The Art of Healing
When the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture began to make an appearance in modern American society, it was received with more than a little skepticism. Holistic healing in general, though gaining ground, is still often seen as the realm of the hippie-dippy. But there is nothing hippie-dippy about Dr. Rahmie Valentine. Her deliberate approach, methodical research and highly-disciplined personality translate to a professionalism that defies the stereotype.
"I was always interested in the unseen, the energetic aspects of our world," said Rahmie, who began studying Chinese medicine in San Francisco during the early 1980's. "First came meditation, then came diet- exploring vegetarianism, macrobiotics, cleansing and other things that I was later able to expand upon."
On her 30th birthday, she had what she describes as a "calling," a personal, spiritual opening. "Any person that I touched seemed to get a jolt of electrical energy," she says. "After I calmed down from being freaked out by it, I decided to take my hands to school and learn what I could do with them."
She investigated various forms of hands-on healing-massage, Reiki, chiropractics and bodywork-before settling on acupuncture as the discipline that resonated with her the strongest. "Acupuncture is about the most energetic of medicines," she said. "I've heard the needles referred to as antennae because they actually attract the chi, or the energy of the universe, and guide it into the body."
When she first enrolled in courses to learn about this ancient art, she knew next to nothing about it. "I was probably the only one in my class who hadn't had it, wasn't a massage therapist, and had never done tai chi or qi gong," she remembers. Chinese medicine is based upon the principle that energy courses through a network of meridians which form a mapped grid over the entire body. How energy flows-or doesn't flow-along these lines has everything to do with health, and this idea was totally foreign to Rahmie at first. "Chinese medicine is truly from another planet," she said. "It's such a different system that I felt very confused. I had to learn an entirely new philosophical paradigm, and that is not easy."
Things didn't really solidify for her until after graduation, when she went to China and spent a year and a half traveling around, staying with Chinese friends, teaching English to earn money, and soaking up the culture. Upon her return to the U.S., she felt like she knew Chinese medicine "in her bones," and was ready to open her own practice combining acupuncture, herbal healing and nutritional counseling. The year was 1986, she was in L.A., and the New Age scene was blowing up.
"Everybody knew somebody who was channeling somebody who was selling crystals," she recalls. "You could do pretty much anything by networking." She maintained her practice for 18 years before moving to the Lowcountry in 2004, where she opened Low Country Healing Arts. Content to coexist with conventional doctors, she sees Chinese medicine as just another option.
"The word that we use now is complimentary," she said. "Western medicine is miraculous for certain things. If you have a raging fever, broken bones, or blood spurting out everywhere, don't call me. But if you have vague issues that you can't seem to figure out, and Western medicine hasn't given you answers, look at Chinese medicine."
Hobbies: yoga, nature, gardening, cooking
#1 thing she does for her own
health everyday: eat right
Favorite food: anything organic
Examples of difficult conditions that can be treated with Chinese medicine: allergies, infertility, chronic pain, digestive dysfunction
3 words to describe herself: disciplined, kind, respectful
What she's into right now: teaching yoga
Words to live by: "If you don't like what's going on in your life, get to the bottom of it."