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Meet Xiaomei Cai of Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Xiaomei Cai.

Xiaomei, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I became interested in medicine as a very young child. My father used to take me out foraging around our home town, in the fields and the mountains, and he taught me about herbs that could help colds and flus, stomach problems, rashes, everything. My fascination with women’s health in particular began, early, too. I remember, when I was 11 or 12, hearing two women –they were probably in their 40s — talk about their periods. One woman said that her blood had been black, but she had gone to the doctor and been treated with herbs, and then it had turned red again. I was amazed – how could a plant cause such a change in a person’s body? I realized that women, especially, need special attention when it came to hormone issues. As women, we are always giving, but we tend to underestimate how much care we need to give to ourselves. In our traditional Chinese culture, men were always in charge, and the women served. But, under Chairman Mao, things began to change. Women no longer took the names of their husbands. We could have our own identity. I consider it my mission to help women get the attention, care and respect they need. TCM has so much to offer women. We have the ability not only to manage pain and other symptoms, but to restore optimal function of the ovaries and other organs, so that, at any stage of life, a woman can feel her best.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Naturally, when one makes such a big move–coming to the U.S. from China– overcoming language and cultural differences is a challenge. It can be frustrating when you are trying to communicate, and people don’t understand. But we persist, because it is so important to give voice to these big and complex ideas. Across all cultures, there is still a lack of understanding and support for women’s health issues. Also, the medical system, as it exists right now, does not recognize that TCM treatment can, in many cases, be far more effective and cost-efficient than surgery or drugs. So, many people who might be helped by acupuncture and herbs are not able to access this treatment because their insurance doesn’t cover it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine – what should we know?
As a woman, I must always be playing different roles: woman, wife, mother, doctor, business owner. We need “they guys” to recognize that all of this multi-tasking puts us in a highly demanding position, and creates our different perspective on our duties. We must constantly be prioritizing and re-prioritizing. If we give 8 hours a day to work, and 8 hours a day to sleep, how will we best use the other 8 hours? Cooking, spending time with family? Exercising, socializing? Or focusing on self-improvement and reaching the next level of career goals? Lifelong learning excites me. I am always learning from my patients and other practitioners, always going back to study the classic texts of TCM to help me solve contemporary health problems. In Chinese, we have a saying, “Bai Le, Chian Li Ma.” This roughly translates as, “a wise man will recognize the horse who can run a thousand miles.” But to me, it means, “If you want to reach your goal, you have to make yourself a Chian Li Ma; always be training, Improving, always be ready, so that when your opportunity comes, you are ready to move to a higher position.”

The longer I practice, the more I realize that every human, every creature, really, is more than the sum of its parts. We are not robots; we cannot, as doctors, try only to understand how a mechanism works. We must also understand the spirit, the relationship between the infinitesimal and the infinite. What is happening in one part of the body or mind reflects the whole. There is always so much more to learn!

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