Badass Babes: A Q&A with Lori Earley

Lori is local to Houston and has been in the health industry for nearly 20 years and originally started out in the corporate world as a pharmaceutical rep where she worked for over 10 years selling psychotropics for patients with bipolar, depression, PTSD, anxiety and schizophrenia. Simultaneously, she was prescribed to several pharmaceutical meds as she suffered from depression, insomnia, severe allergies, and more. She was introduced to Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2010. Fast forward, and she has grown her one woman practice to a team of practitioners in Houston’s only AcuHouse, Phoenix Rising Acupuncture.

Lori leads a very clean, holistic, nontoxic life…little to no makeup, no nail polish, clean and organic foods and household products, the list goes on. She’s not a bar hopper, but does have a few of her favorite boozy drinks. She’s mostly a tea drinker and all about finding stress relief through self-care as opposed to the bar.

Tell us about your first encounter with Traditional Chinese Medicine. What did you like about it?

For most of my life, my interest in health stemmed from the conventional western medicine perspective, as, from an early age, I had always planned to attend medical school to become a physician. However, I took a slight turn on that path, as I fell in love with academia and research, and so I attained a Master Science in Biology. Instead of pursuing a PhD after the Masters, I decided to take a short break to enter the “real world” or Corporate America to save money with the intention of going back to attain my PhD. I became a pharmaceutical sales specialist for three major pharmaceutical companies within a span of 9 years, and so for the majority of a decade, I was entrenched in the world of western medicine.

phoenix rising acupuncture houston
Phoenix Rising Acupuncture is located at 1219 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77019

It wasn’t until 8 years into my corporate career that I even heard of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. The seed had been planted, and as I tired of my lackluster career in the pharmaceutical industry, I quit my job and headed to the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine to enroll in their Master’s program. It wasn’t until I was officially a student that I had my first encounter with acupuncture. At that time, I was 31 years old, and already on about half a dozen medications that had been prescribed for depression, insomnia, anxiety, allergies, and hypothyroid. After about 6 months of acupuncture and herbal therapy, I was able to live a healthy life with only one medication. I knew that if Chinese Medicine could genuinely work for me, then there were so many more people that it could help too.

What’s your favorite part of being in practice? What makes your work unique?

My work is personal to me. I put a lot of effort and compassion into it. Since I was able to heal through Chinese Medicine – acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition, I wanted to work with patients who have similar health concerns as I did. That is, women who are burnt out, exhausted, depressed, and anxious. Women who looked for natural ways to help heal, not just those who wanted a prescription drug to quiet their symptoms. I specialize in internal medicine and chronic illness, notably autoimmune disease, chronic allergies and food sensitivities, and emotional health, such as depression and anxiety. I have added extensive post-graduate training to become specialized in these fields. While many colleagues focus on pain or musculoskeletal concerns, I coach patients through their entire journey to wellness with nutritional guidance, lifestyle modifications, customized herbal remedies, and specialized acupuncture treatments. The patients at Phoenix Rising Acupuncture experience a thorough wellness makeover instead of just popping in for sporadic acupuncture sessions.

I have to say with all honesty that I have witnessed more “medical miracles” with acupuncture therapy in the past 5 years of private practice than I ever did from any of the dozens of medications I sold in 9 years.

Lori Earley – Owner, practitioner Phoenix Rising Acupuncture
Photo by Maritere Rice

Who makes a viable candidate for acupuncture?

The cool thing about acupuncture is that anyone and everyone is a viable candidate for acupuncture. There are pediatric acupuncturists who treat infants; acupuncture can also alleviate discomfort for those at end of life hospice care. As a society, we are accustomed to going to the doctor after a problem arises, so that a medication or surgery can fix the issue. The way that

Chinese Medicine works is different. Can it help repair or “fix” certain health concerns? Yes, of course. Many, in fact. However, the true beauty of Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, is that it prevents illness before it occurs by regulating hormones, calming the nervous system, promoting healthy circulation, and triggering the body’s innate healing capabilities.

Who makes a viable candidate for cupping?

When it comes to cupping, not everyone is a viable candidate. Cupping should never be used in weak or feeble patients. Cupping is great for those who are chronically stressed, those with muscle tension, or those who overwork their muscles. The goal of cupping therapy is to provide musculoskeletal tension relief and promote oxygenated blood flow to chronically stressed or tense areas.

cupping houston river oaks
Alessandra has been getting cupping massages for chronic pain on the right shoulder

What should someone do before an acupuncture appointment?

First and foremost, always see a Licensed Acupuncturist. There are other healthcare professionals, including Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, and even MDs who offer acupuncture techniques renamed as “medical acupuncture” or “dry needling” in their practice without adequate training. Licensed Acupuncturists have at least 4 years of acupuncture training and 1.5 years of hands-on experience before becoming a licensed practitioner. Choose the most qualified practitioner, and spend time asking the practitioner all you need in order to feel comfortable moving forward in your treatment.

What is one myth about acupuncture you wish would go away forever?

“It doesn’t work.” I have to say with all honesty that I have witnessed more “medical miracles” with acupuncture therapy in the past 5 years of private practice than I ever did from any of the dozens of medications I sold in 9 years. Acupuncture is a profoundly powerful healing modality. I have yet to see acupuncture not work when given the appropriate time and dedication from patients seeking help.

Photo by Maritere Rice

Tell us about making the jump and turning acupuncture into a full-time job. What were some of the challenges you faced?

The most challenging aspect I have faced has nothing to do with the acupuncture itself, but in becoming a small business owner, which includes juggling so many aspects of the job.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a business owner?

The most rewarding aspect is working one-on-one with patients. Not a day goes by in the clinic in which I don’t hear another successful story about how someone’s life has changed since getting acupuncture treatments. This has included women getting pregnant when their doctors insisted it was medically impossible; a man who had lost his sense of smell for over a decade, but after 7 sessions of acupuncture, it has returned; a lightning strike victim who lived in chronic pain for two years, while doctors were only able to offer a cocktail of numerous medications that didn’t help the pain, and after one treatment, her pain was gone and never returned. I hear these stories every single day. This keeps me inspired to spread the work on the power of acupuncture in order to help so many more.

What’s the single most valuable piece of advice someone else has given you about running a business or being a healthcare professional?

“Don’t do it for money. Do it to help others.” I truly value each of my patients, and I go above and beyond to really help each patient with their unique concerns. From the feedback I’ve received from patients, I think they know this too.

One thing you can’t live without?

Acupuncture, of course. Oh, and my herbal tea to prevent PMS, irritability, and stress.

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