Mardi Gras Madness: What it's like to be an acupuncturist in New Orleans
I get asked this question a lot.
It usually comes from other practitioners in the health and wellness field who perceive New Orleans to be "unhealthy."
Well, I'm not saying that boudin and beignets and binge drinking are healthy by any means, but New Orleans has a different kind of health that comes in the form of community. People are connected, and there are seemingly infinite opportunities for getting together and sharing a meal, laugh, or parade.
That being said, my answer to the question is that being an acupuncturist in New Orleans is great! I love my clients. I don't find it any more difficult to build a practice here and have clients who get relief from symptoms than I did on the East Coast. While people on the East Coast may not have the party mentality that comes with a city that lives by the motto "Laissez les bons temps rouler" they still have vices, and in my experience those vices (unfortunately) are more likely to be operated in loneliness and isolation.
In the day and age of social media where we can wall ourselves away behind a screen, it is imperative to highlight the importance of love and intimacy on health.
Isolation is deadly. Connection and a sense of community are one of the guiding principles of Love-based Medicine, and it is backed up by some pretty compelling evidence. In Dean Ornish's book "Love & Survival," he writes that loneliness and isolation "increase the likelihood of disease and premature death from all causes by 200 to 500 percent or more, independent of behaviors, through different mechanisms, many of which are not fully understood."
So while it may be more challenging to get clients to stick to a healthy diet or have what many of us perceive as a "balanced" lifestyle, I find that generally those people who love living in New Orleans are happier and feel connected to those around them, which does a lot for their health. (If you don't love New Orleans, that's a different story! It's not for everyone.)
Those beautiful people coming for acupuncture are usually open-minded enough to make the small incremental changes that will eventually add up to a more balanced lifestyle. Working with me over time helps that to happen naturally for them, and it is a joy to watch. I'm in it for long-term results, which I have seen are achievable, even amongst the joyful chaos that is New Orleans.