Lori Guynes, a Goleta-based practitioner who specializes in fertility and pregnancy acupuncture, says that when it comes to overall health, people should “drink more water, get fresh air and exercise daily, and focus on gratitude, forgiveness and moving toward joy.”  (Jenn Kennedy photo / www.kennedypix.com)

I remember first hearing about acupuncture in the mid-1990s. It sounded insane — the idea of volunteering to let someone stick me with a series of small needles to address my fatigue. But like many new ideas, with a little time and repetition they start to seem familiar, and I became willing to try. In the years since, many people I know have tried it and found wonderful results.

I recently connected with Lori Guynes, a Goleta-based practitioner who radiates the wellness I seek. An Orange County native, she came to Santa Barbara in 1986 to attend UCSB. While the dance program attracted her, she ended up majoring in women’s studies and sociology.

Guynes worked for a series of nonprofit organizations, including Planned Parenthood and Access Theatre. After experiencing the positive benefits of Chinese medicine as a patient, she returned to school for a master’s degree from the Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine, where she later served on the faculty.

At the core of this ancient medicine is the philosophy that Qi (pronounced “chee”) — or vital energy — flows throughout the body. Qi helps animate the body and protect it from illness, pain and disease. It circulates through pathways called meridians. The needles stimulate the points that regulate the Qi. Once the needles are inserted, the patient relaxes for 20 to 30 minutes.

Guynes specializes in fertility and pregnancy acupuncture. She treats clients who are taking various approaches to fertility. Some are also using Western medicine-assisted reproductive technology, such as intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF); some have abandoned Western procedures after having no success; some are only interested in trying the Eastern approach through herbs and acupuncture.

Guynes says that while she can’t take all the credit — as there are often Western medical professionals working with her patients simultaneously — her success rate is 65 percent to 70 percent.

A common component of acupuncture is herbs, which are taken in combination with the needle treatments.

“While prescriptions start from herbs, they are diluted down to the single proven effective element,” Guynes said. “Using the entire plant is more beneficial for treating an ailment in a living organism. Western medicine often doesn’t look at the individual, but rather they look at the disease. However, we take a more holistic approach, with consideration of factors such as lifestyle, stress and diet, as well as genetic makeup.”

She acknowledges that many Americans are used to the immediacy of prescription drugs. “They offer immediate relief from discomfort,” she said, “whereas herbs often take longer but have fewer side effects.”

On the whole, Guynes considers Santa Barbara residents to be open to alternative medicine. She credits the holistic college that was here for years for building awareness as well as the numerous other practitioners of holistic health in Santa Barbara, including massage, Reiki and Rolfing.

When asked to dispel myths about acupuncture, Guynes replied, “It’s not like getting a shot. The sterile, single-use needles are hollow and thinner. They are also inserted less deep, and therefore don’t pack the same punch as needles used for shots, so it doesn’t hurt like people would think.”

Guynes’ fertility work extends to men and women. Trained as a primary care professional, she sees patients for symptoms of cold, flu, allergies, insomnia, depression and pain.

When it comes to the basics of improving overall health, Guynes says, “Drink more water, get fresh air and daily exercise, and focus on gratitude, forgiveness and moving toward joy.”

Guynes’ office is located at 5370 Hollister Ave., Suite B, or click here to find her online.

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at jennkennedy@noozhawk.com. Click here to see more of her work.