"Most people in this business have had some kind of health crisis. That's what gets them interested in it. But I did not," says Ryan Diener, co-founder of Holistic Health Associates in Frederick. "When I was attending school as an undergrad pre-med student, I felt like something was missing in the process of leaping from there into medical school. Coincidentally, my aunt gave me an acupuncture book. I read it from cover to cover and signed up for school before I had ever had an acupuncture treatment myself."
Ryan said he fell in love with the philosophy of how acupuncture related to the whole body and how different systems work together.
"For example, you may have pain in one area; however, it is actually related to an internal medicine issue or a psycho-emotional issue, and that link between everything is something that spoke to me. At that time, I had a skin condition for six years that dermatologists failed to cure. When I was in acupuncture school, my key mentor in school treated it, and within two months, it was gone as if it had never happened," says Ryan.
Originally from Baltimore County, Ryan attended a graduate program in New Mexico where he got his Master's degree in Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
"I'm certified in Eastern herbal medicine, acupuncture and meditation and have taught meditation for many years," says Ryan.
With a plan to start a practice, a friend suggested he visit Frederick. It was love at first sight, so, in 2004, he joined an office-share on Third Street with other practitioners.
"While at the office-share, a massage therapist and I really connected," says Ryan. "We recognized that to serve more people and do it more consistently, it was necessary to have a connection between people within a company and to have a shared vision, shared marketing and shared office administration," he explains. "Our desire was to mainstream what we do, to make it accessible and de-mystify it. So, we decided to break off on our own and opened Holistic Health Associates in June 2005. The response was incredible. We opened with three of us, and two months later, at our ribbon cutting, we had grown from three to seven employees."
Ryan and his team want to de-mystify holistic medicine. Their philosophy on treatment is to guide patients to reclaim the best version of themselves, and they want to determine what the patient wants to be able to do and may be feeling limited in doing.
Ryan explains, "For the new patient, we put a treatment plan together based upon the patient's goals, which could include acupuncture, massage and herbal and nutritional supplements, and maybe a detox. We lay out a program that will be most beneficial to get to that goal, and we'll talk about other complications that might be present in the patient's health that may be a factor in healing and recovery. The difference between us and an allopathic practice is that we want to focus on the primary goal. Still, we want people to recognize that the whole body works together, and, commonly, certain secondary symptoms may resolve in the process of recalibrating your body. Those are huge benefits in the value of what we are trying to provide," he says.
Acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal and nutritional supplements and detoxification are the core practices at Holistic Health Associates. Before Covid, they also offered Tai Chi, which will return when things get back to normal.
According to Johns Hopkins, "Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being."
"A couple of primary things are important to evaluate. One is nerve conduction. Is it pinched? There can be all kinds of minor pinches to your nerves leading to fingertips or toes. And what we want to do is to improve this nerve conduction and free up these neural pathways," explains Ryan. "The second thing is circulation. It's common to have some sort of condition where circulation is limited to certain areas of the body, or it may get too much, which creates inflammation. Acupuncture works extremely well for regulating inflammatory responses and circulation. Tiny, little needles cause micro-abrasions that signal the body to react and the immune system to activate, regulating inflammatory responses, increasing blood flow to local areas, and freeing up nerve conduction. So, all we are doing is activating your internal process of healing in a way that, for whatever reason, your body needed that extra push. We're giving you that push, and your body takes it from there," says Ryan.
Just as one visit to the gym isn't going to make a significant change in your body, it will likely take more than one visit for acupuncture.
"If you work out one time, you are not likely to see any changes to your body. If you go 10, 15, 20 times, then your body will change. It is the same way internally," says Ryan. "Sometimes you have to send the signals multiple times because the problem has been there for 20 years."
"Another core component of healing is massage, which is a focus on muscle tissue. A lot of the emphasis is on elongating muscles and releasing the congestion in the tissue itself. People call the congestion knots. Knots, such as the ones in your neck or shoulders, are built up lactic acid and carbon monoxide in the muscle tissue," explains Ryan.
"Detoxification refers to reducing heavy metals and chemicals in the liver and system and eliminating inflammatory foods. We offer a three-week program reset for the entire organ system that helps to take out all the toxicity and chemicals the body holds onto, and use supplements that aid the liver in eliminating those toxins and focus on recalibrating, recharging and recovering," Ryan says. "We find that people's energy levels, focus, concentration and weight stabilize in ways they couldn't have imagined in three weeks. We cut out everything that is inflammatory, such as sugar and soy, but it's not a liquid diet. You are eating real food the whole time."
Ryan says, "One of the things that make us unique is that we have six different acupuncturists and three different massage therapists who have subspecialties. One acupuncturist is a fertility specialist. We have a massage therapist who works with women from fertility through pregnancy and post-partum. I specialize in internal medicine and autoimmune conditions, and we have a Tai chi instructor that works with pain management and external medicine. So, we can work on a larger segment of populations because we have these sub-specialties," says Ryan. "We also collaborate with several physicians and have fertility, pain management, physical therapy and chiropractic practices with whom we work. We are pro-healing, so, for some people, that means they need more or different than what we have to offer. For others, they need collaboration in doing two different modalities at the same time. For us, it doesn't matter. What matters most is what is the best thing for you as the patient, and how we are going to get you to the place you want to be."
Ryan says, "We want people to know that our goal is to make the experience that the patient is going through something that works for them. We can modify our methods if, for example, a person can't lie down on a table; we can adjust to a chair. We will let you know very honestly what is needed for somebody to get the result they're looking for, and we can make a plan based on that. Many people create blocks for themselves before making the phone call and talk themselves out of it. Know that your mind is going to create blockages, just like the body. We want you to let those go and try something that could make a huge difference in your health." Hhamd.com
Holistic Health Associates
603B West Patrick St. Frederick, MD 21701
301-620-1414 | ContactUs@HHAMd.com