Will it hurt?
Maybe the better question to ask is: will it help? I sat down with local Chinese medicine practitioner Flossie McCall, L.Ac., whose clientbase and offerings have steadily grown since launching her private practice at SPARŚA (1006 Manhattan Avenue) in June 2022, to dive deeper on all things acupuncture, her love of Greenpoint, and everything in between. And, no, it shouldn’t hurt.
[Editor’s note: The interview below is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views of Greenpointers. Always consult first with your physician or another qualified health care professional before undertaking a new health care regimen.]
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Your practice seems to have blossomed in Greenpoint – can you elaborate on your ties to Greenpoint, why you chose to build your practice in the neighborhood, and what inspires you about working in, living in, and growing up in Greenpoint?
I knew I wanted to build my practice in Brooklyn since my nervous system is generally much happier here than in Manhattan! It’s great working among other wellness practitioners at SPARŚA; I am now there four days a week and went to a full time private practice in April.
In terms of inspiration, I feel like everyone says this, but my patients are TRULY the best. The people that come to see me really value, and are dedicated to, their health. It’s a co-creation on developing goals and treatment plans; it’s a journey you’re taking together, and it’s an honor to have people’s trust in my part of that journey. I think so much of the work happens in a trusting relationship between patient and practitioner, so building that foundation over time is what inspires me.
Greenpoint’s view of the skyline and having that, “OMG, NYC!!” moment is really inspiring too. It’s a very cool perspective we have over here, and being by the river also gives the neighborhood a sense of calm – it feels so serene and harmonious.
In fact, to situate New York City in terms of Chinese medicine, I view Greenpoint as Water in the Five Element Generating Cycle; the five elements being Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. Each begets the next in an endless cycle, providing support and balance when in harmony. I consider Manhattan to be very Wood (drive, ambition, very go-go-go, vision, future-thinking), and an excess of Wood energy can lead to dysregulation in the organ networks (specifically, the Liver and Gallbladder). In other words, if the other elements are not in harmony and Wood is not offset by the other four, the body will be out of balance and/or undernourished as the Liver moves Qi throughout the whole body. This can lead to depression, period pain, hormone imbalances, stress, etc. Wherein Water generates Wood on the five element generating cycle, if we have a healthy Water element within us we can nourish our Wood energy. In short, being by the Water is a very healthy thing for New Yorkers (and Greenpointers!) – it’s grounding.
My family also moved to Greenpoint when I was 12 so it has a real place in my heart. I love how neighborhoody it is – I’ve always known everyone on the street as well as the small business owners. Those daily or weekly interactions with people feel so lovely, like we’re in an interconnected village rather than individuals holed up in apartments.
Although I live further down the G line now, Greenpoint will always feel like home.
There are so many parallels between Chinese medicine, your practice, your patients, and what you love about Greenpoint, so I have to ask: what are your favorite local businesses?
So many. Odd Fox Coffee (984 Manhattan Avenue), Altru Chemists + Pharmacy (987 Manhattan Avenue), and Archestratus Books + Foods (160 Huron Street). I have to give a shoutout to SPARŚA where I practice too!
Reiki led me to you (as a patient) and, as I recently learned, reiki led you to acupuncture. How did you come to practice acupuncture and what was appealing to you about it when you first started?
I have always been fascinated with the body, nutrition, and internal medicine. My first experience with acupuncture was in high school for a knee injury. One treatment made a difference when, up to that point, nothing had been helping. I started to go to acupuncture more regularly in college for anxiety and digestion; and over time, the more I learned about Chinese medicine the more it resonated with me. Everything in the body is connected, and connected to the natural world. Nature is within us [laughs]!
After studying abroad in Scotland and seeing an acupuncturist while there, I formally decided I wanted to pursue a career in Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
As time has gone on, have you decided to practice one over the other, and/or how have you incorporated reiki (energy work) into your acupuncture practice?
I studied reiki in college which taught me about chakras and the energetic body, and there is a lot of overlap there with Chinese medicine. Reiki taught me to really develop and tune in to my intuition, and how touch plays into that when treating patients. Ever since I was little, I felt I had a sense of where people needed to feel connection to return to their center. My language for healing has always been very tactile, and I believe that’s the thing people need the most: grounding, connection, and embodiment. We spend a lot of time living cerebrally on intangible planes; touch brings us back into our bodies.
Your practice encompasses so much more than needles – your sessions can also incorporate cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, energy work, tui na, lifestyle/nutritional counseling, and herbal recommendations. Would you like to share anything more on these treatments with our readers? Do you feel particularly drawn to a specific treatment when it’s coupled with acupuncture?
There’s so much that Chinese medicine has to offer – when someone calls themselves an acupuncturist, they’re really a Chinese medicine practitioner with many different tools at their disposal; acupuncture being just one of them.
Acupuncture is definitely my primary tool, but I’ll usually prescribe things for patients to do at home too. I think it’s important for patients to feel empowered to take things into their own hands and for it to be a collaborative process. A lot of the time, conditions need lifestyle shifts (on the part of the patient) for significant or permanent changes. I consider one of my jobs to be holding people accountable and kind of coaching them through that process.
I do a lot of moxa too, which is wonderful for gynecological conditions. It’s the practice of burning mugwort, which is a warming, nourishing, blood-building herb. I love that Chinese medicine is so entwined with gynecology – it’s a very in depth diagnostic system as there is so much information that comes from the state of someone’s period.
What is your approach to treating patients, to striking a balance between their immediate needs and their long term goals in a session?
What a great question! There’s usually a way to do both. If a patient comes in with their primary goal as fertility support, but on that particular day they happen to have thrown their back out, I’m not going to ignore their back. I think it’s important to get out of pain. I’ll also make sure to address the bigger WHY that brings the patient in. The beautiful thing about this medicine is that symptoms are almost always connected, so by addressing one thing you’re addressing the other. There’s a concept in Chinese medicine called “the root and the branch” and you always want to be treating both.
As you mentioned earlier, you recently went full time private practice and added to your offerings (herbal consults, facial rejuvenations and treatments, and bodywork). What has that experience been like?
It’s been amazing. I feel really lucky that I get to build the kind of practice I want. A lot of acupuncturists run two to three treatment rooms at once, but I love running a single treatment room and working with patients one at a time so I can dedicate more to them and stay grounded myself. I work with a lot of people with chronic conditions; I think a big part of the healing process is making sure people feel heard and there’s enough space to hold all that comes up along the journey.
What is your philosophy on healing and nurturing sustainable longevity?
I would say focusing on preventative care, slowing down, resting, and doing things that bring you joy. The wellness industry preaches to do more, do HIIT workouts, take more supplements, etc. and that’s not going to make a dent if you’re stressed, not resting, not regulating your nervous system, and not doing things that bring you joy.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thank you for reading! Greenpointers rock.
Flossie McCall, L.Ac. is a New York state licensed acupuncturist.
She received her Master’s of Science from Pacific College of Health and Science after completing their four year degree and providing over 350 treatments in her clinical residency. Previously, she studied English and Psychology at Georgetown University where she refined her skills in analysis and connection.
In addition to her Chinese Medical education, McCall is a reiki practitioner, 200-hour certified yoga instructor, and a perinatal doula. This training has deepened her knowledge of anatomy, subtle energetics, pregnancy, and birth.
Her interests lie primarily in gynecological/reproductive care and mental/emotional health.