Healing feels like an enigma at times - or a long journey toward a fuzzy goal - and we are bombarded with mixed messages about what truly constitutes healing, in our bodies, our minds and our spirits. Yet the quest for healing is a magnetic pull that must be heeded to realize our potential and to use that potential for a greater good.
As with any journey, it can be tremendously helpful to have guidance at the helm. Be it in the form of knowledge acquired from self-guided learning, or a person who already has the knowledge you seek. One doesn't predicate the other but the two together are a powerfully fortifying combination which will equip you for a lifetime of effective healing!
I am someone who wholeheartedly recognizes the importance of continually seeking healing in broken areas of my life. I believe in the benefits of not building my journey from assumptions or opinions but rather digging deeper to find and trust information for myself AND seeking wise guidance from those who've made it their life's work to uncover the knowledge I seek to apply to my health.
My friend and personal acupuncturist Jaqueline Landrum, Owner of Brilliant Health Medicine (located in beautiful Downtown Klamath Falls, Oregon) is one such soul who possesses the beautiful trifecta of experience, knowledge and intuition to guide patients toward physical, mental and emotional healing.
Jacqueline - or "Jackie" as she is known to her patients - was kind enough to share her incredible insight during one of my FAVORITE treatments: cosmetic acupuncture. I'm a super fan of facials and facial treatments! I truly appreciate that Jackie's cosmetic acupuncture - as with all of her acupuncture - is not just skin-deep but instead works to holistically stir healing.
May Jackie's outpouring of wisdom throughout our interview be a beacon that helps you on your own path toward healing!
KATIE: How did you get your start in acupuncture?
JACKIE: First I became a patient. In 2008 I met an acupuncturist through my boyfriend at the time, her name was Melea King. She was a client of his, and she said she could help me with acne. When I got in there she realized the much more serious health problems I had , and what I ended up being treated for wasn’t even what I first went for. She explained she could help me with my asthma. I had no idea Acupuncture did these things or even what it was. I realized the medicine is so much more than acupuncture, but an entire system of ancient medicine that includes herbs, lifestyle, diet, and various kinds of physical modalities including Qigong, the deepest form of healing in this medicine. At the time I was in my 20s and didn’t really know my direction in life. After being patient for a few years and experiencing what I felt was a miracle in my own health, I decided I wanted to make this medicine my life purpose. I always knew I wanted to help people in some way, and I had finally found it!
KATIE: What drew you to this profession and to the art of healing?
JACKIE: I’m not sure but I always wanted to help people live better lives, as life can be hard. I knew I wanted to help people have an easier time getting through life. I always knew I wanted to help people feel better in their bodies , and in their spirits and emotions.
Since I was a very small child, the medicines I was given for asthma scared me. They sent my heart racing and put me into sympathetic nervous system overdrive. I can still feel the energy in my memories of my parents being scared that their child had asthma, and then watching me get super crazy on the medicines they would give me. It almost felt counterintuitive to take something to ramp you up when you’re just trying to breathe. That being said I am grateful for biomedical medicines that are life-saving, they are so important in emergencies. But the many years of being on medicines that did this to my heart wore me out. I always felt that nobody was really asking what the root cause of my problem was. Not one doctor ever cared about my sleep, my diet, my emotions, the chemicals I was taking in, how I felt about it all, nothing. All they did was refill my prescriptions, stare at me for a while, come and do some tests, and leave. I felt like a lab rat.
When I went to see Melea, I felt like a human. I felt like a human with a spirit and a soul.
Touch is a powerful thing. Acupuncturists take the time to observe the tint of your skin, the whites of your eyes, the energy coming from your eyes, the energy in your voice, your pulse, your tongue diagnosis, and so much more. I feel like I experienced so much more respect being a patient of this medicine. I felt respected and cared for. I felt seen, I felt heard, and I felt that I was worth someone’s time. I feel like in a lot of doctors offices now people feel very rushed and feel unimportant. I know there’s a lot of pressure on doctors by administration to see people quickly, and there are so many wonderful doctors out there, but most of my experiences I felt so rushed, and just not carefully assessed. This style of appointment where I felt more cared for , resonated with me so deeply and I knew I wanted to do this for others. Not only that, but the medicine worked! I felt calm, my anxiety went away, my lungs got stronger, my hormones regulated, and this was off the medicine.
KATIE: What is your personal approach to healing and how do you guide your patients, both in treatment and IRL after treatment?
JACKIE: The really cool thing about humans is every single person is so different. I meet people where they are, and we just start from the beginning. Everybody has a completely different picture, different energy systems, different needs, different histories, all of that, and I find each person so incredibly fascinating. I follow the traditional Chinese medicine protocols and guides, but I also work with the body intuitively and really listen. I like to put my hands over people and feel which energy center may be too closed or to open, and often times I can see past childhood traumas as I do this. Sometimes I can feel emotions or energy that are stuck in the body that is causing certain ailments. We often talk about this openly and people seem to really appreciate it. Some people are more straightforward and they have muscle problems or physical pain and that is all we do. That is still very important. I just meet people where they are, and I’m very careful to assess what kind of help somebody needs and wants. I customize every single interaction with someone according to what they need. I can keep it light or I can go deep, and I will carefully assess the persons needs and can tell pretty quickly what direction we should go.
Everybody comes to acupuncture for different reasons. They think that it may be one reason, but sometimes deep down, it’s a lonely grandmother who wants more conversation or interaction, sometimes it’s an overwhelmed mom and wife who needs to vent and take an acu-nap, sometimes it’s a teenager who needs a safe place to understand their feelings and emotions and get help with the stresses of being a youth in this modern world. I love people and how interesting and different they are, and I love to honor that in my work!
At the end of a session I write a treatment plan and we decide how often somebody needs to come in and if there are other practitioners that they need to see , which often there are. I write down any herbal prescription directions, any dietary suggestions, or lifestyle, or exercise, or books to read- things like that -and someone has that paper to take home with them.
In my treatments I also like to integrate sound because sound creates vibration and everything is vibrating in life. Currently I have a crystal singing bowl that resonates with the C note and the root chakra, And I also have four Koshi times, each one embodying the vibration of one of the four elements: air earth fire or water. In Chinese medicine almost everything we do is based on the five elements, and they are a little bit different. They include metal, and wood, but not air. There are five acupuncture points which are mostly (not all) located near the end of every channel that correlate with the five elements as well. We use these based on how the elements interact with each other within our medicine. I am skimming the surface of the medicine as I describe it. it took me about five years to get through the program and on the first day our wonderful professor Dr. Greg Livingston told us that we would never master Chinese medicine, so to not ever think that we could. He said it’s “too vast and too deep to master in one lifetime”, and that it takes “several lifetimes” to master! Which I do believe. I love that we are constantly humbled in this medicine and nobody gets arrogant. If you do you are not a good practitioner in my opinion.
KATIE: What do you say to those who are “scared of needles” or apprehensive about acupuncture?
JACKIE: Well first I will tell you that about 8 to 10 of the needles we use fit inside one hypodermic needle, The kind they use in biomedical settings. Secondly it’s not a typical needle. It doesn’t have a hole in the middle, it is solid, and it is almost like a cat whisker. The third thing I would say to somebody is that an acupuncture nap is one of the most wonderful things there is. The one thing you can always count on when you receive Acupuncture is for your body to drop into a parasympathetic state of rest and digest. Your body is finally relaxed, realizing how much rest it needs, cortisol is going down, and tissues are healing in this parasympathetic state. I tell people it’s a good treatment if they wake up hungry. And most to do. Your body is finally in a relaxed state where it’s ready to eat. One of the great things about acupuncture is how profoundly it helps the digestive system. Digestive disorders seem to be the disease du jour; everybody has it, and I have a lot of thoughts about why. It’s really fun to see people wake up and then want to go eat. Especially when we have a wonderful café downstairs.
I also tell people that they don’t necessarily need to get Acupuncture. Insurance covers only Acupuncture, not the other modalities, but there are other things that we can do. These include: fire cupping, moxibustion, BodyTalk which I do every time anyway, Gua sha, an herbal consultation, or energy work.
KATIE: I love your Gua sha treatments! Can you elaborate a bit more about what Gua sha does?
JACKIE: The point of facial gua sha is to stimulate the dermis layer of the skin to improve elasticity and release the tension to relax your facial muscles. It's typically done by scraping a flat piece of jade or rose quartz on your face in upward strokes. It also stimulates qi and blood to the area of the face you are working with, which brings energy to the area. It helps to sculpt the face by assisting the body to drain and move lymph and body fluid, and it also helps to relax muscles which are tight, or to activate muscles that are flaccid. The scraping motion is believed to stimulate facial meridians (energy channels found throughout the body), dispelling excess fluid from the face and helping to detox.
Facial gua sha can give you a “natural radiant glow” by increasing blood circulation and aiding lymphatic flow. It has been proven to help relieve tension in the face, reduce puffiness and inflammation, and it can even help reduce sinus pressure. Since the musculature of the face is much thinner, we avoid applying too much pressure as we are working on this area. Traditionally, gua sha was done with ceramic spoons and blunt coins. These days, gua sha tools are more popularly recognized as flat pieces of stone that come in a range of shapes, sizes, and materials, all boasting slightly different benefits from one another.
KATIE: What are three fundamental things we can all do to manifest healing in our lives?
JACKIE: Number one by far in my opinion is loving yourself. Today I asked somebody how they really truly felt about their body. I said do you love your body? This person began to tear up a little bit. I was honored to be in a profound moment of vulnerability and beauty like that. Loving thoughts and loving energy have more power than anything else on this earth in my opinion. I think that when we are forgiving of our imperfections, when we are loving and nurturing to ourselves, and check in with our body, and ask what it REALLY wants or needs, then we become our body's own best friend. I I feel that healing takes on many forms, so it can be really anything, and your body will tell you what it needs.
Second, finding a type of healing modality that resonates with you. You know, this medicine, acupuncture and herbs isn’t for everybody. Some people just don’t enjoy it. I have a friend who only wants to get massage and chiropractic care. That is fine, and that works for him. I think it’s so important to find the types of things that feel good to you. If it doesn’t feel good or right, then it’s not right. If you’re not comfortable with the practitioner or with what they’re doing you’re not going to heal. I think it’s important to feel comfortable, safe and relaxed and like something is right for you. I encourage people to tap into that inner knowing all the time. I’d like to empower people in that way, to encourage people in knowing that we are all our own healers.
Last I would say question everything. I would say question everything you’ve ever been told about health and listen to your inner intuitive voice over what anyone else tells you. There are so many different practitioners out there and everybody has a different opinion. I think it’s really important to find the answers to all your questions, and not just do something because somebody tells you too. I think as long as we’re asking questions in any area of life, we’re all getting better and benefiting, because we’re learning something. Maybe even rethinking something. Maybe the way something has been done for the past 20 years is not the best way to do it. I think we are our own best healers and intuitively know what we need often times, even if it doesn’t make sense to others.
KATIE: What do you love most about what you do?
JACKIE: I like to think that I hold the space for people to have experiences . People (all of us really) who are too busy, tired, or distracted to have these in their every day lives. I’d like to bring a little bit of the divine into the daily grind. I often will say a prayer or ask spirit guides to come in and help somebody because sometimes things are bigger than we are. I love to sit with people and I love to listen to people. Sometimes I hold someone’s hand and sometimes we cry. I know that a lot of healthcare providers do this as well. I think that sharing our stories is also powerfully healing. Just to be heard. I remember being that girl in the doctors office and nobody really cared to listen to what was really going on when I didn’t feel good. I never want somebody to feel that way. And I make it my duty and my goal to really see people, to really hear people, and to really make somebody feel important and cared for. That’s all I ever wanted in my struggles and so I want to give that to others. I want people to feel safe, and I want people to feel that somebody cares and is working hard to help. Because of my health success in being a patient of this medicine, and seeing good things happen, I feel confident that this medicine was a good one to choose, to be able to help people. I feel really good about it most all of the time.
All photos by the immensely talented Kelly Armijo of ArmijoDesigns
Sincere thanks to Jacqueline "Jackie" Landrum for sharing such touching and impactful words of wisdom, and for the myriad of ways she uses her God-given talent for healing in the lives of all lucky enough to know her!
Wishing you enlightenment and healing,