Saturday, August 3, 2019

I've long admired the work that Michael Max does at Qiological. Some of my greatest inspirations have taken part in his podcast, and I was lucky enough to speak to Michael a couple of months ago. Here's some of what we spoke about!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The DAOM degree, and why it’s important…

With the creation of the first professional doctorate and transitional degrees, there has been a lot of discussion within our profession about the DAOM degree, and whether it is still relevant. Many practitioners feel that the quickest route to the doctoral title is enough after a four-year master’s program. Will our patients care? Will the western medical community know the difference? And quite simply, do we as Chinese medicine practitioners need additional formal training after 4 years? These are valid questions, and they should be examined.

Our profession is growing, and experiencing rapid change. We, of course, still face skeptics, but perhaps our greatest challenge is the acceptance of TCM and Asian medicine by western medical practitioners and institutions, and their desire to harness the power of the medicine, often without an L.Ac. on board. The co-opting of techniques by those with less training (i.e. PT’s and DC’s) also presents an ever-growing challenge.

With these challenges in mind, I would suggest our institutions are only now beginning to address the needs of TCM practitioners as true integrative medicine professionals. And this is where the DAOM degree, as a post-graduate clinical research degree excels. To clarify, The DAOM is a 1200 hour, 2-year degree program, and includes 650 hours of advanced clinical training. Though the DAOM is the terminal degree in our field and requires a capstone project or dissertation, it is not a Phd, which typically requires 3 or more years, and is oriented towards teaching and research. An article in the New York Times (2007) suggested the average Phd student takes 8.2 years to complete their program of study, and this is after a bachelors and masters degree in their field often reaching 13 years of education!

The DAOM program offers students better clinical skills through mentorship and peer collaboration, enhanced patient communication through classes in practice management, and increases their ability to read and understand both current research and classical texts. The capstone or dissertation is guided by professional research mentors to enhance both practitioner writing, and peer communication. All of these objectives lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and patient outcomes, while elevating the profession to a higher standard.

Many of the DAOM programs excel at recruiting top practitioners and teachers in our field to provide deeper understanding of Chinese medicine theory as introduced through the master’s curriculum, and integrating western medicine clinicians and researchers to enhance student’s conventional medical knowledge. There are currently 13 accredited DAOM programs in the United States focusing on women’s health, pain management, internal medicine, and classical Chinese medicine; however, there are no regionally (WASC, SASC, etc. ) or nationally accredited (ACAOM) Phd programs in Chinese medicine as of yet.

Incidentally, our peers in China go through 8 years of school (bachelor and master’s degrees), and generally follow their mentor for an additional 2-3 years. As such, our master’s programs represent just the beginning of our education. In my own studies, I considered the long course of study in China, but in the end decided to attend a masters and doctoral program in the states, with advanced coursework and clinical rotations in China via Five Branches’ dual doctorate program.  

As medical professionals, we should all be committed to higher quality integrative medicine education to better understand and communicate with our western medicine colleagues. But I would suggest that we do not need to remove the “Asian” from Asian medicine in order to do so. This includes the philosophy, language, and literature so essential to the understanding of Asian medicine practice and theory. A deeper understanding of these theories and the classic texts should reveal to the practitioner the inextricable link between the biosciences and Asian medicine. DAOM programs provide the perfect platform for advanced integrative studies, and a path for TCM practitioners to dive deeper into our medical tradition. I believe strongly in advancing the quality of Asian medicine education in this country, and that is why I’ve eagerly accepted the position as dean of the DAOM program at Yo San University. I look forward to engaging with our professional community, students, researchers, and clinicians towards this goal.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Gao Fang - Take a tonic in winter, kill a tiger in spring…

As I've been spending more time in Hangzhou for my phd program, I've come across some interesting formulas and Chinese medicine practices. This time last year I spent a few months in a Hangzhou clinic where I learned about a method of prescribing formulas called gāo fāng (膏方). During the transition from autumn to winter, a traditional Chinese tonic formula is written with large quantities of herbs, and made into a sort of paste. This paste is taken home, mixed with hot water, and consumed over a period of at least 15 days, but usually 30-45 days. The purpose of gāo fāng is to strengthen the qì (), and nourish the body for the coming winter so that one emerges in spring free from illness, and ready for the new year. 

In the cold of winter, our appetite increases as the body is driven to consume higher levels of calories to stay warm. Chinese medicine doctors believe this is the perfect time to consume tonic herbs, and rest as much as possible. No “detoxing” or fasting in the winter!!!!

The practice is at least as old as the Huang Di Nei Jing (about the 1st century BCE), but my mentors in China suggest that in those early times the formulas were very simple, and probably used topically. Also, these formulas were only used by royalty and the aristocracy due to the high cost. As social welfare improved in the Ming and Qing dynasties (starting about 700 years ago), the general population became more concerned with health and longevity, and the practice became more widespread. Zhejiang, where I study every year, and Jiangsu province, were the most wealthy regions at that time, and the formulas and clinics that wrote them flourished.

There is a famous story of Li Hongzhang whose family member had a severe cough each winter. It is believed that a gāo fāng containing renshen (ginseng) and ge jie (gecko) relieved this cough, and the herbalist who wrote the formula, Cai Tong De Tang, was immortalized on a plaque in his pharmacy. 

Some pharmacies have ready-made pastes, but it is best to have an evaluation by a trained herbalist. If there are underlying issues, such as poor digestion, an intensive 2 week regulation formula is written so the body is able to absorb the potent tonic herbs. In addition to poor digestion, the gāo fāng is contraindicated in those with tumors or masses, as it is believed this strong tonic formula may increase those tumors. 

The formula is completely pattern based, geared towards one’s underlying constitution, and history of medical issues; however, the general idea is to nourish yin and tonify yang. A typical gāo fāng may contain as many as 40 herbs, cost as much as $400 - $1500, and will contain e jiao (donkey hide gelatin), lu jiao jiao (deer antler gelatin), gui ban jiao (turtle shell gelatin), ren shen (renshen), and other tonic herbs. In addition to these tonics, the formula usually contains honey and sugar for flavor, and sesame or walnut may be added for additional flavor. About 1-2 tablespoons is consumed each day, morning and evening, with hot water or in huang jiu (yellow rice wine). It is also recommended that the tea or soup be consumed from a porcelain bowl. Throughout history metal pots and serving ware were often made of reactive metals. I believe that is why formulas were only cooked in clay pots, and consumed from bowls made of porcelain. Today we have more options…

This is a typical gāo fāng formula we wrote for a female patient of 35 years old, with 2 children in generally good health:

Tai zi shen 150g, Zhi huang qi 120g, Shu di huang 150g.
Yang chu sha 15g, Gou qi zi 150g, Xin xian tie pi 150g,
Zhi he shou wu 120g, Sang shen 120g, Mai dong 60g,
Wu wei zi 15g, Chao bai shao 120g, Zhi gan cao 30g,
Zhi xiang fu 60g, Fa Ban xia 60g, Fu ling 60g,
Fo shou gan 60g, Lian zi 120g, Pu gong ying 120g,
Huai Xiao Mai 120g, Sang ji sheng 120g, Mu gua 60g,
Lian xu 50g, Qian shi 120g, Hei zhi ma 125g,
He tao ren 125g, Da zao 120g, E jiao 250g,
Yi tang 250g, Huang jiu 250g, Wen shan yao 30g  

Even if you can’t get a custom gāo fāng written for you, I always tell my patients to loosen up in the winter, reduce your stress, sleep more, and gain a few pounds. It’s time for family, good food, and inner reflection.  

Have a happy holiday season!!!!

References: › Health › TCM

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Tai Chi Schedule for Fall 2018...

If you're in the Los Angeles area, lot’s of good opportunities to practice tai chi this fall:
1 - I will be offering an 8 week seminar learning the Chen 18 tai chi form, starting September 23rd at Dharma Health Institute in Playa Del Rey. Perfect for beginners, and anyone who wants to go deeply into a Chen form. $145 for 8 weeks. 

Dharma Health Institute
143 Culver Blvd,
Playa Del Rey, Ca 90293
Phone: 310-822-7755

My teacher in China, Gao Xiao Bao

2 - Our regular class in Brentwood (Wednesday night and Saturday morning) will begin learning the Combined 42 Tai Chi form on Saturday, September 29th. Each Saturday we'll learn new pieces of the form, and typically review on Wednesday night. $20/class

Emails for class location and time...

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Chen Tai Chi Seminar (8 Weeks)

I'm leading a Chen tai chi seminar this fall at Dharma Health Institute in Playa Del Rey. For 8 weeks, we'll learn the Chen 18 form, a really amazing form I learned in China.

The Chen family-style is the oldest and parent form of the five traditional family styles of tai chi. In this 8 week seminar we will learn the Chen 18 form, created by Chen Zheng Lei. It's a perfect form to learn the essential movements of Chen tai chi. 

In addition to the choreography, emphasis will be placed on silk reeling (chán sī jì), and generating power (fa jin) through proper form and alignment. We will also cover the intention behind the postures and movements. 

The Chen 18 form is a perfect form to begin learning tai chi, but will also improve other forms of tai chi that you may know.

$145 for 8 Weeks (credit card, cash, venmo, paypal accepted)

Please email for more details

Dharma Health Institute

143 Culver Blvd,
Playa Del Rey, Ca 90293
Phone: 310-822-7755

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

New Office, New hours!!!

I am extremely happy to announce the opening of our new Chinese medicine practice in Santa Monica!!! I've been eyeing this building for 10 years, and the timing and generosity of a great friend has made it possible. I'll officially start seeing patients next week, so please spread the word, visit our website, and like our Authentic Healing Traditions FB page!!! If you've seen us in the past, and you're so moved, please head over to Yelp to leave us a review as that seems to be a huge motivator for new patients.

Tuesday - Thursday 8:00am - 2:00pm
Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday 11:00am - 5:00pm

1460 7th St, Suite #301
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(213) 792-2825

Herbal and Lifestyle Phone Consults Available...

Thank you to all of my friends and family for supporting this new career path. It hasn't been easy, but I am forever in your debt. Especially my tai chi crew!!!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Nine Palace Acupuncture #2

I've had enough "interesting" experiences meditating, and especially spending time in the mountains of China and Japan, to know that science cannot explain everything, yet. But I approach Chinese medicine and acupuncture from a very scientific viewpoint. I like knowing how it all works, and examining the language we use to describe it. I don't rule out the spiritual components at all, but I'm cautious about the language I use. That being said, I witnessed something very special on my last trip to China with Dr. Feng Ninghan. 

A 7 year old girl was brought into the clinic completely paralyzed as a result of encephalitis. She died at the hospital the week before, and the ER docs brought her back to life. However, she is completely paralyzed, and in constant pain. They expect that she will never recover. Her amazing parents massage her body, carry her everywhere, feed her, and of course try to figure out what her needs are. She cries out most of the time. If she stays in one position too long her BP drops, if she gets overly simulated her BP spikes, her extremities become cyanotic randomly. 

She came into clinic one morning and she cried from the moment they came in the door, not a moment to breath for her family. My mentor walked over, palpated her lower legs, chose one point (spleen 6), and chanted "om" while he put the needle in and stimulated it. She immediately stopped crying, and her eyes completely shifted, she looked at us and there was understanding, she was with us again. Everyone in the room was kind of shocked. His assistants had never seen him do this. He put in a few more needles, and attended to other patients. Anytime she started to cry, he would walk over and stimulate the needles with the same result everytime, calm. We all know she may never recover, but if she, and her family can find a few moments of peace that would be enough. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine combined with chanting and Buddhist thought does not happen often in China...