My Other Life As A Chinese Medicine Doctor

August 6, 2013

One of my favorite things in life is watching a person’s face when I respond to their question, “So, what do you do?” No one expects in a million years that a blonde American woman would answer, “I am a Chinese Medicine Doctor.” Then as an added bonus I will throw in, “Oh, and I am also a Travel Photojournalist.” That is when their bewildered eyes look like they might just pop out of their head!

I have been quite hesitant to talk about my “other life” on My Beautiful Adventures. I never wanted to mix the two, as I feel like my followers come here for travel inspiration and I like to keep my patients stories private, but lately I have been receiving more and more inquiries about why I became an Acupuncuritist and what does it mean to practice Chinese Medicine, thus I thought it was finally time to divulge some information.

Growing up I was a competitive swimmer. For many years that was the essence of who I was and my entire life was shaped around the sport. Unfortunately, I became very sick, so much so that I was bedridden for almost a year and my dreams of one day swimming in the Olympics were shattered. High school was no longer an option either.  I would rather not discuss my illness here if that is okay with you, since it is very personal, however I will say that Western Medicine completely failed me. Up until then I had dreamed of one day becoming a Western Medical Doctor, although after seeing that it made me worse and offered me no hope for the future, I was then forced to turn to Alternative Medicine. My Mom is the person responsible for me discovering Chinese Medicine. She refused to give up on me and begged a local Acupuncturist, who had a three-year waiting list at the time, to fit me into his busy schedule. Thankfully, he agreed to treat me, although I was so furious with my Mom for subjecting me to this “voodoo medicine” that I had to be bribed to go to the first appointment.

It took only one treatment for me to realize how extraordinary this form of healing is and about five treatments for me to realize that this was my calling in life — I wanted to give back to the world what Chinese Medicine had given to me. My Acupuncturist was the first Doctor to really try to connect with me and say, “You will get through this and I will be here every step of the way.” Within six months I was 75% better and within one year I was able to catch up on all of the schoolwork I had missed and graduated Valedictorian of my class.

From there I attended the College of Charleston completing a Bachelor degree in Comparative Religious Studies with a minor in Asian Studies. My grades earned me a place in the prestigious National Collegiate Honor Society (NCHS). I then achieved my Master of Science at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM); one of the most well-respected Chinese Medical Universities, as well as becoming Board certified in Acupuncture by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). During my education I had the opportunity to travel around the world and work in various hospital and clinical settings. I was even awarded trips to China and South Africa by the NCHS in recognition of my academic success. On both trips I acted as a United States Medical Delegate. I also acquired the ability to communicate in Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, and German. One of the hospitals that I worked in was St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. I treated patients infected with AIDS/HIV. This valuable internship furthered my knowledge in auto-immune disorders, which is the area that I have chosen to focus on, along with pain management and women’s issues specifically infertility. I also interned at PCOM’s clinic for several years treating a wide range of health concerns with an extensive record for success.

Andrea Perullo de Ledesma

This is how most people imagine I look like.

Andrea Perullo de Ledesma

However, this is what I look like most of the days.

Five years ago, I created The Healing Hands Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic, a state-of-the-art Chinese Medicine practice that offers nothing but first class service and is a one-stop shop for your healing needs. Here is a sneak peek at what it looks like:

The Healing Hands Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic

For more information about me, my clinic, or Chinese Medicine please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at AndiPerullo@aol.com.

85 thoughts on “My Other Life As A Chinese Medicine Doctor

  1. AudreyD.

    Wow, this is such an inspiring read, Andi! Very happy to know a bit more about your life as a chinese medecine doctor and see your clinic, which is lovely. I love that this shows you can have a great career, help people and travel.

    Reply
  2. Julie

    Oh, this is too cool – and very good timing, considering that my family was just discussing acupuncture. I am very curious about it. One of these days I’ll have to give it a try. I don’t know what for, though – I’m pretty healthy!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Wow, very synchronistic!!! If you want to email me and let me know where you’re based I will find a referral for a great Acupuncturist for you! You don’t need to be unhealthy to try TCM. It’s a preventive medicine!!!

      Reply
      1. Julie

        Thanks for the offer! I’m in Atlanta but we have family in Charlotte and get there often enough that I’ll probably just try to book with you when I’m up there 🙂

        Reply
  3. Erika

    **comes out of lurking** Wow, Andi! Thanks for opening up about this! Actually, it was reading about this in your About section that really caught my eye when I first stumbled across your blog a few years ago! It was the right timing, too, because I never knew anything about Eastern medicine — not really — and when I started having autoimmune problems, I found a lot of healing and health in Eastern practices instead. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but there was a time when I considered potentially becoming a naturopathic doctor. I’m not sure that that’s really my path, but I loved reading more about what you do and the story behind how you got into it. 🙂 I think that Western Medicine is so reactive and Eastern is so preventative and holistic. It treats the person as a whole, rather than the symptoms. Honestly, I’ve been able to live my life and feel a sense of freedom sense going down that path, so thank you for what you do in helping others to find that too!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      So happy you left a comment, thank you dear!!! Alternative Medicine is leaps and bounds ahead of Western Medicine when it comes to auto-immune disorders. Western Medicine failed me, however I have such a deep appreciation for all it has done for the world. Just wish all the medicines could work together. Can you imagine if they did??? If you ever want to email me to talk more about whether or not you’ll become a Naturopath please feel free!!!

      Reply
  4. Darla

    So interesting to see this other part of your life! I know that it must have been a big step sharing this with everyone, so thank you. It looks like you have a really beautiful, and successful business running and that’s so inspiring to hear about! It’s great to get a peak into the everyday life of a travel blogger.

    Reply
  5. Andrea

    I LOVED reading this post and finally seeing your clinic. You know you’re the one who inspired me to go to acupuncture and it has changed my life. I feel the same way about Western medicine… Had no idea you specialize in auto-immune disorders. Not sure if I told you this but I went to see a DNA specialist and she thinks that a virus of some kind is responsible for my thyroid and most of my problems. She’s running a million tests right now. So many root causes of medical problems are bacteria and viruses we aren’t aware of. But you knew that 😉 Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be picking your brain again when the results come in. Would love to visit your clinic as a patient one day. Congrats and know how special what you do is!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      It always means more than words can express when I’ve inspired someone to try acupuncture!!! I LOVE that it has changed your life! It’s such an amazing form of medicine. I wish more Americans would give it a chance. I definitely believe that a virus could have caused your problem. Many people believe that viruses causes auto-immune disorders! I wish I could treat you love, but I know you’re in good hands. Plus, you can call/text me any time with questions!

      Reply
  6. Julia

    It’s great to take a look into your “other” life. I definitely find Chinese medicine fascinating and do believe there are alternatives to Western medicine, especially as it has become such a big profit machine as opposed to finding the best outcome for the patient (most of the time).

    Reply
  7. Krista

    I absolutely loved reading this post, Andi. 🙂 I’m so in awe of the work you do and LOVE knowing your story. 🙂 I so treasure the healers who have come into my life giving hope and courage and peace. I know you do this for all your clients and that makes me smile. You are a treasure. 🙂 xo

    Reply
  8. Karla

    I am simply amazed at how you faced adversity and became the strong, beautiful soul you are today! Thank you to that doctor who believed in the unseen with unstoppable faith! WOW.

    You know I’ve learned that you meet people in this life and they come for a reason. To teach us important lessons and some to change your life literally. This is one perfect example.

    Mothers do things sometimes that make no sense but it’s for our highest good (of course that is not obvious then) but we have to be grateful for them 😉

    You are certainly an inspiration and deserve all the best life has to offer.

    So happy to learn more about you bella.

    Keep up the great work & hope one day you will treat me at your clinic 😉

    *Hug* xo K 😉

    Reply
  9. mi-an dela cruz

    nice andi!! i wanna go to your clinic, and of course visit you!!! how far are you from ny??! lol

    Reply
  10. Traveling Ted

    Interesting to hear about your other life. Great that you are able to give back to patients for what the treatment did for you. Interesting to hear you were once a competitive swimmer although I am not surprised. You seem to be talented in whatever perks your interest.

    Reply
  11. Dan

    Thank you for spreading the word. I absolutely swear by acupuncture, especially for joint, muscle, and nerve problems. I haven’t expanded outwards into other uses yet, but I plan to. It helps that I live in Taiwan where Chinese medicine is covered by national health insurance (I spend the equivalent of US$5 for acupuncture/massage therapy). After a bike accident a couple years ago, I sprained both wrists and both elbows. Badly. My front brake was adjusted way too tight and after a sudden stop hilarity ensued. Soon followed by tragedy one I realized what I did to myself.

    Acupuncture and massage (tui na in Chinese) got me on the path to recovery. It was agony, but the Western option was rest-ice-compression-elevation. Not exactly a complete treatment protocol. I now have full function in both hands and arms, no chronic pain (and really I should based on the damage), and I can work out with no problems any more. Acupuncture is awesome, and now I can’t wait to go and give it a try for a couple of other chronic health issues. Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      It’s so wonderful to hear that you’ve had such a powerful experience with TCM. It does help that you live in Taiwan and treatments are so cheap. I hate charing my patients so much money, but my rent and supplies cost a fortune. Hopefully, more and more insurances in the States will start to cover treatments. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Good luck with your future treatments!!!

      Reply
  12. Heather

    This must be such a fascinating career! I met a Chinese Medicine doctor in Yunnan, China, and his life philosophies were so interesting. He told me that optimism is the best medicine and that vegetarianism is great for your skin. He also told me that I looked healthy so hopefully that’s a good sign!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      It really is fascinating! I love that I will be learning this medicine until the day I die. That’s great that the TCM Doctor you met said you look healthy!!! Did he look at your tongue or feel your pulse?

      Reply
  13. Alex

    I’m on of the ones who has been begging for a post like this 🙂 Next post I request is one of the Perullo home! Loved seeing this peek inside your office. I’m not sure if I ever told you but in high school I saw an acupuncturist for severe allergies. Same story, my mom had to drag me and I asked the doctor, “Do I have to believe in this for it to work?” Ha! Skeptical teenagers. I hope some day I get to be on your table!

    Reply
  14. Mica

    I have also grown up with many natural medicine treatments. My mom had me in yoga studios when I was a kid and no one even knew yoga was ‘cool’ back then. I also went to many temples, my mom studied Reiki, and touch for health among other things. I never talk about it because people think western medicine is the cure all, but when I have an ailment I go to my mom and she always fixes me. Unfortunately acupuncture combined with other physiotherapy could not help my shoulder injury but the few friends who have asked to see my mom for her help have been impressed. I have always been a part of the world of natural medicine and I love it. You go girl!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      How wonderful that you grew up with and have a mom now who is so open to the world! Such a shame that acupuncture couldn’t help your shoulder injury! Maybe you weren’t seeing the right acupuncturist for you? I am so happy that you are a fan of alternative medicines!!!

      Reply
  15. Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad

    I’m not going to lie: needles have ALWAYS freaked me out. They still do. However, ever since I’ve been diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel and intense hand/finger pain, friends keep recommending acupuncture to me. Your blog post just intensified my curiosity for your practice…

    I’ve been thinking… Would you mind me making the trip up there so you can treat me? I would only like one treatment to see how it goes… You take health insurance by the way? 🙂

    This pain is affecting every aspect of my life, including my love for blogging. In fact, I’ve been on temporary disability and haven’t been able to work at all for 6 months now (except for a bit of blogging here and there). It’s driving me crazy. I’m really desperate to find a cure…

    -Maria Alexandra

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Acupuncture needles are thinner than a hair! They don’t hurt, in fact most of my patients enjoy the qi sensation from the needle. I would love to meet you and treat you. Get your butt up here — I’ll get you out of pain! 🙂

      Reply
  16. Nicole

    That’s a really awesome story and very inspiring too. Do you ever share your story with others? Maybe those who may have also been sick? Like to give them a little motivation?

    Reply
  17. Fran

    Wow Andi,such an inspiring life. Congratulations!…Perhaps you can help…I have nerve pain from having lymph nodes removed when I had a mastectomy 8 yrs…would acupuncture help with the nerve pain? I still have that burning sensation. I’ve never had acupuncture but would try it if you think it might give me some relief. Thanks…(P.S…love, love, love your photos)

    Reply
  18. Fran

    Andi, I forgot to tell you that I’m not a fan of taking drugs to help relieve my nerve pain so any suggestions you have regarding acupuncture are more than welcome. I’ll await our response after you’ve relaxed and are rejuvenated from your vacation.

    Reply
  19. Nellie

    It’s so interesting to learn about your other life! I’d always known about your love for travel but never knew about your other passion. You speak Mandarin too! I’d love to meet you in person. 🙂

    Reply
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  30. CJ

    Thank you for your inspiring post! I am interested in going to Chinese medicine school but have been terrified to make that leap and go into debt. Your story makes me feel hopeful that I can do this!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Awww I am so happy you stumbled across my post. Chinese Medicine school is so challenging and the debt situation is not fun at all, but I promise you it is worth it the first time you heal a patient. Good luck and if you ever feel like emailing me please do! 🙂

      Reply

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