Getting Unstuck With Acupuncture

The increased focus on wellness has elevated acupuncture from a holistic indulgence to a vital part of a well-rounded health regimen. Here are some crucial ways you can use the ancient practice to deal with the woes of modern life.
Photo by Morgan Maassen

By Jamie Bufalino


“When I first started doing acupuncture, people came into my office only because they were in physical pain,” says Amagansett-based acupuncturist Sandra Geehreng Foster, who’s seen a shift in recent years. “Now you don’t necessarily need a physical ailment—it could just be that life throws you a couple of curveballs and you need help with the stress.”

In fact, Geehreng Foster can help you cope with everything from heartbreak to office politics. “If someone is coming out of a long-term relationship, that relates directly to the heart, so you would tend to use needles on the inside of the wrist,” she says. “If someone’s coming in because of work stress, there are some great points down by the ankles that we could focus on.” The goal is to get the body back into energetic balance so that it’s able to overcome any emotional setbacks.


As part of his Sag Harbor acupuncture practice, Kevin Menard treats many local teachers, who kept sharing their concerns about the well-being of their students. “All you hear is that our kids are really anxious and no one knows why,” says Menard. “Is it bullying, is it social media, is it performance anxiety?” Menard also became close with local mom Jennifer Butts, who lost her teen son to suicide in 2016. “She and her family started coming in for treatments to deal with the trauma,” says Menard.

Looking to provide a way to help teens cope with the perils of modern adolescence, Menard and Butts teamed up to launch a weekly Tuesday afternoon free clinic at Menard’s office. “Our goal was to give kids a break from all their negative thought patterns,” says Menard. “We give them 20 minutes of chilling out with acupuncture and binaural music,” which is a music technology that balances the hemispheres of the brain. “It’s really calming,” he says. “And once they get a break from the negative stuff running through their heads, they can think more optimistically about their day and their future.”


“One key component in developing a successful exercise program is getting a holistic view of the client,” says Julie Von, an acupuncturist who works in tandem with Erika Bloom Pilates to help people maximize their wellness goals. One of the reasons acupuncture and Pilates complement each other so well is that “Pilates gives you immediate feedback on what is tight, blocked, or not engaged,” says Von, and acupuncture can not only help get the energy moving but also zero in on what’s missing.

“If you have an underlying deficiency—like exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, thyroid malfunction—you will not achieve the same results as someone whose body is more in balance.” With her acupuncture treatments, Von tends to focus on a client’s kidneys since that’s where the adrenal glands—which regulate the body’s response to stress—are located. “I look at the kidney energy, which for most New Yorkers—who burn the candle at both ends—is weak,” says Von.


As a routine part of a session, an acupuncturist will take a look at the color, thickness and overall appearance of a client’s tongue. “Tongue diagnosis provides a reflection of your digestive system,” says Bridgehampton-based acupuncturist Dori Fortunato. “We can tell how you’re processing foods and fluids and what else is happening in your abdominal organs.” By getting energy unstuck and allowing the gut to heal (often with the aid of herbal supplements), Fortunato’s been able to help clients battle gastritis, bloating and other digestive disorders. “I’ve even had clients who’ve been able to reintroduce gluten into their diet,” she says. “Not in big quantities, but if they go out with their friends for pizza they can have a piece and they’re going to be okay.”