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Interview with an Acupuncturist

Oceana Baity on Pain, Fertility, Essential Oils, and More

Acupuncture, like yoga, works by tuning people back into their bodies. Just as a yoga practice connects movement and breath to mindfulness and intention, acupuncture aims to integrate mind, body, and spirit in a whole-person approach to treatment.

Oceana Baity is an acupuncturist, yoga teacher and mother of two who practices and teaches in New York City. Grounded and wise, she has a matter-of-fact approach to acupuncture that keeps the ancient practice relevant to the here and now. She was recently interviewed by Vogue on the use of essential oils in acupuncture, one of her preferred treatment methods (scroll down for the full story).

We spoke with Oceana about acupuncture myths and modalities to get a deeper understanding of the powerful and time-tested healing technique.

Q + A with Oceana Baity

How would you describe acupuncture to someone who knows nothing about it? 

Acupuncture is a ancient, holistic approach to balancing body, mind and spirit. It treats not just the symptoms of disharmony but the underlying imbalance.

Does it hurt?

I like to reframe this for patients. Yes, you might feel a sensation. It could be achy, heavy, dull or spreading. On some points you will feel a lot of sensation, on others hardly anything.

I encourage patients to move from an association of sensation as pain into a more nuanced interest in what they feel. An expanded physical and mental vocabulary will hold more options to describe the variety of the sensation. 

Any acupuncture myths or misconceptions you’d like to clear up?

There are many styles of acupuncture. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is perhaps the most commonly known style, but there are Korean and Japanese lineages, Five Element acupuncture—which focuses on underlying emotional and spirit-level imbalance—and modern approaches like Trigger Point Therapy, which is great for pain conditions.

How does an Eastern medicine philosophy differ from a Western one?

Western doctors are focusing on treating symptoms and diseases and Eastern medicine is concerned with treating the whole person. All the symptoms, even the ones that may not seem related to the primary complaint are taken into account, along with their lifestyle, diet and their daily stressors. It’s a very holistic, whole-person approach.

Can you talk about the link between acupuncture and fertility? 

Acupuncture can be very supportive in regulating a woman’s cycle. It reduces stress and addresses lifestyle issues which may be contributing to difficulty conceiving. 

When acupuncture and Chinese medicine aren’t able to help a woman conceive without medical intervention, studies report that it can increase the odds of successful IVF by 50 percent.

Oceana and her two daughters in Costa Rica.

How did you first become interested in studying acupuncture?

I had my first acupuncture treatment in San Francisco when I was 16. I can’t remember what my concern was, but I do remember distinctly how great I felt after.

Years later I was recovering from a rotator cuff injury and acupuncture greatly relieved my pain and helped speed up my healing. I was already a yoga teacher at the time, but I was interested in advancing my education and having more to offer. I dreamed of being able to provide the care and feeling of wholeness I experienced. It was an easy decision to make and I am so fulfilled by my work.

Oceana interviewed in this month’s issue of Vogue on the use of essential oils in acupuncture.

What, today, keeps you interested in or excited about acupuncture?

I’ve done multiple advanced trainings over the years so that keeps things fresh. Most recently I’ve been incorporating essential oils into my work. I use specific oils to accelerate healing and to treat kids and needle-sensitive patients. They’re also great for working with women on fertility issues, hormone balancing and stress relief.

The beauty of essential oil therapy is that its very potent, yet gentle enough for everyone (even babies with dilution), and the oils smell great. 

Visit Oceana’s website to learn more and schedule a session.

Images: Needles; treatment; Vogue article and cover courtesy of Vogue; oils; all other images courtesy of Oceana Baity.