Archive for tag: acupuncture

Patient Responses

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.

Penny wrote:

"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.

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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 stomach issues."

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Emily wrote:

"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." 

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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 patients.

Gua Sha

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.

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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 maneuvering.

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.

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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.

AOM Treatment of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

I hope everyone is having a nice week. I hope you had a chance to try the meditation from last week's blog. 

This week's blog is what I originally had planned for last week. As you may remember, one of the focuses in AOM is pediatrics. As a result, I have been researching a prominent childhood disease called hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD). I was inspired to research this subject because it is a very common childhood illness in this area. Local MDs report many cases in the past few months; several have been severe. After interviewing a number of pediatricians and researching the disease, it appears there is no treatment (Tx) targeting the virus through biomedicine. There are many ways of managing the symptoms (sx), such as fever reducers, painkillers and ointments, but nothing that targets the virus. In AOM understanding, biomedicine is treating the branches of the virus--the resulting sx, but not the root--the actual disease.

If you are not familiar with HFMD, according to the CDC, HFMD is a virus caused by a group of viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus. The Enterovirus genus includes the viruses: polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses. The most common cause of HFMD in the United States is Coxsackievirus A16. Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is also a form of HFMD (more predominate in the Asia-Pacific region). HFMD occurs most in children and infants under five years of age. Adults can also acquire the disease, but that is rarer and may coincide with an underlying immune deficiency. "There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. However, some things can be done to relieve symptoms" (cdc.gov).

The most common initial sx of HFMD are fever, general malaise (fatigue) and a sore throat. About two days later, blisters inside the mouth and throat appear accompanied by rash and/or blisters around the outside of the mouth, on the feet, hands, elbows, knees and genitalia. Abdominal discomfort and loss of appetite may also occur. As a result of these sx, the child may stop eating and drinking. Severe sx of dehydration can quickly occur. Recently, local cases in the area have lead to dehydration and cause for hospitalization.   

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2012-07-31_Foot Blisters

Fortunately, AOM has many treatments for HFMD.  Many research studies show AOM is successful at treating the root and the branch-virus and the resulting sx, of HFMD. One of the main reasons AOM is successful at Tx HFMD is because it looks at the individualized pattern diagnosis for each patient. While the AOM practitioner understands the biomedical element of HFMD, the practitioner focuses on the patient's entire health along with the new symptoms. As a result, the patient is treated holistically, resulting in both viral and symptom treatment.

As discussed in previous blogs, pediatric massage called Tui Na is very beneficial in treating many conditions, especially pediatric conditions. Acupressure and acupuncture have also been shown to create significant results in the Tx of HFMD.

The most prominent form of AOM Tx of HFMD is the application of herbal formulas and pastes. Research has shown significant results using the application of oriental herbal formulas, both biochemically and in clinical trials. Since AOM views each patient individually and treats the patients diagnosed pattern, not the diagnosis of HFMD, there are several recommended formulas. Additionally, each formula can be modified for each individual case. For example, if the child is having difficulty drinking and eating due to pain, herbs to help express and heal the blisters and reduce the pain may be added. If the patient is having excessive itching, herbs to minimize the symptom of itching can be added. In theory, these herbs aren't added symptomatically, but instead through a differential diagnosis that takes both symptoms and the patient's current and underlying constitution into consideration. This is one of the many benefits of oriental medical herbs. This is also the reason patients should only take oriental medical herbs under the care and direction of an oriental medical herbologist. Great consideration must be given to every herb advised in order to create a beneficial, harmonious result.

Works Cited:

"Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)."Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 3 July 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html>.

The Water Element

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 celebrated!

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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 jing.

A Patient's Acupuncture Treatment Experience

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing an acupuncture patient, who had been diagnosed with sciatica. Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve is inflamed. The symptoms this patient had included pain, tingling, and numbness which traveled from his lateral aspect of his left hip, referred down his leg and into the lateral aspect of his left foot. At times the pain was so severe he had to miss work and other common daily activities. He did not find much continuous relief of symptoms through his conventional medical care. As a result, he received two acupuncture treatments, which gave him long-term relief from the sciatic symptoms. This patient was kind enough to agree to an interview for this blog to explain his personal experience with acupuncture.

Auricular Acupuncture Treating Pain

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all Moms!!! I hope you had a very special and relaxing weekend! Hopefully you had a day of relaxation, or at least moments of the day were filled with rejuvenation! 

In addition to celebrating Mother's Day this weekend, classes started for the new trimester this past week.   personally consider both the start and the end of each trimester a mini-celebration, as each segment of time shows the beginning or end to another chapter of learning. 

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This week I was able to see the affects of acupuncture on pain patients very clearly. While I was fortunate to be a part of treating many pain patients, one patient agreed to share her treatment with this blog. This patient is a 61-year-old female who injured her foot. She may have broken 1-2 toes, but had not received X-rays at the time of her treatment. (Notice bruising on center toe.) It was decided to treat the foot distally, which means far away from her foot. One of the most conducive aspects of acupuncture is there are many ways to treat one pathology. If it's decided treating locally is not the best option, there are still many more options for treatment.

In this case, treating the patient's foot via auricular acupuncture was determined to be the best option. The patient received five needles in the ear on the same side as the injured foot. She received a needle in the following auricular points: toes, lumber, shenmen, point zero, and kidney. These points help to reduce the pain, while also helping the patient feel relaxed. Additionally, they help treat the patient's root energy, which will greater exacerbate a healing response.

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The patient reported feeling a remarkable decrease in foot and back pain. The patient had a previous back injury worsened by the change in her gait (walk) as a result of the foot injury. Before receiving acupuncture, the patient rated the pain as a 6/10 on the VAS pain scale, 10 being measured as the worst pain possible.  After the treatment, the patient rated her pain as 2/10. I followed up the treatment with auricular seeds; they are small metal beads that stick on the patient's ear. Ear seeds are a form of acupressure that allow for continued treatment after the patient leaves the clinic. By pushing on the ear seeds, the patient triggers a healing and analgesic (feel-good and pain reducing) response. The analgesic response is much like taking pain medicine to decrease the pain. I will learn at the patient's follow-up visit, how the ear seeds affected her. 

I find observing pain patients' responses fascinating, as usually through about 5 needles, the patients have a significant decrease in pain that typically holds through the follow-up visit. This is something I could never imagined possible before becoming a student of AOM!

New Beginnings

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.

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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 world.
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.

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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!