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Karena Luttmer, owner of Thrive Acupuncture, stands in front of a painting made by a family member. (Tyler Cobb / Park Record)

Karena Luttmer knows that life comes with its share of bumps and bruises and a fear of the unknown. But that did not stop the Parkite from dropping a career as a paralegal to start something new, studying eastern medicine practices and opening a new business in Salt Lake City and Park City.

She admits her parents had their doubts; her siblings were skeptics of the whole concept, not just the career switch, but after opening her clinic and working with friends and family she has made a lot of converts of the former opposition.

For years Luttmer saw an acupuncturist before she considered the new career path. It was not until a close friend passed away that she decided to finally make the shift. In less than a year, she was enrolled and studying everything about eastern medicine, from Chinese herbology to shiatsu to cupping, and of course acupuncture.

"I was her caretaker from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.," Luttmer said. "Spending those mornings with her, I would massage her feet and try to make her feel better, more comfortable. And she was the one who told me I know how to heal, that I could do this. "She made me promise I would not stay where I was because she knew I was not happy."

At that point, Luttmer had been receiving acupuncture treatments for nearly seven years, a habit that began when she decided to quit smoking. When it worked, her faith in the process quickly started to build.

"It was amazing," she said. "I could not believe how well it did work for me."

When she registered to attend the Southwest Acupuncture College in Colorado, Luttmer saw what eastern medicine was capable of first hand. In one patient suffering from several tumors, one on her liver, she was asked to provide treatment and herbs to help clear out the body before surgery. When doctors went to scan the tumor just before the patient was about to go under the knife, they realized the tumor was completely gone.

"This is not all about energy," Luttmer said. "Studies have been able to show acupuncture physically alters your chemistry. When a needle goes in, it changes your body and the way it reacts. There is something going on."

"I'm not saying herbs took away the tumor," she added, "rather the herbs and the acupuncture cleared a path that allowed her body to heal herself. And that is powerful."

After school, she spent five weeks in China to fully immerse herself in eastern medicine. Under the supervision of a trained doctor in a hospital, Luttmer used acupuncture on an even wider range of patients, including stroke victims, some on the same day of their stroke. It was there she realized how different healthcare could be, how families would change dressings and how patients were constantly if not verging on belligerently pushed to heal, from physical therapy to acupuncture treatments.

"The process is so intense, " she said, "and it is all about getting that patient better, and using a variety of techniques to do that."

The practice works with an assortment of patients, ranging from cancer patients before and after a chemo session, autistic children and lifelong smokers. With children, Luttmer uses a special tapping technique rather than needles, which she reserves for adults and depending on their size teenagers. With experience in both emotional well-being and the physical aches and pains, Luttmer works with patients of all shapes, sizes and conditions.

"Acupuncture works whether you believe in it or not," she said. "I've seen that.

"Ideally, this can treat anything. We help the body heal itself. There are patients with tendonitis, high blood pressure, stress, PTSD. More than anything, I want to help heal people, and that's what I hope to do."


Thrive Acupuncture of Utah

801-243-0503

www.thriveacupunctureofutah.com

Salt Lake City Location:

Wednesdays thru Friday

1592 South 1100 East

Park City Location:

Mondays and Tuesdays

Toll Creek Village, Suite 150

3070 Rasmussen Road

*Specials available for new clients