A PCOM Alumnus’ Calling

By Lori Howell, L.Ac., DAOM Fellow

When Mark Sobralske graduated from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Chicago and went to Kathmandu to volunteer in an integrative medical clinic, he anticipated gaining acupuncture and herbal medicine experience, deepening his Buddhist meditation practice, and certainly finding a little adventure. Mark didn’t anticipate founding a Tibetan medicine school for youths in the remote Nepali mountainous region of Dolpo. When you mix medicine, mountains, and meditation, many things may happen, what is anticipated, and especially what is unanticipated.

Mark Sobralske in Dolpo for Himalaya ProjectAfter volunteering for three months at the Shechen Clinic and Hospice in Kathmandu, Mark accepted an invitation from his friend Lhakpa Dondrup to visit his “hometown” in the mountainous and remote region of Dolpo in western Nepal. Before embarking on the trip, Mark met with Amchi Namgyal Rinpoche, who told him of his improbable dream to create a Tibetan medicine school in Dho-tarap Valley. Dhotarap Valley lies in the heart of the Dolpo region of western Nepal, adjacent to the Tibetan border. Tibetan pastoralists have inhabited this valley since the 8th century.  Here, everything, every breath, is infused with Tibetan Buddhist culture.

Fortunately, Mark brought a supply of acupuncture needles with him to Dolpo. Due to the scarcity of medical care in Dolpo, Mark continued his volunteer work by treating the local Dolpopas. In all of Dhotarap Valley there are only two amchis (Tibetan medical practitioners) to treat the entire population. People suffer and die needlessly from treatable disease due to this desperate lack of healthcare. Mark developed a deep love and understanding for the Dolpo people and their way of life. He carried Amchi Namgyal’s improbable dream of creating a Tibetan medicine school with him and once there, he saw the dream’s potential to manifest as reality.

Back in the States, with the support of the Dolpopas and Amchi Namgyal and local amchis from different areas of Dolpo, Mark embarked on an altogether different and difficult trek, navigating through the formalities and legalities of starting a non-profit. Himalaya Project was created on January 08, 2011 with the goal of providing Tibetan medical education and healthcare to under-served communities in the Trans-Himalayan region. The non-profit is headed by Sobralske and includes six other volunteer members. The volunteer board meets monthly and communicates regularly with advisors in Nepal.

Himalaya Project endeavors to educate and train 14 children from age 12-13 for a period of five years. Two children from each of the surrounding seven villages will be admitted with the goal that at the end of their education they will return to their village to provide healthcare. To this end, healthcare will be more accessible in the Dolpo region. The healthcare provided, Tibetan medicine, is that which is desired and understood by the population, allowing the region to remain self-sufficient without relying on expensive Western medication and foreign trained physicians.

Be a part of manifesting the dream. Donations are gratefully accepted to help provide room, board, and tuition for Dolpo’s future amchis. Fostering and preserving traditional Tibetan medicine in Dolpo directly benefits the people of the Dolpo region and benefits our world by keeping traditional medicine alive and relevant. For more information about Himalaya Project and how you can help, please visit: www.himalaya-project.org

 Lori Howell, L.Ac., DAOM Fellow is a faculty member of PCOM, Chicago and maintains a private practice in Evanston, IL. She is a board member of Himalaya Project who believes that access to healthcare is a human right and traditional medicines should be valued and preserved.

How to Change a Habit

Many times in addition to acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine, I give lifestye advice to improve the health of my patients.

In order to counteract any disease or illness, it is necessary to change our habits, in addition to applying interventions with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
If a patient is on board with making a few tweaks to their schedule in order to replace bad habits with good habits, their treatments will progress all the faster.

For this reason, in this month’s newsletter, I am including some information on how to effectively change a habit.  Many of us know that a change in managing stress, diet, exercise, sleep regiment, etc. would be a good idea, but we all know how tough it can be to implement a change.

Fortunately, since we are creatures of habit, we can use our habit-forming tendencies to our advantage.  Small changes of habit on a day-to-day basis, lead to big changes over time.  In order to stop doing harmful things to ourselves, the most effective method is to start with doing small positive things for ourselves.  Maybe for you it is adding a yoga class just once a week to your schedule.  Maybe it is getting to bed at a reasonable time so you don’t feel exhaused in the mornings for work, maybe it is quit smoking, or maybe a starting goal is to cook one meal at home per week, instead of eating out.

Over time, these small changes add up and contribute to our health moving in a new direction.  Once inertia builds in this new direction, instead of finding ourselves down-trodden and ill, we find ourselves happier, healthier and more useful to others.

Here are a few links for further reading on how to change a habit from a website I enjoy, www.lifehacker.com.

Change a Habit Flowchart – LifeHacker

The Right Habits – LifeHacker

Break Bad Habits by Developing an If-Then Plan – LifeHacker

Acupuncture and Sport’s Medicine

Amy Acuff uses acupuncture for maintaining her healthI’ve been reading a lot in the news lately about American Olympians who use acupuncture as a part of their training/recovery regimen. Most notably, Amy Acuff, pictured above, a 36 year-old high jumper, attributes much of her success and longevity in the sport to Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

In my practice at Red Coral Acupuncture, I treat a full spectrum of patients ranging from senior citizens to adult athletes to teenagers.  People of all abilities use my skills as an acupuncturist in different ways to treat sports injuries and musculoskeletal disorders.

Seniors may seek out treatment for relief from arthritis or old injuries which plague them and prevent them from hitting the gym and doing the activities they would like to be doing.

Others are avid runners, swimmers, soccer players who are looking to recover from acute injuries such as sprained ankles, pulled muscles or joint pain.

Whether the goal is getting them to feel good enough to get back to living a pain-free active lifestyle or helping an athlete perform at his/her best in competition, I am always happy to help a patient meet their individual milestones.

Insurance Billing

Mark Sobralske, MS, L.Ac, is now able to bill insurance directly for your acupuncture treatments!

If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO member, and your individual plan covers acupuncture, your treatments with me may be covered.

Call or email today and I’ll be happy to perform a complimentary eligibility and benefits check on your behalf to see if you qualify.  Takes just a minute to find out.

If you are a holder of another policy under AETNA, HUMANA, CIGNA or other insurance providers, I am also happy to provide invoices from your treatments.  If your plan covers acupuncture, they may also reimburse your acupuncture treatments with me.

Why keep paying out of pocket if your insurance will pick up the bill on services performed by a professional, skilled and compassionate practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine.