Lifestyle: Spotlights

Holistic Healing

Sag Harbor Acupuncturist Mary Beth Armstrong fosters Well-Being
By Rachel Bosworth - June 4, 2019

A shift in how we approach our physical and mental well-being has been growing in recent years. The fast-paced, high energy of our culture has led to an increase in stress and anxiety. The digital era has made all types of information immediately accessible, and some psychologists have pointed to this as a cause of stress, anxiety, and depression in young Americans. From a cause and effect perspective, the current generation has also been made more aware of how essential self-care has become and all of the various alternatives to traditional Western medicine. Throughout the course of her 25+ year practice, licensed acupuncturist and herbalist Mary Beth Armstrong has noticed changes in how individuals look at holistic health care.

Acupuncture is a modality of healing that Asian countries have practiced for more than 1,000 years, but in the United States, current methods of medicine have been in practice for just a couple of hundred years and in many areas, just within the last few decades. When Armstrong, who has a practice in Sag Harbor, began practicing acupuncture she found that clients came to see her as a last resort. Within the last ten years, there has been a shift in clients coming to see her as a first therapy option before seeking medical treatment. 

“In our current culture people are very stressed out due to various reasons,” Armstrong explains. “Our food, air, and water sources are compromised. Human connection is dwindling and there is an increased speed to world-wide changes. Through acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary and lifestyle changes, people can feel better and move through all these current phenomena with greater well-being.”

There are many ailments in which a person may seek acupuncture as a therapy. Aches and pains in the head, shoulders, arms, legs, neck, back, knees and feet, asthma, sleep issues, digestive trouble, hormonal issues, and infertility are among some of the physical reasons. Mental and emotional suffering and depression are other reasons for this treatment, as well as helping with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Armstrong says most of these issues can be related to depletion and can be addressed with acupuncture and herbal medicine. 

How acupuncture is applied is dependent on the individual and their needs. Specific points on the body are discovered, with thin, solid, metallic needles that are used to penetrate the skin. These are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. Once the acupuncture needle is inserted, qi or energy will be felt at that location. This signals the body to make adjustments to the energy flow. Endorphins, the feel-good hormones will be released as well. As the body adjusts to the acupuncture treatment, shifts can be found in the pulses.

“We diagnose by taking the pulses on both wrists in three positions on each side,” Armstrong explains of the process. “We also inspect the tongue, palpate the body and ask many seemingly unrelated questions. This will give us a picture of where that person is out of balance and where we can help them to feel better.”

In any holistic health care practice, the idea is to treat the whole person rather than the just the ailment. One of the main deterrents Armstrong has found is that people fear the unknown. Acupuncture is not at all a new practice, but there is a long-standing idea that when one is ill they must go to a doctor that may prescribe a pharmaceutical medication, physical therapy, or even surgery. While this may certainly be necessary in some cases, there are alternatives that may be extremely beneficial, especially for those that do not have an interest in a pharmaceutical approach.

“This is a modality that empowers people to take back control of their health and life, which is ultimately what we all have to do,” shares Armstrong. “We live with ourselves 24/7 and we need to do the best we can to keep going for as long as possible.”

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