Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing Arganica Argan Oil, unique in that it doesn't simply contain argan oil as most others do. It also contains skin-loving essential oils that further benefit skin. At that time I had no idea that Bianca Beldini, the woman behind the brand, also owned her own Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine clinic, Sacred Space Acupuncture in New York. After I watched a video of her on her website, she seemed very relatable and I hoped she'd want to chat with me about what she does. I'm thrilled she wanted to do an interview so I could learn more about acupuncture and share our Q&A with you.
Interview With Bianca Beldini of Sacred Space Acupuncture:
FS: What did you do before owning your own Acupuncture practice?
BB: Before owning my own private Acupuncture practice, I was a Physical Therapist. After years of rehabilitating patients under the umbrella of western conventional medicine, I knew that there was a piece missing. Western medicine focuses primarily on the symptoms at hand without much thought or questioning of the mind-body-psyche continuum. If we can really understand that one who "holds their issues in their tissues" then treatment strategies can include addressing both symptoms and root causes.
FS: How did you discover Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?
BB: As any bodyworker knows, treating patients over treatment tables can take a toll on your own body mechanics. I specialized in manual therapy so my hands were on patients for most of their treatment. Over time, I began experiencing pain in my neck with subsequent nightly episodes of numbness and tingling and some loss of strength and dexterity in my dominant arm/hand. I was convinced that I had a herniated disc in my neck causing neurological symptoms. This hindered my ability to work and my daily functioning. I had become depressed. Oddly enough, I met a new patient assigned to me with the exact issue I was faced with. At their intake, we spoke about alternative types of treatment and "Acupuncture" came up. This was in 1999 and Acupuncture wasn't a popular topic especially in the world of Physical Therapy.
FS: When did you know you wanted Acupuncture to be your profession?
BB: I had contacted a few Acupuncture schools in NYC to inquire about their programs while I was experiencing my neck pain and arm numbness. One of the schools invited me to be a patient at their student clinic so I could experience Acupuncture first hand. I had no idea what to expect except it was about to take me on a journey I never really knew existed. During that first treatment, they inserted a needle into my upper shoulder (close to where the shoulder and neck meets) into a muscle called the Upper Trapezius. I had my eyes closed and wasnt watching what they were doing but I was curious as to why it felt as if there was liquid being poured down my arm. As new students, they didnt have an answer for me about the liquid feeling right then but I knew something felt different. That evening was the first in months that I slept throughout the night without neck pain or arm numbness. I woke up in disbelief, called the school immediately and enrolled in the four year double Masters program. I wanted to know everything there was about Acupuncture and how it profoundly changed my life.
FS: What do you think a common misconception about Acupuncture is?
BB: I think that a big misconception is that it is "painful". I believe also that a good practitioner can gauge a patients pain tolerance level. My philosophy is to be very cognizant of how a patient is presenting on the table. If you feel that they are tensing because they are fearful or having a nervous reaction, needling softly will benefit them the most. It is also pretty common to unlock emotions from areas where people tend to somatize their issues. That being said, it is important to make patients connect the mind-body-psyche connection.
FS: What is Acupuncture and how does it work?
BB: From a Western perspective, Acupuncture works on many physiological levels: 1. It improves circulation to tissue by causing a slight histamine reaction at the needle sight 2. It calms and balances the autonomic nervous system (the involuntary system that controls fight or flight and rest or digest) 3. It has an effect on neurotransmitters by releasing seratonin and different hormone regulators 4. It has a modulating effect on the immune system 5. It helps to control our pain responses. 6. Improves elasticity of muscle tissue through an energy crisis theory. In my clinical experience, if Acupuncture can ease someones physiological complaints, then their quality of life will improve as well as their clearness of mind, openness of heart and willingness to evolve on every level.
FS: Who is Acupuncture for?
FS: What types of ailments have you personally seen Acupuncture help with?
BB: I have two specialties: 1. Orthopedic conditions involving restricted muscular tissue. I specialize in Dance and Sports Rehabilitation and treat many professional ballerinas, professional and non-professional athletes, Broadway performers and I just recently finished touring with the Usher OMG tour. 2. Womens Health is a second specialty of mine as I feel that we women have not been educated well about ourselves, our health or our reproduction. I help women regulate their menstrual cycle after coming off birth control pills. I help women with their fertility when they are seeking pregnancy and have helped plenty of women avoid artificial labor inductions.
FS: What is the difference between Western Medicine and Oriental Medicine?
BB: There are so many differences and honestly it is a very difficult question to answer. Western medicine often relies on a snapshot of an individual at the time that someone is complaining of symptoms whereas Oriental medicine looks at a persons entire landscape (diet, sleep patterns, emotions, bowel habits, etc). Oriental medicine practitioners search for subtle imbalances that lead to obvious dysfunctions. Our belief is if you can essentially help someone "find and press their reset button" then you can help lead patients to optimal health and function! Western medicine often does not associate or tie together the mind-body continuum whereas Oriental medicine believes that there is no separation. Oriental medicine also uses Chinese herbal theories to create proper nutritious support for patients therefore treating someone externally with Acupuncture, bodywork and exercise and internally with proper diet.
FS: What kinds of ailments can it help with?
BB: Acupuncture does not "cure". It gently nudges the body to seek its own level of balance. Therefore, Acupuncture can help with any and all conditions.
FS: What would you tell someone who is interested in trying Acupuncture but apprehensive?
BB: You have nothing to lose. You only have the opportunity to gain insight into your own imbalances and how to till your own internal soil :-)