Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Flores.
Ashley, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began my exploration of Eastern Medicine as a way of dealing with my own health challenges. In my late teens and early twenties, I started to struggle with confusing health symptoms: fatigue, depression, horrible menstrual cramps, irregular period, digestive trouble and acne. I went from doctor to doctor, struggling to find any answers, let alone help in addressing my symptoms.
I finally got a diagnosis at age 23: PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), a hormonal imbalance that affects menstruation and fertility but also causes an array of other symptoms. I was told that I would never conceive a child naturally, that I’d be on medication for the rest of my life, and that there was little that could be done to manage my symptoms. I also learned that PCOS increases chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. I was devastated.
I started to seek out different kinds of healthcare. I went to an acupuncturist and a naturopath. I started to read everything I could and pored over books about hormones, herbs, nutrition, and Chinese medicine. I started to make changes and experience changes in my body, gradually gaining energy and vitality and shedding my symptoms one by one.
This journey had such an enormous impact on my life that I wanted to help others find the same transformation that I had, and enrolled in acupuncture school. In 2010, I graduated from acupuncture school, after 4 intense years of learning everything I could about acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, and natural medicine.
That same year, my husband and I decided it was time to start a family. I knew that this might be a challenge for us, but I also knew that I now had the tools and knowledge to help me through this. I went back to acupuncture, took herbal formulas, and did everything I could to support my fertility, and it worked! We were able to conceive without medical intervention. We now have 2 beautiful children and are expecting a third this spring.
I now have the incredible pleasure of helping other women in their journey’s with infertility, menstrual difficulties, and hormonal imbalances.
Has it been a smooth road?
I struggled a lot with my own health issues for many years, but in a way, I’m thankful that I passed through those challenges because I learned so much along the way. I would never have discovered a passion for Eastern medicine if it weren’t for my own experiences as a patient.
The study and practice of Eastern medicine have always felt like a very natural progression in my life, and so while school was absolutely a challenge, learning and treating patients has always been more fun than work. The entrepreneurship aspect of owning a business came to me a little less naturally but is now just part of the journey. Being a business owner continuously pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to learn something new, and I’m thankful for that.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I started Four Flowers Wellness right out of acupuncture school in January of 2011. My passion is providing gentle, effective, holistic care with a specialization in women’s health, fertility, and pregnancy. I started studying Eastern medicine in 2006, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and shiatsu massage, and I haven’t stopped studying since!
Although I started my studies with the intention of only studying acupuncture, I’ve come to really value how various tools in Eastern medicine fit together as an intricate whole. Acupuncture by itself is very powerful, but acupuncture in the context of the whole of Eastern medicine is truly transformative. I’ve always been drawn towards the way the Japanese have perfected the various aspects of Eastern medicine, and use these particularly gentle and precise methods in my treatments.
The acupuncture and shiatsu styles that I practice are strongly influenced by the Japanese emphasis on feeling the changes in the client’s body with our hands and using that sensation to guide the flow of treatment. This style makes for such a profound experience for clients, because they can also feel immediate shifts in their own bodies and strengthens the bond between the person giving and the person receiving the treatment.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Right now is an exciting time to be in the health and wellness field in Chicago.
Opportunity and interest in this field have blossomed over the last 10 years and are still growing. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, and complementary health overall have, in just a few years, gone from fringe healthcare practices to common and accepted modalities.
I think we will continue to see our field grow for a long time to come as more people become aware of how useful Eastern medicine is and as insurance coverage continues to grow.
From Voyage Chicago