Getting to the point of healing
Local acupuncturist and practitioner of oriental medicine shares story
She was the third person Ryan called after he fell off scaffolding 30 feet up.
Darlene goes to keep her blood pressure and anxiety under control.
Julia’s appointments keep her allergies and headaches from reaching debilitating levels.
Stan came to her to manage the pain from chemotherapy and minimize the associated hot flashes.
Heidi’s family sought her out to help with the difficulty moving associated with Parkinson’s disease.
And Julio had had facial pain which interfered with sleep and affected his quality of life for 20 years.
They called Sally Tomme, an acupuncturist and practitioner of oriental medicine, because they were frustrated by western medicine’s lack of quality results.
Ryan, 36, a contractor and small business owner initially opted to try acupuncture because “western medicine wasn’t touching my headaches,” he said. Ryan suffered debilitating headaches for over five years. During that time his doctors sent him for MRIs, jaw surgery, and physical therapy. When those treatments failed they prescribed ‘heavy duty drugs,” Ryan said. Not only did those drugs and treatments not correct the headaches, they made it difficult for Ryan to work due to their side-effects.
After the initial four acupuncture treatments, spaced over two weeks, Ryan’s headaches started to subside. And after a month he was able to resume a normal work schedule. Knowing what acupuncture could do, it was only natural for him to call Tomme again to minimize the pain he knew was coming from his fall.
“Acupuncture is all about getting energy moving,” Tomme says. “Chinese believed stag-
nation was the source of problems. If the energy isn’t moving, pain and dysfunction result. The Chinese also recognized the correlation between mind and body. Emotions are a form of “Qi”, and as such, they affect the physical functions of the body.”
Acupuncture focuses primarily on the endocrine and nervous systems. It uses very fine needles to stimulate specific points in the body to allow energy to flow along pathways, meridians. These points release energy, or qi (chee), Tomme explains. “Qi is the vital energy of the body. The Chinese didn’t have the tools to measure the flow of energy, but by experimentation and careful observation, they were able to determine which points in the body affected various symptoms. The Chinese always amazed me with how they could determine these effects without modern instruments.”
Acupuncture points on the body have been shown to release 24 times as much adenosine (an amino acid which is a component of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)) as the surrounding area. ATP is one of the things released in the Kreb’s cycle, the energy cycle. It is serves as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent, and, as part of the energy cycle of the cell, is able to affect the cell’s ability to heal, Tomme explains.
Tomme became a believer in acupuncture when in 1996 her son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lost most of his vision when it pressed on his optic nerve. “Nothing was helping him so out of desperation we tried acupuncture. And it helped,” she recalls. The acupuncturist also recommended Chinese herbs to help with the swelling and pain. At the same time, Tomme’s daughter started experiencing migraines. Again, acupuncture made a difference in the pain and helped in the healing. “And that got me excited about it.”
At that point, Tomme had been a physical therapist for 30 years but decided to pursue her acupuncturist credentials. After 4,000 hours of classroom and practical education, she attained her license and master’s of science degree in Acupuncture and Traditional Oriental Medicine in 2010 from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City.
“Even though I know what it can do, I’m still amazed by the results,” she says. She notes that one of her first patients was a 30-year-old man who had been to many doctors to resolve the neck pain he had had for six years, rating the pain at a 7 out of 10. “After the first treatment he got off the table and said he had no more pain. I tried not to look surprised, but this is rare.”
Normally, she recommends one or two weekly treatments to start. As she sees the response, she will adjust the treatment schedule. “The effects are cumulative so each treatment will build upon the previous ones. The body’s energy patterns need to be brought back into balance and blockages removed.”
While Tomme sees the results, modern technology has also measured the results. “They have measured changes in the brain when needles are inserted. Different areas of the brain are stimulated with needling of different points on the body. There is a strong relaxation response that is often seen, as well as pain-modulating effects.
“There is no set response, no guaranteed results,” Tomme acknowledges. Some common ailments that acupuncture can help with include: pain, stress, insomnia, anger, depression, asthma, acute and chronic gastroenteritis, allergies and blood pressure.
She is quick to note that it isn’t a cure-all. And she refers patients back to medical doctors if she thinks acupuncture can’t help or if a synergistic approach would be most beneficial.
Darlene, 72, has been benefitting from acupuncture for four years. “Arthritis was the basic thing I came for but it also helped my blood pressure, dropping it from 206/100 to 118/70.” Today, she is on a lower dose of blood pressure medication and off all arthritic medications. She went from weekly acupuncture treatments to bimonthly. Darlene was so impressed with the results she brought her daughter with severe migraines in for treatment. “One treatment and she was painfree.”
Julia, 74, experienced allergies and frequent sinus infections for over 20 years. She suffered from mold, seasonal allergens that caused headaches, blocked her sinuses and aggravated her ears and throats. But for the past five years, with the benefit of acupuncture, she is breathing easy. At the start of allergy season, she visits Tomme for treatments twice a month, then every three weeks and then monthly. She supplements the treatments with herbs, recommended by Tomme, and over-the-counter allergy medicines.
Julio experienced a 95 percent reduction of his facial pain after several months of treatment.
Tomme evaluates each case, taking into consideration family history, severity of problem, prior treatments, and length of the problem, and determines the best course of treatment — either with acupuncture other Oriental practices such as cupping, moxibustion, or herbal medicine. She operates her clinic, Village Acupuncture PLLC, in the former Bally Case and Cooler office building at 20 Front Street in Bally.
Sally Tomme, an acupuncturist and practitioner of oriental medicine, places needles in a patient to help the patient manage pain which resulted from a 30-foot fall.
Sally Tomme, who operates Village Acupuncture LLC at the former Bally Case and Cooler on Front Street in Bally, places needles in a patient to help with her arthritis and keep her blood pressure in check.