Practice type: Community
Specialties: Addiction, anxiety, back pain, sports injuries, women’s health
Styles: Auricular (ear) acupuncture, community acupuncture, Dr. Tan’s Balance Method
Why did you become an acupuncturist?
In the 4th grade, at the age of 10, I began to meditate. Not because I came from some long line of healers, but because I had been waking up in the middle of the night in agony. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Wolfe, was mean as a nest of hornets, and I was having nervous stomach pain. I was lucky that the ER doc told me I needed to learn to relax, instead of throwing a bunch of Ritalin or Prozac at me. So, I began exploring ways to relax.
I was into martial arts with my friend Jim, and had learned how to use my mind to overcome pain while fighting. I was a big science nerd, and I began to read about meditation and visualization exercises and bio feedback. Out of that, I began practicing a simple form of meditation. No gurus, no “grass hopper,”—just a simple from of mental and physical relaxation. It worked. I overcame my fears of Mrs. Wolfe, quieted my nervous stomach, and learned that the mind and the body are connected in ways we have just now begun to understand.
Out of that, my interest in Chinese philosophy and ways of life were born. It also didn’t hurt that my grandfather, who had been stationed in China, had brought lots of Chinese artwork back from WWII. It was always there as a backdrop during my visits to his house. Funny how staring at a big Buddha for 18 years can make you wonder about the world!
After that early exposure to meditation and the power of the mind over the body, I began using sports as a sort of moving meditation. My favorites were basketball and volleyball because of the steady action and movement. Later, I became an avid cyclist.
My father’s mother taught me that you could eat things out of your yard, and that some plants were medicinal. My father’s father taught me about vitamins and standing on your head. He said it clears the brain and helps you live a long time, which evidently worked. Or maybe he lived a long time in spite of it! My mother taught me that eating right and getting rest were the most important things to good health. My dad taught me how to hit golf balls, be nice to people, and do the hard work in life, first.
Later in life, I worked for Greenpeace, and was surrounded by people who were into all kinds of alternative healing work. That exposure to new ideas, and to the problems our planet faces, changed my life. After that, I began looking for a new career, one that would allow me to help other people and provide solutions to problems, and that would be a life-long learning and growth process. This is something I can do until I am very old.
After much soul searching, I discovered acupuncture. I explored many therapies, including chiropractic, massage, allopathic medicine, etc., but acupuncture seemed to be the very best fit for how I viewed health. Acupuncture took into consideration all of who a person is, and all the influences on their life, including diet, exercise, parents’ health, job and relationship stresses, sleep, and on and on. It is also profoundly effective, well established (3,000 year history) and extremely safe.
It turned out that my wife’s college roommate’s mother was an acupuncturist. I went to visit her and she was radiant, happy, and very wise. I knew I wanted those qualities in my life. Then I met the faculty and students at the Tai Sophia Institute in Columbia, MD, and that sealed the deal! I studied at Tai Sophia (then it was the Traditional Acupuncture Institute) for three and a half years, earned a master’s degree, and started my first practice. All together, with the clinical portion of my studies, I have been practicing for over 14 years.
I searched for many months for the right office space, and found a beautiful space on the second floor of a chiropractor’s building. The best part is that the office is just up the block from my house, which means I can walk to work!
What distinguishes you from other acupuncturists?
I think what sets me apart is my confidence and compassion for others. I really understand what it’s like to be in pain, and I’ve been healed, and helped others to heal and recover, so I know what it takes to pull through.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I most enjoy the surprise and delight patients experience when they find out that a few little needles can make them feel so much better. I also really like when people tell me that acupuncture has changed their lives.
What is the biggest misconception you hear about acupuncture?
I think that the biggest misconception about acupuncture is that it’s only good for pain. Acupuncture is so great for wellbeing in general, and especially for anxiety, menstrual and infertility issues, digestive issues and so much more!
How do you stay healthy in your own life?
I get a lot of exercise, eat whole foods that are in season as much as possible, and I get acupuncture, bodywork and chiropractic. I race bicycles, swim, lift weights, and take hikes as often as I can. I also do yoga and meditate.
What drew you to community acupuncture?
I like the fact that people can afford to come in often enough to really get good results. I also really like that people are so thankful that they can afford it. I also love the pace!
445 Lyceum Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19128