MEET DR. SARAH ALEMI of Eastern Roots Wellness
By Katie Culligan
Meet Dr. Sarah Alemi of Eastern Roots Wellness. The practice is a Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture clinic in the heart of McLean that offers individualized, whole-body acupuncture treatments in addition to other holistic treatments like cupping, Gua Sha and herbs. Dr. Alemi is certified in and offers Cosmetic or Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture as well as Gua Sha treatments for facial rejuvenation.
In addition, she is an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist (ADS), which allows her to focus on the use of auricular acupuncture for help with trauma, dependencies (i.e. smoking, alcohol) and weight loss. Dr. Alemi’s practices allow her to offer safe, natural and effective treatments for a variety of ailments that are often mistreated or ineffectively treated through western medicine alone. Think of those who have chronic low back pain even after they’ve had surgery for it, or menopausal women being given no other solution by their doctors except to go on hormone replacement therapy. She states, “by helping alleviate these conditions, we can help you optimize your health and get back to your life.”
Here is a quick overview of how acupuncture works: using thin needles, the doctor is able to engage the nervous system and switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest system”.
It’s in this state that the body can focus on healing. Dr. Alemi offers, “It’s a state we should be in most of the time but, because of our hectic lives, we’re often not. Acupuncture simply reboots the body and supports it in healing itself naturally.”
Some of the most common issues she comes across and treats at the clinic are stress and anxiety, including associated symptoms like poor sleep and GI issues; chronic pain, especially low back and neck pain in addition to migraines; and hormone regulation, regarding irregular or painful periods, infertility and menopause support. While acupuncture can’t change structure, it can change or optimize functioning of the body’s systems.
The clinic’s philosophy is “Ancient healing for
modern living.” Dr. Alemi wants others to feel like
they have options and answers when it comes
to their health. She emphasizes that she wants
her patients to know that her practice allows her
to join in a collaborative effort with patients for
their healthcare. She works together to figure out
how to best optimize their health, in the safest
and most natural way possible. Most importantly,
Dr. Alemi wants her patients to feel heard and
not judged. “Having had health issues myself, I
understand; I can empathize with my patients.”
Dr. Alemi got her start in the wellness world
in 2012, then she began her Master’s of
Acupuncture program. In 2017, she received
her Doctor’s of Acupuncture. She worked as an
apprentice of a local acupuncturist and herbalist
for six years in the area before opening her own
clinic in 2018. Interestingly enough, she originally
moved to the D.C. area in 2009 to pursue a career in politics. “I received my Master’s of Public Policy from George Mason University, but decided that path was not for me. Having experienced crippling anxiety and insomnia after moving to the area, this is when I realized I needed to DO something different.” Acupuncture helped her and, considering she wanted to help others, she sought out acupuncture as a provider. She realized that this medicine allows a focus on the whole body, physical and mental, instead of focusing on specific organ systems or parts of the body.
“It’s easy to miss something when you’re so focused on only one part of the person.”
Dr. Alemi jokes that she loves it when skeptics become true believers! More seriously though, she enjoys providing relief to her patients. Not only do they have someone who can really listen to them, but also someone who can assist them with their health concerns when they couldn’t find help before. She delights that she gets to meet a variety of people, who all have a wide range of concerns, and she has to put on her thinking cap for each and every person. It is her greatest satisfaction when her patients reach their wellness goals. She beams, “acupuncture turned my life around, and I love it when I see it do the same for someone else.” To all the doubters out there, Dr Alemi says this, “I understand that some people may be skeptical about the efficacy of acupuncture and
quite a few people are afraid of needles. Please know that before I started acupuncture, I felt the same way. Yet, here I am, having found so much relief from it that I want to practice it. The fact that it has been practiced for thousands of years, and now other healthcare professionals are trying to add acupuncture or dry needling to their repertoire, should say something about the efficacy of it. As for the scary needles part; these needles are a fraction of the size of a hypodermic needle. So thin that I need a guide tube to help insert it.
The technique I use means that most needles won’t even be felt; for some, worse case scenario, it feels like a bug bite – quick and fleeting. I joke that if it hurts, I’ve done a bad job, so having been in business for a while, I must be doing okay!” She knows this area has a lot of stress and, having suffered from stress and anxiety herself, she wants to be there to offer support. Especially now that we know chronic stress is at the root of a lot of our major diseases, like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia, due to the inflammation it causes. After ten years of practicing, she even convinced her 87 year old father to seek treatment down in Richmond for his low back pain. He’s finally, begrudgingly, confessed that, yes, it helps!
Dr. Alemi understands the importance of humor. “I try to bring humor to my patients, which is something I don’t think many health professionals do.” Although this may not be traditional bedside manner, she thinks it helps patients feel more comfortable with her and her treatments. She also understands that sometimes her patients are going through real hardships and she wants to offer them some reprieve – even if just for the time that they are in her office. Dr. Alemi notes that she does also work with children, especially when it comes to anxiety and ADHD.
Dr. Alemi and her husband, Rod, are both Virginia Tech Alumni. They moved from Richmond to the D.C. area in 2009. Since she works in McLean and his office is in Tysons, they moved near Great Falls this past year to be closer to their jobs. The couple has two ‘pups’: ten year old Brady and seven year old Dexter, who are both rescues and the love, or bane, of their lives, depending on the day. Dr. Alemi jests, “Rod is a golf fanatic and I am a golf neophyte, but I would love to learn one day!”
Remarking on her journey to where she is today, she admits “I never considered being an acupuncturist –I didn’t even know it was a career choice until I started school for it in 2012. Even though it took me a while to find my way in terms of my career, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love my job. I love my patients. I love how acupuncture is able to make you truly feel better: physically, mentally and emotionally. Yes, it seems a little out-there, but give it a try. You never know how big of an impact it could have on your well-being.”