Employee Q&A: Acupuncturist Linda Joy Stone

Employee Q&A: Acupuncturist Linda Joy Stone

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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Acupuncturist Linda Joy Stone treats a student with electrically charged acupuncture needles.
Acupuncturist Linda Joy Stone treats a student with electrically charged acupuncture needles.

Linda Joy Stone

Acupuncturist, Campus Health Service

Number of years at the UA

Favorite part about working at the UA
"Working with the students, with the diversity of cultures. With their openness and the work that they're doing in the world, that gives me hope for the future, in our young people."

On a university campus, high stress is par for the course. At the University of Arizona, some students and employees are turning to on-campus acupuncture treatments to help ease the tension.

Linda Joy Stone, the Campus Health Service's sole acupuncturist, treats students and benefits-eligible employees with health insurance through United Healthcare every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With many first-timers scheduling appointments with Stone, she's used to dealing with people's apprehensions when it comes to being treated with needles. But she says patients soon learn the experience is about pleasure, not pain.

When she's not at the UA, Stone works as an acupuncturist as Southwest Integrative Healthcare, alongside a physician, a psychotherapist, a naturopath and a registered nurse. She is also the co-founder and co-owner of the Asian Institute of Medical Studies, a Tucson school for traditional Chinese medicine, and she volunteers at Clinica Amistad, a free clinic in South Tucson.

Stone recently sat down to discuss her work with Lo Que Pasa as one of her student patients relaxed with back full of needles in a nearby exam room.

What types of ailments do you treat?
Stress, tension, anxiety and body tension that goes along with that – back pain, neck pain, upper muscle pain. And of course we treat gastrointestinal (problems), women's imbalances (and) menstrual problems. It's kind of like this is the complaint department; we treat what we see. ... If somebody shows up with stress, anxiety, we work to calm the spirit, calm the heart, calm the mind – the overactive mind. Of course students stress (and) all that over-thinking can actually deplete the stomach energy, so the point is to be nourished – to nourish the body and therefore nourish the mind. And I encourage stillness ... really just finding time to be still to settle the mind, to kind of clear out all that over-thinking.

Does someone have to have a specific complaint to come see you?
No. It's wonderful for prevention, for relaxation, for sleep, for digestion, for peace of mind.  So, privately, I've been seeing people for years once a month, sometimes once a season. ...  We say we don't treat the same person twice, because everybody sort of has their weak link that we want to focus on, but you're always different depending on one's cycle, the season, the time of day. So it really takes into account the interconnectedness with nature, with all things, and how we're affected by the external world – the climate, what's going on in the world – and what's going on internally – emotionally, physically.

Without getting too technical, how does acupuncture work?
Thinking of the body as bioelectrically charged – and they say that the fascia, the sheath between the skin and the muscles, is what's bioelectrically charged – by inserting the needles in certain areas, they've discovered over thousands of years that it has an effect on the cardiovascular system, the pulmonary system, the endorphins. ... It's sort of like we're a matrix of energy, a hologram, and that by tapping into certain points ... that can be very helpful.

What are some of the specific techniques you use?
There's a cupping method using a glass jar with an alcohol swab; (you) light the swab and put that into the glass jar. It creates a suction, and then you put it on the body very quickly, usually (to treat) upper back issues. ... It brings what we call stagnation, heat, to the surface to release it. It's almost like a bruising method. It doesn't hurt them (patients); it sometimes can look interesting. Electrostimulation (in which acupuncture needles are attached to a device that generates electric pulses) is another method to help release the trigger points, the stagnation, in the tissues. There's something called Gwa Sha, which is a scraping method. If you scrape the upper part of the back (with a special instrument) just when you're starting to get a cold or feel a sore throat that can help release pathogens so that it doesn't go deeper into the lungs. ... I do some acupressure, I do a neck release (technique) to kind of help the individual really calm down before the needles are placed. I do Chinese herbs, so Chinese herbs are available directly from me that can be helpful for allergies, for strengthening (what) we say (is) the "protective chi," or your immune system, and herbs for sleep, for calming the spirit, and (that) are helpful for bringing one back into equilibrium.

How do you handle people who are scared of needles?
Oh, they're so fine – they're just little fine wires with a little guide that you (use to) tap them in. So I have them inhale, and as they exhale tap the needle in. ... That's always the biggest question over the 20 years I've been doing this: "Oh, does it hurt?" And you can feel a little pinch but when they realize how comfortable it is, or how innocuous it is, they're pretty surprised.

How many needles do you use?
Anywhere from nine to 20-something.

How did you first get interested in acupuncture?
Through Eastern philosophy. That interconnectedness of all things made sense to me, so that philosophy (and an) interest in Eastern religions led me to this medicine in my mid-30s.

Do you remember the first acupuncture treatment you received?
Yes, and it was from head to toe, and it was interesting and very comforting and very different. It's just so different and you can't go in with preconceived notions because, like anything in life, it's never quite what it seems. And it's always different; every treatment is different so you feel different every time you leave.

What were you doing before you took up acupuncture?
I was in the travel business. I did world travel, which, again, opened my eyes and heart and mind to other cultures and (the fact) that this is a very small world and that we're all interconnected.

What's the best part of your job?
It's working with people. I learn from everybody who walks through my door. Everybody is so unique and so different and I get to see them at their most vulnerable and most open because many people come here in a lot of pain and a lot of frustration. And when I can see a difference when they leave, that's the payoff.

What's the hardest part?
The challenges are when someone is very ill and on multiple medications and has maybe abused their body their whole life and then they come to acupuncture as the last resort. That's the tough stuff.

For an acupuncture appointment, call 626-6363. An initial 70-minute visit is $65 for students and employees with United Healthcare coverage. Follow-up visits last 50 minutes and cost $50.

Do you know someone who has an interesting job at the UA? Send his or her name and contact information to lqp@email.arizona.edu for consideration for a future Employee Q&A.

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