Rebalance Your Body With Katherine Berry

Posted on May 3, 2016

Words: Olivia Ebeling

Just like the ancient Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang, Ibiza harmoniously combines two opposing dynamics that should by rights not be able to work together. There is, of course, the hedonistic, high-octane party scene that the island is globally renowned for. At the same time, the White Isle is the perfect place to embrace your inner hippy, relax and recharge. In close proximity to rock island Es Vedra, believed to be the third most magnetic spot on the planet, it has become a melting pot for alternative therapies practitioners from all over the world thanks to its mesmerising energy.

One of them is Acupuncturist Katherine Berry, who is helping visitors and locals on the White Isle alike to rebalance and detox from lifestyle, stress or genetically induced health and wellness problems. Originally from Australia, she moved to Ibiza with her young family in 2015 and now operates from a practice at MedSpa in Marina Botafoch. As a stressed Londoner, I jumped at the chance to try out her signature treatment, a mixture of massage, cupping and acupuncture that can help heal anything from migraines and back pain to anxiety and much, much more.

KatherineBerry_Acupuncturist_Cupping_EssentialIbiza_1Pictures by Skysight Photography

Katherine began the treatment with a firm upper body massage, assessing where she could pick up tension or inflammation in my back, shoulders and arms by feeling how warm my skin is in different areas. She immediately noticed that my right shoulder felt completely different from the left, caused by carrying a lot of tension on that side as if to preempt an ‘attack’ in the primal ‘fight or flight’ mode. This led her to ask me questions about my lifestyle, but also any stressful and traumatic experiences I may have experienced over the last few years.

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If you have reservations about sharing your personal experiences, let me assure you that Katherine’s friendly and calming manner put me at ease immediately and I felt like I was talking to a friend rather than someone I only just met. I openly spoke to her about how I ended a serious relationship and experienced illness and bereavement in my family over the past couple of years, so much so that I jokingly apologised that ‘I’m sorry this has turned into a therapy session’. Katherine remained encouraging throughout, explaining that knowing some of my background would help her to decide where to apply the needles.

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First, though, she did a brief cupping treatment to help me detox and rebalance. Focusing on the part of my back where I held the most tension, she applied several cups by letting them suck onto my skin. It was a funny sensation, yet completely painless. Katherine jokingly warned me that the next day, I would look as if someone had ‘beaten me up with a tennis ball’, as cupping is notorious for leaving circular bruises. However, thanks to the treatment’s popularity, the marks have become so recognisable that you won’t have to worry about getting funny looks on the beach.

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After the cupping, it was time for my first acupuncture treatment. I had no idea what to expect and was curious to find out what it actually feels like. As she stuck the first needle into the fold of skin between my right thumb and index finger, Katherine explained that I would likely feel a ‘zap’ as the tension is released from this pressure point. And so I did! It’s a peculiar feeling when the needle is twisted into position and I’m not going to lie, it was a little uncomfortable in this particular spot. Katherine applied a second needle in the same spot on my left hand, two points that help you let go of negative emotional ‘baggage’, and one needle on each of my big toes. Again, this was a little painful, a sign that I held onto a lot of emotional strain. The final needle was applied on my chest, which, oddly, I didn’t feel at all.

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Over the next few days, I noticed that I had some very intense dreams and felt a little up and down, which Katherine assured me was normal after a treatment that was specifically designed to be ‘clearing and moving’. Only a short time after, I felt a lot more at peace with the past and ready to let go of the negative feelings I had held onto for so long. With my first experience of both cupping and acupuncture under my belt, I sat down with Katherine to quiz her on what brought her to Ibiza, the services she offers and what can be achieved by combining these alternative therapies with Western medicine…

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How long have you been on the island?

Just over a year. I’m originally from Sydney in Australia. I did a four-year undergraduate degree in acupuncture, followed by a Masters that specialised in using the technique for alcohol and drug addiction, which is how I met my husband. He runs a company called Global Drug Survey and they are looking into consumption trends and new drugs that are coming onto the market and what issues they cause, as well as educating people about safe usage. We met when I conducted research into this area. Together, we travelled to England and I lived in London for six years. We came to Ibiza on holiday and I completely fell in love with it. And because we both have a professional interest in drugs and alcohol, and Ibiza is known as the ‘detox, retox’ island, it’s a really interesting dynamic.

Ibiza is renowned for embracing two very different lifestyles…

There’s this massive junction of where you can go totally wild but then also have a really nice downtime. This is what strikes me as so unique about Ibiza compared to other places in the world. And it attracts such incredibly gifted practitioners who are really passionate about their areas of expertise

Who are your typical clients?

I get a lot of people who have had acupuncture at home and want to maintain their treatment during their holiday. And there are people who use the opportunity of being in Ibiza to try something new and that’s a really big part of it as well: being open-minded to change and being accepting.

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What services do you offer?

I offer acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, Tui Na (Chinese-style) massage and cupping. I am also currently training in Accelerated Evolution Processes, to help relieve mental & emotional stresses. For the last five years I have also been running an online education service for acupuncturists. It’s called Acupuncture Professional and I use it to run web seminars and feature interviews with experts from all over the world who I think are really interesting and cutting edge.

Can you explain the theory behind acupuncture?

It works on the notion that there are channels of energy throughout the whole body and sickness arises when there are blockages somewhere. There are certain trigger points that get released when you stick the needles into them. These blockages can be caused by your general genetic set-up, diet and lifestyle, and your emotions. For example, stress can cause them. So it’s all about rebalancing the body.

What issues can you treat with acupuncture?

Anything from migraines and back pain to anxiety and sleeping problems. 20 years ago, acupuncture was a lot more generalised, whereas now practitioners tend to specialise in certain areas like fertility and pregnancy or medicinal treatments in the cancer field. Because I’m interested in drug and alcohol addiction, my specialty has become depression, anxiety, pain conditions and also insomnia.

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How many sessions do you recommend for people to notice a difference?

A lot of people make the mistake to see acupuncture as a one-off thing. You hear a lot of, ‘I tried acupuncture once and it didn’t work’. If you’ve had a back pain for ten years, you can’t expect it to disappear within one session. If it is a chronic condition, I’d say you need at least three to six sessions to shift it.

Can you tell us a little more about cupping?

Yes, it’s an amazing way to clear stuck energy, past indulgences and detoxify the whole system. Where massage is a pressing technique, cupping is pulling technique. The suction created by the glass cups draws out toxins from the deeper layers of the body. As a general rule – the darker the bruises, the more long term or deep seated are the toxins. Like acupuncture, it helps to get the circulation flowing again and the blood brings nutrients to the area.

Some people are still skeptical about the so-called alternative therapies. What would you tell those who are curious?

I see them as two things that work really well together. For example, if you hurt your ankle the first person you go to see is probably your GP. But once it’s healed, then acupuncture can help a lot with the rehabilitation. They are both great for different things, but they can totally exist in harmony with each other. I’m very passionate about educating and training people and I have co-founded a charity called the Acupuncture Now Foundation, which aims to promote the use of acupuncture as a safe and cost-effective solution to the global burden of disease. For those who are curious, I have created a podcast show called The Jolt Files, which explains the foundations of Chinese Medicine theory and can be downloaded on iTunes for free.

Katherine has availability for around 8 -10 appointments per week. Treatments are approximately 70 – 80 minutes long and cost 135€ a session. More information can be found on her website at Acudetox.org

KatherineBerry_EssentialIbiza_007Picture by Iwo Gospodinov