Archive for tag: oriental medicine

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.

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.

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! 

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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.

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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.

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!

PTSD Clinic for Veterans

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.  

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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 before. 

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 abilities!

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.

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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

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

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. 

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Moxa

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.