This month ACE sits down with Miriam Pineles, DACM, L.Ac. Miriam is the founder of Conscious Health and Wellness, Inc. She is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and licensed in Acupuncture by the State of NY. Miriam graduated from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City with a Master’s degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine (MSTOM). She has also studied Five-Element Acupuncture at the Tai Sophia Institute in Laurel, Maryland. Additionally, she studied with Dr. Richard Tan and exclusively practices his Balance Method of acupuncture in her practice. Miriam’s Herbal prescriptions are designed based on her study of Dr. Jimmy Chang’s Pulse Synergy Method. Miriam treats fertility, perinatal health, physical pain, allergies, migraines, Mental health, and more.
Through these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miriam talks about how she is dealing with the unexpected need to be far from her patients while continuing to help them maintain their health through telehealth, and maintain daily life as an acupuncturist, mom, and women’s health & mental health advocate. To learn more about Miriam, check out her interview below.
Welcome Miriam Pineles! Thanks for taking the time to sit with us for Acupuncturist of the Month!
So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture for, and what are your specialties?
I am practicing just over 10 years. The bulk of my practice is in the treatment of Perinatal Health concerns, Infertility, Menstrual disorders, Mental health, Physical pain, Allergies and Migraines.
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
As a teenager, I knew I wanted to spend my life helping others and I pursued an Psychology degree in college in order to have a license to help people heal. Upon graduation, my personal health concerns led me to an Acupuncture visit and it was love at first sight. Before the needles even went into my body I had decided in my heart that THIS is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. It was the intake and diagnostic portion of the visit that moved me to my core.
The practitioner was an incredible listener and I was impressed with how every facet of my body and life was relevant to what I was currently experiencing. When we finished talking, he approached to feel my radial pulse. I was in absolute awe that through my pulse, my body was telling him what was wrong and what it needed to heal. The moment was magical- I felt called to practice this incredible medicine and help others.
We notice that you offer tele-medicine services, which is so helpful right now! Tell us how you came up with, and implemented this form of care.
I began Tele-Medicine as soon as the Covid-19 Pandemic hit New York. I was forced to close my practice, but wanted to stay in touch with patients and continue to support them. Moreover, patients needed the help more than ever with the stress and anxiety that was pervasive, in addition to helping them through the Covid-19 symptoms that many were contracting. I am grateful to my colleague Dr. Lorne Brown and the Jane Software team for immediately implementing Tele-Medicine webinars to help us practitioners stay in practice.
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
My biggest obstacle was finishing my Herbal medicine degree. It was very challenging to learn hundreds of Chinese herbs and I quit studying them twice in my time at school. I am grateful to a friend and colleague who provided tough-love and pushed me to finish the program. I am eternally grateful to him because herbal medicine has become a major part of my practice and technique in healing.
Share a recent success story you had with a patient. What acupuncture points, herbs, or other interventions (meditation, yoga, nutrition, etc) did you use to help them achieve results?
The most recent was a Tele-Medicine consultation I had with a patient last month regarding her mood, hormones and digestion. She had suffered for 10 years from extreme mood swings for 2 weeks out of every month, with premenstrual cramping, IBS, and insomnia. She reached out to me because her moods had been getting worse with the 2 months of quarantine at home. Based on her symptoms, medical history and tongue + ear diagnosis, I prescribed the following herbal formula: Jia Wei Xiao Yao san + He Huan Pi + Ye Jiao Teng + Yan Hu Suo.
I also recommended she use a heating pad on her abdomen, eliminate dairy, and start a meditation practice. 1 week after starting herbs she wrote me the following: “In terms of my mood, I have been feeling great! My PMS symptoms seemed much more manageable this week. And I feel less anxiety than usual. My digestive issues have gotten better and I am falling asleep easier.”
What makes you feel inspired about acupuncture?
1. That it works immediately. It can bring immediate relief to pain and discomfort.
2. How it works to heal with no negative side-effects.
3. That it can be used in the healing of physical and emotional pain.
4. That there are so many points to choose from/so many ways to help a person.
5. That I can study it my entire life and still not have scratched the surface of it’s depth.
Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in this profession?
Pace yourself. Self-care is so important and is integral to success.
What keeps an acupuncture practice going?
Professionalism, Good customer service, Continuous learning/refining technique, A passion for life and healing, Healing one’s self to live in balance.
What are specific roadblocks to watch out for as a new acupuncturist?
Trying too many techniques. Find a method that speaks to you- that you resonate with and that also shows you it’s effective. Study that well and stick to it.
We have all occasionally had a patient come into our practice who is upset, frustrated, and a little angry. Maybe it’s from work, being stuck in traffic, or life in general – we have all been there! What advice would you give to fellow acupuncture students and/or colleagues on how to deal with situations like these?
To remember your job is to serve and heal. To use compassion and humility. No matter how a patient comes in, it’s important not to judge, and to meet them where they are – not only will you learn a lot about them by not reacting, you will have helped them a great deal by holding space for the difficult time they are in.
What are your favorite acupuncture points, and why?
Hard question- there are so many! I love LI-4 for the power it holds to create a lot of movement in the body and help the other points function. I also love Ear Shen men for it’s fast-acting calming effect. And PC-6 for it’s ability to open the chest and support the emotions and Digestion.
You specialize in women’s health…what do you think is missing from the standard care for women’s health, and how does acupuncture address those things that are often overlooked or brushed off?
I could write pages on this, but in short, what’s missing from the standard care for women’s health is a wholistic approach. Chinese medicine, at it’s core, understands the components of and dynamic relationship within the body that maintains good physical and mental health, and is therefore so successful at helping women in so many areas of life. Not only can acupuncture and herbs help treat and alleviate hormonal dysfunction in women, it can even diagnose it before it has manifested and thereby act to prevent disease.
I have experienced this personally in the clinic. As a mother, I am particularly sensitive to my pregnant patients and always speak with them about the potential physical and emotional challenges of the postpartum period. I use pulse diagnosis to detect whether or not they are vulnerable to have anxiety, depression or severe fatigue after delivery. Several times I have been able to determine this and have sent the women home with herbal remedies to take to help them cope. Those that did not take them home before delivery, called me within 6 weeks of delievery to tell me they were indeed struggling and wanted support. These tools are an invaluable resource for the healthy and safety of women and their families.
Sometimes, the best resource for improving our skills is by learning from the other acupuncturists we meet along our professional journey. What is one thing you learned from a fellow acupuncturist or holistic practitioner, that has helped you in your professional growth, or in your care for patients?
In my first class with the late Dr. Richard Tan 7 years ago, he said to everyone in the room, “You acupuncturists- you needle the patient and then you leave the room and pray to God that your treatment works. Leave God alone- He is very busy running the world. Instead, take the medicine He gave you and use it well.” This line is with me always. It inspires me to do my utmost best with every patient, to have confidence in the medicine and to study constantly, and to strive for excellence.
Tell us more about the Chinese pulse analysis that you use in your practice.
It is called Pulse Synergy and it is the method invented by Dr. Jimmy Chang. Dr. Chang has spent his Chinese medical career developing this method and he continues to refine it, and his Herbal combinations, on a regular basis. He is incredibly generous with his wisdom and time in teaching us students.
This pulse method is highly sophisticated but fairly simple to learn. Based on the quality/shape/force felt in each pulse-position, a specific herbal combination is prescribed. The patient’s response, as well as a change in the pulse quality signifies successful diagnosis and treatment. It is a method that is fun to learn and can be studied indefinitely. What’s astounding is that you can know every symptom and condition a patient has before they even tell you just by feeling their pulse! It’s all in there!
The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt had a significant impact on the acupuncture practice community and small businesses alike. How have you been handling the COVID-19 situation as an acupuncture practice owner and individual? What advice or wisdom would you like to share with other acupuncturists who are also navigating through these sensitive times?
Tele-Medicine has been a gift during this time as it has enabled me to stay in touch and continue to work with patients. I highly recommend that practitioners begin to use this as the world and medicine continues to evolve. Also, I learned and studied a lot during the lockdown- I stayed up-to-date with as much Western and Chinese medical news as possible. Not only was this helpful in a practical sense, but it further deepened my awe and confidence in the effectiveness of our medicine.
Do you have any daily habits or rituals that keep you at your “best-self”, both as an acupuncture practitioner and person?
Yes, I start and end every day with prayer and meditation. It may be silent or vocal, still or active, 5-minutes or 1-hour, yet this is integral to being my best self and best practitioner-self.
The kindest thing a patient said to you recently:
“I’m so grateful you are in my life.”
The funniest thing a patient said to you recently:
I can’t repeat it ; )
As an acupuncturist, what are you most proud of thus far in your professional journey?
That I have studied my teacher’s methods extensively (the Balance Method of Dr. Richard Tan, and Pulse method of Dr. Jimmy Chang) and have practiced them on so many patients that I am confident in their techniques and provide good medical care.
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
“Be The Change You Want To See In The World.” I think everything begins with ourselves. The world is yearning for healing and peace- it begins within each of us.
What is your definition of success?
When it comes to Chinese medicine, it would be getting fast results.
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
To give patients instantaneous and eternal healing. While for many of us healing is a journey that can take time, and while I know pain is purposeful, the mother in me always wants to take all pain away as fast as possible.
Where can other licensed acupuncturists, students, and patients go to learn more about your work?
Have more knowledge or an acupuncture/TCM specialty you want to call attention to and share?
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