Cambodia Acupuncture Projects


A report by Michael Wenz and Alexandra Beland-Wenz
Edited by Jann Garitty

Editor’s note: the following is a preliminary report sent to FES by Michael Wenz, Doctor of Oriental Medicine and his wife, Alexandra Beland-Wenz N.D, regarding their volunteer work with the Cambodia Acupuncture Project in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Cambodia is a country recovering from 30 years of civil war and genocide. Flower Essence Services donated the flower essences for this project.

Reading body language to determine underlying emotional issues

Essences used for fear of acupuncture needles

Curing migraine headaches caused by coffee addiction

As Cambodia is one of the few Asian countries without a tradition in acupuncture, the 'Cambodia Acupuncture Project' focuses on:

1. Providing acupuncture to vulnerable children and orphans,
2. Starting a free acupuncture clinic,
3. Teaching acupuncture to Cambodians.

It is rainy season in Cambodia, which means flooding, frequent power outages, and sketchy internet service even when the power is up. This is on a good day in the city. In the countryside this means even more flooding, no power, and no internet.

Cambodia is an amazing place. Full of contradictions and surprises. The Khmer people are extremely friendly and are in dire need of medical services. We have been treating a lot of poor Cambodians with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, homeopathy and flower essences. The Khmer people respond very quickly to alternative medicine modalities. Some recoveries are truly spectacular. Some patients had been given up on by conventional medicine and showed remarkable results from our treatments. Some patients had been lying in bed for three to six months with severe sciatica, unable to stand or walk. After only two treatments with acupuncture they were able to stand up and take their first steps again.

We treat a lot of migraine and other types of headaches, as well as stress, anxiety, panic attacks and everything else one finds in an acupuncture practice. Alexandra chooses the flower essences and they help especially well in the cases of psychological trauma, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and general fear disorders. All the patients who took the flower essences calmed down considerably.

Our work in Cambodia is extremely rewarding. We are very appreciative of all the support we are receiving, including from FES.

— Michael Wenz

I came across flower essences four years ago when I was looking to improve my life and also help one of my clients. Naturopathy and other alternative medicine modalites have their own limitations; if you do not treat the mind and the spirit, at some point you will hit a plateau. Sometimes by improving the physical body you can definitely improve the mind. However, from all of my experience, the mind and the sprit always overpowers the physical body. That is why I feel so blessed to have discovered flower essence therapy.

When my husband had the brilliant idea that we go to Cambodia to do humanitarian work I was a little bit shocked. Not that I wasn’t up to it, but I was a bit afraid especially because I have chemical sensitivity due to overexposure to chlorine when I was young. Also, being a highly sensitive person, Asia as a destination or even for traveling in general, is not ideal. But I thought, "Carpe Diem," let's do it and see how it goes.

When one stays for a while in a country, one does not see things anymore with the eyes of a tourist, but with the eyes of a foreigner analyzing from what one already knows. On some level, my perceptions about Cambodia will be both objective and subjective.

The first thing that strongly struck me about the Cambodians that I met is the lack of awareness of their environment and their emotions.

As far as the environment
, I wonder, is that due to a lack of education? For example, 30 years ago in North America, people would stand behind a car while the engine was running because they were not aware that it can be dangerous, or that cigarette smoking is harmful to health. Now there exists awareness of these hazards due to a basic level of general knowledge. In Cambodia, I observe that personal space, loud music, and pollution do not bother people because most likely it is only what they know.

On the emotional level
, as in many of the Asian countries, emotions are not displayed or discussed. It does not mean that emotions do not affect them, especially for people residing in a country that endured major massive killings. In general, people are very nice but are constantly asking questions such as, “where did you go? what did you do today?” what is in your shopping bag? or sometimes they simply stare at you constantly while you are eating dinner. In the West, we would consider that very rude, but in Cambodia they are doing it naively, somewhat like children. Maybe the fact that the majority of the population is under 15 years old does make an impact in the way they mature. These behaviors continue even when they are in their 20s or 30s.

We have noticed that Cambodians who receive acupuncture treatments and flower essences reacted very quickly compared to what we have seen in North America and Europe. My husband and I were wondering if, perhaps because of that naiveté, people are not as much in their heads compared to most of us in the Occident, and that may make them more receptive to energetic treatments.

Reading body language to determine underlying emotional issues

The first difficulty I experienced when I wanted to give flower essences to someone was the fact that most of the time I had to use the help of a translator, and the Khmer people were not in touch with their emotions. Therefore, I had to observe the body language and try to interpret the best I could what their physical symptoms were on a deeper level. Sometimes I felt they were thinking (not in a negative way), “Why is that weird foreigner asking me all these odd questions about my emotions, especially when I can hardly move any muscle in my face?”

Another problem I encountered was that I did not have an adequate supply of empty bottles for preparing formulas. Just the weight of transporting the flower essences by plane to Cambodia was not easy with luggage restrictions. You could ask, why did I not simply prepare them in a little bit of alcohol and water in whatever bottle was available? Beacuse Siem Reap is not Phnom Pen, everything is difficult to find there. Initially I did not want to use plastic bottles because of the leaching factor, dilution aspect and cleanliness. Let’s say it was a huge learning process for me of letting go and doing the best with what I could find. Another issue I encountered was that very often, after only 3 days, the bottles were empty because the patients had used too much. But I told myself that perhaps, like with homeopathy, it was enough to send a message to their consciousness.

Essences used for fear of acupuncture needles

For some time, my husband and I have worked together as a team. So we were already used to combining acupuncture and flower essence therapy. To work most efficiently, in the 30 to 40 cases that we were seeing per day, we had to select only the most severe cases for the flower essences. For the first-time patient (most of them were afraid of needles), we gave prior to the treatment a mixture of Angelica, Aspen, Rock Rose, Mimulus, Lavender, and Clematis. It did seem to calm most of them and made them very receptive to the treatments.

We used Five-Flower Formula in emergency cases. For example, in the case of a drunk tuk tuk (3-wheel auto rickshaw) driver with a head trauma who climbed to the top level of the 6th floor of a guest house (we do not know how he did that, especially in his drunken state, as the stairs looked more like a ladder). When we found him, he was lying on the floor in a state of delirium, blood spilling all around him and very agitated. Because we had to stop the bleeding and immobilize him, we gave him undiluted Five-Flower Formula every 3 minutes for 15 minutes. Even after the first dose, he was slowly starting to calm down and allowed us to do what was needed. How we brought him down six flights of stairs is another story…

Curing migraine headaches caused by coffee addiction

We had success with a woman who had chronic migraine headaches, which is a very common condition here, especially because of dehydration. After a lot of questioning, we found out that she was very addicted to coffee. She had several acupuncture treatments and I gave her flower essences: Angelica, Aspen, Chestnut Bud, Feverfew, Morning Glory and Corn. I have found with people who are very Vata/Air, that using a very grounding flower essence makes the formula more efficient. In a matter of a month, she slowly reduced coffee consumption by adding cardamom powder to help to neutralize the caffeine, licorice for supporting the adrenal glands, and coconut water to replenish electrolytes. The migraine headaches went away. I must say that this was a success because migraines can often take a lot longer to be cured.

The essences were selected for the following reasons:

: for protection and guidance

: Because I had the feeling that she was a very sensitive person with a lot of unknown fears. But that was only by intuition because it was very difficult to find out anything except that she was drinking too much coffee.

Chestnut Bud:
for transforming a destructive habit

for inflammation

Morning Glory
: for helping with the addiction to a stimulant and to help reset her internal clock (cycle of cortisol level).

For the grounding aspect. A friend who practices classical five element acupuncture told me: when the house is empty, meaning the person is not grounded, the house is more at risk for burglers, meaning attracting more subtle negative energy that makes people more prone to destructive behaviors.

One interesting fact: when we came to Cambodia we thought that we would see a lot of infectious disease, parasites or other gastro-intestinal disorders and malnutrition (especially among the poorest). But 90% of the conditions that people suffer physically are the same as in North America and Europe. On the level of emotions, I think there is a lot of suffering, but the way it is expressed is different or it is not talked about.

— Alexandra Beland-Wenz



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