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Meet Dr. Lorena Lee of Lorena Lee Acupuncture

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Lorena Lee.

Dr. Lorena, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My great-grandfather was an herbalist in Canton, China. He taught my grandmother everything about Chinese herbs. Ever since I was a kid, she made herbal soups for the whole family. I was fascinated by the herbal soup concoctions. Whenever I asked her what the mystery soups were for, she would say, “It’s good for you! Just drink it!”. I was always curious what she was brewing as a child but I never found out until I became an acupuncturist in adulthood.

As the oldest child in a Chinese family, I took on the role of being the caretaker. I later discovered that taking care of others is a natural part of who I am, and I secretly like it.

I actually have a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Economics, convinced that this was my destined success in life. It would ensure success and wealth. I worked on Wall Street for 10 years. That is also where I discovered that Finance was not my passion. During the mortgage crisis of 2008, my workload increased while many colleagues in the field were getting laid off. I was seeing an acupuncturist at that time. I was mesmerized by her ability to treat all of my medical conditions simultaneously at each session!

Sharon Yeung was my acupuncturist who was a ray of sunshine when the financial crisis of 2008 hit. During this time, I was surrounded by people struggling to survive in this hardship. Her sunshine was contagious. It made me want to be just like her, helping others during times of struggle. Although I was successful on Wall Street, I no longer felt fulfilled.

My friend, Donna Mah, decided to attend acupuncture school and encouraged me to do the same. I’ve worked my whole life and it was a difficult choice to leave my secure job to go back to school and take out loans. I went to school for the next five years in New York and San Diego, and have practiced in San Diego ever since. It was the best decision of my life! I love what I do so much! Sure it has its challenges but I love helping people. I see my patients like an extension of my family and friends and every day I look forward to show up at the clinic. So come on in! I’ll make sure you’ll get the best care, like family.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Aside from leaving a secure, well-paying job on Wall Street, my biggest struggles came after graduation when I needed to get my business started. Nobody told me that knowing how to treat patients and starting a business were two different things! San Diego is incredibly competitive with a lot of amazing acupuncturists, so it makes it that much more difficult to break into the field here

I’ve always been athletic and had a strong interest in sports medicine. Matt Callison took me under his wing as my mentor and first employer. He writes sports medicine textbooks for acupuncturists and has a certification program called Sports Medicine Acupuncture. I rented space in his clinic which was a major learning experience, but also intimidating, as I was working alongside so many talented, established acupuncturists.

In my practice, it’s always a give and take between patients and myself. While acupuncture can fix many things, it’s something that also requires work from the patient. The more a patient opens up to me and is compliant with their treatment, the more I can help. Many people are resistant to being open with their doctor, which makes it challenging to treat them in the best way I can.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Lorena Lee Acupuncture – what should we know?
I initially wanted to specialize in sports medicine, but once I finished school, I saw all of the benefits of acupuncture far beyond sports medicine. I’ve personally suffered from a lot of chronic neck pain from Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai, insomnia, anxiety, and depression, so I know first-hand how much acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help treat these symptoms. Because of my personal experiences with these issues, I was drawn to specialize in those areas. Sometimes I giggle to myself when someone asks me if I believe in acupuncture because I’ve sacrificed so much and turned my life around to be an acupuncturist. It’s changed my life in so many positive ways!

Within my practice, I have been able to help build a community of patients who trust me and whom I trust. By building this level of trust, I am able to help at the same time. Win, win, win for all of us! I am active in the yoga, surfing, and pilates communities, as well as a member of the San Diego Surf Ladies surf club. I’m drawn to people who are active, that I can connect with and personally understand.

Now, my office, Lorena Lee Acupuncture, is within a successful acupuncture clinic called Essential Health Acupuncture working alongside other amazing acupuncturists. I was already friends with the owner, Dr. Eileen Han, where we met at a Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury seminar. She is a master acupuncturist who specializes in Balance Method, which is a style of acupuncture that gets immediate results. I first started working here when my colleague, Dr. Lindsay Trottier, was on maternity leave. I’ve been here for 8 months and I love being a part of this team with the dynamic synergy that we share.

What sets me apart from others? Well, I’m Chinese-American! Growing up in the heart of Chinatown in New York, I lived next to an herb shop and grew up eating Grandma’s soups. I followed western medicine growing up, but I’m familiar with Chinese medicine in my culture. I understand the doubts that patients who are unfamiliar with eastern practices. I have experience from both perspectives – I totally get it! I can understand what my patients are experiencing and can empathize with them.

That is why I want to educate my patients about their own body in a way that makes sense to someone unfamiliar with acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and in some cases, skeptics. I love to teach patients how to prevent injury or dysfunctions in their body. My patients often say that they feel more comfortable because I talk them through the process and explain what’s happening throughout the session. For me, I devote my sessions to relating to the patients, understanding their experience and building a trusting doctor-patient relationship.

Another aspect is that I incorporate Foundation Training with my acupuncture treatments. Foundation Training was developed by Dr. Eric Goodman, who is an author of True to Form. These are movements and poses to help decompress the spine with a breathing technique. It’s great for people who want to improve their posture, maybe have back pain, sit a lot at work, or want to activate their posterior chain (back side of the body). It can be done in 5 mins to an hour and the beauty is that these movements are in everyday life.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I would like to thank my boyfriend, Giordano Lippi, who has been with me since I was a student at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. He has been with me through it ALL – all of my studying, the rigorous exams, and financial struggles. As a neuroscientist, he holds me accountable and keeps me up-to-date with what’s happening in the world of Western medicine, when so much of what I studied focuses on Eastern medicine. I really enjoy the integration of both medicines.

My aunts, Mary Wing and Janice Wong, who generously sponsored my Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM), the highest title of Chinese medicine.

And of course, my whole family has supported me from the beginning of my journey, even all the way from New York.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lucianna McIntosh

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