Needles that cure

The Baltimore Sun

Theresa Deramo


Essence of Wellness, Laurel

Salary --$35,000

Age --34

Years on the job --Five

How she got started --After working as a medical assistant for 11 years, Deramo went back to school and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology. She worked for a nonprofit that assisted chronically mentally ill adults. She then decided to go back for a master's degree and started exploring different options.

After being treated for headaches with acupuncture, she fell in love with the practice. She earned a master's in acupuncture at Tai Sophia Institute in Laurel and opened her practice five years ago. Two years later, she also was certified to treat animals.

Typical day --She works out of an office in Laurel five days a week. Although she will work with patients for most ailments, her specialty is treating chronic pain, lupus, multiple sclerosis, allergies, sports-related problems and infertility. She treats most of her patients on a regular basis.

She also works on companion animals, including cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and ferrets. She makes house calls to treat animals, traveling within a 25-mile radius of her Baltimore home or Laurel office.

Animals or humans --"Honestly I can't pick, that's why I treat both." However she acknowledges that animals seem to get better faster. "They don't have all the baggage attached to them as we do."

Typical treatment --An initial visit for her patients lasts about two hours - for animals it is about an hour. Return visits are about an hour for humans and 30 minutes for animals. The cost is $110 for the initial visit and $70 for each visit thereafter. She charges $60 to work on animals.

Fear of needles --"The first thing people want to know is about the needle. It's very, very thin, like two strands of hair put together. They come in sterile packages that we use only once, then discard." She said pain usually is minimal.

Certification --To practice in Maryland, one must have a master's degree in acupuncture and be licensed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. To treat animals with acupuncture, one must take a certification course, in addition to being a licensed acupuncturist or veterinarian.

Health insurance --"That's a huge bag of worms," said Deramo. Usually, she will offer a discount instead of dealing with insurance companies. More insurance companies are covering acupuncture for certain ailments, she said.

How it works --Inserting needles into precise points on the body to relieve pain or illness. The idea is to push or channel energy that is believed to run throughout the body. "I compare it to a kink in a garden hose. You get the kink out, and the water flows. It's the same idea with acupuncture. You're trying to help your [energy] flow."

Results --She suggests committing to at least six visits. "You might get results the first time or they might be more subtle."

The good --"It's incredibly rewarding watching it work. And it works on so many levels."

The bad --The hours can be long, especially in the beginning stages of establishing a business.

Philosophy on the job --"Treat people the way I would want to be treated. Be respectful."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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