Acupuncturist of the Month

Greater Minneapolis Area, MN, Acupuncturist of the Month with Mary Denison, L.Ac

 Mary Denison, L,Ac started her journey as a practitioner of Oriental Medicine in 1999 and holds a Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine.  Her training includes Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cosmetic Acupuncture, cold laser acupuncture, and PEMF (Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field) therapies. Mary also currently uses the AcuGraph Digital Meridian Imaging Technology, which is a computerized tool used to analyze and document the energetic status of the acupuncture meridians.  Additionally, Mary holds over 32 years of experience as a massage therapist, and foot reflexology, and is a Advanced Practice Licensed Esthetician. Mary continues to employ all of her trainings to customize sessions with clients, whether they are looking to heal or beautify themselves, from the inside out.

Each month, Acupuncture Continuing Education (also known as “ACE”) has decided to feature an acupuncturist to share his or her experiences, expertise, and knowledge of practicing Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine. Sometimes, the best way to grow within a profession is to learn from your fellow colleagues, and hear how they help to achieve results for their patients.  Stay tuned for additional interviews with acupuncturists across the United States & Canada.

Welcome, Mary! Thank you for sitting down with us for the Acupuncturist of the Month Interview.

Thank you for considering me for this honor. 

So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture?

I have been in private practice for 20 years.  I have a home-based business in Oriental Medicine since September, 1999 and Cosmetic Acupuncture business since October, 2006.

What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?

The short version to this answer is I was working as a massage therapist at a clinic that shared office space with a Chinese doctor.  We became good friends, and even though moved away, we still communicate periodically. 

But, what actually got me interested was taking a class in Chinese 5-Element Theory, back in the 1980s.  I was fascinated about the meridians systems in our body and how energy flows through them. 

I believe the workshop I took was from MindBody Clearing.  They may not even exist anymore, but they left me with many new thoughts.

How did you get into cosmetic acupuncture?

My own aging process – I’m a baby boomer. Unfortunately, I can’t do this to myself because it involves many tiny needles in the face and neck, and they fall out on me doing it to myself – moving my head to get to certain areas, etc. 

Though, one of my classmates and I DID exchange several years later, and I loved it!  Another reason was I wanted to include something in my work modalities that weren’t popular with most of my colleagues because then I could stand out in a different way. 

The medical, chiropractic, physical therapy fields were all jumping on the acupuncture band wagon but none of them could offer cosmetic acupuncture.  Besides, it really does make a change in someone – not just in their looks, but in their whole being as it follows Oriental Medicine theory, which heals the whole body, naturally. 

It is not a magical thing. Rather, it is using the person’s own natural energetic system to create the change.  Of course, the client does need to make possible changes in their lifestyle to get the best results. 

A major change would be to quit smoking. 

It not only damages the lungs, but it damages the skin.  Staying out of the sun, or wearing a sunscreen of 30-50 SPF, broad spectrum.  Sun is the hardest on the skin when in it for long periods of time.  I am an Advanced Practice Licensed Esthetician, as well.

About how long does it take for clients to see results with Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture?

I recommend a package of 10-12 sessions, two times a week for 5-6 weeks.  I offer a 30 minutes, free consultation to recommend what I think they need to make a change.  I need to see them face-to-face to make my determinations, but the 10 sessions are the minimum. 

And, they must be done close together because they build on each other, or it is a waste of time.  Typically, the client can see a change by the fourth visit – so, in two weeks. 

What they may see first is the cheek area smoothing out.  As skin begins to tighten, it will decrease the fine lines and wrinkles.  Deeper wrinkles will diminish, but may not disappear completely.  It is important to understand that this is not the same as surgery. 

Surgery will stretch the skin, and you can do that only so many times before you get the mannequin look.

Cosmetic acupuncture will produce other changes, as well.  For example, it can improve muscle tone, reduce puffiness, help with rosacea or acne, and moisturize the skin and even out skin tone due to an increased circulation of blood and lymph to the face.

During the sessions, clients will also receive acupuncture to the body, which will help circulation and open up passageways, and specific points may be needled to make an affect to certain areas of the face and neck.  So, in essence, the client is receiving two treatments in one session.  Everytime.

You also practice Esogetic Colorpuncture.  Please tell us more about how this works.  When did you start, and how has this practice helped your clients?

There is a lot of asking in this question, and I will do my best to make a complicated system, concise and understandable.  So, I am going to use the simplest explanation I can, taken from Peter Mandel’s book, “Esogetics – The Sense and Nonsense of Sickness and Pain”. 

Peter is the creator of this system and the word Esogetics, based on the two words; Esoteric and Energetic.  “Esogetics is the effort to combine, on one hand, the heritage of human wisdom with the findings of bioenergetics and modern biophysics, on the other.  By using a logical model, Esogetics demonstrates a synthesis of these two entities, making it possible to grasp the philosophical.” 

This system takes into account the past, present and future, which is the NOW. 

By looking into the past, he can change the NOW which gives his life a new quality, especially in relation to looking towards the future, which would not have been possible without the re-examination of his past.  Whew!  Did you get that?

In short, the tools we use are acupuncture needles or piezos, light, color, crystals, electricity to balance brain waves, and some practitioners may use Kirlian photography to see the energy images via the hands and feet. 

I don’t use it myself due to added expenses of equipment, and this system allows me other ways to do so without it.  (I can check imbalances in the energy of the meridians using the AcuGraph Digital Meridian Imaging system through acupuncture points, but this is not a part of the Esogetics Colorpuncture.) 

Kirlian photography can show more specifics about the body’s energy systems, and how they are influenced by experiences.

How does it work? Quantum Healing.  How has it helped?  I can access through designed protocols the person’s past, including before they were born – yeah, I know, that’s difficult to understand, somewhat, and help them to a better future.

But, if you understand that energy cannot be destroyed and only changes form, then you can understand that prior to being conceived, a thought process by a Divine Source created all the make-up to manifest you into human form; thus, the past of your ancestors are in you, and you will pass some of that on to your descendants. 

So, it’s not really too difficult to see how healing can happen.  The energy of the person in front of me is still connected to the energy from that which is behind him and in front of him.

Share a recent success story you had with a client.  What acupuncture points, herbs, or other interventions (meditation, yoga, nutrition, etc.) did you use to help them achieve results?

A man came to me who could not sit for more than 15 minutes because of pain in his hips.  He wanted to take a road trip.  I worked on him for about three months using traditional needles and cold laser and infrared lamp heat, and he rode all the way to Colorado without a problem. 

I checked with him a year later, and two years later, and his pain had not returned.  That’s rewarding to me.

If they are coming in for pain relief, let’s say headaches that they have had for many years.  I will choose local points probably in the occipital area if it is coming from the neck, so local points, but add distal points to draw the trapped energy downward, dispersing it. 

Now, I might ask how long they have had these headaches, and what they have done in the past with medical doctors, etc.  If they have gone through tests that don’t show any medical reason for them, like a neck whiplash, or tumor, then I will think it could be an energetic issue. 

I may ask things like, what was going on in your life when these headaches appeared.  That can make it a more difficult healing because there is probably emotions tied to the pain.  

If I am trying to help someone heal from past abuses because the body registers all life’s experiences, then I need to use things like the Colorpuncture, SWAY test, EFT tapping, etc. 

If they have other practices, like yoga, already, then I know they are doing some self-care already, and I encourage them to continue. If I feel it is something beyond my scope of practice, I will refer them to a doctor that can help them, but I may still continue to treat the manifestations in the body.

What is one thing about acupuncture and oriental medicine, that to this day, still amazes you?

Watching the transformations take place.  I tell them that other than getting rid of symptoms, if they keep coming for balancing, we will continue to get to deeper layers. 

I tell them honestly that I don’t always know what is going to happen when we get to those deeper layers, but I DO tell them I know they will change.  And, it will be for the better. 

There are a few that I have come across who aren’t ready to go that deep.  That’s ok.  I don’t ever expect I can help everyone.  No one can.  We may only be one step in their process.

On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

I assume you mean besides the cost of the extensive schooling… grants, student loans, etc.  It took me about two years to shift my thinking of western medicine explanations into more quantum thinking and understanding the Yin and Yang theory of the universe. 

Once I grasped that, I can’t NOT think that way, any longer.  I was 41 when I decided to go back to school for this.  I had two toddlers and a teenaged daughter, and had lost a full-time job previous to that.  It was just plain rough trying to do it all.  I was tired much of the time.

Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in the profession?

Hmmm… I don’t really think I have any advice to myself because when the student is ready, the teacher will come.  I wasn’t ready earlier because I was working full-time and having babies again later in life. 

Maybe get more rest, when I could.  I always eat fairly good, and took herbal formulas to keep from wearing out, but I was busy in massage work, too. 

Once the company I worked for closed the doors to the building we were at, they gave me the opportunity to attend the schooling or training of my choice, and helped pay for some of it.  The Chinese doctor I mentioned earlier helped me make that decision.  My first intention was to go into Physical Therapy but the details just didn’t work out.  Acupuncture did, and was less than a mile from me.  When it’s supposed to happen, it will.

Running a practice is not a simple task – what do you feel was the biggest challenge in getting your practice up and running?

Trying to be everything because I am a sole proprietor.  I was not very computer savvy, either.  I didn’t need much start-up money, because I have a large space in a finished basement where I could work, privately.  I also had tables because I had a massage business. 

But, it was my home, and I wasn’t sure I was comfortable in having strangers come to it.  I worked on referrals, mainly, and joined network services from private healthcare insurances, like Blue Cross. 

It was based on offering discounts to their members, but I felt safer because they were finding me through their insurances.  It was still a cash pay business. 

At the time I decided to go into cosmetic acupuncture, it was not popular then. I was competing with injectables, too, like botox, etc.  That was a quick fix, mine was not. 

Where to advertise became an issue because everyone wanted to do that for you, but not all are created equal, and I spent and lost a lot of money, making wrong choices.  I hired a business consultant at one point that helped me understand a lot of things that I was simply ignorant about.  It’s a learning curve, for sure, even now. 

What has been the most rewarding moment so far in your career as an acupuncturist?

Simply put, watching clients heal when they feel there is no hope for their situation. I have added technology to my practice.  I use cold lasers, PEMF therapy, the AcuGraph system, and I have been able to help people where others have not. 

We have all occasionally had a patient come into our practice who is upset, frustrated, and a little angry.  Maybe it’s 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 deal with situations like these?

I do not practice what I refer to as fast food acupuncture.  I do not run two, or more, rooms at a time. I do have the access to two rooms, but I separate what I do between the rooms. 

When people come to me, I am only treating them.  Everyone who can receive PEMF therapy (some situations could be contraindicated) gets it as part of their treatments, free. 

I have a professional system and it is programed for many things, but includes anti stress, anxiety, PTSD, etc.  That’s a no brainer to me. Prior to treatment, I spend much time hearing what they have to say, and I let them vent for a bit. 

I will add things to my sessions like calming music, but if they really need to be settled, I will do a couple of Colorpuncture treatments to shift the energy. 

And, of course, treat the Liver energy…  Listening to them is key. 

Touching them is important, too, and as a massage therapist, it is essential to me to add that.  Not necessarily a full massage, but sometimes I do that instead, but a calming hand.  I can feel their energy in my fingers, so it helps me decide sometimes what to do.  

What are your favorite acupuncture points, and why?

Any of them that help me in healing my client.  I have ones that I will usually do in a first time treatment that will unblock channels and help smooth the flow of energy, but I don’t really have any favorites.  Depends on the situation, at hand.

Do you have any daily habits or rituals that keep you at your “best self”, both as an acupuncture practitioner and person?

I practice what I preach.  I can do some needling to myself, but laser works better for me.  I receive massages on a regular basis, I use brainwave entrainment and the like to transform my being, and not least, I pray every day. 

Sometimes traditionally by going to church, sometimes by just talking to God.  If I have a particularly hard case to handle, I pray through it and ask what should I do for the person in front of me. 

I have my downfalls and am not always at my ‘best’, but I get back up.  If something happens in my own life, I just try and be alone until I can be in a good place for others.  Helping others does help me.

The kindest thing a patient said to you, recently:

Paraphrasing, of course, but how I have changed their life.  This particular client started with me ten years ago, and was a very angry person. 

She can still be angry, but because of our work, she is able to handle tense situations much more calmly and confidently.  She is quite intuitive, and she pointed out to me my Empathic abilities.

The funniest thing a patient said to you recently:

This question has stumped me because I cannot think of anything that I can share.  And, who can beat Jordan’s answer last month, anyhow….

As an acupuncturist, what are you most proud of thus far in your professional journey?

That I have a skill or tool that I can use to heal someone where others might have failed.  I am an intuitive person and I can read things in people that others can’t.  I do have that skill.  I have heard more than once that I know just where to go, or what to say, like I read their minds.

If you had to choose a spirit animal, what would it be and why?

Two things come to mind: the tiger because it is powerful and very sure of itself.  But, I also like the wolf because of the same reasons as the tiger, but a wolf can be tamed to walk by your side.  I think dogs, or their cousins, are angels on earth.  The wolf (and tiger) command a presence and respect.  And the howling of a wolf is making a statement to the world about who they are.  It can be an ominous sound.

To learn more about Mary Denison and her practice of cosmetic acupuncture, please visit Don’t forget to follow her on LinkedIn @BeautifyNaturally1st, and Twitter @mitziom.  Check out some of Mary’s articles on PEMF therapies and other great topics.