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Home > Newsletters > December 2008 > Deputy District Attorney Turned Acupuncturist

Deputy District Attorney turned acupuncturist: “Our Lifestyle and Medical System Must Change”

By Craig M. Cormack, B.A., R.M.T.

From time to time people do change their lives in extraordinary ways. Take the case of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Dana Garcetti Boldt, who one day decided to pursue her lifelong interest in medicine by becoming an acupuncturist.

For many years she received positive feedback from her law colleagues for her lunchtime yoga sessions. After she became pregnant, she decided it was time for a long-anticipated career change. She enrolled at the Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine in Santa Monica, California and graduated with honors after three years.

A Skill Set Lawyers and Acupuncturists Share
“The primary skill set I see in common between criminal law and acupuncture is that of interviewing, listening and probing,” says Garcetti Boldt. “Just as in witness interviews regarding a crime, patient interviews require tact but inquisitiveness and careful listening. A blink, a hesitation, a change in demeanor or body language can often reveal a deeper issue that someone is not willing to reveal or reveal reluctantly. Establishing trust is key in effective prosecutions. It is equally important for effective treatment in an acupuncture setting.”

Research shows that lawyers suffer crushing stress on the job. Garcetti Boldt says acupuncture can offer relief: “If I had advice to give a lawyer who was seeking to relieve stress by using acupuncture, I would say to think of it as necessary as your daily run or bi-weekly trip to the gym. Acupuncture is preventative medicine.”

The Importance of Meditation
When I mentioned my research on the growing number of American lawyers using meditation to battle stress in their jobs, Garcetti Boldt said, “I can tell you that none of the D.A.s I knew meditated.” Her own practice of meditation has served her well though. “Meditation has allowed me to maintain better equanimity, both personally and professionally. I have practiced yoga for thirteen years. The moving meditation that yoga entails permitted me to be a little more unflappable and a lot more centered and pleasant both in the courtroom and in my private life.”

Clients’ Low Compliance is a Major Problem
Garcetti Boldt has tried very hard to teach meditation skills to her patients. But she says “compliance has been low.” This is disappointing because she wants the best for her patients. “I am constantly amazed at how non-compliant people are. They come in, often with chronic conditions, claiming to want help, but really they want a quick fix. They abdicate their responsibility for their own health, and then get angry when their health doesn’t change.”

“However, when I ask them if they took the herbs in the dosages I recommended, they make lists of excuses as to why they did not. When I ask them if they performed their stretches or Chi Kung exercises, they shamefacedly admit that they couldn’t find the time or simply forgot. It makes me want to shrug and say, okay should I just schedule you for once a week treatments for the rest of your life?”

She says her patients’ lack of compliance is no different from what allopathic physicians experience with their patients. RX drug compliance is often reported at less than 50%.

A Change of Lifestyle is Needed
“We in North America do not know how to live in harmony with nature,” Garcetti Boldt says. “We water our lawns in a drought, we take birth control pills because it is convenient, rather than cycle with the moon, we stay up late and get up late, we eat in our cars, we watch television while we eat, we turn on bright lights when it is dark out, and we wonder why we are tired all the time.”

I asked her how Chinese medicine principles could be used to balance a Western lifestyle. “The principles of Chinese medicine are applicable to any culture. Our bodies are a microcosm of the environment and the state of the environment reflects our state of health (and vice versa). Treat yourself and the environment well and you and the environment will stay healthy.”

A New Hybrid Medical System is Needed
“A new hybrid system of allopathic and Chinese medicine should be considered,” Garcetti Boldt says. “Western physicians are so specialized that they fail to look at the whole person. HMOs require such brief patient-physician interaction, that there is no way that an allopathic doctor can treat anyone holistically. However, in order to maintain health, physicians need to remember to see both the forest and the trees. Unfortunately most allopathic physicians in California have the perception that acupuncturists do not have adequate training for the job. Doctors therefore are reluctant to work with Chinese medicine practitioners.

“Change will only come about through education for both the general public and for allopathic physicians,” Garcetti Boldt says. “It is clear that much of our mission as Chinese medicine practitioners is to educate allopathic physicians about the value of what we do. We must show them that Chinese medicine does not pose a threat to Western medicine. We just offer a healthy bonus.”

Dana Garcetti Boldt is a Los Angeles based acupuncturist.

Craig Cormack, B.A., R.M.T., is a Chi Kung master, senior Tai Chi instructor and registered Chinese massotherapist based in Montreal, Canada. He is a consultant at the McGill University Sports Medicine Clinic and President of l’Association de massage chinois Tuina du Québec.

This Month's Articles

December 2008
Volume 6, Number 12

Deputy District Attorney Turned Acupuncturist

7 Ways to Slash Stress

Antioxidant Activity of 45 Chinese Herbs and the Relationship with their TCM Characteristics

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor

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