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A Royal Road to Wellness

Adriana Royal

Adriana Royal

While working as a philosophy lecturer, Adriana Royal was met with surprise from some of her friends and family when she decided to change career paths and study acupuncture. It made perfect sense to Royal, though, because she found many parallels between philosophy studies and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Now, through her acupuncture practice at Royal Road Clinic, she enjoys helping people heal both physically and mentally.

Royal was born and raised in Chicago. She had a passion for teaching and chose to pursue philosophy. Royal completed her undergraduate studies at Loyola University, and went on to earn a master’s degree in philosophy from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. She moved to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University for a doctorate in philosophy, but the stress of school started to take a toll on her health, affecting her sleep as well as her digestive system.

“The doctors immediately wanted to put me on medication, and I thought, ‘I’d really like to find another way to heal,’” Royal reflects. “I began working out more and then I tried acupuncture, and it worked. I also fell in love with the philosophy behind the modality, in that it brings out the question of embodiment and vulnerability, and emotion that’s stuck in the body, and treats it through acupuncture.”

Royal left Marquette with a second master’s degree in philosophy. While searching for a hospitable environment to research embodiment and vulnerability, she decided to pursue a career in Chinese medicine at Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, and completed her acupuncture studies in 2016. With licensure in hand, she opened Royal Road Clinic on Milwaukee’s East Side where she specializes in acupuncture for chronic pain and psycho-emotional issues such as depression and anxiety. Her husband, Andrew Royal, a psychotherapist, also practices at the clinic, and together they work from a mind-body angle.

Although acupuncture has been a trusted wellness modality in the West over the last few decades, Royal still hears some misconceptions about the practice. “Acupuncture is really a way of allowing the body to heal itself, but some people ask ‘What is in the needles, or what are you injecting me with?’ There’s nothing inside the needles; they’re just tapping into the body’s ability to heal itself so that you get a surge of hormones and natural painkillers, which stimulates the immune system. Imbalances in the body that caused pain or insomnia are put back into balance.”

Royal adds that acupuncture can empower people to control pain, which can be an especially useful tool while dealing with today’s opiate crisis. “When you have that pain receptor, the mind is chanting, ‘fix it, fix it, fix it’, so it’s easy to just pop a pill, but when people learn how acupuncture can put the body into a relaxed state, they’re amazed that they can feel that way naturally,” she says. The relaxed state achieved through acupuncture also helps relieve anxiety and depression.

At Royal Road Clinic, Royal strives to create an overall relaxing ambiance where people can feel safe and comfortable sharing their stories. The clinic is in a restored mansion and has a home-like feel. Royal doesn’t even wear a lab coat because she’s aware of the “white coat syndrome”, a disorder in which a person develops high blood pressure when they’re around doctors, who often wear white coats.

Also available at the clinic is gong meditation, or gong “baths”, in which one lies down on a yoga mat, and the circulatory and endocrine systems are stimulated through sound vibrations, which push out any stress, tension or pain within the body. The “acu-gong” is a combination of acupuncture and gong therapy. By offering gong baths and acu-gong at area yoga studios and healing centers, Royal says it helps her connect with the community.

In addition to the time spent at her clinic, Royal works part time at Aurora Cancer Care Clinic, and she’s recently completed a certification course in hospice care. She uses acupuncture to help cancer patients find relief from side effects from chemotherapy, such as nausea, insomnia or neuropathy. “Acupuncture can help through all stages of life,” she says.

Royal stays inspired by her patients. “To have people come in with anxiety, and then to see them leave with a smiles on their faces—what gets better than that?” she says. “It’s such a privilege to be with somebody on their journey. They don’t have to choose me as a practitioner, but the fact that they did is really rewarding.”

Royal Road Clinic is located at 1841 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee. For more information, call 414-377-3898 or visit Royal

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings.

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