By Lisa Browdy
Once thought of by westerners as a far-out alternative treatment, acupuncture has been creeping into the mainstream of health care. Acupuncture is part of an ancient integrated system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has been around since 1000 B.C. When you think of an acupuncturist you may imagine an older man of the Asian persuasion, but that image flies out the window when you meet Patricia Miller, a lithe young blond Scotswoman. Patricia is the owner of Serenity Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which opened seven years ago at 503 Madison Street in Oak Park. In spite of the main thoroughfare it sits on, the atmosphere inside is quiet and calm, living up to its name.
"Historically, acupuncture is known for pain relief, but it can help a wide range of conditions," Patricia explains. "It can help pretty much everything from poor digestion to anxiety and depression." The process works by inserting small, painless sterile needles into the skin to redirect the Qi (pronounced chee), or energy flow, of the body.
I tried acupuncture on a whim a few years ago when my right shoulder was hurting me whenever I reached out or up. I chose Serenity Acupuncture because it was close to my home, and thought it would be an interesting experience to try out even if it didn't work. During my treatment, I was surprised that the needles weren't placed in my right shoulder, but rather in my left knee! I guess the Qi must move in mysterious ways. The procedure was quite painless, very relaxing, and helped decrease my discomfort after only two treatments.
I was also surprised to learn that a portion of Patricia's clientele are couples struggling with infertility, either from inability to conceive or to carry a pregnancy to term. TCM can be used in concert with traditional drug based or IVF type treatments. "We offer a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine that is both topically applied and ingested," she explains. Other gynecological issues like polycystic ovary disease and fibroids have been successfully treated at Serenity Acupuncture.
Patricia came to acupuncture through the field of physical therapy, which she practiced in Scotland. She is now working on her PhD in TCM from the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. Her dissertation study is on the effects of acupuncture on migraine sufferers.
Acupuncture and TCM can also treat asthma, osteoarthritis, insomnia, and even help people quit smoking. "The patient has to be motivated to go through a program of lifestyle modification, but the treatment can help a lot with the cravings and withdrawal symptoms," Patricia explains. The same concept can help some patients with weight loss.
Though not every insurance company covers acupuncture treatments, many do, so Patricia recommends that patients check with their insurers (only treatments for certain ailments may be covered). Virtually all Flex Spending plans allow acupuncture treatments to be reimbursed. After an initial consultation, most patients visit once a week for a month. "By that time we should be seeing good improvement and we can re-assess a treatment plan from there," Patricia says.
In addition to acupuncture and electro-acupuncture, the TCM modalities of cupping, moxibustion and Gua Sha are offered. Serenity Acupuncture also has practitioners of Massage and Yoga therapy available to treat clients. Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
For more information call 708-848-4626 or visit www.serenityacu.com
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