Arvada, CO Experienced Acupuncturist Casey Calkins, MSOM, Dipl.O.M., L.Ac is Acupuncturist of the Month
Casey Calkins, L.Ac is a Colorado licensed acupuncturist and NCCAOM diplomat, and graduate from Southwest Acupuncture College (SWAC) in August of 2019 with a Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine. Calkins was awarded the Gentle Tiger Scholarship for demonstrating superior point location skills and understanding the clinical energetics of points. The university and professional internship experiences undertaken by Calkins have contributed largely to his knowledge base on herbal formulas and his treatment approach with patients. Currently, Calkins owns and operates his acupuncture practice, Silver Pines Acupuncture.
Hello Casey Calkins, MSOM, Dipl.OM, L.Ac! Welcome to the Acupuncturist of the Month interview.
So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture for, and what are your specialties?
I started practicing acupuncture on myself in school at Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder in 2015. I opened my own clinic and started work at Integrated Acupuncture Associates in Brighton when the economy began to be reopened.
My specialty is removing disharmonious frequencies from the geometry of water molecules, leading them to the bladder to be expelled and restoring lost harmonious frequencies via sympathetic resonance.
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
Around 2013 I hurt my shoulder while playing with a little cousin at a Christmas party. My arm was in a sling for about 3 months. When I was allowed to remove the sling I found that I couldn’t lift my arm. My dad suggested that I try acupuncture since it was covered by insurance. After one session I could lift my arm again! I knew that I wanted to help people, and I wasn’t sure how until that first treatment. I asked my acupuncturist where I should go to school and he suggested Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, CO. I applied and was accepted! I’m so very grateful I went.
Tell us more about balancing pulses. What are the different approaches, and how have they helped your practice?
There are four fundamental ways that I can get a diagnosis via the pulses to come up with a treatment plan to achieve balanced pulses at the end of the treatment. Feeling a pulse is like feeling a river.
The first is by quality and location of the quality on the pulses. For example if the patient complains of tight shoulders and neck, I feel the pulse and find a wiry pulse in the left guan. I diagnose Liver Qi Stagnation and treat accordingly. This method is like feeling a river and trying to determine where the rock in the river is causing rapids and low spots.
The second way I learned to balance pulses is from Ted Hall in the Kototama approach. You can read about this method in detail in Dr Duckworth’s book. In this method one compares St 9 with Lu 9 in three different ways to find which of the 12 organs is excess and the center of the energetic disharmony. This method is like comparing two rivers from the same headwater to determine where the rock is in the river. This method is exceptional when compared to the first method. One may feel a wiry pulse in the left guan, yet that does not mean the rock is there in the liver. The rock could be in a place like the small intestine, liver’s clock opposite.
This method takes a lot of practice to perfect without the third method to verify work as the difference between gallbladder, liver, pericardium and san jiao can be very subtle. This second method also provides three other orders of elements, only one of which had been applied to the pulse positions. Upon learning about the geometry of a magnetic field from the youtube channel Theoria Apophasis, I noticed that the two types of pulse positions that I had learned corresponded to magnetism and electricity. This allowed me to solve the pulse positions of the other two orders of elements. Using all four orders of elements provides a way to interact with the different aspects of an individual’s field. I have also figured out how to use St 9 and Lu 9 to diagnose shen men, ming men, left kidney and right kidney. I developed a way to use the fields of the sun and moon in relation to my patient’s field in conjunction with modular math to balance patient’s pulses and help resolve their complaints.
The third method I learned from another teacher at Southwest Acupuncture College. Their method is one of differential diagnosis via retroduction. You check the yuan source point of all 12 channels. One will make the pulse feel like smooth water, and this is your primary channel in your diagnosis. You then check all the transport points on that channel. One will make the pulse feel like smooth water. Then, you check that transport point on the other 11 channels to achieve a differential diagnosis. You can then match the actions of the points selected with herbs for a beautiful herbal formula. This method of pressing on points to see if they help the pulse balance is a wonderful way to test hypotheses from either method one or two. If one feels a wiry pulse in the left guan then you can come up with the hypothesis of liver qi stagnation. To confirm, one can press on Lr 3. If one compares St 9 and Lu 9 and determines the pulse to be gallbladder excess, then one can confirm by pressing on Gb 40. One can also achieve a differential diagnosis this way by testing out sinew binding points, divergent channel points, or extraordinary opening points.
The fourth method is my current favorite. It is my combination of the three previous methods using my understanding of what a field is. I am currently working on a free Google doc and sheet to explain this method in greater detail.
You have great respect for Moxa. Please tell us how moxa has changed your treatment techniques, and how it has benefitted your patients?
I learned how to apply direct moxibustion in treatment from Maya Suzuki. She has a YouTube channel with videos explaining how you can do this. I highly recommend her channel, ShinKyu University.
Direct moxa is my favorite tool, while my most commonly used tool is a strong magnet. Before I learned about what a field is from Ken Wheeler over at Theoria Apophasis, moxa offered me the opportunity to use a very powerful tool on stubborn pain, pain from puncture blood vessels, low oxygen levels in red blood cells, on low white blood cell count, on breech babies, and individuals that don’t want any needles used in treatment.
After learning about a field, I know that moxa is much more than heat. It is a field perturbation that one can use to cause sympathetic resonance to remove disharmonious frequencies and to restore harmonious frequencies. Indirect moxa is like a light bulb, with its light going out in all directions. Direct moxa that goes out on the skin is like a laser. My patients are mostly likely to accuse me of magic when I do direct moxa on them, as their pain can vanish in an instant.
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
In school I struggled with the male dominated structure, and was called out for being defensive. This goes back to childhood and I had to work on receiving with gratitude without worrying about feedback. I suppose this was good training for my career when encountering a difficult patient!
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?
I see a lady from the Church I go to, Our Lady of Mt Carmel, about once a week for a free treatment. I originally saw her for long COVID and knee pain. I learned some much from all those free treatments. As I worked to perfect my treatments to address lingering pathogens, she began to regain her former self. She was walking at Church and was feeling good enough to be her trouble making self. People at Church noticed how good she was doing! She has become one of my best advertisements. Her word of mouth has helped me reach many more people.
I saw her last week. I made her my last patient of the day because she had a cold and I didn’t want to get anyone sick. She started with a head pulse, which is when only the second method of pulse balancing would provide an adequate diagnosis. She had phlegm heat in her head, which hadn’t penetrated into the interior. I resolved the head pulse with a needle at Du 23 and a magnet to guide the disharmonious frequency to the bladder from the sea of marrow.
I tonified the sea of blood with the south side of my magnet using St 37-39. Then I used the north side of my magnet to disperse Du 20, Gb 39, Gb 41, Ub 63, Ub 62, Ub 57, Gb 34 and finally the Ub transport points. She had phlegm heat in her head, which hadn’t penetrated into the interior. After resolving the head pulse, the pathogen still remained in her tongue. I did moxa under her jaw. I call the point Ren 23.5. It’s directly under the tongue. I then used a magnet to guide the pathogen from the sea of blood to the bladder. I tonified Gb 39, then dispersed St 37-39, Sp 4, Kd 9, Kd 6, Ren 15, Gb 34 and finally the Ub transport points.
I then used an herbal spray that Kate Blalack had made for tendons and direct moxa on Ub 64, 63 in an attempt to seal the pathogen in the bladder. It popped out into the luo ci. I used the herbal spray on Sp 10 and then used a magnet to guide the pathogen from the sea of water and grain to the bladder. I tonified Lu 9, then dispersed St 36, Lu 7, Kd 6, Ren 15, Gb 34 and finally the Ub transport points. I had her use the restroom. She expelled the pathogen! I then used one of the order of elements, Iwasaki, and the relationship of the sun and moon’s field to the patient’s field to finish balancing the pulses. She didn’t need herbs as she was done being sick and felt normal! She was very happy and relieved that she felt normal and could return to her office to work on her craft without delay.
You have a world of experience in the eastern medicine field, which work or educational experience do you feel impacted you and your practice the most to get you to the point you are today?
I think my understanding of a field and the relationship of one to phi from Ken Wheeler’s work at Theoria Apophasis on magnets has had the greatest impact on me and my practice. It is impossible to fully comprehend the eastern medicine field and holistic medicine with the world view of an atomist. Maintaining the world view of bumping particles prevents one from a full understanding of the 5 elements and yin and yang.
How have your various internships shaped you into the acupuncturist you are today?
My internships with Chip Chace, Kate and Jason Blalack at their Boulder office and Eric Brand at his Boulder warehouse for Legendary Herbs has helped place an emphasis on using herbs in my treatments, both internally and topically. I’m sure that without these internships, I wouldn’t be as excited or informed about herbs as I am.
What makes you feel inspired about acupuncture?
Helping others and the relationship of one to phi make me feel inspired about acupuncture. Being of service to others in their time of need is my most cherished reward. Exploring what is beautiful in this world is very inspiring. When you hear one to phi, you can think of the golden ratio.
Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in this profession?
I think my best advice would be to make more time for friends and family. It’s easy to get caught up in studying. My other piece of advice would be to check out Ken Wheeler’s work on what a field is. That would have made understanding acupuncture way easier.
The best piece of advice I received was to use quizlet in school. You can see every class I took on quizlet by using their app and searching for the username honeydapooh. Enjoy!
What keeps an acupuncture practice going?
I know that my passion and excitement for learning new things in an attempt to become a better practitioner is seen and appreciated by my patients. This retains my patients and their excited word of mouth helps my practice grow.
What are specific roadblocks to watch out for as a new acupuncturist?
I think the greatest roadblock to a new acupuncturist is their atomistic worldview. You have to leave this incorrect belief system behind in order to grasp holistic medicine.
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?
Use your best customer service voice. Be caring and compassionate regardless of their situation. Treat them face down with points in the outer shus of the yin organs. This is a wonderful way to reset a rainy day!
What are your favorite acupuncture points, and why?
Acupuncture is like a video game to me. The acupuncture points are the buttons. My goal is to balance the patient’s pulse and to resolve their chief complaint. My reward is helping others. Acupuncture points are like opportunities and are only appropriate at certain times. The right point at the right time is my favorite point. My most commonly used points are Gb 34, bladder transport points, xi cleft and yuan source. Gb 34 is the last step from one of seas to the bladder. It connects the Ren and Du luo to the bladder sinew channel. I then use the transport points to help guide the pathogen out of the body. The bladder xi cleft and yuan source points are typically how I attempt to end a treatment.
Tell us about some herbal formulas and foods you find yourself consistently recommending to your patients, friends, and colleagues. What makes these herbs/foods so helpful?
I view herbs in the same light as acupuncture points. I use the diagnoses obtained from the pulses during an acupuncture treatment to come up with patient specific formulas. When it comes to the core of formulas, Sp and St are the center of attention with modified versions of formulas such as Si Jun Zi Tang and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. When it comes to food I let patients take pictures of relevant pages of the Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine, 2nd Edition, Maclean et al. Diet is the second most difficult thing to help a patient with. Emotions are number one. Having such a complete guide to diet from the Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine is extremely helpful to patients as I don’t have to use precious treatment time to explain such a complex subject. The easiest place to start with patients when it comes to diet is intermittent fasting, as the patient only has to change when they eat and not what they eat. Another good suggestion is to look at what your ancestors ate and then eat that.
You provide quite a few at home resources for patients – that’s great! Have you found these resources to be helpful for your patients to have better experiences with you when they are in office?
I’m always trying to come up with ways for patients to do homework so that they can save money by taking care of themselves or their children. Treatments for kids can be short and easy. I love getting a diagnosis for parents and then coming up with a treatment plan that they can do each and every night. I had one patient use a pediatric roller on their kid for treatment every night for their first two years of life. They have one very happy and healthy baby!
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?
I am currently discussing some of my ideas for the free document and spreadsheet that I am working on with Dr. Ducksworth, Ted Hall and fellow students of Nakasono Sensei, and Dr. Ducksworth. Their sharp criticisms are helping me hone my ideas. I am very grateful for them. Learning to express my ideas to others helps me gain a greater understanding of what I am trying to convey.
The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt had a significant impact on the acupuncture practice community and small businesses alike, and while it’s on the mend, we are still navigating through the new normal as acupuncture providers. How has COVID-19 changed your practice? Have you added or removed any services due to the pandemic?
In school at Southwest Acupuncture College I continued my education on how to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. One thing I learned was how to see if your respirator will protect you from an aerosol. You check to see if you have correctly fit your respirator on your face by placing a big bag on your head. Then someone sprays an aerosol into the bag. You move your head around in different directions while breathing to see if you can smell anything. If you have, then you failed. During the masking I had an affinity for using Golden Sunshine Herbal Spray. When patients walked into my office masked, their typical first comment is, “Wow! It smells so good in here.”
Also while in school I learned about the Tuskegee syphilis study and how it was the world’s largest violation of informed consent in modern medical history. A bunch of poor individuals were studied for syphilis. When treatment became available for syphilis then patients were not informed of it. During the pandemic I saw safe and effective treatments for the novel virus removed from the list of approved treatments, which were later approved. This was done to allow emergency approval of experimental treatments. The emergency approval remains after the verification of the safe and effective treatments for people with SARS-CoV-2. In addition to this I have asked patients that have received a mRNA vaccine to explain to me how it works. They cannot.
Seeing first hand the mis and disinformation around masks and the violation of the Nuremberg Code by those in power has led to strained relationships with medical and government institutions and with potential referrals. I am not sure what can be done to restore trust. I am currently considering moving my practice to a country that responded appropriately with a low mRNA vaccination rate.
Long COVID has completely changed the way that I treat people. I used to treat people with the first three methods of pulse balancing with the 8 extras being the deepest channels system that I worked on. Everyone that wasn’t in need of a chiropractor or surgeon would feel better, until one didn’t. Once I determined that he had long COVID, I changed my treatment strategy and he was better within 3 treatments. This process continues today! I treat until I’m stumped. Then I find new way to solve the problem.
Do you have any daily habits or rituals that keep you at your “best-self”, both as an acupuncture practitioner and person?
I try to give glory to God each day and to ask for opportunities to help others. I do this with Mass and prayers. I say the Angelus, Rosary, and Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary everyday. I try my best to eat the appropriate food at the appropriate time. I try my best to go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6 am everyday. I am constantly checking my pulse to be sure that I’m the best acupuncture diagnosis and that I am pathogen free. I balance my pulse throughout the day using a variety of tools. My favorite is Epiphany Water. It helps keep my emotions in check and my diagnosis away from Shen men. I drink TCM herbs at least twice a day. Finally, I am constantly trying to learn more. Remaining excited to learn is very important.
We see that you offer a free service to those in need in the community – so generous! Is giving back to your community important to you, and would you say it influences your practice or the way you approach treatment in general?
Helping others in my community is very important to me. I give away at least one free treatment a week. I will treat people for whatever they can afford, even if that is just as gratitude. Every treatment is a valuable opportunity to learn something new and change the way I treat people for the better! Some of the most important things I have learned are from giving away treatments. For example, I learned from doing a free treatment that I could do multiple pulse balancing treatments in one session using the pulse balancing method three. This was revolutionary as I could pack months worth of treatment into an hour.
The kindest thing a patient said to you recently:
“My healing journey has turned a corner, thanks to Casey! His treatments are targeted to just what I need and they are most effective. He is a true blessing to me!”
The funniest thing a patient said to you recently:
“And of course, I still want to work on stanima today.” This patient has such a pacific way with words.
As an acupuncturist, what are you most proud of thus far in your professional journey?
Helping couples with fertility issues achieve their goals. Yay babies!
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
I would want a billboard with a tallie of the current level of excess deaths. Similar to what was on the news during the pandemic for people that had died from or with SARS-CoV-2. Maybe then people might start to ponder, “Why do we still have such high levels of excess deaths that cannot be attributed to COVID-19 after the pandemic?”
What is your definition of success?
Successfully helping those in need and being able to refer them when I cannot.
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
In the anime Naruto, there’s a family with the surname “Hyūga.” This family only sees the flow of qi in a body, they are otherwise blind! I wouldn’t want to be blind, yet I would like to be able to see the flow of qi in my and my patient’s body.
There’s another anime called “The Legend of Korra.” In it people have the ability to manipulate different elements. In one scene there’s an acupuncturist that can “bend” metal. He uses this ability to insert all his needles for treatment at once! I would like the ability to use my mind to insert needles. That would be too cool!
*Rapid fire questions! *:
Morning or night? Morning Tea or coffee? Tea, TCM and Yerba Mate specifically Sun or moon? Moon Cupping or Tui na? Tuina Yin or Yang? Yin Meditation or exercise? Moving meditation, such as skiing and snowboarding! Instagram or Facebook? Neither, thank you. Top 3 Favorite Books? The Douay – Rheims Bible, New Roman Missal: Fr. Lasance, Uncovering the Missing Secrets of Magnetism by Ken Wheeler
Where can other licensed acupuncturists, students, and patients go to learn more about your work?
Silver Pines Acupuncture Interested parties can go to my website (linked above) to learn more. I hope to complete my free document and spreadsheet by the end of the year. You will be able to find it on my site. You may also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.