Spotlight on Los Alamos: 'Let food be your medicine'

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By Kelly LeVan

Dr. Li Liu – affectionately known as “Dr. Lee” to her patients – has helped those suffering from numb feet and toes, restless leg syndrome, incapacitating lower back pain, poor circulation, vitreous hemorrhages in their eyes  and menopause. “I had problems from a concussion in the past, edema, irregular heart beat … narcolepsy, apnea and insomnia,” one of her patients wrote in a testimonial. “Dr. Lee … gave me back my health. I am healthy, and I work. I cannot say enough about Dr. Lee.”Another patient, experiencing problems with digestion, described immediate results: “Within the first week of taking the prescribed herbs, I felt my digestive system responding in a positive way. After only one month of treatment I see a marked improvement with my digestive system, and as an added bonus I have more energy and am sleeping better than I have in years.”Liu has been practicing acupuncture, herbal therapy and massage in Los Alamos since 2004. Her office, located at 118 Central Park Square, offers far more than the pins and needles many people associate with traditional Chinese medicine.“Acupuncture doesn’t mean just getting stuck with needles,” Liu said. “It’s a totally different philosophy … In China, most patients seek herbs.”Herbal remedies compose a strong part of Liu’s treatments, often in combination with dietary changes. Eating rice instead of white bread, for instance, because of its high protein and lower starch content, is a smart choice for diabetics, who may also want to incorporate pumpkin into their meals, a high-pectin fruit. Eating pears and almonds help those dealing with sinus or allergy conditions. Munching on Hawthorne cherries – a stash of which she keeps in the office – help people digest protein and fat. Drinking cherry tea helps lower cholesterol levels. “Chinese medicine considers lifestyle, diet, work, relationships, emotional/ mental states, stress, physical state and living environment – I consider everything and do an analysis,” Liu said.This takes time, and an initial consultation takes about one-and-a-half hours.“This initial consultation is important to see what’s needed to improve patients’ health,” she said.However, before Liu works on any of the many maladies with which patients come to her, she finds out whether they are getting enough sleep.“Without sleep, whatever’s wrong, you can’t recover from it,” she said. “You have to sleep well first, and then the other things will come along.”She added that she works in tandem with doctors practicing Western medicine, sometimes recommending doctors at Los Alamos Medical Center to her patients. When conventional treatments fail, doctors at LAMC often recommend Liu as well, she said.Liu has more than 30 years experience in traditional Chinese medicine. Born in Beijing, she began her training in dentistry, her mother’s field, during the Cultural Revolution. Because of the period’s far-reaching economic strife, like everything else, dental equipment was very expensive. Looking for a healing profession that didn’t require as many costly machines, Liu earned her Doctor of Oriental Medicine (D.O.M.). “I’m in traditional medicine probably by chance,” she said, emphasizing both the prestigious place traditional Chinese medicine continues to hold in her home country – where she said a D.O.M. is valued as highly as an M.D. trained in Western medicine – and the tremendous satisfaction she gets from her work.“When I hear about people suffering with pain for a long, long time,” she said, “and then they see results with me, that makes me very happy.”Liu kept offices in both Santa Fe and Los Alamos for several years, and now works strictly from her Los Alamos location – close to her home and close to her patients.Call her at 662-7299 to schedule a consultation or for more information.

Kelly LeVan is a patient of Dr. Lee’s.