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.
Being an AOM student at NUHS offers many options of
participating in scholastic programs. This week I interviewed
Cynthia, the AOM student body president. Cynthia is in her second
year at NUHS. She has been dedicated to her studies as well as many
extracurricular activities since becoming a student at NUHS.
Cynthia has had previous educational and career experiences. She is
dedicated to continuously furthering her education and ability to
positively impact others. Her video explains her journey to NUHS.
It also highlights how she feels about being a student at NUHS and
what her involvement is on campus.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Erika and Carlin.
Erika is currently an NUHS AOM student. She is in her final
trimester at NUHS. She has already successfully passed one of her
boards, and is currently in the process of taking her national AOM
boards. Erika shares with us how this experience feels for her.
Carlin is an alumna of NUHS. She graduated with her MSOM last
trimester. She has completed all her licensing boards and is in the
process of preparing for her herbal board. To become a licensed
acupuncturist in Illinois, practitioners are required to pass 3
boards: Foundations, Acupuncture Points, and Biomedicine. To
receive herbal certification, an herbal board must also be
I hope this video helps you have an idea of how it feels to
reach the desired goals as an AOM student. If you are considering
becoming an AOM student, hopefully this video conveys how
gratifying it feels to begin attaining graduate and professional
The NUHS campus is home to many beautiful plants and flowers.
The foliage appears infused with life and vibrancy. While looking
at them, I feel their energy spark extra joy inside me. I instantly
begin smiling when I see them.
These flowers caused me to think about the usage of a flower to
symbolize essence in AOM. Essence is core energy comparable to
one's genetics. The flowers caused me to think about how we to
sprout up from a seed. We have the ability to bloom into so many
directions. I then wondered what brought each student to NUHS. What
caused them to bloom in this direction?
In upcoming blogs I will have video interviews of current
students. Right now, I want to take a moment to write about what a
day in the life of an NUHS student feels like. Since I am
graduating this trimester, I have found myself reminiscing on my
journey thus far at NUHS.
I have spoken with several students regarding their experiences
at NUHS. From the feedback I have received, it seems the first time
a student begins to fully feel like an NUHS student is during the
Orientation Day prior to the first day of classes. Orientation Day
offers students an opportunity to meet fellow students and faculty
members. Initially, we are unaware of each student's enrolled
program. This offers an easy way to meet each other and ask
questions to learn more about one another. During my Orientation
Day, there was an exciting energy and optimism in the air.
Typically, the next time the new student is on campus is to
attend their first class. While this is often an intriguing time,
it can also be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, the new students
are able to connect with each other allowing everyone to feel at
ease. There are also many upper classmen and faculty members on
campus ready to help answer questions.
For many students, I think the first year can feel both
demanding and very rewarding. Some students attend NUHS directly
from their undergraduate program. For these students, the intensity
of NUHS curriculum can be challenging and motivating. Other
students attend NUHS for the purpose of a second career or
extension of their current career. Many times these students are
familiar with the fast pace and high demands, but may have become
unfamiliar with daily studying and homework expectations. I think
the first year of NUHS classes brings many transitions.
Fortunately, these shifts find a balance and yield a high level of
From what I have been told and experienced myself, the first
year of the NUHS scholastic lifestyle comes into place with a
healthy and comfortable ebb and flow. By the final year of classes
and clinic, most students are filled with anticipation of upcoming
career opportunities. Many students complete their licensing boards
during their final year. Studying for boards while enrolled in
clinic and classes can feel a bit intense at times, but it also
feels very satisfying. It feels very fulfilling to realize all the
hard work has brought the desired outcome of being a licensed
health care professional in the chosen field of study.
On Sunday night, Sept. 23, ILaaom had its annual Asian Moon
Festival dinner. ILaaom is the Illinois Association of Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine.
ILaaom is the oldest state organization representing
practitioners of Oriental Medicine. They were founded with five
distinct missions, which can be read about at http://ilaaom.org/index.php/mission-statement.
ILaaom is a strong advocate for AOM practitioners. They are rooted
in causes concerning legislation, the philosophy, science, and art
of AOM. ILaaom is a wealth of information for both students and
professionals of AOM. In my opinion, it is very important for
anyone involved with the Illinois practice of AOM to be a member of
Many professionals and students attended the ILaaom Asian Moon
Festival dinner. Some of the attendees included NUHS staff and
students: Professor Hui Yan Cai, MD (China), PhD (China), LAc;
Instructor Robin Fan, MD (China), LAc; Chief Clinician Hyundo Kim,
PhD (Korea), MSOM, LAc; Asistant Professor Yihyun Kwon, PhD
(China), DC, MSOM, LAc; Assistant Dean of AOM Frank Yurasek, PhD
(China), MSOM, LAc, vice president of ILaaom, and several NUHS
During the event, many AOM students and professionals had the
ability to meet and share information. Several speakers spoke
during the dinner including David Miller, MD, FAAP, LAc, Dipl. OM,
legislative director of ILaaom and Kirk Moulton, Dipl. Ac, CA. Dr.
Miller spoke about current legislative events and volunteer
opportunities. Kirk spoke about the ongoing mission to help bring
medical relief to those in Tibet. Information and ways to
participate in the relief effort can be found at http://www.raktrul.org/medical_missions.html.
In addition to gaining a wealth of knowledge and awareness
during this ILaaom event, attendees also enjoyed a delicious dinner
provided by the Phoenix restaurant in Chinatown. After the dinner,
ILaaom presented raffle winnings for scholarships to three students
along with drawings for a silent auction.
This was a wonderful event to attend. But this was only one
night. Being a member of ILaaom is a great benefit that offers much
unity in our profession.
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.
This week marks another end to an NUHS trimester! As I've
blogged previously, this is a time of endings and beginnings. Many
classmates are preparing for the fall trimester. Some students are
graduating. Others are deciding to begin a new adventure as an NUHS
One event that happens near the end of every trimester is our
clinic lottery. This is the time we sign up for our upcoming clinic
shifts. It's called a lottery as it is based on seniority and
chance. Groups divided by seniority enter the clinic room. Then, we
draw numbers to sign up for our clinic shifts. Being a senior
intern, this is a fun social time for me.
Signing up for the clinic shifts lottery.
When I began at NUHS, the AOM student population was small. It
has grown significantly over the past couple of years. It continues
to expand each trimester. As a result, I think the lottery can be a
time of luck and chance for the new students in determining their
Looking back at this past trimester, I think I experienced a
great deal of education in class and clinically. The experiences I
had at Stroger Hospital were priceless. I feel the patient
interactions along with advancements in my clinical knowledge
exceeded my expectations. Being a rotating resident at Stroger's
offers a new depth of understanding in patient care and application
of AOM. I am thankful to be invited to continue this opportunity
Swans and their cygnets on campus.
I also experienced many increases in responsibilities in my home
life. I was stretched by many circumstances. These circumstances
helped me learn how to further balance being a student,
resident/intern, mom, and more. I find it fascinating that some how
everything always comes together. It seems the heaviest weight when
trying to balance home life and school is my perception that they
will be hard to balance. As I learned in Tai Chi, once I relax into
the flow of events, everything comes together. It's when I resist
or worry about them that stress prevails. So, much like "push
hands," a Tai Chi exercise, when I relax into the flow everything
balances each other.
Thank you for reading my blog each week! I look forward to
sharing more with you next trimester!!!
• What is AOM?
• PTSD Clinic for Veterans
• Pedatric AOM
• Learning Through Clinic
• Journey into AOM
• Hospital Residency
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