Healing Alternatives

    Acupuncture. Herbs. Traditional Asian Medicine.

  • At Healing Alternatives…​

    You have options to heal without drugs or surgery

    Your body is empowered to use its' own healing energy

    You are a complex being with emotions, spirit

    and hopefully a sense of humor, not a disease diagnosis

    You will grow in health, energy and laughter


    If this sounds good to you we invite you to explore what we have to offer...

  • Evidence-Based Treatments Offered



    Japanese Style Acupuncture

    Because of its delicacy and precision Japanese or meridian style acupuncture is essentially painless. Patients who refer their entire family can attest to the fact that it doesn’t have to hurt to be successful.


    Patients often experience profound relaxation. That relaxation leads to physiological and psychological healing that drugs have difficulty in matching. In Japan Oriental Medicine is called the medicine of vital energy. Japanese style acupuncture specializes in effectively moving and balancing that energy without depleting it. That is why it has the flexibility to treat so many Illnesses and pain conditions.

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    Nutritional Counseling

    This consultation is Condition Focused on a specific diagnosis such as:

    • Adrenal and thyroid imbalances
    • Stress and fatigue
    • Immune support
    • Hormone deficiencies
    • Supporting and rebuilding digestion

    The session can be in the office or virtual. Each will be an hour long and will include diet and lifestyle changes, herb & supplement suggestions, recipes and further testing if indicated. We can also create a protocol tailored to your diagnosis.

    Healing Alternatives

    Vitamins and Supplements

    We are not a fan of “more is better” when it comes to vitamins and supplements. There are, however, a few things that we feel most people should take. Usually supplements will be suggested to treat a suspected deficiency or as a temporary support for a health or mood problem. We will also help you streamline your supplement routine and make sure you are getting what you are paying for.

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    Herbal Formulas

    Herbs are used in combinations according to principles perfected over 3000 years of study. The use of herbal medicinals has reached highly sophisticated levels in Oriental Medicine. It’s versatility and lack of side effects makes this a great place to start when you are looking for improved health or relief of symptoms.

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    Essential Oils

    Essential Oils have a wide range of therapeutic properties. They can be chosen and combined according to the principles of Oriental Medicine, then applied to areas or points on the body to stimulate or soothe. Oils can be used with or without needles. We consider them a form of herbal therapy.

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    Far Infrared Therapy

    This is a modality that is used to reduce inflammation so it is very effective in treating chronic conditions especially pain of all kinds. It can be combined with other forms of treatment to enhance healing and relaxing.

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    Soothes away pain and creates healing by enhancing communication between cells and circulation. Microcurrent works by mimicking the natural energy at a cellular level. It can also be used to stimulate acupuncture points without needles.

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    Gua Sha

    Gua sha is a simple and painless treatment for inflammation, muscle tightness, immunity, and pain relief. Research is revealing that most chronic health problems are caused by persistent low level inflammation.

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    Facial Acupuncture

    The AcuFacial is a natural, effective treatment to enhance skin glow, texture, elasticity, and recovery while simultaneously addressing internal, whole body imbalances.

    Death Midwife


    This technique may be likened to a mini deep tissue massage and are effective to relieve many types of pain by increasing blood flow in specific areas. It is also very effective for venting chest colds and coughs.

  • Book an Appointment Here

  • Fullscript Supplements

    The safest source for practitioner-grade supplements.

  • Our Specialties

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    Do you have problems with...

    Fatigue - Stress - Mental Health - Weight Management 

    Over the years we have recognized a constellation of symptoms that bring many patients to our clinic. These people have often consulted many practitioners with varying results. While not everyone has all of these symptoms most have a lot of them:

    • Fatigue
    • Sleep disruptions
    • Hormone imbalances
    • Foggy thinking or lack of focus
    • Anxiety and/or depression
    • Inability to lose weight
    • Digestive disturbances
    • Joint pain and or inflammation
    • Sweet cravings
    • Allergies
    • Skin problems
    • Thyroid problems
    • Autoimmune problems

    If a lot of these sound familiar you are in good company. Your body is out of balance and very depleted. We can find the root and fix it to bring back your vitality and hopefully some joy in living. Call us for an appointment today!

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    Women's Issues

    The Hormone Dilemma

    Many women facing or entering menopause are confronted with what seems like a dilemma without a solution. They must tolerate the mood swings, sweats, insomnia or hot flashes of “The Change” or risk hormone replacement therapy. Many women assume the risk, while others just suffer the symptoms. There is an alternative however.


    Thousands of years ago Chinese doctors started experimenting with hormones derived from urine much like what Western doctors currently prescribe with Premarin (pregnant mares’ urine). In the case of menopause, they were dissatisfied with the use of hormones alone because it failed to address all of the symptoms or imbalances they were seeing. Today those imbalances are even more profound. Our lives are stressful and our diets less than perfect. Girls reach puberty early. Hormone levels are commonly imbalanced by the time a woman reaches her thirties, as demonstrated by increasing complaints of PMS. Stress and diet play an important role in menopause due to the interrelationship between the adrenals, the thyroid gland, and levels of hormones available. Menopause symptoms are becoming more common and more severe. Menopause without adverse symptoms, otherwise known as “ideal menopause”, is becoming increasingly rare.


    Menopause is not just about hot-flashes and night sweats. For some, these symptoms never occur. Instead, some women experience:

    • depression
    •  insomnia
    •  memory loss
    •  anxiety
    •  weight gain
    •  joint pain
    • among many others. 
    • Menopause may also increase a woman’s risk for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. So what are your options?

    Oriental Medicine works for menopause by treating each woman as a unique individual. The pattern of symptoms tells us where to look for weakness in the body. Other signs, like an individual’s pulses or even their tongue, show us where the body needs to be strengthened and where things need to be moved. Everyone is different.


    If stress in your life has caused depletion of your adrenals they may not be able to make even the small amount of hormones you need for an ideal menopause. The same stress affecting a different part of your body could cause anxiety and mood swings. What you eat may also cause problems. Caffeine can cause hot flashes while sugar can be the cause of your joint pain or memory loss. It all depends on where your body is weak.


    In our practice we use Oriental Medicine, acupuncture and herbs to locate your body’s weaknesses and treat them. Along the way we can offer some healing alternatives for menopause and its many symptoms.

  • About Us

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    Melody Pickell MSTOM, L.Ac.

    Melody offers a unique combination of western and eastern experience. Her undergrad degree is in Physiology. After graduation, she went to work for NASA researching the effects of stress on the body. Her experience working in hospitals caused her to question the western focus on treating symptoms when she saw patients returning again and again for the same problems.


    Her search for a better way led to a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine with a specialization in Japanese style Acupuncture and functional medicine.


    She enjoys learning and teaching and seeks to empower her patients toward optimal health giving them the tools and knowledge they need to help themselves.


    She enjoys gardening, reading and interior design.

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    Kelly Thomas MSTOM, L.Ac.

    Kelly has dedicated the past 20 years to traditional healing arts. She came to this medicine as a means of finding a way to return natural sustainable healing remedies and preventative health practices to the community.


    While working for 15 years in the fields of mental health, education, and homelessness, Kelly continually sought methods of healing outside the traditional western allopathic medicine world to address issues resistant to treatment. During this time she established new programs to address the mind body connection including a comprehensive wellness center for permanent supportive housing in Los Angeles’ Skid Row.


    She earned her Masters in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Emperor’s College in Santa Monica, CA. She received her BA in Child Development from San Francisco State University. She had the privilege of assisting renowned herbalist Dr. Ji Zhang in his dispension of classical herbal formulas for over four years. She was an acupuncturist at Being Alive HIV Clinic in West Hollywood, CA focusing on trauma treatment. She is also certified in Clean Needle Technique by CCAOM and has completed the Advanced Cosmetic Acupuncture training certification through Shellie Goldstein Acupuncture. Prior to her move to the Central Coast, Kelly maintained a private practice in Pasadena, CA.


    While Kelly has studied and treated a variety of health issues her expertise lies in gastrointestinal issues, women’s health and mental health, especially anxiety and depression.


    Through her work with acupuncture, herbs, and traditional East Asian medicine Kelly empowers by facilitating the practices and rituals that give people optimum health everyday.


    Kelly is licensed by the California State Acupuncture Board. Her license number is 18827.

  • Stay in Touch

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  • Testimonials

    What Our Clients are Saying....

    Susie R., Los Osos, CA

    I am new to acupuncture and I've been reluctant to get stuck with needles, so I never went. I decided to try acupuncture for a long run of insomnia I've been experiencing. Kelly Thomas is awesome! She's an incredible listener, she is easy to talk with and offers sage advice. She puts those needles in swiftly and with ease. The whole experience was wonderful every time, and I generally would nap on the table feeling warm under the red light, with nice music playing in the background. Kelly helped me figure out some supplements, she provided samples too. I am still taking the supplements Adrenal plus that she prescribed and I feel they really help me. Kelly, treated my whole body and I frequently left her office with acupuncture to go for an aching shoulder. I definitely recommend Kelly and Healing Alternatives and I will use their services again!

    Mary C., Avila Beach, CA

    Melody is just amazing! I have only gone in a couple of times so far, but I am in awe of the results. From the start, she has always listened thoroughly to my symptoms and provided so much insight as the what the cause could be for various "issues" I had. I'm just amazed at how she is able to quickly determine the cause and effect on my body. It's so refreshing to focus on fixing the symptoms rather that patching over the problems.

    When performing acupuncture, Melody always explains what she is doing and I appreciate that so much because I both learn about the practice more and am able to relax better. The herbs she has recommended for me have been wondrous and like I mentioned before, I'm just in awe of her.

    Tina S., San Luis Obispo, CA

    Melody is an amazing and gifted woman -- loved her approach. She listened intently and never made me feel rushed. Her office staff was delightful and organized. The consultation was very thorough and the treatment was relaxing and I left the office feeling calm and relaxed which generally are not descriptive words associated with my name. I will be a very loyal and long time customer of Healing Alternatives.

    Eric B., San Luis Obispo, CA

    Kelly Thomas is amazing!!! I say that with 3 exclamation points because honestly she's a healer. I've had 2 back surgeries, several fractures, arthritis all over and after seeing Kelly, I feel 20 years younger within an hour or so of our session. She finds all your sore points and like a magic, bam! It's gone. Thank you so much Kelly, you're the best. I wouldn't be able to do the hiking and activities I do without your service.

    Nan H., Santa Barbara, CA

    I have been seeing Melody for about five years. First, her treatments healed my chronic bronchitis when no other treatment (east or west) could do it. Recently, her treatments have helped boost my immune system, increase my energy, and relieve stress. She is wonderful! Highly recommend!

    Melissa H., Santa Rosa, CA

    I originally found Melody when I had severe knee pain and she helped me regain mobility without medication. I felt better after each session and am grateful for having found someone to help me overcome problems with pain. She also ended up helping me with many other issues such as neck problems, headaches, and allergies. I recommend her to all of my friends and family.

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  • Research on Acupuncture

    Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs/Techniques proven effective treatment for many ailments says the World Health Organization

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    Proven By Research

    Several years ago the World Health Organization started publishing a list of diseases, symptoms and conditions for which acupuncture had been proven to be an effective treatment thru clinical research. This list is several pages long so I will paraphrase. If you want to see the whole list - CLICK HERE


    Pain treatment:

    • Joints including sprains and strains, arthritis
    • Neck
    • Back (includes  Sciatica)
    • Knees
    • Arm (shoulder, elbow and wrist)
    • Face (jaw, trigeminal neuralgia, Bell’s palsy and dental pain)
    • Head ( including sinus and migraine headaches)
    • Post operative pain
    • Menstrual pain
    • Fibromyalgia

    Gastrointestinal problems:

    • Diarrhea
    • Irritable bowel
    • Nausea and vomiting (including morning sickness)

    Insomnia and sleep disturbance

    Mood disorders (including stress)

    Hormone disorders

    Allergies and rhinitis



    Years of experience has added significantly to this list so if you want to know about our experience with your problem call us (805) 541-2199.

  • Contact Us

    How can we help you?

    1248 Laurel Lane
    San Luis Obispo, California 93401
    9 am - 5 pm PST and by appointment only
    (805) 541-2199
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Does Acupuncture hurt?

    Unlike needles used to give injections, the filaments used for treatments are extremely fine, about the size of a cats whisker. Most people are surprised that they feel little or no pain. Treatments are very relaxing, clients often sleep thru them.

    How much does it cost?

    Treatment is $100 for the initial treatment and $80 for subsequent visits. We do not currently accept insurance but are happy to provide a superbill that you can use for possible reimbursement from your insurance provider.

    How Quickly will I respond?

    Everyone is different. Acute problems such as a sore throat may be resolved in a single session. With chronic problems we are accustomed to seeing significant results within 4-6 treatments. The total number of treatments depends on:

    • The severity of the condition
    • How long the condition has existed
    • The overall state of health, energy and motivation of the patient

    Do you use disposable needles?

    Yes, all needles are pre-sterilized, individually packaged and disposable.

    Does Insurance Cover Acupuncture?

    More and more insurances cover Acupuncture. From experience I can tell you:

    • Medicare doesn’t currently- but some supplemental insurances do. These usually require a denial letter which we can supply
    • Most Anthem-Blue Cross PPO plans have some coverage
    • Blue Shield some plans have coverage usually requires a superbill
    • There are many new plans so this doesn’t cover them all

    After years of billing insurance we have found that the best deal for our patients is for them to pay upfront and receive our discount for payment at time of service. We then supply a superbill you can mail to your Insurance to tell them you have already paid and include a denial letter if needed by your insurance. When you have coverage for acupuncture and have met your deductable you will receive a check from your Insurance for whatever they pay. If you don’t have insurance we still give you a discount for payment at time of service.

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