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Acupuncture has a long history as community-based medicine. It’s believed to have originated in China thousands of years ago and in recent years has gained momentum in the United States as an alternative treatment for anything from depression and anxiety to infertility. Alison Larmee Born owns Cape Fear Community Acupuncture (3802 Park Ave.) and specializes in women’s health, including fertility, pregnancy and menopause support, digestive disorders, and pain management. Born took some time to tell The BIZness readers more about her practice, as well as inform on her specialties in acupuncture and eastern medicine.

encore (e): Can you tell folks a little about your qualifications, background and why you pursued acupuncture?

Alison Larmee Born (ALB): I hold a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine from the Academy of Oriental Medicine in Austin, TX. I am certfied nationally, licensed by the state and have been practicing for 10 years in Wilmington. I opened Cape Fear Community Acupuncture in 2008 to serve a need that was not being filled (community acupuncture). Extra certifications include  instruction and fertility acupuncture.

e: Why do people typically reach out for your services?

ALB: My practice is unique in that we really have to break this down into two categories, based on whether the patient is coming to private acupuncture or to the community clinic (lower-cost acupuncture in a group setting).

Private: fertility enhancement, prenatal support, digestive issues, chronic pain, anxiety/depression, autoimmune disease, and hormone imbalances.

Community: acute and chronic pain, allergies, stress management, digestive issues, and all of the issues listed above under “private” once a baseline of healing has been reached

There are also patients who mix it up based on severity of symptoms and/or budget at any given time.

e: How do you work with folks to develop a treatment plan?

ALB: Our training strongly emphasizes looking at the whole person and not just the primary symptom(s) that led them to make the appointment. This includes taking a very thorough patient history: learning all the medications and herbs/supplements/vitamins they are taking, reviewing any relevant labs or diagnostic reports, asking what their typical diet is like, what their stress and lifestyle factors are, and if they make time for mindfulness in their daily lives.

Diagnostically, we also typically feel the pulses, look at the tongue, and sometimes palpate the abdomen. After all of these items have been assessed, the goals of the patient are taken into consideration, as well as budget. Then we guide them in how many treatments we think will be needed and in what time frame, and whether private, community clinic or a combo of both will be most suitable for them. I am also not afraid to make referrals—and do so often if needed for further testing, or chiropractic, massage, yoga therapy, counseling, etc.

e: What are some common misconceptions of acupuncture or oriental medicine as a whole?

ALB: That it only treats pain. That it’s a placebo effect. That the needles are big and always hurt. That you shouldn’t take herbs if you’re on medications.

It has gained notoriety in the West for treating pain, but that’s certainly not all oriental medicine has to offer. It is a complete medicine that can treat just about anything.

More and more double-blind controlled studies are being done every year that prove acupuncture is not just a placebo effect.

Most needles are smaller in width than a strand of hair. You may feel the initial insertion lasting just a second (depending on point location), but they shouldn’t really hurt after that. Many patients even fall asleep once the needles are in and you are left to relax.

Potential herb/drug interactions should be evaluated, but most herbs can be taken concurrently with medications. Depending on the herb or formula, you may sometimes need to take them in smaller doses or at a different time from the drug with the cited interaction. And some formulas can even help ameliorate side effects or symptoms that might arise when tapering off of a medication.

e: What do you typically tell folks who are interested in OM services?

ALB: I try to educate people that it’s a complete system of medicine (i.e., it’s been used for thousands of years to treat just about any ailment, not just pain). That said, it shouldn’t necessarily always be someone’s first stop for a problem. We try to prescreen by phone to determine if we are the best fit for a patient at that moment in time, and if so, encourage them to give it a try! These days most people know someone who has received acupuncture, so the fear factor has been tampered down a bit.

Photos courtesy of Cape Fear Community Acupuncture. For more information or to schedule a visit, go to

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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