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The Secrets of Traditional Chinese Medicine with Timoni Slusher on the Koolers Lifestyle Podcast #35

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00:00:01 Timoni Slusher
So we do add things in. That’s where Herbology, you know the herbal medicine of Chinese medicine is so great because there are things that you’re missing, there are some deficiencies and herbal medicine can really kind of target those. And same with the lifestyle and diet changes. So in Chinese medicine, food is used as medicine an awful lot and we have a whole nutritional course where we learn the different. Characteristics of food that can be used to balance or counterbalance the the different characteristics or deficiencies that we see in the human body.

00:00:40 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work and serve through my business Kooler Garage Doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because Community matters, and I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the Community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth, and our health. Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn. Today I have my friend. Timoni Slusher, who’s the doctor of acupuncture practicing here in Gunnison, Co, somebody who I visited with. And I’m excited to go deep on understanding the practice a little bit more. Timoni. Thanks for joining.

00:01:43 Timoni Slusher
Thanks for having me.

00:01:44 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You’re beaming in from your comfortable home here in town.

00:01:49 Timoni Slusher
I’m. I actually live in Pitkin Pitkin. So I’m. I’m about 30 minutes outside.

00:01:54 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Of town. Awesome. Well, let’s start by having you just share where you grew up.

00:02:02 Timoni Slusher
So I was. I was born in Gunnison, Gunnison, Co long time ago and I did not my my family moved. So I left the valley when I was about 10 years old, just entering, you know, late elementary school and ended up in. In Florida, of all places, which was, you know, not really ideal for a gunny kid to land in Florida, but ended up going to high school in Fruda, so I was kind of closer to home.

00:02:35 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Wow. All right. Did you always stay in small towns or was Florida a big, big town?

00:02:45 Timoni Slusher
Oh, it wasn’t that big. No, no, Sid. Right on. It’s always been small. Yeah.

00:02:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So how would how would you define your childhood in general? And those are some big shifts.

00:02:57 Timoni Slusher
Big shifts. It was very ungrounded. Yeah. My childhood was, you know, moving a lot. And just my family was disrupted several times growing up.

00:03:10 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I followed that.

00:03:11 Timoni Slusher

00:03:12 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So high school in Frida, give us a little bit of pathway to where we’re at today.

00:03:22 Timoni Slusher
So I I grew up as a, as a kid who loved animals, loved dogs, and I wanted to be a vet. So I also made the choice to join the military right out of high school. And and so as I was kind of cruising through college and on my vet track, I got called up to to have to go to war. So I have to drop out of college and go to Iraq for a year or so. In the meantime, my stepmom got sick and and then so I was needed at home for a while and really my my pathway just kept getting interrupted. So took a break and then started looking around at what you know, my GI Bill could help me pay for and landed on acupuncture, which coincidentally ended up in the back of my mind. Through a veterinarian that I worked with who did acupuncture on the horses and the dogs and even a like a bunnies, cats, whatever came in. And I was immediately drawn to that. As soon as I saw him do that and I saw the results and I saw the kind of people that were drawn to his practice, I I knew that there was a seed planted.

00:04:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Wow. So you served in the military, is that I get yes, typical. Is it typical for a four year? How long?

00:05:04 Timoni Slusher
It is. I joined as a reservist, so I was still able to kind of to work, yeah, and and do the military thing and that’s an 8 year commitment.

00:05:15 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:05:16 Timoni Slusher

00:05:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Looking back from where you’re at now, how do you feel about that experience?

00:05:25 Timoni Slusher
I believe it was a very necessary experience in my life. It’s not one that I would choose again, and definitely not one that kind of resonates with my soul or my being. I’m not a military person. However, it all serves its purpose right. When I have known that I’m not that person, if I didn’t go and and kind of live in that lifestyle and surround myself with those people, I don’t know. I definitely needed the discipline at that time right out of high school.

00:05:58 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Was that was that part of the impetus like what? What was the motivating factor for for enlisting?

00:06:07 Timoni Slusher
There, you know, when I look back on it, there really was no motivating factor. I was a 17 year old kid and. They told me that they could help pay for school and then I would get to learn some cool stuff and yeah, you know? And I just was like, okay, this looks like a great path.

00:06:25 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Right on. Well, for what it’s worth, thank you for your service. You’re.

00:06:31 Timoni Slusher

00:06:32 Matthew Kuehlhorn
As you went into acupuncture, what is the process? I can imagine that I can’t just pick up acupuncture needles and start. Dropping them in places. But what is it? What does it take to get that Doctor of acupuncture license? Is it a license?

00:06:51 Timoni Slusher
Yeah, so it’s, it’s a you have to have an undergrad in order to enter the school, and then it’s a four year masters program before you can become licensed as an acupuncturist. Yeah, so I spent six years in school to become, it’s like a six year masters and. Yeah. And then the doctorate portion is, was after I had already become licensed and started practicing, I was able to to pursue that. That was a couple more years of of school, more on the research side of things, not necessarily the practice of acupuncture. The skill is already there. The art form has already been, you know, I’ve learned and I’ve practiced it and I’ve kind of and honed that in, but then the doctorate portion. Really helps to understand a little bit more of like how we fit in in our world, in the Western world with conventional medicine and how to practice based off of evidence, right. So now how to research or they also want us to kind of go the typical doctor out and start writing or researching. And a lot of my colleagues do that, you know, for me I’m very much a clinician. But I do use I do use my skills and my research skills an awful lot to keep my practice evidence.

00:08:16 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Based. I love that. So from your perspective, how would you define?

00:08:19 Timoni Slusher
Acupuncture so acupuncture is acupuncture is 1 modality within the entire system of Chinese medicine, and it’s a tool. So acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles and two specific and strategic points on the body. But the practice of Chinese medicine is more really what we do as acupuncturists and it’s it’s an entire medical system. It recognizes and uses the human body for to diagnose different patterns and diseases and and then can put together a treatment method based off of that. And those treatment methods can include a lot more than just getting acupuncture. It’s herbal medicine and different ways to manipulate the channels, such as using cups or guasha tools and lifestyle changes and then really creating balance throughout the whole human being with the goal of ultimate health.

00:09:28 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Is the underlying belief, and maybe this is for all of Chinese medicine and it could really show out. My ignorance, but the is the underlying belief that the body has just about everything it needs to heal itself.

00:09:51 Timoni Slusher
Yes, kind of Fair enough. So we do have one reduce, right? We have to introduce things to our body that also help us heal. You can’t. You can’t go to McDonald’s for breakfast every day, eat a bag of Cheetos and a soda for lunch, and then expect to be disease free because the human body can heal itself, right? We also have to give our body the tools needed in order to remain healthy. So we do add things in. That’s where Herbology, you know, the herbal medicine of Chinese medicine is so great because there are. Things that you’re missing, there are some deficiencies and herbal medicine can really kind of target those and same with the lifestyle and diet changes. So in Chinese medicine, food is used as medicine an awful lot and we have a whole nutritional course where we learn the different characteristics of food that can be used to balance or counterbalance the. The different characteristics or deficiencies that we see in the human body.

00:11:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yes. Yeah, that makes sense. I don’t know if you saw the show that I just launched last week with Megan and Scott Reamer, Jackson’s trip chips. Part of their journey is looking at the the chemistry of of foods and diet and they engineered a defamation style diet. And that’s ultimately where Jackson’s chips was formed. Out of that,

00:11:29 Luke Hylton
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00:12:11 Matthew Kuehlhorn
And so I, I understand, I understand that component for sure. So you know I’ve I visited you as a as a patient and had needles stuck in and my understanding is those are hitting what I would call Meridian points and opening up channels for an energetic flow, which I would also imagine is like impacting circulation, but how? Try to form the question here because I’m trying to understand. I mean there’s there’s very much like tangible nuts and bolts, like a needle can go into my shoulder and I could, I could feel the muscle quiver and maybe there’s a release in the muscle. But then there’s also an intangible component here which I would just reference as as energy and channels and starts getting a little woo woo, but how would you? Like, define that because there’s some reality to that, yes?

00:13:12 Timoni Slusher
There’s very much reality to that. So I like to use, I kind of like to go back to, let’s think about how we are formed, right. So we start, you know, and this is even just post conception, okay. So we’re starting in our mother’s womb as a group of just a couple of cells. And as we grow, we grow out from that centerpiece, right? And then our arms extend from that, our head extends from that, our legs extend from that. So we are not legs attached to a body. We are not arms attached to a body. We’re actually all connected from the very center to the very tips. And so Chinese medicine has identified these connections as what you call channels or meridians of how they integrate the entire body. From the deepest organs all the way down to our fingertips and our and our the tips of our toes to the top of our head to you know, even at the end of our nose. So that seems to really help people grasp that a little bit more. We grow up in a culture right now where Western medicine is amazing at discover it like breaking things apart into the tiniest little pieces of like this is the kidney and this is the. You know then, and this is your hand and this is your finger, and these are the blood vessels. But and then we create specialists to deal with all of these things too. And somewhere along there, I’m kind of lost, the fact that we actually are all connected. There is no mind separate from the body. There is no kidney that exists outside of the body. There is. We are all just still one big Organism.

00:14:59 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love that explanation. That makes so much sense. And I mean both really need to be present in order to really understand some of the minutiae behind there. I mean some of the siloed isolating like that has its own cost, but it also brings its own benefits and the whole connection piece is definitely something to remember. And we are kind of what we eat and do with our bodies and I would even go further to. You know, the state of mind that I carry can have an impact on the physical.

00:15:33 Timoni Slusher
Body yes.

00:15:38 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What is a?

00:15:39 Timoni Slusher

00:15:40 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What’s a typical session look like from a patient perspective in your office?

00:15:50 Timoni Slusher
Yeah. So start to finish, you come in. If I haven’t met you before then I kind of need to know. Like why are you here? What do you think that I can help you with? And so I get that background information and and then I ask some other questions that may or may not even be related to what is happening. You know, so you come in for shoulder pain and then I’m going to say, well, how are you sleeping at night and how is your digestion? And and and that just helps me put together the whole picture of of what? Pulse is going on. That could very much be related to why you have pain as well. So after all that, I feel your pulses. So I feel pulses in 12 different positions underneath six of my fingers. Three, you know, three fingers on one side and three fingers on the other side. Right at your wrist. I look at your tongue. The tongue can give me a lot of information on the internal climate of your body. It is a muscle that we can see on the outside. And so it can give a lot of information to body health, hydration, digestion and different imbalances that might be happening in the body. And then my first goal is always to address those imbalances based on the bigger picture first. So at that point, you lay down on the table and I’ll talk you through what it’s going to be like to get your first acupuncture needle inserted and and then I go through the protocol of balancing. The imbalances that I see and then I like also like to address very locally what’s going on. So most of the time if you have joint pain, there’s going to be muscles surrounding the joints that are out of balance. Some are going to need to be tightened and shortened and others are going to be need to be released and lengthened. And so then I balance out those muscles and hopefully send you home feeling better than when you come.

00:17:47 Matthew Kuehlhorn
In I love that, do you find that people complain about the needles hurting?

00:17:55 Timoni Slusher
I wouldn’t say complain, but I always ask. My goal is to let people be comfortable. I’m not going to say it’s painfree. All right. I I would make a liar out of myself every day. You may feel something, but that’s okay right? Because in in order for to know that something is changing then we need to know that your body and the needles are are having. This communication and having this, this interaction and that, that is a feeling. Sometimes the feelings are not therapeutic. Sometimes I stick a needle in and it happens to like hit a hair follicle that got a little bit irritated and those can sting quite a bit. But I’ll take it right back out, kind of rub that area as soon as I put it back and it feels better.

00:18:40 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, and I’ll speak to that as a patient. You’re right. It’s not completely pain free, but it’s, I mean, they’re tiny. Slivers of of needles and they get directed in in really specific points and you are very empathic and if there is a non therapeutic burning I know that it’s going to shift and and be moved and I think that’s something special to recognize and it’s it’s not any different than I mean not to not only do I want to compare I mean any kind of therapeutic. Body work is going to have some sort of discomfort.

00:19:25 Timoni Slusher
Yes, yes.

00:19:27 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I want to you, you mentioned the tongue. Is that a piece? I mean, I’m, I’m curious what you look for in a tongue. I’d love to see if our listeners like look in the car mirror or the bathroom mirror with their tongue out. I mean if I’m doing that is there anything that you can offer for what I’m looking at that could give me guidance of? Whether or not that meal I had yesterday was benefiting my body or not.

00:19:55 Timoni Slusher
Sure we can. I can look at some of the more common tongues that I see. And so one common, so I look at, I look at tongue size, shape, color, I look at the coding on the tongue. And then look for any like markings that might be on the tongue. Some people have teeth marks on the sides of their tongue. Some people have a lot of cracks in their tongue. Some people have what’s called the you know, and they’ll know like I have a geographic tongue coating. Some of that can be genetic, but a lot of times it means something in Chinese medicine. And so yeah, I encourage everyone to take a look at your tongue and see what you see. If you have a sick white white coating on there, that’s indication of some digestive upset that your your. Your digestion is a little bit blocked and maybe you can make some small changes to your diet like eating less fried food, eating less dairy, and see if that sick white tongue coating can actually clear up. Another really common one that I see is a pretty red tongue with cracks in it. That’s more common in our aging population. We are going to end up. Having some sort of imbalance throughout our life, right. That’s what that’s what leads us to death and unfortunately death is like that thing that’s going to happen to all of us and and it happens through the process of disease and imbalance. So those really red tongues with cracks can see an elderly populations, but I also see them a lot in people who have undergone a lot of illness such as cancer and the treatments associated with that. So somebody undergoing. Like chemo and radiation, it’s going to really burn up their yin. So we look at yin and Yang Yin as being kind of the moistening, nourishing parts of our, of our cooling parts of our body. Well, that chemo and radiation burns that right up and so their tongue becomes dry and red and cracked. And so those are two kind of common ones that I see, but the coating is. Pretty easy for people to notice. Same with the tongue. The teeth marks on the tongue. That generally means that there’s some extra swelling in the tongue, and that’s a dietary thing as well. Cleaning up your diet can start to change that, yeah.

00:22:22 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Interesting. What is that? What does a healthy tongue look like?

00:22:27 Timoni Slusher
So a healthy tongue should be pale red, right? Not pale, but kind of like pinkish, like a fresh steak. And it should have its sin. White coating that looks like it’s well rooted and there should be few marks in it. So not too dry, not too wet, right? Also having too much moisture on the tongue tells me that your body’s not absorbing or your cells aren’t using the moisture properly and it’s just kind of sitting on the outside of your muscle. So that can be dehydration in that in those.

00:23:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Instances as well. Fascinating.

00:23:03 Timoni Slusher
So yeah, pale. Tail tongue with a thin white coat and very few markings, that’s that’s your healthy.

00:23:08 Matthew Kuehlhorn
To everybody, go check out your tongues. Come back, let us know how you’re doing. Timoni. You seem really grounded right now. Like, are you in? Do you feel like you found your purpose?

00:23:27 Timoni Slusher
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. I have found my purpose, you know, as with. Because I’m human, sometimes I’m after a long week of work and I’m feeling pretty drained. Because as as any healer knows, as any giver knows, like it can be, it can be hard sometimes. Like, man, I just, I really need to find something else. I need to find something. Maybe I need to make more money, go to school a lot for to be an acupuncturist, and then you just don’t make the money back. But then I start to think, well, what would I do? And there’s nothing. There’s nothing there. I’m like, well, I’d be an acupuncturist. Yeah. So there I am.

00:24:08 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:24:09 Timoni Slusher
Yeah. There’s nothing lost out there for me. I just. I love it.

00:24:12 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love that. What are you excited for?

00:24:19 Timoni Slusher
So I’m excited for this year, something about this year feels. A little bit different, a little bit more promising. The timing with this podcast is very interesting too. Like towards the beginning of the year, you know, sometimes I just kind of sit and I think of these different words that are going to define like what’s going to happen this year. Connection was one of them. And it’s like, OK, connection is in connection and love and strength or some of these words that have really come out this year and I feel like we’ve been. Somewhat disconnected over these last couple years. You know, the pandemic didn’t help that at all. But then also just looking at the big picture of where our world is, I’m raising a little girl here and it sometimes scares me how disconnected we are and the avenues that we’re using to feel connected that are so shallow. Social media being one of those, you know, it’s like. Oh, yeah, I’m looking to be connected, but that’s not true connection. We’ve completely taken out like the human to human interaction of that. And so I’m excited to feel that. I think there’s going to be a shift happening in the next year, five years, 10 years to where people realize that that that’s not true connection and and and we’re going to find it and that is going to heal us as a society. And it’s gonna heal us as a world.

00:25:54 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, beautiful. Love that Timoni. For the folks that are interested who are listening, how do people reach out to you? And this is a two-part question. How might people learn more about the practice of acupuncture to decide or determine if it’s something for them?

00:26:20 Timoni Slusher
Internet is so full of information. So that’s just, I mean, I’m, I’m going to say acupuncture is for everybody. Like why not, you know, go find your acupuncturists and go sit down with them or even just before that sit down with yourself and be like where can I be better or what, what can I do or what am I doing in my life right now? That it’s just masking or covering up disease instead of actually getting to the bottom of it and trying to fix it. So if you’re waking up and you’re taking ibuprofen every day because you have headaches, or if you are taking a Prilosec because you have heartburn and you can’t eat without without a medication, you’re covering something up, you’re feeling better. Which is fantastic, right? Nobody should be in pain, but do you want to? Fix that. Do you want to go to the root of the problem and eventually wake up and not have to have to do this to cover up what’s actually going on? Acupuncture’s.

00:27:27 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Here. Yeah. Love that.

00:27:29 Timoni Slusher
Do you want to avoid getting a cold in cold season? Do you want to keep your body in balance? Do you want to clearer minds? Do you want to be able to? Perform better at if say you’re you’re an athlete, you know and do you want your body to work as well as possible. I mean I can think of I can think of a reason for acupuncture for everybody.

00:27:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love that. How do people?

00:27:51 Timoni Slusher
Get a, it’s probably.

00:27:53 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Do we connect with you?

00:27:56 Timoni Slusher
So with me individually, just you can call me or I have a website and you can book online through my website. It’s very easy, very simple. Don’t live here in Gunnison. Find an acupuncturist where you are. They’re they’re everywhere, yeah.

00:28:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
There’s at least one I love that, but we’ll include your website in our show notes so folks listening, you can find Timoni’s website link below in the show notes and Timoni, I really, really appreciate you sharing your story. As I mentioned before we hit record, I love the context of a human’s life and. This was this was super interesting for me. I love how the thread of your life evolved into acupuncture. I do think you have some amazing gifts when you are bringing that into the world and so I appreciate you any any closing thoughts you might have.

00:29:02 Timoni Slusher
No. Yes, always have lots of thoughts. I would say for everybody out there listening, and I think we’re all kind of feeling the same thing, like what can we do to make this world a better place? And my advice to you is start with you. So do some of these things right. Find something that you can change to make yourself healthier, brighter, happier, like self improve. Because when you self improve, it has this this amazing radiant effect to all of those around you, starting with your those closest to your family and and like let’s heal the world by healing ourselves.

00:29:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Beautifully said. Thank you so much, Timoni.

00:29:54 Timoni Slusher
Thank you, Matt.