Archive for tag: oriental medicine

Naval Cupping

I learned a new technique this week from a friend also in the OM program. It is called navel cupping. She found this technique online browsing YouTube. An acupuncturist in Australia, who specializes in infertility, uses the technique in her clinic and demonstrated how to do the technique. Women who are infertile often have "cold in the uterus" and moxa is used to warm up the uterus. 

My friend often has an abdomen that is cold to the touch and wanted to try this technique. Being a student in clinic is the best chance to try different techniques whether it be needle technique, new needle protocols or new modalities such as navel cupping. 

The Process

We began by collecting everything we needed and preparing it. We needed a warm glass cup as well as warm salt. The navel cupping is used to pull the cold out of the body. The thought is, why moxa and add heat if the body hasn't rid itself of the cold? By removing the cold, the yang qi may be able to flow and regulate the organs again.


The whole process took two hours but in the end it worked. I began by monitoring her abdomen temperature and other areas that are typically cold on her. I also used tender acupuncture points as a guide as well. I began by cupping the navel to pull out the cold. I also took pictures of her tongue to document progress.

After about an hour, I pulled off the cup because her belly was warm as were the other areas I was monitoring. I then used salt and ginger as a medium to moxa her navel. This took many sticks but in the end there was significant improvement. Improvements included a less purple tongue, a warm belly and ankles, a serene mood, and clearer sheen in the eyes. I am happy I was able to try and experience this new way of cupping and hopefully use it on other patients.



Graduation is closer by the day. As I am preparing everything for graduation I am also studying for my Herbal board and have yet to write a valedictorian speech. This has got to be one of the most stressful trimesters! My wonderful husband is supporting me and helping me in any way he can.

Many may think as the program nears the end it may get easier, but that is definitely not the case. It is bittersweet. I am joyous to be finally entering the business world and sharing my knowledge with my patients, but sad as I will miss my classmates and professors. But it is just the beginning of a great career.


As I stated in last week's blog, I planned to interview one of the graduates who went to China. 

A little background: Dr. Cai has connections with one of the hospitals in Xi'an and is friends with one of the hospital directors. More than a year ago, she set up a program for the students. In exchange for a year in China teaching English at Shaanxi University, the students are able to study in the hospital with the other doctors. The students are given housing and paid a minimal wage to teach. They also receive two months off in the summer to travel. Cherlyn, one of the herbal students, left in February to travel to China and is currently on summer break and visiting us. 



As I talked with Cherlyn at dinner, she stated what a big culture shock it is to be in China. They are living in one of the oldest Chinese cities and it shows. There were a few surprises that they have had to become accustomed to, such as the plumbing, but that is such a small quirk compared to the beauty of the city. Everyone is really friendly and like family. Many of the dinners are focused around "dim sum," which is like a big lazy susan where all the food is shared among those at the table. It's like Thanksgiving every night.


At the hospital, where she spends four hours a couple of times a week, she has enjoyed learning new techniques that are not taught in the U.S. For instance, they do a lot of herbal injections into acupuncture points. This could be for menstrual cramps, to induce labor, for Bell's palsy, and much more.

She has also seen them do a lot of blood transfusions. For example, the doctor will extract blood from the cubital vein and then energetically inject it into ST 36. ST 36, Zu San Li , is a very important and powerful point in Chinese medicine. In Chinese literature, it is often said to moxa this point every day to bring long life. 

She has also seen a lot of flash cupping done to the face for Bell's palsy. She said the doctors treat a lot of facial paralysis at the hospital. Cherlyn and her roommate Andrea, also a graduate of NUHS, have put together a website, Jouneys to Healing Medicine, to share their experiences and new knowledge. She says she really enjoys China and all the new experiences it brings her. She also likes the downtime to practice yoga every morning and read books she has always wanted.

2011-07-05_BalloonsHot air balloons at Eyes to the Sky festival in Lisle.

Well, that's all for now, I hope everyone enjoyed their Fourth of July.

Summer Is in the Air

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This past weekend was so NICE! My husband and I were able to enjoy the weather strolling around Geneva before we buckled down to study. Yes, it's finals time already. Time flies when you're having fun. I have a few finals this week and the rest next week. But before I talk anymore about me I have a big secret...

National University of Health Sciences' Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Program has been accredited by the NCCAOM!! Oh my gosh, I think I was the last to hear because apparently the word has been out for a while. All of our administrators' hard work paid off. We will be accredited until 2016 when NCCAOM will come to recheck all of the checkpoints.

NUHS has the opportunity to be the best AOM university in the U.S. We have the facilities to do much research, which unfortunately is lacking in our field. We have a few clinics, and most importantly we have a cadaver lab in which we are able to dissect a human body to experience where all of the muscles and organs are and how the needles can affect those structures. No other AOM university has that.

During break I will be studying for my first board test, the biomedicine portion. This exam is only offered 3-4 times a year so I have scheduled to take it in May. It won't be so bad because it will refresh everything I have learned from the last five years attending National. 

Also during break, my husband and I will be office shopping again because we have 5 more months until we graduate. It's exciting but scary at the same time.  

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Laura is in the picture modeling the Po Sum oil many students use to do their bodywork, which includes guasha, tuina or cupping. There are many oils to choose from but usually one with a viscous texture factor is good. All of the mentioned modalities are good for treating sore muscles, colds, constipation, and much more.

9,000 Needles, Vol. 2

Before I begin to talk about the title of this week's blog, I am happy to announce I did well on all of my exams. Yeah, go me! I try not to freak out before tests, but this trimester is pretty challenging.

The Documentary

As I mentioned last week, the AOM club was hosting the film "9000 Needles" here at the school. The proceeds were to benefit the gentleman, Devin Dearth, on whom the film was based. The movie was offered on two days and I helped with the first day. We had a nice turnout of about 40 people and I think Wednesday's turnout was similar. Thank you to everyone that came out and supported the film and our profession.

The movie was a great way to see how effective Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) integrated with western medicine could be on an individual who may not have much hope with western medicine alone. The documentary takes the viewer on a heart-wrenching journey of Devin Dearth (a former bodybuilder) and his family's conviction to get the best care and rehabilitation after Devin's debilitating intracerebral stroke. After insurance claims were exhausted, their only option was to continue rehabilitation and pay out of pocket. The catch: it would cost the family $150,000 a month to continue care at the state-of-the-art rehabilitation center he was attending.

Devin's brother investigated other alternatives and came across TOM. A hospital in Tian Jin, China, integrates TOM with western medicine to achieve incredible results. From the day he stepped into the hospital to the day he left 10 weeks later, he received nothing but the best care. Everyone from the doctors to the cleaning staff treated him like family. They gave great moral support and really wanted him to recover. For example, Devin could barely move any of his limbs when he arrived at the hospital and on the first day after receiving acupuncture with electric stimulation, herbs, cupping, and tui na, he was able to lift his right leg four inches off the bed! How incredible to see after other therapies could hardly come close to that success. I quote, "He received more treatment in one day than in weeks in the U.S."  

I don't want to spoil the movie for you, but Devin does make significant recovery and I think it proves that oriental medicine and western medicine can achieve better results together. I hope this film is enlightening for those who are doubtful of our medicine as it proves success.

Top -drsPictured above (L-R) are Dr. Yurasek, Dr. Kwon and Noel Jenson, president of AOM club.

After the show, Dr. Yihyun Kwon, assistant professor of acupuncture and oriental medicine, gave a presentation on stroke. Dr. Kwon, who attended Kyung Hee University for his PhD, wrote his thesis on stroke and has significant knowledge on how to treat stroke victims. Dr. Kwon always wondered why so many stroke victims in Asia have been successfully treated but not in the U.S. Many of the victims are not aware of the benefits acupuncture and TOM have to offer. Dr. Kwon wants to extend his knowledge of how to treat these patients to our students at National. Dr. Kwon, with help from our assistant dean, Dr. Frank Yurasek and other fellow professors have started a stroke case study. We are looking for those individuals who have had a stroke between 1.5 months up to a year ago that would like to participate in a 12-week program.  So please spread the word and contact Dr. Kwon at 630-889-6608, for more inclusion criteria.

Out in the Field

As I promised last week, I was able to have lunch while interviewing a graduate of the Oriental Medicine Program. Margaret Thompson-Choi, you might remember, wrote this blog before me.  

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Margaret graduated in December 2009. After graduation, she spent 5 weeks in Korea continuing her OM education hands-on at a hospital. She visited Kyung Hee University in the months of January and February while staying with her in-laws. Margaret says the hospital specializes in Bell's Palsy, so she would feel very comfortable treating such patients in her office.

Kyung Hee University has 12 departments and students have the choice of touring one or all of the departments. Margaret spent 8 hours a day touring the university and was very impressed with the hospital. "It was similar to a Western hospital; they utilized all of the same equipment, such as MRI machines to help diagnose patients," she said, "and it was also very sanitary." 

Some of the interesting things she witnessed were the doctors doing manipulation to patients called Chuna, which she described as similar to chiropractic adjustments. The hospital also utilized pulse machines that were able to electronically print out the pulse diagnosis from a strap around the patient's wrist. The doctors also took high quality pictures of the patient's tongue. These were used in diagnoses but also to show improvement to the patient. Margaret also noticed that some doctors only practiced herbs. After writing a prescription for the patient, they would give it to the hospital's pharmacy. The pharmacy had big vats that they prepared and boiled the herbs in. They then put the individual dosages into little cartons that the patient could drink right away.   

Margaret really enjoyed her experience and recommends the university as shorter alternative to the year-long China trip. The trip would run around $2,000 plus lodging.  

Currently, Margaret is working at one location in Chicago and two locations in Naperville. At one of those locations, she is an independent contractor and is slowly building up her patient base. She currently sees one to seven patients a day but would be happy to see 8-12 a day. She also has the ability to recommend herbs if the patient chooses. 

She states, "There are jobs out there for acupuncturists, you just need to find them." She looked on craigslist, sent letters to chiropractors, and checked on NUHS's alumni site for job offerings. She also suggested joining a leads group in the town in which you would like to practice. The group meets weekly and exchanges business cards. She suggests working at two places maximum to build up a good clientele. When I asked her for her advice, she said, "Be prepared for set-backs." Things may take longer than anticipated such as getting your license and finding work. But it all works out.

I would like to thank Margaret for allowing me to interview her and for sharing her experiences with all of the future acupuncturists.