5 Awesome Apps for Acupuncturists, Bodyworkers & Herbalists

For each patient there are many dimensions and parameters to consider as a holistic healer. On the one hand, L.Acs, Dipl. OMs and ABTs are taught  ancient diagnostic philosophies for identifying syndrome patterns (yin/ yang deficiency, liver qi stagnation, spleen qi deficiency, etc.). By scrutinizing the patient’s tongue and pulse, acupuncturists are afforded a plethora of biological information that can direct herbal prescriptions and enhance acupuncture protocols, without even vocalizing or subjecting a patient to inquiry. Yet, as we integrate Eastern and Western medicine, it becomes necessary to have the ability to easily read laboratory tests, remember point locations, herbal indications, and so on. It is a lot to ask of one human’s brain!

Thankfully we have our handy phones and tablets. The following apps have been absolutely pivotal to maintaining a good understanding of all the variables affecting my patient. Enjoy~

1. A Manual of Acupuncture

This is an amazing app that is essential for any acupuncturist or student of acupuncture. It is clean and well organized. The diagrams are very informative, and if you’re a fan of the book, then you’ll be pleased with the digitization.  The video examples are extremely informative, too. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this one.

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/a-manual-of-acupuncture/id472969769?mt=8

 

2. Eastland Herb – Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Formulas & Strategies. By Dan Bensky et al.

This app is a fantastic addition to any TCM herbalist’s arsenal. Every digital entry of the herbal specimens mirror the physical book’s information, but it is organized in such a way that makes it easily searchable, and about 20 lbs lighter! If you enjoy high quality reference material, with well integrated knowledge of both herbal singles and the popular formulae that use them, this is a great app for you. My favorite part about the literature is the well researched history of each herbs

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eastland-herb-chinese-herbal/id737380894?mt=8

 

3. AnatomyMapp

One of my favorite books for bodywork and tuina is The Trail Guide to the Body. It is incredibly informative, full of fantastic tips for understanding the body’s anatomy in a biological and holistic sense. The author worked diligently to illustrate the body in very organized segments, from the head to the toes. The muscle groups, their functions, nerve connections, insertion and origins are detailed scrupulously investigated and detailed. This app is similar to the Deadman app, as it streamlines a lot of data and makes it accessible in a clinical setting. I highly recommend it.

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/anatomymapp/id510119487?mt=8

4. LabGear

LabGear is an app that makes the effective herbalist much more powerful and ensures a greater level of security and care for the patient. As we all know, herbs are filled with biochemicals that are often used as the basis for prescription medicine and pharmaceuticals. When herbs and drugs are combined, many interactions can occur, and without proper administration, the health of a patient can be affected. With LabGear, an herbalist can easily read and understand the CBCs, hormone panels, liver panels and so on. Combined with Eastland herb’s app, and its biochemical information,  you’ll be ensuring a better practice for both you and your clients.

 

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/labgear-medical-lab-tests/id350942163?mt=8

5. Essential Anatomy 5

While BodyMapp and A Manual of Acupuncture offer excellent 2-dimensional resources for point location, Essential Anatomy 5 presents a 3-dimensional perspective, which affords both practitioner and patient the ability to perceive what tissues, vascularization, tendons, nerves are being pierced of manipulated. When a patient can literally see the pathway of nerves, lymph and blood, it becomes easier to explain concepts of Qi Stagnation, Blood stagnation and how pain along particular meridians manifests. Moreso, it enhances our understanding of a body’s holistic interconnectivity. A great addition to your app arsenal.

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/essential-anatomy-5/id596684220?mt=8

 

I hope these apps help you as much as they have helped me in my practice. I will continue to search and document useful tools for your knowledge. It takes a lot of resources to maintain the overwhelming about of medical data that exists presently. By expanding our toolkit, we ensure the best for our patients.

 

 

 

Tuina Techniques

Have you heard about Tuina? Tuina loosely translates to “push grab,” and it is an ancient form of bodywork that is still practiced today in China. Now it is rising in popularity in the United States & Europe. I was introduced to tuina when I began studying at integrative medicine many years ago, at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. I took courses on Tuina and even completed a thorough internship focused on tuina therapy. When I combine tuina with cupping, guasha and medical Qi gong, the pain experienced by clients seems to melt away. Tuina is a wonderful treatment for people who have a fear of acupuncture. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Tuina has specific techniques such as:

  • Yizhichan Tui – working with one thumb
  • Na – grasping 
  • An – pressing with the finger or palm
  • Mo – rubbing with the palm
  • Rou – kneading 
  • DiAn – acupressure with the knuckles
  • Gun – rolling 
  • Zhen – vibration
  • Cuo – foulage (twisting)
  • Mo – wiping
  • Tina – lifting and grasping
  • AnRou – pressing or kneading
  • Boyun – kneading with the forearm
  • Ji – striking 
  • Pai – patting
  • Dou – shaking
  • Yao – rotating 
  • Ban – pulling/ stretching joints
  • Bashen – pulling and extending for traction

This list of techniques was sourced from Dr. Xiangcai Xu’s book “Chinese Tui Na Massage: The Essential Guide to Treating Injuries, Improving Health and Balancing Qi”. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tuina has helped me in my own recovery, too. I was experiencing a lot of pain in my hip, lower back and neck since a hip & shoulder injury I endured a few years ago. I’ve received treatments of all sorts, but mostly Tuina & Acupuncture. Combined and with self applied techniques I’ve learned, my body is pain free and more flexible. 

Chinese massage therapy (referred to as tuina) is commonly defined as the ancient healing art of fingers and strength [24]. Tuina has been practiced in China for over 5000 years [25]. It is a well-respected treatment modality known to be helpful and safe for a wide range of conditions. For these reasons, it is rapidly gaining international favor [26]. Tuina involves a wide range of technical manipulations conducted by a practitioner’s finger, hand, elbow, knee, or foot applied to muscle or soft tissue at specific body locations. It incorporates many of the principles of acupuncture including the use of acupoints. For instance, tuina often uses manual techniques such as pushing, rubbing, kneading, or high-intensity, high-frequency patting to clear energy blocks along specific meridians associated with particular conditions —http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4228121/

Check out that research article above to learn more about how research is being conducted on Tuina’s effect on lower back pain. It looks like very promising data will manifest. I’ve seen wonderful transformations of patient’s posture and health. I personally think all you need is a single treatment to become a fan of Tuina. 

If you’re in Austin, Texas, feel free to book an appointment. If you’re far away, we can do a call and I can show you how to treat yourself with acupressure and tuina! I think you’ll really enjoy this amazing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Patient Enrollment

Attention:

Please Fill Out the In-Take Form

Please fill out these online intake forms via Noterro. This will save a lot of time, and it will improve your treatment!

Thank you.


Treatments are performed with clinical expectations and parameters, but eclectic diagnostics like pulse and tongue observation are used to generate treatment plans. The treatment is tailored toward the individual, and is not a routine. I work with you, and we make a plan together to achieve true healing. You are encouraged to bring any relevant medical results (i.e. x-rays, lab results, etc.).

If you are curious about the healing techniques,  read more about them by clicking here.

Things New Patients Should Know

  • New patients are asked to fill out in-take forms regarding the chief complaint & the history of their health.
  • Treatments are done one-on-one, though if the patient desires a relative or friend be present, that is acceptable.
  • Treatments can be booked by calling or texting 512-216-4325.
  • Many of the techniques require direct access to skin, so patients are asked to wear loose clothing, or outfits that are easy to change out of, so that a clinic gown can be worn. [Note: This is completely at the discretion of the patient, and I will gladly respect your style and adapt the treatment to your clothing choices. No changing is required.]
  • Acupuncture, Cupping and Guasha can produce hematoma (bruising) and petechiae, which manifests as a redness on the skin’s surface. These marks go away quickly and are indicative of inflammation held in the fascia and muscles. If you’ve ever got questions about these marks, please contact me.
  • If you are needle sensitive, we won’t have to use needles. We can use acupressure and other techniques.
  • Insurance is not accepted.
  • A single treatment can be very effective, but in order to completely resolve an issue, more treatments are possibly necessary.
  • Intake Form

Some questions can only be answered by experiencing a treatment. Call 512-216-4325 or visit the online booking page to schedule a free phone consultation or your first treatment.

What are some of my techniques?

What are some of my techniques?

TUI NA

Tui na  is an ancient technique defined by strong and precise pressuring & manipulation of specific tissues and points, which regulate the harmonious flow of qi in every body.  Combining knowledge of modern anatomy with Traditional Chinese Medicine, careful stimulation of specific acupuncture meridians are assessed and focused upon throughout the treatment. The entire body typically achieves complete relaxation, as the individuated treatment relieves aches, soothes nerves, and promotes detoxification in the brain, heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys and liver.  It provides great relief to overworked muscles and sore joints.

GUA SHA

Gua Sha is a powerful technique for releasing wind-bi from the muscles, purging inflammation and moving stagnant qi from sore spots like the shoulders and neck. The muscles in our body can build up and retain inflammatory substances that perpetuate chronic irritation. Gua Sha breaks apart the densely knotted muscular tissue and vents the blood, promoting relief while dispersing excessive body heat. Oil and a metal / horn tool are used to dredge the microfibers of muscle, which provoke a colorful response from the skin. The marks typically remain for no longer than one month.

CUPPING

Cupping uses glass or plastic cups to create vacuums on the flesh. This pressure helps draw out stagnant blood from muscles, which can build up due to tension and poor posture. Regulating the flow of blood and qi through cupping can improve energy, motivate circulation and reduce pain. The result often looks like a crimson moon has been stamped onto the skin. Marks typically disappear within one month or sooner.

Enkephalin, the Acupuncturist’s Opioid

Have you ever heard of an endogenous opioid peptide? It certainly is a mouthful. I had no clue what it was until I was first introduced to the term Enkephalin in an anatomy audiobook from Audible. The lecturer was listing off advances in peptide research. Then I read about enkephalin in Kiiko Matsumoto & Steven Birch’s book Reflections on the Sea. They mentioned that notable studies were correlating an increase of enkephalin with patients receiving acupuncture treatments. I found this to be so fascinating that I wanted to know more distinctly what enkephalin looks like and how it operates.

A few facts about enkephalin / endogenous opioids:

  • It is a pentapeptide. This means it has five amino acids (Tyr, Gly, Gly, Phe, Met).
  • It is an opioid peptide. These are short chains of amino acids that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. The activation of these receptors inspire the similar responses as an opiate like morphine would.
  • “Brain opioid peptide systems are known to play an important role in motivation, emotion, attachment behaviour, the response to stress and pain, and the control of food intake.”—Wiki
  • Its “brother & sister” peptides are endorphins and dynorphins. Pain and our mood do seem to wax and wane together, don’t they?

Picture of enkephalin structure below

Biochemistry has done a great job of exploring the mechanisms of these endogenous peptides, but I wondered more about how acupuncture could elicit or provoke the release of enkephalin. I scavenged research such as the following articles / books:

Acupuncture Therapy for Neurological Diseases: A Neurobiological View 

This book compiled many different research experiments and compared the literature & statistics. It seemed like the actual points, depth of insertion and intensity of manipulation were not scrutinized exceptionally. They had methodologies that compared chemical profiles of animals, before & after acupuncture. I found the following excerpt to be very informative:

“It has been well documented that opioid receptors play a crucial role in many of the effects induced by manual acupuncture/ EA. The simplest and strongest evidence is that many of the acupuncture effects can be eliminated or attenuated by the opioid receptor antagonists.” — Xie et al. 1985, 1989; Zhao et al. 2002; Tian et al. 2008a, 2008b.

Substances like Naloxone are opioid receptor antagonists. This substance blocks the effects of opioids by shielding or de-activating the receptor. Naloxone is widely used as a remedy for opioid overdosing, and is being sold over the counter in many states now to combat the drug epidemic in America.

Check out the similarities between Enkephalin and Morphine

Morphine itself also comes from older medicinal traditions, namely Herbalism. The herb Ying Su Ke (Poppy husk) has been used within the Chinese herbal pharmacopeia for a long time. The actual opium war was not due to Ying su Ke, but rather British imports and imperialist trading habits that inundated China with strong opium (though it was nothing compared to modern pharmaceutic productions). That caused all sorts of trouble, and I wager we’re seeing history repeat itself presently in the context of America’s opioid crisis. Acupuncture could be the key to positive change in the healthcare of our country, by circumventing the need for chemicals to relieve patients of their suffering.

Acupuncture is widely used in drug detoxification and for suppression of symptoms of addiction. Associations like NADA—National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, certify healthcare providers of all realms to perform an auricular protocol that was developed for meth and heroin addicts. It might be anticipated that the activation and proliferation of endogenous opioids helps to level out the body’s cravings for chemical stimuli. I am starting to see how acupuncture can be good for both pain relief, as well as reducing stress of those recovering from addiction and withdrawal.

Unfortunately, it seems if a person is taking Naloxone while receiving acupuncture, the pain relief effects are greatly diminished. Enkephalin relies on the availability of opioid receptors, though one might wonder if the body still accumulates the peptides, and if they can be absorbed after Naloxone is excreted. The following research on mice could help explain:

Electroacupuncture in awake mice produced analgesia to noxious heat stimuli causing a 54% increase in latency to squeak. Subcutaneous naloxone completely abolished this acupuncture analgesia implicating endorphin. Naloxone injections in control mice caused a 17% hyperalgesia suggesting that “normal” mice also release endorphin. These results imply that endorphin is released at a low basal rate in “normal” mice, and at a much higher rate during acupuncture.

Naloxone blockade of acupuncture analgesia: Endorphin implicated
Bruce Pomeranz, Daryl Chiu

There is a ton of research regarding this subject, and it is very promising to see biochemistry helping to bridge the gap of efficacy and understanding within the realm of Acupuncture. And, in spite of Naloxone, I believe there are many other vectors and mechanisms of acupuncture that can relieve pain and improve bodily function (check out this article to learn more about that). So, even those with Naloxone prescriptions could find it beneficial to some degree, especially if they are seeking to diminish all chemical consumption.

Enkephalin is definitely a key player in understanding acupuncture and, really, the way pain works in response to stress and other deleterious effects of living on this planet. I will continue to explore how peptides, neurotransmitters and other chemicals promote amelioration in the body. Stay tuned, and maybe schedule an appointment so we can get some enkephalin brewing in your body!