Archive for tag: herbs

Weekend Herbal Seminar

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 MSOM.  

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 exams. 


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

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 herbology! 


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, Kim). 

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 to stress. 

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 ge gen.


Research has shown that ge gen has the ability to reduce hypertension. It also has a beneficial effect on coronary artery disease. 

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 herbs.

While ge gen has many significant benefits, never begin using this herb, or any other herb until discussing it with your health care professional. 

Works Cited: Kim, HB.Minibook of Oriental Medicine. 1st ed. Anaheim: Qpuncture, 2009. Print.

Midterm Management

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.

Giving Thanks

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 and love.  

Herbology and Thanksgiving

As you are eating, it may be fun to know some comparisons to foods from a Chinese herbology perspective.

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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 loved ones!

Pediatric AOM

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 developing.

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

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 treatment. 


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 pediatric needs.

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 base.

Herbal Remedies

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 week's blog. 

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 herbal regime. 

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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 now.  

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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.