At One Medical Group, we offer a range of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) services, including nutrition counseling, mind-body health care, naturopathy, and more. I recently interviewed our New York-based acupuncturist Seanna Sifflet, who is passionate about improving her patients’ quality of life with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. A former medical social worker, Seanna earned a master’s degree in Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. She was in private practice before joining One Medical, and she currently sees patients at our West 14th Street office in New York.
Give us the quick version of how you came to work for One Medical.
I was introduced to the fabulous One Medical credentialing specialist Becky DeCicco, who then introduced me to Dr. Natasha Withers, one of our osteopathic physicians. A few months ago, Dr. Withers invited me in for an interview, and the rest is history.
What made you want to become an acupuncturist?
I have always loved medicine. I come from a family of Western doctors. I was a social worker for many years and started to see an acupuncturist for my own health issues. I was blown away with the results I experienced. Not only did my physical issues shift, but my whole quality of life changed. That is the beautiful thing about this kind of medicine: It addresses the mind-body-spirit connection so every aspect of a person can benefit. It allows you to bring more joy and happiness to your life.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I like when I can “normalize” an individual’s experience. I often see patients who have gone to every specialist under the sun and still haven’t been able to pinpoint what is wrong in their bodies. Chinese medicine involves balancing the body’s energies or qi (pronounced “chi”). This energy continuously flows through us and affects every function in our bodies. According to Chinese medicine, when qi becomes imbalanced, disease or health issues can occur. [I’m passionate about practicing] Chinese medicine to help patients determine the cause of their health issues, which can help them feel like they’re not alone–or going crazy.
I also love talking to people and hearing their stories. I believe our biography is mapped in our biology. Our bodies hold our hurts, pain, hopes, and dreams. Hearing a person’s story and helping her find the root cause of her issues, and then empowering her in her own healing journey is the best part of this medicine for me!
Walk me through what a patient would experience in a first-time acupuncture appointment.
A treatment consists of an evaluation and an acupuncture session. In the evaluation, I ask a series of questions, look at the patient’s tongue and take his or her pulse. This helps show me how energy is flowing through the body.
After the evaluation, I insert a very fine needle or needles into the skin. The needles remain in the body anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the patient’s constitution and health issues. I may incorporate other modalities like herbs, massage, and cupping in a treatment as well.
The insertion of an acupuncture needle feels like a light pinch. Most people feel very relaxed during a treatment and a few even fall asleep. Some feel energized and more focused after a treatment. I’ve heard some patients say their post-acupuncture state is similar to how they feel after getting a deep massage. Each person’s experience varies.
Do patients ever complain that the needles hurt?
Rarely. Many times people feel a tingly sensation when I put the needle in. That’s the movement of the energy being activated.
Do you incorporate Chinese medicine into your treatments?
Yes. I do cupping, which involves a suction cup placed on various parts of the body. It’s great for pain management. I sometimes incorporate Chinese herbs, which are taken as little pills or in tea. Herbs are great for balancing the body.
Chinese medicine also includes qi gong and tai chi (moving energy through visualization, breath and movement), massage therapy, and moxabustion (herbal heat therapy). All of these modalities help shift the energy in the body and restore balance and optimal health.
Who can benefit the most from acupuncture?
Everyone can benefit. Acupuncture is over 3,000 years old, and the Chinese have a long history of using this medicine to treat all kinds of conditions. As I tell my patients, acupuncture is helpful for conditions ranging from migraines to fertility issues.
Do you have a success story you can share?
A woman came to see me with severe tremors, which were accompanied by pain. She was very sad, and her hope and faith had diminished. Her doctor recommended acupuncture, and within two treatments, her mood improved, and her pain and tremors had decreased significantly. The most important thing was that she was full of hope and able to more easily access joy. Joy, hope, and laughter together are truly the best medicine.
What are some of your favorite healthy foods? How about indulgences?
Indulgences: peanut butter, cookies, and cakes!
What’s your fitness routine like?
Kundalini yoga, qi gong, walking, and running after a 15-month-old!
What’s your favorite New York activity?
Walking and people watching.
What are a few highlights from your bucket list?
Having a beautiful family. Traveling in Europe for a month. Tango dancing. Doing what I love to do despite facing some big obstacles.
Editor’s Note: All opinions expressed in One Medical’s Meet Our Providers interview series are the interviewees’ own.