ADDRESS: 534 NW 4th St, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Brodie Welch
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 10
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 4 (owner, receptionist, and 2 massage therapists)
WHAT SHE SELLS: Holistic health care
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: To feel your best—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—by letting a professional Chinese medicine practitioner help guide your body back to its natural state of balance.
For the past ten years, Brodie Welch has helped Corvallis area residents discover the benefits and joys of self-care through Chinese medicine. With a focus on prevention and treatment of the whole person, Life in Balance offers a range of tools—acupuncture, massage therapy, Qigong, Chinese herbs, and workshops – to help individuals achieve maximum wellness.
Brodie, when and why did you decide to start your business? In college, I wanted to change the world, maybe as a lawyer or by running a non-profit. But I realized I didn’t want to live a life of conflict. I was always told I had a gift for making people feel better through touch. So massage school seemed like a good idea. That’s where I was introduced to shiatsu, which is based on Chinese Medical theory. So I knew the next step was a Master’s in Oriental Medicine—more tools to add to my toolbox. I went to Southwest Acupuncture College in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I had lived in Portland, so when it came time to open my business, I knew I wanted to come back to the Pacific Northwest. When I visited Corvallis, I saw there were already other acupuncturists here, along with a natural foods co-op, and I knew it was a place where I could be happy while following my passion. I opened my business in Corvallis in September 2003.
Tell us more about your services. What are your specialties? I catalyze change for people. The tools I use are acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and lifestyle and diet counseling. I also teach patients Qigong, and I’m a certified yoga instructor. I love helping people make connections between what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. Whether it’s back pain, digestive issues, or other conditions, I enjoy helping people see the mind-body-spirit connections and what their symptoms are telling them. Pain, or anxiety, or insomnia or whatever symptom is a messenger, pointing to something in the ecosystem that is out of balance. It’s so gratifying to see people feeling better after experiencing pain they’d been told they’d have to live with. I help people navigate what’s coming up for them in a holistic way. I tend to get great results with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and women’s health issues.
For most internal conditions, the best tool is often herbal medicine. It’s the “take home” version of acupuncture: it’s far more cost-effective to take herbs several times a day than to come in for acupuncture. The herb formulas are recipes—some of them thousands of years old—that are designed to address internal imbalances. They are different from Western herbs in that they work synergistically. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. They are very safe and can be personalized.
What does being featured as the Local Business of the Week mean to you? I’m proud to be part of a community that has so many locally owned, independent businesses. It’s one of the things I love about Corvallis.
Do you fill an unusual niche? What does your business do better than anyone else? There are about 40 acupuncturists in town, and we’re all friendly with each other. In fact, some of us collaborated on a video called “East Meets West: Oriental Medicine and the Future of Healthcare in America.” But not many practitioners have the customized herb pharmacy that I do. Also, I study and practice Classical Chinese medicine (as opposed to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kind mainly taught in schools today), which employs many more channels and has the body/mind/spirit connection at its heart. It lends itself especially well to the treatment of chronic, intermittent conditions like auto-immune diseases. I regularly take classes with an 88th generation Daoist master and classical Chinese medicine scholar. He’s a living legend!
Another thing about my approach is that I teach people about Chinese Medicine. I want people to see themselves through my side of the lens; I want them to learn how to take care of themselves. Because of my background in body work, I have a well-honed sense of the physical body, and can therefore treat sports medicine fairly adeptly. The psycho-spiritual work requires more of me as a practitioner, but I love it and the results are often dramatic.
People are hungry for getting something they’re not getting from conventional medicine: being seen as whole and not as a collection of symptoms, being empowered to take care of themselves, relief of symptoms that don’t involve side effects. I’m incredibly grateful to have enjoyed a full practice—with waiting list—since my fifth month in business.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? My biggest challenge is reflected in my business name: Life in Balance. It’s more internal, about balancing continuing education, direct patient care, developing new workshops while walking my talk about self-cultivation: eating well, getting enough sleep, doing yoga, and spending time with my family. I got married this year, and I became a full-time stepmom to two children, 10 and 14 years old. I’ve kept the same number of patients, but I’ve hired a full-time receptionist. I’m trying to figure out how all of this is going to work with teaching classes.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis, and what does the future look like for the local independents? Local independent business owners provide stability and love. They’re interested in this community, care about it, and give back to it. They understand that they’re part of a web in a way that a large corporation with no special ties to Corvallis cannot be. As for the future, Western medicine is a sinking ship. If I look toward the future from a medical perspective, it looks pretty good for alternative and complementary providers. We are the answer to the healthcare nightmare because we focus on prevention and the whole person.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? The freedom to do what I love.
What is your relationship to the community? What charities/nonprofits/civic organizations do you support and/or participate in? I don’t have a pet cause, but I give to CARDV every year, as a sponsor of their annual walk. I also support Franklin School, Heartland Humane Society, the food bank, We Care, the DCA, and OPB. I used to volunteer with Reach Out Yoga, and I’m in a band called The Hunks and the Hottie that played for the SAGE Hoedown benefit. I love being part of events like that. And, of course, I’m a member of CIBA.
What steps have you taken to make your business more sustainable? I sell a lot of Ayurvedic herbs, and I make sure that they’re sustainably harvested. I also buy acupuncture needles with very minimal packaging. But, above all, I’m helping people break their addiction to depleting their inner resources. I see people running themselves into the ground. Healthy communities need healthy individuals. So I foster personal sustainability. The four legs of the personal sustainability stool are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business. Come in and heal.
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – August 18, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).