Best Needle-Whisperer

Brian Barlay

The thought of someone inserting needles all over one’s body can cause consternation for the squeamish. But in the competent hands of Brian Barlay at Temescal Acupuncture Center, needles are not only no big deal, they’re somehow deeply relaxing. From the moment clients step into the foyer of this renovated house in Temescal — a neighborhood long a place of healing, what with the Ohlone Indians’ sweat lodges — the vibe is ultra-smooth but also friendly, inviting frayed nerves to just calm down. Barlay conducts thorough interviews with newbies to discern the therapeutic angle to take, and before too long the needles are in, the heat lamps are on, and the client is floating free in a kinder, gentler world. The center has four licensed acupuncturists, a homeopath, several massage therapists, and a stocked herbal pharmacy. In addition to regular ol’ acupuncture, therapies include electro-acupuncture (light electrical stimulus applied directly to the needles to boost their effect), moxabustion (a particular kind of heat therapy using artemesia herb, aka Chinese mugwort), and cupping (a muscle relaxation technique). Who knew needles could feel so good?

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