Acupuncture a safe alternative to prescription drugs

Total body wellness is the goal of this Eastern therapy

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Corey Bacon owns Mountain Thunder Acupuncture in Alpena, offering an alternative to prescription medication for treating pain and other ailments.

ALPENA — While many Americans head to their primary care physician for prescription pills to treat their ailments, a local small business owner says acupuncture is a safe, effective, natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, with a focus on total body wellness.

“Acupuncture is a completely different world,” said Corey Bacon, owner of Mountain Thunder Acupuncture, located at 108 Water Street in Alpena. “Patients come to me and they have no background in acupuncture whatsoever.”

Bacon explained why it differs from what most patients have grown accustomed to when seeking medical attention.

“Why this is a completely different world than Western medicine is that Western medicine treats you as a machine,” he said. “So, either something is broken, say a tendon is ruptured, so let’s sew it back together, a bone is broken, so let’s set it, or there’s a chemical problem. … So, from Western medicine’s perspective, it’s all mechanical, even though we’ve seen lots and lots of research on what stress can do, and that what’s going on in your life can affect your body. … Acupuncture really truly is a holistic medicine in that it incorporates mind, body, spirit.”

He said the first thing patients should understand is that it’s not a “quick fix.” Treatments work over time.

“Acupuncture is a cumulative,” Bacon said. “So, it’s something that can improve as it goes on. It’s not like you go to the doctor and you get a shot, and it either works or it doesn’t.”

With acupuncture, “As treatments go on, then the changes start to happen,” he said.

It differs from person to person, he added.

“People call and ask, ‘What do you do for diabetes?’ or ‘What do you do for MS?’ but you have to come in, because it’s completely dependent on the person,” Bacon explained. “In acupuncture, diagnosis is based on the person, it’s based on the whole body system.”

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin at strategic points in the body. Traditionally used to treat pain in Chinese medicine, it can be used to treat many issues across the board, including stress management. As each person is unique, some may feel the pin pricks, but others may not feel them at all.

“I can’t predict who is going to get something from a treatment, and who isn’t, on their first treatment,” Bacon said. “Some people will get immediate changes, big changes. … You do get those miracle treatments people talk about, but it doesn’t happen often.”

He said acupuncture is not like Western medicine, and people need to realize it takes time to produce results.

“So that’s a real frustrating misunderstanding about acupuncture here,” he said. “Not only is it a cumulative, but it’s an intensely complex medicine.”

Bacon has been practicing in Alpena since 2013 in various locations. He hopes to help educate people in our area so they will not be afraid to try acupuncture, which he said could be a great benefit to their health and well-being.

“I started studying Tai chi back in 2000,” Bacon said, “and through that, I started studying other martial arts as well, but just studying the philosophy behind all these Eastern martial arts, you see this ‘mind, body, spirit.’ And I’d had no luck with Western medicine, really at all in my life. It’s done nothing for me except cost money. So … I thought, ‘There’s got to be something more out there.’ I was just fascinated by it, and I knew by the time I went to massage school back in 2001 that eventually I wanted to go into acupuncture.”

“Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body,” according to mayoclinic.org. “By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will rebalance.”

Bacon first became a licensed massage therapist, then went into nursing, then pursued and finished his master’s degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, Ore. He said the master’s program in acupuncture is an intensive four-year program that requires more schooling than obtaining a doctoral degree in physical therapy.

He is nationally certified in accupuncture, which he said is “the gold standard” because licensing differs from state to state. Nationally-recognized certification is done through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Often, especially in Michigan, medical insurance does not cover acupuncture services, which Bacon said is one of the challenges of practicing in Northeast Michigan.

“In Oregon, just about any medical insurance would cover acupuncture,” Bacon explained.

He said in Michigan, he can accept insurance from some companies, but many require a medical doctor to perform the acupuncture, which he said makes no sense because doctors receive minimal training for it.

“Doctors have, like, two weekends worth of training,” he said. “So it doesn’t make any sense.”

A Registered Acupuncturist, or RAc, is required to complete 1,905 hours of education including 660 hours of clinical training, according to the Michigan Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine website.

For an appointment, call Bacon at 989-916-7243. His office hours are Tuesday through Friday by appointment only. For more information, go to the Mountain Thunder website at mtnthunderacu.com, where a quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin states, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Darby Hinkley can be reached via email at dhinkley@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 989-358-5691.