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Ep 73 Chinese Medicine + Acupuncture with Julie McCormick

Get to know Julie McCormick, owner of Selby Acupuncture, and learn about how Chinese Medicine works as an integrative model of care.  Julie shares a personal story of what drew her into this work and why she’s so passionate about making it more accessible.

Connect with Julie at selbyacupuncture.com

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 [00:01:26] Lilly: Welcome back to the well-connected twin cities podcast. I’m your host. Lily’s ed broski. Oskie. And in this episode, I’m joined by Julie McCormick, owner of Selby acupuncture. She talks about her many, many years of experience with traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. And she also shares a personal story about how she got started down this path and what drew her in. 

And what she experienced as a result of being a patient and client, and receiving. Treatments herself. We also talk about how she helps people, especially regulating hormones and dealing with fertility concerns and regulating cycles. So that is something that she specializes in. And so we get into more detail around how Chinese medicine can be really supportive around balancing hormones, balancing cycles, and really optimizing fertility and can be a really nice compliment, especially if someone’s going through fertility treatment specifically. 

So let’s meet Julie. 

Well, I’m here with Julie McCormick owner of SBY acupuncture. Welcome to the 

[00:02:35] Julie: show. Thanks for having me, Lily. I’m excited to be here. Yeah. I’m 

[00:02:40] Lilly: excited to chat with you about your extensive experience in Chinese medicine and acupuncture, but let’s get started with how you.

Got into this work in the first place. So tell us a little bit about you. 

[00:02:54] Julie: Sure. So this was my first career. Um, a lot of us at my stage acupuncture came as a second career and it really, I started doing it because it worked for me personally. You know, I, I have, uh, my story is that I was, uh, went to college for chemistry.

I had a great job. And as working as a chemist, I liked it fine. Um, I worked for MacAllister college. They’re the most amazing employer ever. So like, you know, Owning your own business versus McAllister is one thing, but what, what happened was I, um, had just had my second baby and, uh, I was experiencing pretty severe postpartum depression and I, I didn’t know anything about any integrative medicine at that time.

You know, my world was pretty much just, um, I would say culturally what’s. Kind of accepted a normal here. And, uh, what I did was I tried exercising a lot. So I started training for a marathon cuz I was like, well, exercise helps with depression. Um, I started, uh, taking medications and nothing was working for me.

And um, you know, a friend said, well, why don’t you, why don’t you go see the S acupuncturist? I know maybe they could help. And I was fairly desperate. You know, I had two little kids. I had a, a one year old and a newborn at home. Um, And, and I was, you know, I, I remembered how much fun it was with the first baby.

And, and I was sad that I was losing that time to this depression with my son. Uh, and so I went and saw them. They asked me a lot of questions that seemed super unrelated. So like, what is your sleep like? And I remember at the time being fairly irritated, like, you know, my sleep is garbage, but. I’m not here about insomnia, right?

I’m here, cuz my mood is on the floor. And so we talked a lot and then what I actually ended up doing was I took some herbal medicine cuz I did have a lot of time. Right. I had two tinies at home. Um, I took some herbal medicine and I changed what I ate. They gave me some advice on food and I always say soup for breakfast, changed my life.

Um, and was about two weeks later I started feeling like myself again where and. the biggest thing that made me cry was they said, stop exercising. And every time you have that chance you could run. I want you to just get some time to yourself and lay down. And I just started crying. Right. Cause that was everything my body wanted was to rest.

Um, within a couple weeks I started to feel like myself again. And then I was like, well, dang, this is, you know, the side effects. I’m sleeping better too. The side effects were pretty good. So, you know, I did like leave my great career at that point and just decide to do this. Um, but then when said baby turned about, um, he was turning one, he would maybe outta his nine month appointment, he stopped growing.

He dropped off the growth charts, um, and it was a really scary diagnosis for us. Right. He had. What was considered an innocent heart murmur, but the doctors were like, well, maybe it’s not so innocent. He, he was, I dunno, he was a peanut. He was like 15 or 16 pounds then, um, maybe 17. It was little. Um, and he hadn’t grown at all in the last three months from check to check.

So we were signed up to do all of these different specialist doctors. Right. See the pediatric ologist and the cardiologists. And as you know, those appointments, it takes three or four weeks to get in for those. So in the meantime, I’m. Freaking out. And I brought him in to the same person who had treated me and I’m just desperate, like what’s going on with my kid.

And again, she asked me questions that were, seemed completely unrelated. Like, does he sleep with his eyes slightly open? And I was like, yes, like what are you a witch doctor or something like, how do you know this? And sort started asking me, like, does he feel hot, but he doesn’t have a fever. And, you know, as we talk about Chinese medicine, I’ll see what she was doing was trying to find this pattern of symptoms that would kind of go together.

And, um, we found the pattern with little, little kids. You often don’t do needles. You docu pressure called Twana. So she taught me some massage to do at home for him and to change the tiny bit of food, he was eating. Like, don’t give him cheers and bananas, give him sweet potatoes. Um, and I did it and he put on a pound in two weeks and that was when I was.

WTF, right? Like what’s going on here. And then as soon as he started growing, the, all the doctors were like, well, I guess it was a blip. You know, if he’s growing, we’re fine with that. And I just was like, I don’t want to know what they would’ve found. Right. I was keeping eye on, but I’m happy to say he’s in his twenties now he’s six foot two.

He’s still very thin. But, um, you know, he’s, she’s, she’s just fine. He, he grew up just fine. Uh, and so. That was the, that was the thing where I thought, like, I, I just need to understand this. Right. Cause it felt really confusing. Yeah. I needed to understand it. So I started kind of looking at a few books and then I was just like, everyone needs access to this.

Cuz if I hadn’t had that access, I hate to think of what could have happened. Had we pushed down the other road. Right. Yeah. 

[00:07:44] Lilly: And just think about the difference in spending like all those specialist appointments when looking at it in a different way, in a more integrative way, you were able to just.

[00:07:56] Julie: Well, and the power of all these pieces, right? Like, like massaging his ankles would have him gain weight. Like I had no idea how that could work. Like why would that work? It seemed stupid, but I would do. Anything. And I think that’s, most of the people we see at the beginning is I’ll do anything. I don’t know what’s going on.

Um, and then when it works like that’s, and that’s really how I came to this was then I started studying and, um, went to school and then I was just like, everyone needs access to this. Everyone needs to have this as an option. It doesn’t work for everybody, but they should at least. Be given the opportunity to try it.

And that’s how I got here. 

[00:08:33] Lilly: So yeah. So, cool. Well, tell us about how SBY acupuncture got started and how it’s evolved over the years. What has that road looked like? 

[00:08:41] Julie: Yeah. Um, so I, I went to school in the early two thousands and when I graduated there were, um, there were no jobs to be had. I would’ve taken a job hat.

I’ve been able to find one, um, But I couldn’t find one for the life of me. So I called myself a reluctant, uh, business owner. So I knew I wanted to practice. I had, you know, I had gone to school. I had made this big investment of time and resources to do this. And I had this mission underneath me this big why?

So I was like, well, I’ll just guess I’ll just have to hang a shingle and try this myself. And so what happened was I opened the door. My mother had just retired. Always say I voluntold her to work at the front desk for me and she did. God bless her. Um, she’s gotten a lot of acupuncture from doing that.

She still does, but, uh, um, and then eventually I got busy enough so that I recruited a friend to come in and work, you know, part-time at the front desk and then another provider came in and we just kinda kept growing and growing. And then. Really like, so right now we have nine providers full time. We have two clinics and it just kept going from not only having access to, um, the medicine for the community, which is really important to me, that’s my main mission, but also having sustainable jobs in an area where is really difficult to work in integrative health.

And so it was just like, well, if we wanna have healthcare, We have to pool ourselves together to be able to afford it if we wanna have administrative support. So like, so that as an acupuncture, you can practice acupuncture. You don’t also have to practice receptionist, insurance, biller, all of these other pieces.

Right? That, that, that just for me, I was fighting myself, burned out. So we kept pulling together and then just building a community of people to riff ideas off of, and to grow. And that’s kind of how we grew. We expanded, expanded, expanded. We’ve been in business now. This is our 16th year, um, which I’m super pumped about.

So yeah, that’s kind of how we came to be. And it just, I mean, it just keeps growing. I’m grateful that acupuncture is getting more and more well known in the twin cities and just everywhere so that we keep having access. And, um, yeah, my goal is just to keep growing it because I just want more and more people to be able to use it.

[00:10:49] Lilly: So. Yeah. Well, let’s talk about Chinese medicine and how it works. Will you give us the overview? I know that’s a really big question, but you just get to it. 

[00:11:00] Julie: uh, yeah, that’s a great question. I always say that I’ve got my five minute version of the 5,000 year olds history. So we’ll just go for it. We’ll just do it.

Um, so Chinese medicine. Is really, um, out of China, obviously, it’s, you know, it’s arguable about how old it is. We usually say about 5,000, some say older, some say less, you start losing records when you start going over 2,500 years. Um, and it’s really a philosophy that was put into practice. And so I always say you have to paradigm shift with me to understand act moisture it’s based on this theory.

And the theory is that we have something called Chi, which is like loosely translated to energy or a life force or something. People get their doctorates and what is Chi? Right. So it’s kind of hard to understand. Um, but the idea is that you have this Chi, it runs along these pathways in the body called meridians and those meridians run in and out.

And I don’t have my little doll. I wish I did. I could show you all of the pathways. You can see, you can often find those and just see what the lines are, but keep in mind that those lines are kind of deep and kind of thick and that they plunge in and out, right? So it’s connecting all of the different parts of the body and, and I like.

Have the analogy that it’s like water in a river. So when you have enough water Chi, that’s able to go along the river, the, the pathways, the meridians, um, the body, then it’s perfectly fine. But when the water can’t get to where it needs to go, when the tree gets blocked and it’s like, if there’s a dam in the river, you’re gonna have a symptom right.

At where that blockage is. But because everything is hooked to everything, you’re gonna have other things. So there might be some overflow or some backup or something down the line. Isn’t getting what it. And that’s how we look at everything in a constellation. And so really what we’re trying to do is to bring the body back into balance, like to get the, to get the energies, to move back where they’re gonna be, and then the body has this ability to heal itself.

So that’s the idea. And I think the strength of Chinese medicine is that really in looking at things the, the small, and then expanding out to the large, um, it’s also the weakness, right? And I think the strength of Western medicine is looking. Large and really coming back into the small and that’s why they tend to just work super well together.

Hmm. So that’s basically how it works. I always like to call out the elephant in the room called, um, this came out in a study. Not that long ago. I, I love research. Um, and they called it theatrical placebo. Right. Cause, if I describe what a treatment’s like, if no one’s ever had one before you basically, you kind of come into a nice warm environment, someone offers you some tea, you go and sit into a room.

You’re gonna get, you know, they’re gonna have a good conversation and, and really be listened to if the provider’s doing their job and we’re gonna ask about the condition, but then all of those other things I mentioned, because all of it matters. So how is your sleep and what’s going on with your digestion and what is your energy like and all of these things.

So once we get a good picture, You lay on a table and you’re kept quite warm and, and comfortable. We use heat lamps in our space. You are inserted these tiny little needles that have this, um, uh, strong reaction to make your body go into relaxed mode. And then the lights are dimmed and in you’re able to lay there for 20 to 30 minutes and then someone comes back.

So, and I had to ask myself this question too, like, is all the effect from like, that feels good, you know? Yeah. That feels good. And that’s the place that I believe the body heals. Mm-hmm um, At some point, I was like, well, I guess it doesn’t matter. Cuz in practice, I see it work over and over again. So it doesn’t really matter.

But you know, as a person who specializes in infertility in women’s health, there is a ton of research out there. And um, we have study after study showing that it does make a difference, right. That. There’s Dopplers ultrasounds that show that it does increase blood flow. There’s MRI readings that demonstrate that it can prompt, um, quick and observable changes right into the brain.

Outside of knowing that effect. We do this treatment, we get this result, so there’s plenty of evidence behind there. Um, now how much of it is the needle insertion and how much of it is experience? Um, I don’t really know. And at this point I always say I don’t really care anymore cuz it’s one of my great teachers.

Dr. Cha said to me, when I was trying to my research, my old chemistry research brain was trying to control for all the factors and uh, you know, was it like I was gonna, like, we eliminate this, which one is actually true. Um, and he said, it, it, it doesn’t matter if they’re getting better, they’re getting better.

Then you just keep doing all those things. So that makes sense. Yeah. That’s kind of my understanding of Chinese medicine. There’s a, there’s a whole lot there. Yeah. Um, there’s a whole lot there 

[00:15:27] Lilly: and I think a lot of people think about acupuncture right away, because that’s probably one of the most well known tools of Chinese medicine.

But do you wanna talk about some of the other tools that you utilize? You mentioned massage and, um, herbs that were part of in dietary. Recommendations that were a part of your experience. Um, but I need a little bit 

[00:15:48] Julie: more too, so yeah, for sure. In the west here, um, when we talk about Chinese medicine or traditional Chinese medicine or classical Chinese medicine, there’s a lot of names for it.

There’s a lot of, it’s just one big umbrella and there’s a lot of different treatment modalities that fall under that. And here in the United States, acupuncture is the best, the most well known, but also we have herbal medicine, which if you go to China, herbal medicine is. The most utilized form of, of Chinese medicine.

We also have something called moxa Bustion, which is a warming therapy where we warm, uh, certain herb over certain points on the body. And if you go to Japan, that’s a really heavily used form of, of Chinese medicine. Um, dietary therapy is incredibly important. There’s TWK, which is massage. There’s a whole lot there’s cupping, which I think is gone and that’s common in a lot of different, healing traditions. So all of those different pieces are pulled together. And that’s really part of what I wanna do, um, in our clinics is to let people have access to the whole kitten caboodle. I say like, because every piece has different value to it. And if, you know, I don’t know what language the body’s gonna speak.

So again, if I just throw everything at it and it gets better, That’s what I wanna do. And for me, um, herbs was what was changed my life around. So, you know, we have, uh, a large herbal pharmacy. We do raw herbs. We do what’s called powdered herbs. We can do customized formulas and we do what are called patents or formulas that are already pre-made into pills.

Um, cuz really. The, the strength of Chinese medicine is in the individualistic aspect of it. Um, if you have a headache or you have a endometriosis diagnosis or whatever your diagnosis is gonna be different than someone else’s, um, because again, is it the blockage happening at that one place or is it an effect of something else down the road?

That’s our job to kind of figure out. So we do try to utilize all of those different, different pieces. I will say by far, um, acupuncture and herbs are the biggest ones that we use in our clinic. We don’t do a lot of Mabu, um, cuz it smells a hundred percent like marijuana. I have not kidding you. It’s. But like, if you tell somebody like, okay, this is what we’re doing in our office.

And it just, and your eyes are all red from the smoke and no people are irritated by smoke. So I just don’t do a whole lot of Mo cause, cause I don’t think they believe me that it’s a Chinese herb. So , I, we, we have ways around it. We have ways of doing it without smoke, so. 

[00:18:11] Lilly: Okay. Got it. So. How quickly do people see results from treatment or what can that look like?

It sounds like you had a pretty significant experience and significant change in a short amount of time. Um, but what does that look like in your experience across many, many clients over the years? 

[00:18:32] Julie: Yeah, I’m, I’m, what’s called a super responder. So I always say it’s, you know, Chinese medicine is a therapeutic in treatment.

And so really most of the research that’s being right down now right now is, is on dosage. How much do we need to get the result we want? Um, And infertility it’s very easily researched because the result is really easily measurable. Right? You conceive and you carry a term or you don’t, and, and really we’re extrapolating a lot of that information from there.

Um, traditionally we were taught that you need a series of treatments. You’d usually start with 10 treatments, sometimes two or three times a week for two or three weeks, and then you would wean off as the body got strong. I usually start people with three to six treatments. And within that, by that third treatment, we should have some real noticeable improvement.

Now it may not hold meaning you’re you have a symptom say you’re not, we’re measuring sleep. Right. Cause that’s an easy one to measure. I wake up four times a night. Oh, within three treatments. I’m only waking up once. That’s great. But if I took away the treatment, all of a sudden you would go right back again.

And so the goal is that we wanna get enough treatments to keep momentum going until the body can hold it itself. And then we start pulling back, um, infertility right now, the recommendations based on our research, it’s 12 to 14, although I heard enough new study coming out that same 15 treatments and, and really the question isn’t just treatments, but treatments over time, the closer we can get ’em together, the faster it goes, generally, the less that you need.

Um, but. Like I say, most people, I say three to six. There’s some people, no matter what we do, we don’t make any impact, unfortunately. And it’s just not the thing that’s gonna get, um, their body to respond. And there’s some people like me and a lot of people who jumped into it as a second career that I call super responders where you just need a very little influence on your body.

Just pops right up. Like I treated one, um, one guy, he was a quarterback, a college football. He, he, he was pass college. He was in his career, but he had worked, uh, he. Been a quarterback in college football really beat up his body, you know, up in, through his twenties and had a terrible back. Um, and he came in and, and I was, I just did one treatment, really simple treatment.

And he came back. He’s like the pain’s gone. That was 10 years ago. It’s never come back. It’s. He continues to refer people to me and say, you have to go see Julie, just one treatment and your pain from 20 years can be cleared up. And I was like, no, like you are the exception, man. Like you are the exception.

Like everyone else I need at least like maybe, you know, maybe six for some kind of chronic pain. Like. You know, gimme a little room, but so we have that range and response for, for different people. But most people fall right in the middle where you do need that series of treatment. And it really depends on what we’re doing.

Something acute usually takes less treatment, something chronic takes longer. Um, if you’re younger, you take very little treatment compared to if you’re older, um, more like my, my baby son, you know, a little bit of massage and he was just fine. And that’s because their bodies have a ton of, uh, availability for resources.

They, you know, I always say they’re little unused bodies yet, so yeah, they’ve got, they’ve got extra, extra Chi. Yeah. 

[00:21:38] Lilly: Do you treat babies or do you have someone in your clinic who. 

[00:21:42] Julie: We do a little bit. I wouldn’t say that we do a lot. There’s some great, um, providers out there who really specialize in pediatrics.

Okay. Um, that could do, I, I always say I will, again, like if I’ve worked with a woman for a long time and her, her child is experiencing something, most of the time, what we’ll do in those cases is we’ll we do herbal medicine for, um, young kids and that’s really easy to do, but, um, in our clinic, we don’t specialize in working.

With peds. Okay, good. I’ve done a little bit. I mean, I treated my own kids. I’ll treat my friends’ kids, but yeah.

[00:22:14] Lilly: You got into this a little bit already, but can you elaborate on kind of the contrast of the approach of Chinese medicine with the approach of kind of the more conventional Western slash American medical system that we’re most used to?

[00:22:29] Julie: , Well, like I said, I think that the strength and weakness, isn’t the same thing. So. Western medicine, strength and weakness is in being really reductionist. Right? So, um, for example, in the work of infertility, I have trained with a lot of different reproductive endocrinologists and at a training at a seminar like a weekend seminar was after, after the training, we were all kind of sitting and having a drink at the end of the day.

And I was talking to the re and. um, and he said before an IVF transfer, which is where they have fertilized an embryo outside of the body. And then they’re about to transfer it back into the body to hopefully help a woman become pregnant. Um, he said, I, I don’t care if her mom died the day before. It doesn’t matter.

And you know, for me, I was like, cuz he’s a scientist. And he was like, it is about sperms and eggs and blood flow and hormone levels and all of these things. That’s I would say the weakness that could be there is that the person can get lost in the story. So Chinese medicine would say that makes a huge difference.

That makes a huge impact. And, and where we really, I think where Western medicine can really take something and then really get down into the nitty gritty. And again, that’s really powerful stuff. Like we need that in cases of emergency medicine and infertility, um, you know, uh, that’s a strength. I think Western medicine doesn’t do well for chronic disease, sticky things, things we don’t understand those pieces.

It doesn’t have, you know, pain is a great example where we don’t have good care for painful conditions in Western medicine. Um, Chinese medicine is the opposite. So it’s gonna look at the one thing and then it’s gonna blow it up to look at the bigger picture always. And so again, the weakness could be, um, if I don’t.

Uh, if, uh, infertility, for example, if you’re coming to talk to me about what’s going on, and I’m just talking about your cycle, like looking at your cycle and all of these symptoms, but we don’t do a test to see if the fallopian tubes are open, then no matter what I do, you’re not gonna conceive because that egg cannot get to where it needs.

So we really, we really need both pieces. I think, you know, we need to optimize the body, which is what Chinese medicine does is really optimize the body and it heals itself, um, and kind of give it what it needs. And I always say the body’s never making a mistake. It’s telling us something. And so the, the.

The work is in kind of decoding that. And when you put the two of them together, it works super well. So we work, you know, I think we’re really good at treating, um, what I always call the sticky diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic pain, insomnia, digestive complaints, like these things that are bigger, like SIBO is a big one.

That’s all over again now where we’re, it’s just really hard to understand what’s going on and there aren’t great treatments. That’s our wheelhouse. We are super good at training that, but if you came in because you have a broken arm, like. Chinese medicine is a whole system of medicine, just like Western medicine, meaning I can diagnose and put a treatment together for anything that comes in the door, but please don’t come to me for a broken arm because there’s way better treatments out there for that.

Yeah. After 

[00:25:36] Lilly: you’ve had it set and put the cast on. 

[00:25:39] Julie: Exactly, exactly. In fact, um, well I have got a, a funny story about that. So when I was maybe four years into practice, um, I had injured my left. And at the time I was treating a foot surgeon, which was hilarious in itself. He’s like kind of a big weight foot surgeon too.

So I’m limping around. I gotta, you know, I had him look at it, not him, but you know, the doctor and they didn’t see anything and I’m still just limping around for months. And then he finally was like, just gimme your foot. Like, couldn’t, couldn’t stand to see this happen. Cuz I was working with him long term.

He, he. He had a, uh, an issue that we were gonna work together for a long time. Um, and so he referred me out to go see a colleague that he had trained. It ended up, I had a very oddball, uh, foot injury and I needed surgery pretty immediately, or I wasn’t gonna walk anymore. Can, if you can believe that. Oh, so.

I have the surgery and then I’m told, um, you can’t be weight bearing for three months. Now this is summer. I have two young kids. Just keep that in mind. Like don’t put weight on your left foot for three months. That’s so hard. Oh, it was horrible. Um, so I, I. I did what they said, but in the meantime I did herbal foot SOS.

I did all of the kind of integrative treatments that I knew I did acupuncture and, you know, they would check periodically and, and do an x-ray to see how everything was healing. And I healed about three and a half weeks before they thought I should. Oh, and the doctor, uh, he, he was, he was Spanish. He had this beautiful Spanish accent.

Um, and I always see surgeons. They just smell so good. I don’t know. I think they’re just so clean all the time, but so he, he said, I don’t know what you’re doing, but you know, this is healing a lot quicker than we expected. And I said, well, I’ll tell you what it, what I think it is. And I said, I’m doing this and this and this.

Um, and he said, well, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. And then said this, you know, when my people came to the United States from. They didn’t understand why sucking on a lemon made their gums not bleed, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t suck on a lemon. Like, just because we don’t understand it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it.

Mm. Yeah. So, yeah. Powerful, powerful. So that’s, I mean, that’s the great example of the integration of both of the things together like that surgery was necessary and I was able to heal from it a lot quicker. Yeah. I love that. 

[00:27:59] Lilly: Thank you for sharing that story. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I’m gonna move into an important question.

I think for anyone who’s practicing, uh, modality or lineage of medicine, that is not from their own cultural background. So how do you honor the lineage in history of this medicine as a white woman in the United States in 2022? What does that look like for you? 

[00:28:25] Julie: I think it’s a great question. And, you know, I I’ve approached it like just like Western medicine is there to treat everybody Chinese medicine is available and there to treat everybody.

And, and really the goal of, I would say, um, you know, a lot of the, the founders of the medicine, right. These names that won’t be familiar to you. Jean, Jean J like these people that wrote books 1500 years ago, their goal was to help heal people. In fact, one of our biggest our, our root, um, herbal books came out during a pandemic.

During a time where they wanted their people were dying left and right. And the author’s family was all dying and he was a physician and really medicine was then only kept to one group of people to the elite. Um, and, and he decided to write a book. And, you know, at that time writing a book was difficult and getting the information out was difficult, but equivalently teaching people how to treat so that they could live mm-hmm , um, and get them through.

And I think that’s how I approach it. Mm-hmm . What’s really funny. So when I was in school and I was learning Chinese medicine, you know, it’s a very different, uh, Chinese culture. I’ll never understand it completely because I’m not Chinese and I didn’t grow up there. Mm-hmm um, when I was studying a student, there’s a lot of different theories in Chinese medicine.

There’s something called five element theory or yin young theory. You’ve heard of senior Y young or what called six confirmation theory. There’s a whole lot of things. And most of the time they play really well together, but I was learning these different theories. You know, my first year of acupuncture school and, and as the, you know, old scientist, um, Julie came out and I was like, you know, finding problems.

Right. And so I looked, I compared, I looked for every instance where maybe they didn’t link together. Like, well, if I look at it this way from this one, but then I apply this one. Doesn’t work. So I, of course smartly think I had really discovered something amazing. And I went to, um, Dr. Lou, my teacher, who’s still practicing he’s God bless him.

That he dealt with me. And I said, I, I need an appointment with you, Dr. Lou, I found something really important. I was like, well, okay. So this situation, if I look at it with five elements here, it gives me this answer. When I approach it with the six confirmation theory doesn’t compute. And he said, well, in that case, I wouldn’t use six confirmation theory.

And then he equivalently like dropped the mic and walked away. Mm-hmm and I had to sit and really think on that. Right. Because the way I was trained, the, the way I was trained, uh, growing up in, in science, growing up is that there was one truth. Right. And the way that, that he approached it, that Chinese medicine approached it was you use what’s appropriate.

Like we’ll use and apply what’s appropriate. And if this doesn’t work, it’s not appropriate, then you use something else. And that was my first kind of, I would say kind of mind blowing experience that there was a whole lot more to hear. So, you know, how do I honor the medicine I think is to. To study it, to understand the philosophies behind it, to understand kind of what went through, how did it come about to ask the different questions and to be open to it, but also to practice it, um, in its whole form to really, to really use it the way it can be used is to honor it instead of to distill it down and to say that, you know, if I just put three needles in your elbow, I’ll cure elbow pain and teach anyone to do that.

That’s not honoring the medicine and. It’s really quite a deep and rich, um, form. And the goal is if you give it time and you continual continually learn, you know, I’ll, I’ll never be done because it’s way too deep for me ever to be done, which is honestly thrilling, cuz I love to learn. But um, I’ll I know I’ll never understand it completely.

Um, but to honor, it is to just keep trying to keep trying and to not distill it down. So mm-hmm, , you know, I was blessed that many of my teachers in my generation, many of my teachers were from China. They were all trained in China. Um, the next generation of learners here are gonna have a lot of them from us, the people that were trained originally, but maybe they won’t have people that just ha had gone through that training there.

And. In the United States, our training is about four years long in China. You know, you’re a full doctor. So it’s about, you know, it’s six years after you finish your bachelor’s degree. It’s, it’s just a lot deeper. And like my teacher, while here, you know, when we’re full, we might see 40 to 50 patients a week.

He worked in a hospital and saw 30 or 40 people a day. So their experience is just so much greater and their experience of what they’re able to treat is so much greater than we have here that really to. Teaching people, what it can do, I think is how we honor it. Nice. Yeah. 

[00:33:01] Lilly: Well, let’s talk a little bit more about your specialty.

So what brings most people through your doors? What types of conditions, symptoms or concerns do people come with? 

[00:33:13] Julie: Um, as a clinic, I would say, like I said, it originally, we’re kind of the last stop. So desperation brings a lot of people to our door, um, through someone who has used it. We do as a clinic, we do a lot of work with, um, painful conditions, I think just because acupuncture’s really well known in the west for treating pain.

Um, and then we do a lot of work, uh, with women’s health in particular. And so, um, in my own personal practice that has to do a lot with. Fertility working infertility, trying to regulate, um, the period for women and trying to help them conceive. And then as I’ve been farther in practice, now I’m starting to do more work with menopause as well.

Cuz you start working with the same group of people for a long period of time. Um, what brings them in specifically in the infertility is that. Desperation to do anything you can to build your family. And if anyone has chosen to have a family, um, you understand that it’s not a really logical choice. It, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

It is like this biological imperative and. Uh, as, as women we’re taught, um, birth control and we’re really taught to be so careful because the moment we stop using birth control, you could fall pregnant. Like you’re gonna fall into pregnancy, right. Or all the stories about like, oh, we were in the same hot tub.

Like those things like this expectation is the moment I decide to have a child I will conceive. And the heartbreak when that doesn’t happen, um, is phenomenal. And, and, and, and. And I don’t have words for how big that suffering is and to go through. Month after month after month. So I’ve tried to conceive.

Now I have to get my period. I have to grieve that potential and then quickly pick myself back up. Cuz now we gotta try again. And by the way, don’t get stressed out about it because stress is gonna affect that like all of these different pieces where they’re just swimming in it and the moment anyone in your community or your circle knows what you’re trying to do.

They all are gonna tell you what you need to do. You need to relax more. You need to sleep more. You need to exercise. You need to, you know, eat pineapple. That’s a really big one. Or I always say like, if someone said have four blueberries at 11 o’clock while standing on your left foot, they do it. Cause.

Because they want this so desperately. And it’s also, I think part of the integrity that we have to have anyone who works with the fertility, um, community is to have that integrity because that is a population that is incredibly vulnerable. Mm-hmm , uh, it took us a long time. You know, now as a clinic, we have very strong relationships with a lot of the fertility specialists in the Western medicine side.

It took us a long time to build those relationships. Um, not because they question. you know, Chinese medicine, but because they knew they had to protect their patients because that’s a vulnerable group and you don’t want anyone to take advantage of them. Mm-hmm um, and so, uh, who brings us in it’s a lot of times that, that desperation, how do they find out about us?

It’s, you know, my job is to be an educator, I think, to help teach people what we can and can’t do. Um, and then to help our referring providers know what we can and can’t do. And we get a lot of our people now that are working with the IVF clinics in town, because the IVF clinics know if we add an acupuncture, it increases their chances of conception, you know, by some research by 40%, that’s a, that’s a really big deal, um, for a kind of a small intervention that helps you feel good.

That’s the, yeah, that’s the main way people find us. And then, you know, if we do our job, right, we get them to the end of that road. However that road looks, we, I always say, I hope that what, how you wanna get there is how you get there. I don’t know that we’re gonna try, but I know you get to the end. I know you get to the end, you know, and, and whether that end is like one woman I worked with her end was deciding to be child free.

And really, I wanna represent that group of people that says that they’re gonna be child free. I work with people that conceive naturally when they’ve been told that they cannot or who work, who work with IVF or where they do donor, um, eggs or donor embryos, or whether they’re going into adoption, all of these different pieces, um, while.

The Western side said, what I’m doing is regulating the hormones and increasing blood flow and doing all these things. I also know that I’m supporting the right, that whole person, the spirit, the energy self, so that they can make the choices, whatever they need to do to get forward, to give them some relief in this process.

Um, which is, I think vitally important. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:37:51] Lilly: And during such an emotional time, I think like having that treatment and that support, no matter what feels feels so supportive, feels like it would help no matter what 

[00:38:01] Julie: the, yeah. I have a woman I worked with, um, For years, she now she’s got her kiddos, but, um, when I had seen her, she’d had a number of miscarriages.

Um, she had, uh, was just going into, um, IVF, um, had a number of failed attempts there. Uh, finally did conceive miscarried. You know, it was, it was brutal. Mm-hmm her experience was brutal. And, um, she actually put her story up. If anyone wants to know her story, she, she happily shared it on our website. Cause I think it’s important for people who have gotten to the end mm-hmm to communicate to people who are at the beginning.

Like you you’re gonna get there too, cuz it feels like you won’t. Um, And she had a lot of ups and downs on the road. But one of the things, when I asked her, if she would share her story, I was doing a talk with a bunch of, um, physicians and nurses. And I wanted them to know what from the patient experience was.

Um, and she said, the moment that needle was inserted, I could take a breath. And it was this space and this time of desperation and fear and everything that I could take a breath mm-hmm . And I think providing that, um, In that during that time where, you know, most of the time, by the time I see them, it’s been a few years that they’ve been dealing with this ups and downs and the trying, you know, I don’t often see people preconception before they’ve even tried.

It’s again, that kind of desperation. So, um, I always hold that next to me too, that it’s not just about, you know, balancing out their hormones and what’s your estrogen today, right? Or what’s your FSH or how did your eggs look or what’s the count, but like, That allowing them that space to have to navigate this land is, is just as important in our, in our work.

Yeah. 

[00:39:46] Lilly: I remember a friend who was going through, um, just issues with fertility and con conceiving. And she would tell me about her acupuncture time and she said she would just get there and just lay and cry. The tears would just stream down her face and it wasn’t that, you know, like very active crying.

It was just a release mm-hmm . And yeah, I just remember. Hearing that from her and how supportive that felt for her? 

[00:40:17] Julie: Well, it, we, we say that, you know, conception is that in Chinese medicine, it’s co considered like the, the union of heaven and earth. Right? So earth is like the tangible pieces, the, the, the things you can touch.

And it’s like, that’s like the egg quality. That’s how the uterine lining, you know, as a Triam that’s, all of those pieces, heaven is the piece we don’t, you know, we don’t know. Right. That’s. That’s the mystery of life. Yeah. And our job is to make sure that the earth pieces are good and that. The heaven door is open, you know, that that, that can be there and, and they have a practice for that.

And, and in the Dowing it talks about fertility. Um, and they say they compare it to, um, a valley that the, the fertile valley does not strive nor seek, but receives all things. And I love that idea that it doesn’t have to always be about what do I do next? Right. We. Speaking of culture and a culture that is like, go do move, right.

It’s very, if we take Chi and we divide it into the yin and the young, and everyone’s seen that symbol before the yin is like this quiet and cool and substance, it would be very Earthlike. And the young is this active and movement and warmth. And do. We live in a young culture, right? And so I wanna conceive you better get to it.

You better, you know, have that pineapple smoothie and you better stand on that left foot and eat your blueberries, or, you know, all of those things, you gotta do something. Um, and that concept, that permission, I think, to say like, You don’t have to do anything right now. You just have to receive, which is this great kind of this fertile place to be, is that all things will come to you.

Um, just even sharing that most women will break out into tears because just like me, when I was told you don’t have to run, you have to nap. Yeah again, it was just like, oh my God, that’s all I want. Right. Was like, you don’t have to do anything. You have to let these things come to you. You need to right.

Embrace this quality. Yeah. Being the fertile. Now 

[00:42:21] Lilly: it reminds me of the divine feminine and you totally hit the nail on the head with our culture is very much a young focused culture. It’s very masculine, dominated. Those values are very much prevalent in our society. And so I think for so many of us just learning to.

Let go to rest to receive is hard and hard. I mean, I almost started tearing up when you just started talking about that too. I think a lot of us, men and women, all genders, you know, like all gender expressions, you feel that lack of the appreciation and utilization of that divine feminine and that energy.

[00:43:05] Julie: Um, we bring that young nature to it, right? So don’t just meditate, but do this guided TM meditation for 20 minutes, twice a day, right? Like I, it’s a 30 day challenge, you know, you need to do it right. And it’s a 30 day challenge and you better not give up, like where there’s so much push behind everything we do.

And I’m a, I mean, I’m, I suffer from that too. Right. I’m a product of my culture. So I’ve done it all and I’ll tell you, it doesn’t always work. And turning that off is really challenging. But that’s what I love about those needles. Right. You automatically get turned off. So very cool. 

[00:43:37] Lilly: Yeah. Is there anything else you want people to know about how Chinese medicine can support fertility or, um, if you wanna elaborate on menstrual cycles in general too, or more around hormones?

[00:43:49] Julie: Yeah. You know, and I think. Fertility and menstrual cycles go hand in hand, like, especially if someone’s trying naturally to conceive. Um, what we’re really trying to do is to optimize those menstrual cycles, um, outside of when we’re working with people with uteruses, I always say, um, unless you’re doing donated sperm, really get that sperm checked too.

And again, it was because one time when I was early on, I didn’t say that. And the, there was definitely issues around the cycle. So we optimized those. We finally got the sperm check. There was no viable sperm. So. It wouldn’t have mattered. I mean, mm-hmm, , she needed to be in a great place and they do have their kiddos now.

Um, But there, it was definitely, so I say gotta check both sides. Yeah. That makes sense. Then our, you know, 40% of issues around fertility are male factor. So, and that number is growing really high right now. Fertility is just going through the roof, um, because of the environment we live, the stress. We have the toxins that we have.

Um, I have a lot of. Thoughts about what we should put in our bodies when we’re trying to conceive, um, both physically and mentally, emotionally what we put into our bodies, what we’re exposed to. Um, but, uh, it usually takes, I would say about three months. Um, that’s what I asked for when we’re working with a site, that’s about the amount of time that I’ll say clinically, that works.

Um, before I can see some long term changes. That’s the about amount of time it takes for resting follicle. Um, the shortest amount of time for resting follicle. That’s sitting in your ovary before it will, um, um, ovulate. And so you won’t have access to that. Whatever influence we’re having is gonna be three months down the road.

If we’re gonna influence the egg, um, And again the same thing if we’re not influencing egg, but we’re just trying to help women’s cycles. I always say your job for your cycle is to turn it on and off like a faucet, like, oh my gosh, here’s my period. There’s my period. Now it’s over it. Shouldn’t be like a week and a half beforehand.

I get these symptoms and then I spot spot spot, and then it’s flooding like crazy. Women only are we only experience our own bodies. And so, you know, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ll say, everyone says, when I just say, how’s your period. They say normal, but normal is can be like, I become a raging freak for three days before I bleed, but that’s really just normal.

Like. Or I spot for, you know, five days before, but that’s normal or I bleed for 10 days or I bleed for one day it’s normal. And so really understanding what an optimized, um, cycle looks like, what it could feel like teaching people that the potential that their body can do these things, um, when it’s given everything that it needs.

I think that, and then we, we do a lot of work with issues like that could affect the cycle and the, the, you know, fertility at the same time, like polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis, or some of these other diagnosis diagnoses that we can get from Western medicine that we can help influence and help the body kind of return back to its baseline.

We always say not just to treat the branch, but to treat the root underneath it. Sure. , 

[00:46:57] Lilly: what do you wish more people knew about Chinese medicine in general? Any like myths you want to bust or truths you want to reveal or things you want more people to 

[00:47:09] Julie: know?

I could talk about that for like four hours though. So, um, This I think understanding, um, that it’s not a faith that it’s very, uh, you know, as a person who really, um, is, is quite, I would say I fall into that, like intellectualizing, everything, really logical brain. It’s a very logical medicine. It’s just a different paradigm.

Um, I wish people knew that I wish people had access to it. Mm-hmm , uh, knew of the full potential of what Chinese medicine could do. And really, I think when you can understand. Um, the wide be underneath it, then you can make these changes for your own self and, and not give your health over to someone else to another provider to fix you.

But to really have someone work with you to help you decode what’s going on, know how to get yourself back and know how to recognize when you’re starting to fall off so you can recalibrate again. Um, I wish everyone had that tool. You know, I came to it. On a desperation. There was a lot of signs and symptoms before I got to that place where, you know, I was trying on my floor for a couple hours a day.

I wish I never had had to experience that suffering. If I had known before, while I was pregnant, what I could have done to support my body when I was, when I was con you know, carrying the pregnancy and giving birth, that would’ve changed everything for me. If I would’ve had these pieces, I mean, I’m so grateful.

I have it for my own self and my children. We can course correct them really quickly. And that’s what I want is everyone to have, again, just access whether it’s Chinese medicine or homeopathy or anything, to not be afraid to go out there and to learn a little bit more about yourself and to, to know that you can feel better, that the body has this amazing potential to heal that it, but it needs time.

Yeah. Meets time. 

[00:49:08] Lilly: Well, what is the best way for folks to start working with you?

Where should they go? If they’re listening to this and they want to connect with you or book an appointment? Where 

[00:49:18] Julie: do they? Totally. So, uh, you can always book an appointment on our website, which is CEL acupuncture.com. There’s like, I don’t know, 2000 different, um, access buttons all over that website.

That’s say book now. Um, we have a clinic, both in St. Paul and entity Dyna. I work at both, but I mean, I work with amazing colleagues and all of us have our own special sauce. If anyone wants help in finding a person, that’s gonna be a good fit for them. Um, I’m more than happy to help them do that. And they can just send an email to our clinic, um, which is info, SMY, acupuncture.com to get to, you know, I always I’ll get any of those that come through that say, Hey, Julie, so, um, Um, really, or you can give our clinics a call it’s we try to make it, like I said, as easy as possible.

If you’re curious about if your insurance covers our people will call and, and navigate that for you, um, and help you check your benefits. You know, if you like to book online in the middle of the night, we have that access. If you wanna make a phone call, you know, that works too. So. Awesome. 

[00:50:19] Lilly: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast, 

[00:50:21] Julie: Julie.

Yeah, you bet. Thanks for having me, Lilly.

 

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