The Unconventional Story Behind Refuge Acupuncture

Tracey Abbott does not like to sit still. She’s an entrepreneur, empowerer of young women and a student of Eastern medicine, among other titles. When Abbott reconnected online with a childhood friend struggling with MS, she found acupuncturists and Eastern medicine practitioners who could help him leave his canes and wheelchairs behind. That childhood friend walked down the aisle to her — unassisted — at their 2016 wedding and is the inspiration for her Denver business, Refuge Acupuncture.

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The Origin Story

“So we met when we were nine in Alabama and connected about six and a half years ago on social media,” said Abbott of her now-husband, Chris. He commented on a photo from Abbott’s TEDx speech on her female empowerment group. “I’ve been in boardrooms for quite a while now, and one thing’s for certain: if a woman is in a boardroom, there’s a 94% chance that she was a high school or college athlete,” she said on the topic of the TEDx talk. As a lover of athletics, she’s passionate about issues under the umbrella of health, wellness and fitness. “I’m no longer doing that now, but it taught me a great deal — and that’s what Chris had commented on.”

Abbott connected with Chris after declining health had put him in a wheelchair. “I didn’t know much about MS, but I’m a marathon coach and someone who can get a lot of people to do things that they don’t think they can,” she said. “So I got on a plane and went to Florida to see if I could help. And so long story short, we started working on nutrition, and we started acupuncture. We started Eastern medicine because Western had largely given up on Chris’ health,” she added. “I’ve gotten the chance to do a lot of amazing and important things, and by far the most important thing we’ve ever done is to get him back on his feet. We wanted to start Refuge to give people hope that there’s another way — there’s another way to live life than what we might think.”

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Tracey and Chris.

Smooth Flowing Alignment

For those who aren’t familiar with acupuncture, Abbott explains her definition and how it complements Western medicine. “Each human body has what it needs to heal itself inside, and so what acupuncture does is redirect energy flows so that it can go into smooth-flowing alignment,” she said. “The medicine looks at the full, total person rather than just looking at like, ‘Okay, my arm’s broken, let me fix my arm, and it’s back to normal.” She emphasized her respect for Eastern and Western approaches, depending on the issue at hand. “We really do believe in the integrative nature of both of them. There are certain things, like if you have a broken arm, an acupuncturist can’t fix that. But if you have a lot of other things, then acupuncture can dramatically help,” she added.


Refuge offers acupuncture treatments along with other modalities like cupping, ear seeds, guasha and moxibustion — all depending on what they’ve determined the patient needs — at no extra cost. They’ve also launched a line of custom herbal formulas. “We sell both raw herbs for teas and granules for formulations,” Abbott said. They custom-mix formulas for a patient’s unique needs and offer some pre-mixed standbys that are tried and true. While they use acupuncture to treat a plethora of ailments, Abbott focuses a lot on pain management and helping patients stop opioid usage. “Our practitioners are especially skilled at treating pain.”

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They’ve divided the space into what they call “heaven” and earth,” in keeping with the angel wing motif seen on their logo and throughout the clinic. “Earth” houses the treatment rooms, complete with table warmers and noise-canceling headphones, while “heaven” is where people go to wait for and schedule appointments, opt for an herb consultation or enjoy a cup of herbal tea.

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More Healing Than Ever

Abbott saw the despair and tragedy befalling the world when COVID-19 hit, and simultaneously saw the need for a space like Refuge. “It was like, we need more healing than ever,” she said. “But healers can’t stay in business.” Using Abbott’s business experience, Refuge opened on April 5, 2021. “I have an investment background and thought, you know, we could actually create a platform which helps patients but also helps keep acupuncturists in business and in the healing field that they’ve worked so hard to be in,” said Abbott. “We’re also all vaccinated, too,” she added.” They’ve also offered free treatments to frontline workers working in ICUs, emergency rooms, trauma bays and other high adrenaline settings throughout 2021.

When asked about the alternative health and wellness community in Denver, Abbott said, “There’s always going to be enough healing to go around for everyone, so I really don’t believe in competition.”

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“I think about the chiropractor down the street,” she added. “When he sends us patients, and I ask him what I could do for him, he just says ‘Make them better.’ So I would say it’s a pretty giving community.” Abbott’s favorite part of the business by far is the people — both those on her team and those who come in for treatments at Refuge. “Watching patients come in in one state and walk out the door in a completely different state — there is nothing better than that,” she said. “It’s very, very humbling.”

The word Refuge means sanctuary — a space that provides shelter or protection. “People who don’t feel good need to feel safe. And these days, everyone needs to feel safe,” Abbott said.

Find out more about Refuge’s offerings on their website, or follow along with them on Instagram.

All photos courtesy of Refuge Acupuncture.