Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

Ann was born and raised in a small town in Northern Indiana where she grew up among many generations of her family. The large influences of her childhood and young adult life came via her passion for soccer and traveling. Thru many years of playing soccer she learned about the physical limitations of the body and how to be part of a team, leading her to an athletic scholarship at the University of Florida. Having had the opportunity to travel at a young age illuminated Ann’s curiosity and respect for the diversity among people, systems of medicine, religions, landscapes, etc. It was after her first trip to Asia that her passion for eastern medicine and and philosophy was officially ignited. This trip also sparked an interest in the practice of yoga, meditation, and herbs, eventually leading to her undergraduate major of Cultural Anthropology. After college, Ann knew she wanted to help people and to work with plants. This led her to Chinese medicine. After a personal healing experience using acupuncture she knew she had found her path.

After four years of study, she received a Master’s degree from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. Upon completion of the program she married her study buddy and co-owner of Middleway Medicine, Clark Zimmerman and the two of them set out on a 6 month study/honeymoon in Asia. In 2005, they founded Middleway Medicine Acupuncture and Herbal clinic and began their healing work in Talent, Oregon. Middleway offers the service of individualized care based on Traditional Chinese medical diagnosis, using the tools of acupuncture, herbal medicine, shiatsu, nutrition, and lifestyle counseling.

Ann is NCCAOM certified and state licensed in Oregon to practice acupuncture and herbal medicine.

She is nearly fluent in Spanish, and is a certified Qigong instructor.

She has continued her studies with a focus on Women’s health; menses, fertility, pregnancy, and menopause and a strong emphasis on meditation, nutrition, and personal development.

She feels her strength as a healer is her sincerity to be present and compassionate with each of her patients. 

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Rest and Digest

by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

Despite knowing that it’s winter; cold, dark and “normal” to slow down this time of year, I often fall into the trappings of the mind assuming my energy should be the same all year long. Unless you have seasonal work or are retired, most of us continue to work the same hours at our jobs, run the same errands, keep the same schedule with childcare and attempt to maintain the same routines.  Treating ourselves as if we are energetically the same in every season comes at the cost of our natural internal rhythm. When we do not cooperate with our internal rhythms its like swimming against the current and life gets very tiring.

So how do we slow down in the winter if we are required to keep the same schedule as if it was spring? For these kind of answers we can rely on our intuition and  wisdom traditions.  In the wisdom tradition of Traditional Chinese medicine(TCM) winter represent the most YIN aspect of the year. Yin is our  dark, cold, slow, inward energy. This can be compared to YANG energy which is upmost during Summer, light, warm, fast, outward energy.  Winter is the time for your diet and activities to nourish your yin energy.  In TCM, each organ is associated with a season and the Kidneys are associated with Winter. The Kidneys in TCM hold our most basic and fundamental energy(they are like your bodies battery). Rest is very important for charging your batteries, this is why we crave it more in the winter and why some animals hibernate. This is also the time to look inward, taking time to be reflective in a stillness practice such as meditation or journaling, . Allowing ourselves to rest and store our energy nourishes the kidneys and charges your energy battery. This can be likened to the trees and plants that send their energy down into their roots.

Translating this wisdom into our modern lives and daily practice is the challenge. I believe that giving yourself the  permission to go slower and expect less external work to be done is the first place to start with nourishing your Yin. This simple yet profound practice of participating with nature allows you to make smarter choices with your energy.  The next piece is minimizing extra commitments, this is the not the time of year to say yes to more things to do. Say yes to yourself, to doing less, sleeping more and being reflective.  Diet and exercise always plays a big part in our lives. Choose foods that are in season and cooked slowly for a long time.  Winter roots, soups, bone broth and herb tonics our food for the soul and kidneys. Be willing to change up your exercise routine on behalf of the season. Perhaps you do the same exercise but in a different way. Prioritize your sleep! If you miss sleep find a way to catch up the next night or over the weekend.

Taking the time during winter to rest and digest allows you to grow strong during the rest of the year and have plenty of energy.

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The Current Mental health crisis

By Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

My mother suffers from mental illness.  For years I simply thought she was sensitive and more prone to the effects of stress than the average person, but after her mother died when I was in college, it became clear that the problem was more serious than any of us had known.  She locked herself in her bedroom for weeks at a time, refusing to eat anything other than sweets or to receive any sort of help from her concerned family.  She had been medicated for years for her tendencies towards anxiety and depression, but she largely hid her issues from her family and friends.  With hindsight as a guide, I now see that while some of her issues were genetic, many of her issues developed slowly and were directly related from her lifestyle and beliefs:  her poor diet, her obsession with gossip and bad news, her tendency to isolate herself. It makes me wonder if her condition would have turned out differently if we as a family and community would have done more to help.

We are in the middle of what many people are calling a mental health crisis.  

Funding has been reduced at the local, state and federal level, leaving many vulnerable people needing help that they are no longer able to receive.  This is leading to greater problems with addiction, overflowing jails, and more homeless on the streets.  It is a puzzle without a quick and easy fix, but one that cannot be ignored away.  

Clinically, we see that like any other health epidemic, mental health issues are not all the same.  They exist on a widely varied continuum, from mildly agitated and uncomfortable, to chemically and emotionally unstable and potentially dangerous.  When we treat mental health issues as an individual failing at best and as a crime at worst, then there is no real possibility of the issue coming to any real resolution.  If someone has a true biochemical imbalance, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, pharmaceutical intervention may be the best way to address such an issue. This approach, in conjunction with supportive services such as therapy, free and safe housing, and community support, is necessary for a certain portion of the population.  It seems that as a society, we must decide to value human life and help those who are unable to help themselves.  Charities can fill some of this void, but it is also necessary for some government assistance to help the people that need it the most. 

Not all mental health issues are due to an inherent chemical imbalance, however.  Many issues are brought on by living a life that is out of balance.  These could be alleviated or improved simply by encouraging a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.  Proper diet, including healthy fats and proteins and plenty of fruits and veggies, can go a long way to promoting a more balanced and calm mental landscape.  Exercise is another important part of keeping the mind healthy and less effected by anxiety and depression.  Stillness practices, such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises can also help calm the mind and help avoid severe and lasting mood swings.  It is also worth noting, that since the introduction and proliferation of smart phones, depression and anxiety rates have steadily climbed.  They are now drawing direct correlations between the increased use of smart phones with depression and suicide rates.  Though it is seemingly so much easier to connect with people on social media or by texting, many studies are finding that more people feel more isolated and alone than any other time in recorded history.  

The combination of poor diet, lack of exercise, overthinking, and isolation all have their roles in the increasing incidences of mental health problems.  All of these issues are things that we have some control over.  So in addition to helping those with severe mental health issues with appropriate professional services, it is also important as families, friends, and communities to work towards living a life of moderation with positive and healthy choices.  If we see someone that is “going down the rabbit hole” of depression, anxiety, and deteriorating mental health, we can help to interrupt the cycle by reaching out and offering help in whatever areas they are struggling with.  After all, it takes an entire village to create healthy minds and communities. 

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