As someone who has had a whole host of various health issues growing up, I was always on the lookout for ways to make myself feel better. Although many people look to western medicine and what we might consider “normal doctors” to heal their ailments, there are also a lot of other, more holistic options. Cupping, a therapy to alleviate pain, diet changes, and yoga are among some of the most popular options for non–traditional healing. Another popular option is acupuncture, though it’s not for the squeamish or weak of spirit. 

During my final few years of high school, I was introduced to acupuncture as a way to treat some of the health problems I was having. I thought it was total BS the first time I went— because honestly, how could a bunch of needles stuck in me change anything? I was totally wrong: they change a whole lot. 

In my first session, my acupuncturist asked if I had bad asthma, which I do. She went ahead and placed the needles in the spots that would apparently treat it. At first I didn’t feel anything, but the next day I coughed up so much crap I felt like an 85–year–old man. After a month of acupuncture therapy, I felt tangible results. However, I didn’t continue for much longer because it is incredibly expensive. A group in Philadelphia is trying to change that though. 

Healing Arts is a wellness center that has all the alternative medicine treatments you might need—chiropractic, acupuncture, tai chi, massage and more. They are most well–known for their acupuncture, specifically for their fertility acupuncture (though we college students might not need that...). They have many locations all over the Philadelphia area, but their location closest to Penn is different. This location is for community acupuncture. Acupuncture is usually in a private room with a single acupuncturist, which can be extremely expensive. Community acupuncture is in a large room with multiple people at once, each separated with screens so that you cannot see one another. Since they can have multiple people at once, Healing Arts is able to charge less per client. 

When I first approached Healing Arts in Rittenhouse (20th and Walnut) there was a sign on the door that instructed patrons to please be silent. Once I opened the door, I found out why.Their waiting room is connected to their therapy area. The waiting area is simple with small statues and a bamboo rug, and a shoe rack in which to put your shoes immediately upon entry. The receptionist doubled as the acupuncturist—further reducing the costs of each job—and ushered me quietly back into the therapy area. I was shown to one of the message tables in the back that was surrounded by a rice paper room divider. 

The dimly lit room had about 7 tables, each surrounded by a room divider, and was playing music softly. As my acupuncturist came over, she asked me if I had been having any health issues and what had brought me in. On this specific day it was around that time of the month, so I had horrific cramping. She said that she would work on that along with any other PMS symptoms I might be having. She then began to put the needles in—it doesn’t hurt as much as you think it would. I took calculated breaths throughout the process, which helped to calm me, while she put needles in my feet, arms, ears, and even my face. After all of the needles were put in I was offered a blanket and told to relax for about 30 minutes. 

I actually fell asleep, I was so relaxed and calm. If anything, this session allowed me to relax and focus on myself and my breathing instead of all of the things that I had to do. It was meditative. Towards the end of my 30–minute waiting period, another client came in and was talking to the practitioner, which made me lose my meditative state slightly, but I was quickly able to regain it. 

As for the health benefits themselves, I was instructed that I would need to come back almost weekly in order to receive the full benefits and really begin to see a difference in my health. From my previous experience with acupuncture I understood this to be very true, as the longer I went the better I felt. 

Overall, I would have probably liked to have been in a private room, but that also makes the treatment much more expensive. I love acupuncture, and really do believe in the benefits, so I would probably return here. This treatment was also even cheaper than the acupuncture offered at student health, which runs for $60 for a 60 minute session. Though Healing Arts is about 45 minutes, it only cost me $35 with their student discount. If you have been wanting to try acupuncture, it is a great place to start. To all you acupuncture amateurs, I encourage you to give this a try—it’s low commitment, low cost, and (if consistent) highly rewarding.