We had the good fortune of connecting with Iva Lim Peck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Iva Lim, how do you think about risk, what role has taking risk played in your life/career?
To me, a RISK is an undertaking of something uncertain. It may be unexpected, with some aspect of loss or danger, the possibility of incurring harm, misfortune, or something unpleasant or unwelcome to happen. It may also turn out well. Until I started to answer this question, I had not realized how much of my life was full of risks. Some of them seemed to be negative at first, but I could never have accomplished what I have without taking risks. Some of the outcomes that appeared to be negative, actually moved me ahead to reach my ultimate goals. I came into this world with risk. My mother almost lost me and was on bed rest during the last trimester. I was the fourth girl in the Chinese tradition where having sons was more important.
Instinctively, I grew up always having to prove myself , having to stand up for myself, and always giving more than receiving just to get approval from my mother and people in my life. Being brought up in a Chinese culture, my personality developed with strict values for family, work, society, and ethics. I faced many challenges that had major impact on my life. I grew up in poverty being one of nine children. My mother was exceptionally organized, akin to being OCD today. I developed a “need to succeed,” to be top in class or be severely punished. When I was nine, my parents sent my older siblings away so they could seek a better life. I had to then take care of the younger siblings and share household chores while studying to meet expectations.
At fifteen I developed a severe bleeding stomach ulcer and was hospitalized for two months with only a nasogastric tube and IV fluids. I became severely emaciated and had to have a blood transfusion which caused high fever and delirium. I can still hear the doctor telling my parents my heart would not be able to take it, and I probably would not live through that night. I knew I had a near death experience then, as at that moment, I saw a bright light and heard beautiful music. I was very peaceful as I recalled. All I did was I prayed to GOD and asked him to take me if that’s what HE wanted or let me live if He had something for me to do. I woke up in the ICU 48 hours later with tubes all over and my mother sitting on the bedside crying. That is when I decided I wanted to be a doctor!
At sixteen, because of the political situation, I was ordered to leave the country because I was not native born Malaysian. Despite the order, my parents did not have the money to send me anywhere. I had no choice but to stay. In order to find a job, I had to pass the new national language test, which I passed in 2 months so I could work. I then had to leave to my birth place, Singapore, so I could get my citizenship and a passport. At eighteen, I embarked on my journey into health care. Without the financial resources, medical school was out of the question. The closest choice I had was to venture on my own to study nursing in England.
I learned English by listening to BBS radio and reading in front of the mirror, watching my lips and mouth, making sure I pronounced the words correctly. I even learned to speak like a local wherever I lived. With the strict upbringing and the desire to overcome all difficulties I continue to pursue my dreams! People told me I was too ambitious and called me a “ Seminar Junkie,” because I was so hungry for knowledge.
After three years as a registered nurse, I wanted to find out how a human being came about. After I spent a year in post-graduate study of midwifery, I realized I only learned about the physical body and wanted to learn more about the mind. That led me to do post-graduate in psychiatric nursing. Those times were emotionally overwhelming. Being thousands of miles away from home at eighteen, with no access to any communication with my family overseas other than “snail mail” that took two weeks each way, I was terribly homesick. With the added stress of the western diet and trying to adjust to different climate, my physical body fell apart. My hormones went haywire, my skin broke out and my digestive system suffered. I contacted staph infection, and big boils overtook my face. After two years of tetracycline, topical steroid cream and ultra-violet rays, I was still a mess physically. With burned skin from the ultra violet treatments and stomach aches all the time. I told the doctor that I wanted to stop all treatments! Just as I started to think the risks I had taken were too much, I realized that “When GOD closes the door, He opens a window!” I met Peggy Slight, who was very well known in the aesthetic world in England for her reputation in skin care and writing. Although I was given her name to seek help for my skin, I did not have the money to afford treatments. In desperation, when my skin continued to break out, I somehow found the courage to contact her. I owe her my life, without taking that chance, my skin would not be the way it is today and I would not have had the confidence to “face” the world!
Eventually, I was able to do a full year aesthetic training with her while working three nights a week as a midwife. Still I dreamed of becoming a doctor. Although I tried to pursue medical school at that point, the path was not open for me. Just when God closed the door, again, I started reading books about Chinese medicine and acupuncture that were previously given to me. I became very intrigued and decided to seek further. When an opportunity appeared that would allow me to attend a seminar in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Taipei, Taiwan for foreign doctors and nurses, I jumped on it, not realizing that it would lead me to an amazing journey for the rest of my life! Instead of a 6-weeks intensive course in acupuncture, I ended up staying for four years continuing my advanced training, apprenticeship and internship in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
In addition, I started my training in Chinese Internal Martial Arts. If I had not taken the chance to further my studies in Taipei, I might have never met my husband who came from the United States to study also. We met at a herbal pharmacy and became classmates in both Chinese Medicine and Chinese Internal Martial Arts. We married a year later. But when I became pregnant, we decided to rush back to the United States immediately to avoid the dangers of an outbreak of polio and hepatitis. We moved to Arkansas in 1982, where my husband had his dream about building a log house. I worked part time as an RN and continued to pursue the possibility of doing acupuncture in Arkansas.
My prayer was answered when I met a medical doctor who was familiar and endorsed acupuncture who was willing to let me treat some of his patients for pain relief. It opened the door for me to pursue my path to Chinese medicine. The next year, our son was born. In order to work and still care for my son, I turned the living room of our rented duplex into an acupuncture treatment room and published an ad about myself and acupuncture. I had referrals from all over Arkansas and bordering states. However, the minimum fees I charged was not enough to make ends meet. I started working night shifts on weekends, as a psychiatric nurse at the Charter Vista Hospital. I developed headaches every Monday because of lack of sleep after working three nights, and taking care of my son, and other responsibilities at home, and I was also helping my husband build the log house whenever I could. We finished the house in three years, but by then, we realized that we could not continue that path.
After some considerations, we decided to sell the log-house and move to Texas. We chose Texas because of the climate, cost of living, and potential growth even though there was no licensing to practice acupuncture. There was only a regulation from the Health Department that one needs to work under the sponsorship of a medical doctor. After three interviews, I found a doctor to sponsor me and started working in her office. Even though at the time it seemed like a setback, now I know it was God’s way of pushing me to go forward. The MD was upset because of the successful outcome of acupuncture for patients instead of taking medications and steroids injections. The ensuing “turf war” caused me a tremendous amount of stress and pressure. In spite of not having the financial means I persuaded my husband that we should look for a location to start our own clinic, regardless of the odds. Utilizing the ancient philosophy of Feng Shui, we found the most optimal location for our first clinic and met another MD who was willing to sponsor us. In 1986, my husband and I founded the Acupuncture and Aesthetics Center, now, the Integrated Center For Oriental Medicine. We also co-founded the Tai Chi Center a year later. In the early 80’s, acupuncture and oriental medicine was not legalized or recognized in many states and was viewed as a “Voodoo Medicine” by some. We started trying to educate people about the value of Oriental Medicine and Chinese Internal Martial Arts.
By the 90’s I was actively involved with like-minded practitioners to legalize the practice of acupuncture in Texas. Serving on the Board of Directors for the Texas Acupuncture Association and on the advisory committee under the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, it took us three long tedious years to get the law finally passed in1993. I became licensed by the Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners as well as nationally certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
My involvement on the state level led me to join the National Organization that was working towards the recognition of acupuncture as a viable treatment modality in the US. I continued to campaign for the co-existence of Oriental Medicine and Western Medicine. I became a board member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( AAAOM ) and Vice-President of the Texas Acupuncture Association ( TAA ), and served as commissioner to the National Accreditation Commission for the Schools and Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( NASCAOM ), now, the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( ACAOM ).
Being the only practitioner representative for the Commission. I met with challenges from the schools, in promoting the upgrading of the standard of Oriental Medicine in this country. I pushed to integrate Anatomy and Physiology into the curriculum as at that time it was not taught in regular Traditional Chinese Medicine ( TCM ) schools. In addition, there were insufficiencies in the curriculum in TCM. I met with strong resistance despite my fight for high standards.
After three years, I realized it was time to step down. In 1995, I learned about Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique ( NAET ), a technique that can desensitize food allergies, chemicals and environmental sensitivities. With my inquisitive nature and skepticism, I was one of the first to learn the technique in the Texas. At the beginning, I met with resistance because of the Muscle Response Testing ( MRT ) and the vials with allergens, which seemingly very unscientific. My very first case was a two week’s old baby with severe colicky and she exhausted the mother and the pediatrician. After checking the child for the mother’s milk, the formula, and the calcium and milk allergens, all were MRT tested positive, in other words, she was allergic to all these. My thought process was, that’s all the baby eats. I had no clue then how the technique works, I looked at the cheat sheet I was given, decided to put everything together in a vial and treated the baby using the mother as a surrogate. The result was incredible! The baby was 100% improved.
Regardless of all the risks in my previous decisions, this was the greatest risk because of the skepticism and criticisms about something that was not among the “tried and true” methods. It could have cost my career, but, given the results I had experienced, I thought it was worth the risk. I persisted from then on despite all the criticism and skepticism. In 1998, I treated a child with severe asthma and had anaphylactic reactions to cheese and peanut butter. I treated him with NAET for about 10 months. He was 100% cured without having to take any medications. I was interviewed on Fox 4 News. That’s when the technique took off.
Over time, I treated hundreds of children and adults successfully. However, later, I found, even though I treated everyone the same. The results were not always the same. I decided to explore further. That led me to discover that the digestive system has major impact on our immune system. What we eat, how the foods are broken down and how the nutrients are being absorbed matter. I then went on to study with Dr. Howard Loomis, an expert in the use of enzymes and nutrition. That further confirmed the emphasis in TCM that digestion is the key to optimum health. The foods we eat, our genetic inclination, our cultural background, our environment, the exposure to all types of stressors, as in toxins, chemicals, work stress, relationships, lack of sleep, emotions and so on. We call this dynamic interplay of genetics and environmental influences “epigenetics” Opportunity happens when a student is ready to learn.
I learned of the Neuro Emotional Technique ( NET ) that addresses the emotional complexes that affect our physiology at various levels. I completed the two year training and became a certified NET practitioner. NET utilizes Homeopathy, and as in TCM, addresses the totality of the individual’s make up – mentally, emotionally, and physically – to create a balance. I decided to find out more. That’s when I went to study at the New England School of Homeopathy ( NESH ). In the Spring of 2002, I became extremely fatigue, which was unlike me. At first, I attributed this to numerous explainable stressful situations in my life. However, the fatigue was so overwhelming that it was frightening. My family doctor told me that I would have seizures if I did not take four medications to address my elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and anxiety. Apparently, my blood work was alarming and she insisted that I see an endocrinologist. I did and got the same recommendation to start taking several pharmaceutical medications. It did not make sense to me to start chasing my symptoms with various medications. I sought a second opinion. All three of them told me that I would not be able to work within a year because of my abnormally high readings. It was devastating, of course! While the risk had given great rewards of being able to help many, it now showed the negative cost to my health.
But, looking back, I believe it was God’s way of challenging me to take care of my own health, just so I could help others who seek my help. I refused to accept that was my fate. My journey on my path to Functional and Integrated Medicine started right at that juncture. With the help of internet, I came across Dr. Datis Kharrazian who started teaching functional medical protocols in various parts of the country. I started taking his workshops and beginning to see the lights of recovering from the unforeseen autoimmune disorder of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It took me over the course of five years learning about the extent of functional medicine, in addressing my diet, my nutritional imbalances and what I needed to optimize my own health. With each step, I continued to horn my knowledge and expand my learning over the years, adding to my clinical armamentarium. I continue to study and keeping up with the most current updated medical literature, both conventional and alternative, traditional and natural. I have integrated to the best of my knowledge the innovative protocols, appropriate nutritional supplements, dietary modification, in addition laboratory tests to optimize the care of my patients. In 2012, I came across a medical program that offered an MD degree, specifically to advanced practitioners in various medical fields. I never dreamed it would be possible at all in my later years, that I would have the opportunity to pursue medical school. With the support of my family and people around me, I went to medical school. It was the toughest challenge of all the educational trainings I had ever partaken.
I worked full time, travelling to attend classes every month, taking webinars in the evenings, doing labs and dissections, taking tests and examinations. Then the clinical rotations, a total of three years. The most strenuous training I had ever experienced in my whole life. How I did it ? Only God knows. I am proud to say that I now hold a MD degree, a dream come true. As I was planning to move forward to get my medical license. I was told that I had to close my clinic for three years so I could do the residencies. It was a setback that I did not anticipate. After some disappointing moments, I decided, I couldn’t abandon my patients who had trusted me for their health for the last thirty years. I was at peace that I had accomplished my dream, but I do not have to practice western medicine. I can always refer to others so we can integrate the best of both Eastern and Western Medicine to optimize the health concerns of those that seek our care. Mine were risks worth taking!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Over the last 35 years, the Integrated Center For Oriental Medicine has dedicated to optimize healthcare concerns of those that seek our care by identifying each individual’s health issue, such as allergies, acute and chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, hormonal issues, fertility issues, skin problems, emotional issues, psychological complaints, neurological complaints, childhood complaints, prevention and treatments of some infectious complaints, etc. We integrate acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas, various laboratory testings with functional assessments, dietary counseling, nutritional recommendation, homeopathy, exercise/Tai Chi Chuan, aesthetic skin care treatments and life style modification. In addition we incorporate innovative protocols such as NAET, NET, KHT, ZSA, TAN’s, Cold Laser therapy, Battle Field Acupuncture.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Dr. Datis Kharrazian OhD, DHSc, DC, MS, MMSc, FACN He has incredible insight into the underlying root causes of our modern health care issues and the ability to convey his knowledge through his teachings. I am forever grateful for having the opportunity to learn from him over the years. It has enabled me to take care of my own health as well as taking care of those who have entrusted their health care issues to me.
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