Being in pain is not a sign of weakness. But, as author Lori Deschene points out, “bearing it alone is a choice to grow weak.”

Thanks to Cannon Beach acupuncturist Genevieve Johnson, bearing pain alone won’t be an option.

Johnson was born and raised in Seattle, Wash. Despite moving with her family to outside of Chicago, Ill. as a teenager, she always knew she wanted to return to the Pacific Northwest.

“It was weird going from being surrounded by forests and the Cascades to being surrounded by corn fields,” she said.

As a young girl, Johnson became well-versed in dealing with discomfort. She had suffered chronic allergies and asthma since childhood, and traditional methods of treatment offered temporary relief at best.

Everyday things such as cats set off a chain reaction of allergic responses that ranged from uncomfortable to unbearable.

“I didn’t think there were any treatment options beyond what I had already tried,” she said. “I thought I would just have to live with it.”

Returning to Seattle, Johnson enrolled in Bastyr University, a school specializing in natural health education.

It was a choice that led her on a path to professional revelation and personal relief.

“In the course of my undergraduate studies, I became exposed to acupuncture for the first time,” Johnson said. “As a teenager, I’d heard of it, but I was not thrilled about needles of any kind, so it was a big leap for me.”

Johnson received her first acupuncture treatment as part of her class work and was amazed at the results.

“I couldn’t believe the transformation in myself,” she said. “It helped me relax, I had better focus in my studies and at work and it didn’t hurt at all.”

One of the most significant changes Johnson noticed was in her asthma and allergies.

“As time went on, the suffering from those conditions kept decreasing,” she said. “I used to be very allergic to cats, and one day, I was visiting a friend and kind of absently petting her cat when it dawned on me: I wasn’t affected at all. That was the moment I became a believer.”

With continued acupuncture treatments, Johnson’s allergies and asthma eventually disappeared altogether.

“I haven’t had an attack since I was 20,” she said. “From then on, I knew this was going to be the next phase of my life.”

Acupuncture works by regulating neurotransmitters, by positively affecting the immune system and by improving circulation.

Besides treating allergies and asthma, it is also used to treat such conditions as chronic pain, menopause, stress and anxiety.

Johnson graduated from Bastyr University in 2003 with a BS in Health Psychology and pre-medical sciences. She was so impressed with the results from acupuncture that she enrolled in Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland to become an acupuncturist.

After graduation, Johnson worked as a resident acupuncturist onboard a Holland America ship.

“I really enjoyed being able to travel and share what I had learned with others,” she said.

During her time aboard ship, Johnson gave treatments and lectures on the healing properties of acupuncture and natural medicine. She was delighted to find a largely positive reception among her audience.

“It was nice, because often there were doctors in the audience who would point out the quality of my educational background to those who might be skeptical of this kind of treatment,” she said.

After her time on the cruise ship ended, Johnson spent time working in Portland, including at Oregon Health & Science University.

But she soon learned how much she missed the ocean. She began exploring options for having her own practice in a place that would allow her to stay near the water.

“I happened to meet Nancy Burton, who had a practice in my current spot,” Johnson said. “She was moving to Ashland, and I was ready to have my own practice. It was perfect timing.”

Johnson opened the doors to Natural Health and Acupuncture at 1355 South Hemlock St. in Cannon Beach on Jan. 1, 2010 and immediately realized this was the place she was meant to be.

“Coming to the ocean is an escape from stress and anxiety for everyone,” she said.

While Johnson occasionally treats visitors from out of town, her main clientele consists of local residents.

“The people who live here are a diverse group who are very open to different methods of healing,” she said.

Johnson is delighted to be able to have a positive effect on people suffering from chronic conditions.

“I love seeing tangible results in people,” she said.

While people come to Johnson for a variety of reasons, pain relief is the most common.

“About 70 percent of my clients are looking for relief from chronic pain,” she said. “Acupuncture is ideal for pain management.”

Johnson also offers a variety of services tailored to each client’s health needs, including nutrition therapy, cooking classes and herbal formulas.

“Acupuncture is just one step to taking care of ourselves. There are so many other ways,” she said. “Eating well is the number one thing that drives me.”

Now, as a new mother to a 7-week old daughter, Johnson realizes that, now more than ever, health and happiness go hand-in-hand.

“I am so lucky to be doing something I love,” she said. “Maybe someone who first walked through the door wasn’t a believer in holistic treatments and I was their last hope. It’s an amazing feeling seeing the relief come over their faces.”

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