Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

ACUPUNCTURIST EASES INTO RED BANK SPACE

Heather Poole Smith prepares Rosemary Levine of Manalapan for treatment. Below, a needle goes into another patient’s back. (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By STACIE FANELLI

In a college lecture hall several years ago, Heather Poole Smith’s professor pulled up a picture of a lightning storm on a slideshow. “This is what people think acupuncture feels like,” he said. The next slide showed a serene beach. “This is what it actually is,” he said.

After a decade practicing the traditional Chinese medicine in Middletown, Smith has relocated Ancient Arts Acupuncture to 91 East Front Street in Red Bank, a building she calls a “hidden gem” of Red Bank for its scenic river view.

That’s helpful for her patients, most of whom benefit from a sense of tranquility, she said.

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine involving the sticking of sterilized needles into meridians, or pathways, along the body that correspond to specific organs. It is known to relieve many types of pain and nausea as well as conditions like insomnia, allergies and even stress.

Smith’s specialty is fertility. She also performs treatments for the normal discomforts of pregnancy. Patients chronically ill with mental illnesses or physical aliments like cancer or multiple sclerosis can feel more upbeat after treatment, she said.

“People really are looking to not be on so many medications,” said Smith, who lives in Atlantic Highlands. After acupuncture, “most people will tell you right away that they feel a sense of well-being,” she said.

Acupuncture faces some criticism from those who say that it can’t have any legitimate healing functions because so much of its workings are still unknown.

To the skeptics, Smith says, “I just find it very egocentric to say that only Western medicine can be the real medicine…Why is it such a leap of faith to believe something that has been proven over and over for thousands of years?”

She explained that human DNA is still coded so primitively that, at a time of stress, “your body doesn’t know, ‘Am I running from a bear or is it just a bad day at work? And acupuncture gets in there and says, ‘Oh, it’s not the bear.'”

Though referrals for acupuncture are not required in New Jersey, Smith gets plenty. That’s because four of every five physicians recognizes its healing effects and recommends it to patients, she said.

“All medicine should be more of a team effort, a blending of styles,” she said.

On Tuesday, patient Tony Hannon of Port Monmouth visited the new office for a routine procedure to help with his lower back pain. He lay facedown on an extra-wide, extra-soft heated bed resembling a table used for massage, complete with a leg-support pillow. A heating lamp hovered over his feet. To his left, a painting of the Chinese character “harmony” took up the entire wall (the characters “health” and “love” decorate the other rooms). Wicker shelves housed medical supplies, Asian music played softly in the background and a tiny biohazard disposal bin sat discreetly among Buddha figurines and books on Chinese pediatric massage and new-wave geriatrics.

Hannon said he never feels any pain when eight to 10 tiny, flexible needles, barely thicker than hairs, go in or come out. In fact, he gets drowsy as they sit for 20 minutes.

Patients often fall asleep, Smith said. Snoring isn’t uncommon, either, and is easily drowned out by the white noise machines in each room, which help take away the typical antiseptic feel of a doctor’s office.

Smith’s waiting room, filled with Chinese art, decor and tea, also features a stuffed panda bear wearing a silk kimono. “Got Qi?” reads the sign he holds. He is the mascot of pediatric acupuncture enthusiasts, a third of Smith’s clients.

Acupuncture is missing one thing when performed on children, though: the puncture.

“Kids are moving targets, and needles aren’t really appropriate,” Smith said.

Instead, she uses shoni-shins, dull metal tools that don’t break skin at all, but still stimulate the same points as needles do on adults. Children are safe to poke at themselves and play with the tools while Smith teaches their parents how to get similar effects with a quarter.

A “needle-phobe” herself before completing school, Smith said she understands that people are hesitant to try acupuncture. And when many of her patients come in for the first time, it’s because they’re desperate for relief.

“A lot of folks say, ‘You’re my last hope. I don’t know what I’m going to do after this’,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen it fail.”

Ancient Arts takes the space formerly held by the New Jersey Vein and Cosmetic Surgery Center and, before that, Jewish Family and Children Services, said landlord Grace Greenberg.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
GOING GREY
Workers painting the stone facade of the PNC Bank at the corner of Broad and Harding Thursday morning. An upgrade? Maybe it’s just pri ...
COFFEE & WILDLIFE
RED BANK: The best wildlife show in town can be taken in from a waterfront bench outside the public library, and it's totally free.
FAWNING OVER HER BABY
A mother deer and her fawn were spotted between a row of garages on Hudson Avenue and some trees alongside the Broad Street parking lots. Re ...
EVENING ESCAPE
RED BANK: Sailors in Monmouth Boat Club's weekly racing series found tranquil conditions on the Navesink River Tuesday evening.
PEAK COLOR ON BROAD
RED BANK: A year after they were installed, downtown mini gardens have added to "transformational" improvements, says business owner.
RED BANK: FAIRIES MOVE IN ON WHITE STREET
Red Bank: Girl scouts turns tiny parking lot plot of dirt into a "magical girls sparkle garden."
TRAINING UNDER FIRE
RED BANK: Volunteer firefighters train to cut into pitched roofs under active fire conditions.
“SUPERMOM” WANTS YOUR VOTE
Business owner. Dyed in the wool, lifelong Red Banker. Mother of six. Yup, seems like Anita Pierce does it all. In other words, she’s ...
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
RED BANK: Town prepares for Saturday's Pride in the Park celebration with another lawn art design by public works supervisor and Fire Chief ...
MOVIES VIA LIBRARY
RED BANK: Public Library now offers members access to streaming movies via Kanopy, with some 30,000 titles and tons of content for kids.
NEW RAINBOW CROSSWALK ON BROWN PLACE
Kicking off pride month, some Brown Place and Spring Street residents, ages 5 to 11, constructed a rainbow crosswalk with chalk over the wee ...
WHAT TO WEAR?
RED BANK: Dressmakers' mannequins appeared to mull what to wear as they looked down on Monmouth Street last week.
SYMPHONY RETURNS JUNE 29
RED BANK: An annual crowd pleaser returns June 29 with a free concert in Marine Park by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, RiverCenter said ...
Heard on the Green
Heard on the Green
DUCK RESCUE EFFORT
Duckling rescue attempt underway in sewer at East Front and Broad, 10:29 a.m.
HOUSING CRUNCH
Demolition begins for new apartments at Globe Court and Mechanic Street.
FEELING SNAPPY
      Snapping Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs this time of year and are a common site along the Swimming River waterfr ...
TUB TIME
RED BANK: A sparrow waits for the next available dirt tub while two others take their Sunday baths. (Click for video.)
CHECK IT OUT
A bench outside the Red Bank Public Library provided a serene view of our beautiful Navesink River Monday evening.
WAYWARD SLIM JIM
Anybody lose a Slim Jim? A “Sweet Mild O’ Mine” flavor Slim Jim was seen left unattended on this mailbox on Mechanic Stree ...