The seed was planted early in his family’s herb shop in Taiwan. Young Po-Lin Shyu spent many weekends working there, observing the treatment of patients and the preparation of herbal formulas.
When he was 13, Po-Lin’s family moved to the United States. “It was not easy,” he recalls. After high school, following his parents’ advice, he enrolled at San Francisco State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy in the late 1980’s. While attending the SFSU, he had the opportunity to take an elective course called Introduction to Chinese Medicine taught by Angela Wu. This was the beginning of a long term relationship with Angela who became his mentor.
Po-Lin asked for permission to apprentice with Angela, and quickly realized that with acupuncture and Chinese medicine he could treat many more musculoskeletal conditions and pain management cases than he could as a physical therapist. “I was also attracted to the fact that as an acupuncturist and herbalist you have more freedom, and you are not dependent on MD referrals for treating patients.” In 1993, Po-Lin made the decision to enroll at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences to earn his graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Upon graduation and earning his license to practice acupuncture, he resumed working with Angela at her private clinic and also opened a clinic of his own in San Francisco. Because of his physical therapy background, at the onset of his opening his clinic, he primarily worked with pain management and traumatology cases. Later, in 2002, while he was working on his Ph.D. dissertation, he chose to focus in women’s health and in particular in fertility. This was also influenced by his mentor, who treated numerous fertility cases. “The topic of my dissertation was to find out how Chinese medicine can help increase the fertility of women undergoing procedures such as IUI (Intro Uterus Insemination) and IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). My research results showed that the treatments can double the chances of a successful IUI or IVF procedure if the couple arrived for treatments 2-3 months beforehand.”
The treatments Po-Lin uses not only include acupuncture, but also herbal medicine, as well as abdominal organ massage to increase the blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Patients must receive treatments once or twice per week, depending on the severity of their condition.
“One of the most extraordinary conditions that I treated was 30 year old female who suffered from amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period),” Po-Lin recalls. “All of her medical exams were normal. After she did not respond to any conventional treatment, it was her OBGYN who ended up referring her to me. After four months of intensive treatments, she finally got her first period. A post treatment ultrasound showed that her ovaries looked much healthier. After three additional months of treatment, she conceived naturally, and delivered a healthy baby boy who is now three years old. In fact, this patient is now pregnant again and about to deliver her second child in a couple of weeks!”
Presently, most of Po-Lin’s patient base originates from word-of-mouth and MD referrals. His clinics are part of a select few that OBGYN’s feel confident in referring their patients to for acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments, in conjunction with their Western medical treatments. Po-Lin believes this is due to his proven success rate.
Po-lin operates three clinics in the Bay Area; San Francisco, San Ramon and San Jose, together with his partners Angela Wu, Judy Tognetti, George Lu and Kathryn Cadwgan and others.
“Helping couples have a child is extremely rewarding. I think I made the right choice leaving the ‘traditional path’ and going into Chinese medicine. Simply said, I love what I do. What more can a person ask for?”
Po-lin Shyu has been a faculty member at Five Branches University since 2004. He teaches in both the Acupuncture and TCM Clinical Medicine and TCM Clinical Training departments.