Prism glass 1
Originally uploaded by tanakawho

I got into treating skin rashes with acupuncture and herbs because my son developed a nasty, itchy rash when he was only 5 months old, while his only food was breast milk. I intuitively knew that gluten (which can be very damp) played a role, as I had been hungrily devouring the bagels my brother sent from Zabars and not cooking my beloved greens because of the demands of mothering a kid under three, and a five month old, while also working (as an acupuncturist)–I know, excuses, excuses. I knew better, I just lacked the resources or drive to do better. So I got myself off gluten (and back on greens and garlic and rice). I had already been dairy-free for a number of years. And I gave my son Chinese herbs, which I cooked up in my kitchen and froze in ice cube trays. I used a pipette to shoot the watery, warm concoction into his mouth. He got better. To this day, we periodically test him with gluten or dairy to see if he has outgrown this sensitivity, but he has not. I have also stayed off gluten as I had my own problems when I reintroduced it. The body sends such clear messages when it is relatively clear of toxins.

In a macrocosmic way, the clinic “body” sends clear messages, too. What I have to offer, based on experience, energetics, or knowledge makes its way to people who need what I have to offer, in ways I do not pretend to understand. I merely marvel at it. I marveled when people started coming to me for help with eczema, psoriasis, shingles and chronic itching, undiagnosed celiac, and food allergies. I have not helped all of them, but I have helped most of them.

…So ends my (egocentric) lead in to the topic at hand: less ego, more light….

One of my first clients with eczema (after my own son) was an 11 year old boy who also had severe asthma. His parents had both been allergic as kids, with histories of asthma and eczema. But they showed few symptoms if any as adults. This young kid was an athlete and at every game he frequented the team’s snack hut, chock full of junk food. He and his mom weren’t willing to prepare herbs in the kitchen which smells up the house, nor was he willing to drink a bad tasting herbal concoction made by mixing powdered herbs with hot water. He was willing to take tea pills. He couldn’t swallow larger capsules. His eczema was very dry and very itchy. His asthma responded to acupuncture very quickly and his frequent attacks dwindled to zero almost immediately.

But the rash held on, only mildly mitigated by patent herbal formulas I prescribed. I spoke to the mom about my son’s experience, and explored her willingness to control her son’s diet, but it seemed impossible to her at the time. Not surprisingly, they stopped getting acupuncture, stopped taking herbs, and continued with an unstructured diet full of common allergens for atopic individuals. I ran into the mom recently and learned some very distressing news: her son continued to struggle with eczema, and it only got worse. At 19 he became intolerant of almost all foods, and required hospitalization due to severe malnutrition. Mom didn’t seem to remember our conversations about diet eight years earlier. I refrained from reminding her. But I thought about it a lot later, about my approach to people when discussing lifestyle choices. I am gentle and understanding. I don’t expect people to make huge changes right away, just small ones, one at a time.

But this doesn’t work for everyone. It didn’t work for this family. Some people respond better to a stronger hand. This family found a strong hand to school them in the shape of a feeding tube. Could I have altered my approach 8 years ago, in such a way that I would have been able to intervene in this dire course of events? The Worsley 5 Element style of Acupuncture excels at this sort of flexible approach to clients based not on the practitioner’s strength but on the practitioners ability to read the client’s “Causative Factor” or CF, described in terms of one of the 5 Elements. The practitioner then adapts her approach to the client, even in the way she speaks to the client, in an effort to reach through the client’s barriers of self to a deep connection with each individual’s innate desire for healing. Had I reached that deep place with my client and his mom, and fired up their desire to do whatever it would take to heal–even if it meant no more greasy fried cheese tortillas, and Mounds bars–maybe he wouldn’t have ended up in such a severe state of toxic overload. And she wouldn’t have ended up stooped over with worry, overly pale, and herself way too skinny–as she was when she described her son’s condition to me. But I wasn’t able to filter out myself, my way, and approach her in a way that worked for her.

The deeper I get into Chinese Medicine the more I see it as a pervasive intelligence as simple yet majestic as light. The different schools of thought–TCM, Classical, Japanese Meridian, Kiiko, Toyo Hari, Medical, Worsley–are merely prisms, which can refract the light in spectrums visible to the human eye. The important thing isn’t the prism, it’s the light. Each practitioner is also a little mini-prism. What is important isn’t how gentle and compassionate I am “as a healer,” it’s how much light is actually getting through to my clients. Less ego, more light.