I recently received emails from two of my AOM patients. In their
emails, they shared their responses to AOM treatment. Since they
feel they have benefited by AOM, they were willing to share their
experiences in this blog. They expressed interest in sharing their
experiences as they hope others may benefit by reading them. They
hope it helps readers understanding the benefits that can occur
through AOM treatments.
"I have had the opportunity to
receive various oriental medicine treatments over the past few
years. I have been amazed how well the treatments have helped my
various issues. One of my treatments was soaking my injured foot in
medicinal Chinese herbs. The herb soaks helped decrease the pain
and the swelling of my foot. It was not a cure for the injury, but
the soaks greatly minimized the symptoms of the injury.
Two additional forms of
treatments I have received are auricular (ear) acupuncture and ear
seeds (pictured above) for lower back pain. I have been amazed how
well auricular therapies have treated my pain and inflammation.
Within minutes I felt a remarkable decrease in pain. Within about
24 hours, my flexibility greatly improved just from one treatment.
My pain quickly went from a 7/10 to a 2-3/10 on the pain scale.
Auricular treatments have also been very effective in reducing the
pain caused by the foot injury. I have also received
acupuncture several times for various reasons. This is definitely a
treatment I would recommend. It has helped with headaches and
"I have received acupuncture,
ear seeds, cupping, and have taken Chinese herbs many times for
various ailments. I have used them for physical pain and emotional
issues. I have been very happy with all treatments. If I was able
to do these treatments on a regular basis I think I would see
greater benefits. Unfortunately, my work and the location where I
live prevent the ability for regular appointments."
Penny and Emily, thank you for sharing your experiences! I am
thankful for your beneficial results. I hope this helps readers who
have not experienced AOM or are thinking about pursuing an
education in AOM receive a broader understanding of AOM's impact on
A unique technique used in AOM is gua sha. Gua sha is a medical
therapy using strokes on the patient's body with applied pressure
to help return the body into balance and harmony. Gua sha can be
used for many AOM patterns. The most common clinical applications
are cold, heat, and stagnation.
For example, if a patient has a common cold, it's is often
diagnosed as a wind-cold or a wind-heat. That diagnosis means
either pathogenic wind and cold, or wind and heat has entered the
body and is causing the patient's defense qi (wei qi) to work to
push out the pathogen. Many times, applying gua sha to the patient
in the initial onset of the wind-cold or wind-heat can help the
body release the pathogen.
Another common indication for gua sha is when a muscular trauma
has occurred. If a patient is presenting a trauma with excess heat
(inflammation), cold, or qi and blood stasis (circulatory issue),
the use of gua sha can release the heat or cold as well as improve
circulation. There are many other indications for gua sha, but
these are among the most common.
A very strong gua sha response in a patient.
When applying gua sha to a patient, the practitioner is looking
for a sha response. Sha is the color the skin turns during and
after receiving gua sha. If the area becomes bright red, there is
pathogenic heat being released. If it becomes purple, cold or
stagnation is being released. If it is pale-pink, either cold is
being released or deficient energy is being moved.
Many types of tools can be used for making the gua sha strokes.
Some common tools are ladles, carved animal horns, and stones. I
have used many tools, but my tool of choice is a quarter. I have
found the ridges of the quarter help bring the sha to the surface
the best. Additionally, the thinness of the quarter allows easy
At times, the application of gua sha can be uncomfortable for
the patient. Since the strokes are applied in regions where
pathogens have accumulated, such as heat/inflammation and
stagnation, having pressure on these areas can temporarily provoke
more pain. But, the result of gua sha is often a relief or complete
absence of pain or pathogen. Patients often recover from colds and
muscular skeletal traumas very quickly after receiving gua sha.
Included in this blog are pictures of very strong gua sha
response. There are many apparent regions of sha. The placement of
the sha follows several acupuncture meridians. The sha response is
very red with a little purple. This response, along with other
clinical findings, indicates heat and stagnation have been
released. The sha usually disappears in 2-7 days.
I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July
celebration. Thank you to all who have and are serving our country!
Thank you for helping preserve the independence we all recently
This 4th of July, I had the pleasure of celebrating
at a lake with my family. Being surrounded by family and water
caused me to think about the earth's elements and how they relate
to AOM. A major school of thought in AOM is the theory of the Five
Elements. This is a very involved theory.
One aspect of the Five Elements is that all the acupuncture
meridians are linked to elements. For example, the kidney and
urinary bladder meridians are considered the water element. As a
result, these meridians can be treated with water elements and hold
the nature of water in many ways.
By being able to be treated with water, these meridians can be
tonified (strengthened) or sedated (weakened) using the element of
water. All primary meridians contain points that are considered
water points. Using the Five Element Theory, these water points can
be used for many functions, including affecting the kidney and
urinary bladder meridians.
Additionally, being surrounded by the water element is believed
to strengthen the kidney and urinary bladder meridians and thus
strengthen their functions. For example, since I spent much of the
past week on a boat as well as swimming in natural bodies of water,
my kidney and urinary bladder meridians were tonified.
I also ate a fair amount of seafood, which is also believed to
have the water element. In AOM, food often has the element of its
environment. This food also aided in the tonification of the kidney
and urinary bladder meridians.
Furthermore, the kidney meridian is believed to contain our
prenatal jing. Jing is our primal energy that we have when we enter
this world. Much of our jing is believed to be derived from our
parents. Jing is similar to the biomedical understanding of genes
and DNA. I believe that as a result of being with my family all
weekend, my kidney meridian was further tonified. I believe it
could be tonified as a result of being with my family because we
have a comforting and loving relationship. As a result, I believe
this is nurturing to my kidneys since it houses my prenatal
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 is my final blog for this trimester. As a result, I decided
to write about new beginnings.
For some students, now is the time they are beginning their
journey into AOM. For other students, it's time for graduation and
the beginning of their journey as practitioners. I was fortunate to
receive feedback on how it feels to be in both places of this
process from two students: Kari Singh and Mia Davis. Kari is
finishing her second trimester at NUHS. Mia is graduating this
trimester. I was rather moved by what each student expressed when
asked how they feel about this phase of their journey.
Kari Singh's Journey into Oriental Medicine
When I was 16 years old, my mother's
best friend gave me a book on Reiki, Reflexology, and Acupuncture.
I remember staying up and finishing the book in one night. Those
words resonated with my soul. My spiritual being knew this is what
I was meant to do...it is part of the reason I was put on this
earth. At the age of 16, though, my rational mind took over and
asked who would pay for this, where will you go to school, how
would you make a living? I went to traditional four-year college
and got my degree in psychology.
Acupuncture student Kari Singh
At the age of 36, I was going
through a rough time in my life. I started receiving acupuncture
treatments. My life was at a crossroads. The first treatment was a
very moving experience for me. I felt Qi rushing through my body.
It was like parts of me that weren't communicating suddenly were.
My mind and my heart were one. I found myself and my calling all at
once. I wanted to do this. I wanted to heal. After two weeks of
treatments, I noticed major changes.
I found National University of
Health Sciences shortly after. I started coming to the clinic to be
treated by students. I asked a lot of questions about the program
and I felt at peace. I knew this was the place for me. I enrolled
and started at National in the fall of 2011. The day before
orientation I was cleaning out a box and found that book from when
I was 16. I had not seen that book in years. It made me smile
because it was destiny. I will finish my second trimester this
April 2012. I feel blessed every day to be part of this school.
Many of my professors inspire and amaze me, daily. My goal is to be
able to teach at this institution some day because I want to give
back to a student what I receive now.
There are so many things about being
a student at National that make this program unlike any other. The
professors are so passionate about this program. Many of them go
out of their way to ensure students succeed. The program is well
rounded and geared towards blending eastern with a solid western
foundation. The clinic treats patients from the public for $25. I
am currently observing other students treating patients. It is very
exciting to see patients with Parkinson's, Crohn's, anxiety, and a
host of other conditions report how beautiful and amazing
acupuncture and oriental medicine are to make them feel whole. I am
excited every day as my journey continues.
I have three treasures. Guard
and keep them:
The first is deep love,
The second is frugality,
And the third is not to dare to be ahead of the
Because of deep love, one is courageous.
Because of frugality, one is generous.
Because of not daring to be ahead of the world, one becomes
the leader of the world.
-- Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604
BC - 531 BC)(1)
I feel very inspired by what Kari wrote. I can feel her
passion through her words. Simply reading her statement
caused me to feel excited for her!
Mia also wrote an insightful and motivating statement regarding
how it feels to be graduating.
Mia Davis' Journey into the Profession
WOW! Time sure does fly by! It seems
like just yesterday I was starting the Oriental Medicine program.
These past three years in the program have been so wonderful. It's
amazing the amount of knowledge and experience I have gained in
that time. Not only have I learned about oriental medicine, but
I've also learned about another culture, language, and perspective
on health and life.
Oriental Medicine student Mia Davis
My instructors have been supportive
and beyond amazing at what they do. The amount of wisdom and caring
they have imparted is truly unique and I will always be grateful
that I've had this opportunity to learn from them. It feels good to
know that I will be graduating with a feeling of true
accomplishment and know-how. The friendships I have made here are
golden. While my time at NUHS is coming to an end, the gift of
knowledge I've been given here will last me a lifetime!
While Kari is entering the interesting world of learning AOM,
Mia now has the knowledge and skill set available to soon treat
patients as a practitioner. What I find most intriguing is both Mia
and Kari seem equally passionate and excited at where they are in
their journey. Both students are at the doorway of a new beginning,
ready to begin with both feet in and arms wide open!
Congratulations to everyone graduating this trimester!
Also, congratulations to everyone starting this journey!
A wonderful attribute of oriental medicine (OM) is its ability
to affect many people, disorders and diseases. Many times, OM's
treatments and results can be administered and experienced in a
quick and effective manner. While instant results such as a
reduction in symptoms are rather common, for chronic conditions
long term treatment is needed many times to help bring healing to
the root of the disorder.
A strong example of this is the use of OM in "At Ease," NUHS'
free veteran's post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
clinic. The PTSD clinic serves veterans that have given our
country and us so much of themselves, and as a result, are carrying
wounds within themselves from the battles they fought. Often, they
receive the OM treatments as an adjunct treatment to other
therapies they are receiving outside of the NUHS clinic.
Through the application of acupuncture, primarily auricular
acupuncture, these veterans are able to receive some relief in
their PTSD symptoms. A common procedure in the PTSD clinic is for
the patient to receive five acupuncture needles in each ear. It is
believed that these needles work directly with neurotransmitters in
the brain, much like pharmaceuticals, helping to reduce stress,
blood pressure, and decrease the psychological symptoms PTSD
creates. It has been seen and reported that the combination of OM
alongside other prescribed treatments greatly improves the quality
of life for veterans suffering from PTSD.
Dr. Frank Yurasek
This clinic was created by Frank Yurasek, PhD, MSOM, (shown
above), who is also very involved in the Wounded Warrior Project
and Bethesda Naval Hospital. Dr. Yurasek has found OM therapies,
ranging from auricular acupuncture to medical Qi Gong, have a
profound impact on veterans experiencing PTSD. He has been
researching and applying his research to this field for many years.
As a result, he brings a vast amount of knowledge and first-hand
experience to each patient. In addition to his skills and
knowledge, it is apparent that he genuinely cares about each and
every patient in the clinic. Dr. Yurasek's compassion runs just as
rich as his knowledge base.
I am fortunate to have started interning this trimester with Dr.
Yurasek in the PTSD clinic. I have always held great honor and
esteem for those in the military and feel extremely grateful to
have this opportunity to work with them. I feel very encouraged for
each patient as I watch the promising results I see during each
treatment. While I am not aware of any instant cure for PTSD, I
think it is reassuring to know there is much more patients can do
to find their way out of the disorder then they may have realized
I encourage those of you reading this blog to share the PTSD
clinic information with those you know. From what I am learning,
many veterans go years without receiving help, or enough help for
PTSD. This greatly decreases their quality of life, and of those
they care for and love. We would be honored to have them come to
our free PTSD clinic and help them to the best of our
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
• What is AOM?
• PTSD Clinic for Veterans
• Pedatric AOM
• Learning Through Clinic
• Journey into AOM
• Hospital Residency
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