Clinic Shifts

This trimester brought me a lot of joy when I started seeing patients in the clinic. I remember how confused I was 2-3 tris ago. I felt like I would never be able to discern a pulse or a diagnosis. I remember practicing taking the pulse in class and how most of us had no idea what kind of pulse we were feeling on the "patient."

I can only say it gets better. How? Practice will sound old and overrated but it's still true.

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Do I feel more confident? For me, confidence is a combination of so many things! It's not only the theory that you learn or practice needling. Having a background in healthcare I didn't felt so overwhelmed in the beginning. I'm also lucky because I have a good memory, so memorizing acupuncture points was fun and easy, and I still remember most of them even if we don't really use them on patients. My energy medicine background helps a lot on finding the right points and most of the times I can feel empty and full before even palpating a point.

Memorizing Chinese herbs is a different story for another time. :)

Most of all, I love working with people and seeing the results! Not only does it gives me confidence, but it also gives me the energy and the motivation to study more and be better. I can hardly wait to get my license and integrate everything I studied for more than 10 years!

What makes it better and how can you gain more confidence? Go with the flow! Each day will build you in a better practitioner. Take the pulse whenever you have the chance; don't stress too much on getting the exact type of pulse. Stay relaxed and you will discover that when you start seeing patients on a daily basis, you'll suddenly find yourself feeling differences and knowing exactly what kind of pulse is.

Try and needle yourself and pay attention to different sensations when you needle certain points. Try and feel the arrival of De Qi so you get used to it.

In Japanese acupuncture they say intention is primordial and not needling. So next time you needle, use your intention, too. Japanese say you should be able to get results even when you don't needle and just touch the skin with the needle. Since it's all Qi or energy or whatever you want to call it, use it, play with it and make it your ally.

Healthy and Sane During Exams

I'm already done with the first part of exams and I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Meanwhile, I had to take care of myself and not catch all the bugs that were running around campus. :) Not only were many people are dealing with colds, but stress during exams can lower your immunity and make you a target, so I definitely didn't want that to happen to me, too.

How do I keep stress low and energy high during exams?

You probably think that I will start talking about Chinese herbs, but to be honest, I find patents not strong enough for me. Even if I like the raw herbs, I don't have time for them, so I stick with easier and faster choices.

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Essential Oils

First on my list are essential oils. I've been using them a very long time and I never leave the house without some travel bottles with my favorite ones. I know here in USA people don't really use them orally, but in Europe we have, and you can buy them over the counter in any pharmacy. They come packed in gelatin capsules, so ingestion is very easy. Needless to say that if you use them orally, you should buy only organic high-grade essential oils.

My list is very long but here are a couple of the basic ones: mint for tension, headaches and just waking up when I feel tired; lavender as a good stress reliever; thyme to keep the bugs away; chamomile for insomnia; cardamom for calming the digestive system (bloating and abdominal cramps); lemon oil in my water to help lymph moving; eucalyptus for respiratory infections; and orange, grapefruit and rose oils just because I love the scent and they just make me happy. :)

Herbal Tinctures

Second on my list are my herbal tinctures. I use different combinations for digestive issues, for energy and for immunity. Sometimes I get them from the clinic; sometimes I just buy them online.

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Homeopathic Box

Next, my homeopathic box comes in very handy. I use Gelsemium for stress before an exam, Sepia for mood swings, Nux vomica for digestive issues, Kali phosphoricum for tension headaches, and Ruta graveolens for when my eyes are tired from all the reading and studying.

I was recently gifted an entire Bach flowers remedies kit and I have to say I love using it, but I still have to study and learn more about these remedies.

Ear Seeds

Last but not least, I use my ear seeds all the time! I don't needle myself so much just because I am very sensitive, and I discovered I prefer the Japanese style, but I still use ear seeds, moxa and cupping.

Good luck with exams and lots of health!

Chinese New Year

Time seems to move faster and faster and we've just welcomed the Year of Fire Rooster! If you missed it in January, here's your second chance to plan and set goals for this year!

I don't really know much about Chinese Astrology but I'm hoping this year will not rock my boat too much. :) From what I've been reading, 2017 is subject to the Fire element in its Yin form.

"Yin Fire expresses warmth and insight, as well as the quietness of privacy and family ties. Rooster Years are a combination of righteousness and justice, bombast and logistical efficiency."

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The Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ILAAOM) organized a celebratory dinner in Chinatown this past weekend and most of our AOM students and teachers attended. Sadly, I wasn't able to attend because of my busy schedule and 4 exams coming up, but I was happy to hear everybody had a wonderful time. ILAAOM offered different scholarships, raffle prizes, an auction, and they also had a couple of speakers. I wish we could have these events more often and not only for the New Year!

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Besides school, clinic and work, I kept myself busy with my monthly Center for Education and Development of Homeopathy (CEDH) seminars and an online course from Lotus Institute of Integrative Medicine.

I'm proud to say I went back to my usual High Intensity Training (HIT) routine three times per week, bright and early in the morning! I've been dealing with some neck and shoulders issues and I thought exercising and some cupping would help me release some of the stress that gets stuck in those muscles. But I'm also dealing with the winter blues because I miss the sun so much!

Japanese Acupuncture

I recently took a trip to downtown Chicago and attended a seminar in "Point Palpation and Japanese Needle Technique."

The opinions are so different from person to person when you ask about Japanese acupuncture, I didn't know exactly what to expect. Most of the people say it's too shallow and that you really have to stimulate much more so you can get an effect.

The instructor took us through the basic methods of Japanese palpation of skin and subcutaneous tissue and the painless needle technique. We discussed pulse and abdominal diagnosis, how to use the pulse and choose the points, and how to locate a point on limbs.

We practiced all of the above and then we worked on our needling technique.

Everything was quite different from TCM. Japanese acupuncture bases the treatment more on palpation, and no matter how much excess a person has, they first tonify the Yin organ that comes up in pulse and then move forward to work on the Yang.

Quick Facts on Acupuncture Styles

Flag of Japan Japanese Acupuncture stresses meridian palpation and acupressure, and uses thinner needles.

Flag of Korea Korean Acupuncture often uses only four needles, and treatment focuses on extremities like hands or ears.

Flag of Taiwan Tung Acupuncture originated in Taiwan, and works great on musculoskeletal problems.

Flag of China Chinese Acupuncture is the traditional foundation for all styles, and larger needles are inserted over a wider area.

They always start treatment with contact needling on the abdomen so they stimulate the parasympathetic system. They are checking pulse before and after this stimulation, and most of the times the pulse becomes clear and you can distinguish much easier where is the problem.

They classify pulse in: fast/slow, deep/floating, excess/deficiency and don't really go into other categories. We didn't checked tongue at all, but we paid more attention to color and moisture of the abdomen.

The needles used on patients are very thin (0.12-0.18 mm), overall stimulation is small, and patients don't really experience any pain. The needle is supported most of the time, and you have to use both hands and stimulation ends when the change is obtained.

The goal in Japanese acupuncture is to boost patient inner healing power and it is considered you have a good technique when you preserve the patient's right Qi.

The instructor underlined that we, as practitioners, have to be clear on our purpose and intention is paramount. When needling you have to use your intention and visualize Qi moving in the right direction.

I loved the seminar and I'm planning to attend the next one that will focus on "Five Phase Root Treatment in Japanese Meridian Therapy."

If you are curious to learn about Japanese acupuncture, you can check ILAAOM and if you would like to try it, come and see me in the clinic and I'll be happy to give you a treatment or just explain more about the needling technique.

Back to Books and Knowledge

Another break is gone and we're even closer to the finish line. Winter break brought me some much-needed rest and I can't really say I did too many things. I kept it low key and just stayed around the house, reorganized my office, met with friends, went to the movies, and did some shopping. This time I really felt I needed the rest and I allowed my body to just do nothing and relax.

First week of school is already gone and I'm happy to say I had a blast in the clinic, saw 6 patients, and enjoyed every single minute. This trimester I have 4 clinic shifts, 5 classes, and just 20 hours per week at work, so I'm hoping it will be a bit easier on my body and overall health. Usually I am not excited about Western Medicine classes, but I am happy to say I loved every minute of my first class in Imaging Diagnosis with Dr. Bogar, and I am looking forward to learning a lot from him!

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Each of the next 14 weeks is already planned. Before the end of last tri I bought a planner and started adding things in it almost every day. If I don't plan and have everything on my calendar, all becomes a big mess and I end up not having time to even eat a proper meal.

I am not a crafty person but I love making lists so I have all the exams and the time for study in my planner. The material is divided in small portions starting with Week 2 so I don't get overwhelmed just before an exam.

I use the planner for everything, not only exams. I plan when I do laundry, cook, grocery shop, read books, exercise, go to seminars -- basically all my life. It makes it easier to not feel stressed, forget things and it shows me exactly how much free time I have each day, so I can take some time for myself and play with the dog, talk with friends and family, or just enjoy a book or movie.

In case some of you are interested in seminars happening this trimester, here's a list:

  • ILAAOM has a couple of seminars focused on Japanese acupuncture.
  • East West Healing Center (Lombard) is planning a seminar on "Pathogenesis and TCM Treatment of the Infertility" and they also offer 50% discount for students.
  • Not sure how many AOM students are interested in Functional Medicine, but if you are, there are a couple of Apex Seminars coming up this trimester and the student prices are unbeatable.
  • Integrate Chicago Conference 2017 is happening on February 11th. I attended last year and I wasn't really impressed, but this year they are having more speakers and I am hoping it will be more interesting.

Good luck with classes and studying!