I got into Acupuncture through my own personal experience.
I moved to San Francisco in December of 1997. It was right at the height of the dot com boom, and I was having a really tough time finding a job. I was twenty-two years old, pretty fit and I had a bicycle, so I went to work as a bike messenger. It was an El Nino year and rainy, but I was glad for the work.
Just a couple of months later, I was on my way to work in a rainstorm, and I got hit by a car. I was right next to it when it decided to get into my lane. It slammed into my right side, and I ended up on the ground in front of it. At that moment I thought I was fine. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be able to use my right arm for the next two-and-a-half years.
The pain started to set in over the three hours following the accident. By the time I left the hospital I couldn’t write or tie my shoes. I was sent home with pain pills. Months went by and pain pills were still the only solution I’d been offered. I was a zombie, lying around the house all day. The pain was barely reduced by the pills, but I couldn’t bare it without them.
Finally I got sick of all the drugs, and I decided to stop taking them. That’s when a friend recommended Acupuncture. I started going to a clinic once a week (if I knew what I know now, I would have gone a lot more). Immediately I started being able to sleep. I was in less pain with one Acupuncture treatment per week than I had been taking Vicoden three times a day.
My injuries were severe enough that I still needed a couple of reconstructive surgeries on my shoulder and wrist. My shoulder surgery was supposed to limit my mobility for life. I was told I’d never throw a ball or be able to do a push-up, but I can do all of that today. My surgeon was amazed at the speed of my progress, and my ability to stay on track with the incredibly painful physical therapy. After my wrist surgery, my hand swelled up. It was huge and purple and numb. It looked like a giant paw, not a hand at all. I went to my Acupuncturist, and she put some little needles in my hand and used moxa (a dried herb stick that is burned and held near acupuncture points) to warm the points. I couldn’t even feel the warmth of the moxa; I just felt a strange pulsing sensation. I fell asleep, and when she came back thirty minutes later, my hand looked totally normal. It was a normal color, it wasn’t numb anymore and the swelling was completely gone. That’s when I knew 100% for sure that Acupuncture was doing something real.
That’s when I started to consider studying Acupuncture myself. It was a big commitment for me. I would have to finish my bachelor’s degree before even beginning the four year process of earning my Chinese Medicine degree. I learned Shiatsu massage first, so I could start to understand the way Qi (pronounced chee) moves in the body. Then I practiced Shiatsu and volunteered at an Acupuncture clinic for two years, learning everything I could about the medicine, the theory and the realities of the career. The more I learned the more I wanted to know. Every step just confirmed even more that this was the right path for me.
My passion for Traditional Chinese Medicine is even greater today than when I started. I had no idea how perfect this practice would be for me. I get to participate in people’s lives getting better every day, there is always more to learn, and every patient reveals more to me about the medicine, myself and my purpose for helping ending people’s suffering.... (more)
I believe that optimal health requires maintenance! I see an Acupuncturist every other week (in addition to giving my self Acupuncture regularly). I take Chinese Herbs whenever I feel the slightest bit off, and I see a Chiropractor monthly to counteract all the time I spend leaning over patients.
I also walk a minimum of 20 minutes a day, stretch a minimum of 20 minutes a day, do yoga 2-3 x a week, and meditate or do qi gong daily.
I believe community and service are also essential for health, so I make sure to make a social phone call every day and make time to connect face to face just to enjoy the people in my life. I also mentor mutiple people either in medicine, health or personal development.... (more)
Like many healthcare practitioners, I've had a lot of health issues. The major ones are the accident I mentioned above, a hamstring tear and asthma. I've treated all with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs successfully. But I've also used other therapies such as: physical therapy, chiropractic, amino acids (neuro-nutrient therapy), and massage/bodywork. All of which have contributed to my health and well-being.
Though they are often overlooked, diet and sleep are the foundation on which a healthy life is built. You just can't counteract how you treat your body every single day! I eat anything that was once or still is alive, and I avoid foods that don't look anything like what once grew, walked or swam. And I go to bed early in order to get a minimum of 8 hrs of sleep every single night--sometimes more!... (more)
Acupuncture for high blood pressure is almost always a slam dunk! As with all Chinese Medical treatment, the underlying cause must be determined in order to achieve results. This underlying diagnosis will determine the specific points used. This is another reason that study results are often unreliable. Many studies choose one set of points to treat every hypertension patient, as if there's a "hypertension prescription." This is not Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is western medicine attempting to apply Acupuncture using its own theories. With hypertension, results are typicall seen within a couple of months. You have to be very careful if you are taking anti-hypertensives, because symptoms of excessively low blood pressure commonly appear. I always advise patients to look for these symptoms and immediately go to their MD for a reduction in dose when they appear.
Acupuncture for high blood pressure is almost always a slam dunk! As with all Chinese Medical treatment, the underlying cause must be determined in order to achieve results. This underlying...... (more)
You have to be very careful in True v. Sham studies. Often the "sham" treatment still involves doing Acupuncture. They just do the Acupuncture in a location that the study designer has deemed either a "no-point" or a point that wouldn't affect the problem. This means that the "sham" group is sometimes still getting Acupuncture! Talk about poor control! Sometimes the "non-point" is actually ON the same meridian/channel as the "real point." According to the Huang Di Nei Jing (an important classic in Chinese Medicine), it is more important to get the channel than to get the point. So it's not necessarily the placebo effect, it could be Acupuncture!
You have to be very careful in True v. Sham studies. Often the "sham" treatment still involves doing Acupuncture. They just do the Acupuncture in a location that the study designer has deemed either a...... (more)
Depression is a very broad term that covers many different symptoms. One person may have anxiety, insomnia, negative thinking, while another feels lethargic, low energy and can't get motivated. Still others may cry all the time or just feel like exploding from stress. All of these get lumped together in Western Medicine, because there is only one medical treatment---antidepressants. In Chinese Medicine (of which Acupuncture is one part), we look at the individual's experience to determine the treatment. The symptoms are just one piece of the puzzle that we use to differentiate the underlying imbalance that is responsible for the patient's experience of "depression." I've had great results using Acupuncture to rebalance the system and improve many syndromes referred to as depression. My personal experience is that anxiety responds better to Acupuncture than apathetic depression. However, herbs can be added to strengthen the response in more difficult cases. Underlying issues, such as insomnia and digestive problems, must be addressed to get a full resolution. In my clinic we also use Amino Acid therapy in any kind of mood imbalance case. This fills in the gaps in cases where Acupuncture and Herbs can sometimes fail to fully solve the problem.
Depression is a very broad term that covers many different symptoms. One person may have anxiety, insomnia, negative thinking, while another feels lethargic, low energy and can't get motivated....... (more)