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.
The Pacific College community has probably noticed the illustrated Acupuncture Energy Charts hanging around the PCOM clinic. Well, did you know they were actually created by PCOM Faculty Member Michael Spatuzzi? Who says you can’t be an “artistic” healer? We love this chart and how it depicts the commonly used points and their energies via color coded shapes and symbols.
We asked Michael what inspired him to create this piece, which combines art and Oriental medicine: “I made the chart many years ago because I wanted an attractive visual aid to remember the qualities of the acupuncture points,” Spatuzzi said.
Would you like your own Acupuncture Energy Chart to hang in your acupuncture practice or even at home? Visit: www.AcupunctureChart.com for ordering info. Let us know if you love this chart too and better yet, post a picture of your own of something that artistically inspires you…
National Nutrition Month is wrapping up, but your healthy choices don’t have to! Wanting to ditch those carbs? Try substituting zucchini ribbons, instead of regular pasta noodles for your next pasta dish. In Chinese medicine, zucchini helps reduce heat in the body. It’s also a great source of fiber and protein. Check out this recipe from Yummy Supper:
- 4 large (or 6-8 small) zucchini
- 1 large or 2 small lemons, juice and zest
- 1/4 cup feta
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- Scrub lemons. Grate the zest and set aside. Slice lemon in half and remove seeds. Set aside for juicing later.
- Wash, dry and trim mint leaves and set aside.
- Wash zucchini. Cut off the stem and base ends. Using a mandolin, or simple vegetable peeler, cut thin strips - ribbons - of zucchini. Slice 3 or 4 strips on a side, and then rotate the zucchini and continue slicing. Then rotate again. Keep working your way around the zucchini until you get to the seedy middle. Discard the core.
- Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, though not smoking, add 1/3 to 1/2 of the zucchini ribbons. Toss to coat with olive oil. Add a pinch or two of sea salt. Cover the pan for a minute or so allowing the zucchini to steam a bit. Uncover and continue to saute until tender and just cooked through - al dente. If sliced thin, the zucchini really only needs a few minutes to cook. Give a generous squeeze of lemon juice to the cooked zucchini so that the citrus can blend with the warm oil. Set aside the cooked veg as you continue to saute zucchini in batches until done. Don’t worry about the zucchini cooling down, this dish should be served warm or even room-temp.
- Heap zucchini ribbons onto individual plates. Sprinkle with finely crumbled feta, lemon zest, and mint leaves. Add a little more sea salt if desired, though this usually isn’t necessary with the salty feta and flavorful lemon juice.
Let us know what you think and check out more healthy substitutes here!
Some of you may have seen Seymore Bones in your classes or hanging around the Pacific College San Diego campus. We are honored that Seymore Bones has chosen PCOM as his residence for the afterlife. After studying under the Yellow Emperor himself, Seymore certainly had his pick of top educational facilities to spend his eternal sabbatical.
Seymore is an ancient Chinese master who has dedicated his life (and afterlife) to preserving Chinese medicine. He is an incredible asset to us, and we are ecstatic about his choice of residence with us in sunny Sany Diego.
As he tells it, when he first saw our herb room and acupuncture charts, and the excitement of our students and faculty practicing there, something really popped into place.
“These people have the same mission I do! I’ve found where I am supposed to stay,” says Bones.
Seymore has pledged to help PCOM students learn about Oriental medicine and discover the long lasting benefits to these ancient techniques. We encourage you to give him a shout-out whenever you might spot him around campus!
Check back and stay tuned to see more of Seymore’s adventures right here!
As an Oriental medicine student, you have a variety of career opportunities you can choose to pursue after graduation. As you begin to think about which path you’re going to take, let’s look at a few of the options. Of course, there are the popular venues: private practice, hospital setting, community-style…spa? Ok, you’re probably confused by that last one and you’re thinking: I can’t practice medicine at a spa! Au contraire, you can, and as a bonus, you’ll be introducing people to Oriental medicine who have never experienced its benefits. Sound like a rewarding opportunity?
If you’re not convinced yet, check this out:
It should come as no surprise, that even during the current recession, one market has continued to thrive: the spa market. It makes sense when you think about it; when people are stressed about life, where do they go? To the spa of course! Spas are known for their tranquil abilities to transport a stressed-out person to an island of relaxation, pampering, and overall wellbeing.
If you don’t believe us, the numbers speak for themselves: In 2011 alone, there were 156 million spa visits in the U.S., an increase of 4.1 percent compared to 2010, which was a 4.7 percent increase compared to 2009, according to the International Spa Association. It’s clear that Americans are not cutting down on their spa days.
In evaluating this data, how exactly does Oriental medicine (OM) fit itself into the rising demand for the Western “spa” atmosphere? The answer is simple: Transformation. This does not mean altering the medicine itself in any way, but rather, evolving the presentation of the medicine to fit the spa mold. Eventually, as a direct result of this small change, the spa itself will become transformed as well.
So, what does this transformation look like? Pacific College Alumna Jenelle Kim, LAc, MSTOM, shared her spa transformation experience with us.
Kim is co-founder and formulator of Jadience Herbal Formulas and the Jade Spa Collection. The evolution of her skin and body care products has been a journey. Kim described the transformation that the products had to undergo, before entering the Western spa world, as “forming a bridge” between East and West.
Forming a bridge isn’t something that comes naturally. The ability to integrate herbal formulas into a Western spa setting involves a different way of thinking for most practitioners of Oriental medicine.
As Kim explained: “In the beginning, if we were to try to bring these formulas to the Ritz Carlton, and here they are: yellow, sticky, smells like herbs, well of course, we think ‘this is amazing,’ but it’s hard to try to convince people of this.”
It was Kim’s desire to “break down the doors of the retail and spa industries,” she said, but it wasn’t going to happen by forcing the Jadience products onto the shelves in their natural state. The revamped Jadience line is now promoted in high-end spas including resorts like Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons.
OM in the news this week. Check it out!
Healthy Substitution of the Week! Get a load of these fiber rich black bean brownies (you’d never guess they were made with black beans and coconut oil instead of butter and eggs). Oriental medicine teaches that black beans are a warming food that help with lower back pain, infertility, and more. Black beans, along with coconut oil are also great for you heart. All you need is brownie mix (we chose Trader Joe’s yummy Truffle Brownie Mix), 1 can of black beans, and coconut oil.
- Rinse and drain 1 can of black beans. Puree the black beans in a food processor (a blender also works). You may want to add a little bit of water to make the pureeing easier.
- Mix the black bean puree with 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil, and brownie mix.
- Follow the baking instructions on your brownie mix. We baked our brownies for 25 minutes on 350 degrees.
- Let cool, and enjoy a surprisingly healthy treat :)
Check out our Healthy Substitution Infographic for more ideas and check back next week for our next special healthy substitution recipe!
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