Transcripts from my interview with Melanie Morrill of Accessible Acupuncture. Enjoy !

[00:00:00] Dr. Joe Tanti: Hey, this is Dr. Joe Tanti. today I’m talking with Melanie Morrill, , she’s an acupuncturist in Edmonton at Accessible Acupuncture.. In, today’s episode we talk about a little bit how she got into providing acupuncture initially, the type of practice she has and the people she helps. We talk about a lot about accessibility and also pregnant ladies.

[00:00:27] How acupuncture may be helpful for them. Hope you enjoy the show and I’ll talk to you soon.

[00:00:33] All right. Welcome to the show. Building a healthier Edmonton Dr. Tanti, I’m here with Dr. Melanie Morrill and she’s with Accessible Acupuncture here in Edmonton. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. So why don’t we go back a little bit and tell us why why, what brought you into acupuncture?

[00:00:59] Melanie Morrill: [00:01:00] Certainly. So I got into acupuncture because I really love being able to help people holistically. And I like being able to help where sometimes there aren’t a lot of other options. So for me, personally, as a teen, I had really, really bad period cramps. And one of the things that I found helpful were alternative treatments and.

[00:01:26] I found acupuncture and herbs to be really helpful for stopping cramps and for keeping me in school when I was supposed to be in school instead of at home with period cramps. 

[00:01:40] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. So then you’ve, you’ve went through school and then you D did you decide right away, like I have to become an acupuncturist or kind of walk through that journey?

[00:01:50] Melanie Morrill: Yeah. So I did not initially start out thinking I was going to be an acupuncturist. I knew I wanted to work in medicine. [00:02:00] So I initially went to the U of a, and I spent two years studying biological sciences there. And unfortunately, calculus. Had a bit of a disagreement and I decided to switch up my path and I found acupuncture and conveniently acupuncture already needed at the time, two years of university credits before you could get into the program.

[00:02:28] So I went for the three year acupuncture program at MacEwan here in Edmonton. Fantastic program. I highly recommend it. And then I spent a year writing licensing exams, which was about as much fun as it sounds like. 

[00:02:45] Dr. Joe Tanti: Yes. Lots of board exams and licensing exams. Those are always a ton of fun. So what does, what does your practice primarily focused on?

[00:02:55] What do you what do you do? What do you treat. 

[00:02:59] Melanie Morrill: So [00:03:00] at Accessible Acupuncture, my primary focus is helping everyone who needs acupuncture help. So I have a focus on accessibility and inclusion, which means that if you have mobility difficulties or if you find healthcare to be generally non-inclusive and non-supportive.

[00:03:22] Accessible Acupuncture is here to help. So for the most part, I treat women’s health. I do some mental health and I do. Pain and injury. I will also help members of the LGBTQ plus community. And I actually have several things to include and support that community. So on my intake forms, they ask about sex and gender.

[00:03:49] There’s an X option for both. And I also do treatment for people who have disabilities mobility issues and. [00:04:00] I just try to make my practice as welcoming and a friendly place as possible. 

[00:04:05] Dr. Joe Tanti: Yeah, that sounds great. I know a lot last time we talked a lot of clinics or certain places. People will feel a little bit.

[00:04:14] Unwelcome or not really feel like they don’t fit and they just kind of get a bad vibe. And obviously you want to have, if you’re going to help people with their health care and heal, you got to have a, a welcoming environment and they have to feel like you’re there to help them. Can you kind of explain a little bit about that inclusion how you’re able to include people different areas of their life in different socioeconomic environments and so forth.

[00:04:42] Melanie Morrill: Certainly. So for different socioeconomic circumstances, they can make it really hard to get the healthcare that you need. So one of the things that I do is I have an affordable acupuncture option. It’s called relaxation acupuncture. [00:05:00] I have direct billing to over 35 major healthcare companies and. I am happy to put together acupuncture plans based on your budgetary needs.

[00:05:12] Obviously there are going to be some caveats. If you’re only able to afford acupuncture once a month, there’s only so many things we can work on, but I’m happy to work with people and I’m not here to turn people away or make it difficult to get acupuncture.

[00:05:31] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. That’s great. And how about with the LGBTQ plus community? Last time we had talked about that and we were talking, we were talking about that for quite a while. Just cause it’s a hugely under-serviced area. I know back At Chiropractic college, there is a bike rallies and so forth to help support that community because this is in Toronto, it’s a large community and it’s largely under serviced [00:06:00] with multitude of health issues.

[00:06:03] So it’s a hugely under-serviced area and, you know, Aren’t able to have that accessibility for whatever reasons. Can you dive a little bit into that and how you’re able to give them this community and this group the best care that they care. 

[00:06:20] Melanie Morrill: Yeah. So there are numerous barriers for LGBTQ plus folks to get healthcare.

[00:06:28] The big one being healthcare providers who don’t understand how LGBTQ plus people have different needs than the rest of the population. So. A CIS person. They would not necessarily feel that they need to talk about the difference between their gender and their sex. And they wouldn’t necessarily feel like their preferred name was going to be an issue, but for someone who’s trans their sex and their gender may not be the same.

[00:06:59] They may [00:07:00] have a preferred name. That’s different from their legal name. At Accessible Acupuncture. I have information on both on my website, the differences between gender and sex. And how those are really important to people’s care because when people don’t feel heard and they don’t feel understood and they feel like their healthcare providers just don’t get it, they’re not going to have a good appointment.

[00:07:26] They’re not going to feel like they can open up about their health issues. They’re not going to feel like they can talk about. Because there is nothing more frustrating than talking about something that is deeply personal to you and having the other person just not understand. At Accessible Acupuncture, I put a huge emphasis on inclusive informed and affirmative healthcare.

[00:07:53] So what that means is inclusive. Healthcare is just including everyone. And we [00:08:00] do that by the language we use. We do it by making it easy to book appointments, and we focus on informed healthcare because. If your healthcare provider doesn’t understand or have any information on the health condition you’re coming in for, they’re not going to be able to help you.

[00:08:21] You wouldn’t ask your car mechanic to help with your elbow pain. Why would you see a healthcare professional who doesn’t understand your health issues? So I’ve taken some additional training in LGBTQ plus health disparities and health issues, health disparities. Things where certain diseases affect certain populations more than they ought to.

[00:08:49] And we think that the only reason that there’s a difference is because of the community that person belongs to. So like in the LGBTQ plus community, [00:09:00] there’s a health disparity around. Sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, and use mental health conditions, breast and cervical cancers, eating disorders and heart disease being LGBTQ plus shouldn’t have any bearing on heart disease.

[00:09:18] And yet it does. So being able to offer people, nonjudgmental healthcare and healthcare, where they feel heard. Is one of the best ways to reduce those health disparities. Also for people who are LGBTQ plus stop seeing providers who aren’t helping and who aren’t listening, find someone who will help and who will listen.

[00:09:45] And if anybody ever needs referrals to doctors, physiotherapists chiropractors, I keep a list of healthcare providers who I know have some information around these issues. Because I want to [00:10:00] send people to healthcare providers where they’re going to have a great experience. 

[00:10:05] Dr. Joe Tanti: Yeah, it’s really important. A lot of people I’ll get them all the time.

[00:10:08] Patients come in and they’ll, I don’t want to say complained, but you know, be not totally satisfied or happy with one of their healthcare providers. And they almost feel stuck. Like they, you know, they can’t see someone else. But the reality is here in Alberta anyway we’re luckily enough to be able to.

[00:10:27] At least with some health care providers kind of choose who we, who we want to see. If you’re not happy with a acupuncturist that you’re seeing. For example, you could see another one. If you’re, if you’re not happy with the chiropractor or a medical doctor for whatever reason, you’re able to seek out a different one if they’re accepting patients.

[00:10:44] So it’s really important to see the healthcare providers that are able to see you as a whole person. In a nonjudgmental way cause they’re there to help you, not to judge you and get you really the care that you need. So [00:11:00] it’s crucially important for people and realize that you do kind of have a not kind of, you have a right to, you know, healthcare and effective healthcare.

[00:11:10] Moving backwards a little bit. What exact talk about acupuncture. There’s different types of acupuncture. I believe you said you, you provide more of a traditional Chinese type of medicine. Acupuncture is TCM model as well as more of a musculoskeletal or Western and Eastern type of acupuncture services.

[00:11:35] So what are the, what are the differences between those two or is it all. PO poking people with needles in random places, or, you know, is there a method to to what you’re doing? I’m assuming I know the answer here, but just kind of describe what, what acupuncture is doing. Exactly. 

[00:11:54] Melanie Morrill: For sure. So there’s always a method to the madness.

[00:11:58] I know sometimes [00:12:00] it feels strange to have acupuncture done in your wrists and your ankles when you’re coming in for anxiety or you’re coming for fertility. But yes, there’s always a method whether I’m using the traditional Chinese medicine. Method or if I’m using a more biomedical musculoskeletal approach for the traditional Chinese medicine.

[00:12:25] So that’s what I spent a lot of my training in and. TCM looks at the body like a garden. We expect all the different parts of the garden to work together. And if you have a problem in one place, you’re likely going to have problems in other places. If you think about a garden, if you have bugs on one plant, you probably have bugs on all of them, even if you can’t see them yet.

[00:12:50] So acupuncture works to find the root of the problem. In this case bugs, we get rid of it at the source, and then it clears up [00:13:00] any other bugs that are in the garden. If you have soil that just doesn’t have enough fertilizer in it, we need to nourish and nurture. And that’s what we do with acupuncture, going to a more.

[00:13:16] Biomedical Western approach acupuncture works by reducing inflammation in the body, improving circulation, releasing endorphins, and stopping pain. It also increases tissue healing and can help to balance hormones. Now, one of my favorite parts of acupuncture is just how relaxing it is. And the relaxation we get from acupuncture is because it’s releasing those endorphins.

[00:13:43] Endorphins being feel good neurotransmitters that your body produces by itself. So it’s the same thing as when people have like a runner’s high or the feel-good sensation you get from drinking an amazing cup of hot [00:14:00] chocolate. Your body is releasing those feel-good chemicals. And at the same time, It’s also doing all the other things that it needs to, to help with your treatment and to support whatever health condition it is that you’re coming into.

[00:14:20] For injuries and pain. I also do dry needling and the intramuscular stimulation. So people are often more familiar with physiotherapists doing dry needling, but acupuncturist are absolutely able to offer this. And I in particular, took a bunch of continuing education on how to do it as effectively as possible with as little discomfort as possible.

[00:14:48] Because sometimes IMS and dry needling are very aggressive and they can leave you incredibly sore after your treatment. So I really [00:15:00] love the flexibility that combining these different approaches and these different methods gives me so that no matter what you’re coming in for acupuncture can help with health conditions, injuries.

[00:15:16] Dr. Joe Tanti: Yeah, that’s fantastic. So it’s almost like you’re not kind of slicing people into different areas. You’re and just treating that one area. You’re trying to treat them holistically, looking at the whole body. They may have some type of ache or pain or some type of symptom, but it’s because some other issues are going on in their whole body.

[00:15:35] It’s it’s affecting the whole person and treating the whole person to help with whatever ails them. 

[00:15:42] Melanie Morrill: Exactly. We would never just treat one thing because we’re looking at your whole self and your whole body, 

[00:15:49] Dr. Joe Tanti: right? With dry needling, I have heard mixed reviews with people. Some say it’s incredibly Uncomfortable or painful depending.[00:16:00] 

[00:16:00] But you’re saying it, you know, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lot of that obviously has to do with a practitioner each practitioner, their capabilities and just how they do things. So in your experience with your patients, you’re saying most of the time, it’s not too uncomfortable. 

[00:16:17] Melanie Morrill: Yeah. So with dry needling, it really depends on who you have doing the dry needling.

[00:16:23] If you have someone who knows what they’re doing, it’s going to be less uncomfortable. Dry needling often has muscle twitches where you put the needle into the neuromuscular junction or the part of the muscle where the nerve comes in and we can get that muscle to contract and relax with the needle.

[00:16:43] It’s a really cool feeling. Just imagine your muscle jumping and you didn’t tell it to go anywhere. Right. And it’s not always the most comfortable, but there are things we can do to make it more comfortable. And when you’re looking for someone [00:17:00] to. Work on injuries, do dry needling and that sort of thing.

[00:17:04] It’s always a good idea to ask them how long they’ve been doing it, what their qualifications are and how involved their training was. So many physiotherapists here in Alberta have a 200 hour course. Compare that with acupuncturists who spent at least three years in school and then take continuing education to learn additional dry needling on top of the acupuncture they already do.

[00:17:32] And aside from that, always talk to your practitioner. If they are giving you a treatment and it’s really uncomfortable, let them know right away for me. When I’m doing sessions. If someone tells me something is uncomfortable, I can always go in and adjust things for me. If people don’t feel like they can rest, relax, and.

[00:17:54] After we’ve put in all their acupuncture points. I need to go in and adjust something because you should [00:18:00] absolutely be able to rest and relax during your treatment. You should not be sitting there thinking, oh boy, I can’t wait for this to be 

[00:18:08] Dr. Joe Tanti: so typically like majority of the time, if they’re leaving store and worse, feeling worse or feeling aggravated and not, and kind of that cathartic or at least feeling some changes happening and more relaxed when they left.

[00:18:22] Prob probably things didn’t go quite right. And you may not have done things correctly is what I mean. 

[00:18:30] Melanie Morrill: You may not have done things correctly for that patient that day. It is absolutely possible to overdo acupuncture. If someone’s coming in with hip pain or glute pain, I try to only work a couple of things, each appointment, because if I were to work on every muscle in your glute and.

[00:18:51] You would absolutely be sore and we would have really, really overdone it. So knowing how much to treat in a particular [00:19:00] appointment is a skill unto itself. And there are going to be times where you’re going to leave a little bit sore, but it shouldn’t be to the point. You’re feeling sore the next day, the next day, the next day, a little bit of soreness after your treatment is normal, but it shouldn’t be any more soreness than if you’d had a really good massage.

[00:19:25] Dr. Joe Tanti: Right. Yeah. I’m kind of finding the, this is kind of the art form of healthcare is trying to find what works best for each person for each day as, as they’re in front of you at that moment in time, because what you may have done last time may have felt fantastic for them. And they come in.

[00:19:45] They see, or they may feel like they have the same issue again. But if you do the same thing that person might be too, might be too much for them at that period of time. It really depends on a whole myriad of, of issues and things that are happening with [00:20:00] them. And I find that that’s kind of the art of a healthcare.

[00:20:03] And as you progress in practice, Experienced that and get a little more experience with fine tuning that art and knowing what to give people each time that you see them. So that’s kind of been my experience anyways, over the past couple of years. 

[00:20:21] Melanie Morrill: Yeah. I completely agree with you. You really have to tailor every treatment, every patient and how they’re doing that particular.

[00:20:29] Yeah. 

[00:20:30] Dr. Joe Tanti: Absolutely. What are some common misconceptions that people may have about acupuncture? Sometimes people, you know, they may not know who they should go to or what type of provider that they should go to for. You know, the various different symptoms they have. Let’s say they have some fertility issues and they’ve seen their GP.

[00:20:51] They talk to the gynecologist, you know, they’re trying to get pregnant and they’re taking herbs and so forth. They’re looking up on Dr. Google and [00:21:00] Dr. Google tells them. 20 different possibilities. They’re looking on different people’s blogs and so forth, trying to find information. And the problem I find with online is that no matter where you look, there’s tons of different options for you and you can always get overwhelmed and you just have no idea where to go.

[00:21:21] So excuse me. What would you say is. Kind of some key indicators that someone would likely benefit from seeing an acupuncturist. 

[00:21:34] Melanie Morrill: So if you have a pulse, you’re probably going to benefit from seeing an acupuncturist, but more to your point, when you have a specific health concern after you’ve cleared it with your GP.

[00:21:47] Absolutely come for acupuncture and an easy way to find out if what you have is going to benefit from acupuncture is to call an acupuncturist office and ask [00:22:00] most acupuncturists, have a preferred area of practice. So for me, as I mentioned it, Injury inclusivity, women’s health and a little bit of mental health.

[00:22:13] So if someone were to call me and say, they’re trying to get pregnant, and they’ve been trying for a couple of months, they’ve seen their GP, they’ve done blood work and all of that, I would say, absolutely. Come on in, come see me for some fertility acupuncture and ensure that whoever you’re trying to conceive.

[00:22:32] Also comes for acupuncture because for fertility acupuncture, it takes two to tango. And I highly recommend having both dance partners come for treatment and. Other than that. Yeah. When you’re picking your acupuncturist, pick someone who you like. So pick someone who you find it easy to talk to and someone who [00:23:00] you would enjoy seeing for several weeks.

[00:23:04] Dr. Joe Tanti: So how long would a typical treatment plan? I know it’s variable depending. It’s an impossible question to ask or to answer cause everyone’s different, but what’s a reasonable timeframe and amount of treatments that someone can expect to see some change to see if. Happening is being effective. For example, sometimes people will come in and they, they may have some type of chronic injury in their neck.

[00:23:30] For example, they always have a tight and sore neck after a motor vehicle accident 30 years ago. And they come in and see me because they got referred from someone. And then they say, you got one chance here to fix me, which is totally unreasonable because it’s been developing over, you know, 30 years.

[00:23:45] You’re not going to undo all that. In a brief period of time, one time. So what in your experience is kind of a reasonable expectation to notice some changes to occur before kind of [00:24:00] deciding is this going to work or does this have a possibility of helping. 

[00:24:05] Melanie Morrill: Yeah. So you’re absolutely right. It’s highly variable and it really depends on what you’re coming in for.

[00:24:12] But I would say after four treatments, you should notice some sort of difference. So for musculoskeletal pain, like the whiplash you were talking about, After four treatments, you should be noticing some difference. Usually people notice a difference sooner than that, but it could be something like your range of motion has improved.

[00:24:34] It’s easier for you to shoulder check. Your pain is less. You’re able to take less pain medication through the day and you don’t get headaches as often as you used to. For something like fertility, this could be a change in your cycle. Length, a change to your body, basal temperature, charting, a change to your cervical mucus, a change to how you feel during your menstrual cycle.[00:25:00] 

[00:25:01] For mental health. I really like when people journal for this, but usually just seeing a difference in how you feel on average is a good indicator. If you’re on the right track. And for folks who want a one and done miracle. Sorry. It’s it’s acupuncture, not a miracle. I very rarely see people for one appointment and it fixes everything.

[00:25:30] In that single session, occasionally it happens. But usually in those cases, it’s someone I’ve seen for several months and we finished their treatment plan. They came back in because their neck is just bothering them a little bit. We do one treatment and they’re usually good for several more months. 

[00:25:55] Dr. Joe Tanti: Yeah, that makes sense.

[00:25:55] So it’s kind of getting them to that state of health and wellbeing, and [00:26:00] then they might kind of dip a little bit and then that one treatment kind of brings them back up to feeling great again, versus someone who’s never had any type of acupuncture done before. Going from zero to a hundred percent is a less likely.

[00:26:15] Could happen, but it’s probably not going to happen. And I find that a lot of people, they, you know, were we everyone right? Something now they want it, the flick, a switch and for it to happen right away. But that’s just not the reality. And that’s with everything. There’s nothing that we do. We can just do one time and expect to get results from a, whether that’s exercise, whether that’s taking medication, you have to continually take that.

[00:26:41] Whether it’s acupuncture, chiropractic, any type of therapy senior GP, the list just goes on. So, Melanie, I know your time is extremely valued. Is there anything else that you’d like to add or share with everyone? 

[00:26:56] Melanie Morrill: Oh, that’s such a good question. I guess the [00:27:00] one thing I would add is that if you’re thinking about coming in for acupuncture, the best time to come was yesterday and the second best day is today.

[00:27:10] So whenever you are dealing with a health issue, If you can treat it as soon as it comes up. Absolutely. And if you can’t treat it when you’re able to even issues that you’ve had for years and years and years, well, absolutely benefit from treatment. It just might take a little bit longer to get the results you’re looking for.

[00:27:32] Dr. Joe Tanti: Right. Well, thanks for sharing. What’s the best way for people to contact you or to follow you or reach out to you? 

[00:27:41] Melanie Morrill: Absolutely. So my website is accessibleacupuncture.ca. I’m located here in Edmonton. I’m in the high center. So I’m right beside the Royal Alex and Kingsway mall. You can also get in touch by giving me a call.

[00:27:58] My phone number is [00:28:00] five eight, seven. 8 7 9 7 1 2 2. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Instagram, I’m Melanie Morrell, R a C on both. And I have links to all my social media on my website. And I also have information there for how to get in touch with me. And of course, I always love to hear emails from folks.

[00:28:27] You can use the email submission form on my website or email me at [email protected] 

[00:28:37] Dr. Joe Tanti: Great, thanks for sharing. So that’s the nearby,at the Royal Alex Alex. And if I’m not, if I’m not mistaken, I believe there are a lot of OB GYN over there. And a lot of pregnant ladies, that’s where my wife gave birth.

[00:28:52] And I feel like I know that a lot of pregnant women have. Lots of aches and [00:29:00] pains and things that acupuncture can be quite helpful for managing while they’re going through their pregnancy. So great location while you’re checking in with the OB to get that other appointment with you as well, so they can feel a lot better throughout the day.

[00:29:12] Great. Well, thank you everyone for listening or watching and we’ll see you next time.

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