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Redmond High graduate will provide health care to Nepalese residents in 2015

Debbie Yu stands in front of the various Chinese herbs she prescribes her patients. - Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
Debbie Yu stands in front of the various Chinese herbs she prescribes her patients.
— image credit: Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

Debbie Yu first started practicing yoga when she was about 16 years old.

This began a path that has led her to study alternative medicine in college and become a licensed acupuncturist and East Asian medicine practitioner.

But the journey down that path was gradual one. After graduating from Redmond High School in 2008, Yu attended the University of Washington (UW), not exactly knowing what she wanted to study. Instead, she focused on taking prerequisite classes.

It was another two years — 2010 — when the Woodinville resident became a certified yoga instructor and she realized what she wanted to study in school. That September, she transferred to Bastyr University in Kenmore and a little more than three years later, in December 2013, earned a master’s degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine.

After earning her degree, Yu began practicing at two offices — one in downtown Seattle and one on the Health Within campus at 8226 196th Ave. N.E. in Redmond.

She offers acupuncture, Chinese herbal consultations and Thai yoga massages. Occasionally, she said, she will teach a yoga workshop.

When asked why she decided to go into alternative medicine, she said there wasn’t anything specific.

“There was just something about it you just want to learn more about,” she said, though she added that she likes that there are usually no side effects.

Yu said some of the things acupuncture can help with include stress relief, pain management (instant and long term), sleep issues, depression, digestive issues, hypertension and more. In Chinese medicine, Yu said she combines various Chinese herbs such as ginseng, mint, cinnamon, ginger, astragalus and others in formulas designed to target similar issues that acupuncture can address. Traditionally, people would consume these herbs into a tea, but Yu said there are now pre-made pills that people can swallow. She described Thai yoga massages as “lazy man yoga” as she is the one moving the patient’s body into various stretches and yoga poses.

“I use my hands and my feet,” she said about the latter.

Yu opened her practices in February and said she is learning more every month.

And come January 2015, Yu is looking to take all that knowledge to Nepal for seven weeks as part of the Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP), an organization whose participants serve as free primary care providers for the community in rural areas of Nepal.

According to the ARP website, “practitioners are the primary source of medical advice, assessment and diagnostics for (the Nepalese) communities. We treat with acupuncture, naturopathic and allopathic modalities as we deem effective and we refer to hospitals and other specialists as necessary (when they are available). The access we provide to basic care has an immeasurable impact on influencing both overall individual and a community health.”

Yu said the first stop on the trip is a few days in the country’s capital, Katmandu, with the remainder of the trip in Bhimfedi. As they will be practicing in a small rural village, Yu said she is prepared to experience some culture shock, adding that many of the people will be seeing a medical practitioner for the very first time.

“They travel by foot, hours to come see us, which says a lot,” she said about some of the patients they will be seeing.

She added that each participant will be seeing bout 100 patients of all ages per week.

Yu said she is mostly looking forward to being able to practice her medicine and gain experience and confidence.

The cost of the trip is about $3,300, plus airfare. Yu is currently fundraising for the trip and donations are being accepted online at acupuncturereliefproject.org/donate.

 

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