We asked Heather to some questions to introduce herself and her acupuncture style.
1) How long have you been doing acupuncture? Can you talk a little about your background and how you first got into acupuncture and Chinese medicine?
I graduated from Bastyr University in 2006, with a Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and have been practicing in Whatcom County since 2007. I always knew that I wanted to work in the medical field, but I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do. While attending Western Washington University (I have a BA in Anthropology), I was experiencing back pain. I went the allopathic route to try to resolve the pain, but was left feeling very disillusioned and frustrated with the modern medical system. I then went to an acupuncturist, and after one treatment felt amazing! My back pain soon resolved and had more energy than I had had in years. My acupuncturist encouraged me to look into an education in Acupuncture, and the rest is history.
2) From your point of view, can you briefly explain acupuncture and its benefits?
From a traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, any disease, dysfunction, or pain in the body is a result of ones energy being out of balance. This imbalance could be a result of poor diet, physical trauma, emotional trauma/stress, or external pathogens. By carefully selecting acupuncture points, an acupuncturist can move and redirect energy, or Qi, in the body. The smooth flow of Qi promotes balance and natural healing. It can enhance recuperative power and immunity, support physical and emotional health, and improve overall function and well being
Acupuncture has the potential to help any health complaint. Based on my clinical experience, acupuncture is an amazing tool to effectively treat pain (especially back, neck, knee, and shoulder), headaches & migraines, many Women’s Health issues (menopause complaints, menstrual irregularities, PMS, postpartum and fertility support), and insomnia.
3) What about herbs? Can you talk a little bit about the most common types of herbs you use for patients and what their benefits are?
This is a somewhat difficult question to answer. Chinese Herbs are prescribed differently than most other Medical Traditions. Chinese herbs are usually never given singularly, they are combined and used in formulas. Chinese Herbs, which include roots, leaves, fruits, seeds, and occasionally parts of animals, are put into classes of herbs. These classes include, for example, herbs to clear heat, herbs to drain damp, herbs to tonify yin or yang. When prescribing Chinese herbs, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis for the patient, so that we can prescribe the best formulation of herbs to help resolve the complaint. Most Chinese Herbal formulas are based on “classic” formulas developed in China thousands of years ago, which can then be modified specifically for the patient’s needs.
Chinese herbs can be a powerful tool to help with many complaints ranging from internal medicine disorders (acid reflux, IBS, constipation, etc), to women’s health issues (painful periods, hot flashes, fibroids), to the common cold, to insomnia.
4) How have you personally benefited from acupuncture or herbs?
As someone who suffers from migraines, I can attest to the power of acupuncture. When I receive regular acupuncture treatments, I am able to prevent migraines from happening. If I do happen to get a migraine, an acupuncture treatment can greatly reduce the pain and symptoms, and stop the migraine cycle from continuing.
I take Chinese herbs for the prevention of the common cold, and for general health and wellness.
I also give my children herbs for tummy aches, common cold, and even for teething pain.
5) What would you say to someone who is afraid of trying acupuncture because of needles or pain? How would you convince them to try it?
For most people, their experience with needles is that of the large and hollow hypodermic needle, which inevitably is an experience with painful needling. Acupuncturists use incredibly fine needles, so fine that they could fit inside of a hypodermic needle! Because these needles are so fine, they rarely cause any pain, and most don’t even feel it when the needles are inserted. Acupuncture is actually an incredibly relaxing experience, and most people even take a nap during an acupuncture session. When I explain this to people, and show them how small the needles are, most people will try acupuncture, but even if they are still unwilling to try needles, I have other “non-needle” tools that we can use to access acupuncture points. These include Acutonics or tuning forks, acupressure, Tui Na (Chinese Massage), and cupping.
6) Do you have any particular examples of how you have helped a patient by giving them acupuncture/ what is the most amazing benefit or thing that you’ve seen happen for one of your acupuncture patients?
Even though I have been practicing acupuncture for almost seven years, I am still amazed that the incredible results that patients get from acupuncture. Most recently I was able to help a patient conceive a baby after years of failed fertility treatments. She came to me after deciding to take a break from hormone and assisted insemination treatments. After two months of acupuncture and Chinese Herbs she conceived naturally and is currently “cooking” a healthy baby!