According to Pro Jeanie Bussell
As I lie on the table anticipating the sting of the first needle, I tense and feel…nothing. I look down and see the thin needle clearly inserted into my left foot, disconcertingly painless, while acupuncturist Jeanie Bussell begins the same procedure on my right side. Her hands have more of a presence than the 15 or so needles she carefully inserts into my increasingly relaxed body.
Jeanie Bussell, director of acupuncture and Oriental medicine at the Tiffani Kim Institute, is aware of the common perception of acupuncture: “People think it hurts and doesn’t work,” she admits. “But we’ll prove them wrong.” Despite having a background in Western medicine, Ms. Bussell knew she wanted to be an acupuncturist since age 14. Not only was acupuncture a part of her upbringing and family life, but she was further inspired by a television character, a medicine woman, who frequently saved the heroes of the program by using herbal remedies and acupuncture.
What is acupuncture? It’s the insertion of hair-thin needles into specific points of the body, called acupuncture points. By placing the needles in these points, acupuncturists intend to tap into the body’s energy system, called Qi, and correct its imbalances, which are thought to be the root of health issues or reduced mental or bodily functioning. “When you hear ‘acupuncture,’ the first thing most people think of is needles, but there’s more to it than just placing the needles on the body,” insists Ms. Bussell of the intricate method – and thousands of years of history – behind the practice.
The methodological approach of acupuncture is evident during my appointment. As I answer questions about my medical history and overall health, I begin to appreciate that acupuncture isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment; rather, it seeks to address the needs of individual patients. Ms. Bussell determines that my particular imbalance has resulted in a decreased energy level, a diagnosis that determines the placement of the needles throughout my body. After all the needles are painlessly in place, lights are dimmed, I close my eyes and listen to a recording of guided meditation, recommended over the option of music. This phase of the treatment typically lasts 20-40 minutes.
What does acupuncture treat? It has many uses and is particularly effective in addressing women’s health issues. Already widely known as a fertility treatment, acupuncture also treats menstrual disorders, morning sickness and menopause. It’s also an option worth exploring for individuals suffering from chronic pain or migraines, and can even assist those dealing with mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression.
Acupuncture may also improve one’s looks. Cosmetic acupuncture is used to treat skin disorders, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. “I call it rejuvenation…rejuvenating the body. We’ll go in and tackle those fine lines and wrinkles, but our main goal is to get you on track to being healthy,” adds Ms. Bussell.
Why acupuncture? While it’s important to explore different treatment options, acupuncture does have several intrinsic benefits. “It’s low cost, it’s now a more accepted and available treatment and it’s a gentler approach to address symptoms,” explains Ms. Bussell. Its affordability at $140 for an initial consult and treatment, as well as its lack of side effects, makes acupuncture a relatively low-risk endeavor to improve one’s health.
Acupuncture treatments are also more comprehensive than most Western alternatives. “We can’t take your emotions, diet or environment away, because those are what make you a whole person. Those influences definitely affect the body,” explains Ms. Bussell. Acupuncture seeks to treat the body as a whole, rather than an isolated problem. “Chinese medicine isn’t about treatment, it’s about keeping one healthy and happy to keep the body functioning and prevent illness,” she shares. Acupuncture is, at its core, a preventive practice and can be used simply to promote wellness in healthy people.
Is it effective? According to Ms. Bussell, 99 percent of patients are happier and healthier after undergoing acupuncture treatments at the Tiffani Kim Institute. Though I can’t claim to have noticed any significant improvements in my health after just one session, I’d count myself among the number of satisfied patients.
Slowly gaining acceptance in the U.S., acupuncture, often classified as ‘alternative healthcare,’ has yet to be universally recognized as a valid form of healthcare. However, more doctors are hearing of very positive results from their patients and agree that acupuncture can offer positive results. Yet they’re mystified on how it works. The treatment doesn’t quite have the level of acceptance that Ms. Bussell feels is due: “We don’t like to use the word ‘alternative.’ We love to use the term ‘complementary care’ because acupuncture fills a void in Western healthcare.”
While Ms. Bussell advocates the use of acupuncture to promote health and wellness, she also believes in the effectiveness of Western medicine. Ms. Bussell stresses the importance of incorporating acupuncture into an existing healthcare routine: “Acupuncture and Chinese medicine aren’t meant to replace Western healthcare, but to complement it. They refer to this as walking on two legs in China: Why just hop on one leg when we can walk on two?”
By Jessica Smietana