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February 12, 2024

Year of the Wood Dragon: Astrology as a Cultural Medicine

The Lunar New Year is upon us. Starting February 10th people in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Vietnam, Korea - and across diasporic communities transcendent of drawn boundary lines - gather to eat, gift, an

The Lunar New Year is upon us. Starting February 10th people in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Vietnam, Korea – and across diasporic communities – gather to eat, gift, and set the stage for the oncoming cycle in community. This is a time to call in prosperity, abundance, and good health under a shared new moon.

Our oncoming year is the year of the Wood Dragon, which happens once every 60 years. There are 12 zodiac animals and 5 elements that layer over each other to produce 60 unique combinations of energetic predisposition. This year carries affiliation of yang, toward processing our anger, healing the liver, and the color green.

As held in ancient myth, the twelve animals and their order in the Zodiac were …

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January 6, 2024

Taking Care of Our Kidneys

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During winter there is a seasonal predisposition to slowness. Needs of gentle movement and restoration reflect the time of year when yin peaks, drawing what’s nutritive in closer to claim focus.

During winter there is a seasonal predisposition to slowness. Needs of gentle movement and restoration reflect the time of year when yin peaks, drawing what’s nutritive in closer to claim focus. In Traditional Chinese Medicine winter is associated with the water element and support towards the Kidney organs. As many plants draw back their leaves and send energy into their roots, our qi descends naturally to the energetic reserves kept within the Kidneys. Powerfully, these organs are considered to be generators of our primal essence, jing, and acts as the seat of our spirit, zhi (will power). Jing and Zhi both represent a commitment to this life. While the strength of our jing provides the material basis for longer life and graceful aging, zhi is …

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December 5, 2023

Chinese Patent Medicine and Over-the-Counter Herbalism

Building Your Herbal Confidence Over Layers of Generational Practice

The phrase “Chinese patent medicine” extends to describe herbal recipes generally composed into pill or tablet form for wider accessibility and streamlined dosing when compared to more traditional raw herb decoctions. Their preparation into prepackaged prescriptions descends from formulations in ancient texts, such as the Shang Han Lun and the Jin Gui Yao Lue, time tested by generations for over 2,000 years. This historical context establishes not only the ingredient herbs, but the preparation required for single herbs before they are mended together, and the harmonizing proportions necessary to bring out the intended effects of the entire composition.

Tea pills are made starting with ground herbs mixed into a paste with a binder – water, honey, or a liquid herbal extract – then rolled or …

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October 30, 2023

Ghost Points Origins

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Point Prescriptions to Illuminate our Spooky Season

In the Northern Hemisphere, October marks the settling in of our Autumn season, and as our environment shifts – the days getting darker and nights longer – we’re also issued a shift to our daily rhythms. Across lineages and cultures people have ways of recognizing the movement into Fall times, and whether that’s through celebration of the harvest yields, a gratitude towards light’s presence despite darkness, or leaning into the “thinned veils” between the world of the living and the world of the ancestors, there is an importance around holding this turning point.

In this space, I’ll hold the responsibility by honoring and uplifting the “Ghost Points” of Chinese Medicine. Spooky in name, but largely exorcized in practice, the Ghost Points are a group …

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September 25, 2023

Loving the Lungs for Autumnal Transition

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The Lungs are a delicate organ often needing our support, and especially call in our attention in the Fall during California’s fire season and across seasons as the weather gets colder into Winter.

Moving deeper into Autumn we can support the health of our physical and emotional bodies with the elemental logic of Chinese Traditional Medicine. Through this season we depart from the Heart-centered fire of Summer to honor the element of Metal, and the organs of the Lungs and Large Intestines which filter and purge. We have lived through annual peaks in Yang energy and start to distill the lessons we’ve lived through, deciding what is most necessary to carry forward. Energetically, Lungs process through the emotion of grief so the seasonal contraction truly is a gentle nudge towards inwardness, retrospection and release.

The Lungs are a delicate organ often needing our support, and especially call in our attention in the Fall during California’s fire season and across …

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July 25, 2023

Best Ways to Incorporate Microneedling Into Your Acupuncture Practice

Acupuncturists are in the unique position of providing a modern aesthetic procedure that actually improves their patient’s internal health.

If you’ve ever considered adding microneedling to your acupuncture practice, know that there is much to learn about this effective, lucrative and popular modality. There are a growing number of acupuncturists utilizing microneedling to help their patients look and feel their best. It’s understandable to want to dive right in and offer this specialty to your patients, but taking the time to understand the right tools and approaches to make it the most effective will mean your patients will experience better and more lasting results. And that in turn will lead to more referrals, and an increased income and reputation.

What is Microneedling?

There are three distinct ways of answering that question – from a Western, Eastern, and Integrative perspective.

From a Western perspective: microneedling uses …

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July 10, 2023

Plastic-Free July at AIMC Berkeley

Head to our beaches this summer and you face a stark reminder of today’s plastics crisis as you squish through the sand, increasingly composed of microplastic. As the fossil fuel industry faces growing public pressure, it is turning toward using petroleum to produce ever-more plastic instead of fuel.

Plastic and Your Health

From a Chinese medicine perspective, the jing (deep energy reserve) of the planet is being tapped and either burned, creating either excess heat/yang and warming the atmosphere, or made into plastic and chemical compounds, which can be seen as pathological yin or phlegm. Chinese medical wisdom teaches that “phlegm is the mother of a hundred diseases.”

A growing body of research links chemicals produced in …

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July 8, 2023

Staying cool with TCM-inspired foods and movement this summer

According to EAM, there are many ways you can care for your body during summer by balancing and supporting the fire element.

Summer sunshine, warmth, and longer days are finally here! In East Asian Medicine (EAM), summer is associated with the fire element, which makes sense given the warmer temperatures, longer time that the sun is out, and our overall warmer feelings in our body. Summer is also the most Yang time of the year, meaning it is the time that is most bright, active, warm (compared to winter, which is the most Yin time of year, meaning it is dark, slower, cooler). With all of this in mind, it is especially important to be taking care of our bodies in a way that keeps the fire in balance, not too much, or not too little. According to EAM, there are many ways you can care for …

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June 9, 2023

Celebrating Juneteenth and the Legacy of Dr. Tolbert Small

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Dr. Tolbert Small has made numerous other contributions to the the field of acupuncture, healthcare, racial justice, and to his community.

Dr. Tolbert Small is a hero of service and healing, as lead physician for the Black Panther Party and one of the first doctors outside of the Asian American community to practice acupuncture in the United States, and is still a practicing physician in the Bay Area. It might be possible you don’t know all of his incredible contributions to his community and the nation when you meet him at his doctor’s office. But in honor of Juneteenth, we want to take a moment to celebrate the activist, the healer, and “the People’s Doctor”, Dr. Tolbert Small.

Image Credit: Dr. Tolbert Small: The People’s Doctor website

Dr. Tolbert Small was an activist before he was a healer, and began fighting for civil rights in …

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May 17, 2023

San Fu: Treating the Winter illness during the Summer

三伏(sān fú) usually appears between Xiao Shu and Chu Shu when there is a combination of high temperature and humid in nature.

Treating Winter illness, or 冬病夏治 (dōng bìng xià zhì), during the Summer, or by using 三伏贴(sān fú tiē)

What is 冬病夏治 (dōng bìng xià zhì)?

冬 病 (dōng bìng) means illnesses that happen more often or get severe in the winter. For example, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, and Spleen & Stomach deficiency and coldness in Chinese Medicine perspective, etc. 夏治 (xià zhì) means the condition of the illness improves while the yang is rising in the summer. With the differential diagnosis, taking Chinese Medicine internally and externally can prevent the severity of the illness in the winter.

What is 三伏贴(sān fú tiē)?

三伏(sān fú) usually appears between Xiao Shu and Chu Shu when there is a combination of high temperature and humid in nature. There are 30 …

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