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Check Out Loren Stiteler’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Loren Stiteler.

Hi Loren, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I was born into a family of Chinese medicine practitioners, making me one of the few second generation practitioners of non-Chinese descent. However, I can’t really attribute my early exposure to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as the reason I pursued the field (my three brothers certainly didn’t take an interest in it after all). Really, I came to TCM naturally as it marked the point where all of my interests coalesced. As far back as I can remember, I have had an inexplicable fascination with China. This interest blossomed into the study of martial arts. And as my love for China matured, I fantasized about learning to speak Mandarin, Chinese. By the time I made it to college, I had the opportunity to study the language which ultimately leads me to study abroad in Beijing. Whilst in Beijing though, personal struggles around my sexual orientation led me to change my major to philosophy, and my enchantment with Chinese culture engendered a keen interest in the Chinese intellectual tradition.

Reconciling my sexuality was extremely challenging, and the tidal wave of emotion, coupled with the questionable quality of the food I was living on in China, produced health complications that would really set the tone for my life. I was a sick, depressed, sinophile (lover of China) philosopher deep in the process of reinventing his life. And with some gentle nudging from my parents, I was on my way to TCM school. How natural of an outcome it seems in retrospect. As Chinese medicine is so old, the field is truly vast, and to be great requires not only a mastery of medical protocols but a command of language, philology, philosophy, and history. Intentionally or not, life groomed me for this. And the beauty of it all is that as my understanding of Chinese medicine and all the facets of Chinese culture necessary to understand it not only benefit my patients but deeply enrich my own life. How many people today have to opportunity to build a career upon the deep study of philosophy and history? How many people have over 2,000 years of the world’s greatest minds to rely on when challenges arise? I cannot answer these questions, but at least I can say that I am fortunate enough to be one of these people.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Though my verve for Chinese medicine made study easy, the field itself is beset with a number of challenges. 19th century imperialism, early 20th century political turmoil, and of course communism have severely impacted the field. As Chinese medicine migrated westward, racism, orientalism, and cultural appropriation have further complicated things, shrouding it in a veil of culturally inaccurate mysticism. What today is generally perceived of as Chinese medicine is in many ways a far cry from how Chinese medicine was practiced for most of its history, and this is not without its consequences. The ancient literature sets the standard for the entry-level doctor as being capable of curing 6/10 patients. However, modern research into branches of Chinese medicine such as acupuncture hardly reveals these results. In which case, TCM’s loss of authenticity has unfortunately decreased its efficacy. To account for this, I have had to learn to read old Chinese, a language that has not been spoken in 2,000 years, and I have had to search out teachers who have knowledge consistent with the historical literature and who possess the skills to put it into practice. As such, the greatest obstacle I face is dispelling the myths, misinformation and, at times, disinformation surrounding my field.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I practice and specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). By Traditional Chinese Medicine, I am saying that my practice is as historically and philosophically accurate as I can make it, avoiding cultural appropriation as much as possible and thereby providing patients with a TRUE alternative to conventional medicine. This is necessary because of just how many people are underserved or even disserved by the medical establishment today. This is not to be critical of conventional medicine. Rather this is to say that If it is useful to reach out to another doctor for a second opinion, it is also useful to consult an alternative model for another opinion. All medical models have their strengths and their weakness. By diversifying our models, we make up for where the other models lack. What sets me apart is my emphasis on ‘tangible medicine’. Tangible medicine is a term coined by my teachers to emphasize that Chinese medicine’s effects ought to be fast and obvious. This is to say that an herbal prescription ought to have noticeable effects within 3-5 days of use, and an acupuncture treatment ought to reliably produce sensations that in turn markedly reduce symptoms. This means that the treatments I offer bear little resemblance to most people’s experience with TCM. This is most notable in acupuncture. Western acupuncturists generally insert needles then leave the room allowing the patient to rest. This is called ‘passive needling’. And though it is the dominant practice in the USA, it is actually inconsistent with the last 2,000 years of Chinese medicine history.

So, how can we expect to get the results of the great doctors of the past if we don’t practice like them? Well, in short, we can’t. This is because the benefit of acupuncture does not come from the needle itself but rather from the hand that holds it. In other words, acupuncture is a skill-based technique. Because of this, I do not leave the treatment room, instead of spending time manipulating the needle so as to produce specific sensations so as to benefit the case. As such, it is not uncommon for veteran acupuncture patients to be shocked at the kinds of sensations a little needle can create. Though I do not specialize in a specific disease, the demographic I serve is overwhelmingly burdened by psychiatric disorders. In which case, anxiety such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic attack disorder make up a significant portion of my practice. And though the sheer number of psychiatric cases might beg serious questions about our culture, they are an absolute pleasure to treat as it is immensely beautiful to watch patients literally transform. My practice is not limited to this however, and I frequently treat all manner of digestive disorders such as heartburn, gastritis, colitis, and IBS, orthopedic problems such as sciatica, frozen shoulder, and neck pain, as well as migraines, menstrual disorders, skin issues, and more.

Any big plans?
My dream is to open my own multi-bed clinic with a fully stocked herbal pharmacy, staffed by multiple practitioners vetted to my standard and devoted to the practice and promotion of truly Traditional Chinese Medicine. And through the success of this clinic, I aspire to elevate the quality and the status of TCM within our society.

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