Peaceful Mountain Acupuncture

A weekly blog about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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Location: Rio Rancho, New Mexico, United States

This blog is going to be, primarily a venue for me to express my thoughts about Life and the complexities of the physical plane. My story is simple, I am an easy going individual and a moderate recluse. I am comfortable walking or sitting, talking or being silent. I am always seeking new friends and acquaintenances. I tend to look deeply and question myself about the lesson behind the experience. If you like what you read, please leave me a note, if you have a blog please leave me a link so I can read your writing as well. Thanks

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Powerful Seeds

A few months ago I wrote about using 'auricular medicine' or ear seeds to treat some of the patients I am honored to serve. It has been interesting, sometimes these seed work extremely well, sometimes they do not seem to have a direct effect. I suspect that when there are not obvious results one out of two things has happened. Either I mis-locacted the seed (imagine close to 200 points on each ear, if you are off by "just a little bit" it is like you are choosing another point entirely), or the results are more subtle than we are looking. That was not the case last week.

I am treating a 52 y.o. woman for the complications from uterine fibroids. Her fibroids are approximately the size of a four-month-old fetus. She is going to have a complete hysterectomy and I do think that is a good choice considering how the fibroids are growing so rapidly. In the last six months they have grown from the size of few pea's. Whenever anyone is having a growth of that size it has to be addressed, and surgery might be the best choice.

Anyway, from a TCM perspective fibroids are one manifestation of blood stasis. The treatment then is to "Invigorate the Blood and Resolve the Stasis." Because she is scheduled for surgery I am not giving her herbs at this time. I used acupuncture and the ear seeds.

Even though she is 52 she is still having a reular menstrual cycle (I will write more about this increasingly frequent phenomenon in a future blog). Two days later her period started, it was EXTREMELY HEAVY, to the point she was concerned about it. After four days of that she felt that the change/cause of this was the ear seeds. She removed them and within four hours her period had stopped.

The point that I had the seed on was the 'uterus point.' I believe that the seed had activated the energy affecting her uterus and was "Invigorating the Blood." On a physical level she is feeling better than she has in several months. I will see her after her surgery to restore the flow of the meridians that get disrupted from the surgery.

What amazed me about this was how her cycle had changed so drastically and when she removed the seeds her period stopped in a few hours. I know that the ears are very effective but this was one of the most graphic examples I have seen.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Five-Phases: Revisited

Today in the Materia Medica class I had a rare chance to utilize five-phase theory in conversation. I guess to get there I better back up a bit.

If I were as talented in computer work as my sister I would just paste in an image for you to look back at as I explain what I am talking about, but, alas I do not have that level of proficiency in the blogospere. Though I did finally get a picture up into my bio, for whatever that is worth...

Imagine a 5-pointed star within a circle. Let's start at the lower-left point of the star, which just intersects the circle at all 5 points.

This phase is "water." [I use the term phase as it implies change, impermanence, mutability, others use the word element which in my perception implies static and non-changing. These are always changing and evolving, just like us..] Anyway back to water. There are many things about water that are unique. But at this level of discussion I will only be addressing the "generation" or "creation" or "Sheng" cycle. It is said that water genertates Wood. Ok, water helps nourish wood so it can grow. Move up the CIRCLE to the upper left point of the star.

Wood is said to generate (all those same descriptive words) Fire. Wood burns and fuels fire. Move to the top of the CIRCLE.

Fire is said to generate Earth, the ashes of a fire are like earth; soft and compactable. Move along the CIRCLE to the upper right point of the star.

Earth is said to generate metal. Metal ore in the ground, silver, copper, gold. Move along the circle to the lower right point.

Metal is said to generate water. Ok, now even I will admit this takes a leap of faith, until you think that near these underground veins of ore there are commonly underground rivers, and if you live somewhere other than the Sonoran desert and you leave steel out over night water will condense on it. So metal generates water.

Now that is the Sheng or creating cycle of energy within your body as well as the energetic dynamics in our universe. But if there is not some way to control this it can spin out of control. So we will look at a conrolling, or restraining cycle.

This is the five pointed star within the circle.
Water controls Fire as it can cool it.
Fire controls Metal as it can melt it.
Metal controls Wood as it can cut it.
Wood controls Earth as it can penetrate it. (Think of the roots of a tree penetrating into the earth to stop erosion.)
Earth controls Water as it can absorb or contain it. (Think of river banks or an earthen dam.)

There is also one other aspect of this to be aware of. In the generating cycle it is said that Fire is the Child of Wood, and Earth is the Child of Fire, but the Grandchild of Wood. This is also a way to look at and talk about the controlling cycle I just described. It is understood that the Grandparents have a lot of influence and therefore control over the grandchildren. This is because the parents are out of the house earning a living and the grandparents are the live-in daycare providers. If the grandchildren speak back to the grandparents it is called an insult. In TCM the "insulting cycle" is the reverse of the controlling cycle and it is not a good thing to see. It is not that good of a thing to see in family dynamics either, but that is a different version of this same story.

So back to my class today and how I utilized this theory in a conversation, or more accurately a confrontation.

Remember how I wrote about last weeks quiz and the pass/fail rate? Today was the first class after that and I knew it would be interesting. I was correct.

One of the students is, in my opinion, a wood type personality. She definitely wants to control everything she can and when it does not work that way, she can get very angry. So today she was explaining to me how the quiz was not indicative of her level of knowledge or ability. I listened to her points and conceded where she was correct and where I needed to change how I "weighted" the score on certain parts of my test.

But it did not stop there. I stayed calm and tried to not react to her repeated points. But at one point I looked at her and told her, "I hear you, but this is how the tests are and YOU ARE NOT GOING TO RUN THIS CLASS!"

What I was doing, as I later reflected on it, was using metal to cut into her wood energy to dissipate it. I know from previous experience that if I let her, or anyone else for that matter, take over they will squawk and complain over the least little thing. I was not going to let that happen. So, take out the axe and cut down the tree. Very simple, in the scope of things it was not very aggressive, but it was effective.

After class I had at least 6 of the nine students come up and apologize and tell me that the test was fair and comprehensive. During my clinic shift the one student I am referring to came up and apologized. So I am thinking that she may never have ran into effective boundaries established from a metal-controlling-wood perspective.

But at least it worked and we can get ready for next weeks quiz. I would be willing to bet that everyone does much better this time...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Well, that wasn't what I expected

As I have mentioned I am teaching the single herb, or materia medica class this quarter. This is the first of three quarter's of single herbs before they start at least another complete year of herbal formula's and strategies.

Chinese herbolgy is quite intricate and complex. Not only do we have to know the function of each herb, its 'properties' (hot, cold, etc) the channel (meridian) it enters into, we also have to know dosage, toxic limits, signs of overdose, herb-to-drug interactions. It is alot. Then we start to study what happens when you mix the herbs in a formula. How does the addition or subtraction of one herb change a formula's function. What happens when you have 15 herbs in one formula and you need to change two of them because of potential herb-to-drug interactions? What herbs can you substitute for the herbs you removed?

We are covering 350 single herbs over the next three quarters. It is a lot of information to injest, retain and assimilate. But if you are going to safely use herbs it is what has to be done.

So teaching the class is a challenge. I am spending at least 2-3 hours preparing for every hour of lecture time. I am very meticulous in the notes I present, the handouts I give, and as my students found out this week, in the test quesions I ask.

It was the first of five quizzes, not including the midterm and final exams. My pass/fail rate is 1/3. That is not what I expected.

I figure it will either go one out of to ways from here out. Either the students will knuckle down, study their little tails off, and "rise up to the challenge" or I will start seeing a lot of add/drop slips in my mail box at school.

The thing is I know the level of questioning was appropriate, and I also know that these are good students, smart and for the most part they apply themselves to their work.

So what happened?

I think it was a couple of things. First of all, even though I told them what was expected and what the format of the test was, from the feedback I heard they did not understand that. The other part is herbal questions are difficult and it does take a different way of looking at things. Just when they thought it was safe to enter the class room, what happens? They get me as an instructor and I push them.

As I said, it was not what I expected, and I think there will be one out of two ways it will go from here.... I will keep you informed.

BTW, what did you think of my web-page. No one ever said.... ;-(

Friday, October 06, 2006

A new Look

Last week I was talking with my sister, she runs a GREAT WEB SITE AND BLOG. Her website "" Largo Canyon is predominantly about her facilities 26 miles off the closest paved highway in the four-corners area of New Mexico. Her blog is about what it is like to live "up the canyon." She has some great stories to tell and I encouarge everyone to go visit her site, her blog and if you get really curious go visit her and her husband John. They are both great people.

Anyway, last week I was talking with Patricia and she commented that my web page used a lot of passive language and generally needed a face life.

So, I dived in. There are some amazing resources for creating web pages on the web. I surfed around for a while until I found a format I liked, then I started creating a new page. It is different than my previous page, so I had to write some, but as you guess I like that.

I am asking you to go to my web page and then come back and give me some feedback here or if you want through e-mail.

If the link above does not work go to My e-mail is

Today I noticed that one browser, mozilla, does not load the page. I am going to investigate that over the weekend. Anything else I missed.

Also, rumor has it that my comment section has been being persnickerty. I wrote myself a comment and it worked, but maybe it does not work for you. e-mail me if that is the case.

Next week I will write more.