Acupuncture is a healing technique rooted in thousands of years of history and experience. Considered to have originated in the East, many regions have contributed knowledge, understanding, and approach to the acupuncture arts. From these contributions, there are many different styles and culturally rooted forms of acupuncture. Kari’s foundational acupuncture education is in a style coined COM (Contemporary Oriental Medicine). The goal of COM is to take the time-tried wisdom of a primarily Chinese style of acupuncture and apply it to the current climate and unique challenges that we face in the modern day. She has expanded her practice and style of acupuncture to Applied Channel Theory, a hands-on clinical approach to feeling for palpable changes in the channels based on the teachings of Dr. Wang Juyi, as well as SAAM acupuncture, a Korean monastic acupuncture tradition, as taught by Toby Daly.

While there are many theories and explanations as to how acupuncture works, in essence, it works by re-establishing the flow of the substances in the body. By removing blockages, opening up channels, releasing tension, and optimizing the levels of substances, such as Qi, blood, or body fluids, acupuncture is able to encourage and restore a more efficient and effective functionality to your health. A poetic analogy that Kari likes to use is to imagine a tributary of rivers running through the body. In order to be at its healthiest, one would aim for minimal blockages in the streams and rivers in order to disperse the nourishment of the water to all areas of the landscape, with enough water to have a gentle, easy flow throughout all the pathways without flooding the banks or pooling into dried out puddles.

While acupuncture is widely known in the West to treat pain and stress, which it does very well, this is an entire system of medicine that is designed to treat much more. Acupuncture considers the state of the whole body, mind, and soul, and in turn, has the potential to treat on all of those levels. It is known to effectively treat Circulatory, Digestive, Endocrine, Nervous system, Immune, and Muscular issues. It can help with Sleep, Energy, Mental Clarity, Trauma, and Emotional disruptions, just to name a few. When the body is operating in a balanced and optimal way, the possibilities of what it can accomplish are almost unfathomable. 

Kari practices a gentle style of acupuncture which usually consists of 4 to 15 needles per session. The needles are thinner than a human hair, and Kari aims for a pain-free and pleasant experience to being needled. One might feel a mild sensation upon the initial insertion of needles, which will quickly dissipate into either a pleasant sensation or no sensation at all. Patients often report falling into an extremely restful and fulfilling sleep during treatments. If someone is nervous or fearful about needles, this should not hinder them from seeking out treatment with Kari. She has experience working with such patients and finding ways to make them comfortable or working around the use of needles altogether.

Depending on the nature of the treatment and complaints, Kari may also utilize other modalities such as cupping or guasha (an ancient scrapping technique) to relieve pain and reestablish flow, moxibustion (a method of burning the herb mugwort close to the skin) or infrared light to warm and replenish areas of the body, sound/vibration healing with tuning forks, magnets, or lifestyle and nutritional recommendations.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Kari believes that painful sensations do not enhance an acupuncture treatment but rather hinder and distract the body from the objective of the needles. She uses extremely small needles, even by Chinese acupuncture standards; they are thinner than a hair. Initial insertion of needles sometimes elicits a slight prick, but the feeling quickly recedes. After the needles have reached their appropriate depth and placement, patients might feel a mild, dull ache or a slight tingling. This is referred to as a Qi sensation, indicating that the Qi is active around the needle. It should never be such an intense sensation that one cannot breathe and relax into it with ease. Kari encourages open communication about what you feel and any discomfort when needles are placed. 

How often do I have to come?

The frequency of your visits depends on your objective and goals for coming in. For something acute, 2 to 3 visits generally accomplish what is needed. For conditions that are long-standing, it can take longer to achieve desired results. It is important to remember that you likely did not get into the condition that you are experiencing overnight, and so it is highly unlikely that we will not be able to reestablish completely new patterns instantly (though it does occasionally happen!). Acupuncture works by looking at the ways that your body has compensated for the experiences it has been through and suggests new patterns for the energy in the body to be able to flow and function optimally. The body varies on how long it will hold the new patterns suggested by the needles. Sometimes it holds forever, and sometimes it needs some reminders via repeat treatments. People often start by coming in every week or every other week, and as their patterns hold, they can spread treatments out to longer periods of time until we are working on a preventative and maintenance schedule. Scheduling of appointments will be discussed between you and Kari. Kari will make suggestions, but ultimately it will be up to you to decide how long you notice the treatments hold, how much you are affected in your daily life, and taking your schedule and personal finances into consideration. Kari supports and advocates for patients to build a trust in being able to evaluate their own condition and to listen to what their body needs. 

Is there anything I should do before or after my treatment?

It is helpful to try and put your body in the least amount of distress possible when receiving treatment. This means making sure that you have done basic things such as eating and hydrating that day. It is ideal to have eaten a small snack before treatment or a decent meal earlier in the day prior to coming in, so you are not hungry nor overstuffed at the time of your appointment. It is best if you have not exerted yourself extensively immediately before coming in. The same goes for after your treatment. Ideally, take the time after your treatment to rest and integrate. At the very least, make sure that you are well-nourished with food and water and try not to overexert physically after a treatment. This will allow you to get the most out of your treatment. 

Remember to wear loose and comfortable clothing when you come in for treatment. Most often you will be asked to take shoes and socks off and roll your clothes up to elbows and knees, so please plan your wardrobe accordingly to be able to do so without cutting off circulation or being uncomfortable. Occasionally other areas will be requested for access such as the abdomen or the back if the patient is comfortable with it. If needed, private space and a sheet for modesty will be provided to get situated and draped properly. Kari is committed to working within your comfort levels, no matter where that is. There is always an alternative way or accommodation within acupuncture to achieve results and fit your comfort level. 

How is it determined what my acupuncture diagnosis is and what needs to be treated?

There are a variety of skills and tools that Kari uses to determine what is out of balance in your body and what needs to be shifted/reset. While she uses many method’s and modalities to diagnose, these are the ones that you can most likely expect during your appointment:

As part of your intake, Kari will ask you questions about your main complaints, as well as the general function of your body and health. Understanding in-depth the presentation of what you are experiencing typically goes a long way to help her understand and translate your ailments into acupuncture patterns. You will likely notice that she might ask seemingly unrelated questions. This is because there is an understanding within this style of healing that the body is a whole organism, and nothing is completely isolated. Even a simple soft tissue injury can be exacerbated or delayed in healing by poor digestion, heightened nervous system, or poor circulation. By asking a broad range of questions Kari is better able to hone in on the quickest way to your recovery and relief.

Kari additionally uses visual cues such as posture, movement, skin quality, and Chinese face reading, as taught by Lillian Bridges, to help determine a course for supporting your body as a whole entity. 

As part of her training in Dr. Wu Juyi’s Applied Channel Theory, Kari will often gently palpate channels, generally along the lower legs and arms. This helps her determine congestion, blockages, and patterns being held in the tissue and acupuncture channels. 

Kari’s education is rooted in Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis, more commonly referred to as the Shen-Hammer pulse system, a method of feeling the radial artery at the wrist, derived and elaborated on by Leon Hammer from the teachings of Dr. John Shen from the Ding lineage. Over 25 positions that correspond to different areas in the body, 9 levels/depths, and over 35 qualities can be felt on the pulse, helping to read and translate the body’s current state, past damages, and future trajectories. 

With all these tools, Kari is able to set up a dialog with your health that informs her of the root issues while simultaneously working at a preventative level.