This is part of a series of interviews I am conducting with practitioners of holistic medicine with the aim of answering this question: "How can we increase our quality of life?”
I find that people who are drawn to help others tend to be ignited with a deep passion and purpose. These interviews delve into that drive and aim to discover insight and supply tips for living life to its fullest.
Alicia Shulman is an Acupuncturist with a specialty in Women's Health & Fertility Support. She is currently practicing acupuncture in both Philadelphia and on the Main Line.
Enjoy the interview!
Q: Alicia, thank you so much for taking some time to answer these questions! Where did you are you from originally?
ALICIA: I’m a local girl! Grew up in Media, PA
Q: What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
ALICIA: I've always had a deep interest in natural health. I believe in the body's innate ability to heal itself when we give it the right conditions. When I sought acupuncture for my own healing, I discovered that I could feel the energy moving through my body. It made a powerful impression on me, and at the subtle prompting of my acupuncturist, I finally decided to study it.
Q: What did you do before you studied acupuncture?
ALICIA: I worked as a medical editor for 15 years on a magazine for ophthalmologists. Working with doctors—interviewing them for articles about the latest medical innovations, and attending scientific symposia—gave me a unique view into the world of Western medicine. It is undeniable that Western medicine continues to make brilliant advances in all specialties. However, the very model of specialties, coupled with a lack of integration in the delivery of care in this country, results in a piecemeal approach to health/healing that ignores the entirety of a person. This is where East Asian medicine excels: at considering the individual’s needs as a whole person. That is why nutritional and lifestyle counseling is included in acupuncture treatments.
Q: Why do you love being offering holistic medicine to your patients?
ALICIA: I want people to know that they have effective alternatives to drugs and surgery when they are unwell. Acupuncture is the original "do no harm" medicine, because it does not have the negative side effects that surgery and pharmaceuticals often entail. Sometimes, pharmaceuticals and surgery offer what may seem like a quicker fix to a health issue, but these treatments often have lasting side effects that patients must then manage the rest of their lives. Acupuncture and East Asian herbal medicine may offer an equally effective remedy for a given condition, plus a much better quality of life for the patient long-term. It is certainly worth trying!
Q: What is your primary mission as an acupuncturist?
ALICIA: To help people understand their bodies better so they can take better care of themselves. To help people experience firsthand that everything they eat, every thought they think, and every emotion they feel has either a negative or positive consequence, and that we have the power to make better choices for ourselves. Again, we can choose a better quality of life for ourselves by making healthy, informed choices!
Q: I know you focus on acupuncture for women’s health and fertility. Can you tell us about that?
ALICiA: Acupuncture is amazing for women. Multiple women I know claim that acupuncture is the only treatment that worked for them after they’d tried everything else. I have known women who haven’t slept well in years finally get a good night’s rest after one treatment. I have seen monthly cycles find their natural rhythm after acupuncture. I have seen countless conditions—stress, anxiety, menopausal symptoms, adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, hair loss—all managed safely and effectively with acupuncture.
The needles stimulate a positive interaction between the body’s endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. In the simplest terms, needle stimulation moves qi and blood, and that increased circulation enables all of the body’s tissues to receive nourishment. In Western terminology, studies have shown that acupuncture increases the count of white blood cells and antibodies (boosting the immune system), lowers cortisol (calms the fight-or-flight response), and boosts the secretion of endorphins and the activity of neurotransmitters in the body (thus energizing myriad bodily functions).
Q: What is your ultimate goal when you are working with your clients?
ALICIA: For them to feel listened to and cared for. I have heard too many horror stories of people being shuffled around the expensive, inefficient, and impersonal American healthcare system. I think people are looking for quality healthcare that is simple, easily accessible, and has something more to offer than pharmaceuticals and/or surgery.
Q: What are 5 healthy lifestyle recommendations you think will help people lead healthier lives?ALICIA: My answers to this are the boring old standards, but there are no substitutes! We must all be responsible for ourselves!
- Half the battle is avoiding things that harm us! Be mindful of the water you drink, the food you eat, and the products you use on your skin and around your house.
- Exercise. This is not optional; it is the best way to prevent aging. Choose something you enjoy, but move your body every day.
- Get outside. Sunshine and fresh air are necessities.
- Sleep. Your body needs it. Figure out what works for you so that you get enough sleep of good quality.
- Work on your relationships. People with healthy relationships live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Along with this: forgive and let go of past hurts. Holding on is only hurting you.
Q: What book do you recommend the most?
ALICIA: Right now, I have three, all of which are valuable tools in today's world.
- "Lessons From the Miracle Doctors" by Jon Barron;
- "The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution" by Aviva Romm, MD; and
- "Anatomy of the Spirit" by Caroline Myss.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time? what do you like to do for fun?
ALICIA: I love to get outside! Hiking, walking, gardening, exploring new places. I also love to dance. A few times per month I attend a drumming circle, which I love.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
ALICIA: I have too many to count! But Perhaps the one I refer to most is from Pema Chodron: "May you be filled with lovingkindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy."