Welcome to all the new NUHS students! I hope you had a wonderful
first week of classes. Also, welcome back to all the
returning NUHS students!
For me, this is the start of my final trimester for my MSOM. I
am filled with anticipation and excitement to see what this
trimester will bring. This trimester, I am taking my boards and
exit exam in addition to completing my classes for my
NUHS faculty member HB Kim
For many upper trimester MSOM degree (herbal) students, this
weekend was the beginning of HB Kim's Herbal Treatment Strategy
seminar. I blogged about HB Kim, LAc, and his accomplishments a few
trimesters ago. He is the author of several books used by the AOM
students at NUHS. He has two seminars offered in the NUHS AOM
curriculum. One seminar is Acupuncture Treatment Strategies (blogged about
previously) and the Herbal Treatment Strategy seminar. These
seminars are crucial for furthering students' knowledge and
understanding on acupuncture and herbs. HB Kim has a gift for
helping students build on the knowledge already gathered. He helps
us advance what we have already learned and built upon, prepares us
for board exams and expands our clinical knowledge. I believe his
seminars are instrumental for preparing us for board
Most herbal students have been looking forward to this seminar
since the beginning of the herbal part of the NUHS program. As the
pictures illustrate, everyone is in a pleasant mood and happy to be
participating in this seminar. Through the intellect of HB Kim, we
are being taught the intricate details of single herbs and herbal
formulas. Chinese herbs are written in pinyin, Latin, and English.
The way Chinese herbs are used and administered is very different
from biomedical pharmaceuticals. That stated, many students have
felt overwhelmed and intimidated by learning Chinese herbs during
some point of their education. I can think of two distinct moments
I strongly contemplated dropping herbs from my degree. I am very
thankful I decided against that idea.
In my opinion, Chinese herbs are instrumental in aiding the
patients' health and progress. There are many conditions that the
combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture can successfully
treat. The advancement in the patients' well being often happens
rather quickly when herbs and acupuncture are combined.
Additionally, herbs and acupuncture are able to restore well being
to some conditions that biomedicine is unable to affect or takes a
long process of taking biomedical prescriptions.
Being in this seminar is aiding me, and all of the students, in
how to further compartmentalize and deeply understand the usage and
theory of herbs. It feels very satisfying to be participating in
this seminar with my peers, especially given the struggles most
students experienced initially in the herbal classes.
Ge gen is a very traditional and longstanding Chinese herb often
used in herbal formulas. This herb is also referred to as kudzu
root. It is a very common and reliable herb used for a variety of
conditions. It is one of my favorite herbs in Chinese
According to HB Kim, LAc, some of the main actions of ge gen are
to release wind-heat and wind-cold, relax muscles, vent rashes,
clear heat and generate fluids, lift yang qi and stop diarrhea due
to damp-heat or spleen qi deficiency, and treat hypertension. It is
a sweet, acrid and cold herb. Its pharmaceutical name is pueraiae
radix. It belongs to the herbal category; disperse wind-heat (p208,
What this means in more of a biomedical understanding is, this
herb has the ability to treat a common cold from a variety of
causes. It can help reduce body aches caused by colds. It also has
the ability to relax muscle, especially when the tension is in the
upper body. Additionally, it can greatly reduce muscle tension due
Ge gen has the ability to treat rashes. Since it "vents" the
rash, it may first cause an exacerbation of the rash, helping
release the pathogen that has initiated the rash symptom, and then
clear the physical manifestation of the rash.
This herb is very useful in the treatment of diabetes in
combination with an MD's prescribed care. This herb helps to
generate fluids internally, decreasing excessive thirst. Ge gen
also helps in the metabolic function, aiding in the balance of
insulin levels and hunger.
Since ge gen raises the clear yang qi, primarily related to the
digestive system, it has the ability to increase the metabolic rate
and diminish hunger dependent on the root cause. Often patients who
have a slow metabolism and are unsuccessful in weight loss even
when following a prescribed diet plan, benefit from the addition of
Research has shown that ge gen has the ability to reduce
hypertension. It also has a beneficial effect on coronary artery
Lastly, one of my favorite aspects of ge gen, is it is able to
strongly produce these functions as a single-use herb, as well as
in an herbal formula. Many times herbs are best used in formulas,
as the combined actions of the other herbs produce the greatest
benefit. Ge gen is able to produce great benefits and is unlikely
to create any side effects alone, or in the combination of other
While ge gen has many significant benefits, never begin using
this herb, or any other herb until discussing it with your health
Works Cited: Kim, HB.Minibook of Oriental Medicine. 1st ed.
Anaheim: Qpuncture, 2009. Print.
This week is midterm week, so many students are feeling a bit
stressed. Fortunately, we have come to appreciate the calming
effects of AOM treatments and therapies. During this time of the
trimester, we often use points for aiding in the ability to study,
stay focused, and remain relaxed.
Some of these points include si shen cong, which are four points
at the top of the head, DU20 at the vertex of the head, and yin
tang, a point on the face in the center between the eyebrows. Si
shen cong and DU20 are displayed in the picture. A combination of
points often referred to as "four gates" is also very powerful at
reducing stress that tends to occur during midterm week.
Auricular points are also very popular for reducing stress. My
favorite auricular point for reducing stress, feeling centered, and
staying focused is shen men, which is pictured.
Since we study this medicine, we know what points to use and
when to use them. We know when they might be contraindicated due to
other diagnoses present. The nice thing is since there appears to
be an infinite ability to choose and combine points, there is
always a way to use acupuncture to reduce stress.
In addition to using acupuncture to stay relaxed and focused,
herbal formulas are very helpful in promoting stress reduction. Two
of my favorite formulas that help reduce stress depending on
Chinese medicine diagnosis are xiao yao pian (pictured) and Chai hu
jia long gu mu li tang.
In AOM, a big result of stress is a pattern called liver qi
stagnation. In short, that means a blockage of qi flow primarily in
the meridian (liver) that deals with frustration, depression, or
feeling overwhelmed. This can lead to many other problems in other
channels. The spleen channel deals with anxiety, so many times it's
useful to treat the liver and spleen channels together depending on
how the patient presents in the clinic.
Xiao yao pian harmonizes the liver and spleen meridians, among
other actions, which greatly aids in reducing stress and promoting
concentration. Chai hu jia long gu mu li tang works to sedate and
calm the spirit. It also creates a very calming effect.
In addition to acupuncture and herbs, many of us use Tai Chi, Qi
Gong and yoga to keep ourselves centered and balanced. These
modalities combine breath, movement, and visualization to promote
healthy qi flow. This aids by bringing our mind, body and spirit
into a place of balance and well-being.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone reading this has the ability
to be surrounded by family and friends this Thanksgiving. I love
this holiday as I think it is wonderful to have a day declared for
giving thanks for all we have and all that has been. I know many
people are facing extraordinary circumstances on a day-to-day
basis. I hope this Thursday offers you some time for laughter, joy
and freedom from anything that has been weighing on you.
I hope we can all take some time this week, and every day for
that matter, to solely focus on the joy in our lives and embrace
all the goodness that we have in our lives, freeing us in those
moments from any stress. It has been said that laughter is the best
medicine and I am a firm believer in this theory!
Hopefully you blessed and able to sit down to a lovely
Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday shared with those you care for
Herbology and Thanksgiving
As you are eating, it may be fun to know some comparisons to
foods from a Chinese herbology perspective.
Many people snack on scallions and dip as a pre-dinner snack.
Green scallions are called cong bai in Chinese herbology. Cong bai
can be used in treating certain types of colds.
You may drink a glass of ginger ale with your dinner. Ginger is
called sheng jiang and may be used to treat various conditions
including abdominal conditions and symptoms such as nausea.
Another favorite dish many people enjoy eating during
Thanksgiving dinner is sweet potatoes. If you substituted them for
Chinese yams you would be eating an herb called shan yao. Shan yao
is used for all ages, from infancy to elderly. Shan yao is an herb
that is very helpful in treating many conditions including
abdominal conditions and childhood developmental issues.
In Chinese herbology, many foods have medicinal properties. So,
this Thanksgiving, I hope you have an extra smile as you drink your
sheng jiang-ale and snack on your cong bai, knowing the fun
correlation they have with Chinese herbology.
Happy Thanksgiving, I hope it is a joyous day for you and your
A very interesting area of AOM is pediatric AOM. Pediatric
patients are able to benefit greatly from OM treatments. There
are several modalities available for treating pediatric patients,
so needles are not always needed. Needles are rarely indicated for
children under 6-7 years old as their meridian systems are still
Some forms of OM treatments used for pediatric patients are Tui
Na, acupressure, colorpuncture, moxabustion (moxa), cupping,
acupuncture, and herbology. Cupping and acupuncture are typically
used on older pediatric patients.
Since all of these modalities are treatments that practitioners
and doctors spend years studying and mastering, it would take pages
upon pages to truly explain what these modalities are, their
functions and their benefits. Since I am still a student learning
these modalities and I'm not writing pages about each treatment
method, each one is summarized with their key points.
Tui Na is an OM massage that is used to treat a variety of
illnesses and injuries. Pediatric Tui Na can be modified
specifically for infants, toddlers, those under 6-7 years still
developing their meridian system, those over 7 years old, preteens,
and adolescents through teenage years. Tui Na includes acupressure
techniques. Acupressure can also be applied separately from
Tui Na. The theory behind these modifications and the techniques
that are applied are some of the aspects that make pediatric Tui Na
so effective. In the pictures, I have illustrated some pediatric
Tui Na techniques on a toddler. The combination of these
techniques, sometimes with additional techniques or modalities, may
be used to treat colds, flues, asthma, GI-tract pathologies,
nighttime crying, separation anxiety, and many more issues.
Acupressure is similar to Tui Na, but focuses on pressure points
of the body. In acupressure and Tui Na, tools may be used during
the treatment. Tools offer a range to the techniques. The
acupressure I have learned has been through learning Tui Na and
acupuncture. I have not learned acupressure as a separate modality.
I included it in this blog, as I know acupressure points are very
effective on pediatric patients. I have seen that acupressure has a
positive impact in combination with Tui Na, so I am curious how it
would affect a pediatric patient as a stand-alone
Colorpuncture is a modality that uses light to affect the
photons in the cells of the patient's body to bring the patient's
body back to its natural state of well-being. It balances and
replenishes the cells with whatever cellular light they were
missing and helps them naturally return to well-being. I have found
it to be very effective on pediatric patients. I have not applied
it yet to adult patients. Like Tui Na, it is able to treat a
variety of conditions.
Moxa is the burning of an herb, mugwart, used to treat a many
conditions. It is a warming and tonifying technique that can be
very beneficial for pediatric patients depending on their
condition. For example, if an 8-year-old patient has the beginning
stages of a cold due to playing outside in the snow, using moxa
would be a very good choice for treatment. Moxa may be used in
combination with other listed modalities. Cupping may also be used
in this condition. Cupping uses cups to create a vacuum to pull out
the pathogenic qi, or to recirculate the patient's qi.
Application of acupuncture and herbs are modified for pediatric
patients. Typically this includes using fewer needles during an
acupuncture treatment. Herbal formulas are also modified to fit
Both clinically, and in my personal life, I have found pediatric
AOM to be very effective. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to
treat pediatric patients at clinic, as well as treat my own son
with OM. From my experiences and education thus far, I have seen
close to a 100% effective rate with treated pediatric patients. I
have a strong passion for learning and applying pediatric AOM. I
feel eager to continue to build my pediatric AOM knowledge
An area of study in the Master of Science in Oriental Medicine
is herbology. Many NUHS clinic patients receive herbs from the NUHS
pharmacy. The patients typically report vast improvement when
receiving a combination of acupuncture and herbs. One of my
patients agreed to share her herbal treatment experience for this
The patient, Ruth (her name has been changed), is currently
being treated for foot problems. Ruth reported having a bone chip,
torn ligaments and hypermobility found after a foot X-ray and
ultrasound. Ruth reported that she was advised to have no weight
bearing on her foot. She also explained due to previous traumas,
she is unable use crutches and other non-weight bearing devices as
they reactivate old injuries. Ruth explained she came to the clinic
in hopes treatment would help in her foot's recovery process.
At Ruth's initial treatment, she received acupuncture and was
given an external herbal foot soak suggestion to be administered
daily. Ruth chose to follow the herbal suggestion. She was advised
to continue receiving acupuncture every few days. Her future
appointments would include acupuncture and cupping, alongside her
Ruth reports she is using her herbal remedy at home. She has a
special blend of herbs, which help heal and promote the recovery of
her foot. Ruth boils her herbs in cheesecloth, which you can see
from the pictures, and then strains the herbs from the decoction.
The liquid created by the boiled herbs is called a decoction. Ruth
then places ice into the decoction to cool the liquid. Once cooled,
she soaks her injured foot in the decoction for 30 minutes. She
performs this herbal foot soak daily.
Ruth has reported a decrease in pain and swelling since
beginning her treatment plan. I have seen her regularly and notice
a decrease in swelling along with a decrease in tenderness upon
palpation (touch). Ruth has reported she feels that the combination
of oriental medicine alongside her allopathic treatment plan proves
to be a productive choice for her. She has reported that she was
not a "big fan of herbs initially" but understands their benefits
As an AOM student, which includes being an herbal student, it is
very gratifying to see patients receive help through herbs.
Herbology can be a challenging subject. Many times I have
questioned whether or not to be in the herbal program, or to choose
the acupuncture program without herbology. I have always enjoyed
learning about nature and its healing benefits. At times I have
become very challenged by the herbal classes, but it is an honor to
be part of the team helping patients receive benefits from herbs.
Patients such as Ruth help me stay motivated as I see how much this
knowledge can benefit patients.
• What is AOM?
• PTSD Clinic for Veterans
• Pedatric AOM
• Learning Through Clinic
• Journey into AOM
• Hospital Residency
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