Like many allergy sufferers, Blythe Barny tried countless treatments to ease her discomfort, only to experience a mere modicum of relief. When medication and shots failed to work, she sought alternatives and found that acupuncture gave her the relief she needed. Since that discovery, Barny has pursued a career in Eastern medicine, which includes acupuncture, nutrition and traditional Chinese practices.
“In the U.S., people mainly seek out acupuncture for back pain. But it’s incredibly helpful for fertility, migraines, insomnia, anxiety and more,” says Barny, owner of Community Acupuncture in Cumberland, Maryland.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body. It’s most often used to treat pain, but it’s also used for overall wellness, including stress management.
Barny earned a master’s degree from the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago in 2017. One of the highlights of the program was an acupuncture internship in Guangzhou, China.
“I was in Guangzhou with 14 classmates and our two deans for a few weeks in 2016. It was very interesting. We would take classes in the morning, then a two-hour lunch, then rounds at the hospital. I was in the master’s program, so that [meant] not just the [acupuncture] license, but the herbal program. Over there, the herbs are foremost before acupuncture,” Barny says.
She also has a degree in nutrition and says that proper nutrition is of utmost importance. “I think it was Hippocrates who said, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’”
As an undergraduate studying international business at DU, Barny had many classes with international students, an opportunity that encouraged her to respect other cultures. She has traveled far and wide, from Norway to Hong Kong, and enjoys experiencing other cultures firsthand. It was this openness to other cultures that led her to Oriental medicine as a treatment for her allergies.
Since opening her practice in November 2019, Barny has built her clientele by meeting with different groups in the small town of Cumberland and by handing out her business card to people she meets. Her business degree laid the groundwork for marketing a small enterprise, and her work experience in office administration and in marketing without a marketing budget honed her skills.
When she first opened her practice, Barny approached the radio station in her building about her services, and its on-air personalities ended up promoting her business to listeners.
“One of the radio loud mouths, I had him come in and I treated him for free because I learned how to market really well [at DU],” Barny says. “He talked about it a lot, [and] people are like, ‘I want to try this.’”
Many of her clients are older adults who have tried different treatments but no longer want to take drugs, she says. A lot of her treatments calm the mind and help with anxiety. “Most people don’t know what all acupuncture can do.”
After just one year in business, Barny’s practice has a sizeable and loyal following. “So many people have said I’m a breath of fresh air, especially in this area. This is the poorest county in all of Maryland,” she explains, noting that she has found her niche. “I really enjoy seeing people feel better. It gives joy to my heart.”