Chinese medicine is not one medicine; it’s a kaleidoscopic plurality. There is no one true acupuncture; we have a rich ecosystem of perspectives and methods.

The trouble with learning something new is that we have let loose of our current understanding usually acquired through effort and hard work. It’s hard to release what we’ve struggled to learn. Our limited understanding of the terrain becomes our turf. It takes a certain amount of confidence in ourselves, and recognition we know we don’t know, to be able to learn something new that may contradict or call into question that which we comfortably feel like we can rely upon.

Two years ago I started learning Saam acupuncture on a hunch after reading Toby Daly’s article from the Journal of Chinese Medicine. It was at first unpleasantly mind-bending, it took me far afield of what comfortably felt like competence. It invited me into another perspective that eventually came full circle, in that it connected up some of the streams of herbal medicine that I’d been following over the years.

In this conversation, two years after my first podcast discussion with Toby, I’m able to bring a different set of questions and perspectives now that I’ve got a taste for how the Five Phases and Six Conformations connect in ways I could not previous see.

Listen into to this conversation to get a sense of lenses and perspectives of the Buddhist monastic stream of Saam acupuncture.

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • Michael’s experience of learning from clinical experience by having the Saam system be the teacher
  • Four points is plenty if you diagnosis is accurate
  • Each point you put in takes a little qi from the patient, because you are asking the body to do something
  • Stay with and go deep on the basic principles
  • Questions on the Kidney/Small Intestine counterbalance
  • The Kidney consolidates fire and water, and the Small Intestine disperses it
  • Balancing the entire system means everything gets a little better
  • Clinic is like a mixed martial arts fight
  • Experience helps with recognizing patterns in a reliable way
  • Treating the trauma that comes from rapid and ceaseless change
  • You can supplement the Lung to help with the sadness and grief of this time, and to help with emotional shielding you can tonify the Liver
  • Attending to excess and deficiency is a key element of making sense in the chaos of clinical
  • Rapid clinical feedback hones your diagnostic skills quickly
  • You know you’ve got some skill when you know the right times to refer out
  • Practice makes progress

One way to tell if your treatment is correct or not is to watch the complexion on the face. If it gets white, red or blotchy, then the treatment is not right.

Toby Daly, L.Ac, P.hD
I began studying Chinese medicine in 1997 with Sunim Doam a Korean monk trained in the Saam tradition. I earned a master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2002 upon completion of training at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco and Chengdu University in China. During my four years of training in San Francisco, I interned with Dr. Angela Wu who taught me how to apply the lofty theories I was studying in school into the pragmatic setting of a busy clinic. She also taught me how to eat an entire cheesecake in one sitting! In 2013, I developed the Chinese Nutritional Strategies app to provide digital access to the wealth of Chinese dietary wisdom.

In 2016, proving once again that some people never learn, I completed a PhD in Classical Chinese Medicine under the guidance of 88th generation Daoist priest Jeffery Yuen.



Links and Resources

Episode 45 is the first of several conversations on Saam acupuncture. 
This is the follow-up conversation that goes deeper into the character of the channels.
Andreas Bruch also studied Saam acupuncture from the scholar lineage.


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