Dr. Nancy Hyton's Biography

People often ask me how I wound up practicing Chinese medicine.  The truth is, I arrived where I am today down a very long and winding road. Looking back it seems obvious that this would be my final destination, though it wasn't until I was 30 years old that I even officially decided to study this ancient, fascinating system of health care. 


Sowing the Seeds

Sowing the Seeds: Sparking Interest

The seeds of my interest in Chinese medicine go back to when I was an undergraduate at the State University of New York @ Albany in the late 1980s. First, having arrived at school as a vegetarian, I became a working member of the local health food co-op. There I met Kate, my manager, and first unofficial mentor. I learned a lot from Kate and the others at the co-op about herbal medicine and nutrition, enabling me to heal a chronic health condition that had not responded to prescription medications with herbal medicine and dietary changes instead. This empowered me to take my health into my own hands and opened my eyes to the true benefits of holistic approaches to healing. Second, as a philosophy major, I was exposed to the paradigm-shifting ideas of Daoism, including the concepts of chi and yin and yang. These concepts made a whole lot of sense to me and seemed to explain the universe and its inner workings in a very logical and compelling way.

Putting Down Roots: Philosophical Foundation

After completing my Bachelor's in philosophy, I went on to continue my studies in this field, pursuing a Master's at New York University.  While there I delved deeper into Asian philosophy, as well as other subjects, such as medical ethics. During this time I also received my first acupuncture treatments. I had been having lower abdominal pain since high school that had been unresponsive to conventional medicine, even after exploratory surgery. Within three acupuncture sessions, however, I was cured and the pain has not returned to this day. During my first acupuncture session, I had an out-of-body experience. I still remember when the acupuncturist returned to the room to take out the needles and said, “Wow. I can tell you really went way out there.” Now that I am in practice I am quite familiar with this look; how blissed out people can get after a treatment.


Branching Out: Internships and Herbalist Certification

After I left New York University I pursued my interest in all things holistic, working in health food stores, studying herbs, nutrition, Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda on my own. In 2000 I formalized my education in western herbal medicine by completing Rosemary Gladstar's certification course, “The Science and Art of Herbalism.” Around that time I also did two internships focusing on the conservation and propagation of native Appalachian medicinal plants. At The National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs we researched ways to formally cultivate endangered plants in order to protect wild populations from over-harvesting. At United Plant Savers, Rosemary Gladstar's botanical sanctuary, I helped with the rehabilitation process of over 3,000 acres of former coal strip-mine land back to native hardwood forest, reestablishing this ecosystem in order to repopulate it with endangered native medicinal plants like goldenseal, black cohosh, and ginseng. These internships gave me my first lessons in land stewardship, ecology, and botany. This was an incredibly rewarding time of my life in which I learned about how truly generous and benevolent plants really are. Without them and their food, medicine, and oxygen, we simply would cease to exist. Around this time I also had another significant experience with Chinese medicine, forever healing some chronic digestive issues that had been plaguing me for years with a six-month course of acupuncture and herbs.

Unfurling the Leaves: The Study of Chinese Medicine

In 2003, with a desire to further my understanding of the ancient Chinese system of healing, I pursued a Master's of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from Daoist Traditions, Asheville's College of the Chinese Medical Arts. This was a very challenging degree to complete for two key reasons. First, because the theory is so different it is basically like studying medicine in an alternate paradigm. Second, because of the sheer amount of coursework required for the degree. Each semester's course load averaged 20 to 25 credits, essentially going to school double-time for four years. Fortunately, the subject matter was incredibly interesting so I was highly motivated to complete my studies. Towards the end, especially in my final semester, I started to feel very depleted, however. Receiving weekly acupuncture treatments and taking Chinese herbal tonics helped me replenish my energy reserves so that I could make it through. I am honored and humbled to be a member of the first class to graduate from this esteemed school, and the time and effort this degree took was absolutely worth it.

Fruits of Labor

Flowering: Practicing Chinese Medicine

When I graduated from Daoist Traditions I worked on my own at first while I searched for a more permanent location for my practice. I opened the Center for Holistic Medicine in downtown West Asheville in 2008 and ran it as a multi-disciplinary practice specializing in alternative therapies for eight years. This was a very expansive period in which I collaborated with all sorts of practitioners, from osteopaths and massage therapists to counselors and energy healers. The most important thing this whole experience taught me is that how you practice medicine is just as important as what type of medicine you practice. As the business grew, the administrative obligations of running the Center started to take up more and more of my time and energy, however, so at the beginning of 2016 I decided to go off on my own. Soon after this, I went back to school. Doctorates were now being offered in my field, something that was not available when I did my Masters. I was thrilled by this; a sure sign of the growth and validation of this wise and ancient system of medicine in modern times. As of December 2018 I completed my degree, making me the first Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Asheville. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and everything closed down, I moved my office to a craftsman bungalow, a location that is more private and more accessible. Since then I have continued my studies in the field of medicine, including a certification with the National Association of Hospice and Palliative Acupuncturists, and a Wilderness First Responder certification with SOLO Southeast at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City.

The Fruits of Labor: 17 Years In

Sitting here, looking back after seventeen years of practice, it seems like such a long and winding road that has brought me to where I am now. Starting as a philosophy major in the late 1980s, I never could have predicted this is where I would end up one day. I hadn't even heard of acupuncture or Chinese medicine back then! Such is life, yes? The path pulls us along, silently guiding us toward a goal that even we cannot envision. I am so pleased that the universe brought me to where I am today. The reward of helping others, of having a true vocation, has made all the time and effort to get here more than worth it. Thank you all so much for supporting me on my continued journey. Practicing Chinese medicine is an incredibly meaningful and fulfilling way to earn a living and I look forward to serving my community for many years to come.
"Nancy is knowledgeable, kind, and really really cares! She will listen and then work her magic! I always left an appointment feeling so much better—-no matter what the issue! I couldn’t recommend her more highly! Do you self a favor and make an appointment now!" ~Karen Noel
West Asheville Acupuncture
Monday to Thursday 9:30 to 6:00
Friday 9:30 to 12:00
26 Fairfax Avenue, 28806
Text or Call (828) 606-6791
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All content copyright Dr. Nancy Hyton