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Original article at http://www.jcimjournal.com/jim/FullText2.aspx?articleID=jintegrmed2013041
Journal of Integrative Medicine: Volume 11, 2013   Issue 4
Dialogue with Dr. Lixing Lao: from a factory electrician to an international scholar of Chinese medicine
Arthur Yin Fan (McLean Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, PLC Vienna, VA 22182, USA )

DOI: 10.3736/jintegrmed2013041

Fan AY. Dialogue with Dr. Lixing Lao: from a factory electrician to an international scholar of Chinese medicine. J Integr Med. 2013; 11(4): 278-284.

Received May 12, 2013; accepted June 6, 2013.

Open-access article copyright ? 2013 Arthur Yin Fan.

Correspondence: Arthur Yin Fan, PhD, MD, LAc; Tel: +1-703-499-4428; Fax: +1-703-547-8197; E-mail: ArthurFan@ChineseMedicineDoctor.US

Dr. Lixing Lao, an internationally known scholar of Chinese medicine renowned for his clinical and mechanisms research, is the Director of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Program at the Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland (UM) School of Medicine; the Co-Chair of the Acupuncture Research Society; and the former Editor-in-Chief of the American Acupuncturist, the official journal of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. The Baltimore Magazine has listed Dr. Lao as one of the nation’s top acupuncture practitioners (Figure 1).
Dr. Lao has played a pivotal role in the advancement of TCM in the United States. As the first full professor of acupuncture and TCM appointed to a conventional medical school in the United States, he was invited to be a key speaker at both the 1994 United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing on acupuncture[1,2] and the 1997 National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus conference on acupuncture[2]. As a result of the hearing, the FDA reclassified acupuncture needles as a medical device, no longer an investigational device. The NIH conference led to preliminary confirmation of the safety and efficacy of acupuncture. These two conferences were milestones that opened the way to wider clinical use of acupuncture.
Besides research and clinical practice, Dr. Lao has been involved in TCM education for over 20 years. On October 20, 2012, the author, Arthur Yin Fan, interviewed him in the President’s Office of the Virginia University of Oriental Medicine in Annandale, Virginia, USA.
Fan: Dr. Lao, it is nice to see you again. What have you been doing recently?
Lao: As a professor in UM’s Center of Integrative Medicine, I’ve mainly been doing research, and conducting clinical trials and experiments on the safety and efficacy of acupuncture and herbs. As an academic, I’m also involved in teaching.
Fan: I heard you’ve attended some conferences recently.
Lao: Yes, I have participated in quite a number of conferences, domestically and internationally. In November, I will go to Beijing, China, for the anniversary celebration of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, which will be combined with an international acupuncture conference. I’ll be one of the main speakers.
Fan: You have been involved in TCM for over thirty years. Now you are an international, leading scholar in this field. What led you to this profession?
Lao: It’s a long story. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s, formal education stopped. All students became involved in what was called “Stopping Class to Conduct the Revolution” [停课闹革命; Dr. Fan notes: This was similar to school strikes and student occupations in the West, from December 1966 to October 1967]. At that time, “barefoot doctors”— practitioners using acupuncture, herbal medicine, and basic medical procedures like first aid — began to treat the poor rural farmers [Fan notes: more than 90% of the Chinese population lived in impoverished rural areas and lacked basic health care before the barefoot doctors movement]. Such a career was attractive to many young people, including me. There was no strict regulation of acupuncture during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Fan notes: because the traditional or “old” regulations were dismantled by Chairman Mao Zedong, who was a supporter of barefoot doctors). Many young adults learned TCM in various ways and became barefoot doctors during that period. There was no formal schooling during the Cultural Revolution, and I long to learn something real and useful. I became interested in acupuncture because I had heard many moving stories about the barefoot doctors, which triggered my interest in medicine and health care.
Another reason for me to learn acupuncture or TCM was because of an incident in 1970 during the so-called “Returning to School to Make Revolution (复课闹革命, Fan notes: after October, 1967)”. It was what would have been my last year of high school; students were assigned to factories for half a year and rural areas for the other half to get “real knowledge.” First I was sent to learn farming on Chongming Island, a county of Shanghai City, in the middle of the Yangzi River. One night I began experiencing severe acute abdominal pain, which was later diagnosed as an intestinal obstruction. It was the middle of the night. With great difficulty and the help of my classmates, I walked for miles to see a doctor, Madam Lin, a very nice, extremely proficient old lady who was the doctor assigned to provide medical care for the students from my high school on the island. At that time there was no highway to Shanghai, and the Shanghai ferry ran only during the day. So there was no choice — I could not go to Shanghai despite the emergency. Acupuncture was the only treatment available. It was really magical: Dr. Lin needled me in two places. The pain quickly disappeared and then I slept. I woke up the next morning with no pain. After asking me several questions, Dr. Lin felt there was no need to send me to the hospital in Shanghai and let me go back with the other students. That experience affected me greatly.
Later, during a down period when there was not much to do on the farm, Dr. Lin arranged a class for students. She taught us basic medical knowledge, including the prevention of illness and some basic treatments. I wanted to see how she treated patients and handled difficult cases, so I carried her medical kit when she made home visits. In effect, I was her apprentice, although it was not a formal apprenticeship.
The second half of that year was spent in a factory in the city of Shanghai. There was an elective project —learning medical knowledge. As high school students we had a chance to participate in a three-month training program for suburban barefoot doctors at a district hospital, but only two students per class could be enrolled. I was the class president and had a strong interest in medicine, so I got the chance to attend, and I learned a lot. At that time we were 16 or 17 years old and eager to learn. The school no longer taught normal classes, and the students wanted something to fill their empty brains. The program started with two weeks of classroom teaching; teachers (they were medical doctors) with different specialties taught acupuncture and Western medicine as well as topics such as rescue methods to be used after atomic bomb explosions, how to hold a scalpel when performing an operation, how to interpret an electrocardiogram, and so forth. I remember that when the doctor taught acupuncture, he taught us 30 acupoints a day, including point location, main effects, and insertion techniques for each point. The next day, we would have to stand up to answer questions. We two high school students were always very participatory and liked to answer the questions, while the barefoot doctor candidates, mostly young suburban mothers, were afraid to answer. They were so busy with field and house work after class and they had little time to go over the lessons. That class gave me great pleasure.
After the classroom learning, we interned in each department, starting with the pharmacy. Under supervision, we prepared Western drugs and patent herbs according to the prescriptions that patients brought in. After three days, we were familiar with the names of many drugs and patent herbs and their actions. Then we went to the department of internal medicine. The first few days we copied the doctor’s prescriptions and observed the physical examinations. After that, we could see patients and prescribe medicine under the doctor’s supervision. I started seeing patients on the second day because my supervising doctor considered me ready to practice. We were in a district hospital, patients often came from local factories and the illnesses and disorders were simple. Mostly, I took a patient’s blood pressure, asked some questions, and then refilled a previous prescription; or something like low back pain and patients just wanted pain killers or an excuse for sick leave; rather simple stuff; that was it. My classmate and I sat at two office tables all morning and counted up our patients, competing as to who had seen the most — that was fun and got me interested in medicine.
After that department, we interned in injection room and then in the acupuncture and moxibustion department. There was a doctor, half blind, a graduate of the Tuina (Chinese therapeutic massage) Program from the Shanghai College of TCM. Maybe because of his poor vision, his memory was very strong; he could recall all the acupuncture points and tuina manipulations. At that time, he was single and lived in the hospital dorm near my home. So every night I went to his dorm and learned from him. He talked about the acupuncture and tuina he had learned in college, and I took notes. I became very interested in acupuncture at that time, and it was something like a real apprenticeship. We became good friends.
In 1971, the “old-three grades (老三届) settling in the countryside and mountains” movement (上山下乡; launched by the government) stopped, and middle and high school students and graduates again had a chance to stay in the city. One reason I’d learned acupuncture and moxibustion was to give me a way to take care of myself if I had to live in the countryside. I wanted to be prepared to serve rural patients and my fellow schoolmates who might be resettled there. But when I graduated from high school, I was assigned to the Shanghai Xingzhong Power Machinery Factory (新中动力机器厂) as a factory worker. After training in several jobs, I became an electrician, maintaining the normal operation of the electronic devices there. If there were problems with a device, I would have to work very hard to fix it as quickly as possible in order to avoid a delay of production; otherwise, I’d wait in the office without much to do.
My Shifu (teacher and supervisor) graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He preferred being an electrician to being a technician, and he taught me a lot. He was a nice man, and to this day we remain friends. My Shifu not only taught me practical skill of repairing electronic devices but also taught me theory of electricity, so I learned faster because I understood the mechanisms. One night, he invited me and his good friend and former classmate, to dinner at his home. His friend arrived with acute low back pain, which began during his bus trip over to dinner. He said to me, “I heard you know acupuncture. Please give me a treatment; I am very hurt.” At that time, I carried acupuncture needles around with me in a pen-like tube. There were no regulations for doing acupuncture at that time, so I gave him a treatment and after removing the needles asked him to move his back as much as possible. To his surprise, his pain was gone; the back muscle spasms disappeared immediately after the treatment. The result pleased him and my Shifu, so by word of mouth, many people found out that I was good at acupuncture.
A few days later, a very old employee in the finance department of the factory came to see me. He had bad intercostal neuralgia. He said he had had three onsets: the first had been cured by a famous TCM doctor, Shi Xiaoshan (石筱山); the second was cured by another famous doctor — I forget the name. Now it was the third onset; he said he’d already seen many doctors and tried many medications, both Chinese and Western, and nothing helped. So he used a lot of pain-killers that only masked the pain for two to three hours, and also upset his stomach. He wanted me to give him acupuncture. I told him I had not treated anyone with such a condition but I would try. His pain was active, so I treated him. He got immediate results and was very pleased. After that, I became very busy — before, people called me only for something electrical, and now people began to call me for their health issues too, especially low back pain and sciatic pain. I had to keep two sets of equipment — my electrician’s tools plus the acupuncture needles and some alcohol swabs for disinfection. I enjoyed helping people for their illness and treated them for free, as a colleague.
Fan: How old were you at that time and when you started your college study?
Lao: I started at that factory when I was 17, and stayed about 7 years. The college entrance examination (CEE) started up again in 1977 after the Culture Revolution stopped in 1976. So I was 24 when I entered college in the fall of 1978. During the Cultural Revolution, I had had formal education only up to actual fifth grade level (although I was a high school graduate) because the classes were disbanded to “make revolution.” I did not think I had enough knowledge to pass the CEE, but my high school math teacher encouraged me to try. I then borrowed middle and high school textbooks and started self-study with some help from my math teacher and my Shifu. I was lucky enough to pass the exam in July 1978 after about 5 months of extensive study.
Fan: How was your experience in college?
Lao: I was accepted and admitted to the Shanghai College of TCM and assigned to the acupuncture major. I initially thought I already knew enough acupuncture and wanted to the major in Chinese herbal medicine. But soon after I started the course work, I found I actually knew very little about acupuncture. The clinical experience I had earlier helped me to better understand TCM and acupuncture theory as well as other courses, including Western medicine. I studied hard and enjoyed the five-year learning opportunity and did not want to waste time that had been lost during the Cultural Revolution. I was elected president of our class and vice president of the Student Union of the college.
Fan: Very impressive experience. Then you enrolled in the University of Maryland for PhD study in physiology and also got your acupuncture license in the State of Maryland?
Lao: After graduating in 1983, I was appointed to the Acupuncture Department of my college as a teacher and researcher. Then China encouraged young people to go abroad for study, which was one of the important policies of the reform. I applied to the Physiology Department of the Dental School at UM because it has a pain research group as I was interested in the mechanisms of acupuncture for pain relief. At that time, the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) initiated an acupuncture certificate examination oriented mostly toward TCM. Because of my teaching background, I was invited to review point locations for a group of a local acupuncture school students who were preparing for that examination. Local acupuncturists also told me I was eligible to apply for an acupuncture license in the State of Maryland. So in 1988 I became licensed as No. 300, the 200th licensed acupuncturist in Maryland (the license number starts at No. 101). Later I also passed the exams and obtained NCCAOM certification of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Fan: At that time, acupuncturists worked under the supervision of an MD. How did you start your clinic?
Lao: I had to work under an MD’s supervision. A local acupuncturist referred me to Dr. Sores, a very nice Filipino-American doctor. She told me that she had just visited China with a group of American physicians and was deeply impressed by the acupuncture anesthesia she’d observed. One MD could supervise three acupuncturists at that time; I became her second one. Dr. Sores was so kind to let me use her clinic, which was near the Johns Hopkins University, when there were rooms available. She waived the rent for the first several months; even later, she charged a fairly low rent. I studied for my Ph.D. during the day and worked in the clinic from 6:00 to 9:00 pm two or three days a week until graduation.
Fan: How did you get your academic appointment at the University of Maryland School of Medicine?
Lao: A year before my graduation, I had a period of deep confusion. If I took a postdoc position in a laboratory for physiological research, I’d have to move (to other states) and leave my flourishing acupuncture practice; if I stayed in my Maryland practice, I’d have to leave my academic career. I’d studied acupuncture for five years and spent five more on my PhD in physiology. Giving up either would be a pity. By luck, in 1991 I saw an announcement in the school magazine and the Baltimore Sun saying that an MD, Brian Berman, had been awarded a million dollars to set up a complementary medicine program to study the safety and efficacy of acupuncture, Chinese and other traditional medicine, and alternative medicine in the Department of Anesthesia, UM School of Medicine. After I talked to him about possibility to work with him, he offered me a research assistant professor position and wanted me to start work at once. I still hadn’t completed my dissertation and actually couldn’t. But we became friends. In one occasion, I successfully treated his two-year-old daughter with tuina and became his family acupuncturist. On June 15, 1992, the day after my dissertation defense, I started work as an assistant professor in his program.
It was the right time, right place, and right people. In 1992, the NIH established the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM). Dr. Berman was on their advisory board and took me to many meetings. In 1993, the OAM formally started to award fairly small, $30 000 research grants to about thirty awardees. We applied and were awarded two grants in 1994. I was the principal investigator (PI) of one project named “Acupuncture and Postoperative Oral Surgery Pain”; Dr. Berman was the PI and I was the co-investigator of the second program “Acupuncture Safety/efficacy in Knee Osteoarthritis”. After this seed funding, we got bigger grants, NIH Research Project Grants, also known as R01 grants, to continue both these projects. The clinical trial of acupuncture on knee osteoarthritis (OA) had a great impact. This large sample (N=570) trial found that acupuncture was significantly more beneficial for patients with knee OA than those in sham control[3]. We continued such work on arthritic pain and now are involved in other modalities such as Chinese herbal medicine, laser acupuncture, and moxibustion.
In 1998, we got a Center Grant known as P50 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM, former OAM), which consists of funding for three projects focused on a research question; I served as the Project Leader on mechanisms of acupuncture in inflammatory pain and established our first laboratory for the basic science research on acupuncture and TCM. Since the establishment of the lab, we have published many basic science studies on acupuncture and herbology. You were there three years, Arthur. Thank you for your great contribution to our lab’s research on the mechanisms of Chinese herbal medicine. Because of our significant achievements from earlier, we’ve gotten several big grants (known as P50, P01 and U19) over the last ten years and also many smaller ones.
Fan: Your clinical trials, especially on acupuncture for knee OA[3] and on nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, made great contributions toward persuading commercial healthcare insurance companies to cover the use of acupuncture for such illnesses. Since then, more and more insurance companies have begun to pay for acupuncture treatments.
Lao: You’re right. I feel we have done the right thing — choosing to study illnesses commonly seen in clinic and publishing our results in major medical journals. Positive results give practitioners great support.
Some acupuncturists and research colleagues didn’t understand why we chose to study arthritis. They told us, “We use acupuncture to treat arthritis every day. It’s been done for thousands of years, especially in China, and with good results. Unquestionably, acupuncture can treat arthritis. Why waste time doing a clinical trial on that?” The fact is, although there is a consensus among acupuncturists and Oriental medicine professionals and some patients, many Western-trained doctors and their patients have no understanding of the safety and efficacy of acupuncture. We need to demonstrate the effect and safety of acupuncture in treating common illnesses for which medications aren’t too effective. In America there is a high incidence of arthritis, which doesn’t respond well to conventional medication. Most arthritis, especially knee OA, is chronic. Pain medications are only briefly effective, and must be used long term, which lead to serious adverse effects. And the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture on OA is easy to evaluate. In an illness such as diabetes, which has many complications, treatment results may be hard to measure.
Our strategy was to study the condition most suitable to acupuncture treatment first. Positive results would help the mainstream medical profession to start accepting acupuncture, and then we can tackle more difficult diseases. If we had chosen a difficult one first and not gotten a positive result, people might believe that acupuncture is simply ineffective, not that we got a poor result because we didn’t choose a suitable subject. So we picked something less complex first. Also, we wanted to pick a common disease, and there are many OA patients.
I researched textbooks, clinical trials, and case reports to decide which acupoints and acupuncture strategies we should use, and then tested these in a small group of patients to ensure they’d be effective in clinical conditions. Additionally, as you know, success depends on the “right time, right place, and right people”. There was a strong need to show whether acupuncture is safe and effective, and we had a good team. Besides Dr. Berman, me, and our TCM research personnel, we invited Dr. Marc C. Hochberg, a doctor in our school of medicine at UM and an internationally known knee expert, to provide a set of evaluation and assessment methods for knee OA. His support was essential to the project’s success.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine professionals might also feel that a study on acupuncture for dental extractions[4] is unnecessary since doctors and researchers in China have done acupuncture anesthesia studies showing that acupuncture is an effective anesthetic in major operations. Dental pain is a very small topic. But when I designed the dental project, I wanted to refute the preconceptions of the conventional medicine practitioners and some others who believe that acupuncture is a placebo, i.e., that its apparent effectiveness is only a result of psychological expectation.
In designing that study, I found that there were advantages to doing acupuncture immediately after an extraction. The novel control was established; patients couldn’t easily differentiate between real, needle insertion, and sham, no insertion, acupuncture — right after extraction, the local anesthesia hadn’t worn off and patients were blindfolded, so when acupuncture was performed on Jiache (ST6), Xiaguan (ST7), Yifeng (SJ17) and Hegu (LI4), the patient didn’t see or feel the procedure. Establishing an effective control is a difficult thing in acupuncture studies; sham acupuncture isn’t like a pill that can be the same shape and size as a drug being tested. Although we could have used shallow needle insertion at the real point, these can induce physiological reactions. The best control is non-insertion. Patients might be able to distinguish between insertion and no insertion, but it was not in this project when our subjects were still under local anesthetic.
I modified the model a little for our clinical trial. In the original model, the researchers administered medication about an hour after tooth extraction, when moderate pain starts. I decided to use acupuncture as prevention, with pain-free time being the main indicator, and pain level as the secondary indicator. Before the trial, I did a preliminary study using several patients undergoing tooth extraction. Most actually had no pain after the acupuncture and didn’t need pain medication. My second modification was patient blinding — patients were literally blindfolded during the acupuncture. The test period was only 6 h, very short. A long period might cause a patient to realize if he had received real acupuncture.
The reason I chose postoperative dental pain was because I graduated from the dental school’s PhD program and knew the dental doctors there. I contacted Dr. Bergman, who is an oral surgeon who is interested in acupuncture. We did a few patients to obtain preliminary study data and observed that acupuncture was very good for dental pain after tooth extraction. Then we started a formal collaboration and applied for a research grant from the NIH. Our study showed acupuncture to be much better than sham — or placebo — acupuncture. That study might not have much clinical significance, but it is scientifically significant. It addresses a few questions, such as whether acupuncture is a placebo.
Fan: Those clinical trials that show acupuncture to be no better than placebo — there have been many, such as that of the trial published by a Seattle Group[5]; the results were all similar — I consider the problem to be one of design. First of all, is so-called sham acupuncture really sham? And are its results really placebo effects? Needle insertion effects are not like effects of oral or i.v. medication. Applying a medication model and trial design in an acupuncture study might not produce good research. Also, acupuncture’s time-point effectiveness varies; some effects show up immediately; others require a 10- or 16-session course or six months. Giving 10 sessions of so-called sham and expecting patients not to know if she/he is getting real acupuncture is difficult if not impossible. As you say, if you expect to blind patients but use strong “sham” stimulation, that could induce physiological reactions and amount to actual acupuncture. Also, if the statistical design is wrong, differences won’t show up; this can happen especially if a sample is too small.
Lao: True. I’ll give you an example with a sound methodology, because study methodology is improving so we can have more confidence in the results. A group of researchers in New York led by Vickers did a well-known literature review published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012[6]. Archives of Internal Medicine is one of the archives of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), which is a very prominent journal, and this review was widely reported by the media. Vickers got NIH funding five years ago. He asked researchers who published papers on large acupuncture clinical trials to give him the raw data from their studies. Using those data, Vickers’ team repeated the original statistical analyses to see if they could get the results that were originally published. Twenty-nine high quality acupuncture trials were analyzed, which involved four types of chronic pain lasting more than four weeks: knee OA inflammatory pain; musculoskeletal pain — low back and neck pain; headache — migraine and tension; and shoulder pain. The 29 studies used yielded a total of 18 000 chronic patients divided into at least three groups: acupuncture, sham acupuncture, and routine conventional medicine. The results showed that acupuncture performed much better than the routine conventional treatments and better than sham. The most interesting thing from this paper was that Vickers predicted that if this study were repeated after a few years, the chance of overturning these conclusions would be very low or almost impossible because, statistically, it would take 47 trials of more than 100 patients each, with an effective size of 0.25 in favor of sham controls, to obtain negative results. This study is convincing because it accounted for all possibilities.
Fan: We are both clinical practitioners. So you might agree with my feeling — that the so-called sham acupuncture used in so many clinical trials[5,6]actually is a variation on real acupuncture. Each school of acupuncture has a different style; some use gentle or shallow stimulation in which the patient might not feel the needling sensation at all; some use extra-meridian acupoints. I myself, in different patients and even in the same patient according to different circumstances, conditions, or body parts, might use different stimulation strategies. So it seems to me that gentle or shallow insertion, non-insertion, or extra-meridian insertion isn’t necessarily sham acupuncture. If using a toothpick to mimic acupuncture is sham, then how do we explain the action of the Bian Shi (stone needle), an alternative to the filiform needle? I feel that if metal needles or toothpicks induce a physiological reaction, that’s real acupuncture. In a drug trial the researcher can use an inert pill.
Lao: You are correct. These factors make it more difficult to design an adequate acupuncture sham control. Since the mechanism of acupuncture effectiveness itself is not clear, one can’t design a control that has no such mechanism (like an inert placebo pill). For a conventional medication, its mechanism is relatively clear, such as it works on certain receptors or certain pathways, so it is easy to design a control that does not have that function on these targeted receptors and pathways.
Fan: Why do we still use sham acupuncture in clinical trials?
Lao: The concept of sham control is not bad. The problem is we just don’t know what would be an appropriate “sham”. Some people in the mainstream medical field who have the “speaking rights,” insist on adding so-called sham controls. Although this is not good practice, we have no choice. We have to conform to the status quo. However, in recent years, patient-centered, comparative effectiveness research that more accurately reflects daily acupuncture practice, not using a sham control, has been drawing the attention of many researchers. I believe that type of research will be the next step of acupuncture research – to determine which conditions are most suitable for acupuncture treatment, as compared to conventional treatment.
Fan: What are your comments on the acupuncture research going on in China?
Lao: TCM’s birthplace is China, although none of the papers we’ve discussed were published by scholars in China. I hope that one day soon scholars there will be performing high-quality research. This is why I am so eager to help young scholars in China with study design. As the Chinese economy improves, the Chinese people should take more responsibility for TCM research and produce studies that can’t be dismissed because of poor quality. I want to foster the development of acupuncture and TCM because they really do help patients, are easy to use, and are cost effective. I would like to see researchers in China to conduct more serious and vigorous high-quality studies.
Fan: I admire you. You have been an acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine researcher for over 20 years and are regarded internationally as a spokesman of TCM research. You’ve met so many difficulties and still have remained mentally strong. What gives you the strength to do so well?
Lao: I am very confident about the development of acupuncture as well as TCM as a whole. Success is based on small daily accumulations. The current situation of acupuncture and herbology is much better than it was a few years ago. Although our profession still has some problems, we should stay optimistic. I believe the proverb: real gold doesn’t fear the fire that smelts it.
Fan: I hope you continue to make contributions, in acupuncture research, in education, and in legislative and political activities.
Lao: Thanks for your interview.
Fan notes: Between June, 1992 (one year after the Center was established) and the present, the center where Dr. Lao works has received more than?35?million dollars in funding from the NIH and other different sources, for carrying out research on acupuncture and Chinese medicine. As a principal investigator or co-investigator, Dr. Lao has been on 28 grants or research projects. Dr. Lao so far has published 142 peer-reviewed papers, 26 non-peer reviewed, invited papers, and 10 book chapters. He is a co-editor of a new acupuncture and moxibustion textbook that will be published by the end of this year. He was the chair of the 2007 Society for Acupuncture annual meeting – “The Status and Future of Acupuncture Research: 10 Years Post-NIH Consensus Conference”, and also chaired the 2010 WFAS (World Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies) annual conference in San Francisco, CA.
AcknowledgementsThe author would like to thank Ms. Lyn Lowry for English editing. The interviewer was Dr. Arthur Yin Fan.
Competing interestsDr. Arthur Fan worked in Dr. Lixing Lao’s laboratory and participated in acupuncture and Chinese herbal mechanism studies from 2002 to 2005 as an NIH Fellow in Chinese medicine. The author declares that he has no competing interests.

Figures and Tables in this article: 



Figure 1  Dr Lixing Lao at Virginia University of Oriental Medicine This picture was taken by Byung Kim.

References

1. Fan AY, Fan Z. Dr. Wu: a beautiful, moving and meditative song — in memory of Dr. Jing Nuan Wu, a pioneer of acupuncture and a Chinese medicine doctor in the United States[J] J Chin Integr Med, 2012, 10(8) : 837-840.
2. Fan AY, Fan Z. The beginning of acupuncture in Washington, D.C. and Maryland: an interview with Dr. Yeh-chong Chan[J] J Integr Med, 2013, 11(3) : 220-228.
3. Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, Lee WL, Gilpin AM, Hochberg MC. Effectiveness of acupuncture as adjunctive therapy in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, controlled trial[J]. Ann Intern Med, 2004, 141(12) : 901-910.
4. Lao L, Bergman S, Langenberg P, Wong RH, Berman B. Efficacy of Chinese acupuncture on postoperative oral surgery pain[J]. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod, 1995, 79(4) : 423-428.
5. Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Avins AL, Erro JH, Ichikawa L, Barlow WE, Delaney K, Hawkes R, Hamilton L, Pressman A, Khalsa PS, Deyo RA. A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain[J]. Arch Intern Med, 2009, 169(9) : 858-866.
6. Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K; Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration. Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis[J]. Arch Intern Med, 2012, 172(19) : 1444-1453.

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Dear colleagues & Friends,

A Spring seminar will be hold by Virginia Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine (VITCM) on April 1, 2012, Sunday. Hope everyone will arrange time to attend, and share your knowledge and experience.

Topics: The Western Diagnosis, TCM Treatments and Research Updates of Common Skin Diseases; Yellow Emperor’s Classics of Internal Medicine.

Location:Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road,Potomac, Maryland 20854;Tel: 240-777-6960.

Skin problems, which affect more than 10 million Americans, can be one of the most frustrating and stubborn group of symptoms to successfully treat. Many pharmaceutical solutions offer quick relief but do not provide a lasting solution, and come with risks such as toxic build-up in the body and weakening of other organ systems. Therefore, more and more people are choosing alternative solutions such as Chinese Medicine, which can be safer and which intends to address the root cause of the symptom instead of covering it up each time it appears. In fact, dermatology is a recognized specialty in traditional Chinese Medicine. Treatments for skin disorders have been described as early as 1100-221 BC in China.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbs offer a natural solution to improving skin conditions with its sophisticated system, both external and internal administration. There are hundreds of herbal formulas available for skin disorders such as herpes, eczema, and psoriasis.

Fee: $208. (Mail check before March 15, 2012, discount rate at $188).

Contact Person: Dr. Arthur Fan,Tel:(703)499-4428, e-mail: ChineseMedicineInstitute@gmail.com. Address: VITCM,8214 Old Courthouse Rd,Vienna, VA 22182.

Lecture Details (included in lecture and discussion):

8:00AM-9:30AM: Tai Chi and Medical Applications. By Drs. Eugene Zhang, Arthur Fan (Outside, in Parking lot; if rain or snow, cancel). 

9:30AM-1:30PM: Western Diagnosis & TCM Management for Common Skin Diseases. By Dr. Yongming Li (this special lecture outline is available in the Blog part)

1:30 PM- 3:00PM:  TCM and Skin Disorder: An Update on Clinical Research. By Dr. Lixing Lao.

3:00PM-5:30PM: Yellow Emperor’s Classics of Internal Medicine: Four Seasons, Five Organs, Yin Yang and Related Experiments. By Dr. Quansheng Lu

Instructors

Dr.Lixing Lao,  CMD, PhD, LAc, Professor of Family Medicine, Director of Traditional Chinese Medicine Research, Center for Integrative Medicine,University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore,MD.

Dr. Lao graduated from Shanghai University of TCM (MD in Chinese medicine) and completed his PhD in physiology at the University of Maryland at Baltimore. He has practiced acupuncture and Chinese medicine for more than 20 years, and has been awarded numerous grants from the NIH and the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct research on acupuncture and alternative medicine. He presents frequently at national and international conferences, including the seminal 1997 NIH Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture and the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. He was board cochair of the Society for Acupuncture Research, chief editor of American Acupuncturist, the official journal of American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Dr.Lao was one of funders and professor of former Maryland Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine (MITCM), which was a well-known school in TCM education during 1990s to 2000s. Currently, he is the honor president and main lecturer of VITCM.

Dr. Eugene Zhang, CMD, PhD, LAc. has been practicing acupuncture for over 15 years, and is a graduate of famous oriental medical school in the world: the Beijing University of TCM.

In China, Eugene Zhang was a Medical Doctor (MD in Chinese Medicine); here in  US he is one of the top Licensed Acupuncturists inVirginia,Maryland and Washington DC. area. He was a well-respected professor and Clinical Supervisor for the prestigious Maryland Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine (MITCM). Because of his years of experience, he serves as a consultant for the council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM).

Dr. Zhang is also a senior Taiji (Tai Chi) and Qigong Instructor, both in the United Statesand in China. He has written a detailed book, “The Ultimate Exercise for Mind and Body” that explains the benefits of Qigong and shows pictorially the different body postures.

Dr. Yongming Li, MD, PhD, LAc (in New York and New Jersey). Our guest speaker.

Dr.Li is a leading doctor in both Chinese medicine and Western medicine. He graduated from Liao-ning college of TCM in 1983, and got PhD, MD in USA.

He is a well-known doctor in dermatology, doctor and scholar in the field of acupuncture and Oriental medicine with more 20 years’ clinical experience. Currently, he also serves as a NIH grant reviewer. He was the president of American Traditional Chinese Medicine Society, which has more than 700 members in New York area.

He has published many academic papers and books,included in “Acupuncture Journey to America”, a new published book in acupuncture history.

Dr. Quansheng Lu, CMD, PhD, L. Ac. Dr.Lu is a licensed acupuncturist in Maryland. He graduated from Henan University of TCM in China and subsequently worked as a resident and attending physician of TCM at a general hospital in China for 8 years. During this period, thousands of patients recovered under his treatment.  Given his outstanding contribution in TCM, Dr. Lu was awarded the Outstanding Doctor Award from the Local government. Dr. Lu pursued his master degree in TCM at Beijing University of TCM.

He continued to expand his education and later received a  PhD in cardiology in Chinese and western integrated medicine  at the China Academy of Chinese medical science. He focused on exploring hypertension molecular mechanisms and looked for new anti-hypertensive natural herbs. His supervisor is Professor Keji Chen; president of The Chinese Association of Integrated Medicine, and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Lu was a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University Medical Center and Children’s National Medical Center.

Dr. Arthur Yin Fan (Fan Ying),PhD, CMD, LAc, a leading specialist in Acupuncture and Chinese herbology, has more than two decades of clinical experience in both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medicine. In China, he was awarded an M.D. degree in TCM and a Ph.D. in Chinese internal medicine from famous Nanjing University of TCM. He completed additional one year’s training in the Western medicine diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders as well as a six-year medical residency combining TCM and Western internal medicine. He was a medical doctor in both TCM and coventional medicine when he worked in a University hospital in China. He was the funder of  Nanjing Stroke Center which is now a China national key center in Stroke rescuing and rehabilitation.

An evaluator of medical science research grant applications for many countries, Dr. Fan is currently a consultant for the Complementary and Alternative Medicine program at the University of Maryland medical school. He has also conducted CAM research for the Georgetown University medical school’s programs in nutrition and herbology.

Dr. Fan holds the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certificate in Oriental Medicine, which comprises Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology and Asian Bodywork. Dr.Fan was awarded the third place prize in Taiji-quan (Tai Chi) in China first national health-sport congress (1985,Shenyang,China). Dr.Fan is the funder of VITCM.

Ron Elkayam, MSTCM, graduated from the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland,California in 2004 where he studied acupuncture and Chinese medicine. While still in school studying Chinese Medicine,  Ron studied with Robert Levine, L.Ac., in Berkeley, where he furthered his understanding of acupuncture, herbal formulas, diagnosis, and pulse taking. Inspired to take his learning to a new level, he moved to Taiwan in 2005 to learn Mandarin as a way of deepening his studies in Chinese medicine.Over the course of almost five years, Ron studied Mandarin in universities in Taipei, Shanghai, and Beijing, received advanced Mandarin language certification, and worked in hospitals (Guanganmen,Tonren hospitals) as interns, where he was able to communicate with doctors and patients in their native language and gain useful clinical experience.

Ron has a background in mind-body disciplines and has a 2nd kyu (brown belt) in aikido. He has also studied qigong (Wild Goose style), taiji (Wu and Chen styles), and Kripalu yoga. He also believes in the importance of diet and exercise in helping patients reach optimum health and happiness.

In late 2010, Ron finally returned to theU.S.to bring his clinical experience to American patients.  He has NCCAOM certification in acupuncture and herbal medicine, in addition to being licensed inVirginia,California, and Rhode Island. Ron is originally from Baltimore,MD.At present time, he works part-time to assist VITCM’s daily work.

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Dear Colleagues & Friends, 

As the golden weather of fall approaches us, I hope everyone is in good health and good spirits.

The Virginia Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine (VITCM) will hold a special professional development activity (PDA) on Sunday, September 25, 2011.

Based on the current NCCAOM board requirements for certificate renewal every four years, there are a few new mandatory requirements: minimal 15 credits in Key knowledge of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine, 4 credits in Safety/Ethics, 11 credits in adjunct therapies, as well as additional 30 credits in other scopes (see detail at http://www.nccaom.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/2011%20Recertification%20Handbook.pdf, http://www.vitcm.org/?page_id=32). We applied 10 credits one day live presentation in field of Safety/Ethic and Adjunct therapies.

We invite you to participate this special PDA event, in this Seminar, you also have opportunity to watch a American documentary movie “9000 Needles”, which got a few international awards as the Best Documentary Movie.

Seminar time: 09/25/2011, 7:30AM to 5:30 PM.

Seminar address:  Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road,Potomac, MD 20854 (only 20 minutes from Vienna/Falls Church); Tel: 240-777-6960.

Contact personDr. Arthur Fan,Cell:(703)499-4428.

Fee: $208 (please make check payable to VITCM), Lunch included.

Early registration before 09/15/2011: you could get 10% off (payment will be $188, please mail the check to VITCM, 8214 Old Courthouse Rd, Vienna, VA 22182). 

Agenda

7:30AM: Registration

8:00AM-9:30AM: Tai Ji Quan (Tai Chi) and its medical application

By Eugene Zhang, CMD, PhD, LAc & Arthur Fan, CMD, PhD, LAc; Tai Ji Quan in the parking lot, however it may be canceled due to rain

9:30AM-1:30PM: Safety and Ethic in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Practice

Speaker:Lixing Lao,MD, PhD, LAc

Discussion: Arthur Fan, CMD, PhD, LAc

1:30 PM- 3:30PM: Scalp Acupuncture: Prof. Shi Xuemin experience in Neurological disorders

Movie “9000 NEEDLES,” By Arthur Fan, CMD, PhD, LAc;

3:30PM-5:30PM: Cupping, Guasha and Its clinical Applications with demonstration

By Quansheng Lu, CMD, PhD, LAc.

Speakers

1. Lixing Lao, MD, PhD, LAc:Professor at the Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, international well-known scholar in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Former Chairman, Society of Acupuncture Research.

2. Eugene Zhang, CMD, PhD, LAc: Well-known scholar and doctor in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, former professor of Maryland Institute of Traditional Chinese medicine (MITCM). Board member of CCAOM. An outstanding practitioner of Tai Ji Quan (Tai Chi) and Qi Gong.

3. Quasheng Lu, CMD, PhD, LAc: Well-known scholar and doctor in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, very skilled in the application of various TCM therapies.

4. Arthur Fan, CMD, PhD, LAc: Well-known scholar and doctor in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, director of Virginia Institute of Traditional Chinese medicine (VITCM). Also excellent practitioner of Tai Ji Quan (Tai Chi), Qi Gong.

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