in Alternative Medicine.com
Deirdra Claiborne, L.Ac.
of the Acupuncture Herbal Center in San Rafael, California
was interviewed as a featured practitioner at Alternativemedicine.com.
Alternative Medicine Narrator: Tell us how you
first got started in alternative medicine.
At a very early age, I was deeply compassionate and sensitive to the suffering and pain of others. When I was six years old, one of my classmates had a severe skin disease that deformed his hands. I remember wishing I could heal his disease. The other girls would not dance with him during Physical Education because his hands looked different and they thought they would catch his disease. I was not afraid to touch his hands. At the age of 18, I had a neighbor who was dying and I comforted her during her death. Many similar heartfelt, empathetic experiences while growing up helped guide me to my chosen profession.
Over the years, several wonderful teachers/healers shared with me their wisdom of healing. The first was my father who healed me with natural remedies and only used Western medicine as a last resort. His approach planted a childhood seed which led to my path of becoming a traditional Chinese health professional. When I was 19, a Native American herbalist gifted me her vast knowledge of life, nature, herbs and natural medicinal remedies. Many of those remedies are similar to the traditional Chinese remedies that I use today.
Through my experience of several life-threatening accidents, I witnessed my own body’s innate ability to heal itself with the help of Chinese medicine and herbs. This has enabled me to successfully guide others in their healing process.
Why did you choose this profession and what
is your educational background?
When I was 20 years old, I was studying pre-med and one of my friends marveled at his good results from Chinese medicine for migraine headaches. He suggested I try acupuncture and herbs for my recurring bronchitis. The results were immediate. During my series of treatments, I fell in love with Chinese medicine and realized I would become an acupuncturist. Along with my studies of Chinese medicine, I delved into Chinese philosophy, martial arts, acupressure, meditation and Eastern orthopedic physical therapy. I apprenticed with an acupuncturist in Santa Monica and learned how acupuncture is administered in a clinical setting, and I attended Samra University – the first acupuncture school in Los Angeles. The American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco is known for their comprehensive herbal study program, and that is where I decided to complete my education before going into practice.
In 1984 I had the privilege of personally studying with several renowned Chinese doctors at Sun Yat Sen Medical School in Canton, China, where I graduated with an advanced degree in professional acupuncture. My field of study focussed on female disorders – infertility, menstrual imbalances, menopause, urinary difficulties and all pain-related conditions.
In 1989 I completed a six-month advanced post-doctoral training in clinical acupuncture and herbal medicine at the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, China and extended my knowledge with a yearlong program in advanced orthopedic acupuncture. This knowledge provides me with the understanding of both Eastern and Western medical perspectives in treating complicated pain related conditions.
How does acupuncture work?
I see our body as a self-healing organism with a network of interrelating and interacting energies. The even distribution and flow of the body's energy (Qi) maintains health. But any disturbance, depletion, or stagnation unbalances the Qi and leads to disease. Acupuncture is a system of Chinese medicine that facilitates the natural processes, encouraging the Qi to regulate. The imbalances are detected through traditional Chinese diagnostic tools such as the pulse, tongue irregularities, physiognomy, and comprehensive patient consultation. This evaluation shows me where the Qi needs to be redirected. Using minute needles (and sometimes electrodes) assists the rebalance of the Qi and helps the body heal itself.
Do you have a specialty and what modalities
do you use?
I specialize in acute and chronic
pain, allergies, gastro-intestinal disorder, menopause, fertility issues, facial rejuvenation, gynecological disorders, including PMS and uterine fibroids.
In 1980 I treated many difficult chronic pain cases at the Alternative Medical Department of UCSF. These patients tried acupuncture as a last resort and many had successful results. I also had several infertility patients, because Chinese medicine is recognized as increasing the likelihood of conception by creating a relaxed and healthy intrauterine environment for pregnancy. Chinese medicine has lasting results without side effects. The benefits of acupuncture are enhanced with suggested dietary and lifestyle changes.
In addition to acupuncture, I use herbal plasters, cupping, infrared therapy, moxa, herbal steam packs, and all forms of Chinese herbs (pills, powder and raw). There are also many herbal formulas that my partner, Dr. Samuel Wang, and I developed specifically for our clinic.
Would you share with us three short case
histories to show the broad range of conditions that Chinese medicine
A 41-year-old woman came to see me with a history of tubal pregnancies and several miscarriages. She was having difficulty conceiving for a year-and-a-half and had taken fertility drugs with no results. Her fertility specialist suggested in-vitro fertilization. Instead, she decided to try Chinese medicine. I treated her irregular menstrual cycles and PMS symptoms. Within one year (at the age of 42) she had a successful pregnancy that was supported with Chinese herbs and had a healthy baby girl.
Another example is a 72-year-old diabetic woman who came to my clinic because she wanted to avoid amputation of her feet that UCSF thought necessary due to a severe circulatory impairment. I gave her a series of twelve acupuncture treatments in conjunction with electrode and infrared-light therapies. Her circulation began to improve significantly and amputation was not necessary even up to the ripe old age of 92.
A friend of mine had a German Shepard/Wolf who had suddenly become paralyzed in his hind legs. After one month of paralysis, I treated him with Chinese orthopedic massage and electrode acupuncture therapy. After four visits he was able to walk on his right hind leg. After the fifth visit he was partially able to walk on his left. This case proves that belief is not necessary for Chinese medicine to work.
Would you like to share anything else?
I was honored to be one of the first acupuncturists in California to work in a major university-teaching hospital, with a staff of physicians that specialized in Western medicine. I would like to encourage other health professionals to share the benefits of Chinese medicine with their patients who are hospitalized so they have more choices in their healing modalities.
“After just two sessions, I was able to walk a lot better without my crutches. My broken ankle healed faster than I thought possible!”
Greg Wierzowboski, M.D.
The natural grace of the office accentuates the healing quality
of the practitioners.
Maud Nerman, D.O.
I always return to the Acupuncture Herbal Center for my healing.
I have recommended Deirdra to many people.
Akbar Khan, World Renowned Musician.
We specialize in the following modalities: Acupuncture,
Children's Health Care, Chinese Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Hormone Replacement
with Chinese Herbs, Orthopedic Acupuncture,
Pain Management, Stress Management, Weight Management.
We specialize in treating the following health conditions: Addiction, Allergies, Arthritis,
Pain - Sciatica, Cancer, Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome, Colds and Flu, Constipation, Digestive Disorders, Fatigue,
Fibromyalgia, Gynecological Disorders,
Headaches, Cardiovascular Disease, Hypertension - High Blood Pressure, Infertility, Menopause, Neck Pain, Respiratory Diseases, Sports
Injuries, Stomach - Intestinal Problems, Stroke,
Tendonitis, Urinary Problems, Viral Infections and Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture.
Acupuncture: $75.00 per visit
Consultation fees vary according to time
(Usually the first visit is $100 - includes a short consultation with acupuncture treatment)
Herbs: Prices Vary
Directions to 824 Fifth Avenue, Suite C, San Rafael
North on Highway 101:
Take the Central San Rafael exit, stay in the middle lane. Past three
turn left on Fifth Avenue. Proceed underneath
the freeway, and go three blocks - passing the intersection at Lincoln
Avenue. Our office is located approximately half a block after Lincoln
Avenue on the right hand side of the street. Parking is located in the
center row at the rear of the building.
South on Highway 101:Take
the Central San Rafael exit. Proceed straight through one intersection,
and turn right on Fifth Avenue. Go three blocks - passing the intersection
at Lincoln Avenue. Our building is located approximately half a block
after Lincoln Avenue on the right hand side of the street. Parking is
located in the center row at the rear of the building.
FREE PARKING IN THE BACK PARKING LOT (CENTER ROW ONLY)