What makes us different

By May 7, 2018May 8th, 2018Uncategorized
Southtowns Acupuncture

We have been in Western New York for 5 years, most of which was served in extreme rural Allegany County, before we opened our present location in Hamburg. In that fantastic, challenging, remote location, we really came into our own professionally, having worked on so many difficult health conditions.  We also defined our mission and came to understand what I’ll call our “True North”, or our defining principles of service to humanity and commitment to our profession.

A lot of people are part time acupuncturists.  It isn’t an easy profession to define, is greatly misunderstood, and lacks much of the support that other professions enjoy.  But this is what we do full time – this is who we are, and that commitment will be evident from the minute you walk into our office.

Flexible Approach

It may come as some surprise to you that there are actually a wide variety of approaches acupuncturists can take in their practice.

As this profession is little understood, it is frankly our fault (as a profession, not personally) that we do a poor job of trying to clarify this to the public.  But I frequently find myself explaining to people that if they have tried other acupuncturists, we are likely to be quite different.  So if you have tried another acupuncturist somewhere and it “didn’t work”, it would be incredibly short sighted of you to not try again elsewhere.  (Of course, often it takes multiple visits to find improvement, regardless of where you are getting your acupuncture done).  Of course, with our practice you have the choice of seeing Sarah or Kevin, and we have no problem at all if you’d like to try us both at different times as we each bring our own sensibilities and nuanced skills to the table.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) is the catchphrase you’ll often hear.  The terminology is appropriately changing with the times… For example our school recently changed its name from the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine to the Seattle Institute of East Asian Medicine.  And this is so appropriate, with many different approaches from Japanese, China, and Korea to name a few.

You will find that we have an flexible, eclectic approach that draws from a number of different theories, ideas, and traditions, all of which can work (often together at the same time).  Basically, we also follow what we’ll call “TCM” for lack of a better word.  But we often practice other acupuncture approaches (Japanese, shonishin pediatric methods, scalp acupuncture, cosmetic facial rejuvenation, electrical stimulation, distal approaches such as Dr Tan), and of course we practice several related therapies, such as cupping, guasha, tuina medical massage, food therapy, qi gong and of course the grand mother of it all, Chinese Herbalism.

One treatment with us often will have you receiving more than one therapy, it really all depends on what is appropriate.


You not only can receive an eclectic array of bodywork and acupuncture from us, but you also have highly effective Chinese herbal formulas available to you.

Chinese herbology is a stunningly complex and successful field, and maybe less that half of all acupuncturists in practice in the United States practice with herbs at all.  Herbs are a gigantic part of our practice, and herbal medicine is in our mind, a fundamental part of the healing equation.

During the duration of our training, we exhaustively went through multiple texts of Classical Chinese medicine and translated them and discussed our translations with experts in the field.  (Most notably, the Shang Han Lun, or “On Cold Damage” which is a herbal text relevant to a cold weather climate similar to Buffalo).  As a matter of fact, our teachers are the ones who wrote the textbooks in many cases.  We were trained from among the best American instructors and got our information directly from the Chinese classic sources, like the Shang Han Lun and Wen Bing.

If you glance in our office, you will see about 100 formulas, with an additional 200 single herbs for modifications.  It is one thing to simply prescribe a Chinese formula… and selecting the best formula is a great (and fun) challenge.  But once you have a formula that works, we can also modify the formula with our extensive selection so it is truly individualized to your specific case.  A modified formula, when it is called for, will be far better than an unmodified formula.

Finally, I would add that we only recommend herbs for those we think will be helped by them.  We are not into sales – we are into improving your health using the knowledge and tools at our disposal.


It seemed a little silly to include a section on cupping.  However, having been in the Buffalo region for the better part of a year now, we have learned that practically no one in this region has received running cupping using glass fire cups.  This is just about the only cupping we do, and in Seattle, it was the only kind we were familiar with or trained in.  It is highly effective and feels amazing.  Virtually everyone loves it and asks for it, which is no problem if it is appropriate and you make sure to ask us in advance so we have time.

Many of us see “cup marks” on athletes and movie stars.  This comes from getting the suction on the cup and leaving it there.  Usually, you will see many of the marks on a person, because the therapist has left multiple cups on the back at the same time.  This is stationary cupping, because pretty much the cups stay there.

Our approach may also leave marks, but we use a “running” technique which takes more of our time and expertise with you.  For example, say we are cupping your back, either for pain or lung congestion or allergies or the like.  You will be lying face down shirtless or in a gown on our massage table.

Your back will be drizzled with high quality organic grapeseed oil and this prepares the skin to both receive the cup, and also allows it to glide (or “run”) on your back smoothly.

Once on your back, we can potentially slightly adjust the cup (let out a little air) or redo the cup to get a stronger suction – it depends on your comfort level.  We slowly move over and over tender and sore areas, opening up those channels and releasing the muscle and fascia layers.  It feels like a “reverse massage” because instead of being kneaded and pushed, these layers are being suctioned and pulled, but ever so slowly so as to allow for the body to unleash the tensions gently and deeply.

Having done running cupping on literally hundreds of people, we can say that virtually all of them love it, and almost everyone far prefers it to stationary cupping.

In skilled hands, we can easily find where the congested areas are, and so can you because these areas will be sore.  Over the course of several weeks, you will find that the congested sore spots become much less so.  You will feel magnificent, and the results are likely to last a good long time.

If you are interested in reading more about running cupping, PLEASE read some of the following essays.      (We particularly recommend “A Cupping Mark is Not a Bruise” or “Mending the Fascia with Modern Cupping”.)

Closing Thoughts

People have lots of choices these days, but by choosing acupuncture you are choosing a traditional medicine that has been around thousands of years, not a few decades.  Consider that acupuncture has many hundreds of years to evolve, change, improve, and grow.   This is the main medicine for millions of people and it has never gone away in the modern medical world, particularly in Asia.

We also have a fairly deep knowledge of and interest in other complementary medicines.  Though we may not practice them ourselves, we may offer suggestions of other therapies to try.  Between the two of us, we can probably come up with several dozen other therapies or practices that may be also helpful to you… for example, cranial sacral may be also good for stress or migraines.  The Alexander Technique may be a good addition for neck pain.  We love to share our knowledge with you if it makes clinical sense!

Please give us a call if you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment!  We hope to see you in our clinic or in the community soon!

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