Welcome to the Pacific College of Health and Science podcast channel. Today’s podcast is part of a series called Private Practice Plus.
The purpose of this podcast is to provide acupuncturists, and other independent health care providers with ideas to expand their practices. By expand, I mean both grow the number of patients or clients you see and also expand the boundaries of your practice and your career. To that end, to provide inspiration and ideas, I am inviting practitioners who have had both busy private practices and who’ve also created businesses, written books, teach, or created other additional income streams beyond private practice. These projects can provide direct financial rewards, or help build your brand, your recognition as a healer and expert in your particular area of healthcare. They can also bolster your enthusiasm for the field, the career you are in. As you will see and hear, there are no shortages of opportunities for growth in the field of healthcare. Your patients, your clients, your community and you will benefit from every effort you make to expand your career. I hope you enjoy the show.
Private Practice Plus | Jake Fratkin
Jack: Welcome to the Pacific College of Health and Science Podcast channel. Today’s podcast is part of a series called “Private Practice Plus.” The purpose of this podcast is to provide acupuncturists and other independent healthcare providers with ideas to expand their practices. By expand, I mean both grow the number of patients and clients you see and also to expand the boundaries of your practice and your career. To that end, and to provide inspiration and ideas, I’m inviting practitioners who’ve had both busy private practices and have also created businesses, written books, teach, or created other additional income streams beyond private practice. These projects can provide direct financial rewards or help build your brand, your recognition as a healer, and expert in your particular area of healthcare. They can also bolster your enthusiasm for the field, the career you’re in, as you will see in here. There are no shortages of opportunities for growth in the field of healthcare. Your patients, your clients, your community, and you will benefit from every effort you make to expand your career. I hope you enjoy the show! My first guest in this series is longtime friend of Pacific College and Pacific Symposium, Jake Fratkin. Jake was at the first Pacific Symposium in 1989. I still remember him guiding the audience in a qigong exercise, tracing the meridians. Jake has trained in Korean and Japanese acupuncture since 1975 and Chinese herbal medicine since 1982, including one year of advanced training in Beijing. He’s the author of “Essential Chinese Formulas,” “Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines,” and “TCM Case Studies in Autoimmune Disease” with Dr. Sheng-ping for People’s Medical Publishing House. Jake has a wonderful extensive e-learning course on Pacific’s Center for Lifelong Learning on the integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and functional medicine. I encourage you to check it out, we’ll post the link and show notes. So, welcome, Jake, thanks for joining me from your beautiful home in Boulder, Colorado.
Jake: I’m honored to be the first in the series.
Jack: Well, we’re honored to have you. You’ve certainly set a standard for the theme of this podcast series, as both a successful private practitioner seeing patients, still, as well as having numerous other business ventures. And so, I thought maybe you could start by telling us a little bit about just the balance that you keep between all those different activities. You know, maybe what proportion is still private practice and then, you know, your authorship, your herbal line, your public speaking, all those things.
Jake: Well, when I started – which was when you started, Jack, this was like in the, we started in the late 70s/early 80s – and there’s three kinds of pioneers back then. And one of them went on to start schools, one of them went on to start herbal companies like John Scott, and others went on to just dedicate themselves to clinical practice. And if I was to put myself in any of those categories, it would be the clinical practitioner. And everything that I have done has come out of that, everything is based on my clinical practice. So I see myself as a clinician, first; I’m still a clinician. When I write my books, it was for other clinicians, when I taught classes to help create clinicians. So that’s always been my focus, it’s always my focus. Sometimes, I wish I had started a school or I wish I had started an herbal company, but I like what I do. I’m now 71 years old; I started practice, charging money, when I was 30. So, I started training when I was 25; about age 30, I started charging money. So I’ve been in this 40 years now and I’ve stopped teaching about a year and a half ago. I stopped teaching, I stopped pretty much writing, also. So now, I consider myself to be semi-retired, I work three days a week. My clinic is in my home; my wife, Dominique, runs the clinic – runs all the businesses – and we see patients Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Which means I don’t have to shave two days in a row. It’s really nice to work a day and then, yeah, next week.
Jack: Personal goals for all the males in the audience.
Jake: So, I think I have a really good life. I just have one treatment room. We had a, kind of, a picture of the fire. We had a regular clinic with three treatment rooms and I had interns and I was running around with my head cut off. And about 20 years ago, that clinic burned down. It was burned to the ground and I moved into my wife’s architectural offices in the house, temporarily, and I have never left. Yeah, I have the best coffee in town, I have my dog, I have had my kids growing up. And so, I really have “The Life of Riley,” you know?
Jack: Yeah, that’s a really nice model. Would you think that if you were doing that room support, your lifestyle, would that pay the rent?
Jake: They did because 20 years ago, I was now reduced from three treatment rooms to one treatment room. But I made a decision very long ago that I would specialize in internal medicine, but I would not specialize in physical medicine. And in physical medicine, I think you can have two rooms or three rooms and move around. But with what I do, a lot of it is herbal medicine and I do a special kind of acupuncture; the one room works really well for me, now. For your grad students, I mean, I don’t know if that’s the best economic model. It’s worked for me because 25 of my income is pharmacy and pharmacy is based on doing herbal medicine and internal medicine. So if you’re just gonna do acupuncture, I think it’s much better to have two rooms, yeah, and go back and forth. My son, who’s now 30 years old, he’s also an acupuncturist.
Jack: Congratulations, that’s really great to hear!
Jake: This couple years, he’s just kicked butt, you know? He just does physical medicine and he studied with Whit Reaves, I think he started Matt Callison. He studied a lot of systems including tuina, and all. He does physical medicine and people come in and they get off the bed and they say, “I am better,” they did. He doesn’t do any internal medicine, he’s not interested in herbs except topicals and he’s got a great, you know, potential for a practice with how he does what he does.
Jack: Is he in Boulder, as well?
Jake: No, he recently moved with his fiancée, who is also an acupuncturist and herbalist. They moved to upper state New York, where she is from. But he was working with me for, what, almost two years. Then, musculoskeletal came in. I gave them all to him, yeah, just didn’t even want to see it.
Jack: You know, it’s interesting that you mentioned that. We were just at lunch today with my VP of academic affairs and academic dean and with an old-time practitioner of ours, Dr. Min Fang, who we’re recruiting back into Pacific College to do more herbal training. And my deans were commenting that they’re observing a lot of acupuncturists who aren’t using herbs and that really, really surprised me and it’s very disappointing for two reasons. One, at a school like Pacific College, they spend a lot of time invested in learning that subject. The other, is that they’re dismissing an enormous part of Chinese medicine. And so, I suggested that we reframe the the whole conversation. Rather than saying, “You need to study herbs,” it’s “Do you want to be able to treat internal disorders? Do you want to be able to treat infertility, dysmenorrhea, digestive complaints,” you know, the whole range of internal medicine that there is. And I think that would inspire more of the grads to remember the herbs that they studied. And I mean, there are so many resources that they can reach out to, to supplement their library. Let’s say, in their clinic so they don’t have to remember everything. You know, these days with databases and the texts like yours, you can really refresh your knowledge of herbal medicine and apply it in your patients. So again, I just was very surprised.
Jake: But, I see, I take the contrary view. I’ve always made it interesting, that all acupuncturists should not be forced to study herbal medicine.
Jack: Oh yeah, I’m not for forcing anybody to do anything they don’t want.
Jake: You know, the Chinese model in China which is you do an acupuncture training three years and then if you do herbal medicine, you do another two to five years. And even in this country, I think it’s a shame that every state requires herbal medicine, when people are not going to use them – don’t know how to use, I don’t want to use them. Yeah, it shouldn’t be required but the fact is, it is required in most states. New York, it’s not, by the way; you can do acupuncture but not the herbal medicine. I’m disappointed in the attention given to herbal medicine by clinicians after they leave school.
Jack: Yeah, right on that one.
Jake: It’s very difficult to do well, is my belief.
Jack: It’s difficult to practice Chinese herbal medicine well. It requires more training, more experience, more study. Yeah, I think, so interesting. Well, maybe some additional inspiration for those in our audience that are considering herbs, is one thing that you mentioned and that is 25 of your income comes from the sale of herbs. Did you mean to your patients or in addition to that, your ancillary, just your patients?
Jake: To my patients, yeah, income but I work with also supplements, nutritional supplements. So it’s not just herbs but the lion’s share herbs. I mean, everybody lives with herbs and some, maybe sometimes, supplements.
Jack: Yeah, I wanted to follow up a little bit with that. You know, I referenced your course on our Center for Lifelong Learning in functional medicine. Very interesting that you’re able to integrate both the TCM and functional medicine. I mean, there’s so much in common already. But to what extent are you doing lab tests and using, sort of, what we might call non-TCM formulas or supplements?
Jake: Well, that’s a good question. I mean, what happens with the supplements is – the herbs are still the foundation – so what’s unique about my functional medicine course, is that we talk about the subjects of functional medicine and relevant lab testing but then we focus on the Chinese herbal approach to treat those problems because, my belief, my clinical experience is Chinese herbs are much more powerful than nutritional medicines, they really are. And then naturopaths and DCs who are just using nutritional supplements are spending, their patients are spending a lot of money and they’re not getting the results that they’re promised. So they’re taking, like, 10 inefficient. Whereas, if the herbal medicine is the foundation and the supplements support that, it’s much more efficient.
Jack: Oh yeah. So, how about, say I think it might be interesting – a real quick case study. Just like, you know, what kind of Chinese medicine formula and what kind of nutritional supplement has a synergistic effect?
Jake: Okay. So, I mean, a lot of people have loose stools. I mean, they’re coming with diarrhea or lose stools and they want to be treated for this and there are certain Chinese herbal formulas that I keep coming back to over and over and over again, which was a channel formula – it’s really old – is a great formula for diarrhea, related to either parasites or dysbiosis. And then we add to that, a patent medicine called Huang Lian Su, which is a pharmaceutical extract of coptic huang lian – hard to get now, getting harder to get, Golden Flower offers a version – it’s really good for bad SIBO. You hear about small intestine bowel bacterial overgrowth? Yeah, it responds really well to huang lian. So those are two Chinese medicines that we’ll start with. Now, we can reinforce that with products from Xymogen or Thorne or Designs For Health, they all have products that will deal with intestinal upset due to microbes, and so on. So that’s how I integrate. I’ll use the Chinese herbs to attack it from a Chinese Zang-Fu basis and then the naturopathic functional nutritional medicines that are evidence-supported. I mean, thing about Xymogen and Thorne and Designs For Health and all these other companies, is they’re all going back to the evidence and they’ll come up with a very original thing. Who knew zinc was good for peptic ulcer, right? But they have a special zinc extract that is good for, you know, peptic ulcer. And so, I will always integrate medicines like that and that’s how I work the practice. We usually take functional nutritional products with China or both foreign companies like Golden Flower or Herbal Times or so on, and I’ll give a nutritional supplement based on some sort of evidence.
Jack: Gotcha. How long have you had this approach?
Jake: At least 30 years.
Jack: Oh, no kidding!
Jake: Yeah, I was lucky I was reported to practice. I ended up in New Mexico, Santa Fe, and I had two – a medical doctor and one chiropractor – partners who are totally into functional medicine. Okay, and they were exposing me to these medicines. Oh, that’s, yeah, that was quite early and practice was very slow down there because everybody was broke. So we had a lot of time to cross-pollinate each other and talk to each other about what we would do if they ever happen to come in the door, you know?
Jack: Yeah, well let me pick up on that and ask you a little bit about your inspiration and role models. You know, you’ve been an inspiration for so many in our field now, the second and third generation of acupuncturists, but who came before you?
Jake: Well, I was lucky. I mean, I started acupuncture training in an apprenticeship program with a Korean master who’s still alive and still practicing, Dr. In Eon Moon, who lives in Newport Beach, California. And this guy was like “dropped out of heaven” for me and I studied with him on and off for seven years and he had very much of a meridian balancing approach to acupuncture, it was not TCM. And he was a character, he was just a character. I would say, “How come you never talk about damp,” and “How come you never talk about exogenous colors?” All that stuff is, it’s just because somebody wrote it down in a book, doesn’t mean it’s valuable. You know, for him, everything was balance – the acupuncture channels balance the action, which is the acupuncture system I started in and stayed in, although it’s certainly evolved since then. And the other teachers in acupuncture after Dr. Moon, I went to China – I learned herbs or I practice, learn hospital-level herbs. And I came back and I started. I want to get back, I didn’t like TCM acupuncture at that point. I think it’s really good for musculoskeletal but I was very not into it on the Zang-Fu level – that we’re going to treat Kidney 7 as a kidney point and give me three as a kidney endpoint. Nothing really, is that really true? And so I wanted to get back to meridian balancing and I got in with Dr. and his people and that opened up a whole bunch of doors, going back to Yoshio Manaka and so on. And I’ve stayed not just with Dr. Shima, afterwards I studied with Shudo Denmei and all the meridian therapy people that started coming into the country. And that’s what I practice. I would say I definitely practice Japanese style acupuncture rather than plenty style acupuncture and patients like it, it’s very gentle.
Jack: Yeah, for sure, it’s definitely popular. How much of your differentiation is based on pulse diagnosis versus questioning the patients?
Jake: I really separate acupuncture from herbal medicine. So actually, all the acupuncture I did was based on pulses. But eventually I got into computerized meridian diagnosis and that’s what I use to this day, I rely on to this day. There’s a couple systems out there that are good; the one that I use is AcuGraph, which everybody knows about. And the other one was MEAD energetic analysis device, which was from Taiwan. So there’s a meridian diagnostic computer and so I started using the AcuGraph because I like meridian diagnosis. And buried in there, was a menu which went back to Miki Shima divergent channel-eight extra channel approach that he evolved from Manaka – and it’s just buried in there and I went, “Wow!” We couldn’t do it before, it was so complicated; they were doing it with incense sticks to see. Yeah, it was horrible, it was painful, and it took forever. And you had to do all these math calculations and now, with the computer, you diagnose the meridians and “Boom!” They tell you, “Here’s the treatment,” and you can choose to do the treatment or not but they show you which channels are excess, which channels are are deficient. I don’t know pulses anymore for acupuncture, I just do the AcuGraph. But Dr. Moon taught me the value of muscle testing; he would muscle test to find excesses and deficiencies on the channels, in his words.
Jack: Forte as well, yeah.
Jake: Yeah, well, he would do a ring test, testing them, right? Miki was doing a rolling, which tested the patient’s o-ring, which I didn’t like. So I just started o-ring testing myself because I’m constant, I’m consistent. And then I got to a point where I never put a needle in the body unless the body told me it needed a needle in that place, you know? So my fingers became diagnostic, not just by feeling but by muscle testing. So I had a feedback system on acupuncture, which I still have, I rely on it. There’s a lot of tricks I have that are based on muscle testing and every time I used to teach, I would teach it but only about fifteen percent of people would feel comfortable doing, you know, maybe twenty percent.
Jack: Yeah, it’s another developed skill. Yeah, I mean, just like pulses or whatever it takes.
Jake: It’s applicable to meridian work, it’s not applicable to herbal work, really. I wish it was, it could be.
Jack: So, what are you doing for herbs in terms of differentiation?
Jake: Well, for herbs – and here’s where I’m really off on my own tangent here, there’s a couple other people with me on this – but I use a machine from Germany which is electrodermal testing, and I’ve been using that since 1988. I came back from China and I said, “I gotta find out which herbs might trigger people in a bad way.” And now, I got exposed to people using electrodermal testing. And the machine I ended up using was called the Vega Test, which they don’t have them anymore and they’re very expensive in Germany, but I still use it on every patient. I use it for herbal testing and I have to tell you that a lot of my knowledge about herbs comes from using that machine. If I see Wumei San shows up all the time for intestinal problems, it leads me to think wumei is really good for intestinal problems, you know? So it’s a lot of reverse teaching for me. I would love to invent a device that would be a cheap way of doing electrode testing but this has been my holy cross I’ve been looking for and I’ve not been able to find something cheap enough because if I did, I would certainly go back to teaching and just teach people how to do electrothermal testing to choose. You know, so I keep medicines in a box. So it’ll say “antiviral” and I’ll have like all my antivirals and I’ll just test to see which one is best for that patient, you know? Or I have “digestive,” I have three or four buckets of digestive formulas, and just see which one works for people and then I’ll devise my formulas based out of that.
Jack: Was there any ever any research done on the use of the machine in Germany or wherever?
Jake: Not to my knowledge. Heiner Fruehauf, who shows up at National, up in Portland, he’s German. He’s a big user proponent, he wrote an article defending the machine. And as far as research, he might know. You know, I thought when I studied it 30 years ago, “Man, everybody’s going to have one of these things,” but it’s disappeared. I mean, even in Germany it’s disappeared, it’s nowhere. So I stand alone on this, it’s the basis of my clinical practice but I can’t teach it because there’s no cheap machines out there.
Jack: Yeah, and I think one of the holy grails in our field is consistency, right? You see some practitioners that are getting such great results, others that aren’t as great. And how do we quantify? How do we replicate what the best practitioners are doing so that it doesn’t – you know, while we think it may be reducing some of the art of what we do, if we can make everybody practitioners, better practitioners, seems like that would be a tremendous advance. Whether it’s quantifying, you know, electro stimulation or the diagnosis methods that you’re using, anything that we could do to really quantify that and validate it would seem to be a step.
Jake: That’s a long way away. And I think that’s all going to come from China, you know?
Jack: Interesting, yeah.
Jake: That the future of the validity of our profession is not going to be generated in the United States, it’s going to come from China and they’re very interested. Xi Jinping, he loves Chinese medicine and he loves scientific research. And I’m sure they’re really putting on the dog to try to rescue TCM over there. When I was in China, and I was there for almost a year in clinic, I was struck by how little doctors relied on pulses and tongue, you know? That they really relied on their clinical experience and the clues that the patient presented, mostly in terms of their history. Yeah, it wasn’t really done in palpation. It wasn’t really done in pulses, tongue was rarely used. I mean, my belief today is tongue is helpful 15 of the time, you know? And when it is helpful, being it’s great. But I saw that in China, they paid very little attention to it but their clinical skill was the clues that the patient gave them. Sure, so there was a book I worked on, this was the TCM audience.
Jack: I mentioned that.
Jake: With the People’s Publishing House, this was a privilege for me to work on. Basically, there’s a very famous doctor in Chengdu who does autoimmune and he wrote case histories and I just basically made his book translated and it’s the same thing, it was the same thing. It wasn’t about pulses and tongue, it was about the information he got and then his knowledge of herbs. But, of course, with him, everything was tongue. Everything was soup and he would adjust the formula. Well, I added 100 grams of aconite foods for a daily dose, you know? If they want to add something, they just throw it in the pots, you know? And I wrote it back and he would give, there were 400-500 grams for daily dose. And in this case studies, he would say, “Patient discontinued, cannot afford the therapy.” And this is in China, right? So I brought him back and I said, “Look, you know, what I work with is mixed powders, extract granules, and I’ll get a 100 gram bottle and I can just put in so much. I can’t add a hundred grams of foods in a 400 gram bottle.” And I wrote them back and I said, “No one’s going to take those kind of doses here,” and he said, “Well, you’ll never get any results.”
Jack: Interesting, yeah. Well, speaking of herbs, you have your own herb line and I noticed that you mentioned that they’re stronger than other tinctures. Is that, I mean, what makes them strong? I mean, is it more of the herb in each bottle or is it a stronger extract? Yeah, what’s your source for the herbs? Yeah, they’d like to hear more about them.
Jake: The line started when the SARS epidemic happened, right? And so, I was teaching about SARS and how the Chinese were treating it and basically, I realized that the Chinese were telling everybody via television and newspapers, “Take these herbs, take these formulas.” And they had generated a couple of formulas that they didn’t provide to people, they said. But they listed the ingredients and the percentages and they said, “Here’s a formula for prevention, here’s a formula for treatment,” and so those were my first two products. And one came out as, it was called Clear Toxin and the other one was called Immune Plus. And, originally, they were called Swine Season Immune Plus and then it was called Swine Season Clear Toxin. And then the FDA sent out notices – they didn’t do one to everybody – you can’t use the word “flu,” you can’t use the word “swine,” you can’t use the word “pig.” You know, because you’re taking advantage of a vulnerable society. So we changed the labels but those were my first two formulas. My formulas, originally, were things I commonly made. So when I lived in Santa Fe, I learned how to do herbal extracts from the western herbalists that were, you know, these were the guys doing it and they taught me how to do it and I ended up doing extracts. If you go to Whole Foods, a typical alcohol extract will have to buy alcohol, that’s your typical.
Jack: You got to be 21 to buy that.
Jake: Yeah, that’s funny. And then they would cook it for two weeks, so they could extract a lot more out of it. So my friend in Santa Fe said, “You can do a quick turn over here.” So we put in 100 grams of herbs and 50 of alcohol and so, this is made by Vitality Works in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And they make every herbal tincture that you see on any shelf of any over-the-counter line. Whether it’s Whole Foods or Natural Grocers or anybody, they make them. So he makes my tinctures, also. And he says, “These are strong,” I insisted, “I want 100 grams of herbs, 50 alcohol per bottle.” He said, “These are the strongest things we make,” he says “These are really strong.” So, they are really strong and, yeah. You know, I think they’re what they could call it, they’re like the cost of other people’s tinctures, you know?
Jack: Yeah, alright. So, you get the raw herbs from China delivered to Vitality Herbs?
Jake: California. You know, and then they’re all tested. You know, I use Plum Flower and you deserve to test it. There’s laboratory backup batch, everything’s there and you can get all organic or wild-crafted, which I do. So the quality is great. I hate when people say “adulterated” but we can prove they’re not, yeah, that’s clean.
Jack: Yeah, so good to know.
Jake: Yeah. But the thing about selling herbs, if you’re a practitioner, is you don’t have to be there. You can listen over the phone and figure out what they need and leave it for them at the door and with a receipt and they leave you a check. It’s another good way to get passive income. If you’re running out of practice, you don’t necessarily patient.
Jack: Yeah. Do you market the herbs to other practitioners, as well?
Jake: I do, I do. In terms of the world of herbal producers, we must be the smallest group in America. We do so little, we do no marketing. I have a mailing list on Mailchimp. Anytime someone asked me to be on LinkedIn who’s an acupuncturist, I put them in that. Yeah, my list is quite small, like a thousand. But if people contact me, then I put them on my notes and I do mailings every couple of months to let them know what’s happening.
Jack: Yeah, sure.
Jake: Where the real sales go is to my patients, yeah. You know, if I can give one of my own tinctures to my patients, it’s easier for me. I don’t have to make a formula.
Jack: Right, yeah, exactly. And, you know, maybe sounding a little bit mercenary but you’ve cut out the middlemen, right? That’s why it’s helping to generate 25 of your income. I would imagine if I were prescribing, you know, some of the more readily available ones and I’m paying wholesale prices, I’m not going to make.
Jake: I don’t agree, I don’t agree. Before we started selling our own products, we were just selling everybody and we’re still selling it. I carry everybody I have a pharmacy with and it’s Plum, and it’s Nuherbs, and it’s Kind, and it’s Golden Flower, and it’s Guangxi, and it’s all these companies. And so, a patient doesn’t just get charged his visit, he gets charged for medicines. And the typical patient will pay between 120 and 150 dollars for a month’s supply of what I want to give them. And half of that is mine because when you sell a product, you double what you paid for it. Acupuncturists that aren’t doubling the prices of their wholesale prices are missing an opportunity here. So, we double it so I always make money from selling a product and so does the person who sold it to me.
Jack: Yeah, good for someone today that wanted to create an herbal line. Still feasible, do you think? And, I mean, there’s a lot of competition, of course, everybody now. If you put CBD in it, everything’s got CBD in it.
Jake: I don’t have to put anything else in it either.
Jack: Right. And if CBD lives up to its hype, we won’t need anything else. Yeah, how come you don’t have a CBD line?
Jake: Yeah, I don’t use it, I don’t. I don’t go there, I don’t know enough about it to use it medically. Yeah, don’t go there. But, personally, I don’t go there. But many years ago, John Scott said, “I want to start an herbal line,” and he started Golden Flower and I said, “John, the last thing we need is another herbal line.”
Jack: I mean, right? 20 years ago, yeah.
Jake: And now, he’s probably one of the biggest, most profitable of the Chinese herbal lines out there. Well, I’m really happy to hear that. He said to me recently, he says, “And you were the guy who told me that we didn’t need him.” It was marketing and patient support, he was so good with education and support for his people. People are loyal to him.
Jack: Yeah, well, sharing this with the audience here, that John Scott has donated every year for the last many years, a considerable amount of money to our students. So, we’re able to offer each of our campuses, a student every year, a $1000 scholarship from Golden Flower.
Jake: He does that at every school.
Jack: Yeah, that’s amazing, every school.
Jake: And it’s not just a self-product, he really believes in the profession because he’s a practitioner first. Yep, he’s a practitioner first.
Jack: And he’ll love me saying this, a great guitar player too. Yeah, so I don’t know if you remember this but many years ago, you suggested that providing herbal formulas to racehorses was a great business idea because they need the same herbs, they just need a lot more of them. I just gotta ask, did anything ever come of that idea?
Jake: Well, there was three of us involved in that: one Chinese guy, one Chinese TCM or me, and one nutritional guy. And we made all these products, right? And Thorne decided they were gonna buy everything and sell it. And it wasn’t two months into it that they said, “Well, we don’t know anything about Chinese syrup so we’re going to cut out the Chinese herbal part of those formulas.” Oh, no kidding, which is still the western. But one of the Chinese guys, Xie, he started the Chi Institute in Florida, which is only for veterinarians. Oh yeah, he makes his own horse formulas. He was one of the teachers on that. He and I and another person created those formulas, yeah. They eat 30 grams a day, alright? I loved working with them and I loved working with the horses but these kinds of marketing ideas are not my forte.
Jack: Yeah. Well, maybe there’s some in our audience, though, here. Now on the east or west coast rather, there’s plenty of resources out here and it’s a business opportunity for them.
Jake: To reinvent the wheel, she has got his books published with all his formulas. Right, he’s amazing.
Jack: He’s amazing, he’s amazing. So, any future books for you, Jake? Or, in fact, why don’t we back up. I mean, what was the inspiration for the herbal patent medicines book? I mean, those were standard for the longest time, yeah. And now you have an update?
Jake: Right, yeah. And, you know, Jack, I appreciate you thinking I’m this great businessman, which is really kind of a joke because I make the biggest business mistakes – one after another. Oh, you got to make a lot of mistakes to find the right way. It was a patent medicine book I wrote in 1986, I think the first edition is about ‘87. And it sold 35,000 copies, you know? Right, 35000. So, this was written before I knew anything. It was just like my interest. I was living up in Seattle, going to the Chinatown stores and being attracted to the bottles and wondering, “What’s this, what’s that?” And I had to translate most from the inserts, you know, with my rudimentary Chinese translate. What was in them and what they were for and that became this, and this became very popular in the Chinatown herb stores. And then, students started picking up. I revised it and made this one in 2001. This was a big selling. Why this was great was the pictures. This became like the PDR, or Chinese medicines, and had like 1200 products in it. But, over the years, I realized that half this stuff you couldn’t find outside of Chinatown herb stores. It’s really not very practical because my friend, Whit Reaves, who said, “Jake, you got to reduce it to something much simpler.” So I did and I made this book, “Essential Chinese Formulas.” And now, we have 225 products that I go into in depth. But then I list everybody’s products that are out there and where they’d be organized and I’m immensely proud of this book. But I made a fundamental error, I called it a Central Chinese Formulas and all the schools say we already got really good books on Chinese formulas. And I called it a Central Chinese Patent Medicines because when the schools went to choose patent medicine books, they chose Will Maclean’s book because it said “Patent Medicines,” you know? I wanted them to use this as a recommended book for NCCAOM. So nobody knows about this book, it’s sitting in my garage. But it’s a great book. This really has my clinical information and in my summations, this is a great book. I’m very proud of it, don’t have this book.
Jack: Yeah, right. And we’ll have to check with our deans here.
Jake: Yeah, for sure. Great book, it’s fabulous. And we put it on Kindle and we called it on the Kindle version, “Patent Medicine.”
Jack: Alright. You know, I remember – of course, everything I remember back in the day, right – I was talking to Harriet Beifield about “Between Heaven and Earth” and how it was going to be so successful. And she said that she’d probably end up making minimum wage because the amount of time and effort it goes into creating something like that. I mean, how’s that been for you? I mean, do you notice the royalty checks, or is it just kind of, you haven’t missed?
Jake: No, well, this baby. But this one was great, yeah. And this one, we saw a lot of those. This one, I wrote from 9pm to 12am on Cointreau. And then I wondered why my blood sugar went up so much. This one got written in the morning, 9am to 12pm.
Jack: So the key is, if you want a book to be successful, you need to do it at night?
Jake: Need discipline.
Jack: Yeah, it is a routine, right? Yeah, and something to say, I mean, it’s nice in the case of those books, that your interests paralleled a need in the marketplace. I mean, I was on the surf there, as it was going. And I was teaching a lot, I was going once or twice a month to teach something about Chinese herbal products. And I would always sell books at my talks. We were talking again today at lunch with my deans and teacher about the opportunities that exist for new practitioners. I mean, we speculated in 20 minutes, we could probably come up with that need to still be written about in our medicine. And I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg, right? But there’s so many opportunities and it doesn’t, again, doesn’t need to be a magnum opus, right? It doesn’t need to be the great American novel. It could be even just starting with articles and that was how Giovanni started. I mean, he wrote the Eight Extraordinary Vessels article in one of the journals, and maybe it was Peter Deadman’s Journal of Chinese Medicine in the early 80s. And there was no other source for that information, right? And it really started his career. And, you know, he was able to obviously follow through with classic texts. But, you never know where a small project can lead in the future.
Jake: Well, we’re asking what can practitioners do to increase their income, right? And, well, first thing is, you want to max out your patient load. You and I said this to my son. I said, “Ask yourself, how much money do you need to accomplish your immediate needs? How many patient treatments will give you that?” And just design your week in terms of what I need a week in order to meet my goal, or whatever. And then you keep working up to that and so the foundation’s always the clinical practice. And then, what you charge is based on what you can get and what you think is fair and that’s always your foundation, it’s your clinical practice. Then, how do you build your clinical practice? Well, you give talks, you go and give talks or demonstrations, you go to gyms, you go to libraries, you give them. If you can get somebody with a frozen shoulder and then they get off the table and now they’re going like this. Yeah, they’re compelling, especially in physical medicine. And that’s how I started. That’s how I built my practice, was giving little freebie talks. I’d give for newborn mothers, I’d give for certain subjects, you know? And people would come and they just hear me talk about a subject with some amount of knowledge and then they’d come as patients, right? Giving talks was always the best way for me.
Jack: Absolutely. I mean, they see you, hear you. Of course, public speaking is many people’s greatest fear. But we have a real advantage in our medicine and that’s it can be so visually compelling. And so, you said demonstrations, an alternative is the old slideshow. Now, it’s Powerpoint, right? But take pictures of acupuncture points, patients, herbs, moxa, cupping, it’s all interesting.
Jake: Right, you love it.
Jack: So, you go into a room and say, “I’m gonna present a show on acupuncture and will somebody just get the lights?” And then, you do the show. It’s not so intimidating at that point, right?
Jake: For people in the audience, what does it matter? Totally and will come, worth it.
Jack: You know, correct, for sure. And then, when you’re done with your slideshow, turn on the lights, and then you just answer questions. That’s easy to do. Nobody expects that to be, you know, the State of the Union and totally slick. It’s just, you know, you and me talking, right? So, the public speaking doesn’t have to be as fear-inspiring as many practitioners might think it is, yeah. You know, there’s associations for every disease known to man and you can find indexes of these. And I think the practitioners that are out there now, you may not even have to go to the city where that particular association is holding its meetings. Now, you can have this kind of environment, right? Where they just beam you in.
Jake: This is the future, right?
Jack: So, yeah, I think you hit it on the head, though. To build your practice, you have to get out there. But, to the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been a pill invented that cures all the stuff that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help. So there’s still tremendous opportunity and, like what you’ve done, there’s also these other streams, right? So one of the things we suggest is start to have some level of specialization, right? So if you’ve got an affinity for some aspect of our medicine, whether it’s a technique, whether it’s a patient population, just start to learn a little bit more about that next thing, you know? I’ll be calling you to say, “Hey, can you speak at Pacific Symposium?” Now you have another income stream. Next you know, all the schools are calling you to do their CEU events, you know? You write an article for Acupuncture Today, whatever it is, right? You just do that little bit extra, it sets you apart and starts those additional streams.
Jake: I mean, you mentioned specialization and there’s some areas that right away acupuncturists can start finding patients. And one, of course, is in-vitro fertilization. The in-vitro fertilization is all out-of-pocket, insurance doesn’t cover it. So the doctors doing that want to increase their success rate and the best way, of course, is acupuncture and herbs. But if you just do acupuncture, you can work in these clinics. You can reach out to these doctors and get work through these people. Another underserved community in our world are kids. Naturopaths have taken up all the kids. TCMers are scared to work with kids, which is crazy because they respond really fast. Sure, they feel really easy.
Jack: Totally, they’re a great testament to what we do. You know, they say their qi is “volatile.”
Jake: People should not be scared.
Jack: Yeah. Another one that I’m always disappointed in, that is geriatrics. I mean, as I approach that demographic, you know, we start having…
Jake: I’m a user.
Jack: Right, I’m a user now. And yet, it would seem like the most logical specialization. But I don’t see being that possible. My friend Whit Reaves said I used to be terrified of treating old people, really old, above 80. And I used to be terrified of treating them because I was so afraid I’d ruin them, I’d hurt them. And he said, “Then I found out, if I just do the gentlest work around the supraspinatus muscles, they come off and they feel so good.” You know, it’s ust doing the most gentle work along the spine, yeah. You know, it doesn’t take much to help people.
Jack: Right, that’s a good point. And we have so much to offer. You know, I wanted to be able to kind of keep this in a short format, respect your time. So I really appreciate you being willing to take time out of your day. It’s nice seeing Dominique and your new family member, your new dog. There you go, hi! Is Dominique going to start translating some of the French classics, Vanier and Sumaida, in the house? Yeah, that’s another thing that the profession could use.
Jake: Well, we don’t know anything about – I mean, I do – but most people don’t know anything about the French influence, right?
Jack: Yeah, it would be a value to our profession.
Jake: I met Dominique because I was sponsored to teach qigong in France. And does he still have his institute there in Aix-en-Provence? Yeah, he does. And, you know, there’s a lot of Frenchmen who just invented very unique systems that are very interesting, very interesting system. Yeah, there’s a lot out there, a lot of potential, especially with acupuncture. I mean, I think the herbs always go back to modern China hospital, herbal medicine. Which means I don’t go towards Japanese Kampo, personally. And I think it just cannot be beat, you know? But with acupuncture, we have so many kinds of acupuncture out there, all of which work. I mean, it’s work, you know?
Jack: Good to know.
Jake: Yeah, I mean, we have plenty but what my advice to any practitioner is, first of all, keep studying. There’s no end to study, there’s no way that NCCAOM requires 15 hours a year, you know? So keeping studying. Keeps you fresh and expands your horizons. The other thing is, if you can specialize, do specialize. I know now people are specializing neural acupuncture and people specializing in dermatology, Mazin come in. And you have people specializing all over the place, of course, psychology you know?
Jack: Well, it’s a win-win, right? I mean, it’s an area you’re interested in so you have that inspiration, it makes you better at treating the patients that you’re seeing because you’re specialized in it and it kind of sets you apart so there’s a lot of reasons to do that.
Jake: If I can make one more plug for myself, so one is I sell my own alcohol tinctures only to practitioners, I don’t sell them to reach out to the public. You can go to my website.
Jack: And I think we can put a link up too when we send this out so we’re happy to do that, Jake.
Jake: For Golden Flower, I created the children’s line many years ago.
Jack: Oh, nice. Just less alcohol.
Jake: Yeah, exclusive. Let’s say it’s for all children, I say it’s for under two-year-olds, you know? We own two-year-olds and so we have one for common cold, we have inner ear infection, we have one for cough, we have one for stomach upset, one for immune enhancement. And so, they’re really convenient, kids love the taste, you know?
Jack: So I’ll take those then too, I’ll use on the weekend.
Jake: And then, mine, you gotta roll up your sleeves, you know? With the kids, I give it to kids, I tell them to put maple syrup in it. There you go.
Jack: Hey, Jake, well thanks again. I really appreciate your time. Nice seeing you, Dominique, and what’s your dog’s name? I knew as soon as you went to chase squirrels. Hey, man, well signing off. I could talk to you forever but keep it in a normal format. Appreciate it, take care.