Getting To Know You - Karen Hayes Lic. AC., MAOM


Your background in health and wellness is extensive. Can you tell us a little bit about how you first discovered your passion for wellness?

I think my passion for wellness began as a more general passion for helping people – which showed itself first in the form of teaching, which I did for years.  As far as the wellness side of things, I suspect this began with an exploration into my own health challenges – how and where to look for guidance and healing, both inside the world of western as well as complementary forms of medicine.

And how did this path lead you to a career in Chinese Medicine?

My interest in Asia has been a part of my natural curiosity since I was a child.  This in part led me to live in Japan in my 20’s, and intensified my connection with Eastern culture and sensibilities.  That combined with my own eventual experience receiving Chinese medical care in the form of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine led me to take the plunge into a 4 year masters degree which would allow me to practice myself.

Your Buddhist training in practicing as well as teaching Mindfulness/Meditation are a big part of your life and inform your Acupuncture practice. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

Sure.  One of the ways it informs my practice is in the way I endeavor to be with my patients (a by product of my own personal practice and study): the aspiration to be present, authentic, compassionate, and to listen deeply.  In other ways, I often suggest a meditation or mindfulness practice to patients for whom it seems appropriate– knowing first hand of its contribution to wellbeing. And may suggest a simple tool or technique during their treatment.

Are they any other tools, aside from needles, that you use in your Acupuncture practice?

Yes.  Chinese herbal medicine, cupping, gua sha, moxabustion, food therapy, lifestyle counseling are all parts of my toolbox in the treatment room.

What do you love most about what you do?

Connecting with people, building authentic relationships, and offering a path for building and maintaining a more harmonious sense of health and wellbeing.

If someone is new to Acupuncture, what can they expect at an Initial Session with you?

A lot of things!  First, some paperwork :) As this is a whole system of medicine, it’s very important to know about your health history, as well as where you find yourself presently.  

Secondly we talk about what you’ve taken care and time to write down for me.  And I’ll ask a number of questions.

To further understand your particular pattern diagnosis, I take your pulse, on both wrists –a very important pillar of diagnosis in Chinese medicine.  As well as look at your tongue – another wealth of information.

From there I formulate a treatment plan, and we begin!  After the needles are inserted, you rest. When I return to remove the needles we discuss a treatment plan, and when it’s best for you to return.  

When I feel it’s beneficial I prescribe herbs.  However, I typically do not do this at your first appointment, as I like to see how you respond to the acupuncture alone, first.

Of course, the most common question we get when talking about Acupuncture is 'does it hurt?'

Much of the time there is little to no sensation when the needle is first inserted.  However, it is actually beneficial to feel “qi” on the needle once it’s been inserted - which may be experienced as a dull, achy sensation lasting a few seconds.  If there ever is a needle that is uncomfortable, I ask patients to let me know, and I can make a slight adjustment.

This ancient medicine, which is possibly 3,000-5,000 years old (accounts vary), has been proven to treat a myriad of imbalances in the body. Can you tell us some of the more common disorders you treat?

Yes, Chinese Medicine is a whole system of medicine unto itself – which means that in theory it treats any condition.  The only condition we are not legally able to treat in this country is cancer. However, we are able to treat side effects from cancer treatment, as well as pain management or other associated symptoms of the disease.

Some of the most common conditions I treat are related to:



Musculoskeletal pain/injuries

Mental Health (anxiety, depression)

Stress Management

Women’s health (PMS, menopause, IVF, pregnancy wellness, labor induction)



Addiction Recovery Support


Tell us 2 things we don’t know about you.

1. I spent one month in silent meditation in retreat.

2. I’ve traveled around the world.

How do you nourish yourself so you can keep on giving in all aspects of your life?

Good question!  It is not always easy, but I do my best to eat well, and sleep well. Taking walks has always been a refuge, and sitting meditation is imperative.  Attending to important relationships is also a big part of how I aspire to keep things in perspective.

Karen holds a Masters Degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, CA and is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist in the Commonwealth of MA. She holds a Diploma of Oriental Medicine nationally. Karen brings with her 12 years of clinical experience.

*Book with Karen on Tuesdays, Fridays + Saturdays