Cheryl Blankenship and Heather Geoghegan of Island Acupuncture& Massage are on a mission to serve the Outer Banks community with the healing power of acupuncture, as well as other healing modalities, including guasha, cupping, herbal remedies, dry needling, and massage.
The duo offers two Outer Banks locations:
- Seagate North shopping center, 3105 N. Croatan Hwy, Unit 27 (milepost 5.5), Kill Devil Hills
- Pamlico Station shopping center, 24267 NC Hwy. 12, Rodanthe (Hatteras Island)
The journey began for Blankenship in 1998, when she decided to start acupuncture school at the Florida School of Integrative Medicine. Three years later, she knew she wanted to bring her practice to the Outer Banks. In 2001, she headed north to Dare County to open the Bank's first acupuncture practice.
Blankenship is a quintessential Outer Banks woman. She loves travel, surfing, and like many of us, worked many years in the service industry, working hard waiting tables in the summers and traveling in the shoulder season.
She discovered acupuncture by happenstance. She started out as a massage therapist, and around 1994, she had a friend who was in acupuncture school who asked if she could practice on her.
Blankenship says it changed her life’s trajectory. "After the session, I went back to my car and said, 'Wow, I don't know what just happened, but that was pretty spectacular.' I really think that day I decided I wanted to do it," says Blankenship.
She was not yet prepared to go to devote three years to pursuing training and obtaining a license, so she kept living the traveler’s life, doing massages and heading to Colorado in the winters. A few years later, she was injured while snowboarding, and the injury was treated with (you guessed it) acupuncture. Blankenship says the next day, the injury was 80% better. She took it as a sign and decided it was time to buckle down and become a licensed acupuncturist herself.
Blankenship says the benefits of acupuncture include for pain due to injury, as well as aiding with menopausal symptoms, prostate issues, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, infertility, and stress, among many other things. But what really intrigued Blankenship, was the peaceful, euphoric feeling that it brings to her patients.
"The deep euphoric feeling was the first thing that got my attention. It's like a deep transformative relaxation happens,” she says. “It's all about the neurotransmitters. It stimulates the spinal cord. It stimulates the hypothalamus to pump a whole plethora of endogenous neurotransmitters and that’s that deep euphoric feeling that you get."
Feeling stressed and overworked is something many people experience during the busy season on the Outer Banks. Many of Blankenship and Geoghegan's clients are from the service industry. They come to them with symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, stress, and back pain.
According to Blankenship, Western medicine is really rooted in ambulatory care. There aren’t a lot of options for chronic disease that creates symptoms of fatigue, depression, and anxiety...and, she says, what they do have is kind of debilitating. It's important to the women at Island Acupuncture to fill in that gap in this community.
"Our medicine tends to shine more for everything the doctors say they can't really help you with. Stress has so much to do with everything. People need to feel that deep euphoric state. There is nothing that relieves stress, other than alcohol, exercise, or drugs....no healthy options that you can reach that kind thing with like acupuncture," says Blankenship.
Like Blankenship, Geoghegan worked many years in the service industry, started out as a massage therapist after getting an injury snowboarding in Colorado. Through acupuncture, she has found a way to be able to live her life and travel, but also come home in the summer and help serve the Outer Banks community, which is also extremely important to her.
She especially loves working with kids.
"I have this little girl that I treat. It was a proud moment...I was at Home Depot, and I hadn't met her father yet. So, I see her and wave to her and start walking over and she goes, 'Daddy! Daddy! Look, it’s my acupuncturist!’ It was so awesome," says Geoghegan.
She loves working with kids because they are open and receptive to treatments.
"I have a little boy that I treat, and I asked him, 'Why do you like acupuncture?,' and he said 'Because you make me calm,'" Geoghegan says.