Acupuncture: Pins and needles

Proponents say these thin needles can help with everything from arthritis to addiction.


Needles. Did you just wince a little, reading that word? We often associate needles with vaccines, blood draws, and root canals. Yet in acupuncture, needles are believed to serve us in innumerable ways. According to and the Mayo Clinic, acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that dates back thousands of years, and is based on the theory of qi — energy that flows through the body along meridians (pathways in the body). Trained acupuncturists focus on points along the meridians to balance qi and promote healing. Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of issues such as arthritis, depression, addiction, migraines, back pain, tendonitis, and much more.

Jodie Treloar is the owner of Drift Acupuncture in Vineyard Haven, and her interest in acupuncture came from her inquisitive mind. “Ever since I was little, I was deeply attracted to the esoteric and the mystery of life,” Treloar said. “I always wanted to know, ‘Why?’ I was also deeply passionate about nature. My undergraduate degree was in marine biology, and I ended up working in the research department at the New England Aquarium in Boston. When it came time to figure out grad school, however, I knew I’d reached a place in science that I was ready to move on from. I chose acupuncture, not on a whim, but more as an evolution of what I had already been doing with my mind, time, and heart … exploring the mysteries of life. This time it wouldn’t be through biology, the ocean, and whales, but through qi — the energy that courses through each and every one one of us.”
Treloar studied at the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in Gainesville, Fla., where she received a bachelor’s degree in health sciences and a master’s degree in acupuncture. She graduated in 2016, and moved to the Vineyard with her husband Eric and their beloved dog, Klaus. Treloar is now going into her seventh year as a licensed acupuncturist.

“In simple terms, acupuncture harmonizes the body, mind, and spirit,” Treloar said. “The thought is that when those are balanced, there will be health and wellness throughout the system. By utilizing the information we receive from reading the pulse of the patient and getting a proper picture of what is happening with their qi, we can then choose points that encourage balance. Science hasn’t yet caught up with exactly what qi is, or how this ancient medicine works, but as a practitioner, I’ve seen in real-time acupuncture working to alleviate a patient’s dis-ease. People always seem to feel better after a treatment … myself included!”

According to the National University of Health Sciences and the National Institutes of Health, acupuncture has become increasingly common across mainstream medicine in the U.S., gaining more acceptance from hospitals, the federal government, and insurance companies. More than 10 million acupuncture treatments are administered annually in the U.S. Its rise in popularity can be attributed in part to its effectiveness for pain relief, and in part to the fact that scientific studies have begun to prove its effectiveness.

“I’ve had so many interesting and positive outcomes over the years with my clients. The most exciting example is when a woman who has been trying to become pregnant suddenly seems to miraculously conceive. I treated a woman before each of her in-vitro fertilization sessions, and each resulted in successful and healthy pregnancies,” Treloar said. “Also, as a little aside, with skilled pulse taking from an acupuncturist, you can feel when someone is pregnant. This literally happened to me with another patient last month. It’s very interesting, humbling, and exciting.”

On the Island, we have several acupuncturists working with community members. Ty Romijn, from Vineyard Complementary Medicine (VCM) in Edgartown, is a licensed acupuncturist and Certified Zero Balancer, as well as a T’ai Chi Ch’uan instructor. What the heck are Zero Balancing, T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Kung? According to VCM’s website, Zero Balancing is a hands-on mind/body therapy that frees up skeletal tension for both relief of symptoms and enhancement of movement. T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Kung are meditative movements utilizing both the mind and body to facilitate healing and integration.

Romijn has been practicing acupuncture since 2001. “I love that my job is to relax and stay in love all day. I get to drop into a healing state and maintain that presence all day,” Romijn said. “I love tending my community and feeling like I have my fingertips on the pulse of humanity. I’m passionate about supporting this budding global medical system that honors both energy and structure in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of the body, mind, and spirit.”

A natural part of being human is to avoid pain, so the idea of being poked by needles can be scary. Yet acupuncture isn’t particularly painful. Most likely you won’t feel much of anything at all. If you do, it’ll be a slight pinch, followed by a warming sensation. The needles remain in the body anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

“Often the sensation when the needle penetrates the skin is the very medicine that activates potentiality. Sensation is information guiding us toward health,” Romijn said. “Acupuncture supports the client’s energy in harmonizing their inner and outer experience. It moves stuck energy, and optimizes health potential.”

Since every patient is different, the number of treatments required varies. Relief from symptoms may occur immediately or take a bit longer, depending on the conditions. Many acupuncturists suggest weekly visits over the course of five to 10 weeks. Just as our DNA is made up of chemical building blocks, acupuncture treatments build upon themselves, so over time, a more balanced state of being becomes the norm.

To learn more about Drift Acupuncture and Jodie Treloar, visit her website at More information about Ty Romijn and Vineyard Complementary Medicine can be found at There are several other acupuncturists on the Island as well, including, but not limited to, Vineyard Sound Acupuncture Center, (, Emily Thanhauser Acupuncture, (, and Vineyard Acupuncture (