August 6, 2021
SHEN PING LIANG
I grew up in Taiwan at the Taipei medical school. At that type of medical school, we didn't have a TCM program. We only had a pharmacology program. And of course, the western medicine and pharmacology program had a TCM herbal department. I started in pharmacology, and then I went to the Oracle department. In the 1970s, Taiwan is beginning a full course in the TCM. TCM is traditional Chinese medicine. So we have one in the Taiwan government. Even if you go to a foreign country, you can also come back to get the variation test and get the TCM doctorate.
At that time, Taiwan had just come out of the United Nations. So a lot of people try to immigrate because we don't know what the future situation will be like. I went to Brazil after college and started practicing acupuncture there. I'm very fortunate because I can speak Japanese. Brazil has a very large colony of Japanese people. I have one rotation where they presented the whole US 22 most recognized people. One is from Texas—me. I started with the Japanese language. I didn't go before I got the practice permission. I went to the no medical doctor area, Kota south, to give all the poor people free treatment. The government was very happy because, in that area, no foreign doctor would go to that very poor area.
I stayed there for about two months waiting for Sao Paulo’s permission. They were very happy. And most of them are from the Japanese farm and they're very happy and they also have a lot of Brazillian poor people, Workers. So after that, my permission comes up. Then I went to San Paolo and been there, you know, and one side I'm open clinic another side I went to the school to learn Portuguese you know it's a sacrifice for the first generation of immigration. You know, it is difficult. Later I can practice in San Paulo and slowly be recognized by the medical community in San Paolo. I was also recognized by the government of Brazil because the two-term president came to my clinic. I’m very lucky. So slowly my clientele peaked in Brazil.
San Paulo Clinic
SHEN PING LIANG
After that in 1984, Brazil’s economy was very bad, so security was very bad. At that time most assaults were assaults on medical doctors. You can not avoid it. They make a phone call that says I need your help. In San Paulo, when the appointment comes in, they can make an appointment with you. They never call back to verify if this patient is true or not true. But my situation is different because, after my clinic, I go to the hospital to check on my inpatients. And when I'm ready to go to an inpatient, there were a lot of beggars on the street in this town. One night, I went to the fifth-largest street, which is even bigger than Westheimer. These they call the St. Domingo de Maras (Tamir Rice). It has a lot of subway stations.
In Brazilian law, if you’re under 14 years old, there is no penalty for a crime. So some companies collect a lot of boys or girls under 14 years old to do the begging. That company was organized. I’m a foreigner there. So I feel so many people need help. I'm happy to help them. So each time a beggar comes in, I just open the window to see how much I can help them. This one time, a boy came in and said I need your help. In the wintertime, they have a full jacket. Inside the jacket is a pistol. They showed me the pistol, and on the outside, the rest of the gang thought I cannot see it. But I saw that he is a boy, so suddenly I'm shocked. At the time, I’m ready to go to one of the largest hospitals in San Paolo, which has a big record of comas. Children after 11 days of anesthesia cannot wake up from the coma stage. The first case to recover is my case. So even on TV in Brazil, they represented that. So I need to go there to check. It’s not just this boy, the gang asked me to open the door. So I open the left side and right side of the door and then other people come out.
One of them came up with the one knife pointed at me. They slowly go to the right side of me. So I'm emptying my pocket. I said okay, all my pocket money, you can take. But the documents don’t work for you. He agrees. There's this subway station and the policemen are coming. And I said, if I call attention, then the assaultor will be nervous. So that's a danger to you. We negotiated and agreed already. But they take my pocket and one runs away. I take the hand to catch my pocket to say: wait, we agreed that the documents would be returned to me. So I was also stupid. I caught my pocket and they cut my hand here.
This tendon was cut. I lost my acupuncture sensitivity, so I cannot practice anymore. I needed to take care of myself first. They ran away, but I caught my pocket back. I need to go to the hospital and I need to go to the emergency room. I still have the feeling after one month. I said it was time to leave Brazil. So I went to the US consultation. The general console is my patient. So he said, I'm happy to help you. But it's a technical problem, you don't need to sell your practice, you just continue to practice. He helped me to process it, so the whole family could immigrate to the United States. And then two years later, the general counsel called me to say your permission is coming. The whole family will have a permanent visa, so you need to come to the consultation to sign. 'Oh, I'm shocked.' I said 'you told me so slowly. So now I have a clinic with so many patients and houses. I cannot. I cannot move my patient, there’s no time for me. He said you only have three months. You will need the whole family to go to one of the ports of the United States. So I'm so stressed at this time. John Paul is very small. And my first son, who’s now a nephrologist, was still in junior high. The second son is in elementary school.
I don't have time to prepare well. So I quickly stopped. I packed my clinic and the general counsel was very nice. They said I only can help give you one 40-foot container. Everything you can put in the container is a free tax to go to the United States. I'm so happy with the help, so we use the shipment to come through the US. My sister-in-law is a geophysicist at Shell and at this time she is very established in Houston. There is a very good state of the oil business, so I feel that the US is good. So I came here and my first clinic was set up in the waste around a building.
SHEN PING LIANG
It is about a 5000 square foot center. But I found out that I don't have patients. Nobody knew me and this was one big, broken dream. I went from big clientele jobs down to zero. And the whole family came in, so it was a big shock to me. And that time it was a very big sacrifice. That's in 1984 and then Texas had a second problem. We don't have a license in Texas. We didn’t have one in San Paolo, but permission was already okay. In the US, we don't have a license, we don't have permission either. Just one big gray area. And one year after we found out about the medical board, they started to use the medical doctor license to cover acupuncture. That’s a big change for us medical doctors because they don't have acupuncture training.
They said that it was only supervised by a medical doctor. And then in that time, I hired two medical doctors, and I found out all about this medical board requirement. But I think that is so funny because I heard that some medical doctors only supervise 10 acupuncturists who don't necessarily practice every day. They just practice golf without any necessary practice. They just collect money. That's wrong, but my doctor is very nice. I request that every patient needs the doctor to interview you, check it, and then sign the referral to acupuncture practice. I hire one to come each day and the other two days per week. They're very nice. But lately, patients have also complained. The patient said I have my family doctor, why do I need to change to another family doctor to pay for my consultation? They say I don't want a second family doctor for care. So that is a confusing time, but state regulation is that way. I have to follow the state regulation. But I feel that is a problem in the acupuncture field. So we started correcting. A lot of acupuncturists got together. And most acupuncturists don't have a supervisor. My doctor doesn't want to do it because they don't understand acupuncture. They were never trained. So for liability, how can he take over? They don't want that. And so there is a bit of confusion. So we collected a lot of acupuncturists to exchange knowledge. Sometimes also, how to prepare to start legislation, to get a license.
Houston, Dallas, Austin Clinics
SHEN PING LIANG
Houston and Dallas have one and Austin has another one. We have three, but Dallas and Austin were very small, and only Houston was big because Houston has an Asian community. I'm being elected Houston Kota Houston Alliance president in 1989. But 87' already had the first acupuncture community, and 84' already had one, but that is just a few people and it was not very official.
They have come from Taiwan, China, Japan, South Asia, Vietnam, and Korea. So all the ACL areas are the majority. Dr. Huang is from Vietnam. And we also have one secretary from Malaysia, and one Secretary from Thailand. And I'm also Secretary from Taiwan. So at that time, there were five. I said it was very disorganized. In 1987, I started organizing that organization, and I was elected president. We started to have bylaws and started to have elections.
Because we had too small of a community and medical board, the Medical Association was very strong and they didn't want to lose power. So every time we lost. In 1989, we united all the three organizations with Dallas and Austin together, and we had a big meeting in Austin. We started to form the whole Texas Association, and Texas Association in Dallas, at this time, about over 200 member acupuncturists, and I'm still elected the first-term president. One vice president is from Dallas, one vice president is from Austin.
We hired a lobbyist. But in 1993, the legislature was for two years each time. We have an American acupuncture Association and I'm the elected vice president. It’s very big. At that time it was about 4000 or 6000 members in 50 states. I'm a new immigrant and my English was not good, but to be elected was lucky. I don't know why they chose me. So, in that time, I take a bigger responsibility for the whole national legislation to help national legislation. It is interesting to get Medicare to cover acupuncture, but some states already have licenses. Aids were very popular since the best treatment was acupuncture. So, I am appointed by the Harris County Judge at the Ryan White Planning Council.
You have immunity. From the legislature, we have a lobbyist, who was very nice and very good. They helped me with success in the sunset, and the Governor is the enricher. So enricher also in favor of acupuncturists. They feel this field is necessary, so they started passing legislation, and they appointed me the first founder of the Acupuncture Board. I founded the board in conjunction with the medical board because the medical board still wanted to watch out. But during the two times legislation about the time before 1991, I lost legislation. I met at Midnight in Austin and talked with lobbyists of the medical board and I talked to them about why they are against acupuncture? And he told me that Dr. Liang, I'm not against the old Medical Association, not against acupuncture. They said that because Texas at this time, Nixon President Nixon visited China, which started making acupuncture, very popular. So, a lot of short-term programs happened. The colleges in China are only practiced by the government. The acupuncture schools have three months or six months of short-term training. And a lot of Chinese come here with three months or six months of training and open clinics. No wonder our medical board is very concerned about public safety, and against acupuncturists. I started establishing an acupuncture college. Now I was training, a good-trained acupuncturist in Texas. In 1991, I had acupuncture students come in, and after that, they helped me later with my legislation.
The government legislation voted on the majority. They can accept but not necessarily 75%. So voting was easier. We have the chance to get licensed. In the last year, the whole of Texas started to have licenses. So I also called home state acupuncture because I'm still the Acupuncture Association president. I call them back to continue their education. I said that you need training, retrain yourself, and then you can be recognized. So everybody was happy to follow up. In 1993, we passed the law and got the acupuncture license. We went to the Marriott and that's a very big hotel. We have almost 300 people come in. We had a very large party. It was the first time the whole nationwide group would come down to Houston to congratulate us. It was the first time we got licenses.
SHEN PING LIANG
Texas is a more conservative state. So if a conservative state can get licenses, then it means a lot. It also helped other states to get licenses. I cannot be the president anymore because I need to resign from my old nationwide and statewide Association job. And I also help with the nationwide beauty cream needle clinical technique. Now, every state needs a licensed Korean Needle technician. In China this time, they use reusable needles, and the hand is dirty. They said, I'm not transmitting diseases, so I started to help New Mexico doctors, and New York doctors. We formed a Grenada technique for oral hygiene and educated the whole nation. We gave state-by-state speeches, asking every acupuncturist to use the disposable needle. So disposable needle promotion started for me.
Everyone is using a single tube and a single needle tube can be sterilized later. The normal Japanese needle is not too popular, because the Japanese needle has a plastic head, so it doesn't transmit electrons. Right now they use a stainless steel needle, which is not so expensive. I did the college console needle technical exam. College Council is an acupuncture school union for the whole United States. It is a stated requirement that the certificate is issued. It’s a long process and it’s not so easy. There is a big transition after you get licensed. I try to help the medical board set up all the rules. And now, every acupuncturist has very high labor and continues their education.
SHEN PING LIANG
Moxibustion is one of the acupuncture treatments. We need nine years to graduate. Most people tend to be more of an ESB doctor. So it's 10 years. We also have cupping. In the United States, there is short-term training. They only take partial auriculotherapy. The whole body is related, you know. You're hurt on one finger, the whole body is in pain. Now, there are a lot of wrong interpretations. They are misleading the public. We know medical specialties. Now, the medical school has a foot doctor. We understand what they're interested in. But in China, all of them are included in our training.
Headache sometimes comes from other places. So we need to learn the whole medical theory in immersion theory. And then you can have a better treatment for the patient. So that’s the reason why they take such a long time. After graduating, they start to learn to feel. But unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t cover it. So they were expensive and feel disappointed. In the first year, they feel they’re learning so that acupuncture is so easy. And second-year acupuncture difficulty is higher. In the fourth year, they said I'm learning so little.
They know nothing. Even at the first medical board convention in San Antonio, the convention invited me. I went there. In the beginning, the doctors said I don't believe in acupuncture. I said, why do people have food? They have neurologists and they say I don't know. I say them why people have five fingers. They don't know. So a lot of us don't know. I said that all of it is from the universal power of the sun and moon.
You need to study the scientific way to find how to manage this universal power to manage life. So finally, when I finished the three-hour speech, everybody was standing. I believe for each state, every acupuncturist has the same goal to help the same thing. Because of that only one person can not do it alone. All the doctors trust me. They believe me. Texas can lead this field because everybody knows that Texas is a more conservative state. We have six hospitals that have acupuncture clinics working together with the medical group. We were talking to the Methodist Hospital and a lot of medical doctors can not resolve it, so they can try acupuncture. Of course, acupuncture can’t help in every case. At least you try your best for the patient and work together to help them. So Methodist is very happy with us. We appreciate that they give us a chance. It is a good leading model for the whole nation.
California has more acupuncturists there. California and New York put more effort into Medicare. If one day Medicare is covered, then it is a different situation. They request the acupuncturist and medical doctor now. They prefer a referral to an acupuncturist. I think the future is big. But we are waiting. I’ll be patient, but I'm already retired. You have a new generation to continue to work on that.
Shen Liang is an acupuncturist practicing in Houston, TX. Dr. Liang evaluates and treats patients based on the concepts of oriental medicine. Acupuncturists complete their evaluations by getting a patient history and looking at and touching the body. Then, they place very fine acupuncture needles into specific points on the body. Stimulating these points and nerves is how Dr. Liang treats the patient's condition. Many of the bodys systems respond to acupuncture, and it can treat physical pain as well as emotional stress.