Many of you know I have been enrolled in a doctoral program and working towards my next degree. As the end, and hopefully graduation, nears, I wanted to take a moment to discuss why I made the decision to work towards my doctorate, and what it means.
When I was at OCOM for my master’s degree, we discussed the doctoral program many times. We could practice with our master’s, so the doctoral was completely optional at that time. (Since then they have added a dual degree where you graduate with a doctorate, but it is a different program than either of the degrees I obtained). As with any type of medical degree, East Asian Medicine is a continual learning experience.. There are legal and certification requirements to learn, but also new for the betterment of my practice and my patients, I wanted to grow in my knowledge and love of my medicine. I have taken a few seminars, in person and online, and while those were of great benefit, I knew I wanted to delve into other areas of my medicine which a doctorate degree would allow me to do.
The program I chose is an awesome one. It has allowed me to dig deeper into various topics such as cardiology, oncology, and neurological health, while studying under amazing specialists who work in these fields. I have gained from their experience and skills, which enables me to better serve my patients.
Another aspect of the program was self driven. I was able to choose 3 different trainings which would benefit my future career decisions as well as hone, or build, skills in different areas of health.
The first of these was a trip to study in Taiwan and see herbal medicine in action by a very adept practitioner who has been practicing for over 40 years. I observed him working with a variety of patients with all manner of conditions. Over a 2.5 weeks period, our group saw some of these patients multiple times and watched the changes as they received treatment from him. The results were astounding.
The second training I chose was in a style of acupuncture, Hari style. We were taught how to do gentle treatments which are beneficial for all ages. These treatments generally consist of fewer than 8-10 points and often the needles are not even inserted into the skin! The practitioner constantly checks the pulse to ensure the body is responding appropriately to the treatment. We also incorporate sound, breathing, and other things in the treatments. I was supposed to finish by May, however this training will be ongoing through the summer and fall due to the COVID restrictions on gatherings.
I’ve appreciated the Hari training as it is helping me become a better practitioner. The goal of treatment is a “less is more” approach. You only use as many points as you need to achieve a change and healing. The treatment acts as a lever to get the ball rolling so the body can take over and work to heal on its own. It also hones skills in pulse and abdominal diagnosis. If there is not a change in the pulse and/or the abdomen, then I have chosen the less effective treatment approach and need to try something that will be more beneficial. This also means I see an immediate change which the patient will also feel. It’s also very gentle, so even a small child can be treated without causing pain or distress.
The third and final training will be through Tama-Do. This one was also delayed until September, but I am no less excited about it. The instructors have had years of research matching musical tones, colors, and scents to physical changes in the body. They play certain tones using tuning forks on different acupuncture points and areas of the body to aid in healing. This is another gentle technique I will be able to offer as a solo treatment, or in addition to my normal acupuncture treatments.
I started my college education as a music major. I love that I can bring my love of music, and it’s healing abilities, together to form an effective, and relaxing, treatment for my patients.
Along with these trainings, I have delved into developing my specialty. Since before I received my masters, I worked to learn more about mental health and the GI system. I believe, and the research is starting to show this more and more, that most physical and mental health concerns begin in the gut. I also firmly believe mental health can drastically affect our physical health. By specializing in these two areas I can help many patients heal and live their lives to their fullest.
Another aspect of my doctorate program has been learning more about research and teaching in my profession. I find both of these aspects important to growing East Asian Medicine in the United States. Hopefully, I can contribute to the research community by continuing to be a part of the Society for Acupuncture Research. I would love to conduct some research and contribute to the literature in the future as well. As for teaching, I hope to continue that locally through my booth at the Farmer’s Market, community trainings or classes, and other ways.
I am very excited to finish my doctorate soon. However, its coming will be bittersweet. I have some excellent friends and practitioners in my class and I have enjoyed getting to know and work with them over the past 2 years. I will keep in touch with them, but it’s definitely going to be different. I am grateful I will have more time to dedicate to other things, such as giving community classes, or possibly expanding my hours in the clinic. I am still looking at what the next steps look like and what changes will come to my clinic.
I am so grateful for my patients who have been encouraging and supportive, even when this has limited my time in clinic or even taken me away for short periods. I want to thank you all, and let you know I have appreciated you. I hope to see you all soon and discuss this in person! Until then, I will continue to work on improving and expanding my knowledge and skills.
Many people take supplements of one kind or another. Magnesium, vitamin D, and B vitamins are probably some of the most popular as well as multi-vitamins. As more people begin taking them, it brings up some good questions: What are supplements? Are they necessary? Why would you want to take them?
In their most basic form, supplements, vitamins, and minerals are something our bodies need. Most of these we gain naturally when we eat, particularly from our vegetables and fruit. So, why would we need to take more? The answer to that can be complicated, but comes down to this:
-We aren't getting enough in our diet. The American diet has changed. We've begun adding in more meats and processed foods, and drastically reduced our vegetable and fruit intake. These foods do not give us the nutrients we need, sadly, and we become lacking quite quickly. I will discuss this more in other blogs, but for here, let's just have a basic understanding that our food system and dietary habits have changed over the past 100-150 years. Supplements can help fill in the gaps and keep our bodies healthy.
-Our food sources aren't as rich in nutrition as they once were. As farming habits and methods have changed, so has our produce. There's been some interesting research that shows our vegetables and fruit have fewer vitamins, minerals, and basic nutritional value than in previous years. So we have to eat even more to get the same benefit our parents or grandparents received from their food! Supplementation can do just that--supplement what we are missing from our foods.
-With digestive issues on the rise, many of us can't absorb enough through their diet. If the gut lining is irritated, it makes it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients in the food. Also, studies are showing the microbes which aid our digestive system becoming less diverse and fewer in number. This means we can't digest foods as we once did. This is another long topic for another blog, so we just need to realize that quite a few of us are having a hard time even absorbing what we should be from our foods. Giving larger doses of supplements can help get us a bit more of what we need while we work to fix these digestive issues.
-Some conditions, or times, call for larger amounts or something extra to help our bodies stay healthy. For example, in spring and fall there is always a rise in cold and flu cases. Some supplements can aid us in fighting off an infection and give our immune system a boost. Other conditions can also benefit from various supplements made from herbs and things. This is where a discussion with your naturopath or acupuncturist can help. They can recommend the best ones for you.
So, we've covered the necessity, "the good", but sadly, there is a "bad, and ugly" side to supplements. It would be amazing if I could just recommend a certain vitamin to someone and not worry, but brand and purchasing source are important with supplements.
Not all supplement brands are created equal. Some companies create more potent products which are more easily digested by the body. Finding supplements that are going to give you the dose you need, and can be used by your body is important. Since they can be expensive, you don't want to waste your money on something to not gain any benefit from it! So, definitely look for a good quality one, and ask your provider about brands and types.
Also, it is highly recommended to NOT buy supplements through sites, like Amazon. They have not been able to guarantee quality control. Some of the sellers are selling fake products. So that supplement on the bottle may not be the real brand, or even the correct substance! Some of these can even be dangerous and have toxins in them. Please, go to a reputable dealer for your supplements. Again, asking a medical provider such as an acupuncturist, or naturopath, can be helpful in selecting a brand, or store.
Supplements are beneficial when of a good quality and when used in the correct manner. I hope this helps answer a few questions and gets you started thinking about supplements and how they can help you. I also hope it helps you avoid a few pitfalls as you look into types and brands.
Also, to help you on your path, here is a link to my online store of good quality supplements. Register for your account, and you will even see some of my favorites! (I will be updating my favorite list as time goes on.) The store will also have it's own page on my site starting today. If you have any questions, bring them to your next appointment, or call/email me! I look forward to seeing you.