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Plant Person Profile
Hi Corinna! Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m an Acupuncturist and herbalist based in Pasadena, CA with a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese medicine. I am a proud second generation Chinese American, young adult cancer survivor, and member of the queer community. I run my own clinic out of a small rose garden where I practice a truly empathetic approach to healing.
What are you reading right now?
I’m jumping back and forth between 3 different books at the moment:
My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem, Ornamentalism by Anne Anlin Cheng, and Applied Channel Theory by Jason D. Robertson and Ju-Yi Wang. Menekem’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands, is perfect for anyone interested in the science behind trauma experiences and ancestral trauma. He also provides accessible exercises anyone can practice at home- I find myself recommending his book frequently in clinic. Ornamentalism has been such a blessing. I’m learning a lot about the philosophical conflation between “Orientalism” and “Ornamentalism” and the impact of Asian femininity in American culture. Reading books written by other Asian women make me feel so seen! The last book, Applied Channel Theory is a must have for Acupuncturists in the clinic. It offers practical guidance for acupuncture diagnosis and treatments that aren’t often taught in Chinese medicine schools. I like that it’s written in a Q&A format which is a nice nod to the Huangdi Neijing (the text that Chinese medicine is rooted in).
What’s your relationship to the world of "wellness"/plant medicine?
A few generations back my mother’s side of the family owned an herbal pharmacy in China. When my grandparents immigrated to America, a lot of that knowledge was lost, although I remember hints of it in my grandmother’s cooking, her herbal pantry, and old notebooks that were found after she passed. I formally studied Chinese herbalism when I was getting my masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Aside from the 4 years of herbal classes, I also studied the classic formulas while working in the herbal pharmacy. It was there that I got a real hands-on education and saw how powerful plant medicines could be.
While I have personally experienced enormous healing through taking Chinese herbs to support me through my own cancer treatments, the real value of my relationship to plant medicine is how much closer I feel to my ancestors and to this earth when I practice it. Learning about the inherent power of plants (and minerals) has made me more of an environmentalist than I ever thought I would be. You can’t study herbalism and not be in constant awe of the resources made available to us through the land.
What do you love about it?
I love how plant medicine requires an understanding of seasons, environment, and patterns. For example, in Chinese herbal medicine, one formula might be great in the summer but bad in the winter, or some herbs when charred are better to stop bleeding, but when soaked in wine promote circulation. It forces you to see the human body as inseparable from the environment and experiences that shape it, and it’s this perspective that cultivates a greater sense of purpose and community.
What needs to be changed?
Wow! This is a big question, but my immediate response would be this: prioritizing the preservation and quality of our planet over profit. While I love that Chinese herbal medicines are widely available over the internet, it is common to find that the herbs are either not what they claim to be, or are full of heavy metals and pesticides. If there was less pressure to produce and more attention paid to what is healthier and more sustainable for the soil, we would all benefit. That’s why I love that Plant People uses products from regenerative farms, donates to American Forests Association, and third party tests all of their supplements.
What's one thing everyone can do today to create a more equitable "wellness" world?
I think the first step is understanding what “wellness” means to us, what it meant to our ancestors, and what it means for our current community. Then the second step would be making sure our definition of wellness is not rooted in an oppressive system and is accessible to everyone.
“Wellness” is sold to us as essential oils and bubble baths and while there is power in prioritizing pleasure over productivity, the real value of being “well” is having a clear and authentic understanding of who we are and what we’re responsible for.
Who are three people we should follow right now?
What's the future of "wellness"?
The future of wellness is community and sustainability.
What's your #1 must-do tip to feel whole, nourished, grounded?
Be fully present in nature!