Meet Acupuncturist & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Su Hyun Park
We sat down with Su Hyun Park, RTCMP RAc, practitioner at Aurum Medicine and Wellness Clinic in Toronto to get to know her a bit.
Why did you become an Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner?
I naturally became interested as I grew up receiving Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments and have seen the benefits of it myself. The first instance of a TCM treatment for me was when I was 1 year old. I had eczema (also commonly called fetal heat) back then and my parents decided to treat me using herbal medicine instead of cortisone creams. My father put a lot of thought into making herbal medicine easier for my consumption (because who likes the taste of it?) and he decided to introduce it to my diet in small amounts. Even after my eczema was treated, my father raised me with Chinese medicine food therapy, where tea from a boiled herb such as poria (Fu Ling), job’s tears (Yi Yi Ren) would be used in place of water for cooking, or herbs such as goji berry (Gou Qi Zi) were added into dishes. These means were to strengthen my constitution and change my body type to prevent the returning of eczema. Thanks to their effort, I don’t have scars or remnants of eczema on my body. There were other times when I received TCM treatments as I was growing up and even after becoming an adult, and I was intrigued at its perspective of health and diseases. As such, I searched for opportunities and places to learn TCM after completion of my undergraduate degree in environmental health and environmental sciences (environment is another field that I take interest in).
Can you tell us a bit more about your approach?
TCM is a holistic medicine. It looks at the whole person and their systems to see if there is a pattern of disharmony or imbalance, as opposed to focusing on one area of the body where the symptom is. While TCMPs often use local acupuncture points to where the pain or the symptom is, they will also use points distant from it because the cause of the problem may be somewhere else entirely, such as a specific internal organ. This is the reason why we will ask seemingly random questions like your sleep, your bowel movement, and problems with urination when you came for the treatment of your ear ringing, for instance. The truth is that it is not random and all of this information can tell us about what organ system may be disordered and in what way to hint us on how to approach the chief complaint.
The most famous form of TCM treatment is acupuncture, but we also use other modalities such as Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, tui na, and lifestyle modifications. To begin with acupuncture, it uses filiform needle insertion into the skin over specific points that are connected to each other and inner organs by a pathway called meridians. In addition to locating the acupuncture point that fits the therapeutic aim, the correct stimulation of the needle is also important. Next is herbal medicine. Herbal medicine combines various herbs, minerals, and sometimes animal products with recorded therapeutic effects in Materia Medica in specific ratios to treat the imbalances we talked about previously. What is important to note is that herbal medicines are personalized to every patient. As a compound of various herbs that was carefully modified according to the patient-specific symptoms and constitution, herbal medicine cannot be shared between individuals, even if they may have the same complaint. Moxibustion involves burning of a warm-natured herb called mugwort either indirectly on the body surface or over an acupuncture needle to bring out the therapeutic effects like warming the body and the meridians and improving the blood circulation. What is interesting to note is that it is becoming known for the use in turning a breech baby. Cupping, tui na, gua sha are all more local and physical techniques that are performed with or without specific tools and they all commonly help to improve local blood and body fluid circulation. Cupping creates vacuum within a glass or a plastic container to suck up surface tissues on its site of adhesion. Tui na is a Chinese manual therapy that massages the body according to TCM theory of meridians and purposeful techniques. Gua sha involves scraping the body surface with a smooth tool. Gua sha is quite popular for cosmetic therapies these days.
Is there a condition you like working with or that you have noticed people with those conditions have been drawn to you?
I enjoy working with patients who have hormonal or menstrual conditions. These could include PMS ranging from irritability, insomnia, diarrhea, constipation and acne, painful menses, irregular menses, uterine bleeding (menorrhagia and metrorrhagia) and more. I notice that the patients are more attentive to changes in their symptoms because there is a pattern in their timing and therefore they give more detailed feedback to me. Treatments are more enjoyable if I can track improvements in the patients, which is not always easy for subjective symptoms.
How do you integrate additional education or background into your treatments?
I first try to think about if there is an environmental pathogen that could be at the cause of the patient’s condition, especially if I judge that their condition is related to TCM pathogenic factors like Wind, Dampness, Dryness, Cold and Heat. I will ask the patient about the way they wear clothes, the temperature of their office/home, the ventilation method of their home, etc. because all these factors are relevant and may need adjustment in order to prevent returning of the condition.
Su is a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R. TCMP) and Acupuncturist (R. Ac) dedicated to holistically treating health conditions by restoring the balance of Yin, Yang, and vital substances within the body. In addition to acupuncture, she uses modalities such as Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping, tui na (manual therapy), and lifestyle modifications to accomplish this.
Su treats patients with various conditions including hormonal and menstrual problems, digestive, genitourinary issues, insomnia and sleep disturbances, and musculoskeletal issues such as numbness, tingling, and pain. She also provides cosmetic facial acupuncture to complement the internal health approach.
Su is fluent in English and Korean.
Learn more about Su and how to book with her at this link here.