Pacific College Academic Dean Bob Damone shares his experience with us from the desert this past weekend, where he studied nature’s herbal medicines with fellow colleagues and PCOM students!
In the early 1980’s, a few years before it ever occurred to me to pursue a career in Chinese herbal medicine, I became interested in “Western” herbal medicine. I read everything I could get my hands on, including “The Way of Herbs” by Michael Tierra. I immediately devoured it, and immersed myself in its fascinating descriptions of plant-based medicines. My kitchen cupboards quickly began to overflow with tinctures, powders, and poultices of various herbs. The rich earthy fragrances, tastes, and colors of various flowers, barks, leaves, and seeds became a part of my daily life. Valerian, White Willow Bark, Chamomile, Saw Palmetto, etc., became allies in my search for health and wellness. I was hooked.
This past weekend, I had the excellent fortune of sharing with several Pacific College students a medicinal plant study excursion to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park led by Sylvan Botanical Institute. Sylvan—a company co-founded by PCOM alum, accomplished herbalist, and author Thomas Garran—is devoted to teaching knowledge of herbal medicine in part by empowering practitioners to locate, identify, and harvest local medicinal plants. Among the several knowledgeable and approachable herb teachers on the trip, were Christopher Hobbs and Michael Tierra. I had not met Christopher before, but found him to be a veritable walking encyclopedia of ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, and botanical identification. As I mentioned above, Michael Tierra—whose book I had cut my teeth on in my herbal infancy—was also in attendance. If I have any heroes, he is certainly among them. What a thrill to meet and hang out with the man who had initially inspired my interest in herbal medicine!
My interest in Western herbal medicine eventually expanded to Chinese herbal medicine. Yet, I never lost my fascination with Western herbs. A number of Western herbalists in fact have followed a similar path. Many regard the solid empirical and theoretical foundation of Chinese herbal medicine, with its unbroken historical and textual record, as the most viable model for an integrative and globalized modern form of herbal medicine. This has sparked a very interesting dialogue, which was palpable during the duration of this desert trip: How can the theoretical foundation of Chinese medicine be applied to the study of Western herbs? Is there a benefit to using Western herbs according to the principles of Chinese medicine?
The resounding response to the latter question from the Western herbalists present in the desert this weekend was undoubtedly yes. And I tend to agree. I had the clear sense this past weekend that the zeitgeist now indicates a heightened readiness to engage in this important and necessary dialogue. I look forward to more trips with Sylvan and I hope to inspire the Pacific College community to engage in communion with the beautiful and rich natural world around us, which teems with medicinal plants.
Check out the video slideshow here!
You graduate with your acupuncture or massage therapy degree and are ready to take on the world. You are skilled and enthusiastic to make a name (and some money) for yourself in a career that helps people to feel great. But how do you put your education into practice? What steps do you need to take now that you’re out of school and in the workforce? How do you get clients in the door (and keep them coming back)? Pacific College is here to help you flourish even after you leave our campus. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Set up your website. Think of your website as the first sign that you’re opening shop. It should be created before you ever open your doors. A website will lend you credibility. A prospective patient browsing your website has the opportunity to get a feel for who you are before they even meet you in person. The quality of your website can make the difference between a “just looking” patient and a getting an appointment. Having a website provides you with the space that a brochure, business card, or a newspaper ad cannot. When people are shopping for a practitioner online, the more information they can access about you and how you practice, the better. We’ve talked about this a bit before here, in our article “12 Reasons You Need a Website” The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) provides free websites for diplomats at http://www.nccaomdiplomates.com/
Talk the talk. Self-promotion is not something that comes naturally to most of us. But it’s time to set aside any reservations you have about talking the talk. It’s not bragging, it’s advocating. And if you don’t promote yourself, how can you expect it of others? You don’t have to shout your name from the rooftops to get attention, but you do need to get creative. David Fireside, Owner of Urban Decompression a massage studio in Chicago, has an interesting suggestion. Fireside says, “When someone asks you what you do for a living, don’t reply ‘I am a massage therapist’, tell them you are a ‘relaxation specialist’ or you ‘facilitate the healing of soft tissue injuries’ or ‘help people deal with chronic pain’.” The key, says Fireside, is to say something about massage therapy and your skill that will engage the other person in a conversation.
There are two halves to the equation: you must get out there and meet people, but you must also be memorable when you do. The Massamio Blog has some great advice on getting creative when it comes on places to meet your potential clients, “Get involved with groups where your target market is hanging out. Is your ideal client a well-to-do stay at home mom? Where’s that mommy hanging out? At the salon, the library, neighborhood cleanup day, the gym, 5K walk/runs? Yes, there’s always joining the chamber of commerce, but we know you can get more creative than that!” Wherever you make your connections, make sure you always leave the potential client with something to remember you by: your business card. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) advises, “Always be prepared with your business cards and a 30-second “elevator speech” regarding the benefits of massage therapy.” The same goes for acupuncturists. A business card is imperative for getting your information out there in an effective and professional manner. If you’re a massage therapist, you can build your credibility and become a member of the various massage organizations for support, CEU information, and advice on opening your practice. Many even offer members the use of their logos and other images to put on your business card.
OM in the news this week. Check it out!
As we learned last week from Pacific College Alumnus Justin Penoyer, LAC, there are several questions to ask yourself before investing in an herbal pharmacy. (5 Questions to Ask Before Investing in an Herbal Pharmacy) One of the questions was, which type(s) of herbs would you stock?
Justin chooses to stock primarily granules because they are effective, take up less space, and have less variability when it comes to patients preparing them correctly. After all, the patient just simply has to measure the correct number of scoops and add hot water! However, each form of herb has its own advantages and disadvantages; check it out:
Advantages: Traditional and customizable, some argue that raw herbs are more potent, though this is a matter of opinion.
Disadvantages:Large space requirement, spoil easily, take time to fill, bulky and inconvenient for patients, required cooking at home = low patient compliance (a decoction machine can help with compliance).
Advantages: Needs little space, lowest cost, easy to take.
Disadvantages: Therapeutically weak, cannot be customized, and most difficult to digest.
Advantages: Less space requirements than granules and raw herbs, easy to digest, more shelf stable compared to raw and granule.
Disadvantages: Very limited ability to customize, some patients cannot take alcohol based tinctures, and glycerine tinctures spoil easily.
Advantages: Require little space compared to raw herbs, customizable, simple to assemble (large grained granules like Legendary Herbs), decent shelf life, consistent product and potency.
Disadvantages: Requires ventilation for assembly, powdery granules are difficult to work with.
Liniments, Patches, and Plasters
Advantages: Pre-made topicals can be useful to have for skin conditions and injuries, can be given to patients to take home and use when needed.
Disadvantages: Many patches have undesirable ingredients such as petroleum derivatives. Liniments and plasters range from weak to effective depending on the brand.
See Justin’s Q & A video here and visit Justin at his websites: www.JustinPenoyer.com and www.SuWuHerbs.com
Passionate about traditional East Asian medicine (TEAM)? Check out Pacific College Academic Dean Bob Damone’s new blog! Explore the history, philosophical bases, theories, practices, and evolution of TEAM.
Why start this blog?
Bob says: This past week, I quietly celebrated 19 years as a member of the Pacific College community. My first 15 years were primarily devoted to teaching, clinical practice, and curriculum design and revision. During those years, I enjoyed daily contact with students and faculty colleagues. I personally benefited from and am very grateful for the many years of academic and clinical exchange. During the past 4-5 years, with my expanding responsibilities as Academic Dean, I have had much less time to do those things, and although I enjoy my current role immensely, quite frankly some days I miss being “in the trenches.”
Recently, it occurred to me that blogging might allow me an opportunity to share some of that contact and exchange through the use of e-communication. I look forward to the e-conversations we can have about some of the core issues and values of traditional East Asian medicine. After all, it is these themes that attracted many of us to this field in the first place!
1. Log in to Campus Cruiser (you must have a Campus Cruiser account to access the blog)
2. Click the Campus tab:
3. Click the Blogs link in the Around Campus channel:
4. You will see a list of recent blog entries:
Let us know what you think!
Oriental medicine (OM) has a unique perspective on high blood pressure. In OM, it is believed that the body desires balance. A healthy body is our natural state and any illness or health issue is attributed to something in the body being out of balance. Oriental medicine strives to bring each patient back into balance in order to achieve health. High blood pressure can be deadly if not managed, but a more positive outlook is that high blood pressure is a warning sign that something in a person’s lifestyle needs to change.
In a recent Morbidity and Mortality Report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it’s cited that nearly 1 in 3 Americans suffer from high blood pressure—and more than half don’t have it under control. Perhaps what’s more surprising is that most people with uncontrolled blood pressure are aware of it but their status remains the same. The CDC reported that the majority of people who were studied with high blood pressure (HBP) had actually seen their doctor twice over the past year, yet their condition remained unmanaged.
High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. A healthy blood pressure reading is usually somewhere around 120/80 mm Hg. Also known as hypertension, blood pressure translates simply to the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure stays high or rises over time, it can cause damage to organs. High blood pressure is also an indicator that a person has a high risk for heart disease, stroke, or heart attacks.
Women, in particular, should pay close attention to moderating blood pressure, as heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the United States. According to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, hypertensive people are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease than people with normal pressure. That is huge! The silver lining of these morbid statistics is that a patient’s blood pressure is something within the patient’s control.
The exact cause of hypertension is unknown, but there are several factors that contribute to high blood pressure. The first is stress. Diet, genetics, age, and lifestyle choices like smoking or how much exercise someone gets are also key players. The first steps to lowering blood pressure involve managing these factors. Be kind to yourself. Take time out from stressful situations, even if it’s just for five minutes of solitude or quiet time. The times of stress when it seems most impossible to take a minute to yourself are exactly the times when it’s most necessary that you do so. Invest in your health by putting yourself first.
OM in the news this week! Check it out!