Melissa Margolis on the Healing Powers of Acupuncture
by Gina Jaber
Photography by: Al Wright
Melissa Margolis is a local accupuncturist and Harvard grad who spent two years in medical school at UCSF.
What attracted you to acupuncture?
I was amazed at how effective a few well-placed needles could be at relieving such a variety of ailments, and I was drawn to the soothing ambiance of the acupuncture practices I visited. Acupuncture allowed me to work one-on-one using my individual skill set and style, without the demands of a large bureaucracy.
What are some common misconceptions?
A lot of people believe it to be unscientific or think that it works by placebo effect. But I’ve seen many skeptics change their mind once they let me put a few needles in. Another misconception is that acupuncture only treats pain. It’s especially effective for allergies, digestive issues, mood swings, insomnia and women’s health issues.
How can you help people get over their fear of needles?
The needles an acupuncturist uses are extremely thin and delicate, unlike hypodermics, and they produce little or no pain when inserted beneath the skin. I like to visualize the needles as little pressure release valves that take the “edge” off in areas where soreness has built up. They gently coax energy flow and circulation in the tissues, and they can make the body feel tingly and warm. As the surrounding muscle fibers begin to relax, the sensation can become so calm and quiet that one might even forget that the needles are there.
Is it true acupuncture treats the person rather than the illness?
Eastern Medicine is all about balance, and symptoms are never viewed in isolation but rather as interruptions in the homeostasis of the body. The goal of a treatment is to bring the whole body and emotional state into balance and restore optimal vitality, not just to reduce symptoms.
Why this profession?
When I began receiving acupuncture treatments and taking Chinese herbs, my health began to turn around. It felt like the acupuncture was recharging my batteries, and I was inspired to learn more. This started my journey into the world of hands-on healing. My curiosity took me to Asia, where I visited indigenous healers who treated maladies using herbs from their gardens and their tuned-in pairs of hands. These healers were calm and centered and treated their patients with receptivity, humility and grace. They were great role models to me.