Licensed acupuncturist Dr. Catherine Browne, DAOM (Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), L.Ac. has just established In Harmony Wellness Clinic; it is located, as the name aptly describes, in Harmony, at the Tri-County Medical Park that serves Wilkes, Iredell and Yadkin counties.
The medical park is a non-profit entity created by the community that helps to provide healthcare to rural areas of these three counties and beyond. This decision by the board of the medical park supporting the effort to provide excellent health care for veterans followed a presentation where Browne submitted compelling results from dozens of recent scientific studies demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for veterans.
The clinic will focus on treating pain syndromes, emotional imbalances and PTSD, as well as opioid dependency. Browne is an approved Veterans Choice provider who can provide acupuncture and other vital services at no cost to veterans. The VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) started reimbursing for acupuncture treatments several years ago after multiple studies conducted by the military concluded that acupuncture is effective at pain reduction, easing PTSD, and reduced patients’ opioid dependencies overall.
Additionally, acupuncture is less costly than other standard treatment modalities used for pain. Acupuncture dramatically decreased the use of all pain medications among military personnel according to one study; opioid prescriptions decreased by 45 percent muscle relaxants by 34 percent, NSAIDs by 42 percent, and benzodiazepines by 14 percent.
The Veterans Choice program provides eligible veterans access to care through a comprehensive network of community-based providers when the VA cannot provide the care in its own medical facilities. Such access is especially critical in instances when the local VA medical center have extended wait times or are located an far distance from the veteran’s home; this is often the case for veterans living in rural areas of western North Carolina.
The goal of the Choice program is to complement VA’s health care system. A referral is needed from a VA Medical Doctor to receive acupuncture therapy. However, non-veterans do not require a doctor referral for treatments at the clinic. Those who are veterans in need acupuncture therapy should contact the VA to discuss your health concerns and request a referral for acupuncture under the provider name Mary Catherine Browne, located in Harmony.
Browne has extensive training and over three decades of professional experience with natural therapies. She is one of a handful of acupuncturists in the region with a DAOM. Her doctoral specialty is pain, but she also has extraordinary training and experience in treating emotional disorders such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. She is the author of the book Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency published by Storey Publishing Company who plans to print a first run of about 10,000 books next month to be distributed nationally.
The book references nearly 200 recent scientific studies demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture, herbs and other natural therapies in treating opioid dependency and pain, as pain is often the precursor of opioid use. She is an expert in helping patients detox from opioids without suffering from the extremely uncomfortable emotional and physical side effects that accompany withdrawal.
“I wrote the book because I found that people viewed acupuncture as a ‘lesser alternative’ treatment to the standard treatments for opioid dependency now being used. In reality, acupuncture and herbs are proving to be the preferred treatment helping to prevent unnecessary suffering experienced with standard abstinence drug programs,” Browne said.
She said, “Even conventional western health-care authorities are calling for the use of acupuncture and other non-invasive healing techniques for pain management before opioids are prescribed.”
In early 2017, the American College of Physicians published evidence-based guidelines for low back pain treatment strongly suggesting the use of acupuncture for pain before opioids are prescribed. Researchers believe acupuncture can replace opioids by increasing the levels of various endogenous, or natural, opioids in the brain as it specifically targets the endogenous opioid neuro-system. Acupuncture induces the release of endorphins to cope with pain and opioid cravings better than other non-pharmacological approaches according to recent scientific research.
Browne said, “Many may be surprised to find that acupuncture has even been found useful in the emergency room (ER) as one study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine concluded that acupuncture significantly reduced pain in the ER setting when compared to morphine.”
She added, “Even hospitals are getting in to the act.”
These developments follow a 2017 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Surgery) focusing on non-pharmacological treatments after total knee arthroplasty. The study suggested that acupuncture may be superior other methods being used presently to reduce knee pain following surgery. As a matter of fact, acupuncture has been shown to reduce opioid use following wide range of both minor and major surgical procedures.”
“I am super excited about being able to serve the community I’ve lived in for over a decade.” Browne said. “Additionally, I wanted to give back to the community that is supporting this great effort to care for veterans; therefore, we will be providing community acupuncture sessions in addition to private acupuncture treatments to all individuals.”
She said, “Community acupuncture treatments are performed the way acupuncture is typically provided in Asia, in a relaxing communal setting. We will offer this service at an affordable cost to all. Some people think that you must remove your clothes for acupuncture the way you do with massage; however, this is not so, as most of the most effective acupuncture points for back pain, headaches, etc. are located on the lower arm, hands, legs and feet. You just need to sit in the reclining chair, take your shoes and socks off, pull your pants legs and sleeves up, relax and enjoy.”
For those who would like to meet Browne, there will be a meet and greet at the clinic on July 14 at 10 a.m. The clinic is located at 955 N.C. 901. For those interested in treatments, visit InHarmonyWellnessClinic.com for more details and online appointment scheduling, or call 336-701-3237.