Five Reasons Why I Love Community Acupuncture

Several years back, I had a few traditional acupuncture treatments for my allergies. I remember laying in a dark, barren room all by myself with needles stuck here and there, bored out of my mind yet unable to sleep, and then leaving the treatment feeling like I had just woke up from a long nap in the sun, so out of it that I could barely drive home. The treatments did seem to help my allergies, but with a price tag of $80, I could not afford to get acupuncture for very long.

This summer a new acupuncture clinic called Springs Community Acupuncture opened up, and I had the immediate feeling that I should give acupuncture another try. For one, the environment seemed much more inviting and appealing than my previous experience. Housed in a cute little adobe house, Springs Community Acupuncture is open and light-filled and exudes a sense of calm and relaxation. But this is no ordinary acupuncture clinic – it’s community acupuncture, a growing movement across the nation to make acupuncture more accessible and affordable to the public. Rather than locking a patient in a room half-dressed and all alone, community acupuncture is set up so that several people sitting in recliners can receive treatment at the same time. The treatments focus on the head, lower arms, lower legs, and feet to treat the whole body with only shoes and socks needing to be removed and pant legs and sleeves rolled up.

I have been receiving weekly treatments from Hannah Beachy since July, and it has been a completely positive experience in many aspects of my life. I can’t claim to be an expert on acupuncture or how it works, but here I will describe my own experience with community acupuncture and why I love it so much.

  • My Health

I haven’t been sick at all this entire fall! No colds, no flus, no stomach ailments, nothing. For as long as I can remember, I have usually spend the majority of the fall and winter months with recurring colds, sinus infections, bronchitis, and the like. But this year, I have Hannah to thank for my good health. In addition to my regular treatments, she has prescribed me a blend of Chinese herbs to help boost my immune system. It is a strange and wonderful feeling to watch my co-workers sniffling and coughing without the constant worry that I might catch their germs.

Also within a month of two of starting acupuncture, my doctor took me off a daily preventative inhaler for asthma that I have been taking for almost ten years. This is not to say that acupuncture has miraculously cured me of all my ailments – I still suffer from regular nasal allergies and have been trying to ween myself off a steroid nasal spray – but I feel better than I have for years and keep improving.

  • My Attitude Adjustment

This is the part that surprised me – I have had an overall better attitude since I started acupuncture. I really didn’t think it was possible because I have been in a work-related rut for the past few years, spending my days at work in a grumpy, unmotivated, and bitter mood. I don’t know if it’s because of my better overall health or due to the treatments themselves, but this year I have been trying new methods in my work, I haven’t been procrastinating as much, and generally do not let minor inconveniences get to me. This year I even have had a sudden and unexpected return of my Christmas spirit, which has been dormant for years. I’m not entirely sure that I can attribute this to acupuncture, but I suspect it might have something to do with it.

  • The Price

Price was one of the biggest reasons why I stopped getting acupuncture. But Springs Community Acupuncture goes by a sliding scale of $20-$40 per treatment (with a $10 intake fee for new patients). Plus there is a punch card system where you can buy five treatments and get one free as well as regular monthly deals, such as 2 for 1 treatments. From what I’ve been saving on doctor’s visits and prescription medications, it almost pays for itself.

  • Sense of Community

At first, I thought it would be weird and uncomfortable to be receiving acupuncture with other people in the room, but I haven’t found this to be the case. Sure, I notice the comings and goings of other people, but it doesn’t stop me from relaxing. If anything, the calm, relaxed energy of the other people helps create a truly healing environment where it is possible to just sit back and let go.

In addition to the treatments, Hannah works hard to make Springs Community Acupuncture a vibrant center of the community. She often hosts events on her days off, such as a monthly knitting and crocheting group and jewelry trunk shows, with more events to come.

  • My Relaxation Indulgence

I have come to think of my weekly acupuncture treatment as my own little indulgence. Because the price works for my budget and my health is improving, I don’t feel a bit of guilt about doing this one thing for myself. It might seem odd that I choose to relax with needles sticking out of my feet, legs, arms, and ear, but I rarely even feel the needles. Those that I do feel are usually just a sudden prick and then don’t bother me any more. In fact, acupuncture is so relaxing for me that I almost always nap away the hour. And unlike my traditional acupuncture experience, I am never groggy when I wake up. I usually feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready to face the rest of the day.

For more information, see Springs Community Acupuncture’s website at: http://www.springscommunityacupuncture.com/ or look for a community acupuncture clinic near you.

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Allergy Update

Six weeks ago, I wrote a blog about my allergies and whether or not I should try a holistic treatment called Advanced Allergy Therapeutics. I’m sure you’ve all been on the edge of your seats waiting for an update. (Okay, I’m sure you probably haven’t given it a second thought, but here’s an update anyway.)

I drove to Denver on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in September for my allergy tests and first treatment. I met Mike, also a licensed acupuncturist, in his office where we first had a basic intake about my allergies and allergy symptoms. I told him that I had been receiving traditional allergy shots for seven years and a half years for trees, grasses, weeds, cats, dust, and dust mites. He hooked my left arm up to his laptop via an arm cuff that emits vibrational representations of different substances. As the vibration comes through the cuff, he administers a muscle test where I try to lift his arm up with my right arm. If I can’t lift his arm, then I’m allergic to that substance. We went through an exhaustive list of different foods, beverages, pollens, animals, chemicals – apparently the database has thousands of different possible allergies. I was surprised by the results. It turned out that I am not allergic to trees, grasses, weeds, and dust, so he claimed that my allergy shots had been successful in treating those allergies. At least my weekly shots had some benefit. Most of my allergies came from foods, which he claimed were the main cause of all of my symptoms, but there were some strange allergies as well. For instance, I didn’t know that people can become allergic to their own stomach enzymes and acids, which apparently I am. I had 18 allergies; no wonder I’ve felt rotten for years.

Mike decided to start off treating me for sugars, since they are so prevalent in many different kinds of foods. The process works like this; the representation of sugars goes through the cuff while he slides a vibration down my spine. This vibration stimulates all of the major organ systems and reprograms them to ease the stress on the organ caused by the substance so I will be able to tolerate it again. Apparently it has a 90% success rate. He goes down the spine four times, queuing me to breathe in with one and out with the next. After treating me for sugars in general, he did a muscle retest, and I was able to lift his arm. Then he had to go through the individual sugars. I wasn’t allergic to all of them: only honey, cane sugar, corn sugar, powdered sugar, molasses – I can’t remember what else. The process down my spine had to be repeated with each of these individually. After that, these could be broken down even further into the food components in these sugars, for example corn sugar had corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. In the middle of my sugar treatment, all of a sudden I felt like I could breathe better, like my lungs had opened up. Mike said that he often sees sudden and amazing improvements just from the sugar treatment, and a light of understanding shined on me that maybe food had been one of the culprits of many of my physical ailments.

After going through all the individual components, he checked to see if the allergy was affecting my emotions, which surprised me because they didn’t. I guess I can only blame my roller coaster emotions on myself. Darn. Then he checked which parts of the body were affected by the allergy and corrected those. Once we had gone through everything, we retested all elements of sugar with a muscle test and I was able to lift his arm – I was no longer allergic! Walking back to the light rail that day, I buzzed with energy and vitality, feeling a strange sense of optimism that I had just placed a piece in the puzzle of overcoming some of my major obstacles. This feeling of well-being in and of itself was worth the money.

I couldn’t wait to get home and eat something sweet – but I couldn’t have cake or cookies because of the wheat, I couldn’t have ice cream because of the dairy. Sigh! I settled on buying a bar of chocolate that did have soy in it, but I figured a little wouldn’t hurt me. The strange thing was that after my sugar allergy had been corrected, I no longer craved it. I used to crave desserts after every meal, and now while I still love dessert, I no longer crave it. When I mentioned this to Mike, he said that he sees this often and treating a sugar allergy can be a great way to start losing weight.

I have now had four appointments and have been cleared of sugar, wheat and gluten, dairy, and beans and soy. While my allergy symptoms have not been miraculously cured, I think overall they are better. While talking to some people about this process, they have admitted their wariness of quick fixes like this, but this isn’t really a quick fix. It will take time to slowly get rid of my symptoms because I have so many allergies. To me, this treatment feels more natural and gentle than allergy shots where I get foreign substances injected into my body. By the way, I haven’t had any shots for about three weeks now, and I haven’t missed them at all. I was wary about stopping but realized that I could always start again if I began feeling worse, but I haven’t noticed any difference.

Would I recommend this treatment to others? I don’t know if I’m at the point where I would wholeheartedly advise others to go for it, but I’m only ¼ of the way through my allergies. It’s definitely worth checking out and weighing as a big option. The only caution is that this treatment will not help anyone who has had an anaphylaxic reaction. I still have high hopes that I will soon begin to see huge improvements in my life.

Jessica’s Great Autumn of Healing

I have deemed this fall Jessica’s Great Autumn of Healing (okay, maybe I just deemed it as I wrote the words but the sentiment has been present for a while now.)I think it’s something that everyone should do from time to time – dedicate a whole season to working through the mental and emotional blocks that stand in our way as well as taking into consideration the optimal health of our bodies. If everyone seething with road rage that cuts me off on I-25 would spend a season working on their anger issues, the world would be a much more delightful place. I may divulge more about the details of my autumn healing at a later date (no, they’re not anger issues). However, today I want to focus on the first issue, something I hadn’t considered, to work through as August blazes away and September’s days dwindle down to a precious few and autumn’s weather turns the leaves to flame. I no longer have time for the waiting game – an opportunity has presented itself which opened my eyes to the severity of the issue, and I’m ready to get my carpe diem on.

Show me a list of allergy-related conditions, and I’ll bet you that I suffer from three-fourths of them. I have inhaled steroids into my lungs and sinuses on a daily basis for close to ten years now to help stifle the symptoms of my allergies and asthma which never bothered me until college when, somehow, the 100 year old heaters of my dorm rooms turned my immune system into a walking time bomb from which it has never completely recovered.

Seven and a half years ago, looking for answers I made an appointment with an asthma and allergy specialist. After pricking dozens of allergens into my back, I was diagnosed with the following allergies: trees, grasses, weeds, molds, dust, dust mites, dogs, and cats. The cat allergy upset me more than anything, and I have been determined to keep my cat despite it. (I have wondered how this can be since I often sleep with her laying next to my head yet my nose doesn’t run.) My doctor suggested that I begin receiving weekly allergy shots, and I would probably have to do so for the next three to five years. Three to five years didn’t seem like that big of a commitment if they could help relieve me from a lifetime of allergy suffering. My grandmother received shots at this same clinic fifty years before, and now she is rarely plagued by allergies.

I have been dedicated to getting my weekly shot for seven and a half years. A year ago after inquiring about the promise of three to five years, I was told, “It usually takes more like seven to ten.” Gee, thanks for telling me. At times, I have paid for the shots completely out of my own pocket when my insurance wouldn’t cover it. I have personally given thousands of dollars to my allergy doctor, and my insurance has paid tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, I have made the pharmaceutical companies thousands of dollars richer making me feel like a very naughty and gullible consumer, but I have had little other choice. My goal was never to be rid of allergies, but to get off my nasal spray and asthma medicine. I’d even pop a Claritin for a few nasty days of the year if needed; I’m not expecting miracles! But seven and a half years later, I don’t feel a whole lot better than I did when I started. I’ve seen certain improvements, I’ll admit that, but really is sticking needles in my arm filled with allergens week after week really worth the time and money? I never knew there to be an alternative, so I have ventured onwards, like a good Christian solider, walking around two or three days of the week with my arms red and swollen.

Last weekend, I went to a farmer’s market with my friend in Denver. As I was waiting for her to purchase some hummus, I spied a tent claiming a holistic approach to treating allergies, “Non-Invasive, No needles, No herbal remedies, No supplements, No avoidance.” I learned that Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT) merges technology with acupuncture principles to help “re-wire” the body to respond more appropriately to what is actually a harmless substance. Intrigued, I began a conversation with the man at the tent who ended up testing a few of my allergies for free. He placed what looked like a blood pressure cuff on my arm that hooked up to a laptop. He asked me to lift my right arm against his until I felt resistance. I’m not pretending that I understand how this works, but he would shoot an impulse through the cuff, and when I had an allergy to said impulse replicating an allergen, my muscle would snap downwards away from his. I had heard of this muscle testing years ago when I almost when to a nutritionist but then decided that I was too poor. I couldn’t understand how this was happening, was I somehow snapping my own arm down? After a few tests (a more comprehensive test would be completed if I decided to make an appointment), I learned that I wasn’t really allergic to dust mites (he claimed we don’t even have many in Colorado – if my skin test showed up with an allergy it was probably because a little dust was mixed in), I am allergic to dust, dairy, sugar, and wheat and that my allergy symptoms are mostly caused by food rather than air-borne substances. My allergy doctor had told me that I didn’t have any food allergies, but having food allergies makes sense and explains why my symptoms aren’t much better after so long. I learned that during a single session I would be “cured” (I don’t think this is the word he said, but it’s what I heard) of one allergy. It seemed too good to be true! He told me that he knows it’s difficult, that I must be wrestling with whether to believe my allergy doctor or him. I left the farmer’s market perplexed.

When I got home, I did some research on AAT. I learned that is has a 90% success rate and has been developed from 15 years of clinical research. I watched a video of allergy sufferers in Australia claiming that it did, indeed, give them significant relief from their allergies. Watch it yourself here: http://www.allergytx-dvd.com/

So I made an appointment for next week. I figured I could try it a couple of times and if it doesn’t help, I’m only out a little money. Since I’m known for setting my expectations too high, I’m trying to approach this with skeptical optimism. I doubt it will be a miracle, even though I have my hopes, but if it could help me get off my medications and only suffer from occasional seasonal allergies, I will be a happy camper. Perhaps it will be enough for me to stop taking my weekly allergy shots. No matter what happens, I will blog about my experiences here since everyone I’ve asked has never even heard of AAT. I presume the results will be like the ending of the film Inherit the Wind. Much like Spencer Tracy grabbing both The Bible and On the Origin of Species in a dramatic, symbolic gesture, I hope both holistic and western medicine will work together to heal me of my blasted allergy symptoms, once and for all.