Healing through acupuncture
Doctor's desire to help others extends beyond her St. Thomas office
By REBECCA SMOCK
Tuesday, September 13th 2006
As an acupuncturist, Dr. May Trieu says she treats the source of her patients' illnesses - not the symptoms.
Simply finding satisfaction in helping others is a quality rarely found nowadays. Nevertheless, Dr. May Trieu, the only acupuncturist on St. Thomas, has devoted her life to helping others find happiness.
Trieu treats many problems ranging from menopause to diabetes through acupuncture, acupressure, dieting, herbal remedies and meditation. In order to diagnose an illness, Trieu begins by observing her patient's tongue and feeling the patient's pulse.
"We, in traditional Chinese medicine, don't treat the symptoms of an illness. We treat the source and find ways to provide long-term or permanent relief," Trieu said.
For about 2,500 years many Asian countries have been using acupuncture as the primary source of health care. Originally stone needles were used, and later bronze, gold, and silver needles were put into practice.
The basic principle of traditional chinese medicine is that maintaining a balance of yin and yang will promote a healthy, harmonious body. Yin and yang are two primal opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe. As yin and yang fall out of balance, illness results because the body's motivating energy (also known as Qi) is not flowing smoothly through a series of channels (also known as meridians) under the skin.
Acupuncturists insert a series of very fine, sterile needles into certain points in the meridians to regulate and restore the energetic balance in the body. Depending upon the location of one's illness or imbalance, acupuncturists must choose from more than 1,000 acupuncture points in the body.
Like her father and mother, Trieu began her medical career by studying Western medicine, completing her training at Ohio University where she obtained her bachelor's and master's degrees. Trieu concluded her internship at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas. However, after being cured by an acupuncturist, Trieu decided to take-up Eastern medicine and moved to Vietnam to study at the Traditional Medical Institute of Ho Chi Minn City in Saigon.
"I like to study from the source," Trieu stated as her reason for moving to Vietnam.
Trieu spent about 2 years studying at the Traditional Medical Institute and its hospital and used the next 2 years to study acupuncture from monks in a Buddhist Temple.
On Oct. 4, 2000, Trieu opened the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Healing Center on St. Thomas - the place she had dreamed of living.
"I always wanted to help people spiritually, emotionally and physically," Trieu said.
Trieu's desire to help others extends well beyond her TCM Healing Center on St. Thomas and into the distant country of Vietnam..
Following the Buddhist teachings, Trieu's family lives very modestly and cares for those less fortunate than themselves. Trieu's legacy of caregivers and healers began with her great-grandmother, who used to buy coffins for the people in her village who could not afford them. Trieu's grandmother built a Buddhist Temple in Vietnam that provided acupuncture and care to the people in the surrounding village.
Each year, Trieu's parents travel to Phutam, a province in Vietnam, to rebuild villagers' houses, roads, bridges, cisterns and septic systems. They also provide health care and education to the people. Trieu's 10 brothers and sisters break into groups of two or three to take the trip to Vietnam each year alongside their parents.
"When I go to Vietnam and then come back here, I appreciate life even more," Trieu said.
The funding for the trip, which is more than $50,000 a year, comes directly out of the salaries of Trieu and her siblings. In order to help fund the trip, Trieu hosts free Qi Gong meditation classes where she asks for donations to support her family's cause in Vietnam. Anyone interested in the meditation classes should call (340) 714-2700.
Trieu's family also is expanding its charity work on St. Thomas with the construction of a Buddhist Temple, which will be called the Nirvana Temple. Although the temple will cost Trieu's family more than $500,000 to build, it will function like a nonprofit organization helping those in need on St. Thomas and in Vietnam.