Name: Jennifer Woolf
Owner, Concord Community Acupuncture
How long have you been practicing acupuncture? How did you get started?
I've been practicing for eight or nine years, and I got started because I had a health issue and acupuncture was what made it better. So I was thinking about changing careers and finding a job I could do long term, and I chose this, because you can be a little old lady and do it, it's not physically taxing. And it definitely keeps your mind sharp, no pun intended.
What are some common ailments acupuncture can treat?
Back pain, leg pain, headaches, all kinds of pain. That's number one, and it can be chronic or acute pain. As a close second, and maybe tied for first, would be the effects of stress. This country is so stressed right now.
What about acupuncture is so relaxing/soothing/therapeutic?
People still aren't really certain how acupuncture works. There are a lot of theories. Recent research shows a very close relationship to the nervous system, but not just the stuff you can see. You're not aiming the needles at a nerve. But it's super relaxing. In this clinic, we have comfortable chairs, soft lighting - it's very mellow. You kind of have no choice but to go to sleep.
What are some common misconceptions about acupuncture?
That it hurts. But the needles are so tiny. Super, super tiny. Or that it's expensive. We have a sliding scale from $15 to $35, whatever you feel you can pay.
Another misconception is that it's somehow dirty or disease-transmitting. We have strict protocols about being clean. Everything has to be super clean. And the needles have to be brand new and always have to be disposed of immediately afterward.
What kind of training did you have to go through to become an acupuncturist?
You go to acupuncture school. I did a four-year program, an MS program. There is another way - you can be an intern or apprentice, but that takes years and years and you still have to take the national exams. Most apprenticeships take about seven years. In school, we would practice on each other, and you quickly learn who you don't want to practice with.
Can you perform acupuncture on yourself?
You can, but you really shouldn't. It wouldn't have the same effect, because your brain and eyes are watching it.
Are you afraid of getting shots at the doctor?
No, I'm not needle-phobic. But I went to school with someone who halfway through when we got to the needle part quit and went to massage school. You have to be confident just practicing.
Do you have any tattoos?
No. A lot of acupuncturists do, but I don't. I wouldn't mind having one, I just have never done it. But I do watch other needle-based activities to see how they are regulated.
Walking across hot coals. It's really fun, you should try it.
I go to a Manchester studio and get acupuncture done there.