Wellness: Affordable acupuncture

By Columbus Alive
From the March 29, 2012 edition

Acupuncture is ironic. It looks painful, pins pricking skin. But this ancient Chinese technique is said by its advocates to actually eliminate pain — and addiction, stress and depression.

“Everything is about balance. If something in your body is out of balance, something will manifest — pain, disease,” said Helen Yee, co-founder of the American Institute of Alternative Medicine. “Aligning energies creates harmony. Harmony in your body creates well-being.”

The theory is that an individual’s energy force, or Qi, travels through the body via paths called meridians. When meridians get blocked, body troubles begin. An acupuncturist places the needles, which are about as thin as a strand of hair, in specific points of the body where meridian traffic jams manifest.

The AIAM, which is located in Worthington, offers 60-minute acupuncture treatments for the public from its professional practitioner-instructors ($65 to $80 a visit) or from students guided by an instructor ($30 to $35 a visit). The therapy is done in private rooms that feel like a mix between a spa and a doctor’s office.

The validity of acupuncture’s benefits is often something people question before they try it, Yee said, because science has been unable to prove just why it works.

“But it works. It really does,” said Yee, who uses acupuncture to ease her seasonal allergies.

Once during Yee’s time as a martial arts athlete (she was an alternate for the Olympics in the 1980s), a fellow athlete injured his foot during a bout. He couldn’t even stand on it, but after acupuncture was applied during a break in the competition, she said, he fought the rest of the day.

Yee and her team hope acupuncture morphs into not just a luxury but a part of the public’s regular wellness maintenance plan.

“We can honor the mystery and respect it,” Yee said. “People have known about and respected this ability of healing for thousands of years.”

Photo by Jodi Miller