The book we used for studying acupuncture points at the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine was Foundations of Chinese Acupuncture. That along with Grasping the Wind were my entry into the study of channels and points. Both of those books had the handiwork of today’s guest, Andy Ellis.
Beyond those early translations, Andy has his fingerprints on a wide swath of books on herbal medicine and acupuncture.
Andy wandered his way into most of his learning. And he’s been generous with what he’s found.
Listen into this conversation on learning, finding teachers, and how putting yourself in front of what you’re curious about will open 緣分 Yuan Fen like opportunities, you can’t get any other way.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- Andy's draw to studying Chinese medicine
- Learning from Dr. Soo at the New England School
- Moving to Taiwan to further his study of medicine and the opportunities that arose
- The role, complexity, and controversy around translation in Chinese Medicine
- A chance meeting that led to studying with Dr. Shi in Xia Men
- The complexity of herbal medicine along with the discrepancy and miscategorization of herbs
- Insights on potentials and limitations in the integration of Chinese Medicine into the Western healthcare system.
- Thoughts the fundamental differences between Western and Chinese medicine
- The desire to pass along what has been learned
The superior physician strives for a pure spirit and looks inwards. While appearing dignified, he remains at ease. [His mind is] neither clear nor clouded. When examining a patient, it is with unsullied intentions and a sincere heart, carefully examining the patient and his disease leaving nothing out; with no confusion, judiciously discerning the [prescription of] acupuncture and herbs. Although the illness is serious, [the physician] must not become flustered; examine closely and contemplate deeply. In life, we should not rashly show off our cleverness nor seek fame; this lacks virtue.
While I like the entire quote, the sentence that has had the largest impact on me is, “[His mind is] neither clear nor clouded.” I interpret this to mean that, as we approach our patients it is important to not hastily draw any conclusions, nor should we succumb to the confusion induced by the patient’s complex and seemingly contradictory signs and symptoms.
I began my study of Chinese medicine at the New England School of Acupuncture in 1981 with Dr. James So. In 1983 I went to Taiwan to study Chinese and apprenticed in herbology and acupuncture there with Xu Fu-Su in Zhang Hua. I also studied with Chen Jun-Ming in Taipei. In 1986 I went to mainland China and studied acupuncture with Dr. Shi Neng-Yun for six months and in 1988 returned to Xiamen to study dermatology, gynecology and internal medicine at the Xiamen Chinese medical hospital. I lived at the hospital for about a year. In 1990 I had the opportunity to study ear, nose and throat with Dr. Gan Zu-Wang in a one-month intensive program in Xiamen.
I returned to the US later in 1990, practiced in Florida and two years later moved to California to teach herbology at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1992 we founded Spring Wind Herbs, Inc.
Since that time I have practiced and taught Chinese medicine and translated, co-translated, edited or written several books on Chinese medicine.
Links and Resources
In addition to founding Spring Wind Herbs. Here are some of the books that Andy has translated or co-translated:
Notes from South Mountain – Thin Moon Publishing
The Clinical Experience of Dr. Shi Neng-Yun – Thin Moon Publishing
A Walk Along the River – Eastland Press
Formulas and Strategies (Second Edition) – Eastland Press
Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine – Paradigm Publications
Fundamentals of Chinese Acupuncture – Paradigm Publications
Grasping the Wind – Paradigm Publications
Handbook of Formulas in Chinese Medicine – Eastland Press
Ten Lectures on the Use of Medicinals – Paradigm Publications
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Shop Talk with Leta Herman
Considering and Using Ghost Points
Leta Herman, co-founder of the Alchemy Learning Center, shares her insights into the world of the Thirteen Ghost Points, a mystical aspect of acupuncture that she has been practicing for almost two decades. These points, often overlooked or misunderstood, hold transformative potential but require a level of practitioner self-cultivation before their full power can be harnessed.
Leta emphasizes that the Ghost Points act as liberators, clearing out accumulated emotional baggage and releasing stuck patterns, making them particularly valuable in our modern world. She advocates for a patient-centered approach, recommending starting with a few Ghost Points in a one-hour session to avoid overwhelming reactions, using a unique vibrating technique that can be needle-based or non-needle-based.
Leta's approach involves bearing witness to the patient's experience and facilitating their transformative journey, making the Ghost Points a powerful tool for both personal growth and clinical practice.
I'm not your typical Chinese Medicine Practitioner. I always like to get that statement right out first! I consider myself a Chinese Medicine Healer, Alchemist, and lifetime learner. My unique approach involves non-needle techniques, using my fingers as energetic needles, and incorporating direct moxibustion, cupping, and gua sha. My journey into healing began with a healing crisis that changed my life, leading me to study with remarkable teachers like Master Jeffery Yuen, Eliot Cowan, and Niki Bilton over the past two decades.
Over the years I’ve focused on the more esoteric aspects of Chinese Medicine and Alchemical Healing, including Sun SiMiao’s Thirteen Ghosts Points and the Nine Stages of Daoist Alchemy. As co-founder of the AlchemyLearningCenter.com, where we offer numerous CEU classes in Alchemical and Classical Chinese Medicine, I’m excited to start a new Alchemy apprenticeship cohort in our popular Master Alchemy Apprenticeship Program (MAAP) this Fall.
I also co-host the Inspired Action Podcast at InspiredActionPodcast.com, which focuses on Alchemy, the Five Elements, and the Nine Palaces for both practitioners and laypeople alike. You can find it anywhere you listen to podcasts!