My name is Gabe Stern and I am a licensed acupuncturist and board certified herbalist. My study and practice in the medical field began in 2002: starting in the western medical world as an emergency medical technician, and continuing on to become a registered nurse specializing in intensive care. As much as I enjoyed the work in those areas, I chose to pursue an advanced degree in Chinese medicine in order to further my own knowledge and understanding of the nature of disease. I am a graduate of Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine where along with our standard education in Traditional Chinese Medicine there was extensive training in the Shen-Hammer Pulse Method and considerable focus on the treatment of emotional disorders. In search of a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of Chinese medicine I completed my fellowship in Classical Chinese medical theory and the treatment of infertility with the Hunyuan Research Institute.
When I’m not seeing patients or studying Chinese medicine I am an avid student of the martial arts, and a sucker for Sci-Fi / Fantasy, or the occasional real book.
The discussion of health is at its core a discussion of life. It’s important when discussing life in this context not to take a narrow or segmented view. We often think about life only in terms of our experience of it, breath to breath. For our purpose here a broader sense of it is more appropriate. Life started an incalculable long time ago. We can’t know when, we can’t know how, and we can’t know where. Thankfully we don’t have to. What we do know is that there is life. We can see very plainly in the difference between a person and a corpse, a rock and a flower. We take it as a given that life exists. All living things have two fundamental commonalities. First, they contain a portion of the spark of life (which is no small burden to be responsible for), and second, a tangible form: a mechanism to preserve, protect, and maintain this life. All living thing have found a way to do this. The difference between a single bacterium, a tree, and a human are at most stylistic. They are merely differences in the ways that the task of maintaining life has been achieved.
As many have said and most have felt: life is fleeting. The reason we don’t blink out of existence instantly is because we have a body – in our case, as humans, a complex and subtle instrument to continuously nourish this spark. We constantly take nourishment from our world, most obviously in the form of food, water and air (not to diminish the myriad of non-material nourishment that are in every way just as important, although much more difficult to discuss). We continue through time being reborn literally moment to moment, carried through by this ever replenished fire. However, we naturally and rightly become less able to restore it to its previous fullness. This is growing older, and it is appropriate to diminish in physical vigor as the process continues. Illness is the arising of anything that impedes our ability to restore ourselves to the degree that we should be able to at our particular stage in life.
We often mistake symptoms for illness. Illness is reaching the inevitable sooner than we should. Symptoms are the manifestations of wear and drag on the portion of the system that is not moving correctly. Symptoms are important: they both call our attention to the fact that something is off kilter, and can guide us to the root of the problem. If we can follow a symptom to its source (the illness) and rectify it there, we restore our ability to maintain ourselves, and the symptoms remit by their own accord. Unfortunately the common practice is to diminish or eliminate the symptom at the symptom level, thus allowing the illness to grow and fester unseen.
People seek treatment for a variety of reasons. On the surface they may seem different -digestive, gynecological, cardiovascular, endocrine, or mental emotional. From the proper perspective they are all regulatory. They are disruptions of our innate ability to appropriately abide by the natural cycles through which we foster our life. Although the presentations may differ, and the specifics of treatment are adapted to match the necessity, the principle remains constant. The practitioner’s responsibility is not to make the patients feel better; it is to help them restore their capacity to tend the spark of life they carry.