In western culture, we associate needles with pain, the prick of a shot.
In Chinese medicine, needles are a way to heal and alleviate pain and other inflictions.
The needles used in acupuncture are much smaller and thinner than what would be used to administer a vaccine, says Beverly Osachoff, owner of Yaletown Acupuncture, which she opened in Grand Forks in late-January.
“They’re very tiny, in fact I could probably put 20 of these inside a standard hypodermic syringe,” she says.
Most people, she adds, don’t even realize she’s inserted the needle.
She says there are very strict rules in Canada concerning needles and so each comes sealed and is inserted without her ever having to touch the actual needle.
“They are disposable one-time use,” she says.
“There’s never a risk of contamination with the needles, our hands never touch the shaft, so it’s a relatively safe procedure to do.”
Osachoff has been a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner since 2007 and says her treatments are for the whole family.
“I’ve treated infants, I’ve treated seniors and I’ve treated a whole bunch of people in between,” she says.
She says typically acupuncture is used to address pain from any cause.
“We’ll treat things from headaches to digestion problems to women’s health issues,” she says, and adds dental pain, teething pain, insomnia, psychosis and almost any other ailment to the list.
“Chinese medicine developed long before western medicine,” she says. “People got sick back then the way they do now.”
She trained in Nelson at the Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences.
“Nelson has one of the top Chinese medicine schools in Canada,” she says. “They have a great reputation.”
She was born in Grand Forks and is finally returning after 47 years.
There are a couple of reasons she was inspired to start doing acupuncture.
What got her started was an accidental collision with a sea urchin in 2000 in Thailand.
“I ended up going to see an acupuncturist because six weeks after the encounter my hand was still swelled up like a grapefruit and I needed to deal with it,” she says.
“So I saw somebody, she gave me a couple treatments and my hand’s been normal ever since.”
“There’s something ironic about a sea urchin leading me to a life of needle poking, but it’s a true story.”
The other reason was she had a bout with cancer that led to her use a variety of western medicine as well as Chinese medicine.
“I’m convinced that while western medicine cured my cancer, it was Chinese medicine that saved my life,” she says.
“This is why I’m passionate about what I do, because this is what it’s done for me.”
She says the experience has also allowed her to empathize with others’ pain, having gone through a lot herself.
“I had to learn what it was like to be a patient and until you go through a life-threatening illness you really don’t know what people face,” she says.