At first blush, it may sound a little nuts to willingly ask someone to place multiple needles in your skin, but proponents say the practice is useful for alleviating a variety of ailments, from chronic pain to depression.
This alternative treatment, known as acupuncture, now has a home in Flowery Branch, at Echo Wellness Center on Main Street.
“Almost anything can be treated with acupuncture,” said Felicia Dyess, licensed acupuncturist and one of the newest practitioners at Echo.
The Mayo Clinic’s website defines acupuncture as “a key component of traditional Chinese medicine ... as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force ...”
Western practitioners believe the stimulation “boosts (the) body’s natural painkillers.”
“Most people think of acupuncture for pain, but you can come in for many other things,” Dyess said. “It’s meant to be preventative health care, but actually most people come as a last resort. But it’s actually better if they come before they get extremely sick or in extreme pain, because they’re going to get better results if they come earlier rather than later.”
The initial acupuncture session will take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, with Dyess first going over a patient’s medical and health history. She then will tailor the session to the person’s specific needs.
Acupuncture can be used for anything from promoting better sleep to helping with weight loss. Having been in practice for seven years, Dyess said the three main reasons people seek acupuncture is to alleviate pain, stress and anxiety.
“And it’s mostly women,” she said. “Women take care of themselves. Guys are not in touch with themselves. A toe has to fall off before they go to the doctor.”
Follow up sessions tend to last 45 to 60 minutes; depending on the patient, it may be something that only takes half an hour, Dyess said.
It’s recommended for patients to wear loose clothing and stay away from anything that may alter physical appearance. For women, that means no make-up.
“I look at certain physical diagnostic signs like color on your face,” Dyess said. “And no perfume. We all have an intrinsic odor.”
She also will look at a patient’s tongue, so patients are asked to avoid something that would stain the mouth, such as blueberries or coffee.
“I need to be able to see the natural color of your body and your face, any skin changes,” she said. “If you have a specific odor that’s very strong, it may tell me that there’s something out of balance that I need to address for that person.”
To work in acupuncture, Dyess has a master’s degree from the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in Gainesville, Fla., amassing 2,500 clinical hours of training. Most states, including Georgia, require national certification.
She is one of two new additions to Echo Wellness Center; Rudy Scarfalloto has joined the team as a chiropractor and nutrition counselor.
“It’s very exciting,” said Lisa Morris, owner of Echo Wellness Center. “Originally, we started out just doing body work, just basically as a team of massage therapists. But the goal was to have an all-inclusive wellness center, so it’s really exciting now to be adding (acupuncture) and a chiropractor.”
Morris and Dyess explained how the services go hand-in-hand not only with other services at the center, but with a traditional Western approach to medicine, as well.
“It’s still kind of slow going,” Dyess said. “There are still some medical doctors (who) will tell people don’t get acupuncture for this when they actually should go get acupuncture. But there’s definitely getting more awareness of what we do as being complementary to Western medicine, so I think that is happening.”
“It is,” Morris added. “I spent the first six months really working with the medical community. Some were really open to the idea.”
Morris had an open house Thursday. Guests checked out the wellness center and met Dyess, Scarfalloto and other practitioners.
“It is a true wellness center,” she said. “Our goal is to get people feeling great.”