WISCONSIN RAPIDS — What convinced Debra Eberhardy that acupuncture offered a natural, cost-effective approach to health care? Her own personal experience.
"I had been very healthy all my life, then suddenly, at the age of 38, I became very sick with lower back pain, vertigo, severe fatigue and insomnia; I literally thought I was dying," the Antigo native said. "I went to several doctors, but no one could pinpoint the problem. Finally, a friend insisted that I go to see an acupuncturist."
"After only two treatments, I was already feeling better," she said.
The success of the treatment inspired Eberhardy to embark on a new career path — as a practitioner in Chinese medicine. Since 2011, she and husband Ray have operated Eberhardy Acupuncture Clinic & Herbal Pharmacy LLC, at 400 Daly Ave., Wisconsin Rapids. Eberhardy is nationally board-certified and fully licensed in Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine.
The art of acupuncture treatment is more than 4,000 years old and involves clinical Chinese diagnostics as well as the insertion of fine needles into specific points throughout the body.
"People have a hard time believing it doesn't hurt, but it really doesn't, if done correctly," Eberhardy said.
A Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner must complete three to four years of post-graduate education and training.
"My instructors said the first year of study you memorize the medicine; the second year, you learn to practice the medicine; and then, the third year, you become the medicine," Eberhardy said.
Acupuncture "returns the body to its natural state of good health; and rids the body of 'dis-ease' by increasing blood circulation, releasing natural pain-relieving endorphins and decreasing inflammation and other harmful toxins within the body," Eberhardy said.
The most common conditions she encounters are generalized pain, depression/anxiety, migraines, infertility and palliative treatment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation.
"Our approach to helping involves inclusiveness," Eberhardy said. "My intention is to be a team member of the medical system, working with a patient's medical specialist in a way that enhances the patient's confidence that we all are applying our medical skills for their ultimate benefit."
Many of her patients, she said, have responded to their treatments similarly to how she reacted to her own therapy.
"They tell me, 'Acupuncture was my last resort, when it should have been one of my first choices'," Eberhardy said.
Eberhardy addressed the holistic aspect of acupuncture treatments.
"Yes, we treat your current pain and suffering, but we also treat the root and the future growth of your ailments," she said. "Everything we experience today is rooted in us from generations back.
"How we live our life today will influence generations down the line, so let's take good care of ourselves and our relatives."
This philosophy reflects Eberhardy's desire to be true to the tenets of medicine that were first taught to her from a young age through her Native American heritage. It is also consistent with her lifelong interest in human dynamics: When she enrolled in the Midwest School of Oriental Medicine in Racine, she also held a bachelor's degree in human development (along with a master's in public administration).
The pursuit of her goal to help others was no easy task for Eberhardy, given that she was already a busy wife and mother of three children. She commuted seven hours round trip to Racine three days a week for four years to complete her education and training.
Eberhardy said the dedication and commitment she displayed then remains today in her treatment of patients. "I treat each patient as if he or she was my only one."
Eberhardy Acupuncture Clinic & Herbal Pharmacy LLC is located at 400 Daly Ave., Suite 101, in Wisconsin Rapids. Regular office hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Debra Eberhardy also makes house calls on patients who are homebound. Call 715-424-7292 or visit the website at www.eberhardyacupuncture.com for more information.