Please help us welcome Arica Zhong to BodaHealth! Arica is a Registered TCM Practitioner who incorporates a wide variety of healing methods and philosophies into her healing work with patients. Arica has been involved with traditional healing her entire life, through exposure to herbs, food cures and TCM therapies as a child. She is well-traveled and follows the doctrines of many world-class doctors—both Western and Traditional Chinese. Read on to learn more about Arica and her approach to healing!
Jeda Boughton: Hi Arica, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me about your practice. Can you tell me a bit about your journey into Traditional Chinese medicine and the field of acupuncture? What initially piqued your interest?
Arica: Thank you so much for having me today. I’m thrilled to join the BodaHealth family. Well, I grew up in a traditional Cantonese family, Hakka people to be exact. Our ancestors emigrated to the Southern China region roughly 800 years ago and brought with them many essential survival skills, which included vital medicinal practices that could save lives. Part of my childhood memories involve playing with different seasonal herbs, making food cures dishes and witnessing or receiving various TCM therapies. My childhood favourite was scraping or gua sha using (heated) herbal oil.
JB: How interesting! Do you find yourself using many scraping techniques in your practice now, and are there other tools you’re using regularly with your patients?
A: I find scraping is excellent to subdue fever or to relieve muscle tension, but I haven’t been using it too much in the clinic. Instead of scraping, I apply a similar technique called plucking, primarily at the plantar region. It won’t leave red marks on the skin and can iron out any blockages along the meridians, so the righteous Qi can run smoothly again. As for other tools, I often use grain-size Moxa cones, also known as loose Moxa. To burn the Moxa, I use agarwood incense which calms, soothes and sedates. There is a long list of benefits of both. At times, according to certain conditions, I would also perform wet cupping, also known as Hijama.
JB: Well it sounds like you’ve certainly picked up a few techniques over the years! Rewinding a bit, I can see that you hold a BA from UBC; what did you study and how did you end up finding your way to studying and practicing acupuncture?
A: I majored in International Relations and Asian Studies at UBC. I was fascinated by international politics when I was younger. I was an avid volunteer, big on social justice and promoting accessible legal services. I worked in private enterprises as well as for the Federal government for a number of years. Looking back, I would rather think that phase of my life is similar to when Confucius was touring around to interact with the world, trying to sell his idealism. However, he eventually came home and found that the true peace or the true meaning of life is right at home where he can teach, write and make an impact on people’s minds. I cannot compare myself to Confucius but I find the journey of mine is just the same: from seeking outward, to solidifying inwardly. I enrolled in a local Vancouver school a few years ago, and by the time I reached my first practicum session—I remember it well; lots of wet cupping that day and I felt great treating the patients, picking up brand new techniques in a matter of minutes and I actually did well—I knew I was going to do this for the rest of my life. In a strange way, I felt like I had done this before!
JB: It sounds like you’ve really found your calling! You mention that you love to “synthesize traditions with modern technologies and clinically-proven practices.” Does this practice come from your time working in the legal field? If so, is there more you can say about that? For example, did you discover a new route to health, natural healing solutions, or something along those lines?
A: Great point! I never thought about it that way or made the connection with my legal background. I respect the medical traditions and I can never stop praising the supreme TCM principles and its vast knowledge—time-tested teachings which modern day science repeatedly validates. On the other hand, l love information technologies, and appreciate telescopic examinations and the aid that it can provide to modern-day TCM practitioners. I can’t say I have found anything new yet, but I do find that by fusing different modalities, healing happens in a graceful setting, or I would say, it’s less “forced”.
JB: It sounds like you’re able to incorporate so many of your lived experiences into your treatment style! You’ve told me that you enjoy practicing sound healing techniques. Is there anything you can tell us about this, such as why you use this system and what it’s good for?
A: I love music. I love the sound of the leaves rustling with the stems and branches while the birds’ delicate wings brushing through. Natural melodies are healing. Sound (vibration) is the mother of nature. Hey, I believe in the big bang theory. 🙂
The system I use is called Acutonics, which is a system of energetic medicine that uses tuning forks of various frequencies recorded from planets including earth, the sun, the moon and others. Acutonic forks directly impact the human body, especially on the nervous and circulatory systems. On a related note, the creator of Chinese Medicine, the legendary Fu Xi（伏羲 tribal king, created the 5-string zither （琴） to deliver the five-elements healing tones. So sound healing actually predated the ancient Nine Needles Acupuncture!
JB: This sounds fascinating! I love the Acutonics treatments they are so nourishing and relaxing. Are there any specific injuries, imbalances or pain that you tend to treat a lot, or that your style of treatment works really well for?
A: So far, I have a wide spectrum of patients so I can’t pin-point which specific ailment I see the most. As for external injuries, I use a special type of needle to stimulate musculoskeletal healing. There are micro-spirals on the needles, which are invisible because they’re so tiny, and once inserted to a specific ashi points or trigger points, it serves to “detangle” the muscle or fascia and reduce inflammation.
JB: That certainly makes sense, I bet that works really well for a lot of pain related treatments. What other types of studies and education have you completed?
A: I am currently enrolled in the final year of the Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree, at the Five Branches University in California. My Capstone Project is a translation piece of the “Three-Character Classics of Medicine”, written by a famous Qing dynasty TCM educator and doctor, Mr. Xiuyuan Chen. This pocket-style book gave me so much insight and direction during my TCM studies that I am working on producing an English version to benefit beginner peers.
JB: What an interesting undertaking! I can’t wait to read the translation once you’re done. Outside of your practice, what kinds of things do you do for yourself to stay fit and healthy?
A: Personally, I like Power Yoga and HIIT such as 7-minute Tabata because both are relatively quick, easy and effective. As for maintaining optimal health, I eat a lot of spices (constitutionally specific so it’s not for everyone!), and the most important thing for me is to avoid heavy dinners, and be in deep sleep mode before 11PM. Oh, did I mention I have a strict quota for ice cream? Yes, no more than 3 scoops per YEAR.
JB: Ha ha ha ha, does that mean you also have at least 3 scoops per year? I have not heard this yet, no! Can you tell me why you have such strict rules on ice cream?
A: Ha-ha, this is completely body-constitutionally related, so I would like to limit my cold plus sweet food intake. Too bad I’ve used all of my 2022 quotas!
JB: That sounds pretty impressive, especially if it means limiting ice cream! You have so many skills, what’s next for you professionally? Are you planning on doing additional studies or courses or do you want to evolve in a particular area with your practice?
A: I am interested in a Fellowship of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (FABORM), or another form of further study about fertility and reproductive health. I am currently helping a few women in their prenatal journeys, incorporating easy Food Cure into patients’ daily life; but there is so much more to learn! I am especially passionate to help people from groups such as LGBTQ and Single-mothers-by-choice, because procreation is the ultimate creation, and it’s meant for EVERYONE who has the maturity, responsibility and unconditional kind heart to love a new life.
JB: That’s great to hear. It’s so rewarding to give back! On a closing note, is there anything else you would like to tell people?
A: Believe in your body’s absolute intelligence. Take the messages and allow it to lead you. A large part of my job is to help you receive and decode the messages.
Registered TCM Practitioner Arica Zhong has an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia and received her R. TCM.P from the Tzu Chi International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCICTCM) in Vancouver. She is currently finishing her Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Degree from the renowned Five Branches University in California. To best treat her patients, Arica’s philosophy is to incorporate modern technologies with clinically-proven practices and traditional Chinese medicine into her treatments.
To learn more about Arica, visit her full bio here and stay tuned for more Practitioner Spotlight interviews from the BodaHealth team.