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The ASA Conference in Washington, D.C. — May 31st to June 3rd
We are most excited to share with you the events of the Inaugural Conference of the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held in Washington, D.C. last month. Asian Medicine Acupuncturists of Arizona (AMAAZ) nominated Della Estrada, LAc and Lloyd G. Wright, LAc to represent our Arizona community. The groundbreaking event opened with an organizational meeting on day one followed by a national conference on the second and third days.  On the fourth and final day, 250 AOM practitioners had appointments at the Capitol where they lobbied congressional representatives.  Della and Lloyd were joined by AMAAZ member Jason Caldwell, LAc who travelled to D.C. to support the profession and his AOM colleagues.

Over the last three years, the Council of State Associations (CSA) has been involved in the formation of the American Society of Acupuncturists in order to more effectively lobby for the profession at the national level.  ASA is comprised of state associations and is dedicated to assisting and strengthening each state member.  For more information about the vital work being doing by the national organization, visit the ASA website at http://www.asacu.org/.

Approximately seventy representatives from about 30 states gathered together on the first day of the conference for introductions, discussion of general Association business, and to welcome ASDC, from Washington, D.C., and our own AMAAZ from Arizona, as the newest ASA voting members.  Collectively, the Washington assembly represented approximately 4,400 of our nation’s acupuncturists, admirable progress towards ASA’s target goal of representing 51% of licensed acupuncture professionals nationwide.  Once the Association can demonstrate representation for a majority of the approximately 38,000 licensed AOM professionals now working in the U.S., ASA will earn a seat at the negotiating table for discussions that will shape the future of Medicare, CPT coding, and Veterans’ healthcare.  If you have not already shown your support for our profession by becoming a member of AMAAZ, we ask for your help in realizing this goal.  

The conference featured inspiring speakers, among them a number of medical doctors who urged greater unity among AOM professionals.  Presenters included:
  • Leonard A. Wisneski, MD, FACP Chair, Board of Directors, Integrative Health Policy Consortium
  • Juli Olson, DC, LAc, Veteran's Administration
  • Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, MD, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) DVCIPM, Dept. of Defense
  • Ellen Hamilton Legislative Aide, Office of California Congresswoman Judy Chu
  • Remy Coeytaux, MD, PhD, Dir. of Integrative Medicine Wake Forest School of Medicine, Treasurer Society for Acupuncture Research
  • Lisa Conboy, ScD, Instructor, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School & Research Director, New England School of Acupuncture
  • Yong Ming Li, PhD, MD, Dipl. OM, Director, The American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety (AAPAS)
On the last day in Washington, the assembly voted for passage of the H.R.1182 bill which mandates acupuncture services provided by licensed acupuncturists in every VA hospital in the U.S. The AMAAZ team of Della, Lloyd, and Jason concluded their trip by visiting the offices of Senators McSally and Sinema and Representatives Biggs, Schweikert, and Kirkpatrick.  As the long and fruitful weekend finally came to a close, all of the attendees shared a sense of accomplishment and optimism about the prospective for major legislative changes favoring acupuncture and the imminent dawn of a new era when high quality AOM care will finally be available to all Americans.

— Lloyd G. Wright, L.Ac. and Della Estrada, L.Ac.
Congratulations to AMAAZ for being approved by the ASA Council to become a full ASA voting member!  Since our ASA Conference, we are already seeing results.  With our Legislative Advocacy Day on Monday, we were able to bring in 2 additional co-sponsors for the Acupuncture for Our Heroes Act (HR 1182) and 8 additional co-sponsors for the Compounding Bill (HR 1959).  This is immense and we're just beginning!

—LiMing Tseng, LicAc, Dipl OM (NCCAOM)
Secretary, American Society of Acupuncturists
ASA NEWS

AMAAZ Holds Inaugural State Meeting
Over 70 licensed AOM professionals attended Asian Medicine Acupuncturists of Arizona’s statewide meeting on Sunday, June 9th, at the impressive SCNM campus in Tempe.  The full house listened eagerly as speakers presented a jam-packed agenda that included a review of the accomplishments of the organization since AMAAZ began 6 months ago and a glimpse of exciting future projects and events.  Y.M. Chen, L.Ac., AMAAZ president, kicked off the program with a look back at this year’s Chinese New Year’s Banquet, Acupuncture Clinic Day, and the popular Korean Constitutional Acupuncture workshops in Phoenix and Tucson. 

As a new state member of the American Society of Acupuncturists—the premier AOM organization in the U.S.—Asian Medicine Acupuncturists of Arizona sent Lloyd Wright, L.Ac. AMAAZ Vice-President, and Della Estrada, L.Ac. a seasoned veteran of state politics and a member of the AMAAZ Board of Directors, to Washington, D.C. to represent Arizona.  The representatives spoke to an enthralled gathering of AOM professionals on Sunday about experiences at the conference and all of the promising opportunities developing for American acupuncture.  With mainstream healthcare seeking non-opioid solutions for chronic pain, the future looks bright for AOM but, as Dr. Wright, L.Ac. and Dr. Estrada, L.Ac. repeatedly emphasized, only proactive and coordinated political action will ensure acupuncturists a position on the integrated medical team of tomorrow.

Attendees at Sunday’s meeting also heard reports from AMAAZ committees, administrators and students from PIHMA and ASAOM, and experts on recent changes in acupuncture laws and regulations.  Of special interest was an update from the Arizona Acupuncture Board of Examiners about its intention to issue cease-and-desist orders to any individuals practicing without a license and a friendly reminder that only licensed acupuncturists are legally permitted to insert, or remove, needles.  Board member Dr. Mario Fontes, L.Ac. also spoke about the possibilities of future changes to the basic licensing format, hinting that an à la carte model may be under consideration.

After the meeting, many practitioners lingered to network, discuss the day’s topics, and exchange their ideas and opinions.  Although not everyone had the same opinion on every single issue, there was consensus that now is the time to unite together to protect and promote the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in our state.  We anticipate an even larger and more exciting event next year and cordially invite all of you to attend.
     
—Editor
 
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Acupuncture Volunteering
These days there are a number of groups that volunteer acupuncture services all over the world, and, of course, also right here in the US. For most, if not all of the practitioners who do this, the work is very rewarding and expands one's compassion and empathy.  Many acupuncturists in our own state may not be aware that two of the first volunteer organizations established their roots right here in Arizona, actually in Tucson, and were formed before 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina.

In 1998 a devastating Hurricane Mitch occurred in Central America, and, as a result, the Honduras Healing Recovery Project was formed by Honduran-born Dr. Maria Dolores Diaz. During that time, she was relocating her long-time acupuncture practice from northern New Mexico to Tucson where the HHRP would make its home. After several training and free clinic trips to Honduras, we were asked to go to Chiapas, Mexico on the southernmost border with Guatemala after Hurricane Stan (2005) caused its terrible destruction in that region. At that point, the name of the organization was changed to Acupuncture International Brigade. The AIB is still affiliated with the Sexto Sol Center for Community Action in Motozintla, Chiapas. Over time, the organization also gave trainings in Tucson and volunteered at various community activities such as veteran's events, health fairs, and at member's prospective states homes.

I might add that when Dr. Diaz was designing her plan, she first proposed the idea of utilizing the NADA point protocol for PTSD because of its simplicity and efficiency. She contacted NADA creator Dr. Michael Smith and discussed her thoughts with him, receiving his full support, and thus began the use of the NADA protocol as a standard treatment for PTSD. Few know this story. We later created our own ear treatment plans according to the German system and others, and, of course, we didn't just treat ears.  However, if logistics only allow for that convenience, then, yes, by all means. Sadly, Dr. Diaz passed away not long after our Chiapas trip and our last training in Tucson.

The other Tucson based volunteer organization, formed in 1994, is GUAMAP.  GUAMAP’s mission was to send volunteer acupuncturists to teach acupuncture in the Peten (north) region of Guatemala where many of the indigenous war refugees were living. Over the years, the programs have expanded in the region, and, generally twice a year, there are volunteers who go to teach.

The primary goals of both organizations has always been assisting the underserved affected populations and creating continuing self-sustaining programs in which trained locals take the leading role in maintaining the work, forming a network of medical personnel as well as indigenous healers.

Most recently, a group of four L.Ac.'s has been going to volunteer their service at the Benedictine Monastery in Tucson where many of the Central American asylum seekers get housed while in process to their destinations. Our first evening, many of these lovely and humble folks partook; most amazing were all the kids who quickly took interest and eagerly got needles, too.

Needless to say, doing volunteer work can be stressful, demand long hours, and involve work in challenging settings, but, at the end of each day, the feeling of connecting with and helping those in need is so satisfying that all of the inconveniences only add to the richness of the story.               
                       
Della Estrada, L.Ac.

 
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An original translation from the first chapter of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic:

     “In ancient times, the instruction of the sages spoke of opportunistic evils and thieving wind.  At those times when avoiding these [evils], settle [yourself] quickly in emptiness so that the true qi will arrive, essence-spirit can be preserved internally, and disease will never encroach [upon the body].  Hence, there is expression of will and moderation of desire, a tranquil heart without fear, and bodily exertion without exhaustion.  The qi flows in order, according to individual need, and all obtain that which they seek.”
 
夫上古圣人之教下也,皆谓之虚邪贼风,避之有时,恬倏虚无,真气从之,精神内守,病安从来。是以志阐而少欲,心安而不惧,形劳而不倦,气从以顺,名从其欲,皆得所愿。

—Editor
 

Insights From a Master Practitioner
Treating Ocular Diseases and Headaches
Part I
Question: Why do so many people in our society today suffer from occipital and migraine headaches?

Answer:  Occipital headache and migraine headache are often caused by head and neck injuries, chronic neck tension, emotional and physical strain, poor posture, allergies, and medications.  Decades of clinical observation and experience has also revealed that ocular tension from daily computer work, insomnia, ocular trauma, hypertension, poor diet, and compromised liver function may result in severe and frequent occipital and migraine headaches. Occipital neuralgia is a very common complaint from our patients, manifesting as unilateral or bilateral pain, with the course of the great occipital nerve often inducing occipital pain radiating to the eyes.

Question: In addition to educating our patients about how to prevent ocular diseases and tension by minimizing computer activity, avoiding the use of unnecessary medications, and making an effort to limit emotional and physical stress, what other advice can be given to patients who are predisposed to ocular conditions and headaches?

Answer:
  • Eat a good diet consisting only of warm, soft, and cooked food and drink;
  • Take step to ensure a good night’s sleep and normal waste elimination;
  • Follow a daily routine of meditation and moderate exercise;
  • Seek out healthy, face-to-face social activity, remembering that virtual socializing not only provides little or no benefit to qi but also involves excessive computer use.               
                                                                                         —Y.M. Chen, L. Ac.
Protecting Kidney Qi and Conserving Jing Essence through Yoga
Part I
Ever ponder the fate of a city without clean water reservoirs ? If not, spoiler alert—it’s not promising.  On a human scale, imagine our bodies (made of roughly 60% water as adults) without internal storage/transportation systems for water.  Survival outcomes also seem dismal here.
 
In Chinese medicine, we view the kidneys as the human equivalent to the life-sustaining reservoirs of a city.  While they do not hold the bulk of the body’s water weight, the kidneys store jing essence.  Inherited from our parents and ancestors, we consider jing to be one of the three treasures and the fountain of health and youth.  Fundamental to growth, reproduction, and  development, we recognize that jing essence plays a central role in our tolerance towards genetic/environmental factors (i.e. emotional stress and pathogens) and shapes our inherent active (yang) and resting (yin) potential.  Essence allows us to remain flexible and resilient.
 
We also realize that a person’s jing potential peaks in youth and diminishes with age and life stressors. What’s more, the ever increasing demands of modern society deplete jing reservoirs. Yang is abundant in the modern world, and as a result, our kidneys have to work harder to replenish the body’s yin (resting) state, depleting kidney qi and taxing jing essence. Illnesses related to kidney qi and jing essence exhaustion, frequently associated with adrenal and chronic fatigue, are on the rise;  the number of people with compromised immunity, impaired digestion, poor sleep habits, and difficult concentrating is also increasing.  Luckily there are ways to tonify our kidneys and support renal longevity, such as engaging in appropriate movement and exercise, to protect our jing essence.  While qigong plays an important role in TCM care, in this series we will consider yoga postures that can target the kidney meridian and encourage jing preservation.  
 
The Role of Feet in Kidney Health According to QiGong and Yoga
 
Kidney 1
Peter Deadman and Al-Khafaji state “Yongquan KI-1 is an important point in qigong practice.  Directing the mind to Yongquan KI-1, or inhaling and exhaling though this point, roots and descends the qi in the lower dan tian [roughly synonymous to the sacral chakra emphasized in the yogic tradition] and helps the body absorb the yin energy of the earth.”1 As in qigong, the feet are ascribed special significance in yogic theory;  it is believed that through the feet life-force energy can be drawn up from the earth and dispersed throughout the body. Standing poses are effective in transmitting the flow of qi, similar to prana in yogic theory, from the ground up, earth to crown. Often employed at the beginning of yoga sequences, standing poses ground the practitioner before and throughout.  

—Katie Pence

 References:

1. Deadman, Peter and Al-Khafaji, Mazin. A Manual of Acupuncture. East Sussex, England:Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2001.

2. Little, Tias. Yoga of the Subtle Body: A Guide to the Physical and Energetic Anatomy of Yoga. Boulder: Shambhala  Publications, 2016.


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