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Have You Been Punked?

Buffalo Alternative Therapies offers acupuncture at reasonable prices in a relaxing atmosphere

“Here in Buffalo, people are seeing colors and some have elaborate dreams!” Craig Labadie says. “The ‘group subconscious’ reveals that Buffalonians are creative people compared to Boston, where the minds are more scientific.”

While being punked, “some people meditate, some fall asleep, some snore and some daydream,” says Labadie an acupuncturist and owner of Buffalo Alternative Therapies, Buffalo’s first community acupuncture clinic.

There are about nine comfy ways to recline at the clinic at 452 Franklin Street, and many people receive treatments at the same time. The environment is conducive to relaxing, with soft music playing and flowing fabric on the ceiling. “People talk about a tapping into a greater, collective unconscious,” Labadie says. “When more people are relaxing it is easier to for them all to let go and relax while they are here.” As time passes, he explains, “the place takes on a life of its own. It’s the energy of the people who come here, and about the feel of community. I want this place to become a third place for people to go, between home and work. It’s nice to have this community style of acupuncture. It can take the nervousness away.”

There is no rush to get up and go, Labadie says: There is plenty of room, and those who come for treatment are encouraged to stay until they feel they are done.

“More people getting acupuncture is a good thing,” he says. “In China a typical course of treatment is eight consecutive days. The more frequent the treatments, the quicker the results, and we don’t want money to be a barrier.”

Based on the range of income in our area, Labadie offers a sliding scale of $15-$40 per treatment. “I am hoping that acupuncture will be more accepted, not something scary. It is all-inclusive. It works on everyone, no matter who they are. The idea is to make it affordable enough so people will start to come in and take pride in investing in their health and well-being.”

There have been community acupuncture clinics in our neighboring cities of Rochester, Toronto, Glens Falls, and Ithaca for some time. “In ancient times, families who practiced acupuncture had combinations of secret points they would use, almost like a recipe,” Labadie explains. “The barefoot doctors would go from town to town treating people.” Today you can find a clinic and get “punked” anywhere in the world by visiting www.pocacoop.com, the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture website.

The needles used in a treatment are as thin as a hair. The insertion is basically painless, although you may feel a little pinch, which goes away in seconds. (If it doesn’t, let the acupuncturist know!) “People come in and describe what they want help with,” says Labadie. “It may be insomnia, pain, infertility, etc. If there is a complicated health history and a patient does not want to talk about it, it is their option not to. I want to provide a level of comfort and safety here. Then, I take pulses, look at the tongue. I may palpate areas of the body to see where pain is, then choose points on the body to put needles in based on that.” In community acupuncture you only have your arms and lower legs exposed. “We use distal points, elbows and knees down,” he says. “There are points that mirror other parts of the body, so for instance we could use a point on the ear or hand for back pain. There are some schools of thought that say not to needle the site of pain, instead, draw the inflammation away from where a muscle may be in spasm.”

Then, he explains, the patient lies back and relaxes as “the body does most of the healing.”

Although Labadie does not treat people with acupuncture in a private setting, one could have the decadent experience of a 90-minute massage from wife and business partner, Neilie Fabian, LMT. This experience could include traditional massage, cranial sacral work, and an acupuncture treatment afterwards. “In combination with chiropractic care or massage, the results last longer,” says Labadie.

There are acute health conditions acupuncture will not fix, like a broken bone, although it can speed the healing process. Labadie himself had great results with acupuncture after a bad bicycle accident. “It sped up the post-concussion symptoms in six to eight treatments right after the accident. I saw great results with acupuncture in conjunction with physical therapy.”

A series of acupuncture treatments are very helpful with “long-term chronic pain and for subtle, more mysterious symptoms,” he says.

Labadie practices the Japanese style of acupuncture. “This approach is more focused on finding the right points that have the most energy, so there are fewer needles in order to get the desired effect. The Chinese style uses more needles, deeper insertion, and more stimulation of the needles. It can really pack a punch.

“When I am feeling someone’s pulse, I am looking for imbalances. In Chinese medicine there are three pulses on each wrist. We look to see if they are all even, none too strong or too weak, that they are of middle depth in the wrist, and are not too fast or too slow. When someone is healthy, everything is working in harmony. In eastern terms, the needles are balancing the energy of the body through the acupuncture channels or meridians.”

Tuesday, May 1, May Day, Community Acupuncture’s birthday. There will be free acupuncture treatments at Buffalo Alternative Therapies. And, if you are stressed out or feeling sick, visit right away in order to head off the symptoms. Here’s to your health!

Jennifer Russo, MA, RYT, teaches public and private yoga classes at Hand to Heart Yoga, Niagara Ayurveda, Universal Design Yoga at UB, Wegmans stores, Westminster Early Childhood Program, and Heritage Centers.

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