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Lokvani Talks To Dr. Suraja Roychowdhury

Nirmala Garimella

“Patients are my best educators,” says Dr. Suraja Roychowdhury, an Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine practitioner in Lexington, MA. I meet her at her artfully decorated home to talk more about this ancient healing method and her interest in this practice. Her journey into acupuncture happened over a period of time. She calls herself a professional student with continuous academic pursuits from a PhD in Pharmacology to an MBA and then finally into her current area of Oriental medicine.

According to her this alternative medicine that is almost 3000 years old can provide relief to many ailments by detecting what she calls the ‘pattern of disharmony’ in our bodies. These disharmonies arise when the person’s energy is not in alignment with their environment, both internal physiological as well as the external environment. Patients come to her Lexington acupuncture office most commonly seeking relief from pain – migraines, back pain, etc; other conditions she sees are vision disorders, mood disorders and many other chronic conditions. Most often they come after they tried everything she says,” so we do our best to see if this treatment will provide them with relief”.


With mainly the needles as tools, Suraja says she pays attention to symptom clusters when it comes to treatment. “We look to balance and maintain the dynamic energy equilibrium specific to the patient so the treatment is pretty individualized. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that the human body must be treated as a whole. Once that is agreed upon by both the patient and the doctor, you get noticeable results and relief! That’s the best thing about acupuncture”, says Suraja. “You can make a powerful difference in people’s lives with just a few low-tech tools: needles. The results are often speedy and the side effects, minimal. Most patients will agree that there is little to no pain with the needles, and in fact, acupuncture can induce a deep state of relaxation and well-being”.


Suraja studied for three and half years to earn a Masters degree in both acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine from New England School of Acupuncture. Needles are placed on the external body, she explains, but the Chinese herbal preparations act on the inside. For Suraja, it’s a potent combination that’s more than the sum of its parts.


Her degree coursework included classes in anatomy, physiology (both western as well as Chinese approaches), nutrition, acupuncture point location and herbal formulas. Within the acupuncture program, she learned therapeutic approaches in the fields of pain management, gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics and more. She has a special interest in supporting degenerative vision issues, using a technique prescribed by Dr. Andy Rosenfarb, a world-renowned expert in the field of Chinese Medical Ophthalmology. He teamed with researchers at Johns Hopkins University on the first ever clinical study to determine the efficacy of treating Retinitis Pigmentosa with acupuncture and other TCM therapies. Her own interest led her to connect with him and learn more about the technique. “No needles in the eyes’ she hastens to add! 


When I asked her on the collaborative nature of the community of Acupuncturists, she says that they are very supportive and encouraging even for a late entry practitioner such as her. Her knowledge of both the Western and Eastern medicine gives her a unique perspective and in many ways she says it is about reconciling the two worlds and giving her patients the best shot at healing. She currently practices in Lexington (www.crossingpointacupuncture.com).  


A few tips for winter: “In Chinese medicine winter is a time for rest and storage of energy.  We become more introspective, withdrawing into ourselves to contain our inner warmth. Water is the element of winter, and the kidneys are associated with this season.  Salty, bitter foods should be consumed, but in moderation especially since most processed foods contain plenty of added salt. Some examples of bitter foods include karela, turnip (shalgam), celery, asparagus and watercress; seasonally available foods such as roasted nuts, grains, black beans, kidney beans, foods cooked with bone broth etc are good. Cooking should be done with less water and over low heat for longer times so as to infuse the food with warmth. A little bit of weight gain in this season is good- it helps to retain warmth. Spiritually this is a time for reflection and introspection”. 

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