This month ACE interviews Bethany Leddy, L.Ac, the creator of Elemental Acupuncture, a specialized acupuncture technique developed through her 17 plus years of practice. Elemental Acupuncture takes the best of Chinese Medicine, Japanese Acupuncture, Five Element Theory, Trigger point Acupuncture, and modern Acupuncture research to create a total balancing treatment. Bethany’s mastery of pulse reading allows her to test individual points within her Elemental system against each patients pulse to choose the best points for that person in that day and creates a personalized acupuncture treatment for each patient.
Mrs. Leddy attended South West Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado and graduated in 2002 with a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine (the highest level of degree at that time). Mrs. Leddy was the 2001 Oncology acupuncture intern at Longmont Hospital in Colorado, the 2002 intern in Geriatrics at Golden West Rehabilitation and the 2006 and 2007 Chief Fellow in Integrative Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. Since 2002 she has maintained a private practice in Manhattan and 2011 began treating patient in lower Westchester County.
Mrs. Leddy also holds a degree in philosophy and minor in biology. She also studied Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation at Naropa University in 1998 and incorporates mindfulness techniques, nutritional supplements, recommendations, and herbal medicines in her practice. Bethany has expertise in working with pregnant patients and has developed a special Elemental technique for each month of pregnancy that balances the mother’s and child’s energy. Bethany also has expertise in fertility and has a 95% success rate of full term pregnancies for patients with fertility issues. She has specialties in internal medicine and uses trigger point acupuncture for muscular skeletal disorders.
Welcome Bethany! Thank you for joining us for the Acupuncturist of the Month interview.
So, how many years have you been practicing acupuncture for?
17 years. I started my practice in Manhattan in 2002.
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
I was in a head on collision when I was 20. I had thoracic outlet syndrome and a disc herniation of c5/c6 as a result. I used acupuncture as an important part of my rehabilitation to recover and reduce pain. As a result of acupuncture we completely cured the thoracic outlet syndrome and the disc herniation.
What is one thing about acupuncture & oriental medicine, that to this day, still amazes you?
I think nothing compares to the feeling of acupuncture and the sensation of energy moving through out the body. It is definitely a seeing is believing type of modality. The power to relax the nervous system and just completely relax is mind blowing.
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
It was a big shift for me to switch gears from studying Buddhism and being on a path to becoming an Academic to studying Acupuncture. However I consider Acupuncture to allow me to bring my Buddhist studies and practices into the world.
Elemental Acupuncture… Tell us more about it, how did you come up with this idea and what lead you to that?
I feel very blessed to have studied at the Boulder Branch of South west acupuncture college. We had an amazing group of teachers who offered us a solid base in Japanese acupuncture, TCM, and five element: Michael Young who taught a more Japanese approach and embraced extraordinary meridians, kampo and auricular acupuncture, Soma Glick who taught us both pediatrics and Five Elements, and Jiayu Jiang and Daisy Dong who created a solid TCM foundation.
Southwest really offered us an integrated education which was a great spring board to launch into treatment. Through my many years of feeling the pulse and testing acupuncture points against them I have really developed a new understanding of the way acupuncture effects the body. I think a practitioner should always feel the pulse before, during, and after the treatment. If you aren’t effecting change in the pulse then you aren’t energetically changing the system. Testing acupuncture points against the pulse allows the practitioner to create a totally individualized point prescription for that patients.
For instance if the heart pulse is excessive but not floating (wind invasion) and the patient has difficulty sleeping do to restlessness then I think about what controls fire? It is water, so I will test HT3 and KI10 the water points to control the fire instead of just using the classic rx of Ht7 and KI3. If it tests well with the pulse and settles the HT pulse then I continue to test other points to balance the Pulse.
Acupuncture is really all about balance of the internal energetic system and the radial pulse is the best gauge for assessing the energy.
Is Elemental Acupuncture a technique you hope is adopted by other acupuncture providers?
I would love more practitioners to work with this system. When you are effecting energetic change within the body it is essential to work with the five elements to do this. If you have excess heart energy then it is the water that controls it. If you have deficient spleen energy then it is fire that will increase it. You don’t just have to use the classic four needle technique of five element acupuncture to do this. You can build this within a classic point prescription as well.
Have you thought of making this a known technique, maybe in the form of a book or study?
Currently I am working on a book based on the ancient Chinese concept of nuturing the fetus. It is based on some teachings from Sun Simiao that correlate each two month time period of pregnancy to the Chinese Five elements. There is a different point based on the five elements which correlates to every month of pregnancy. These points harmonize the mother and baby to the changes and development of that stage of pregnancy. I have been doing this practice with Mother’s for 17 years and it definitely helps the development of the fetus. It is a great way to help give the baby a balanced start and effect what might be their constitutional make up. After I finish this book I will work on an Elemental acupuncture book. I would really like to start teaching a course on this system because I think for most Acupuncturists it would be fairly easy to incorporate.
What are some incorrect practices or information being given in the world of acupuncture that you want to see corrected?
I had a patient a few years ago who was pregnant and went to an acupuncturist in NJ. The acupuncturist did ear points during her treatment which are contraindicated in pregnancy.
Recently I did an assessment of all the acupuncture and IVF studies which were looking at how acupuncture can increase successful pregnancy rates with IVF, that are widely known. I found those studies to be using point protocols that are not the most effective. I found a glaring lack of important acupuncture points to be missing from the protocols.
I also have a major problem with the points that are touted to be effective for pre and post embryonic transfer. It is unfortunate that based on one study these points have been adopted by practitioners across the country. I have a 96% success rate in helping couples who have had trouble with conception conceive and deliver full term live births. I believe this is because of the utilization of certain acupuncture points that connect directly to meridians that intersect the uterus. I would very much like to conduct a study using my point protocols.
Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in this profession?
Pay more attention during herb and formula study and take an extra year to complete your degree. I wasn’t that into herbs when I was in school but now I find them absolutely essential. I ended up having to do a lot of study and restudy on them based on the different patients I have had.
I did an accelerated three year program at school. It would have been smarter to slow it down.
What has been the most rewarding moment so far in your career as an acupuncturist & oriental medicine provider?
When I see the picture of someone’s new born baby. Some couples struggled for years to conceive before they came to see me. I am so happy to help them bring another life into then world.
Share a recent success story you had with a patient. What acupuncture points, herbs, or other interventions (meditation, yoga, nutrition, etc) did you use to help them achieve results?
I have a patient who came to see me with vision compications and dry eye due to a laser eye surgery. We used acupuncture points to tonify the liver and kidney yin as well as local points to then eyes. The formula we are using is Qi ju di huang wan. Last week she came in and said her tear production is increasing. That is a major win!
We have all occasionally had a patient come into our practice who is upset, frustrated, and a little angry. Maybe its from work, being stuck in traffic, or life in general – we have all been there! What advice would you give to fellow acupuncture students and/or colleagues on how to improve a situation like this?
People want to be heard and listened to. They need someone to talk to and share their experience. I try not to give my patients too much advice, but I often offer a breathing exercise based in pranayama to help calm the nervous system. The technique is called square breathing and it is great to do together before you put the needles in. The timing can vary but all the parts need to be in an equal count whether you do a count of two, three, four, or five. You breathe in for a count of, for example, 4, hold the in breath for 4, exhale for 4, and hold the exhalation for 4. Repeat at least three times. This will help to calm the patients nervous system, and initiate the para-sympathetic response.
What condition or illness have you had good success in treating, and why?
I have a general practice. About 50% of my patients come to me for pain and I have great success in helping people get out of pain no matter what the cause. I have great success with alleviated pain associated with disc herniations especially. As I mentioned earlier on, I also have amazing success in helping couples with fertility issues achieve full term, live birth.
Running a practice is not a simple or easy task – what do you feel was the biggest challenge in getting your practice up and running?
I moved to New York in 2002. Smart phones didn’t exist and the internet was relatively new. Because I didn’t go to school in New York I wasn’t really plugged in to the AOM community. Finding a place to practice took me a few months. I started out renting hourly at a Pilates and Yoga Studio called Stretch. It was run by two wonderful women who really believed in acupuncture and my practice. They helped by referring a number of their clients and I also built relationships with a lot of other companies in the building. It was a great launching place for my practice. I am eternally grateful to both Michelle and Jessica for their help.
Sometimes, the best resource for improving our skills is by learning from the other acupuncturists we meet along our professional journey. What is one thing you learned from a fellow acupuncturist or other holistic practitioner, that has helped you in your professional growth, or in your care for patients?
In 2005 I was renting from a Chiropractor on 57th street. One of his receptionists was in Acupuncture school at Tri-State College of Acupuncture. She treated me and released my trapezius and it was revolutionary for me. The relief I felt was amazing. She introduced me to trigger point acupuncture or applied physical medicine acupuncture. I started taking continuing education classes at Tri-State, getting treated at the clinic , and shadowing Mark Seem and Kiiko Matsumoto on grand rounds. It is truly a shame that the school closed this year. I think it produced some of the best acupuncturists I have ever met.
Do you have any favorite acupuncture points?
Yes, lots. DU20 I use on almost everyone because we are so in our head and too mentally stimulated. It is a great point to balance the mind. I do it as my first point of the treatment to relax and sedate people.
What does your life look like outside of acupuncture? What do you like to do?
I have a 5 year old so my life outside of acupuncture is all about taking care of her. When I have time to myself I go to yoga at YogaHaven. I find yoga absolutely necessary for my physical and mental sanity.
The kindest thing a patient said to you recently?
You changed my life.
The funniest thing a patient said to you recently?
Trump is going to win again and there is nothing we can do about it. Thankfully he was being sarcastic.
If you had to choose a spirit animal, what would it be and why?
my spirit animal is the eagle. It was revealed to me through a guided meditation during my first reiki attunement.
What do you see for the future of acupuncture, and what do you want to change?
It would be great for states to mandate acupuncture coverage to be offered by insurance. It would also be great for insurance companies to reimburse higher amounts for in network practitioners. I am currently out of network because the reimbursement rates are higher.
I would like the National Institute of Health to offer more grants to acupuncturists to conducts studies. Often studies are run by M.D.’s and not practicing acupuncturists.
If it were your last day, and all your life work was erased, what are three pieces of information/advice you would want to leave the world with about acupuncture?
It works. It absolutely and undoubtedly works. It changed my life. It has changed the lives the millions of people. It has stood the test of time over thousands of years.
To learn more about Bethany Leddy, L.Ac and her work as an acupuncturist, check her out on popular social media platforms, Leddy Family Acupuncture Facebook page, and Instagram @beeoneacu. Also, be sure to visit her website www.bethanyleddy.com.
See Bethany on our Instagram along with all other acupuncturists of the month, tips, quotes, and remedies!