An ancient approach to healing
Before Deborah Owen removes dozens of hair-like needles from Noah Frohlich’s arms and legs, he looks serenely at the art on the wall.
Both Frohlich, 27, and Owen, 58, are licensed acupuncturists and art enthusiasts who accommodate 20–30 appointments a week at Northeast Community Acupuncture, a small clinic located above the Frank Stone Art Gallery.
Frohlich, Owen and a third acupuncturist, Robert Lowry Jr., treat patients a little differently than at a traditional doctor’s office. Inside a room that doubles as an art gallery, they use a sliding fee scale roughly the equivalent of a co-payment and treat a variety of ailments including lower back pain, nausea and hiccups with acupuncture in a group setting.
They recently spoke with the Downtown Journal about their work.
DTJ: How exactly does acupuncture work?
Owen: What we’re doing is stimulating the body’s healing response by stimulating the chi in the body.
What is chi?
Owen: You can translate it as vital energy. It has a force like gravity does, so you see the effects of it like you see the effects of gravity more than you can tell exactly what it is. So we know it mostly by what it does. What I say is that it stimulates the body’s response to get back to dynamic balance and in terms of metabolism and physiology and physiological function of the body.
Frohlich: It’s like accessing your body’s inner-pharmacy. There’s a saying that “Chi is energy on the verge of becoming matter, and matter is on the verge of becoming energy.”
What are the most common reasons people seek acupuncture?
Owen: Pain is a really common one. But once you get here, you start to see all the other things acupuncture can do and it’s common to treat for whatever else is going on. So then it expands out into pretty much any area.
Frohlich: It goes everywhere from digestive issues all the way to people going through radiation, chemotherapy. People come in with nausea, they’re dizzy, and acupuncture is very effective at relieving that.
I understand that at this clinic you only use points below the knee and below the elbow. Why?
Owen: As you get toward the extremities, there are nerve endings and blood supply. There’s lots more activity going on. We tend to take advantage of these points that are below the knees and below the elbows.
What is the purpose of having a group receive acupuncture together?
Frohlich: When you’re sitting in a room with other people getting acupuncture, it can put you at ease. You’re like, “Oh, well they are getting [it] and they seem to really be enjoying it.” Sometimes that decreases the anxiety of being in a separate room getting needled if you don’t know what to expect. But when you’re in a room with people healing at the same time it creates a healing environment in the room. It’s almost like it’s in the air. We call it the “group chi effect,” and that can actually heighten the acupuncture experience and create a more positive healing environment for you and for everyone in the room.
Why did you choose to serve the Northeast community?
Owen: Northeast has a really nice community feel to it. There’s a lot of networking that goes on in the community and we support each other. We want to support artists. And we wanted to have art in the space as well as a way to extend the community support and commitment to what goes on in the neighborhood. So we’re an art gallery, too.
How much does treatment cost?
Frohlich: It’s on a sliding fee scale, so it’s just pay what you can afford — $15 to $40 is the scale that we operate on. The first treatment is an additional $10 based on doing longer time for intake. After that, you put your money in an envelope and you pay whatever you want. No questions asked. And you come in and sit down and get your treatment and that’s it. So we leave it up to the patient — [based on] the pain [they are experiencing], the scheduling, it’s all up to them.