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Meet Jenny Garcia of Jenny Garcia Acupuncture

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenny Garcia.

Jenny, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I pursued becoming an Acupuncturist and Herbalist after suffering from a series of infections, taking too many antibiotics, becoming disillusioned with some of the limitations of Western Medicine, getting messages to pursue a career in health through divination, and meeting a wonderful, magical healer mentor who took me under his wing. Growing up it was never a goal of mine to study medicine.

I grew up in a family not particularly concerned with health; We ate alright – some fairly healthy meals, along with some junk and packaged foods. In my mind healthcare meant taking medicine prescribed by my Doctor when I was sick, and occasionally visiting the hospital for check-ups. I really disliked math and science and I loved the arts and the humanities – theater, dance, English and Social Studies as subjects in school, and I wanted an artistic or social humanitarian based career. My first real job was as a tenant rights organizer in East LA. I had grown up in a very politically active family and I had a firm conviction in the process of people organizing together against inequality and for progressive social change. After studying creative writing at Brown University for my undergraduate degree, I wanted to contribute to some practical socially positive impact in the world, so as an organizer I assisted low income, mainly immigrant tenants in protecting their right to quality, affordable housing.

I later got a Fulbright Grant to study Street Theater as a Community Organizing Tool in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil which was an amazing experience. While I was living in Brazil though, I was really confused about my career path and I got a divination within the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé that I had been practicing for some years and received a message that I should pursue a career in health. During this period, I caught a bad sinus infection and was prescribed antibiotics.

Throughout the year, and as I returned back to the U.S., I continued to get one infection after another – ear infection, strep throat, boils, etc. After six infections and six courses of antibiotics I was still miserable – feverish, congested, foggy headed, no energy, and lethargic. When a friend suggested I try acupuncture I had no idea what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised when I felt a great sense of peace, my body felt like it was buzzing, and afterwards I started to notice significant improvements in the way I was feeling. I also felt really well cared for when the acupuncturist took time to look at my tongue and feel my pulse and ask me about my symptoms and my whole health picture. She prescribed me herbs and put me on a nutrition plan. I felt like finally someone was trying to look deeper into my case to find out why I kept getting sick, instead of just treating the symptoms in a way that was damaging my system.

Around this time, I also met an amazing healer named Dr. Victor Shibata through a mutual friend. Dr. Shibata was a chiropractor, had also gone to acupuncture school, and was an energy healer. I was so amazed that Dr. Shibata could take away pain energetically and I wanted to learn how to do that myself. I started studying with Dr. Shibata every week and was so inspired by how he would treat his patients. I had found a real mentor, who through his generosity taught me for free, treated me, and invested in me. I felt I had found my calling. I enrolled in Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and spent four years studying Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Western science. I gained experience treating patients in clinics around Los Angeles and continued to learn how this ancient medicine was so effective.

When I graduated and passed my licensing exam, I started my private practice in two locations – West LA and East LA because for me it was important to work with a diverse range of people and increase access to quality holistic healthcare. I also work with different community organizations to offer acupuncture to members in service of their organizing work.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When I was in school, I had a lot of fear around having a practice, finding patients to treat, and earning an income. I had heard daunting stories of other graduates who were unable to create a sustainable practice or who had moved on to other professions. I also was not attracted to just having a traditional practice model which I thought of as having a boutique type practice, treating patients one on one, and being only accessible to upper middle class patients. I was interested in having a really multifaceted practice – working one on one, and also with groups, providing a relaxing spa-like ambience, while also being really medically effective.

The first year I was in practice, I tried to give as many treatments as possible to see and gain experience with a broad range of health issues to build up my capacity. I had two private practice locations and was also employed in two other clinics, plus occasionally did volunteer work with community organizations and was seeing patients six days a week. I worked a lot but I think it was a great way to become very competent and build my practice.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I help patients with their health concerns using acupuncture, and herbal medicine among other modalities. Eastern Medicine, comprised of many therapeutic modalities is thousands of years old and is a very complex and effective system for all health concerns. Patients frequently come looking for increased well-being, relief from symptoms and holistic healthcare. I help people with acute and chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, menstrual irregularities, infertility, insomnia, autoimmune disease, etc. Traditional Chinese Medicine is amazing in that it recognizes the whole body, mind, and emotions as interconnected, so in general we try to see a shift in the person’s whole system, and in doing so, the chief complaints and symptoms begin to improve.

I have some specialized training in orthopedics and pain management, women’s health, mental health, and Children’s Health. I currently have a partnership with Alma Family Services in East L.A., a mental health organization, to give integrative care to patients treating physical, mental, and emotional conditions holistically.

One of my favorite experiences was working at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for one year on an integrative chronic pain management team, treating kids through acupuncture. Many kids had pain that compromised their ability to go to school or participate in social activities and it was really rewarding to see the relief they got from acupuncture.

I also attempt to make acupuncture and herbal medicine very accessible to a wide, diverse range of people. I work with several community organizations to provide acupuncture to their members. I believe that everyone should have access to holistic healthcare and that many times the social factors of race, economic status, immigration status, etc. affect health.

What were you like growing up?
When I was growing up, I loved being physically active and doing drama. In elementary school I acted in our school’s movies, and played witches, aliens, and any other way out character. I loved making silly faces, and weird noises, and doing impressions, and making people laugh. I also did gymnastics and challenged myself to do back flips, and practiced doing the splits. I really applied myself in school and strove for good grades. I always excelled in English, literature, and social studies.

I continued with drama throughout elementary, middle and high school. I went to different summer camps – some outdoor sleep away camps, and a different social justice camp.

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Image Credit:
Doug Mazell
Victoria Tricamo

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