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" People in America take better care of their cars than they do their own bodies" said Ginny Richards, when I met with her recently. Ginny is an Acupuncture Physician with Skin Renewal Systems and she is a great believer in people taking personal responsibility for their health... " we only get one body so we all need to take exercise, eat the right foods and look after ourselves on a daily basis" she told me. Ginny also believes that if we keep our bodies in balance with regular acupuncture treatments we can not only alleviate pain in specifi c areas but we can also strengthen our immune system and even protect ourselves from falling prey to illness like the ' fl u. The Chinese Way She went on to say that when she studied at the Yuhuang Ding Hospital in China, three days in the lunar calendar were chosen at set intervals during the summer, when the people were at their healthiest, to " immunize" them against getting sick during the winter months. Of course these were not immuni-zations as we know them - plum blossom seven star needles and herbal poultices were the weapons of choice in China. Whole Body Medicine American acupuncture pracitioners have borrowed ideas from the East and adapted them to our needs in the West. Everything in the human body is connected and if there is something wrong with an individual part it has a detrimental affect on the whole. Unlike Western medicine, which is becom-ing more and more specialized and focuses on specifi c health issues, acupuncture is medicine for the whole body and promotes not only physical health but spiritual and mental wellbeing as well. Allowing Your Body to Heal Itself Ginny explained to me that the human body is an amazing machine which is designed to heal itself. It achieves this by circulating " qi" energy through pathways called meridians. Acupuncture points are " windows" to the meridian that can be used for balancing purposes or homeostasis, as it is called in Western medicine. As a bottleneck can clog the natural fl ow of traffi c on a freeway system, these meridians can become congested or stagnant. Acupuncture needles placed in specifi c spots can un-block them, allowing stagnant energy to fl ow freely once again and enabling your body to do what it is engineered to do, heal itself. The Chinese have known this for centuries but Western science has only recently proved it to be the case when, in a French study, dye was injected into acupuncture needle sites and traced as it followed the energy fi elds all around the body.

Some Facts You May Not Know about Acupuncture... . Acupuncture is incredibly relaxing and is a wonderful way to relieve stress. N. C. C. A. O. M. ( the national acupuncture board) sent special crisis teams to offer acupuncture to reduce stress in victims of Hurricane Katrina and the military now use it in Iraq and Afghanistan to help soldiers with both stress and physical ailments like back pain caused by carrying heavy gear. . It was Richard Nixon who brought acupuncture to the attention of the West in the 1970s. . Unlike most drug therapies side effects from acupuncture are very low. If you do have side effects they are usually positive as the body will heal in many different ways other than the main problem being adressed, i. e. sleeping better, eating less, an overall sense of wellbe-ing and less stress. . Florida state law prohibits the reuse of acu-puncture needles so there is no risk of cross infection here. ( However this is not the case in every state, so if you have treatment outside Florida, you should always check that your acupuncturist is using properly sterilized or disposable needles.) . Acupuncture can be effective for people of all ages, and non- needle options using E. T. P. S. can be used for infants and young children and for those who are needle phobic. . Acupuncture can reduce cravings and can therefore be used to promote weight loss and to help conquer addictions like smoking. . And, as you can see in the photos, Ginny demonstrated her techniques on me and I can tell you honestly... IT DOESN'T HURT AT ALL. In fact it releases endorphins into your system and it feels like the high you get after taking rigor-ous exercise or when you look into the eyes of someone you love.... it really does make you feel good! Acupuncture Happy Hour Now here's a novel idea.... Skin Renewal Sys-tems is hosting group sessions, by appointment, every Thursday at 4pm. They're known as Happy Hour With-out the Alcohol and participants receive auricular acu-puncture while they sit in a chair and chat with other members of the group, sounds like fun to me! A Possible Alternative to Surgery Ginny advises anyone who is considering surgery that they should try acupuncture before they take any steps that may be irreversible. But she is quick to say that acupuncture is no silver bullet and the damage of a lifetime cannot be cured overnight - the effects of acupuncture are cumulative and gather strength like a snowball rolling downhill. Many weekly sessions may be necessary before you achieve the results you want and can go to a once monthly maintenance program. Incidentally, Ginny says she sees a lot of Marco visi-tors who are in the middle of a course of treatment and don't want to loose the momentum while on vacation. Using Your Vacation to Get Back into Balance And, talking about vacations... what better time to start getting your body back into balance? Vaca-tions are all about relaxing and relieving stress and acupuncture can be an invaluable aid in that process. So why not give Ginny a call while you're here? She has been an acupuncturist for 14 years and ad-mits that many people are extremely skeptical about the benefi ts of acupuncture when they fi rst come to see her. But this doesn't phase her... " They generally leave with a different perspective" she says. Skin Renewal Systems is located at 1000 N Collier Blvd, Suite 11. For more information call 239- 394- 1083 or visit www. skinrenewalmarco. com.