How I Fused Two Careers Into Onewith Founder Steve Liu
Ever since I was a boy growing up in Taiwan in the 1960s, I was always curious and tinkering with home electrical devices. Although the tinkering usually wound up with my father footing the repair bills for the broken appliances, he never discouraged my curiosity. That certainly helped establish my first career as a Silicon Valley electrical engineer, specializing in optical recording with lasers in the 80s and 90s.
The fast-pace and deadline-driven lifestyle in the Valley took a toll on my health when I was in my mid-thirties. I knew I needed a career change when I woke up one 1994 deep winter night gasping for air.
Again it was my parent who came to the rescue. This time it was my mother, Dr. Grace Liu. She was a very successful medical doctor and acupuncturist in Taiwan before she immigrated to the United States in 1975. She opened Northern Californian’s first acupuncture clinic in 1978 and operated it continuously until she retired in 2012.
Combining Acupuncture and My Laser Engineering for the First Time
My mother inspired me to change and embrace a healing career as an acupuncturist. I enrolled in the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco in 1995 and began to intern and work in her Northern Californian clinic in 1998.
The following year, I read a published study by Dr. Margaret Naeser where using laser acupuncture was successful on healing nerve pain from carpal tunnel syndrome. Immediately, it dawned on me that my two careers of being a laser engineer and an acupuncturist could be fused as a laser acupuncturist to treat many challenging medical conditions such as chronic pain, neuropathy, macular degeneration, and Parkinson’s disease.
I visited Dr. Naeser in Boston in 1999 and have formed a “laser-acupuncture” friendship ever since.
She mentored me for my first published essay, “Laser Acupuncture Primer” in the California Journal of Oriental Medicine 2001 Spring issue, and my second essay, “Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Laser Acupuncture” in its 2001 Summer issue.
As a renowned neurological researcher, Dr. Naeser has published many research studies in the last two decades on laser therapy (now formerly named photobiomodulation therapy) on brain disorders such as epilepsy, CTE, PTSD, TBI, stroke-aphasia, and dementia.
Tackling Parkinson’s with an Integrated Approach and PBM Therapies
Dr. Naeser mentored me on the transcranial application with laser when in 2015, I decided to take on slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease by combining acupuncture with photobiomodulation.
Her teachings led me to develop clinical PLAN2MOVE Parkinson’s treatment program (details see www.iBRAINhi.com ) and its home treatment program I named Yellow Tulip (details see www.YellowTulipForPD.com). In this unique home treatment program, I include a LED device from a company in Toronto, Canada to be worn over the head daily to rejuvenate brain cells. Dr. Naeser researched with this device for many years and published many papers on its efficacy in neuro-protection and neuro-rejuvenation outcomes.
I had the privilege in visiting Dr. Naeser again in 2019 and continue to be awed by her energy and passion in conducting research in laser/LED therapy at age 75. She truly deserves to be the “Mother of American Laser Acupuncture” as I fondly called her in a lecture I presented in 2006 at the AAOM conference.
How Far Laser Therapy Has Come
Laser therapy has come a long way to be accepted by health practitioners. Many early pioneers in this exciting healing therapy decided to form associations and conduct annual conferences to educate and exchange laser science and laser treatment protocols. North American Association for photobiomoduLation Therapy (NAALT – www.naalt.org) was one of the earliest organizations for promoting laser therapy and I have been a member since 2001, and president from 2008 – 2010.
One of the best laser therapy treatment efficacies I learned from two decades of attending conferences, was the treatment for acute and chronic pain sustained from soft tissue injuries such as tendonitis, strained muscles, and sprained ligaments.
The Power of Laser Therapy in Acute and Chronic Pain
Laser therapy is a non-invasive, pain-free, light-based therapy that uses red and infrared light to target inflamed, injured, and diseased tissues. Photons of light stimulate Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) production, thereby accelerating the healing process.
Patients recover from musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve injuries with less scar tissue, accelerated cell regeneration and improved function.
Armed with all these science-based facts on laser therapy, I realized it can be combined with thousands of years old proven acupuncture therapy to form a formidable combo-therapy to healing the pain better. I introduced the idea of combining laser therapy and acupuncture treatments to the world in my lecture at the 2011 NAALT conference.
While both acupuncture and laser therapies work best with acute pain, when the injuries are still relatively fresh, modern American acupuncturists are facing chronic pain daily and often are challenged to resolve the pain quickly as patients usually expect if not demand.
Therefore, I invented my unique treatment protocol FAST to resolve any chronic soft tissue pain in less than ten treatments (details see www.CurePainFAST.com ), which adds friction massage to the acupuncture-laser combo to break up scar tissue in chronic cases that no longer can be healed with the combo-therapy alone.
The FAST Protocol for Chronic Scar Tissue, and the Perfect Added Service for Acupuncturists
The new treatment protocol FAST addresses chronic scar tissue. In 1999 – 2000, I learned a great scar tissue elimination technique from my orthopedic acupuncture mentor, Dr. Alon Marcus, called Friction Massage. Friction Massage was originated from Dr. James Cyriax in his book Cyriax’s Illustrated Manual of Orthopedic Medicine stating that practitioners treating all chronic soft tissue injuries must address the scar tissues first to bring the acute phase inflammation back.
The presence of acute inflammation is the key for a complete healing. Frictional Massage is then followed by using traditional acupuncture techniques. Traditional acupuncture techniques, in the ancient days, were used to treat mostly acute cases, not in chronic states, and laser therapy has been proven mostly effective when treating acute conditions because it helps promote and speed up the innate healing process.
I have been using this protocol very successfully for the last twenty years and it has become my clinic’s “bread-and-butter” service and a great “word-of-mouth” referral source.
Laser Therapy is the best modality to increase blood flow and new collagen production, reduce scar tissue formation and lower inflammation. It also has a unique healing property of nerve regeneration.
Laser therapy increases the proliferation of growth factors that promotes neuronal spouting and myelin sheath formation for optimal nerve recovery.
Healing Peripheral Neuropathy
It was because of this unique nerve-healing feature that I developed an effective treatment protocol to help alleviate nerve pain in the hands and feet called peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is increasingly becoming a widespread nerve degeneration condition.
There are no effective treatments from western medicine and acupuncture generally provides limited and temporary pain relief. However, the acupuncture-laser combo again has made the condition another successful bread-and-butter service in my clinic.
Fighting Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Disorders
Another aspect of ATP production benefit with light therapy is an application to low vision disorders, such as macular degeneration. The light therapy used for macular degeneration is from a device called Light-Emitting Diode, or LED, which has become a common light source that has replaced traditional incandescent light bulbs in general households. LED light is just as effective as laser light in healing cells, but safe for the eyes.
I first learned a unique acupuncture technique from Denmark called Acupuncture 2000 for macular degeneration in 2004 and flew to Denmark to be interned from my Danish mentor Dr. John Boel (www.boel-akupunktur.com). I began to treat macular degeneration patients with this technique in 2005, then added LED light therapy to develop a unique protocol that effectively helps many patients with this low-vision disorder (details see www.BetterVisionTucson.com).
Enter the Pandemic
2020 has been a life changing year with the pandemic that brought the flu as a life threatening disease to the front. We are still in the pandemic containment phase, and in the meantime, the variants are raging around the world.
We have vaccines, but no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and the current vaccines could require updates to better handle new variants. Vaccines do give us protection against hospitalization, severe illness, and death, but it is not yet known how long the protection will last in the body.
The bad news is that this virus is going to be around for a long time and here’s why. In January 2021, more than 100 immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists working on the coronavirus were asked whether the virus could be eradicated.
Almost 90% of respondents think the virus will become endemic – meaning that it will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come.
However, seasonal influenza and the four human coronaviruses that cause common colds are also endemic.
Since most viruses are endemic and here to stay with us, what we need is a strategy to help ourselves, our loved ones, and our patients reduce the viral loads during the early infection phase, and at the same time, boost the immune system to increase the odds to fight off the virus and survive the disease.
Reducing Viral Load and Boosting Immunity with Photodynamic Therapy
Although there are no effective treatments for any viruses at their acute infectious phase, my German mentor, Dr. Michael Weber, came up with an effective home treatment method to inactivate the viruses at the acute phase. Again the light came to the rescue. This time was its unique application of light at a specific wavelength in activating a photosensitizer such as vitamin B2.
The protocol called Photodynamic Therapy, or PDT, can help inactivate the viral load in our body.
Dr. Weber operates one of the largest laser clinics in Europe and has done many antiviral and antimicrobial studies with the Photodynamic Therapy (www.WeberMedical.com ). In 2020, Dr. Weber designed and developed a home Wellness Kit to address concerns in the lack of treatments in the acute phase.
In November 2020 Dr. Weber and his team took the kit to Tehran, Iran to conduct two studies in a hospital with patients who tested positive with coronavirus. The outcomes of the studies proved the efficacy and safety of the kit.
The therapy provided by the kit consists of a Spectra laser watch, nasal and oral UVA/blue light applicators, riboflavin photosensitizer, nasal spray bottle, and a UVC sanitizer. The PDT kit from Germany can manage acute flu cases at a new level. This is another successful application of light technology in all the tools we use as healers.
I came up with an idea combining Chinese anti-viral herbal medicine and modern American immune-boosting Functional Medicine with this German light technology to form the integrative three-tiered “Dynamic Trio” strategy. I have begun to have webinars in teaching this strategy to acupuncturists.
And you can learn all about it in these free trainings here »
Founding ASLAT – the American Society for Laser Acupuncture Therapy
In 2006 I felt a need to share the light technology as a healing modality for my acupuncturist colleagues. I founded the American Society for Laser Acupuncture Therapy (https://www.ASLAT.org) and have served as its president since.
After reaching my twentieth year as a laser acupuncturist, I decided to kickstart the Society by developing a website that serves as a one-stop information center for laser and laser acupuncture therapies for all practitioners.