We are starting off the year with a new addition to our Village, Ari Odamaki, Board Certified Acupuncturist. Ari will be taking on new clients and will be available at our Shaler location. Appointments can be made by reaching Ari at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718.737.6350) For more information about Ari, please visit her website at ariodamakiacupuncture.com
Find out more about her in our interview below.
How did you get started in acupuncture. What’s your inspiration?
I was first introduced to acupuncture as an undergraduate student in NYC. I had chronic neck and shoulder tension since my teenage years, which had worsened in college due to stress. The student health clinic at my college began offering acupuncture and out of curiosity I signed up for a few sessions. I discovered not only did my neck and shoulders feel better, I also felt more relaxed and had better concentration during that semester. A year later, I was under the care of a physical therapist for a meniscus tear, and as it turned out, he was in his final year of acupuncture school. I had the opportunity to visit the teaching clinic at his acupuncture school (at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture, where I later enrolled) after straining my low back and experienced almost immediate relief. His well-rounded approach to pain management left an impression. Another great influence on my journey into holistic health a few years earlier, was an integrative doctor who helped me during a bout of chronic fatigue and a myriad of symptoms which my primary care physician was unable diagnose. Through an improved diet and taking nutritional and homeopathic supplements, I was able to regain my energy and felt better than I had in years. I learned the importance of being heard and acknowledged, which is an important aspect in the process of healing and wellness. Fast forward a few more years and I was working in textile design in the fashion industry. While I enjoyed my work and found it satisfying, there was something important missing; a sense of greater purpose. Around this time, I had a close friend who bravely fought and ultimately lost her battle with lymphangioleiomyomatosis. She taught me important lessons which I’m still learning; how to live with courage, dignity and grace, how to achieve health and happiness even in illness. I witnessed the challenges she faced advocating for herself and navigating the healthcare system. After her passing, I decided to change career paths and prepared to enroll in a graduate program for acupuncture. I was fortunate to be under the care of a massage therapist at the time, who encouraged me to pursue my goals.
What inspires me are my parents, friends, and professional mentors who demonstrate compassion through their work and interactions with others and ultimately how to deepen our humanity. I’m also inspired by people who have sought care of my acupuncture services over the years as they have been integral to my growth as a practitioner. I have immense gratitude for my Kampo teacher, Nigel Dawes, for his many years of mentorship. I feel encouraged and supported by the talented and diverse practitioners I continue to meet within the holistic health community in Pittsburgh.
What is something people may not know about the practice of acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient medical system developed in China over 2,500 years ago. The spread of Chinese acupuncture and herbology to Korea and Japan occurred in the 6th century. These countries still utilize both therapies in their modern medical systems along with Western medicine. Acupuncture arrived in Vietnam between the 8th and 10th centuries through trade routes. In the West, Jesuit missionaries brought back reports of acupuncture in the 16th century and the practice was adopted by French clinicians. America and Britain became interested in acupuncture in the first half of the 19th century and appeared in various scientific literature. In 1971, acupuncture was back in the spotlight, when a US press corps was given acupuncture during recovery from an emergency appendectomy in China. With the spread of acupuncture to many cultures throughout history, various styles of acupuncture originating from different countries emerged and are practiced today.
Acupuncture is a physiological medicine and works through neural signaling. Most acupuncture points are located on or adjacent to peripheral nerve trunks or branches, which are rich in nerve supply, blood and lymphatic vessels. Acupuncture balances the autonomic nervous system and restores homeostasis. By stimulating the release of oxytocin, a hormone that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system while turning down the sympathetic nervous system, it reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and promotes relaxation. Acupuncture creates an anti-inflammatory response in the body and increases blood flow. Insertion of acupuncture needles send a signal through the nervous system to the brain, releasing chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine, and enkephalin which are natural painkillers.
What is your approach to holistic therapy?
My approach is working together to achieve your full potential for health. What I love about acupuncture is that it allows me to treat the individual as a whole person and address the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of wellness. In Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is one of the 5 pillars of health. This means there are many components to wellness, including self- cultivation of healthy habits and empowers you to be in charge of your own healing process.
Whether someone is coming to see me for stress reduction, management of a chronic condition, or help with a pain or injury, I like to provide self-care tips to incorporate at home between sessions for optimal results.
What can clients expect when they sign up for an acupuncture session with you?
An initial acupuncture session is approximately 75 minutes to allow for time for a full intake, assessment and treatment. We will discuss your health history and what your health goals are. Follow up sessions are approximately 60 minutes where we will review progress and current symptoms before treatment. Each session is tailored to you and depending on your specific needs, I will incorporate acupuncture with other modalities such as moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, tui na, and electro-acupuncture. My acupuncture training at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture included Traditional Chinese Medicine, Japanese Acupuncture in the teachings of Kiiko Matsumoto, and Acupuncture Physical Medicine developed by Dr. Mark Seem during which I received extensive training in trigger point acupuncture. I’m also certified in facial rejuvenation acupuncture which I offer as a specialty. I integrate various styles of acupuncture to effectively treat and offer support for a wide range of conditions including stress, women’s health, fertility, acute and chronic illness, pain and sports injuries.
What’s your favorite health tip that you practice yourself and that you recommend to clients?
I have a variety of health tips. So I’ll name a few that I incorporate into my daily routine which I think almost anyone could benefit from. I think it’s important to eat according to the seasons and www.seasonalfoodguide.org makes it easier to find what is in season locally. Drink warm or room temperature water, avoid cold and iced beverages as this is not beneficial for digestion, which is especially important in the fall and winter. Soups, stews and congee are great for colder months. During the warmer months, I recommend adding steamed veggies or ingredients that are cooked to salads to increase digestibility. When I have fresh juices in the summer, I like to add ginger or turmeric to aid with digestion. Growing up in a Japanese household, my family and I would drink green tea after our meals. A non-caffeinated alternative I recommend is ginger tea. During the cold season, garlic, ginger and turmeric are staples in my cooking. Traditional fermented foods are rich in probiotics and promote healthy gut bacteria that boost the immune system. My favorites are sauerkraut and kimchi available at the farmers market. Epsom baths are not only great for alleviating sore muscles and reducing inflammation but also beneficial for relaxation and sleep. Along with Vitamin D deficiency, many of us are magnesium deficient. Magnesium sulfate in epsom salts relax muscles and reduce stress. It also assists the body in flushing out toxins. I usually recommend 2 cups of epsom salt in a bathtub. Foot baths are also a quick and effective routine for relaxation. Add a cup of epsom salt in a half-filled tub and soak your feet several hours before bedtime. I like to add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Try to avoid tv, laptops and smartphones right before bed, as electronics emit a particular type of blue light that interrupt the brain from producing melatonin. Since sleep is essential for the body’s regenerative abilities, incorporating self-care routines before bed prepares us for relaxation and better sleep.