Name: Kate Kent
Occupation: Acupuncturist & Instructor
You want to stick what, where? Relax, it doesn’t hurt. Rather, acupuncture is designed to do just the opposite.
Whether you’re plagued with aches and pains from sitting at the keyboard, or you’re tossing and turning from 12 to seven thanks to your nine to five, relief might be in sight with this painless ancient Chinese practice of pricking the body with disposable, sterilized needles.
Its purpose, says Kate Kent, 59, director of acupuncture at the SSC Acupuncture Institute, is to regulate the body’s natural chi (pronounced “chee”) or energy flow, which becomes blocked as a result of stress or sickness.
Symptoms of such blockages include pain, fatigue and anxiety, and if left untreated or exacerbated can become chronic.
“We have channels or meridians running through the body carrying our chi,” explains Kent. “The blood carries the chi to every major organ in our body. Along each channel are little stops, like Esso stations, that collect energy. This is where the needles are inserted and the energy is either cranked up or lowered with the intent of balancing the body’s flow of chi.”
Of course, the advent of acupuncture has not been without difficulty.
Ian Suk — an old buddy of mine — shared the story of how his father had emigrated to Canada in the 70s with the hope of continuing his career as an esteemed acupuncturist only to be quickly shut down by the government thanks to the cries of community fear mongers waging burning crosses over such mystifying foreign practices. Four decades later, times have changed. The World Health Organization now recognizes acupuncture’s therapeutic benefits, and the Ministry of Health is in the process of regulating it in Ontario. Many health plans also cover acupuncture.
“Acupuncture, like shiatsu, is viewed by us as complementary not alternative treatments to Western medical practices,” stresses Greg Wilson, 29, the Institute’s communication and recruitment manager. “It’s important to research the credibility of an acupuncture course and practioner.”
There is scientific evidence suggesting acupuncture has a direct effect on the body in terms of helping muscles relax, promoting blood circulation and enhancing mood.
Such discoveries might very well explain why more western-trained nurses, chiropractors, kinesiologists and occupational therapists are making it a point to point needles into their patients as a supplementary form of health care, adds Enza Ierullo, 43, the Institute’s executive director.
And there are those, like Anne Hughes, 33, who is pursuing a diploma in acupuncture with the hope of returning to Ireland to start her own practice.
“It may be rare, but it is definitely an interesting career to consider,” says Hughes Course and treatment information with the SSC Acupuncture Institute is available by calling 416-323-1818. It is linked to the Shiatsu School of Canada, which is at 547 College St.