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Teens Get the Point of Acupuncture

EXCERPT FROM 27 East: Written by Michelle Trauring and published on April 6, 2022

“I had a young lady who came in who had six concussions,” recalled Michelle Iona, owner, and founder of Healing Points Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Riverhead. “She had been to every top doctor, neurologist, you name it, and she came to acupuncture as a last resort. Long story short, she got her life back. She was not in school, she was falling asleep in the middle of the day — really, really affected — and she did the work and it was miraculous to see. Her doctors were blown away by it.”

Following in the vein of “less is more,” Iona might not even use needles at all on her youngest patients — instead turning to acupressure.

“We have pediatric tools we can use before we graduate to needles,” she said. “And even those needles are a different gauge, and they’re finer and they’re thinner, and you don’t use many on a child because you want to do the introduction and treat them, but without scaring them.”

Iona has seen patients as young as 6, generally raised by “holistic and proactive” parents who want to expose their kids to alternative forms of medicine at an early age, she said.

“The very young ones are far and few between. It’s not a big market — at least not for my practice, anyway — but the trend is up,” she said. “I think as more people start to realize it worked for them, especially with the opioid epidemic, parents are really starting to think twice about giving them an Advil, or the pain pill. They’re looking for alternatives, and acupuncture naturally comes up.”

Part of her treatment process includes a full workup, Iona said, including a medical history, evaluation of eating and sleep habits, analyzing stressors, and exploring whether her patients are finding the time to actually be teenagers and have fun.

“The kids are overwhelmed,” Iona said. “We live in a different society. When I went to school, we didn’t have to worry about, ‘Is there someone in our building who could potentially harm us?’ That was not a thought. There’s a lot of pressure on these teens. That’s what I see most. And acupuncture works incredibly well for them. When you add the lifestyle approach to it, it’s amazing to watch them flourish.”