Articles by Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.

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The Modern Acupuncturist
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.

Then we'll take a look at what type of medicine you currently practice. You just might be surprised to see where you land.

The Evolution of Acupuncture

Three things happened to advance our medicine that are important to recognize. First, as acupuncture moved from China to the rest of the world, it changed. As the world expanded through transportation and communication, so did our medicine. It first reached Japan in about 6 AD and then trickled out to Korea, Vietnam, and other Asian nations, eventually reaching Europe and North America. With each new location, different diagnostic and treatment styles developed.
Second, treatment tools and sanitation techniques have expanded. Thank goodness! You can be glad you weren't an acupuncturist back in the stone ages. The popular treatment tools at the time were stone needles and knives. Ouch! Metal needles didn't arrive until the Bronze Age. Later, silver and gold needles became the new big thing.

Acupuncture became safer with the advent of modern sterilization techniques. Although autoclave machines haven't been used in common practice for quite some time, I actually had to study the settings for them in order to pass my exams in college. Can you imagine living in an era where you had to reuse acupuncture needles? Remember, those old silver and gold needles were expensive and you wouldn't want to dispose of them. Fortunately, reliable, clean and safe disposable needles as we know them today became common in about the 1970's. Of course, we now have many treatment options besides needles, which we'll talk about in a bit.

And finally, diagnosis and treatment strategies have evolved over time. As the diseases of the world have changed, so have our strategies for diagnosis and treatment. The recognition of infectious disease, known as "Febrile Disease," was introduced during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). The first existence of small pox, for example, can be traced back in Chinese medicine history to the Jin dynasty (281-341 AD). Modern disease like autoimmune disorders were not recognized during ancient times.

With the recognition of new diseases came new treatment styles such as moxibustion and cupping. Unlike treatment styles, diagnostic methods like pulse reading have not historically changed much — that is, until recent times. Advances in technology are bringing changes in diagnostic methods for modern acupuncture. We'll discuss more about that in a bit as well. Are you noticing a pattern of change throughout history? Let's take a look at the medicine we now study.

The Traditional Acupuncturist

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is what the majority of us studied and practice today, even though it's not "traditional." The term TCM is actually more of a melting pot theory to fit into a Westernized approach to Chinese Medicine, comprising a broad range of medicine practices sharing common concepts developed in China — which include acupuncture, herbology and massage.

In this article, our focus is on acupuncture. In reality, acupuncture has been practiced many different ways throughout history. As the world has advanced with science and communication, we have seen a blending or emerging of these theories into TCM…
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I Felt it in My Fingers First
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

I'm not afraid to say it. Massage therapists make better acupuncturists. I'll tell you how I know, but first I have a question: What do a microcurrent device, a laser and a hippie massage therapist have in common?


Having never given a massage before and only receiving one massage in my life, I went to a hippie massage school in Santa Barbara, Calif. called The School of Intuitive Massage and Healing. I was completely out of my comfort zone. Imagine "conservative mother of eight" going to massage school. The director of the school interviewed me to see if I would fit into their program by feeling the "energy" coming off the bottom of my feet. Apparently, my energy radiated "just far enough" for her to let me in.

Imagine the scenario:
• We began class walking barefoot on the grass to "connect with the earth."
• I used to hide in the closet to take off my clothes, then come out wrapped up like I was going to a toga party.
• Many would chant and do "energy dances" around one another to clear their "energetic fields."
• We sat in circles on round pillows to "meditate" and "share our feelings" before and after each class.

This "energy stuff" was all very new to me. I'm not even sure exactly how I wound up at that school, except that it fit into my schedule and my budget. I did know my intention was to learn how to give a massage as quickly as possible and get out of there. I had goals of professionalism and I was pretty sure most of my classmates were a bit crazy.

head acupuncture - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
However, if this energy stuff was real, I didn't want anything to do with it and I surely didn't want any of them messing with mine! Needless to say, I kept my distance and tried desperately to pretend I was a fly on the wall when they "played energy games."

On our very first practice massage session, we were asked to pair up with a partner. I looked around the room and didn't feel comfortable with too many people, except maybe Penelope. Although she was one of the "energy dancers," I kind of liked her because she had a nice smile and an infectious giggle.

The rules of our first massage were simple. Do whatever you want. Let your hands slide over the body. See where they guide you. Feel the bumps, curves, valleys and temperature changes. Notice where your hands want to go. Since this would be my first time giving a massage and my second time receiving a massage, I let Penelope massage first. I'm not even sure what happened except that I fell asleep and melted into a puddle of butter. When I woke up, I felt like a buttered noodle.

Then it was my turn. I had no idea what I was doing and don't really remember much. The only thing I do remember was what Penelope said when I was done. As she sat up, she slowly shook her head and said: "Honey, you've got a gift and you don't even know it."

I had no idea that my experience at the School of Intuitive Massage and Healing would eventually bless my life in so many ways. After graduation, I opened the…
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It Pays to be a Foodie
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

If there is an inner foodie in you, just waiting to burst out—this article is for you!

Do you want to know how I know? I'm that girl. My middle name might as well be "Foodie." I love food! And if my patients are any indication, many of them do as well.

I get asked about food and diet every day in my practice. I bet you do too.
Your TCM education has given you a very unique perspective on food. You have lots of great information that you can, and should, be sharing with your patients. This information is valuable and it increases the value of the services you provide to your patients. Properly applied, your knowledge about food and diet should contribute to your practice's bottom line. Right?
In this article, I'm going to teach you how being "Foodie" can improve your patient outcomes and increase your practice income. Using this knowledge, combined with skills I've taught in previous articles, you can actually give yourself a raise! My raise was about $500 per month.

What you already know:

Pattern diagnosis. That's easy enough, right? Ask questions, take pulses, look at tongues. You've got that down.

Explaining the "Spleen Happy Meal" isn't a problem either. We prefer our patients eat vegetables slightly cooked instead of raw. Avoid icy cold drinks. Don't eat too many foods that "tonify your damp," like ice cream, butter, cheese, etc.

We are also great at throwing out a few well-known food items for certain conditions: dark leafy vegetables and beets for blood deficiency, watermelon to drain damp, goji berries for eye problems, etc.

What's missing:

If you follow the "share bits and pieces along the way as needed" approach it's hard to fully educate the patient and inevitably they forget what you said. So I felt like I needed a system to teach patients about food therapy, instead of just sharing bits and pieces along the way as they asked. My problem was that I didn't have…
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Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them! Two skills every practitioner needs to master along the line are these:

1. Finding new patients.
2. Converting new patients into long-term wellness care patients.

There are a ton of ways to get new patients, all of which depend on your personality, the community you live in and specific clinic goals.

I've tried several approaches through the years including flyers, mailers, business networking groups, radio advertising, radio talk shows, networking groups, group presentations — and YES, even good old-fashioned local phone book advertising.

I'm going to share a couple of secrets I've recently discovered. One day a light bulb went on in my head. A new approach to advertising emerged, that I hadn't used before, and it's really working well.
Social Skills

Before I tell you what it is, let me give you a little background. I'm very social and great when it comes to personal networking. When I was a kid, they called me a chatter box, which eventually turned out to be an advantage. The first thing I did when I opened my clinic was join a networking group. I was new to the community and didn't have any resources for building clientele. I figured this would be a great place to "talk to people" about what I do.

From among the many types of networking groups available, the group I chose was BNI (Business Networking International). I liked this one because it taught me how to focus on building relationships in the community rather than just finding "leads." I am no longer a part of this same networking group, but I gained a valuable education as a member. I met amazing business owners who have become really important resources in my practice in the way of accounting, marketing, signs, business cards, credit card processing, etc. The personal relationships I formed over a five-year period turned out to be invaluable.

A key player in my new idea came from a local PostNet owner. PostNet is a lot more than shipping and postage. They are actually a full-on printshop, focused on helping small business owners. In the past, I had used them for business cards, forms, mailings, signs, and name tags. Who knew they could help me find and keep patients? Here's how it happened...

Finding Patients — A "New" Idea

Recently, I was in my MD's office. As I left, they gave me several prescriptions — for medications and also referrals to see other specialists. The light bulb went on in my head. Why the heck had I not created a prescription pad for my clinic?

I can't tell you how many people I have networked with over the years: chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists, OBGYN's, midwives and massage therapists just to name a few. Of course we chatted, and I left business cards. But I had NEVER left a prescription pad. These folks are already accustomed to prescription pads when referring patients. I was missing out on…
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Socializing In My Slippers
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

When I graduated college, I had grandiose dreams of becoming an amazing acupuncturist. I wanted to build a great practice and make a good living. For four years, 13 semesters to be exact, I had a spreadsheet.

I always knew exactly how many classes I still needed to take and how long it would take for me to complete them. If I wasn't studying, I spent my time imagining how life would be "after college." I created an image in my mind of the perfect community for my family. It had four seasons; hunting, camping, fishing, affordable housing, a hometown feel, a university and an airport.

The lifestyle I wanted to enjoy was perfectly planned and based on how many patients I would eventually treat. I'd done the math, crunched the numbers and laid out a plan. I would become a specialist in chronic pain, pregnancy and pediatrics. I had rubbed shoulders with the best while I was in school and I'd continue to do the same in my career. I wanted to continue learning and growing, with the end goal of someday retiring and teaching other acupuncturists the things I'd learned. The picture was perfect.
How The Story Begins

I found the perfect community that fit my vision precisely. I had everything I wanted for my family and my clinic. Well, almost everything ... My plan would involve moving far away from California after graduation. This was a bit scary. California was my hub. If I ventured into the great unknown (beyond California), who would I turn to for support, to discuss cases, get clinical advice and learn new techniques? I thrive on continual growth. Could I do that in a small town without any other acupuncturists? I had a decision to make. My opportunities to rub shoulders with colleagues would be few and far between. There were only about 100 licensed acupuncturist in the state of Idaho, none of which were in my chosen town. I did not want to become a boring acupuncturist who wasn't progressing in the field. I knew that if I wanted to teach someday, I would need to develop those relationships. On the flip side, I also knew that my family would do best in the community I had chosen.

I was apprehensive, but the decision was made. My family came first. I settled — knowing that I couldn't have it all, but the decision I was making was good. I was getting 90 percent of what I wanted. Maybe I'd create a new "happily ever after," and move back to the hub once my kids were grown.

The Next Chapter

Now that I was done with school, I had plenty of time on my hands. My kids introduced me to Facebook. I thought it was a good way to keep up with family back in California. Little did I know that the AMAZING, beautiful world of social media would allow me to change the ending of my life story!

Who knew Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter could open so many opportunities to rub shoulders with acupuncturists all over the world. No longer was I alone in Idaho! Social media changed the way I communicated with colleagues. As it turned out, I have acupuncture friends and associates who answer questions and give advice instantaneously.

Let me share what I've learned…
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Acupuncture for Kids is Not Scary
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Do you ever wish you could go back and relive portions of your life, with the knowledge you have today? If only I had known about acupuncture and good nutrition when my kids were little!

Like many of you, the study of TCM came later in my life; I celebrated my 40th birthday in college. By then, our children were mostly grown. If I only knew then, what I know now, things would have been so different. I had no idea how much acupuncture could have changed their lives.

I had the incredible opportunity to study pediatrics with Alex Tiber, world-renowned pediatric specialist, at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego. Alex has a gift for working with children. Here are some gems of TCM wisdom I found in my notes from one of his courses on pediatric tuina:
• The meridians begin development at the time of conception and continue throughout pregnancy.
• When a child is born the meridians are already fairly well developed, but not fully.
• They continue transformation until about the age of 7-8.
• When a child is born, the condition of the meridians mirrors the child's birth constitution.
• BUT—if you treat a child with acupuncture and good nutrition during their initial 7-8 year period, you can CHANGE the constitution of the child.

That is powerful information! You can literally transform a child's life with acupuncture and good nutrition in the first eight years!

We are facing a huge crisis in the health of our next generation of kids—mainly because of diet and environmental factors. Despite vaccines, increased spending on healthcare and more well baby/child care, kids are getting sicker (especially in the last 20 years) with chronic illness such as allergies, asthma, ADD, Autism, depression, and obesity.

It is scary to think what researchers are projecting for generation Z. According to healthcare statistics, the lifespan of the current generation is the first of many generations expected to have a shorter life span then that of their parents. Pediatrician William Sears, M.D. claims: "If these trends continue, America's children face a future filled with sickness rather than health, of weakness rather than strength, of sadness rather than happiness."

These statistics are shocking and quite depressing, but there is really one HUGE thing we can do to help solve this problem. Wouldn't it be great if more acupuncturists were treating children? Imagine the possibility of correcting disharmonies that will surely lead to adult medical issues, simply by changing a child's constitution through acupuncture and dietary therapy during the first eight years!

Do you want to make a difference in the world by treating more kids in your clinic? You can!

In this article, I'm going to discuss common obstacles practitioners may encounter when treating children, along with modern solutions to create a kid-friendly clinic.

Fear of Treating Kids

Many acupuncturists are nervous about treating kids. While pediatric acupuncture is a specialty for some practitioners, many of us only treat kids occasionally…
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Laser Acupuncture in Your Practice: A Follow-Up Q&A
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Who knew the floodgates would open after writing my last article on Laser Acupuncture entitled: Laser Acupuncture in YOUR Practice: What you Need to Know.

The purpose of the original article was to spark an interest in the possibility of adding laser treatment options to your practice. Since the article was written, I have received a mass of emails from practitioners who want to know more.

Here are a few of the things I've learned from the feedback:
1. Acupuncturists are interested in incorporating laser treatment into their clinic.

"I like the idea of being able to reach people who would otherwise stay away from acupuncture."

"Your most recent article in Acupuncture Today on laser acupuncture struck me as really profound and resourceful."

2. Those who are using laser treatment find it effective.

"Kimberly, thanks to you, I pulled out my old laser 635nM, having forgotten about it for many years. I used it on an area where I had bitten my inside lower lip & [the pain] instantly decreased about 98% using the laser! So, now I have started introducing it to a few patients."

"I like it! It's very nice on 'calming' points. HT 7, Yintang etc. I find it useful to use both blue and red simultaneously...i.e. blue on LR 2 and red on SP 2. It's nicer than needles on jing-well points."

"I love the blue laser. I've been using it for two weeks and am having amazing results! The first day I used it to treat plantar fascia tightness and cervical tightness. The patients reported back the following day that they noticed a decrease in symptoms and felt more relaxed in those areas. I highly recommend it and already have told several others to buy one."

3. Practitioners want to know MORE.

"This article was intriguing and has led me to do more research."

"Thanks from us acupuncturists who have no clue to laser acupuncture. I found your article 'Laser Acupuncture in Your Practice,' very informative, but at the same time have more questions."

Today's article is a compilation of questions I have received since writing my article…
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Don't Be Afraid To "Like" Facebook
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Ask a man what's on his mind, and he'll spit it out in a few words. Ask a woman, and she'll tell you everything she's thinking, and when she's done, she'll share all that she learned from your conversation with her friends.

Am I exaggerating? Maybe just a tiny bit. But really, women are much more talkative than men.
How can acupuncturists use the power of talkative women to their advantage? One option is Facebook.

Before you start saying "Ain't nobody got time for dat!" - hear me out.
Recently, I posted a question on a popular Facebook page entitled "Acupuncturists on Facebook," which has nearly 4,000 followers: Do you treat more men or women in your clinics? I received a flood of responses. Only one practitioner reported treating more men than women. The majority of practitioners claimed that 80 percent or more of their patients are female.

Another article could be written about how to increase the male population in your clinic, but we'll save that for another time. Before we try to change the statistics, let's work with the facts that are before us:

Fact #1: We already know acupuncturists treat more women than men. Women are also lead players in the social networking world—claiming the role of "biggest supporters" of social media. For most women in North America, social media is a major source for daily entertainment and 75 percent of women are using it. Women do the bulk (62 percent) of Facebook sharing. In fact, women spend an average of 12 hours per week using social media, which is nearly two hours per day!

Fact #2: Women have a huge influence on family healthcare decisions. Women continually influence entire social networks regarding healthcare opinions within the online community. I've seen healthcare questions asked online over and over through the years. You've seen how this works. When someone needs an answer or an opinion about almost anything, they ask their friends. Where are most of their friends? Online.

With the help of women, a business page for your clinic on Facebook can be a great resource for…
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The Monkey on Your Back
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Many practitioners run their clinic without any extra help—at least initially. I've always been pretty good at multi-tasking. Having nine kids taught me how to wear multiple hats and juggle a lot of responsibilities.

Running a clinic is similar. Most of the time I wear my acupuncturist hat, but I wouldn't be successful if I didn't learn to also wear hats for accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, social networking, shipping and receiving, and janitorial.

Treating patients is the fun part, right? I'd just as soon let someone else wear the rest of the hats. Sometimes I get so busy treating patients that I don't have the time or desire to take care of my other responsibilities. Sometimes my to-do list grows to the point that I feel like there is a monkey on my back. My kids are nearly grown now, but I remember always having multiple systems in place to help keep things organized and running smoothly. I've learned that I have to look for the same types of opportunities in my clinic as well.
Recently, I felt like I needed to either hire someone to help me organize my patient email communication process, or find a system that would simplify my life. My goals were simple. I wanted a newsletter, an email response system to educate new patients, and the ability to send birthday emails with a discount coupon. I thought about paying someone, but realized most of the work would fall back on my shoulders anyway. I'd still have to organize my patient data list, write the monthly newsletter, and write the script for the patient education emails. The person I hired would only be in charge of putting the system in place and organizing it.

I did a little research and found that someone had already created a system that fit my needs. You are probably already somewhat aware of this system because you see it come across your inbox on daily basis. If you Google "email marketing" the top two companies that show up are Constant Contact and MailChimp.

I was introduced to Constant Contact several years ago and had a good experience with it. This time around, a marketing specialist in my community suggested MailChimp, so I decided to give it a try. Both programs are similar, but MailChimp offers FREE email service as long as your list is 2,000 recipients or less, allowing up to 12,000 emails per month. Constant Contact, on the other hand, has a minimal fee of $15 per month. If you are just starting out and trying to grow your contact list, you could save considerable money by starting with MailChimp.

I'm not ultra sophisticated when it comes to email marketing systems, but I have to admit that MailChimp did an excellent job of bringing me up to speed with about a half-day of time invested. They offer a simple solution with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions.

Getting Organized

First, I spent a little time making sure my patient data files were up to date and organized. If I was missing any patient data, I made a quick phone call to say hello and gather the missing information. This was actually a pleasant experience for both my patients and myself. I even booked a few appointments during the process. I'd say, time well spent.

Next, I compiled a spreadsheet containing patient data. I'm not an Excel spreadsheet expert, but it was pretty simple to do. At this point, it's a good idea to scroll through to make sure your data is all in the correct places and that you aren't missing any important information. Make sure that first names and last names are in separate columns, that first names are capitalized and spelled correctly, and that you have everyone's email addresses.

Depending on your marketing strategies, you might want to consider…
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Laser Acupuncture in Your Practice: What you Need to Know
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Isn't it interesting that the number one reason people visit a healthcare provider is because of pain. Chronic pain affects about 100 million American adults—more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. Now consider this: the number one reason people avoid seeing an acupuncturist is because they are afraid of pain!

Even practitioners with the best needling skills have trouble attracting patients who are afraid of needles. Do you have options in your clinic for these patients? Fear of needles is very real and will often cause potential patients to reject even the idea of acupuncture treatment. Often you will hear many people say, "Acupuncture? Nobody's going to stick a bunch of needles in me!"

And yet, there are multiple ways to move qi and blood in the body, providing excellent results without needles. Modern research has provided new opportunities for acupuncture treatments that did not previously exist, including microcurrent, magnetic treatments and laser acupuncture.
Laser acupuncture is practiced widely throughout Europe and Asia and is quickly gaining popularity in the United States, though it still remains confusing to some practitioners. Deciding which type of laser to use and how to use it are the primary questions with which many practitioners struggle. To help you come up to speed and make the right decisions, here's a primer on laser acupuncture.

History of Laser Treatment

Scientists began lab experimentation with lasers in the 1950s, with availability outside the lab in the 1960s. Once the quest for laser knowledge began, it was unstoppable. Researchers wanted to know how this new kind of light could change the world of healthcare. Early laser experiments resulted in the realization that laser therapy minimized skin scarring, helped wounds heal faster, and affected cellular metabolism.

In the 1970s serious research began both in Russia and in the USA. By the 1980s, due to numerous positive reports, laser started to gain recognition as an effective method of stimulating acupuncture points without the use of needles.

Today, photobiology is the study of how light affects living things, and includes studies of single-celled organisms, plants, animals and humans. Laser acupuncture is an important field of study within photobiology.

Current Developments

Most lasers used in acupuncture are known as low-level lasers or "cold lasers," (because they don't produce heat.). These are not the same as lasers used for laser surgery, in which "hot lasers" are used as a scalpel to burn or cut. Studies show that low-level lasers can help regenerate cells, decrease pain, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and stimulate hair growth, to name a few examples.

In 1991, a study was done in…
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The Triple Energizer—A Case Study
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Recently I had a surgery, which greatly affected my Triple Energizer channel. I found myself in bed with a lot of time on my hands trying to recuperate. Because the health of my triple energizer channel was impaired—I wound up doing a lot of research to help with my own healing.

In the process, I learned some interesting information, which has broadened my understanding of this amazing phenomenon known as the Triple Energizer. (As you know, it's also called San Jiao, triple burner, triple warmer etc.)

I found the Triple Energizer's role with fluids very interesting in the process of metabolism, digestion, hormones and obesity. The majority of my patients are female, and many of them suffer chronic pain and other health problems in these areas. In fact, I am now finding that unaddressed problems in the Triple Energizer channel may directly correlate with development of chronic pain and/or health problems later in life.

In this article I will share some helpful information regarding diagnostic and treatment strategies for problems in the Triple Energizer, and discuss how these treatment strategies made a significant impact for a patient who had been suffering with chronic pain for the last 12 years.
Tongue and Pulse Diagnosis

Theoretically, you can diagnose problems in the Triple Energizer by feeling the pulse in the qi (third finger) position on the right hand at the most superficial of the three levels for pulse taking. But since the Triple Energizer isn't really an organ—but rather three specific areas with differing functions, I find that diagnosing the Triple Energizer through pulse diagnostics in a single location may be difficult— because an imbalance in the area of the Triple Energizer literally involves every organ system. Tongue analysis is a helpful diagnostic confirmation because I can see problems in each individual area.


I have found that palpation of the Triple Energizer channel, along the forearm, is very helpful in determining how well the channel is functioning. Painful palpation indicates heat in the channel. Nodules and bumps along the channel are an indicator of blood or phlegm stasis in the Triple Energizer regions of the body.

Electronic Diagnosis

Digital Meridian Imaging (DMI), which is my favorite diagnostic tool, is excellent for evaluating problems in the Triple Energizer Channel. By measuring electrical skin resistance at the source point of the channel, you can evaluate excesses or deficiencies in the channel, left right imbalances, and upper/lower body imbalances.

Triple Energizer Treatment Strategies

Since all the channels run through the middle of the body as they flow through the cycle of energy from Lung to Liver—often, Triple Energizer problems will manifest as…
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What is the Point of Auriculotherapy?
Learn to utilize various resources to offer the best treatment to your patients
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Do you remember your first auriculotherapy course from college?

Mine was very short—only about 28 hours. I learned just enough to get by. In fact, when I was done, there were a few key points that I had memorized; Shen Men, Point Zero, Brain 'for pain' and the TCM related organ points were my arsenal. I was taught that auriculotherapy could be very effective, but they only taught me enough in school to pass the exams. So, I settled with using the basics, and that was it.

Once I began my own practice, I decided that I wanted to dig deeper into the subject of auriculotherapy. Have you ever tried looking up points and protocols for auricular acupuncture? There are more than 300 points on the ear, every ear is different and most of the reference charts vary to some degree. There are also multiple theories of auriculotherapy and each theory has differing point locations. Ear charts and point locations are created according to the author's experience and their own artistic representation of the ear. While trying to sift through a mountain of information, I would often sit with piles and piles of books on my desk and sticky notes overflowing from all directions, trying to find the perfect set of points to treat my patients.
After two years of deep research and cross referencing an array of auriculotherapy books and resources—I have learned that, as promised in school, auriculotherapy can be very effective—especially in the treatment of chronic pain. Now, I use it with every patient. I teach other practitioners how to successfully utilize it in their clinics and my patients get better faster.

The biggest problem is knowing which points to use and then finding the most effective way to treat them. I would like to share resources for helping you to choose the best auricular points, treatment tools that I have found helpful and my favorite treatment protocol and technique for treating chronic shoulder pain.

Resources for finding the best auricular points

When I was in school, if I was going to use auriculotherapy as a treatment modality for a patient, I spent my time with a group of students standing around the big chart in the hall trying to find the right points to use. Then, I hurried into the treatment room trying not to forget the location for the points I had chosen. You can probably relate to my experience.

Fortunately, those days are behind us. Technology has really caught up with the ancient art of acupuncture and there are a number of technical applications for smart phones, tablets and the PC that make deciding which points to use very easy. I recently spent several months collaborating on the Auriculo 3D project to develop new, three-dimensional auriculotherapy software that shows auricular points on a movable, three-dimensional ear in real time. With this advancement, the days of auricular guesswork are over.

Google the words: "auriculotherapy reference tools" and you will find…
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Are You a Pulse Master?
by Kimberly Thompson, LAc

You've been there and so have I.

It was in my first diagnosis class in acupuncture school. Our assignment was to feel the patient's pulse and report what we felt. I was gung-ho (or naïve) enough to volunteer first.

There I stood, eyes closed, concentrating on feeling something meaningful in that regular thumping heartbeat. To be honest, I had no idea what I was feeling, but I bravely put forth my best guess.

Then, the instructor took the pulse and felt something completely different. I wondered if I would ever learn this bit of magic called pulse diagnosis.

Historically, acupuncture was learned through apprenticeship. The student followed the master for years and learned to feel exactly what the master felt in the pulses. But, how many of us, today, have the opportunity to follow a master around for years to become excellent in pulse diagnosis?
The modern route usually consists of a four-year degree from an acupuncture college, followed by opening a practice. That's the route I took and I've come to realize first hand why it's called "practicing." I've practiced pulse taking a lot, learning from any master I can find, every chance I get.

What have I learned about pulses? First and foremost, they are subjective. Everyone who feels the pulses has a different perspective. Imagine yourself around a treatment table with 3-4 experienced practitioners. Most likely, each of them will have a different interpretation of the pulses, along with a different point prescription and pattern identification based on their own analyses. One instructor told me that it would take a lifetime to become really good at feeling pulses, and that what he felt now, after 20 years of practice, isn't what he felt previously. "So," I thought to myself, "was he right 20 years ago or is he only correct with his pulse diagnosis now? And what happens in another 10 or 20 years?"

Recently I took a class from Dr. Jake Fratkin (a master pulse diagnostician), where everyone in the room was asked to feel the pulses of the person next to them. We all felt the pulses and came up with our analysis. Dr. Fratkin then came around and gave his own interpretation for every pulse in the room. What did we learn? That we were all "wrong!" Every pulse that he came to evaluate was different than what we had felt individually. Dr. Fratkin has been practicing pulse diagnosis for over 30 years and is considered a "master." Most of us had been practicing between 3 and 10 years, and all had successful clinics, but none of us were "excellent" in pulse diagnosis.

And you know what? Even if we were all "masters" we would most likely still have different interpretations of the same pulses. That's just how this largely subjective art is practiced. Pulse diagnosis, as we know it today, has continued to evolve and change since its inception dating back to the early Han Dynasty (168 BCE). Over the years, different styles of pulse diagnosis have continued to evolve based on the interpretation of individual masters along the way. Today, we can choose from a variety of styles of pulse diagnosis, each with a slightly different interpretation. I am sure that each style was considered "perfect" by some master along the way.

A Modern Approach To Accurate Diagnosis

As modern technology has evolved, acupuncture has been a beneficiary. Much of the acupuncture practiced today is quite different than the techniques of ancient China. Sterile, stainless needles? Cupping without fire? Moxa without smoke? Laser treatment? Electroacupuncture? All of these modern acupuncture techniques are now commonly used and embraced by acupuncturists with excellent results.

But—how has diagnosis been enhanced by technology? To answer that question, I'll start with a little history.

Early in the 1950s Dr. Yoshio Nakatani, while treating an edematous patient with nephritis, discovered points around the patient's ankles that exhibited increased electrical conductance, when compared with surrounding skin areas. With a little more research he found…
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