The Acupuncture Alternative
ENJOY MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2010 ISSUE
centuries, the Chinese have been onto something.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of healing which
predates recorded history. The philosophy is rooted
in the Taoist tradition which goes back more than
8,000 years. It originated as a preventative in
China—the acupuncturists would only get paid if
the emperors were well. It’s the oldest practiced
medicine, dating back 5,000 years to the oldest
medical book found. It is the procedure of inserting
and manipulating needles into various points on
the body, to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes.
Acupuncture has been the subject of scientific research
both in regard to its basis and therapeutic effectiveness
since the late 20th century, but it remains controversial
among medical researchers.
Michel Czehatowski knows the benefits of acupuncture and has been licensed and practicing in the Redding area since 1984. At age 19, he met an acupuncurist and became interested. Already active in martial arts and tai chi, Czehatowski immersed himself in Oriental philosophy and took classes in shiatsu. He traveled to China and worked in a hospital where there are entire wings devoted to acupuncure and doctors collaborate with one another to find the best possible care. “People have always been looking for alternatives,” Czehatowski says. “They’re always seeking, asking. That’s when I started thinking, ‘What can I do?’” He opened Redding Acupuncture Health Care and East Earth Trade Winds herbal store to provide people with an option to western medicine. Czehatowski started up the store about a year after becoming a licensed acupuncturist, and the herb store is now nationally recognized and does a huge online business. “I opened my store so people would become aware of alternative health and how to treat themselves,” he says. “It’s all about balance—rest, play, work.” And speaking of work, Czehatowski says he truly loves his job because, among other reasons, he will “never retire.” Technically, he says, he’ll only get better as he ages—wiser. This is one of the things that drew acupuncturist Erica Shepard to explore this line of work, as well.
When Erica was 13, her mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and began seeking alternative medicine. When she received acupuncture in the Bay Area, she had “amazing” results, which led to lifestyle changes. Seeing that at such a young age left quite an impression on Erica, resulting in her taking classes in acupuncture and herbs, alongside her psychology classes. “My mom was my biggest inspiration,” Erica says. “And I liked the flexibility eastern medicine offers.” She attended Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, graduating from the master’s program in four years while taking all pre-med classes. Acupuncturists need to be able to treat conditions of the body, which means they need to understand the human body and its complexities. One visit can treat multiple conditions at once, and while it is still considered controversial by some, the stigma is lessening as people discover that acupuncture treats more than just pain; it can help with infertility, stress, insomnia, weight loss and side effects of treatments for such diseases as cancer. According to Shepard, the more the name gets out in communities such as Redding, the more receptive professionals are to the idea. “We’re not just a bunch of hippies.” They know that western medicine is necessary. “We don’t diagnose people,” Shepard says. “But we need to collaborate with doctors so that if someone has a problem we can’t fix, we can help find what will work for them.” One of the main goals of acupuncture, according to Czehatowski, is getting the body back in balance. “The body is really amazing,” he says. “It can heal itself. Acupuncture is like turning on switches. We’re adjusting the body—the volume—to create more harmonious music in the body.” Most say they can barely feel the needles, but for true needle-phobes (children, too), alternative treatments are available. Even as old as acupuncture is, research continues, and eventually, Michel hopes to have even more collaboration with doctors in the community. “My job is always changing,” says Michel. “It’s never boring. Seeing people get well, it’s huge. That kind of success rate and people taking charge of their lives – that’s the best part of my job.”