Acupuncture is a wonderful alternative to Western medicine treatments for a wide range of conditions like stress, migraines, asthma and allergies. And lucky for us Portlanders, there’s a seemingly never-ending supply of natural medicine options in every neighborhood. But with so many options, how do you select just one practitioner to work with?
Enter: Liz Wolf, owner of Wolf Acupuncture. Liz moved here in 2008 to get her Masters degree in Chinese medicine at the Natural Clinic of Natural Medicine. She’s since established her own practice, where she takes a holistic approach (acupuncture combined with dietary and lifestyle counseling) to treating patients. Liz gives patients her utmost attention and care, which helps create an environment that’s comfortable, supportive and empowering.
We got to chat with the lovely Liz and hear more about her journey to natural medicine and what acupuncture entails.
E+E: What inspired you to study and practice acupuncture?
Liz Wolf: Cancer. Plain and simple. My mother, Julie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000; one of my close friends, Annie, was diagnosed in 2003 with bone cancer; and my cousin, Laura, who I grew up with, was diagnosed in 2006 with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I grew up in the Western medical world. My father is a Neonatologist (a doctor who takes care of sick and premature newborns) and my mother was an ER nurse and OBGYN Nurse Practitioner. Healthcare is in my genes, but I’ve always been drawn to alternative medicine as well as diet/nutrition. Being surrounded by cancer and seeing what Western medicine had to offer, I discovered there were other paths to health: Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. So I quit my photography job, moved to Portland and enrolled in the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM). The rest is history!
E+E: For people who haven’t experienced acupuncture before, what do you think is the most important thing they should know before trying it?
LW: People think acupuncture is just being stuck with needles. While needles are the main instrument in acupuncture, acupuncturists use multiple techniques to treat physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The approach is holistic and connections are made between all aspects of your life. More than anything, I approach my treatments as a commitment to well-being and love. I incorporate diet, relaxation/visualization techniques, Qigong, supplements and herbs into treatment. That being said, I see a big role in being an acupuncturist as being an educator, to help people gain control of their health, life, etc.
E+E: Do you have any funny/inspiring/strange stories to share in relation to acupuncture?
LW: Acupuncture is interesting, sometimes you treat people once and a problem they had for years is gone, and other times it takes months to really see change. Two of my most inspiring stories come from treating in my last year of school. One woman had Vertigo (post chemotherapy) and was chronically dizzy for years and with one treatment, her vertigo was completely gone. We are still in touch and she says the vertigo has not returned. Another patient had Ulcerative Colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease) and was taking large amounts of antibiotics for years, and with one treatment she was able to wean herself off of her meds and has seen much improvement in the last 2 years. Stories like that remind me how amazing and magical Chinese medicine can be.
E+E: What is your favorite thing about Portland?
LW: Foremost, the trees and mountains! I grew up in Milwaukee, WI, and the land is flat. The winters are harsh, and after the snow melts, everything is brown and dead. I love that Portland is luscious and green all year round, and I spend a lot of my free-time exploring the forests, coasts, and mountains. Also, I can’t get enough of the creative energy flowing through Portland. I’ve met so many creative and driven people. So many of my friends and community have been able to pour their passion into their art, craft, and businesses. It’s truly inspiring and I hope that I can begin to help some of these people take care of themselves through what I’ve learned and cultivated in my practice.
3735 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97202
Written by: Lauren Kodiak
Photos by: Wolf Acupuncture