Introducing Community Acupuncture to Beaufort

8 mins read

By Sande Triponey

Community acupuncture clinics are opening all over the country. You find them in most big cities, and some smaller towns. In the Lowcountry, there are community acupuncture clinics in Charleston and Savannah — and now in Beaufort.

The idea is simple: By providing an open room and a quiet and peaceful atmosphere with comfortable recliners, multiple patients can receive acupuncture at the same time. This model of providing acupuncture care allows the practitioner to reduce the cost to the patient by treating many people per hour. The community acupuncture model is based on the traditional style of treatment practiced in Asia. It is the brainchild of Lisa Rohleder, L.Ac, and Skip Van Meter, L.Ac. of Working Class Acupuncture in Portland, Oregon. Nobel Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus defines community acupuncture clinics as social businesses. 

Let’s briefly review what acupuncture is. As we know, the body is its own energy system with every cell being an energy machine. This is the Qi (aka chi, ki, or prana) of the body and what is tapped into during an acupuncture treatment. Qi is accessed through acupoints on the skin found along pathways (called channels or meridians) created by blood vessels, nerves, lymph vessels and fascia that connect different areas and systems of the body. Yes, like the children’s song says, your ankle bone is connected to your neck bone – through meridians. Acupoints are “opened” with hair-thin acupuncture needles that are roughly the width of a cat’s whisker and just as flexible. When the needles are removed, the points “close.” Regulated by the FDA, acupuncture needles aren’t the same as hypodermic needles because they are solid and nothing goes into or comes out of an acupuncture needle. Some patients report the sensation of an acupuncture needle feels like a mosquito bite and most report they feel nothing at all. In doubt? Ask someone who has had acupuncture.

Because disease or dysfunction doesn’t typically happen overnight, it takes the body a while to stop and reverse the disease process and regain balance and health. Acupuncture triggers and supports the body’s innate healing ability and reinforces the healing process, making treatments most effective when received frequently and regularly. The true benefits of acupuncture are cumulative, so in most cases weekly or bi-weekly treatment is essential for more lasting results. A sprained ankle with immediate attention may take only one or two treatments. Long-term challenges like fatigue or depression may take a few months of treatment. And regular acupuncture treatment is remarkable at promoting and maintaining good health. Hence, the benefit of community acupuncture: frequent, regular treatment at low cost. 

The fee structure of community acupuncture allows you to get healthy and stay healthy at a price you can afford, and you can pay a different amount at each visit. If one day you have a bunch of expenses and can’t afford your regular payment, pay a little less. If one day you win the lottery, well…

In the community setting, you will be surrounded by other people quietly receiving acupuncture treatment at the same time, reclining in comfort. Just like in a private acupuncture setting, the ambiance of the space is peaceful and relaxing with soothing music and soft lighting. At Beaufort Acupuncture there are eight recliners arranged in two rows. Attention is given to your personal space. There is no difference in the quality of treatment between community-style and private acupuncture. Points are used on the scalp, and below the elbows and knees to treat the entire body in both private and community-style acupuncture. During community acupuncture you remain fully clothed and will be asked to remove your socks and shoes and to roll up your pant legs and sleeves, so it is highly recommended that you wear loose-fitting clothing.

Acupuncture has become a hot topic in recent decades. Since 2002, 1.3 million more Americans are using acupuncture. Ongoing scientific studies find acupuncture effective to treat all kinds of pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Allergies, sinusitis and respiratory problems are found to respond favorably with acupuncture treatment, as are digestive complaints. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for more than 28 diseases with 60 more currently being studied. As acupuncture has been keeping the Asian population healthy for many millennia, research proving efficacy is a modern bonus. The military has begun using acupuncture to effectively treat PTSD and to triage pain on the battlefield. In 2015, the American College of Physicians recommended acupuncture for pain before prescribing opioids. 

As in other healthcare professions, acupuncturists must be licensed to practice in South Carolina. Education must be obtained from schools accredited to teach acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and multiple board exams must be passed. Continuing education requirements must be met every year to maintain licensure.

Services at community acupuncture clinics are often offered by appointment. Appointments are scheduled every 10-15 minutes and you will most likely enter while others are being treated. During the initial intake interview, you will be asked to complete new patient forms and you will be able to privately discuss your reason for seeking treatment with the practitioner. At each follow-up visit, you will be asked to update the practitioner on anything that has changed since your last treatment. Treatments last anywhere from 60–90 minutes. You are welcome to bring your own blankets, pillows, eye cover and ear plugs to make yourself more comfortable.

Information on acupuncture, Community acupuncture and education and licensing requirements can be found at these websites: The People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (www.POCAcoop.com), the American Society of Acupuncturists (www.ASAcu.org), the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (www.NCCAOM.org) and the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (www.llr.sc.gov). 

Sande Triponey, LAc AP is the owner of Beaufort Acupuncture. She has been practicing alternative healing for more than 25 years. Sande holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Science and a Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine and is also licensed to practice in NC and FL.

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