I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara Diaz, Licensed Acupuncturist and owner of her own Wellness Center in El Segundo, CA, Tara Diaz Wellness. Tara’s vision in opening Tara Diaz Wellness was to create a community sanctuary for healing that employs her integrative east-west approach using acupuncture, herbs, and nutritional supplements to improve health, prevent disease, and alleviate symptoms. Before founding Tara Diaz Wellness, Tara graduated Summa Cum Laude from her Master’s Degree program in Chinese Medicine from Emperor’s College. Her personal areas of interest include women’s health, metabolic disorders, digestion, and mental and emotional health. As a mother herself, Tara has seen the positive benefits of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine on infants and children and she enjoys treating the whole family. Tara also volunteers her services with the Veteran’s Population through the Mindful Warrior Project.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path as a doctor or healer?
I was interested in health and herbs at a young age because of my family life and where I grew up. As a child, my diabetic grandmother lived with us and I was curious about her condition. I found myself pricking my finger to test my blood sugar and checking out books on diabetes from the library. We lived in Venice near Santa Monica and Muscle Beach, where the local culture exposed me to all kinds of health and diet fads. I would wander into the neighborhood health food stores and was always drawn to reading whatever books they had on herbs. When it came time to go to college, even though I knew I was interested in health and medicine I thought my calling was psychology and pursued my undergraduate degree in that. As a psychology student, I was most fascinated by the mind-body connection. The research on the effects stress has on the body and how ancient practices like prayer, mindfulness, and meditation reduced cortisol levels and improved health made a huge impact on me. I started my career in Hospitality after school and even though my job that I enjoyed had nothing to do with health/wellness, I was still always telling colleagues and clients to try some kind of herb for their medical condition and spending my free time researching my own health issues on the internet (before everyone was doing it!). Finally, I got acupuncture myself and I loved it so much, I left my hospitality job and enrolled at Emperor’s College.
How have your personal challenges informed your career path?
I specialize in Metabolic Disorder, Women’s Health, and Mental and Emotional disorders because these areas are all very personal to me. My grandmother was diabetic because she was obese. She was obese because she was a holocaust survivor and literally was never going to starve again. In my practice today, I can treat metabolic disorder from a holistic perspective that takes into account people’s life history as well as their physical presentation (symptoms). Mental and Emotional disorders are also something close to my heart, specifically Anxiety and Depression. These issues also run in my family and I was exposed to them as a very young child. It can be scary seeing a loved one go through a period of depression. The idea that we can impact our mental health with something like acupuncture and herbs was always compelling to me and I integrate this belief into my practice today. I also love treating women’s health concerns because in my own experience with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, I felt like western medicine didn’t offer much in the way of treatment. When I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 27, I saw a doctor for my condition and got a couple of prescriptions that ultimately weren’t effective. It was only in acupuncture school when I started getting regular acupuncture, taking herbs, and eating a balanced diet for my body did I start feeling well. With the alternative care, the condition completely resolved itself and I was able to get pregnant easily at age 38 and 40.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other healers to help their patients to thrive?
- Listen to your patients, they know their own bodies. My patients are always asking me for referrals to other physicians. Their biggest complaint is that their primary care doctor doesn’t listen to them. I know the constraints of time are an issue in our current healthcare climate, but as a result your patients are feeling like they are not being heard or given a chance to heal in other ways than whatever the current best practice is. I also hear physicians and other acupuncturists complain about how frustrating it can be that everyone is consulting “Dr. Google,” but what I see is that patients are consulting the internet and Facebook groups because they aren’t being heard by their practitioners. And they’re getting bad advice from these sources. I feel strongly that if primary physicians listened to their patients’ concerns about the standard treatment protocols and (in non-life threatening cases) honored a patient’s request to hold off on western medication for a few months, instead referring them to other practitioners such as an acupuncturist or naturopathic physician, then patients wouldn’t be consulting the internet for medical advice.
- One size doesn’t fit all in medicine. We’re still individuals. That is why western medications don’t always work the same way in every body. And neither do herbs. One of the things that I love most about Chinese Medicine is that we have our own system for diagnosis and treatment that accounts for individuality. We treat patterns, not symptoms.
- Be compassionate. I see this lacking in both sides of medicine. Especially with conditions that may be treated with diet and exercise. People do better- in my experience- with some empathy and with integrating small changes at a time. In holistic medicine diet, mind, and body practices are part of the treatment. But you still need to see what works best for your patients and go slow. For example, totally overhauling diet is not sustainable for many patients to accomplish in one fell swoop, yet I find that nearly all of my patients can totally consent to making one change at a time.
- You can encourage patients to start a practice of yoga, tai chi, meditation, or qi gong in as little as 5 minutes a day. The internet is a great place to find videos or apps on how to incorporate this into your life. Once you start getting the benefits of reduced stress and improved health, it is easier to motivate your patients to do so as well.
- Don’t forget to remind your patients of the basics. Things like drinking enough water, getting outside once a day, eating fresh food, and moving your body can help your patients thrive. Stress is the root of so many illnesses in our modern day world. These simple things can do a lot to reduce stress and help the body heal.
Social media and reality TV create a venue for people to share their personal stories. Do you think more transparency about your personal story can help or harm your field of work? Can you explain?
For me personally, I think sharing my story and my life helps my field of work. My patients like seeing that I’m a real person struggling to balance my life with two kids and hearing about my life as a mom, business owner, and acupuncturist. My daily life challenges pertain to what their struggling with too. Social media can be mean and disheartening, so it feels good to connect with your patient on a personal level even if just for a moment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney
For me the journey to study Chinese Medicine was fraught with fear. “Am I going to be successful? Am I going to have enough? Is this the right decision? Is the timing right?” Ultimately, it was my dream and calling to help others in this way. As soon as I started studying this medicine, I attracted a wonderful and supportive community of like minded healers. And I knew I made the right decision. But building and growing a practice is terrifying outside of the supportive school bubble. You take a step and see if it’s right and then fail a little or succeed a little, and proceed. The whole journey is taking action to following your dream. And for me, pursuing and doing that every day gives me so much joy. It makes me a better wife, mother, and friend. So yes, if you can dream it, you can do it.“It” takes action and it’s not always smooth. But it is definitely possible.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I wish everyone would take 5 minutes per day to breathe into their belly, do some simple yoga such as lie on your back and put your legs up on the wall, practice the 6 healing sounds of qi gong, or meditate. These practices make you better able to adapt to the stress of our world and world and would in turn make you a kinder and more loving person.
How can our readers follow you on social media? Instagram https://www.instagram.com/taradiazwellness/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!