Section: Features

Acupuncture has Kenyon community on pins and needles

Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice of inserting hair-thin needles at various points throughout the meridian lines of the body, is more accessible in Gambier than one may assume. Dr. Allan Bazzoli, M.D. hosts group acupuncture sessions twice a semester in the Gambier Community Center (GCC). On Feb. 15 at around 5:30 p.m., myself and two other Kenyon community members gathered to receive group acupuncture for the first session of the semester. 

Bazzoli brought all the necessary materials; the only thing required of the students who participated was to wear loose clothing and take off bracelets and watches. Before beginning, Bazzoli briefly explained the benefits of acupuncture, including a feeling of relaxation in the days following, improved sleep health and, in some cases, reduced pain. He also explained that any adverse side effects like pain or slight bleeding would only be upon first insertion of the needle, which could be corrected if a student mentioned pain or discomfort. 

Each person had 14 Seirin-brand needles inserted into the tops of their feet, along their legs and arms, one in the cartilage of the ear and one in between the eyebrows. The needles inserted in the face were slightly smaller than those placed on the body, but all needles were only about two times the diameter of a human hair. The feeling upon insertion was akin to a mosquito bite, but certainly not anywhere near a bee sting. 

For the next 30 minutes, Bazzoli turned off the lights and played four Himalayan Bowls, allowing patients to relax and experience the acupuncture’s effects. Bazzoli encouraged everyone to clear their minds as best they could of any thoughts, stressful or not. The needles were not painful, and the general consensus among students was that you could not feel them unless you shifted or flexed a muscle. They were removed after half an hour, making the total session time around an hour and 15 minutes. The last element of the session was the attachment of an “ear seed,” or a tiny piece of metal attached to the ear with tape, made to stay on for around five days. Students were advised to rub it approximately five times a day to relieve stress, a form of acupressure. 

But what, exactly, are the effects of acupuncture and what does it do for people? In an email to the Collegian, Bazzoli explained that this form of Eastern medicine differs from medicine in the United States: “Western medicine does not address the energy system of the body to any significant extent but rather focuses on the physical ailments. A Holistic practitioner will address both the physical symptoms and the energetic issues.”

The purpose of acupuncture is to open the 12 channels within the body, sometimes referred to as  meridian lines, so that energy called Chi can more easily flow throughout the body. According to a pamphlet written by Bazzoli that he handed out during the session, in traditional Chinese thought, “blocks or breaks in the flow of Chi cause illness.” Facilitating this flow can improve the wellness of patients.

Bazzoli also detailed when someone can experience the maximum positive effects of acupuncture: Chronic medical issues often seen in college students, “such as fatigue, headaches, anxiety, mood issues and sleep disorders respond very well to acupuncture when combined with lifestyle modifications.” For example, a person receiving acupuncture for the treatment of muscle pain should not overexert that muscle or continue to use it in a damaging way. 

Acupuncture is not a guaranteed solution to health problems, and is not a replacement for Western medicinal treatments, but is meant to supplement or aid individuals attempting to improve their general lifestyle. 

Typically, the lasting positive effects gained from acupuncture set in after three to four sessions. “20 -25% of patients have little to no benefit so I will not have those patients return for another treatment. 75-80% notice positive benefits,” Bazzoli added. 

Group acupuncture is growing in popularity considering its cost efficiency and comfortable introductory environment. Instead of paying for a specialized first treatment, everyone receives the needles in the same places and pays less for it; the cost for sessions at the GCC with Bazzoli is $10 for students and $25 for Gambier and the broader Knox County community members. 

There will be one more session offered later this semester. Anyone interested should keep an eye out for an all-student email regarding Group Acupuncture sessions. This may be one of the most accessible versions of acupuncture granted to Kenyon students for anyone considering the treatment. 

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