Forget the needle and the damage done, and give acupuncture a try 

Prick Me Up

Prick Me Up
click to enlarge Acupucture-5921.jpg

Photo: Eric England

It's the last week of January. Let's say you have your diet on track, your exercise routine in order and all of your paperwork ready to file your taxes. If that's the case, you're doing better than most of us, but perhaps something still feels off.

If so, when was the last time you balanced your qi?

Like Brazilian waxing or hair highlights, this is probably not something you should DIY, this balancing of the qi (that's pronounced "chee," Westerners), as it involves needles. For more than 3,000 years, acupuncture has been used to treat a variety of conditions, from back pain to depression to quitting smoking. Nowadays, it's common to see acupuncture as a complement to Western medicine. It's also an excellent option for preventive care, as it can improve circulation and boost the immune system.

Maybe you're one of those people who has to be chased around the doctor's office anytime a needle is whipped out. Or perhaps you're skeptical as to how inserting tiny needles into your skin can have an impact on the inner workings of your body. Now, I'm pretty much skeptical about everything, and I enjoy shots as much as the average 5-year-old, so I understand. But after taking an entirely unscientific survey, I discovered that I was pretty much the only person in my circle of friends who hadn't tried acupuncture.

A friend directed me to Judy Gibson at Seven Directions, a community acupuncture facility. Gibson, a licensed acupuncturist, also holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and a Master of Science degree in Oriental medicine, so she's well versed in the whole-body approach that Eastern medicine propagates. She and her staff offer sliding-scale treatment in a tranquil group setting, which is how acupuncture is often administered in Asia.

Gibson says the No. 1 reason people visit Seven Directions is to treat pain, with stress and anxiety as a close second. Other common ailments include fatigue, depression, insomnia, fertility issues, addiction and recovery, and anti-aging.

Anti-aging? That caught my attention. Gibson says acupuncture balances the flow of the qi that runs through the 12 meridians in the body. The improved circulation assists with rejuvenation and regeneration (two words you'll likely find on your wrinkle cream's packaging), ultimately slowing down the aging process.


I showed up at Seven Directions, which is tucked away in Edgehill Village. (Take a right at Bella Napoli.) After a brief consultation with Gibson, in which we talked about my general lifestyle and health concerns, she led me to a room with eight recliners arranged in a circle. The room was quiet and serene, illuminated only by natural light from the large windows. A few people were in the room, and they appeared completely zonked out. I tiptoed past them and took a seat in one of the empty chairs.

All I know is that as soon as Gibson put the needles in — which didn't hurt at all, although I did feel light pressure in some places — I must have zonked out, too, because when she came back to get me, it felt like a few minutes had passed when it had actually been about 30. (Most people stay between 25 minutes and one hour.) I had that light, airy, slightly spacey feeling that you have after a really good yoga class, or the perfect night's sleep. In fact, I might have drooled.

Gibson says many of her clients come in weekly or every other week, and since Seven Directions is on a sliding scale, you pay what you can, anywhere from $20 to $40 for a session. So this is truly an economical way to try something new. If you like it, it's an affordable addition to whatever else you're doing to improve your overall wellness, although you should always consult with your physician regarding the treatment of any health issues.

And no, you will not look like that guy from Hellraiser. At least, I don't think you will. I was asleep, so who knows?



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