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Chinese Medicine Terminology


Fertility and Chemical Exposure

There is a lot of speculation around what a woman should or should not be exposed to while trying to get pregnant. For example, caffeine consumption, tuna fish, processed sugars, and refined flours are all to be avoided when trying to conceive, and only fresh, organic foods should be consumed (which is all true). However, did you know that your environment can also harbor several unknown hazards?

A recent article came out about a research study on fire retardant chemicals and their affect on the ability to conceive :

Researchers looked at data on 223 pregnant women participating in a study specifically studying chemical exposure and any effect on reproductive health. What they discovered was that women born outside the U.S. had lower levels of PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) in their blood than American-born women. And when the researchers looked at data on women trying to conceive a child, they found that women who tested with high levels of the flame retardant in their blood were 50% less likely to become pregnant in any given month than women with lower blood levels of the chemicals.

There is also a need to be aware of not only of which foods you consume, but the chemicals added to the foods during the packaging process. What you find may surprise you! This Times Online article discusses how chemicals used during food packaging are also linked to fertility problems:

A study of 1,240 women has found that those with higher levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in their bloodstreams tend to take longer to become pregnant than those with lower levels.

To avoid perflourinated chemicals, check out this article from the site Pollution in People. It has great tips on how to avoid these chemicals that are added to packaging in foods and other consumer products. Look for the words "fluoro” or ”perfluoro" and avoid anything with the word Teflon in the packaging.

Reading the packaging carefully, and trying to eat fresh foods made from ingredients that you either made yourself or cooked at home. Prepare your own meals and take care of your body by eating whole, fresh foods. Organic fruits and vegetables, and preparing homemade soups, stews, and sauces to have on hand is a great way to avoid frozen and prepackaged foods.

A few more articles to check out to improve your fertility and avoid toxic chemicals are: 5 top fats for fertility by Dr. Nishant Rao at, and on Natural Baby Pros, a great article from Lorne Brown- Natural Fertility: Boosting Fertility with Chinese Medicine.



Therapeutic animal massage by Rubi Sullivan

[youtube][/youtube] Last week, I attended a talk at Rose City Veterinary Clinic where Rubi Sullivan, CSAMP owner of Heal animal massage therapy discussed the benefits of massage for animals. Rubi is certified by the Northwest School of Animal massage in Washington, and works in the Portland area. She

She explained that massage can help animals heal faster after surgery or anesthesia, as the techniques she uses help with lymphatic draining. It also calms the dog and helps to 'initiate' a faster recovery time. Massage for animals affects them in a similar way it affects humans: it helps to reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and increases range of motion in arthritic joints.

Rubi  treats the animals in the comfort of their home, and while she usually treats dogs and cats, she has treated rodents as well.  The techniques used for each animal are similar in effect, but the style will vary depending on the size of the animal and their personality. Rubi contacts the veterinarian of each animal she works with be sure the dog is able to receive treatment.

You can find Rubi here:

Heal Animal Massage Therapy 503.380.4487

p.s.  If your dog enjoys massage, consider a yoga class.....



Interview with a practitioner: Dr. Igor Schwartzman

1. What brought you to Portland?

The primary reason for our move to Portland was for me to pursue my medical studies  at the National College of Natural Medicine.  I clearly remember the first time we visited Portland in March, the temperatures were in the 50’s, there was a slight drizzle, and everything was green.  My wife and I immediately fell in love with the city.

2. Why did you decide to become a naturopathic doctor?

My major influence in life that led me to become a physician was my grandmother.  The image that I have of my grandmother is a person with a tremendous amount of generosity, human compassion, and selfless service to those in need. This is the model that I strive toward on a regular basis.

Although my grandmother was a conventionally-trained medical doctor, natural medicine was considered to be the traditional medicine and that was what she practiced in our native country of Moldova.

3. Where does your passion for the medicine come from?

I distinctly remember hot-foot baths with mustard seeds, brief-sessions of herbal-infusions, paraffin-baths, hydrotherapy, and many other therapies that were part of a normal routine and medical treatment during my childhood years.  These modalities were the standard for treating colds, flus, chronic pain, and more.  As early as 12 years of age, one of my life-long dreams was to have a clinic that served many people on a daily basis that incorporated many of these modalities. This was a very positive experience in my life and I felt that I wanted to share that with others.

4. Tell me about your practice

My wife, Kendra Ward, is an acupuncturist, and we share the clinic together.  We are a family treating other families.  Our goal is to create a healthier world, one family at a time.

I work with people of all ages and stages of health and disease.  When working with people, my role is to be their coach, their mentor, their teacher, their support, and their doctor.  I have a strong interest in digestive/gastrointestinal health, autoimmune disorders, hormones, and women’s health.  I mostly see people who have chronic conditions, and generally those people have seen numerous other doctors and healthcare providers, and they are still unwell.

5. Any advice for patients, Dr. Schwartzman?

Yes, health is a journey, it is a process, and there are no quick or instant-fixes.  People who come in once or twice and say it did not work for them, are generally not ready to begin their journey towards improved health. Anyone with serious intentions about getting better is aware of the fact that it requires time, commitment, and willingness to participate.  Those people who are motivated and willing to do the work generally benefit the most out of our treatments together.

6. What is your favorite Portland restaurant and why?

My favorite place is Andina Restaurant in NW Portland.  It offers a wonderful selection of Peruvian cuisine.  The flavors are masterfully crafted together and the aromas create a sensation that I have traveled to Peru.  The owner sometimes pays a surprise visit to the table and graciously welcomes you.  I also love the fact that there is an additional menu that has a list of gluten-free choices, which makes this restaurant accessible to a larger audience.  I highly recommend paying them a visit.

Please contact Dr. Igor Schwartzman at:

Whole Family Wellness Center 2920 SW Dolph Court, Suite 2 Portland, Oregon 97219

phone:        503.244.0500 web:  email:



TCM school

acupuncture chart by seventeenstars

It's all over!

I just finished my last NCCAOM (National Certificatoin Comission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) board exam (finally!), and now I wait for my license. It's a really great feeling to know that I don't have to study for school any more! Any learning I do now is on my own, and I find myself surrounded by amazing books I've collected these past three years, and instead of wanting to get rid of them, I can't wait to start using them in my own practice! It usually takes about 2-3 months for a license to come through (so I've been told). In the meantime, I have a lot of small business "stuff" to figure out.

OCOM has a great resource in Jason Stein, LAc, who is the head of the Professional Development Center at OCOM. He recommened that we graduates check out SCORE to get some assistance in starting up a new business, which I recently did. They were incredibly helpful, and gave me everything I needed to start an LLC, as well as answered all of my questions (no matter how strange!). I recommend them to anyone starting a new business. Oh- did I mention it's free and that you can use their library of resources?

I also wanted to share a fantastic Australian TCM site! Chinese Medicine Adventures has been up since January, but I didn't discover until today (thanks, Yael!). There are photo essays, a few videos of life in a TCM school in Sydney. For those of you who have graduated, it will be a trip down memory lane. For those of you who are still in, it's definitely something you will be able to relate to. Check it out when you have time (not in class, of course....)



Clinic Survival Guide

My friend and recent OCOM graduate Andrew Schlabach, LAc, just finished printing an amazing acupuncture reference book called the "Clinic Survival Guide."  It's a complete book full of amazing acupuncture diagrams, and the information is compliled in a way that it's easy to find and carry around with you. Andrew did an amazing job of putting the information together, and I recommend you check it out ( click on "What's Inside" for a peek at the graphic design talent. Andrew is also one of the founders of the Acupuncture Relief Project, which is getting underway very soon!

My apologies about the delay in postings! Apparently graduating, applying for licensing, and re-connecting with friends and family (long ignored due to the intense masters program!) took a little longer than planned. Look back for more postings this week! I'm hoping to connect with my classmates in China (who leave Friday!) who are planning to blog about what's going on in the hospitals there, an eventually with the grads in Nepal in the fall.


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PanAfrican Acupuncture Project

I recently found out that my classmate Malaika Lumen is working with a great organization called the Pan African Acupuncture Project (PAAP). The Project is similar to the Barefoot Doctor program in China, and a large portion of the focus is on HIV/AIDS care.

"The PanAfrican Acupuncture Project (PAAP) is a non-profit organization that was established in 2003 to empower the people of Uganda with acupuncture techniques. Since 2003 they have conducted several training programs, expanded into Kenya and are currently expanding into Malawi."

On July 31st Academy Theater on Stark street (7818 SE Stark St) has will donate 10% of all concession sales from open until close to PAAP Malawi. So come down, check out a great movie at a classic 1940's building, and be sure to grab something from concessions to help out a great organization!

For more information, you can contact the PAAP:

The PanAfrican Acupuncture Project 113 Summit Avenue Brookline, MA 02446 USA Tel/fax: 617-277-7444

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Facial Acupuncture


REUTERS/Mike Cassese

A classmate of mine just informed me about a recent online article about facial acupuncture. Check it out here!

Cosmetic acupuncture can be very helpful in treating wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines. Small, thin needles (even smaller than the usual needles used for body acupuncture) are inserted shallowly into the skin to increase blood flow and energy of the skin. There are no side effects, the needles are smaller than those used with Botox, and it's very effective. also has a newsletter that discusses cosmetic acupunture.

If you are interested in learning more about cosmetic acupuncture, the Mei Zen System is one I have heard a lot of good press about. A lot of spas in Portland are also interested in acupuncture, and the cosmetic industry may be opening up a whole new world for L.Ac's.



What Can TCM treat? Insect Bites

Bee Sting!Photo by da100fotos

Now that the sun has been out for at least a few weeks, flowers and fruits are at their full potential for natures cycle and our own enjoyment. Part of this flowering and producing process involves insects that many of us love to hate (hate is a bit strong- more like "dislike" or even "fear"). Bees and spiders do so much for our gardens and flowers, but their potential bites or stings, though often accidental, can be painful or even life-threatening.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a lot of treatment plans for insect bites, and since I'm currently taking a dermatology class from Dr. Hong Jin, DAOM, I thought I'd share a few formulas from the class and a few that I have used myself.

Jin Huang Wan, or Golden Yellow Powder is a powder that you can mix with honey or water to make a externally- applied paste. It draws out the toxins and helps stop itching. It's also inexpensive and works better than baking soda for be stings. I can't seem to find any sites online, but the OCOM clinic carries it, as well as other herbal stores. Keep in mind that it may stain skin a nice deep yellow temporarily...

Another favorite of mine is Dan Shen Hou Xue Yin or Quell the Surface Teapills. I took these after my last bee sting, which was pretty nasty, and the swelling reduced within 6 hours of the second dose. This can also be used in cases of poison oak or ivy rashes, or even eczema flare-ups. In the text for the class, a formula is Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin, or 5-Ingredient to Eliminate Toxin formula.

Remember to check with your practitioner if you have any questions about what herbs are in these formulas. Also, if you have a severe allergic reaction to insect bites or stings, go the emrgency room immediately!

Enjoy the sun!


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Herbs to Try: Gou Qi Zi

Gouqi (Lycium Chinense)Photo By * Beezy *Gou Qi Zi (Wolfberry)

Gou Qi Zi, also known as Chinese wolfberry, goji berry, or lycium fruit, is easily available in Portland at Asian food stores, New Seasons, and even Trader Joe's has a goji berry trail mix. While there seems to be some controversy over the "best" kind of Gou Qi Zi, in my opinion (as with any herb), organic is the way to go until we are able to grow them locally. Which isn't too far away - check out what groups such as High Falls Garden are doing (more on the subject of local, organic, and sustainable Chinese herbs in a later post)!

According to the Materia Medica Gou Qi Zi is a sweet fruit that is often used in herbal formulas to nourish and warm the body, and also assist the yin in the Kidney and Lungs. This means that it's a great mild herb to help with fatigue, low sex drive, eye problems as well as a general all around nourishing herb. It's often referred to as the "longevity herb," and is thought to help those who consume it on a regular basis live a longer life.

A combination of this tasty herb with chrysanthemum flowers is a great way to clear excess heat out of the body and help your vision. So whenever those promised hot days start making their way here, put a small handful of gou qi zi and a few dried chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) into a glass and let it steep in hot water for a few minutes. You can even add some ice cubes to make a refreshing iced  tea. Eat the berries when you're done- they're surprisingly sweet!

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What Can TCM Treat? Insomnia

Happy Dogby leojmelsrub (My dog, Maggie, who easily sleeps at least 12-14 hours per day...)

A good night's sleep is a coveted time of rest and restoration. Often times you don't know how much you missed it until you start to lose it. I'm one of those people who can function on a few hours, but not very well or for very long! Sleep is the essential time where your body repairs itself and prepares you for the next day. It is vital for normal body and brain function, and just can't be replaced by caffeine, no matter how much we try.

Waking easily, not being able to fall asleep, or being a "very light sleeper" can all constitute insomnia, and Traditional Chinese Medicine has so many great remedies for it. There are several acupoints to help sleep quality and also some great herbal formulas.

The two most common formulas we use in the OCOM clinic are An Mian Pian and Suan Zao Ren Wan. While they both help with sleep problems, they are used for different diagnoses, so check in with a practitioner before trying them.

Here are a few other informative sites to check out: *Chinese Medicine News discusses research on the use of elecro-acupuncture and it's effect on insomnia. Don't worry- electroacupuncture on the scalp is actually quite comfortable!

*Eric Grey from Deepest Health has also handed down three simple tips one dealing with insomnia, not to mention a really nice herbal formula.

*Kevin Doherty, LAc, MS, wrote a good article about TCM and insomnia and suggests some great single herbs and naturopathic remedies to try.

* is a site I recently stumbled across, and they also have a nice TCM breakdown of the different types of insomnia.

Hope this post finds you all sleeping well :)



Diabetes Day...

Gimme Some Sugar - Red - Pancreas T-shirtAvailable at:

One year ago, my best friend's daughter (let's just call her my niece) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent). She was 5. There is no history of diabetes in the family, and very little warning with the symptoms.

'Annie' has always been very active and VERY smart (not that I'm biased). In May of last year, she began drinking a lot of water, and continuously went to the bathroom almost hourly for several days in a row. One night, she wet the bed (which she hadn't done in a long time) three times, and when her mom became concerned. They immediately rushed Annie to the emergency room, where they discovered her blood glucose level was over 700. A good level for a kid her age and size is under 300, and her levels were pretty close to her going into a coma. She is very lucky kid.

After several days in the hospital and a crash course in how to test blood glucose levels, calculate carbs, know the signs when her blood sugar is dropping, and completely revamp her diet, they went back to getting on with their lives. The family has made a lot of changes this past year, and have really pulled through for each other.

There are 4 types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, gestational diabetes(developed during pregnancy), and late onset diabetes (comes on later in life- around 30).

According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 and Type two are the most common:

*Type 1 diabetes Results from the body's failure to produce insulin, the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

*Type 2 diabetes Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Although Type 1 is more prevalent among kids, type 2 is more common among Americans in general. However, the number of Type II children is skyrocketing, and I can't emphasize enough how important it is to be aware of how we are feeding our children! Eating and exercise habits start at a very young age. Especially if it runs in the family.

TCM has a lot of great points and herbs for diabetics. It's always important to discuss options with an endocrinologist, but there are a lot of great complementary and alternative therapies that may help manage blood sugar a little better. Check this ITM article for more exploration of TCM and diabetes, and here for a research study.

My little niece has taught me so much about diabetes-more that I may ever learn in the classroom. She celebrated her "Diabetes Day" (the day she was diagnosed, last week. With cake, of course!

Here's to the continuous search for a cure....



The Society for Acupuncture Research

SAR Logo The SAR logo: The Chinese characters depicted in the Society for Acupuncture Research logo represent the concepts of "Research"and "Clinical Practice."

The Society for Acupuncture Research is a non-profit organization whose mission statement is:

"To promote, advance and disseminate scientific inquiry into Oriental medicine systems, which include acupuncture, herbal therapy and other modalities. We value quantitative and qualitative research addressing clinical efficacy, physiological mechanisms, patterns of use and theoretical foundations. "

SAR first began in 1991 as in informal group that discussed methodological concerns in acupuncture research. This eventually became the Society for Acupuncture Research which now sponsors annual symposia on research methodologies, and is affiliated with the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Check the site for more information about the history of SAR as well as the impressive list of the board members.

SAR is also affiliated with the SPARC conference that will be at OHSU this Sunday (see SPARC Conference). The John Weeks at the Integrator Blog wrote a short synopsis of the conference here (scroll down to #3).


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Acupuncture Needles

When you think of acupuncture needles, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Nails? Tacks? I understand that many people have an intense fear of needles, but the rumor I'd like to start spreading about acupuncture needles is one that I learned from David Eisen, LAc, MSW, OMD(am), the Executive Director at the Quest Center for Integrative Health in NE Portland. He told us that an acupuncture needle is roughly the size of three human hairs. That's it!

While some needles are longer for different parts of the body, the size of needles aren't anything like what they used to be! Different styles often use different needles, such as a Japanese style, which is more superficial needling. The needles are lighter, thinner and coated to make insertion easier. Not to say that Chinese needles aren't like that, but a lot of techniques requires a slightly thicker needle due to a different technique that's applied. I'll discuss different techniques and styles in a future blog, but for now here are a few pictures for your perusing enjoyment.

Artistic shot of the handle of needles (really, they're quite small!)

acupuncture needle~ Photo by: howaye

Flexible yet so efficient...

Acupuncture Needles Photo by:

Needling LI-4

Acupuncture 04 Photo by: Girla Obscura

Single packaged needles

Photo by: ~crea

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Cupping is one of my favorite TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) techniques to receive and to treat patients with. Although the outcome often looks quite scary (the round suction marks go away in a few days), it's actually an amazing therapeutic method that we can use to expel a variety of different diseases. A practitioner may decide use it if you present with the beginnings of a cold, asthma, pain, gastrointestinal problems and or one of many other issues. What you can expect: If a practitioner decides that cupping is the best therapy for you, he or she may first smooth a layer of a balm or salve on the area they will be working on in order to move the cups around smoothly. They will then light a piece of alcohol-soaked material or simply use a lighter, place it into the cup then rapidly pull it out and place the cup onto your skin. This creates a negative force which causes congestion and creates the suction where the cup has been placed. The practitioner may then slide the cups around to move the energy or stagnation in your body.


Here is another cupping method called "flash cupping."


Make sure you cover up the area that has been cupped for a few days- preferably until the cup marks heal. This is to prevent getting sick....again! Oh yes- please don't try this at home. There are potential burning risks involved and cupping should be performed by a trained practitioner.

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