Acupuncturist opens clinic in downtown Seaside

By Eve Marx

For Cannon Beach Gazette

Suffering from allergy, migraine, eczema, PMS, sciatica, carpel tunnel, fibromyalgia? These common complaints, among others, can be effectively and painlessly treated by the ancient Chinese medicine technique known as acupuncture.

Katharine Stewart is a graduate from the Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture. A founding faculty member at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture, the first accredited acupuncture college in Arizona, and a professor of Chinese medicine, Stewart served as clinic dean, acupuncture chair, and clinical supervisor. After years of private practice in Sedona, Stewart recently relocated to Seaside to open her new business, Ancient Health and Healing on North Holladay Drive.

“I missed the coast and wanted to come back to it,” Stewart said. A California native, she said that after being so long in Arizona, she had tired of the desert.

Acupuncture is a modality of Asian medicine. Although individual practitioners may use a variety styles and techniques, acupuncture mostly consists of inserting fine needles into the body at specific points. These points, called acupoints — and there are over 1,000 of them — have been mapped by the Chinese for 2,000 years.

How acupuncture works is actually a bit mysterious.

“Traditional acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories,” Stewart said. “It’s based on the flow of qi, a fine, essential substance which nourishes and constructs the body through distinct channels, somewhat like nerves and blood vessels.” According to these theories, acupuncture adjusts the flow of qi, leading it to areas where it is insufficient, and draining it from areas where it’s stuck or superabundant. “Acupuncture restores the harmonious balance of the body and its parts,” Stewart said. “In Chinese, there is a saying, ‘If there is pain, there is no free flow; if there free flow there is no pain.’ Acupuncture promotes and reestablishes qi’s free flow.”

Although Stewart offers clients private sessions, one of the goals for her clinic is group acupuncture.

“People may be confused when I use the word ‘group’” she said. “It’s not like group therapy. There’s no communicating between clients.” What she described, which is a Chinese method, is more than one person being treated at the same time. “While the needles are in one person, which is usually for about 20 minutes, I can be taking a medical history or inquiring about what’s bothering the person who just came in,” Stewart said.

Her clinic, an inviting, peaceful, clean, and quiet space, is set up to handle up to three clients at one time.

“Every person gets a private consultation in a separate room, and a treatment personalized for them each time they come,” Stewart said. “Appointments are staggered 15 minutes apart, so there can be up to three people in the treatment room, but coming and going at different times.”

She said acupuncture in a group setting also enables clients to experience the healing power of collective energy, and receive acupuncture at an affordable rate.

“It was very important to me to make acupuncture affordable,” Stewart said. “It’s already a painless and accessible method for treating multiple conditions and ailments, suitable for adults, pregnant women, even kids.”

Stewart discovered acupuncture when she was in her 20s and suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. “It was my mother who suggested I try acupuncture since nothing else was working,” she said.

It was a big leap for a person who was initially terrified of needles. She learned that acupuncture needles don’t hurt.

After six weeks of a treatment combining acupuncture with Chinese herbs, Stewart felt cured. Soon after, she enrolled in school to study acupuncture and make it her life work.

“Because my technique is so gentle, most children have a good experience getting a treatment,” Stewart said. “Generally, the younger the child, the less needles and the less time the needles are left in, but I work with each child individually. Most childhood conditions respond favorably to treatments, including allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal problems and eczema.”

The only requirement for receiving acupuncture is the ability to hold still for 15 or 20 minutes and to relax. Clients are advised to wear loose clothing and avoid treatment when they are excessively fatigued, hungry, or emotionally disturbed.

How many sessions does it take to get results?

“That depends on the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint,” Stewart said. “Sometimes one treatment is all it takes if the condition is acute.”

Chronic issues normally require five to 10 treatments to resolve. Some degenerative conditions may require multiple treatments and it’s not unusual for the practitioner to suggest dietary modifications, self-massage, and Chinese herbs.

Stewart said she was drawn to the natural beauty of Seaside and she saw a need for another acupuncturist in the area.

Group sessions are personalized. Family sessions are encouraged. Stewart has a private consultation room away from the treatment area. She offers zero gravity lounge chairs and massage tables so each person can receive the specialized care they need. Group clinic hours and booking appointments are available on line. Go to www.ancienthealthandhealing.com and click on the Seaside Acupuncture tab to check availability, cost and secure an appointment.

Ancient Health and Healing Acupuncture is located at 10B Holladay Drive in Seaside.

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