Born in Korea in 1956. Have been studying acupuncture since 1975.
Former Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at Royal University of America in Los Angeles, California.
Former guest speaker at the Arizona Kidney Foundation in Phoenics, Dan-Hak Center in Sedona, Arizona.
Former guest lecturer at IUSB and Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.
Have been running Acupuncture Clinic in the United States since 1996.
Hyundai Acupuncture & Moxibustion Institute, Seoul, Korea
DanKook University. (B.A), Seoul, Korea
Royal University of America. (M.O.M), CA, USA
Michigan State University. (M.A), MI, USA
Andrews University. (M. Div), MI, USA
SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE (IN) ARTICLES:
DAVID RUMBACH Tribune Staff Writer
Published: October 3, 2007
The needles used in acupuncture are so thin many people don’t feel them being inserted. But they’re powerful enough to relieve chronic low-back pain better than conventional physical therapy and pain-killers, according to a study published last week.
The finding, based on treatments of more than 1,100 people in Germany with chronic low-back pain, comes as no surprise to local practitioners of acupuncture.
“It has been done in China for a thousand years,” said Yong K. Park, an acupuncturist in Mishawaka. “Why would people keep doing it if it didn’t work?”
Park said back pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek acupuncture, although it’s also offered for a variety of other ailments, including smoking cessation, constipation and headaches.
Typically, people turn to acupuncture only after conventional treatments have failed them, said Brigette Goulet, an acupuncturist in Roseland. In the German study, acupuncture worked twice as well as conventional treatment.
“They should try it sooner,” Goulet said.
Acupuncture worked immediately for Bill Wargo, 37, of Elkhart, who said he found Park in the phone book last week after seeing a news story about acupuncture’s effectiveness for back pain.
Wargo turned to acupuncture despite having a “phobia” about needles and skepticism about the practice itself. Narcotic pain-killers were keeping him asleep 16 hours of the day and drowsy during the rest, he said.
Park’s treatment gave him relief “as soon as I got off the table,” he said.
Goulet said many people find acupuncture relaxing and fall asleep during treatment. That’s kind of surprising because they’re snoozing with 12 to 20 needles in their bodies up to an inch deep.
In a typical back-pain treatment, sterile, disposable needles are inserted at selected points in the shoulder, along the spine, in the low back, behind the knees and even in the ankles.
“These aren’t the hypodermic needles used to give shots,” said Alfred Pinto, an area chiropractor who added acupuncture to his practice about five years ago. We don’t really puncture people.”
Patients undress to their underpants and lie face down on a table. The needles are left in place for a half hour, more or less. Acupuncturists often leave the room dimly lit and play soothing music during that time.
Park said many patients don’t have the immediate, total relief that Wargo experienced. It often takes several sessions for an effect to occur.
Park, who learned traditional Chinese acupuncture in Korea and taught the practice in Los Angeles, claimed that nine of 10 patients experience some benefit.
Goulet said she will give back-pain patients up to four treatments before giving up and advising them to try something else.
“They’re not necessarily done in four treatments but by then we have an idea whether they should pursue it,” she said.
Indiana requires acupuncturists to be trained and licensed. It also requires a patient to obtain a referral from a physician before seeing an acupuncturist, a requirement that acupuncturists say is a barrier for some patients.
An initial visit to the acupuncturist begins with an interview and physical exam based on the principles of ancient Chinese medicine.
The acupuncturist will talk with the person about his or her health and symptoms and feel the pulse and examine the tongue. Park said he also examines the iris, the colored part of the eye, for clues to the health of various organ systems.
The basic underlying principle of Chinese medicine is that vital energy flows through a person’s body along lines called meridians. The lines have been mapped and can be seen on charts in almost every acupuncturist’s office.
In Chinese medicine, illness is defined as an imbalance or blockage of the flow of energy, called chi. By placing needles in defined points along the meridians, acupuncturists believe they can remove blockages of chi, restore its balance and otherwise improve a person’s health.
One of the acupuncture points in the ear is traditionally named “calm the spirit,” Goulet said. One in the leg is called “three-mile leg.”
“The tradition is that if a person is completely exhausted and you put a needle in that point they can walk another three miles,” Goulet said.
While the recent German study provided strong proof for the effectiveness of acupuncture, it also poked some holes in the teachings practitioners follow in choosing needle placement and depth.
About one third of the approximately 1,100 patients enrolled in the trial received what the researchers called “sham” acupuncture. The practitioners put the needles in the wrong spots and at a much shallower depth, about a 10th of an inch or so.
Yet the third of patients receiving the fake treatments did almost as well as the third of patients who were given true acupuncture. And both groups of acupuncture patients, real and sham, did twice as well as those receiving conventional care.
‘Bones and voodoo’
Pinto, the chiropractor who also performs acupuncture, said the success of sham acupuncture may simply mean that “from a scientific perspective, we may not be able to explain why this works.”
Pinto said he decided to learn the practice about five years and offer it to patients. A few years earlier, he had been successfully treatment with acupuncture for a swollen black eye.
“I’m not sure patients are that interested in the science of it when they’re suffering chronic pain,” he said.
Wargo, the Elkhart man treated last week by Park, said he’s grateful that treatments have allowed him to get back on his feet and be active.
He had back surgery for herniated discs in his lower back in December 2005, requiring a three-month recovery before he could return to work.
He wants to avoid, or at least delay, the fusion surgery recommended for the additional bulging and herniated discs higher up in his back that are now giving him trouble.
“I don’t care if it’s done with chicken bones and voodoo,” Wargo said. “Whatever I can get out of this is great.”
Staff writer David Rumbach: email@example.com (574) 235-6358
Acupuncturist pokes holes in Western medicine
Published: January 28, 2007
Acupuncture therapist Yong K. Park stared deeply into staff writer Robin Toepp’s eyes. Using a method called iridology, he says he looks for signs of weakness or stress to help him “diagnose” a patient’s needs. It is just one of several methods of healing Park uses. Is that what you do when you first meet with a person?
Sometimes, when I see people, many times I look at their eyes because when you look at their eyes, all things are written in there, believe it or not. This is not acupuncture, by the way, I do a little bit more than acupuncture. Checking the iris eye signs and then tell the problem, it’s amazing, you know.
You’re Korean (from Seoul, South Korea). How long have you been in America?
Almost 20 years. I studied for several different fields. I have my master’s degree from Michigan State University, in teaching English as a second language, and then acupuncture, and then I also studied at the seminary at Andrew’s University. That’s the main reason that I came to this area. I came four years ago, after closing my business in Arizona, because I wanted to study at the seminary. I almost finished it but, personally, I don’t think myself so well qualified as a pastor, so I will not go into that field. I opened my clinic two years ago.
What did you do in Arizona?
I had an acupuncture clinic there for six years. And before that, for five and a half years, I was an assistant dean at an acupuncture school in Los Angeles.
How many years of study are required to become a licensed acupuncturist?
In order to become an acupuncturist in America, first you need two years of a college education, or 60 semester credits, and you study four more years.
Is it a growing field?
Very much. But right now, Indiana or Michigan is one of those states that are quite behind compared with other states. (In California, there are) at least more than 6,000 acupuncturists, but here, very few.
California has always been more open to newer and alternative forms of healing than places in the Midwest.
Right. What I have found here, is that two years ago I opened, and more and more people are interested, but there is still far to go. And people are generally very happy with the results. If any person wants to study this field, I think it’s a very good field.
Do you see mainly Asian patients?
No. In my case, about 19 out of 20 are Americans. There are a very few Orientals that live here. For example Koreans, maybe, Michiana, South Bend and Berrien Springs all together, maybe less than a thousand. So mostly Americans, and about 70 percent of them are ladies. And they really enjoy it. At first they sometimes worry about pain. What if there is a pain, or if it is safe, but actually, there is very slight pain or sometimes they don’t feel it, because the result, it’s so quick, they are amazed and they begin to love it once they get the treatment.
What are the typical kinds of pain that people come to you about?
Most common problem is back pain, or neck or shoulder pain. Acupuncture is especially beneficial for any kind of pain. It works very quick.
Why is it so quick?
It is hard to tell, but maybe it is because it works.
Are you stimulating nerves in the process?
Actually, a nerve is related, but we are dealing with meridian. That’s different from nerves. We believe in our body there are 12 pairs of meridians; that’s energy lines, like a highway. And there’s all small kind of roads in our bodies. But the major thing is the 12 pair of energy lines. And sometimes, for certain reasons, those energy lines, energy cannot flow freely. There are blockages or improper energy flowing. Then, usually, pain shows up.
In Oriental medicine we say, where there is a blockage, there is pain. So by putting needle, we open energy channel and regain the balance. In Oriental medicine, we believe if everything is well balanced, we don’t have any problem, but if the balance is broken, then we begin to have problem. So by using needle or using herbs, we are trying to regain the balance. There are 355 acupuncture points, among them, about 252 points are near the major nerve area, but the rest are not.
Do you have to study anatomy, in addition to learning the metaphysics about energy?
When you go through the acupuncture school, there is a certain curriculum and they study Oriental medical theory, they study the basics, like chemistry, physics or biochemistry and all of those things, and also, they study some of the basics of Western medicine, internal medicine and Western diagnostics and some pharmacology, and also herbology and Chinese massage or energy work Qi Kong (pronounce Chi Gong), those things. So when you see the curriculum, it’s very well formed.
I’ve heard of energy healing such as Raiki. Where does that fall into the scheme of things?
That’s one kind of Qi Kong, or energy work. There’s all different kinds of studies, and depending on what you focus, what you study, their specialty is different. Tai Chi is one kind of Qi Kong.
What about the common cold? Can acupuncture help with that?
Yes, we can help with cold. And it’s very interesting. In Western medicine, cold is cold, sometimes, depending on the symptoms, they give people different medicines for throat pain or whatever. But in Oriental medicine, even the same cold we divide in different forms.
So if you had a sore throat and headache, where would the needles go?
Usually here, in the hands (in the fleshy part of the skin between the thumb and index finger), or if you have a runny nose, we put the needle here (he points to the face between the cheek and bottom of the nose) on both sides, and sometimes here (in back of the head, at the base of the neck). So all those help with coping with cold. Sometimes people come with migraine headache, and some come to stop smoking or drug detoxification, and acupuncture works for that, too.