Karen Alladin Gittli is a healer. Whether at her business Meridian Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine or teaching yoga at Betsy’s Hot Yoga Louisville, she understands the human body and how to heal it from the inside out. She says it best when describing the Traditional Chinese Medicine she practices, that “this medicine has been around for thousands of years for a reason.”
What do you do for a living?
I am a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes the practice of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, along with other therapeutic modalities such as cupping, gua sha (dermal scraping), Tui Na (Chinese medical massage), and nutritional and lifestyle counseling.
I am also a yoga instructor at Betsy’s Hot Yoga Louisville. I also teach the Saturday community yoga class at Yoga on Baxter.
When did you discover that you had a talent for this?
I have always taken an interest in health and the human body. I followed a pre-med track at the University of Virginia, but, after graduating, I did not feel completely committed to the idea of attending medical school. I proceeded to get my master’s from Georgetown University in physiology with a focus in complementary and alternative medicine. I realized that I wanted to promote wellness, rather than just manage sickness. I went on to learn more about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
How does acupuncture work? Does it work?
I get asked this question every day. Quite simply, acupuncture looks at the body as a whole system to understand what things may be working, and we investigate what aspects of their bodies are not quite in working order, and what the root cause of that problem is.
Acupuncture diagnosis relies on understanding the intricate map of the body laid out in meridians, or acupuncture channels that traverse the body from head to toe. We ask questions about the nature of the pain, examine the pulse, the tongue and then determine what acupuncture channels are involved in their pain. We see the pain as a result of some blockage of the flow of Qi, or energy, in the channels, much like a traffic jam. The acupuncture needles are placed in specific points along the acupuncture channels involved, to send signals to the body to break up that “traffic jam” of Qi and redirect the traffic so that it can flow smoothly and harmoniously once again. The human body is so smart. It knows how to heal itself.
I see acupuncture help so many people every day. Our patients are our best (and only) form of advertising because they tell everyone they know about their experience with acupuncture. This medicine has been around for thousands of years for a reason.
Tell us about the teas you make.
We treat a wide range of ailments with our herbs. This week so far, I’ve brewed herbal formulas for chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, sciatic pain, stress and anxiety, ulcerative colitis, fatty lipomas, sinus congestion, irregular menstrual cycles, menopausal hot flashes, insomnia, fertility, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Burning Mouth Syndrome, and diabetic neuropathies.
What is the most disgusting ingredient you’ve ever drunk?
I’ve been pretty lucky. I haven’t taken any formulas with anything that gross or weird. Back in San Diego, I had gone out surfing one morning, and I got stung on my foot by a stingray. That night I soaked my foot in herbs to help with the redness and swelling. One of the herbs in that herbal decoction was Dan Nan Xing, which is Arisaematis Rhizome that has been prepared and cooked in bile. Believe me, it smells as gross as it sounds. We do have some pretty unique and unusual herbal ingredients, like scorpions, cockroaches, silkworms, and geckos.
Who is your mentor?
My parents are my mentors. As individuals, they are the most hard-working and level-headed people I know. I realize and appreciate more and more how I inherited their ability to take everything in stride, not let stress invade your life, to smile and laugh every day, and to treat everyone like family. As a couple, they have always been such an effortless example of what it means to marry your best friend, which taught me to never settle for anything less.
Where is your favorite place to go eat?
There are way too many places that I love! In Louisville, my current favorite spot is Silver Dollar. I love their outside patio, and I especially love their brunch. They serve a killer Bloody Mary, and I love ordering their chilaquiles when I’m feeling nostalgic over San Diego.
Where do you like to shop?
[Cue husband’s eye-rolling here.] I love to shop! Lately, I’ve done the majority of my shopping at Anthropologie, Lululemon, Nordstrom (only online now that I live in a Nordstrom-less city), and Lush. I had some favorite local boutiques in San Diego, but I still have yet to explore some of the local gems of shops here in Louisville.
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?
I get Vedic Thai massage work done on me at least two to three times per month. It’s a floor massage in which you are fully clothed, and the massage therapist pulls your body into these great therapeutic stretches while simultaneously massaging your muscles with their hands and feet to keep them supple and limber. Vedic Thai massage could be described as assisted yoga, but it really is so much more than that. It feels amazing, and it definitely keeps my body in balance to keep my muscles from tightening and stiffening.
What is your weakness?
I have an accessory problem. Boots and scarves in particular.
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
I love trying new places to eat because there are so many amazing restaurants in Louisville, but my favorite thing is to have people over and cook for them. We have a pool in our backyard, so this summer my husband and I have made Sundays our days to cook a giant brunch for friends then have lounge time out by the pool.
Three things you cannot live without (besides God, family and friends):
Travel, yoga, and music.
What are you reading right now?
I am rereading The Alchemist, which is hands-down my favorite book. It was given to me by my dear friend Michelle at a time in my life when I was making a lot of huge life changes. Reading it was what helped me decide to take the leap to move to California to follow my heart and study acupuncture. And that’s where I fell in love–with Chinese medicine, and my husband. And the rest is history.
What are three of your “favorite” things right now?
Every Sunday evening we have family dinner at my in-laws’ house. I love that we get a chance to spend time with each other like that every week. It is one of my absolute favorite things ever. That is definitely at the top of my list. For my other two favorite things, I’ll say nothing beats a gratuitously long hot shower or sitting at home watching a movie, snuggly in my pajamas.
Thank you to Karen for answering all of my crazy questions about her needles and her ingredients. A tour of her business is truly fascinating and one of the most relaxing environments in Louisville. Visit her website at www.meridianlouisville.com.
Thank you to the Best of the Best photographer, Adele Reding and her beautiful work. Visit Adele’s website here adeleredingphotography.com.