By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(July 18, 2019) Eastern medicinal practices have come to Worcester County. With techniques such as acupressure, foot massages and acupuncture, Atlantic Acupuncture now resides on 11033 Cathell Road in Ocean Pines.
Dr. Dawn Gifford first started her acupuncture business in Bel Air, Maryland, 10 years ago and knew she wanted to end up in Ocean Pines.
“We had been coming down to this area for a number of years and there is no one who offers the services that we do here,” Gifford said. “We saw the opportunity and we always thought we would move down here eventually.”
The facility can treat up to nine patients at a time and offers so much more than just acupuncture, Gifford said.
“We offer the only effective drug free non needle pain clinic on the whole Eastern Coast,” Gifford said. “We treat anything from anxiety, neuropathy, chronic pain, infertility or cosmetic. That is what we specialize in.
“We’re different because under the umbrella of Eastern medicine although our sign out there says acupuncture we do so much more,” she continued. “We do herbal prescriptions. We have our pain clinic which is a non-needle herbal pain clinic, and we also have our surgeon massage beds. I’ve been using them for 15 years.”
In addition to treating pain and infertility, Gifford also offers procedures to treat depression, fatigue, migraines, menstrual complications, stress and other ailments. Treatments range from traditional acupuncture therapy, acupressure, lying on a jade surgeon massage bed, drinking Chinese herbal teas or foot soaks in herb infused water.
According to Gifford, since first opening two weeks ago several patients have already begun returning for more treatments and have seen positive results.
“We start patients out with 12 sessions,” she said. “Back to back as often as they can get in here and then we reevaluate after 12 sessions. Ideally, it’s great to come four times a year for maintenance.”
Gifford has not always been a medical professional. However, acupuncture saved her life when she was younger, and she decided to make a career change from being a maximum-security prison guard as a result.
“I did not wake up one day and say I want to be an acupuncturist,” Gifford said. “I actually came home from work one day and I couldn’t walk up the stairs. I went to my medical doctor and he did my X-rays. and it came back. My diagnosis was digentitive disk disease … bone on bone.”
Gifford was told she would need an expensive surgery in order to recover. However, she was uninterested in spending so much money on a costly and dangerous procedure. Over time her condition got worse. In addition, with her dangerous career she was at risk of losing her job due to immobility and reached out to other professionals before coming across an acupuncturist.
“I found acupuncture … I didn’t know a thing about it and to be honest I didn’t care,” Gifford said. “He put me on a jade massage bed and he did acupuncture. My treatment plan was twice a day for 10 days. On probably the fifth or sixth treatment, I felt something burst in my back and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh … I’m paralyzed. How am I gonna get home.’
“The pain never came back and I fell in love with this medicine,” she continued. “Some years later I decided I want to change. I loved my career and I loved my job but I was ready for a change.”
Gifford’s practice grows its own medicinal herbs and receives special permission to distribute the product.
Another aspect of her practice is on site screening using an AcuGraph which is a computerized tool used to analyze and document the energetic status of the acupuncture meridians, otherwise known as invisible energy pathways in the body that have been used therapeutically for over 5,000 years.
Gifford has had several skeptics enter her store, doubtful of her practice but has been able to convince many of them of the reliability of Chinese medicine. More importantly, these treatments have been used for over 3,000 years as testament to its effectiveness.
“It’s the same prescription you would have gotten centuries ago,” Gifford said. “This medicine came about to treat the emperors. The emperors were said to live to be 100. So what happens if you gave an emperor medicine that didn’t work? You lost your head. These medicines a lot of have not changed at all.”
In addition to all this, Gifford also offers some classes, where students can practice wellness techniques such as Qigong and acupressure in their own homes.
“Our goal is to educate,” Gifford said. “There’s a lot that you can do outside of the office. We teach our patients about acupressure and a lot of things that they can do by themselves and we send them home with tools that they can use too. Although they’re only here three days a week we can send them home with tools like acupressure skills, herbs and pain sprays that they can all do at home.”
Gifford offers classes to alleviate various illnesses or afflictions such as facial rejuvenation, cosmetic, arthritis as well as fertility classes. Since she has arrived to Ocean Pines, Gifford says 20 patients have been able to get pregnant following visits to her clinic.
The visits are also covered by insurance if it is pain related, with Gifford’s practice accepting Network Blue Cross.
Dr. Gifford takes on new patients by appointment only and is open Saturday to Monday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. As her clientele increases, she admits she might either extend her hours or add additional days to her work week.
For more information, call 410-725-9048 or visit www.AtlanticAcuTherapy.com.