RAMSEY, N.J. – Patients come from as far as Europe and the West Coast to get acupuncture treatments from Ken Andes, founder of Natural Chinese Medicine in Ramsey.
Usually, though, they don’t turn to acupuncture first.
“By the time people come here and try acupuncture, they’ve been to seven doctors,” Andes said. “That’s our average. So we see the most complex cases. These patients are puzzles.”
Andes, 40, considers treating them an honor.
First, patients learn that Chinese medicine awakens the body’s natural self-healing qualities, which is a different approach than Western medicine, which treats ailments individually.
A graduate of the prestigious Pacific College of Oriental Medicine 14 years ago, Andes still reads acupuncture books daily. He cites a Chinese saying: it takes three lifetimes to become good at acupuncture.
“I don’t know what lifetime I’m on now,” he said, “but I can tell I’ll be studying this for the rest of my life.”
But his patients, he says, are his real education.
His encounter with the natural healing arts came when he was 12 years old. His parents sent him to a martial arts teacher to help him lose weight and deal with behavioral issues.
At 17, Andes already had studied kiatsu, a Japanese form of acupressure healing. He helped loved ones and injured people at the martial arts school.
“It taught me discipline,” he said. “To be good at anything takes work ethic. People think it’s talent. Maybe. A lot of times what you see as talent is actually hours and hours of work.”
After earning a social work degree and flirting with law school, Andes found his calling and earned his acupuncture degree at Pacific.
Mostly, his patients arrive with internal medicine issues — autoimmune issues, digestive issues, allergies.
Andes, who lives in Mahwah, also is sought out for treating people on the autism spectrum. He speaks at conferences on the subject.
Also, he co-authored a National Institutes of Health study on the effect of qigong, a Chinese moving meditation, on reducing cocaine cravings.
Natural Chinese Medicine, http://naturalchinesemedicine.com , has been in Ramsey since 2008.