Ah yes, the dreaded bio: do I really have to talk about myself in the third person?
RUSSELL BROWN, L.Ac., MTOM
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in journalism, I maintained a successful career in feature film development, working on such near-Academy Award-nominated films as The Fast and the Furious franchise, Not Another Teen Movie, and Cruel Intentions. (There were several lesser films, as well, that should be considered nothing less than crimes against humanity.)
I was really enjoying working in the film industry when one day at breakfast, I intentionally and shamelessly eavesdropped on the conversation at the table next to me where a woman was talking about acupuncture. Having never experienced it myself or even really thought about it, something in me sparked.
A door opened, and I knew I was being prompted to re-prioritize my life and dedicate myself to the betterment of others. If I had time to think about it, or do a pros and cons list, I never would have made the jump, but as it is, I enrolled at Emperor’s College of Traditional Chinese Medicine the next day and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master’s Degree in TCM four years later, and certified by the California State Board of Acupuncture shortly thereafter.
I have a fairly different attitude about this medicine than a lot of my peers. I’m not a hippie and never was. I’m a regular guy who was born and raised here in L.A. I have crow tattoos because I’m a “hipster cliche,” NOT because I’m a “pseudo-spiritualist.” I don’t own billowy yoga pants or lavender crystals and I’ve never heard a Caucasian person use the words “Namaste” or “Love and Light” in a way that doesn’t sound completely deranged. That said, I think this medicine is absolutely amazing, and is grounded in a lot more science than the woo-woo hippie-ness, faux-asian zen-ness, or strip-mall sketchiness that would personally make me uncomfortable as a patient.
I believe pain and disease are not simply an inconvenience but rather information: our body’s only way of telling our brain that we’re doing something it doesn’t like. Your discomfort is your body calling for help, and just taking a pill or injection to silence that call does not necessarily service you. I spent years eating lunch at my desk while working and having dinner after 9pm on-the-go, wondering why my stomach was a mess and my bowels were totally erratic.
Now I know that health and wellness are about education, slowing down our busy lives to pay attention to what’s happening, having compassion for ourselves -instead of the constant rut of beating ourselves up- and a bit of sense of humor about the whole thing, and not just sentencing our lives to pharmaceutical addictions and kowtowing to what insurance companies think is best.
I’m generally a little cynical and have a pretty grounded world-view, but I’ve seen acupuncture work, time and time again, and I love to be able to bring that miracle to people like myself.
Acupuncturists don’t typically “specialize” in schooling like western doctors but the areas I’ve had the most experience and enjoy treating are pain conditions, sports injury, stress-related conditions and emotional disorders.
ALEXANDRA BRUEHL, L.Ac., MTOM
I’ve always been interested in culture and biology. My curiosity about how organisms function is innate; my fascination with culture stems from growing up under the influence of wildly different cultures: my dad is German, my mom Peruvian, and I was raised primarily in the States (hablo español und Ich kann auch ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen).
In college, I studied the powerful role of culture in shaping lives. My major, Medical Anthropology, showed me how the interaction of culture and biology impacts health. I went on to get a Masters and start a PhD in Medical Anthropology at Emory University, but left because I felt that academia wouldn’t fulfill my need to help people. However, the underlying theory that culture is inextricably linked to health has stayed with me and guides my practice of acupuncture.
I came to the field by chance. For years, I’d been using Western drugs to stop my migraines, but they had negative side effects and I worried about long-term use.So I decided to try acupuncture. Combining a few treatments with an herbal prescription, I was able to reduce my medication and my quality of life improved exponentially.
Wanting to share my experience, and recognizing an opportunity to help others, I enrolled at Dongguk University. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Masters in Oriental Medicine and then passed the California Boards shortly thereafter. I started acupuncture school somewhat skeptical, but I’ve seen it work over and over again. Sometimes results are instant, sometimes they take time. But I have full faith in this medicine and there’s no better feeling than helping people with it.
I believe in Eastern and Western medicine. Both can be powerful tools, and I think you should have as many tools in your kit as possible. But Eastern medicine understands that our physical state is impacted by the macro—the environment and culture—and the micro—our constitution, lifestyle, and mental state.
A macro-level problem we all face is stress. We put off dealing with it, not realizing (or ignoring) how bad it is for us, when in fact, stress impacts the micro: it is associated with weakened immune systems; bone degradation; and impaired metabolism, digestion, mental, and endocrine function. Eventually these issues become impossible to ignore and we are forced to address them. Western Medicine usually prescribes a pill to lessen symptoms. Eastern Medicine, however, will examine what’s causing them, the interplay of lifestyle, constitution, psycho-emotional state, and biology. Acupuncture and herbs treat these underlying causes to eliminate symptoms. I understand that if it ain’t broke, you’re not going to come in and fix it. But when it does break, I encourage you to shift your thinking and try acupuncture. It addresses your symptoms, but more importantly treats the underlying issues causing your distress, so that you’re better off down the line.
I have experience treating a wide variety of issues, but am particularly interested in treating migraine/headache, sleeping issues, and pain.