Natalie Shea, owner of Shen Health, by the infrared sauna. MELINDA VAN FLEET/Keys Weekly

Are you someone who’s dealing with pain? Stress? Allergies? Migraines? Keys Weekly recently sat down with Natalie Shea, licensed acupuncture therapist, to learn more about this ancient healing practice and how her business, Shen Health Acupuncture, can help you feel better.

I had wanted to be a veterinarian my whole life. So, I received my bachelor of science in veterinary medicine. My grandma was a 1:1 nurse in Cuba and the U.S., so I had an appreciation for personal care. So, when acupuncture was suggested to me as a possible profession, I checked it out, and it was a better fit for me and how I could work with people.

I trained for four years to learn all the points on the body and the combinations and received my master’s. I also trained and learned a lot from a group of guys who worked with football teams, so my practice is very modern and up to date. In general, I love acupuncture because I get to work with who you are and your lifestyle to help you feel better.

Acupuncture dates back thousands of years ago. They found marks on people’s bones, and they didn’t have these little needles back then.

It’ll be four years this August that I have been in my location in Tavernier on Wrenn Street. I am originally from Miami but moved to the Keys in September 2017 from Jupiter to be closer to my family.

Acupuncture is the primary service, but we also offer infrared sauna treatments, massage therapy and stretch therapy. The massage and deep tissue therapy is with Val Poulos. And our stretch therapist is Bernice Dionne, and she also teaches you how to stretch. Both independent therapists have many years of experience, and their treatments contribute to the body’s natural healing.

The infrared sauna is amazing. You can sit down and hang out for 30 to 45 minutes. It helps with muscle joints, weight loss as you burn calories, blood pressure, detoxing, and age-related issues. However, it is mostly used for pain relief. The sauna can get up to 140 degrees.

The dry heat of the sauna is very relaxing, and we recommend twice a week at least in the beginning. Then once a week after that. The time frame will vary until the person feels better — how bad is the injury? Is it chronic, aka long-lasting? Or acute, aka shorter — less than six months?

Natalie Shea in one of her three acupuncture rooms. MELINDA VAN FLEET/Keys Weekly

The belief is that your body is strong enough to heal itself and acupuncture helps stimulate your natural healing process.

Every point has a function, and every combination has a different function. There are over 300 points depending on what system you use and what points determine the treatment. My practice uses the five elements acupuncture tradition, and I received my master’s and certificate of Chinese herbal medicine from the Academy of Five Elements in Gainesville.

Shen Health Acupuncture’s specialty is orthopedic — muscles, joint pain, muscle function, range of motion, etc. More specifically — wrist pain, knee, hip, low back, neck pain, rotator cuff. Any of these issues pre-surgery or post-surgery. And it works well in combination with physical therapy, massage, stretch and the infrared sauna. My theory is that it’s like going to the gym; each treatment works on the one beforehand.

In addition to orthopedic treatments, acupuncture can treat anxiety, mental health, allergies, migraines, and help with pregnancy, PTSD and also children. I like to treat mental health as acupuncture helps stimulate serotonin and endorphins. When something is happening in your body, it’s because it’s out of balance. When you put a needle in a person’s body, the brain says something is happening here. Acupuncture helps with your natural balance.

Many people ask me, “What’s an appointment like?” First, I check to see their range of motion, and then we set a plan. We focus on the pain part and determine the level of pain. The treatment depends on what you’re coming to get treated for. It’s best to realize it may be uncomfortable, but likely you are already in pain, so it’s just uncomfortable. It’s relatively quick; the maximum time for the needles is maybe 20-30 minutes. The channels are all connected — so depending on what’s being treated is where the needle goes. We may start with needles in different areas and then go from there with rest in between. The entire treatment is about an hour.

I give people a choice as to what I think will help them, and I explain the benefits. For example, if someone has an issue with their rotator cuff, it can take a while but help tremendously. And plantar fasciitis is the most complicated, but it’s so rewarding if they stick to the treatments.

Knees are another area I can help with, especially if they are not a candidate for surgery or cortisone. We won’t get to 100%, but we can get some relief. It’s also rewarding to know I can help them with that.

The positive part of what I do is that I love it and enjoy helping people. But the biggest challenge is I can’t fix everyone; people have to do their part, and people want a quick fix. There is also a lot of plateauing. It’s important to take care of yourself and maintenance is essential.

The support in the community has just been fantastic, and I am very grateful to everyone.For more information about Shen Health Acupuncture or to schedule an appointment; Connect on Facebook @Shenhealthacupuncture.

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Melinda Van Fleet is a sales strategy and success coach/consultant, bestselling author of "Confidence Mastery for Couples and Life & Love Lessons," and speaker. Melinda is the host of two weekly podcasts, "The Good Karma Success Coach" and "Crush It In Sales." You can connect with her more at