hypnosis, diet, exercise, physical therapy, yoga and tai chi can also be part of a rational integrative pain management plan that doesn’t involve the risk of using addicting opiates.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, efficacy of acupuncture, chinese medicine, tcm education, prevention, acupunture

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

Chinese Medical Approaches to Depression and Anxiety

Posted by William Morris on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 @ 09:26 PM

womananxiety.jpeg

Depressed and anxious, what is the experience? I ask this question because people have unique experiences operating under the words anxiety or depression. Other questions might be: “when you say you are depressed or anxious, where do you feel it in your body?”… “What do you feel?”… “When do you feel it?” Such nuances are vital to the understanding and treatment of these conditions.

Patterns of Depression

Chinese medicine has an elegant approach to assessing health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Given the name of a particular disease, there may be an array of patterns that a person expresses in unique form. In this article, we will explore a few patterns of disharmony and some ways that they might be understood from a physiological point of view.

If the blood is insufficient or lacks smooth circulation, there can be insufficient nutrient supply and waste removal from brain tissues. This pattern is called blood deficiency with blood stasis. The pulse will be thin due to low circulating blood volume, and the tongue will be pale. I also like to pull down the lower eyelid so I can see how the blood fills the vessels. The surface under the tongue may be pale and the vessels congested with blood which fails to flow smoothly. We can increase total circulating blood volume by consuming blackstrap molasses or bone broth soups.

If there is low vitality, then the fatigue contributes to depression. This can become complicated with a lack of exercise and poor eating habits, resulting in poor nutrient supply and waste removal to the brain.  This pattern is called qi (chee) deficiency due to lifestyle and damage by food. Regular eating of good quality organic produce with small amounts of regular exercise will put a break in the chain.

Stress induced depression takes place in the overworking of the nervous system and endocrine systems with increased adrenaline. This causes the blood vessels to become tense and can be observed by the practitioner when they take the pulse of the person whom they are treating. The pattern is called liver qi (chee) stagnation. Intensity of emotions such as shock may affect the emotional state, leading to depression and anxiety. Chinese medicine lists 7 emotions as internal causes of disease. Meditation, self-reflection and exercise are our paths to reducing stress.

These are just a few examples of disharmonies and patterns that might produce what a person calls depression or anxiety. It is important to do what is necessary to correct the entire picture in order to produce good long term results. Herbs and acupuncture provide conservative, low risk solutions to the deeper problems of our lives by adjusting how we respond.

Often, there is a story related to why a person is depressed or anxious. But the state which is experienced, be it depression or anxiety, has an origin. This may be from the family in the form of intergenerational trauma or various epigenetic imprints. In Chinese medicine, such influences are addressed by the idea of the kidney system.

Kidneys in Chinese medicine are a trans-systemic expression that includes the central nervous system, bone marrow blood production, reproductive system, endocrine system and urinary tract. The treatment of conditions related to inheritance, the central nervous system and the endocrine system require a lifestyle of relationship with the plant kingdom as healers. A professional herbalist is the ideal person for guiding such a journey.

 

Topics: chinese medicine, depression, anxiety

Heart and the Emotional Wellbeing in Chinese Medicine

Posted by Xiaotian Shen on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 @ 03:50 PM

Hearthealth.jpg

In modern society, an illness is no longer considered just the problems of the physical aspect of the body. Very often, the emotional state of the patient can be a contributing factor, if not the primary cause, of their illness.

Today we typically believe that the brain commands the emotions and mental activities, but in the tradition of Western culture, the true source of our emotions is deeply rooted in the heart. We say “I love you from the bottom of my heart”, “heart bursting with joy”, “heart is full”, “my heart is broken”, instead of saying “I love you with my brain” or “brain wrenching”, etc. On the surface, the heart of the issue seems to be that in the West we think with our brains, feel with our hearts, and go with our guts. But if we look deep into Western traditions, some similar philosophies to Eastern culture can be found. When people say “know by heart”, or “take it to heart”, we put the heart in charge of the conscious and subconscious awareness in the same way Chinese medicine believes; when people say “heart to heart”, “heart of steel” or “heart of gold”, it suggests people still intuitively identify their sense of self with the heart. In Chinese medicine, the Heart governs both the mind and the spirit, and therefore represents a more holistic and less isolated approach.

While there’s a recognition of biofeedback based upon heart-brain connection in both cultures, the difference in Western and Eastern medicine is that Eastern medicine takes the heart-brain connection, and furthermore the heart-body connection, more seriously. Traditional Chinese medicine in particular uses it in a more practical way within everyday diagnosis and treatment instead of treating the body with medicine, treating the mind with science, and treating the spirit with religion - as is commonly done in modern Western society.  

Heart is considered the monarchy organ in Chinese medicine, which means Heart not only dominates the blood circulation of the body, but also guides our consciousness and awareness, memory and intellect, emotions and mental activities. When the Heart is strong, we sleep soundly, think clearly and have a good memory, and we have balanced emotions and consciousness. When there are disorders in the Heart, we might experience memory and concentration deficiencies, poor sleep, moodiness and even madness in some extreme cases. In Traditional Chinese medicine we tend to look at a person as a complete system and treat both the emotions and the physical body. Consequently, when we treat, we treat the whole person and we put our hearts into it.

According to the Eastern ancient medicine, the positive energy of the Heart is essential to the good health of the entire body. In order to cultivate the energy of the Heart, one should focus on maintaining a positive outlook and worrying less, seeking peace and tranquility being driven by compassion instead of desires, keeping a regular sleep and eating schedule, and exploring nature often.

The foods that are good for the heart are usually red, because the Heart is the fire organ according to the five element theory and the color red corresponds to the fire element too. These foods include red berries, tomatoes and watermelon; some red meat also helps to nourish heart blood, but remember another important principle of Eastern medicine: everything in moderation.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program Introduction to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Topics: tcm nutrition, tcm, tcm health, chinese medicine

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