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American Society of Acupuncturists

Acupuncture for Super Bowl Athletes

Stretched out on a massage table in his Long Island City condominium, Jets fullback Tony Richardson closed his eyes. Over the next hour, he groaned and grimaced and eventually fell asleep, as Lisa Ripi, the traveling N.F.L. acupuncturist, went to work.

Ripi poked and prodded Richardson on a recent Tuesday, using blue and pink needles, until his body resembled a road map marked with 120 destinations. “SportsCenter” provided mood music. Afterward, Richardson said his soreness had mostly vanished.

“They always tell me I’m their little secret,” Ripi said. “I feel like the little mouse who takes the thorns out of their feet.”

Professional football players partake in a violent game, and as the season progresses, they spend more time in training rooms than on practice fields. They visit chiropractors and massage therapists, practice yoga, undergo electronic stimulation and nap in hyperbaric chambers.

Yet relatively few receive acupuncture, which brings smiles to the faces of Ripi’s clients. They remain fiercely territorial. They fight over Fridays because it is closest to their games. They accuse one another of hogging, or trying to steal her.

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Cupping & Acupuncture for Super Bowl Athletes

New England Patriots linebacker James Harrison knows about pain—KNOWS about it. For more than two decades, he has been delivering and receiving crushing blows on football fields. The violence has taken its toll, including a serious back injury six years ago that required multiple surgeries. Nevertheless, Sunday night, at age 39, he will step onto the field for Super Bowl LII as the reigning oldest defensive player in professional football.

Last spring, photographer Fritz Hoffmann and I visited him in Arizona to document his offseason workouts (lots of power lifts) and meticulous health routine (no alcohol, refined sugar, or processed carbs). In between his mammoth weightlifting sessions, we asked him his secret for playing such a brutal game at such a high level for so long. “Ain’t no damn secret, man. HARD WORK, lots of hard work!”

Well that, and a lot of attention to caring for his body. Harrison said he spends about $350,000 a year employing a team of specialists, including massage therapists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors, who help manage the punishment his body endures. (He noted that it’s a tax-deductible business expense.)

 Acupuncturists Without Borders

Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) uses trauma healing techniques to help communities affected by natural disaster and human conflict. Through ongoing and emergency response programs, training, and international healing exchanges, we’ve touched thousands of lives.

Local News


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Minnesota hospitals are blazing a trail when it comes to integrative medicine. Only two hospitals in the nation offer acupuncture in the emergency room.

St. Francis Regional Medical Center started practicing the traditional Chinese medicine in its emergency room in April, following Abbott Northwestern’s lead. A recent study by the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing found that ER patients who receive acupuncture experience significant reductions in pain and anxiety. St. Francis is using acupuncture to treat symptoms such as migraines, nausea, anxiety and pain.

”We find out what it is that patients need that works along with Western medicine,” said Kristianne Schultz, Licensed Acupuncturist at St. Francis.

St. Francis officials say they hope acupuncture will replace opioid prescriptions for many patients. They say 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

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Grief is something that impacts everyone. It can be crippling and make day-to-day tasks seem impossible. Some patients are turning to acupuncture to heal the hurt from grief. 

Alissa Adamson is a busy mom, career woman, and volunteer, often appearing on KTTC to help rescue dogs. She handles her day-to-day better than most. Four years ago, though, was a really trying time, even for her. "She was like one of my kids," Adamson said. 

Adamson experienced a rough real estate market, the loss of her grandmother, a skin cancer diagnosis, and a car accident. Adamson also lost Brandi, her beloved golden retriever.The loss was a breaking point that led to weeks of tears. 

She had been receiving acupuncture for pain management after her accident and told her acupuncturist about her sadness.The acupuncturist asked if she would be open to trying a type of acupuncture for grief."I was laying there, and I felt like somebody turned on a hose full-blast, and I could feel all the sadness and weight just leaving my body," Adamson described. 

Sara Bublitz is an acupuncturist within Mayo Clinic, including at Mayo Rejuvenate Spa. While she said most patients come in for some kind of pain management, several stumble across this extra use. She said many of those who do experience an emotional release. "It's like a weight has lifted off your shoulders and that sadness can be released. It's really powerful," Bublitz told KTTC. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that has been around for thousands of years.Mayo Acupuncturist Alexander Do said the technique incorporates a holistic view of the body. 

"Now with science, we can see that emotional pain and physical pain share the same neural pathways. So they do, in fact, affect each other," Do said. Do explained that acupuncture relies on certain meridians across the body. Using fine needles on different parts of the body can yield different results."With Chinese medicine, grief deals with the lung channel, which goes from the thumb up the wrist, up the arm, and up into the chest," Bublitz said.

There are multiple spots that treat sadness or grief. Bublitz demonstrated this technique for KTTC and explained how the needles she used go into the body about an eighth of an inch. She described the touch of the needle as "virtually painless."

The mind, body connection can be difficult for many to grasp. Clinical Counselor Debbie Fuehrer works in Mind Body Medicine and encourages grieving patients to seek a variety of treatments."If you feel like, 'I'm overwhelmed. My mind is wandering. I can't concentrate anymore,'" she said.

"We get a lot of skeptics, and I tell them, actually if you're a skeptic, stay a skeptic and report back to me after a few visits," Do said. "Honestly, I didn't really believe in it at first either, so I kind of went into it being a skeptical person, and once it worked, it was just amazing," Adamson said.

Mayo Clinic has a replica statue of an ancient acupuncture teaching tool near its Integrative Medicine and Health area. It was a gift to Mayo Clinic. You can learn more in the KTTC Web Extra video above, featuring Heritage Hall Director Matthew Dacy and Acupuncturist Alexander Do explaining how that tool worked in ancient times. 

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Experience Life Magazine 

Whole - Person Cancer Care

Many hospitals now offer alternative or complementary treatment options for battling cancer. Chief among them is acupuncture.
Research backs its effectiveness in relieving cancer-treatment side effects, including radiation-related hot flashes, dry mouth, peripheral neuropathy, and fatigue. A 2017 report published in Current Oncology found that acupuncture significantly reduced gastrointestinal symptoms from chemotherapy. Acupuncture tends to be inexpensive, especially compared with pharmaceutical options. And for some patients, it can provide as much pain relief as opioids do, with fewer side effects. 
Studies emphasize acupuncture’s utility in relieving side effects of treatment, but show it can be part of a preventive strategy, as well. 
“Cancer is usually the result of a lot of imbalance that has been going on for a while,” says Tomás Flesher, LAc, owner of Three Treasures Natural Healing in Minneapolis. The body is a collection of dynamic energies, Flesher explains. Acupuncture practitioners often compare these energies, called chi (pronounced “chee”), to a river in the body: When it’s high, everything flows as it should; when it’s low, debris gets stuck, causing illness. Acupuncture works to balance those energies before disease sets in.
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The Art of Acupuncture:  Chinese medicine helps seniors optimize their lives

Western medicine is "about making sure you're not sick," but in Chinese medicine, "you're trying to optimize somebody's life, so they feel as good as they can, have as much energy and joy as they can."

That's according to Senia Tuominen, whose Healing InSight practice on Grand Avenue in St. Paul offers acupuncture, nutritional counseling and herbs. Tuominen calls those "tools I can use," but she said that Chinese medicine is "not about just me going in and fixing something. There's a collaboration. We can give you tools, counsel and coach you."

"When I got into this field, I thought it was going to be lots of young people like me wanting to do alternative medicine," Tuominen said. "I couldn't believe how many seniors have come to my practice. They're not feeble, ill or weak. I call them the young at heart."

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Michael Egan L.Ac, from Allina Health joins Liz Collin in-studio to talk about alternative treatments for chronic pain disorder and fibromyalgia. 


MN Physician's Article

Here's a copy of the Article that was published in the MN Physician magazine that you can forward to patients and friends!

MN Physican Acupuncture Article 2016.pdf

Abbot Pioneers Acupuncture in the ER 

Abbott Northwestern Hospital is reporting success using acupuncture in its emergency room to treat conditions ranging from car accident injuries to migraines to kidney stones, and hoping to prove that the traditional Chinese treatment can reduce doctors’ reliance on addictive opioids to manage patients’ pain.

The Minneapolis hospital was the first in the nation to staff its ER with an acupuncturist two years ago, as part of a broader campaign to promote Eastern remedies as complements to Western mainstream medicine.

After tracking 182 patients, it reported this month that pain scores in those who received acupuncture alone dropped by the same amount as those who also received analgesic painkillers.

“No matter what I’m treating them for, many patients report feeling calmer, more relaxed, less anxious,” said Adam Reinstein, the acupuncturist in Abbott’s ER.

Coordinating with doctors and nurses on weekdays, Reinstein finds patients willing to receive acupuncture. He then places needles strategically in their skin to provide overall pain relief and relaxation, or to target pain in specific body parts.

The free service is designed to supplement whatever other care patients receive, but Reinstein said there have been cases when it pre-empted the need for prescription painkillers and shortened patients’ ER stays. Now the goal is to measure just how much acupuncture in and of itself makes a difference.

The study published by Reinstein and Jeffery Dusek of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing this month in the journal Pain Medicine found equivalent pain relief in patients who received acupuncture alone, but also reductions in their anxiety. The “observational” study had limits, though, including the chance that the acupuncture recipients might have been more likely to recover faster in the first place, and that there was no comparison group who only received painkillers.

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