Allyson Jones

Licensed acupuncturist, Point Well Taken, Baltimore

Age: 42

Years in business: Five.

Salary: $70,000 to $100,000 a year.

Getting started: Jones took some workshops on acupuncture and began practicing on herself before she decided to make it her career. She had been a social worker and found acupuncture to be helpful with her psychotherapy patients.

Biggest misconceptions: You need a medical background. While Jones is a licensed acupuncturist, she has no training in Western medicine. She is licensed by the state, which requires acupuncturists to pass a national test or graduate from an accredited acupuncture school. The initial licensing fee is $450 -- licenses must be renewed every two years.

Pins and needles: The needles, which bend and are disposable, are only a half to 1 1/2 inches long and as wide as 1 1/2 strands of human hair. Most patients need four to eight needles.

Practice what you preach: Balance is key to the teachings of acupuncture, so Jones tries not to work more than 40 hours a week. She treats about 10 patients a day for three days a week, spends one day on administrative work, and one day on advancing her acupuncture education.

The good: Jones loves her patients. She hopes to help people manage their own health and wellness.

The bad: The marketing. Jones says that it's very important to educate people about alternative medicine but she wishes she weren't the one doing it.

Treatments: Acupuncture aims to balance the flow of blood and energy and can alleviate conditions such as depression, arthritis and chronic fatigue, she says.

The philosophy: Acupuncture tries to cure root causes, not just symptoms. "We are as much a part of nature as the tree outside the window. Illness symptoms may appear when we forget that," says Jones.

The procedure: Jones usually talks with a patient for 15 to 20 minutes about what's going on physically and mentally. During this time, she observes the color of the face, the sound of the voice and takes a patient's pulse to determine treatment. Then, Jones places the needles and leaves them there for 15 to 30 minutes. She then checks the pulse again.

Cost: Initial consultation is $150; regular treatments are $75. Many health insurance companies reimburse the cost.

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