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Acupuncturist offers 'new medicine'

Mar 27, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Alisha Bynum says the practice can be used to treat a variety of health conditions.

When there's no other medicine or procedure that can eliminate persistant back pain, headaches, insomnia or stress, Alisha Bynum said she hopes Riverton residents pay her a visit.

Three months ago, Bynum, a licensed acupuncturist, set up her services at Sweet Grass Acupuncture and Wellness at 604 W. Main St. in Riverton.

She calls her practice "integrative medicine for county 10," and she already has formed a small clientele.

Bynum grew up in Riverton and completed her undergraduate studies at Montana State University. She then attended Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colo., and graduated in August.

She made a career change from advertising to acupuncture when she discovered she had an interest in health care.

"I wanted to start helping people in this community," Bynum said.

She said most people are reluctant to try a procedure that inserts needles into the skin. Others are more open to the practice, which uses needles to stimulate certain points to alleviate functional disorders or chronic problems.

Bynum said she offers consultations and invites those who are interested to visit with her so she can explain the procedure.

"It's still a new medicine around here," she said. "Acupuncture is a great partner for Western medicine."

Bynum said acupuncture can be used for numerous conditions such as stomachache, stress, anxiety, neck and back pain, digestive issues, menstrual cramps, fertility, sleeping disorders, sciatic nerve pain, migraines, sprains, strains, colds and sore throats. This type of pain management comes from a traditional Chinese medicine practice that serves as a "great complementary medicine," Bynum said.

Acupuncture can be rendered to adults, children, elders and, in many cases, pregnant women.

Process

The filiform needles are small, fine, flexible needles that usually stay in the skin for roughly 10 minutes. Depending on what's being treated, the patient usually can rollover after the 10 minutes and have new ones placed on the other side of the body.

Most stimulation points are below the elbows and knees or in the back.

"It's beneficial because it balances the whole body," Bynum said. "They're so thin most people don't even feel it when (I) put it in."

Unless the person has a "tight spot" or an accumulated muscle mass inflammation, they will not feel the needles. She said the person has to be in a relaxed state.

Patient Amanda Schooner said she visited Bynum because she was experiencing back pain as she recovered from surgery. Schooner described the process as relieving and a "detox from all the meds."

"It feels like she's tapping me on my back," Schooner said.

Some patients Bynum treats do not return because her treatments usually fixes the problem, Bynum said. On the other hand, several treatments may be needed, she said, especially if an injury has gone untreated for a long time. Many of her patients are ranchers or cowboys who she said work hard and get injured.

"One guy got kicked in the chest by a cow," Bynum said. "It's really good for increasing blood circulation and decreasing inflammation."

Other patients have no injuries to treat and simply use the sessions as a proactive health practice.

Needles are not Bynum's only method of treatment. She also performs a procedure known as cupping that uses glass cups that give a "reverse massage" when heat is added, she said. This procedure helps with soreness.

Another procedure called moxibustion applies heat instead of needles to the same areas used in acupuncture. The practice treats arthritis, injuries and obstetrics and gynecology-related issues. Bynum said she also hopes to grow herbal medicine in Riverton.

"I can mix custom formulas for people," she said. "It extends and reinforces the acupuncture treatment to bolster your health."

Insurance coverage depends on the individual's health plan. Bynum said worker's compensation usually covers treatments and many people use their health savings accounts to cover the cost. Bynum also said more doctors are referring patients to acupuncture practitioners.

Her office is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She can be contacted at 856-8800, and she encourages new patients to visit sweetgrassacu.com.

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