Apprentice Program

Tyler Phan is now accepting applicants for a 3-month intensive apprentice program starting on 13 September 2015. The program will be geared for the potential acupuncture students, seasoned practitioners who need a refresher, or anyone who is curious into the art of Chinese Medicine.

For more info, checkout the link here.

5 Reasons Why Winthrop Sargeant’s Bhagavad Gītā Kicks Butt!




This year marks the 35th anniversary of Winthrop Sargeant’s translation of the Bhagavad Gītā. Sure, there are many translations of the Gītā, but here’s 5 reasons why Sargeant’s translation of the timeless classic stands above the rest.

1. Sargeant’s Gītā is one of the few – if not only published English translation – that contains the original devanāgarī (writing script of most Sanskrit literature) and Sanskrit conjugations.

2. Most Gītās are aligned with a New Age or religious denomination. Sargeant’s translation, though at times too literal, has no known spiritual/religious affiliation.

3. Because Sargeant displays the conjugations, his Gītā is a great resource to learn Sanskrit as well as a refresher for those who need to refine their skills.

4. Winthrop Sargeant was mostly known for his work as a musician, critic for the Times and New Yorker, and prolific writer. Sargeant’s Gītā project was completely unrelated with his profession and was an enormous independent project.

5. Winthrop Sargeant was 76 years-old when his Gītā was published!


Yin and Yang 101.

yours truly.


Spring has arrived late and with its arrival comes the yearly rounds of transitional sicknesses. Every year, people tend to get sick during the change from winter to spring. Here is the take on it from an acupuncture perspective.

Depending on the school-of-thought, the Wood phase corresponds with the Spring as well as wei qi (qi section), the immune system. More, the Wood phase is also responsible for the phenomena of wind. With these factors, you have a few things involved:

  1. The body is susceptible to “Cold Wind Invasions” i.e. the Common cold
  2. Those with Wood disharmonies (Deficiencies or Stagnations) are more prone to a compromise in the system
  3. Plants are blooming and with a compromised Wood system, allows the body to be vulnerable to aversion (e.g. Spring Allergies), this could also be a weakness in the Metal phases incapable of inhibiting the Wood phase properly

Here are some of the Wood phase’s responsibilities:

Wood function:
Immune system
Judgment/Decision making
Liver functions
Healthy movement of the body

Wood dysfunctions:
Compromised immune system
Tremors (but not Parkinson’s)
Muscle twitches/cramps
Lack of judgment (What’s the first thing that goes when someone gets drunk?)
Too judgmental
Deterioration of sight
Prostrate issues
Erectile dysfunction

Through clinical experience, most Americans, especially white men 40-years old or older, have issues in the Wood phase. This typically presents itself in middle to late-aged men with flushed faces, the typical “Liver Fire/Yang Rising”. Theoretically, this occurrence is caused from a lack of Kidney energy grounding its child, the pissed off Liver. Usually Livery folks are pissed off.

Lay off of Mr. Cup of Joe
Restrict alcohol consumption
Easy on the sweets (it’s an addiction)
Save the decadent table dancing for the Summer
Deep breaths outside but continue to rock a cap or headwear

Tagged ,

Winter (a late but relevant post)

Winter is gone (I hope) and it was longer than usual. So, what did the interweb world miss? Here’s the scoop.

Winter is associated with the Water phase, which in Chinese physiology corresponds with the Kidneys and Bladder (urinary). The tricky thing about Water is that it has two distinctive components: Kidney Yin and Kidney Yang.

Of course, all organs and bowels have their yin-yang relationship but the Kidney Yang component is quite crucial, especially because of the fact that it relates to the endocrine system.

I am not going to go in detail on the endocrine system’s function because all you millennial/baby-booming folks have the capabilities of Wikipediaing or WedMding all that premium knowledge; instead, I’ll break it down with the list of Kidney Yin and Yang functions below:

Kidney Yin Territory:

White Blood Cells (marrow)
Central Nervous System
Connective Tissue
Body hair

Kidney Yang Territory:

Endocrine function
Hydro/Thermogenesis (heating and cooling the body)
Emotional Stress
Sexual energy/ Vitality

What is unusual about Kidney Yin and Yang is that they are very much interrelated. In Asia, the term would be “same, same”. One example is that both physical and emotional taxation will deplete the “essence” of the body (stress related ailments, too much exercise, job related stress, being a student, etc.)

Here are some symptoms of the Kidneys’ dysfunction:

Kidney Dysfunction:

Chronic skeletal back pain
Rheumatoid arthritis
Constantly cold (deficiency)
Constantly hot (stagnation)
Bone fragility
Hypersexual activity
Diabetes: Type 1 (Kidney Yin deficiency), Type 2 (Kidney Yang deficiency)
“Genetically susceptible diseases”
Fatigue (physical and emotional)
Alopecia (hair loss)
Hearing loss
Constant yawning

As a rule of thumb, most reproductive issues has a component of the Kidneys; however, it may not be the sole culprit.


Autumn is associated with the Metal phase (金 – jin) that consist of the Lungs (肺 – fei ) and Large Intestines (大腸 – da chang). Since autumn correlates with the Metal phase, those with Metal ailments will manifest as:

Lung Pathology:

Weak Breathing
Dry skin
Aversion to cold
Respiratory ailments
Sinus issues within this period
Waking up from 3:00-5:00 am
Urge to smoke
Shortness of breath
Dryness around the nostrils
Frequent urination, especially from 3:00-5:00am

The bottom line is breath. If you have any respiratory ailments, you have a compromise in the Metal system.  Here are some things to keep in mind while in this season.

Things to do:

Keep warm
Wear a hat
Exercise (with warm clothes, especially a hat)
Eat rooted vegetables
Steer away from leaning forward over a computer or reading
Try yoga postures such “cobra” or “upward facing dog” to open the chest
Incorporate pungent foods to your diet (i.e. garlic, capsicum, ginger)
Stay away from greasy and sweet food
Watch comedies!

Enjoy the change in colors and keep active but stay warm.

TCM: A Critique

There has been a misconception that acupuncture is primarily relegated to China. This idea is far from the truth and in the United States has even went as far as being the principle theory for acupuncture licensing. In the US, there are two primary licensing agencies that conducts exams, National Certification Committee for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and the State of California Acupuncture Board (Yes, California has its own licensure!). Both organizations have determined that “Traditional Chinese Medicine,” which isn’t too traditional and only dates back to Mao’s Cultural Revolution, as the primary standard for testing.

What does this mean? This means that Chinese cultural hegemony and domination has spread abroad, overshadowing the vast array of modalities that acupuncture encompasses. To some degree, it’s a slap in the face to cultures that are fighting for independence such as Tibet, who practice gSowa-rigpa (Sowa Rigpa), which has an entirely different method and point system than Traditional Chinese Medicine. Along with Tibetans, practitioner trained in methods originating from Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, Chinese cultural hegemony has affected their diaspora community and forced them to learn a completely foreign modality of medicine.

In addition to the cultural implications, adopting “Traditional Chinese Medicine” as the standard has its fallacies amongst even Chinese medical practitioners. Within the Chinese medical community, there are a cornucopia of schools of thought. In the US in particular, there are methods such J.R. Worsley’s Five Element Acupuncture and umbrella of schools that are classified as “Classical Chinese Medicine,” ranging from lineage acupuncturists to those specifically focusing on classical texts such as the Lingshu (靈樞經) and Suwen (素問). Whatever the case may be, the notion of a standardized modality of acupuncture is analogous to having a standard for a contemporary painter. The times have changed and the culminations of different cultures and traditions cannot risk diluting the variety of beautiful art.

In the coming weeks, there will be more discussions on what the possibilities can be made in the acupuncture community and hopefully a greater dialogue can occur without the threat of eliminating precious knowledge.