Interview with Brad Whisnant
Spence: Hello everybody, and welcome to another Golden Cabinet podcast. I'm your host, Spence Pentland, and I'm here today, again with Brad Whisnant - thanks for coming on the show again, Brad. This is take two, we had some technical difficulties, but today, I'm really excited because we're here to talk about Brad giving his wisdom, and a course I’ve just completed, that's brand-new about using Master Tung points for fertility. And if you don't know Brad, go at least to his Facebook page, like I said earlier, he's got a huge following in and a super-engaged following. It’s because he gives a ton of value, even you could learn a lot of about Master Tung just by following Brad. You can also go to his website, where he gives a ton of lectures, he lectures around the world as well but records a lot of them. And he's got courses on Dr. Tan, and Master Tung, and business. He's opened his second practice, not that long ago here now in Portland, super-busy guy, and yeah, second clinic. I don't know how he sees the patients he does, but I'm in awe. He's badass. We'll put links in the show notes, like I said earlier. He also has taken people groups of acupuncturists around the world and set up these temporary clinics, like your last one was in Vietnam. I don't know how you pull all this stuff off, but anyway, if you don't know Brad, you should. So, go check out his website, it'll be in the show notes. But for today, I'm excited, and I'm going to ramble here for two seconds. Since 2004, about 15 years, or a little more now, I have focused exclusively in my practice on reproductive health fertility. Like I said, I'm probably pretty set in my ways, and I know you catered this course to that, because our industry has really have made some leaps forward in reproductive medicine, which is fantastic, helping a lot of people - it's great. If you haven't heard a Master Tung, and you're an acupuncturist, you're living under a rock. And Brad’s one of the authorities on Master Tung. So, I was like, this is awesome, I'm going to check out what Brad has to say. It's a course, it's short and succinct, and Brad is just giving your pearls of Master Tung points, and how they can be applied to a fertility practice. So, it's really reinvigorated me, and actually, it started a huge discussion with my staff. You know, I've got a number of acupuncturist, about what are our favorite points, and just to let them know I'll be adding in some of these new points that I've learnt about, because we cover each other's patients - what are these points you're using, just so know? It’s been really exciting, I'm excited to see the effect of them, so thanks for chatting a little bit about that today.
Brad: I appreciate you having me on, and as always, I appreciate your opinion, I'm glad certainly when I did this course I was thinking about someone like you, or you that obviously is very proficient, and educated, and clinically experienced, with a ton of patients. So, I wanted to set the course up. It’s not like you have to let go of what you do to add my stuff. Same thing in my clinic, I use mostly Master Tung, and Dr. Tan’s distal things, but I certainly use TCM points, and trigger points, and motor points, and things like that. And I just wanted to have a class to say, look, here’s some really nice points you can add in to what you already do. And you don’t need to drop anything, you don't need to not do your stuff, do my stuff - it's not even about that, it’s just, take these actually little clinical things that work usually pretty well, and you can add them in. And I think the reason I want to go to a fertility class is because, I said it before, fertility is rarely just genitals. I mean, I guess it could be, but usually it's not. And even if it is, genitals are like boy or girl, it's maybe what, 10-15% of the overall picture. And the Master Tung stuff is really good at internal problems, and that's one thing, I think we always think, you know, I used to work with Dr.Tan, and people think, oh, distal is just for pain, which it is, it’s really good and it's very popular for that, but the Master Tung points, I think even, and this is where a lot of us from Dr.Tan stuff moved into Master Tung because we wanted a better internal picture. And a lot of us that started in the distal Dr.Tan’s camps, and this is not to put down Dr.Tan, but again, we just said, hey, what's so really good, what's maybe not a better way but a different way to treat internal stuff, and a lot of us kind of said, oh, this Master Tung stuff has a really big powerful effect on internal things. So, from a fertility perspective, I think that the Tung points are very powerful for treating a heart problem, or spleen problem, or gall bladder problem, or liver problem, or blood flow problem, or something other than genitals, or groin area, and reproductive organs. So, that's the first thing. And then the other two, the Tung system is very cool because it has what we call reaction areas, or nerves, and this is, again, 4,000 years ago how TCM channels were actually named - they weren't named the Shao-Yang Yang -Ming, Qiao-yin, things like that, they were named the shoulder channel, the tooth channel, the uterus channel, the belt channel. And so this idea of point’s treating an area goes back to the oldest texts. So, Tung has a lot of points, they do this in the system, like they have points that treat the uterus. Or they have points that treat the liver, or they have points that treat the groin, and things like that. So, there's these specific nerves that increase the function of that actual organ. There's some very unique points that are very good at treating the uteruses, and the groins, and the penises, and the testicles, and things like that, but then also the patho-physiology, not only from a Western perspective, but also an Eastern perspective, you know, liver Qi, or heart function, or dampness, or inflammation, or like, how about all the people that have fertility problems and like stress and digestion - there's some awesome things for that. It's huge. There's really good points that focus in on the large intestine, or the gall bladder, or the spleen, or the pancreas, and that's where I think the power of the Tung system can elevate your style that you already have for fertility, whether that's a five element, or TCM, or specific fertility type of style – so, that's what I try to do.
Spence: Well, I really appreciated that, because you did reiterate that through the course. It's like, experiment, find out when it resonates with you, what you get effect within the clinic, and just add these to your TCM points, or whatever it is that you're using.
Brad: I think we're entering a very dangerous stage in acupuncture, where everybody's trademarking, and trying to own three thousand-year-old techniques as their own. And I think we're also entering a very dangerous stage because I think it's mostly backed by money and people, but where people say, that style’s no good, do my style. And that's fine if you're into it, but I think a bigger perspective is to say, wow, it's all the same. And, I may really be good at leg points, or I may be really good at emotional stuff, or I might be really good at hand points, or I might be really good at needle insertions, or I might be really good at palpating muscles. Okay, fine, take your own personal ability and say, okay, God gave me green eyes and blonde hair. That's what it is. And then take those things and expand on them, versus saying, oh, I'm going to take Brad’s style, and make it fit me because it won't work for you, because you're not me. Or Spencer’s style won't work for me because I ain't Spence. And that's what I think is what I'm trying to teach people now more days is, not do the Tung system, or not do the Tan system, or not do any system - do the Spence system, or do the Brad system, like what lights YOU up. And then take the good stuff, and then throw the other crap away. And that's what I tried in the fertility, just give you the good stuff, and then you can implement it.
Spence: There's probably about five or six points that resonated with me going through your course, so I'm going to experiment with those first, like those three Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, I call them, on your arm, Fu Ke - Return to Nest. The one you say is the best point on the body for stress, sleep, and pain. And I hardly have patients without all three of those.
Brad: We all do – we are in America and Canada.
Spence: It doesn't matter where you are. I loved your emphasis on stress because, obviously, if you don't emphasize stress, and you work with fertility, you weren't listening to the patients.
Brad: Exactly. My big thing with fertility is, I only treat both people. I won't just treat the man, and I won't just treat the wife, and if it's a same-sex couple, I treat both boys and both girls. If it takes two people to make it, I'm treating two people. And then the other thing is, there's always this idea of, Spence, should I help you get better, or should I just help you sleep better, and reduce your stress, and then let your body heal itself. I'm sure, Spence, you know more people than me, but how many times have you had people that were trying to get pregnant forever, and then they're like, okay screw it, they gave up, they get adopt. Then five years later, out of nowhere, they get pregnant because all the stress is gone.
Spence: Weekly almost.
Brad: We're just having sex to have fun – whoops, I got pregnant! And they didn't change anything other than now they already have a baby because they adopted it, and they fulfilled that capacity of their needs. So, stress is a huge thing, not only for pain and everybody, but I think, like you said, for fertility. I mean, that's just like you don't have to ask, you’re just like, you've got stress - let's treat it.
Spence: Yes. My goal with most patients is to try and get them to a place of surrender, and that involves a lot of letting go, and that is also very stressful. I’ve probably causing stress, but I'm trying to help them with it too. That 10:28 I'm excited for my RPL, or recurrent loss patients, and if there's any unusual bleeding. I've got a woman today with fibroids that I'm about to see for an initial unusual bleeding, I'm excited to try some of these, which is great, and I wish it was a female because I tried those Three Sisters. When you talked about you want big things to happen, do big things, it just made me sit and do a little meditation on how powerful points are in the thigh, in the big, meaty part of the leg.
Brad: That's certainly a part of the body that we kind of disrespect in TCM, we don't really do a lot of points up there. Probably, the most popular point up there is stomach 32 or 34 as a meeting point.
Spence: Spleen 10 maybe.
Brad: Yeah, spleen 10, that’s probably it, and so on. From a Tong perspective, we always think kind of a bone for a bone, a muscle for a muscle, and then we also think like, if you want to have like a big effect, like if someone has a ton of fatigue, and a ton of weakness, well, they need big muscle strength. So where are big muscles located? Oh, big muscles are in the upper thighs. We'll use a lot of points like that, so these big bones, big arteries, big vessels, and I'm speaking metaphorically, but even clinically that proves out, when you work on thigh stuff, and even like stuff in general, very powerful effects. And Master Tung, their favorite part of the body for long term, for chronic issues was two things always bleeding, because that moved so much blood in the immune system, and all those things that happen with bleeding, but then also their big part was the legs. They're big, they're bigger than your arms, and they have a really big effect. And there's some really wonderful points for habitual miscarriage, the 88, 12, 13, 14 on the upper thigh, on the liver channel. Very, very nice for that's kind of what saved my daughter's life. Some very big points, much more than just a spleen 10.
Spence: Even just massaging my leg after what you were talking about, I'm like, wow, that effect is big. And I can't be intimate like you, you know, being a male, I would never choose those liver points, or anything around the groin. But I think that's great, especially if you're a woman. And something else, Brad, you touched on a lot, was breath and lung. I think that's something overlooked by a lot of fertility practitioners. What’s your kind of foundation on that?
Brad: I mean, it's really hard to be pissed off if you breathe right. If you catch yourself being sad, or angry, or lost, or even like me, starting my new clinic, I get stressed. Well, of course, you got a lot on the lines. Okay, what happened, you forgot to breathe. And breathing is pretty cool because that's obviously the function of the Chi, and the oxygen, but also we just learned recently that your lungs make blood, they've found a whole another function, lungs are really powerful for getting over in your heart - that's like the other big thing. If you don't breathe right, your heart's going to be screwed up. And I think this whole breath idea, of just, you know, [breathing] when you breathe right, I'm also a big believer in Wim Hof and the cold therapy. And that's about breath, and like all these things are happening with your immune system, your vagus nerve, your parasympathetic nervous system. When you're not breathing right, all those are whacked out. You look at what the vagus nerve does for fertility, you look what your parasympathetic nervous system does for your fight-or-flight, for hormones, for stress, for adrenaline, cortisol - I mean all those things are massively important for you and I chilling out and conceiving. If you look at the body, even we know the body can't fight and make love, I mean, you get chased by a tiger but you ain't making love. So, if you're always getting chased by a tiger, or you are stressed, or pissed, or freaked out, or sad, your body doesn't have the ability to say, okay, you know what, I need to stop this fire, but I need to create something. You've got to stop the fire, so you might say, okay, I got time to create - let's do this. That’s even why I get into fasting, because if you eat all the time, your body never has time to repair, because what's it always doing? It is breaking down food. It's this same concept of, you can't do both, you can't break down and repair. So, if you intermittent fast, then your body says, oh, I got no food, I'll go repair some things. And then it starts repairing stuff. So, this idea of stopping the leak, and saying, okay, now let's fix the pond, versus, dude, you're trying to fill the pond up, but, man, you got leaks everywhere. And that's the conversation I try and have. And that's why I think breathing - it all starts with that, because all that stuff is predicated off your breath. So, that's where I come from in that. I'm a big Wim Hof guy. And I've done Vipassana meditation where you sit for 10 days, and all that stuff for years, and years, and years. And I think in the breath is, you look at all the things that come with the breath. I mean, basically life, but then the organs now, they're all connected, it's amazing.
Spence: It's the only thing we can't live for more than a few minutes.
Brad: How many of your fertility patients do you know, boys and girls, that don't [deep breathing].
Spence: Yeah, take a breath.
Brad: And do that all day every day.
Spence: I commonly ask patients, do you remember the last time you consciously took a deep breath. I never had a ‘yes’.
Brad: Never. I think, again, the absence, unfortunately, in western society we think, well, my lungs are fine, Brad, I don't have bronchitis. No, I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about breathing correctly, and that's the same thing. I mean, just like, yeah, Brad, I eat. No but do you eat correctly. And that breathing, I think is a big thing, and the Tung points, again, there's reactionaries, or there's nerves. We're not just talking channel, image mirror, blah, blah, we're actually talking actual nerves that go up the spine to the mid cortex that will hit the mid cortex, and make the lung function increase. That's what these nerves do, they'll make the lungs increase. Now, that could be lung Qi, that could be COPD, that could be anything, because the acupuncture doesn't think in Chinese terms, acupuncture thinks in function terms. And so, can we increase the function of your lungs? Yes, okay, do those points. And that's how those points work.
Spence: I love that you touched on the sympathetic and parasympathetic because that should be a piece of every fertility consult, because you're either in fight or flight, or feed and breed, and breath is one of the quickest, simplest ways to get you there.
Brad: I don't want to make love all night and I'm pissed off all day. And/or you can see the production in your muscles, you can see the production in your sperm or your egg, you can see the production in your blood flow, you can see the production in your inflammation, and you can see the production in your swelling, in your eating, your habits, your stress - all that. I mean, who wants to create. You know, give me a chocolate cookie in a stupid movie. I mean, if you're that freaked out.
Spence: I'm excited about another point that really resonated with me was, I just made my own names maybe for some of them, but you called it ‘Wood Anger’. Like, that's basically to me instantly translated in my mind, just like you to a herbal formula like Long Dan. I'm excited to use that on man, but on that same line of stress, and in particular effects on hormones, you mentioned a study that I had, or something that I had never heard of it, makes perfect sense to me, but you used to be a soldier, so on the research on soldiers, there are hormones when they're stressed and when they're not, and how it can revert back - can you…?
Brad: I'll pull the study for you, but there's a lot of studies shown on men, pre-combat and post-combat, and like pre-combat, their hormone levels are normal for their age, and then post-combat or post, or traumatic life event, typically your hormone production is -- for the men, it was either the same, or less, than for prepubescent boys. So what that shows is stress just kills hormones. So, why is that? Because, just like again, if you're being chased by a tiger, what does your body do? You'll basically evacuate your bowels because your body is trying to survive. And same thing with hormones, your bowels say, okay, man, we're not creating, we're surviving, we're shutting down fertility because who gives a shit, we're going to be dead in a day anyways.
Brad: Yeah. Everything up to adrenaline, and fight-or-flight, and cortisol, and all these things because, dude, we got to be alive. I mean, we'll make love next week, but if we don't fix this, we're going to be dead. So, it's very interesting, and I think that's why stress and hormones, for me, it's just huge. There's a lot of studies that show, not only that one, I like just that one because it reminds me of being in the marines, but there's a lot of us that show, stress and hormones, they're almost as, one goes up, one goes down.
Spence: I just like that. It's from the male perspective, I'm always looking for ways to translate, and whether they actually read them or not, a lot of men come in wanting evidence, or something, and I’ll actually look for those with the soldiers.
Brad: I will get that study for you.
Spence: Okay, in Brad's course, I have hardly touched on it, but the PDF that you accompanied it with alone is probably worth, I don't know, I thought it would just be your slides that you flashed up, but it’s better than that, it's like a whole book.
Brad: Pretty much, yeah. I gave everyone a ton of stuff because there's some things I touched on, and again, some people hear what I say some people, tuned me out, which is not uncommon, and some people learn by hearing, and some people learn by seen. I wanted to give everyone everything because I firmly believe this, and again, this goes back to kind of where our industry is going, I believe in kind of the freedom of information that this stuff isn't restricted, and we need to give it to people, and people need to have it. And then once you have it, I almost even like giving you more information that I talk about because if I talk about it, I almost jade it for you. But if I just give it to you naturally, then you can look at it and say, wow, you know what, Brad never talked about this, how can I make this mine. That's really what I want to go with this stuff, it's like, here you go, here's this book. And I'm not going to give you anything because I want you to get into it, and create your own stuff, and that's the whole idea. Because then you make it your own, and then it becomes you, versus you copying someone - it doesn't work that well. And I'm not about control, and I'm not about ownership, and I'm not about people - I just want to get that stuff out to people. So, yeah, hopefully, I gave a ton of information.
Spence: I don't know when I'll even have time to get through it, but I mean, it's so much on the Tung system which is really great. You've made it succinct, but it's still a lot. And then all your slides, and all the points, and explanation stuff, I'm excited to dig into that, and to get my team to as well, so we can all kind of communicate. But, so far, I'm incorporating primarily that one amazing point into my, like, loving protocols for this stress - I'm excited. It's one of those leg points that I can get at. If you want to know what that point is, go take Brad's course, it's worthwhile short, it’s inexpensive, it’s succinct, and it's all Brad. I know we both have a lot to get to today, but is there anything else you want to leave people with before we go today?
Brad: I think it's a really nice class. I think I wanted people to realize that Master Tung stuff is not just about pain. Also, that these points are out there for everybody, and it's not about ownership and control. And I think it's also about you guys not leaving what you already know, it's about adding to it. I think all of us who are always trying to experiment, added things, and this comes from me, who's in the clinic every day, treating, and failing, and learning, and thinking, and trying, and there's certainly some points that are popular in the Tung system that I hate because they don't work that well anymore in our modern-day society. And that's hopefully what I can give people, is that, look, this is a guy that still treats, every day is in the clinic, in a modern day America, with modern day patients, modern day problems. This is sometimes how it shows up in books, which is great, but also, how does it show up clinically? That's all I care about. I don't care what anybody says, like how does it show up clinically, and not one out of ten times, or not one out of – no, I'm talking 80% plus it has to be effective. And that means, if I do it, or my wife who doesn't know acupuncture, if I tell my wife where to put the needle, and she puts it in and don't work, then that point’s worthless because it shouldn't depend on how you and I put it in - it should just matter. If you put that needle in that spot, you, and I, and everyone else in America, Ireland, Africa, my wife, whoever, we should damn have the same effect every time. And if we don't - let's get rid of it. If we do - let's keep it. And that's what I'm hoping that other people will value, is that type of idea of, okay, rubber meets the road, where are we at, Chinese medicine is dynamic, it's never static, it's been changing forever - how are we going to change in 2018, and meet our patients’ needs? That's what I try and give to people.
Spence: Awesome. Well, that's amazing, Brad. If you treat fertility in your practice, I think it's just a must that you should understand at least the basics of the Master Tung system, and how it can help your practice, so jump into Brad's course.
Brad: And it's easy, it's not as hard as people think, it's pretty straightforward - you just do a couple points for a week or two, and then you do a couple more points a week later, and then all of a sudden, before you know it, it’s a piece of cake.
Spence: It’s reinvigorated my love of understanding the points that do resonate with me and with my patients.
Brad: That's awesome, and I'm glad that it lit you up, because I certainly made it for someone like you that's smart, and is already doing this stuff, and just saying, hey, how can I use maybe five or less points to kind of jazz my practice. That’s what that course is for, like how do you get jazzed up a bit more. And hopefully, I'm glad that that satisfied your need.
Spence: That's exactly. Brad, thanks. I am also excited about the male side that you're working on too. I'll check that up for sure. Otherwise, have a great day down there in Portland.
Brad: Thank you.
Spence: We'll chat with you again very soon. Go check out Brad’s course, the links are below.
Brad: Thanks, buddy.