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Meet Erik Johnson of The Root Acupuncture in South-Central Denver

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erik Johnson.

Erik, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I tell people: I’m a father, husband, acupuncturist, and beekeeper.

Where did all of this begin?

When it comes to my profession, I would love to say that I always thought I would be an acupuncturist, but that simply is not the truth. I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Mecca of alternative medicine – my best friend’s mother was an acupuncturist, my parents went to acupuncturists all of the time, etc… This medicine was always around me and I felt like I belonged in the healthcare field, but I never really recognized what that would look like at a young age. At the time, I enjoyed working in the hospitality field (hotels/restaurants) and decided instead to pursue my undergraduate business degree from the University of Denver in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management.

I had a bunch of jobs right out of college in the hotel industry until the economy tanked in 2008. After that, I found myself working in a wide range of fields from education technology consulting to even about in politics as an Advance Coordinator for a presidential campaign. Now… politics was NEVER a field I ever wanted to get into, but I found myself seeing this an opportunity that would only pass me once in this lifetime (i.e. one of those greatest experiences that you would never want to do again!). As you can probably imagine, that job ran me into the ground! For about a year and a half, I was traveling three weeks out of every month across the country experiencing the toxicity of American politics first hand and, after a while, I found myself completely and utterly depleted from all of it. I was catching colds every time I was on the road, my energy was sapped, and when I was home I was sleeping 14+ hours a night and still not feeling adequately rested. Needless to say, it was time to recognize that my days in politics needed to be over and I took an indefinitely leave from work to recover.

I spent the next couple of months trying to rest and recuperate – fixing the autoimmune flare-up and adrenal fatigue that had overrun my body for so long while on the road. I went to the people that took care of me best. One was a chiropractor that did functional medicine in the DTC area – she helped diagnose my Hashimoto Thyroiditis and Celiac Disease about one year before my time in politics. The other person was my acupuncturist – a woman that owned a local community acupuncture business in the University Neighborhood. It was during this time of self-care and healing that I finally had a chance to really stop and listen to what I wanted in life. I knew that at the core of me was a desire to be in healthcare, but I still didn’t know what that meant. I kept meditating on it and found myself coming back to acupuncture and Chinese medicine each time. I read all the books that I could on the subject, talked with acupuncturists that I knew, and visited the local school here in Denver, You know those gut moments in life where something just feels, well…. right? Well, this was one of those moments!

I enrolled at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine back in 2012 and never looked back. This medicine has been everything I thought it would be and more. I have been in practice for almost five years already and I still wake up excited to go to work every day. It doesn’t take long to be around me and see the passion that I have for this amazing medicine and how it can help people.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Oh, there have been a lot of struggles along the way! The biggest shift for me started with the death of my mother back in 2006. She died of heart failure (hypertensive cardiovascular disease) the day that I was driving down from Colorado to go visit her in New Mexico – only a few days before Christmas. I took it really hard at the time and internalized all the grief and sadness because I didn’t know how to deal with everything at the time. I turned to triathlon and endurance training as an outlet – the one place I was able to shut down my mind and focus all of my energy every day on simply putting one foot in front of the other, doing one more lap in the pool, and riding that one extra mile on the bike. At the time, I would say that doing these huge endurance events was where I found my moment of Zen. The reality is that it was just a place for me to hide from the emotional trauma that I refused to confront.

For a while, I convinced myself that everything was great in life. However, while doing a half Ironman triathlon a couple of years later, I tore my IT band at the start of the run. I did everything after that to try and get back into the sport but PT was not working, steroid injections wore off too quickly, and I refused to have surgery (as one doctor suggested). I wanted the quick fix to let me go back to feeling the “invincible” life again. In the end, I had no other choice but to just stop in life… and finally, give my body the time and attention that it needed to heal. It shifted my way of looking at my health and my overall life. I started seeing a chiropractor, doing Qigong, understanding the importance of good nutrition, and I finally sought the counsel of a psychologist to confront the death of my mother that I suppressed for so long.

I firmly believe now that everything in life happens for a reason. As hard as it was to lose my mother, I simply cannot imagine that I would have ever found my path without that occurring. The chain of events that followed are the reason that I am where I am today. There have been plenty of other struggles in my life journey (being diagnosed with an auto-immune condition, my daughter having open-heart surgery at nine months of age, etc…), but I have learned that these moments make me appreciate and recognize how many wonderful things are in my life.

We’d love to hear more about your practice.
I’ve been in practice for almost five years here in Denver, Colorado. My business is The Root Acupuncture and I primarily specialize in gastrointestinal health, stress, and sleep. Even though I see a lot of patients with musculoskeletal pain, I’m always focused on helping people with those three core items. As a person with an auto-immune condition myself (Celiac disease and Hashimoto Thyroiditis), I understand that positively affecting these areas leads to vast improvements in almost all other areas of a patient’s health.

I LOVE what I do, and I think that shines through with every patient interaction that I have. “Passionate” is easily the most common word that people would use to describe me. I wake up every day excited to go to work and share this incredible medicine with others.

As a hobby (my wife would call it a part-time job), I also manage 16 beehives here in the greater Denver area. I’ve been a beekeeper for nearly a decade now and help mentor numerous beekeepers throughout the Denver area. In my clinic, I am always bringing in new Apitherapy (bee medicine) products to help my patients. This includes things like raw honey for allergies, cough syrups made with my honey, propolis tinctures for immunity, topical salves, etc… Between that and various tools that I bring in from my doctorate in Bioenergetic medicine, I am well known for using a wide range of modalities (acupuncture, Chinese herbs, moxibustion, tui na massage, fire cupping, biofeedback therapy, electro-stimulation, injection therapy, laser acupuncture, apitherapy, and auricular/ear therapy) in my practice to achieve an individualized approach to treating each patient.

What were you like growing up?
I spent my early days living right on the Sandia mountains – picking wild raspberries, climbing rocks all day long, and capturing as many snakes and lizards as I could find. To this day, I still feel most connected when I’m out in nature and away from the city (these days it is when I’m out in my bee apiary in the Golden area). I also grew up with a family that did endurance sports and outdoor activities all of the time – I was doing triathlons at a very early age and were usually hitting up the ski slopes all winter long.

I was definitely a quieter kid growing up but really came out of my shell in high school. My teenage years were all about doing random and crazy things – climbing batting cage netting at night, shaving my head into a mohawk (and seeing how long I could hide it from my mom before she made me shave it all off), off-roading in my truck with friends, etc…. The funny part is that my group of friends was never into drinking or drugs growing up – just doing the weirdest activities that we could come up with.

There has always been a sense of adventure that has stayed with me for all of my life from a young age. I’ve climbed three of the top seven summits in the world, logged 50+ scuba dives, and participated in numerous endurance races in my life. Life is all about the journey, and I’ve always lived my life eager to start the next endeavor or adventure. Now that I’m a father of two small girls (ages 2 and 4), I can’t wait to see what the next chapter in my life brings.


  • New Patient Initial Consultation and Treatment (1.5 hours)- $120
  • Follow-Up Acupuncture Treatments (1 hour) – $90
  • Traditional Fire Cupping Session Only – $40
  • Preservative-Free Methylcobalamin B12 Injections – $20

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
KBenfield Photography

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