Tag Archives: chinese medicine

Why You Need To Try Community Acupuncture Now

This was originally published by our very own Megan Gould at www.holisticwithhumor.com

Many people have heard about the benefits of acupuncture. But if you are looking for social change along with healing your ailment, CA is for you.

We’re all sick. And tired. Too much lip service, no real change.

Health care is still synonymous with health insurance and health insurance is still synonymous with
sickness. Our lives are still too fast paced, too high stress, too high impact.

Our imaginations know better and change is in the air, but we still have our bodies and minds to care for down here on the ground. And some of our bodies hurt. Our minds are scattered by all the interference. We’re feeling disconnected from care and disempowered. We yearn for a little peace. Accessible. Now.

There is good news. It IS here. Accessible. Now.

We’re in the midst of a quiet little revolution, brewing up some good old fashioned rest, relaxation and honest to goodness healing. It’s as near as your local Community Acupuncture (CA) clinic.

And you’re all more than welcome. In fact, you’re needed. Because without you, there IS no CA. It is you, your friends, your neighbors, sitting and sharing some healing space. It is people, like you, working to create that space. Because, like you, we want it too. And we happen to think that we all deserve it.

What It Is

If you aren’t familiar with Community Acupuncture, you aren’t alone.

The movement is relatively new. I’m a newbie first year acupuncturist, and I first heard about it within the last year of school. In fact, I didn’t fully get it until a friend handed me the book Acupuncture Is Like Noodles. It’s sort of the manifesto for CA, written by the people who founded the first clinic, Working Class Acupuncture in Portland, Oregon.

Though written for an acupuncturist audience, it’s worth a read if you’re interested in learning more about the reasons and intentions behind the CA movement.

Because CA is definitely a movement. Beyond a clinic model, it is a simple and radical rethinking of what health care is and what it can be. With a few simple guiding principles, CA envisions how medicine can become more affordable, accessible, person and community centered, low impact and effective.

I’ll give a brief description of each, and hopefully encourage you to find a local clinic and check it out for yourself.


It might seem crass to begin with money, but the negative impact of stress related to the economics of health care is a reality that can’t be overstated. If we can’t afford health care, then we can’t have health care. We might not even feel we deserve to be healthy, due to the psychology of economic classism. CA recognizes that treatment cost is a major barrier for many people.

In fact, it was founded specifically to address that problem. So we treat in a group setting. Treating more people at the same time allows us to lower our fees and make it an affordable option for many more people. The sliding scale for CA starts at $15 or $20, more than a third less than the typical private acupuncture session.
Healing doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It is facilitated, usually by someone trained in the healing arts and sciences, but also by our interactions with the world.

Person and Community Centered

It helps me to think of my role as a gardener; I might give the plants some food and water and tend the space where they grow, but the plants in the garden interact with and influence each other. When you walk into a room of blissed out people and sit with them, something is transmitted to you beyond any skill your acupuncturist has.

This is collective healing, and there are very few avenues for it in this modern culture of increasing isolation. CA is bringing this collectivism back to the forefront of our practice.

CA also extends into the greater community. CA acupuncturists tend to be activists by nature. We are drawn to it because we have this need to contribute something to the world around us, and that extends beyond our clinic walls. When the local Occupy encampment set up in Oakland, it didn’t take long for a free acupuncture tent to pop up alongside the medic tent.

Recently, there was a violent murder two blocks from my clinic. I offered free ear acupuncture treatments for trauma to the local neighbors impacted by the tragedy.

Clinics will variously offer local classes, events and deals for specific communities of interest. There is something about the intimacy of a collective healing space that fosters this kind of connectedness.


CA broadens the reach of acupuncture. CA is very much a movement with working class people in mind – people who might not be thinking about the esoteric nature of qi, but have stubborn back pain that makes it impossible to get through the day without suffering.

We want to reach beyond the culture of people who are naturally drawn to our medicine, and introduce it to every person who never thought of it, but desperately needs it. With the recent development of the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA) cooperative, CA also seeks to expand clinics into underserved parts of the country, creating avenues for communities who desire affordable acupuncture to microfinance the creation of local clinics.

Low Impact

Acupuncture is a low impact medicine. And CA clinics require less space than the typical acupuncture practice. Since we treat in a group setting, all we really need are some needles and chairs. You can do it just about anywhere.

It is minimally invasive compared to the onslaught of pharmaceuticals, radiation, surgical procedures, and implants that are introduced to our bodies via modern medicine.

In CA we’re saying, “Hey, the body is assaulted every day with more sensory and chemical input than it can deal with. Let’s give it some quiet space AWAY from all of that. Let’s allow it to go inward and practice it’s own healing method. Come on in and see what it can do. We’ll provide the needles and chairs.”


Yep. Acupuncture is effective. And the more you receive it, the more effective it becomes. Effective for what? Pretty much anything, since acupuncture doesn’t heal the body, per se. Rather, it creates conditions for the body to heal itself.

But how does it work? To be honest, most acupuncturists don’t know much more about that than anyone else. We know it works because we see it work. Medical scientists are interested in examining why it works, but acupuncturists are more interested in giving treatments and seeing people feel better.

You might still want some proof. For that, I suggest that you try it and see for yourself. There is no greater proof than the way you feel after having a course of treatment and fortunately, CA gives lots more of you an opportunity to do so.

Consider this your official invitation. You deserve it, and we can’t do it without you.
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About the Author

Megan Gould, L.Ac is a board licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist in the state of California. In addition to Chinese Medicine, her diverse background encompasses western clinical herbalism, wildcrafting and medicine making, veterinary medicine, wildlife rescue and rehab, urban gardening with Oakland youth, grantwriting and development for local community organizations, and Americorps VISTA service. She believes health is a universal right for the entire planet, and has a strong interest in social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, herbal healing traditions and health equity. She offers community acupuncture and herbal consultations at the Yellow Emperor Community Acupuncture Clinic in Berkeley, CA. You can book an appointment here. You can also follow her at her FB page.

Next Beginners’ Qi Gong Class on Saturday, Feb. 18

Dear Community Acupuncture Community,

We are pleased to offer this monthly beginners’ qi gong class to help support your health and wellness. The class will be taught by Charles Adamec, L.Ac. Charles is a skilled practitioner who has been teaching Tai Chi and Qi Gong for over ten years.

Qi Gong for Health

Qi Gong for Health

Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese healing art. The term Qi Gong means “to exercise with emphasis on the breathing.” This class offers a series of easy to learn exercises that integrate a variety of movements with deep, full breaths. Practicing Qi gong provides an immediate boost of circulation, which can reduce stress and fatigue and bring about greater mental acuity. Regular practice of Qi Gong can have long-term benefits such as regulating metabolism and strengthening the immune system.

Saturday, February 18 9 am — 10 am
$15 per class

Yellow Emperor Community Acupuncture Clinic
3111 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley CA 94703
(510) 227—4028

Medicine in Your Kitchen

By Joe Davis, L.Ac.
A fascinating part of herbal Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that it did not develop separate from the arts of food preparation.  The plants parts (and animal parts) that were found to be easily digestible are included in every day cooking.  A few examples of this kind of herb are red dates (hong zao), jujube (suan zao ren), mountain yam (shan yao), garlic and scallions (xie bai and cong bai), licorice (gan cao) and ginger (sheng jiang).  These “medicines” are commonly found in Chinese cuisine, aid digestion and absorption of nutrients, and gently strengthen the whole body.
Plant parts that are a little tougher on the palate are generally found to have stronger medicinal properties, and are relegated to the medicine shelf.   These herbs generally taste more bitter, and are found to be effective in treating a whole host of ills, including reducing fevers, quelling vomiting, inducing a sweat in case of a cold, relieving muscle and tendon inflammation and ache.  There are whole families of herbs that act on deeper levels as well, clearing toxins from the organs, alleviating damage done over years of use and abuse, and deeply effecting the metabolic dynamics of the organism as a whole.
Keeping this spectrum in mind is really key when it comes to approaching our own health.  Sometimes, we just need some nice flavors to get our digestion going.  Sometimes we need something for an acute health problem we may have.  And sometimes we’re looking for some manner of deeper remediation for a long-standing issue.  This goes against the grain of many people in the West’s thoughts about medicine. We don’t grind up a little bit of aspirin to make the soup taste better, or go hunting in the woods for our hypertension medicine!
Keeping our ideas of medicine in the very human realm of the kitchen and the garden is a great way to make our well-being part of our daily lives, instead of something we do surrounded by people in white coats and complicated equipment.  It involves us in our health to know that food and medicine are on a continuum, and ties diet directly to how we feel.
And, speaking of medicines from the kitchen, can you guess an effective remedy for the syndrome of “summer-heat,” (characterized by thirst, flushed face, scanty urine, and sensations of warmth in the body)?  Pick up a big watermelon (xi gua) next time you are at the farmers’ market, and self-medicate to your heart’s content.

Weight Loss and Chinese Medicine

By Ted Marshall, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist

Acupuncture and herbs can improve digestion and metabolism, calm the mind and reduce stress, and reduce cravings. Addressing one or more of these factors are key to a successful weight loss program and directly support any changes in diet and lifestyle. Of course, diet and exercise are the everyday habits we need to change in order to lose weight.  The following are general guidelines for diet and how Chinese Medicine can support a weight loss program These recommendations are not meant to diagnose any medical problems.

Chinese medicine can be divided into three main aspects. Acupuncture is what most people think of when they think of Chinese Medicine and is one key aspect. Herbal medicine is another very powerful aspect, which improves the body’s metabolism, may reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and has many other benefits. The third and in many ways, the most important aspect of Chinese medicine is diet and lifestyle. This includes what we eat, how much exercise we get, and our ability to deeply relax. Diet and lifestyle is the most important area for weight loss, and is what most of this paper focuses on. Acupuncture and herbal treatment can effectively support the underlying factors that contribute to weight gain, but without changing our lifestyle and behavior, it’s virtually impossible to lose weight.

We will first look at aspects of our diet that contribute to weight loss, and then we will address the role of acupuncture and herbal treatment.

Whole Foods. Whole foods refer to unprocessed foods. Processed foods often have trans-fatty acids and high fructose corn syrup, both of which greatly contribute to weight gain as well as other diseases such as diabetes. Processed foods are also higher in natural sugars, which generates spikes (cause a sudden increase) in blood sugar. These “spikes” tax our digestion making it unable to properly metabolize these sugars. The sugars are then converted into fats!

Some common examples of whole foods would be unprocessed grains—brown rice, beans, vegetables, and grass-fed meat. One good guideline to determine whether foods are processed is that if it comes in a box- these are  almost certainly processed. It may seem hard to get over your craving for junk food in the beginning, but after a couple of weeks, your body will feel healthier and more energetic, and you will actually stop craving them soon.

Fiber. In the days of the hunter-gatherers, people ate an average of 100g of fiber/day.  In modern times, however, we only eat an average of 8g/day! (This is mostly due to the popularity of processed foods, which usually contain very little fiber.) Fiber helps with weight loss by slowing the rate of sugar entering the blood. Large spikes in blood sugar increase and promote the conversion of sugar into fat and are very damaging to the body in other ways, such as giving rise to inflammatory diseases. Foods with fiber include vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts.

Omega 3 Fatty-Acids. These increase metabolism, increasing the rate that fat is burned. They also “turn on messages” to the body that lower LDL cholesterol and improve blood circulation. Foods high in omega-3s are WILD salmon (farmed salmon contains 3-4 times less omega 3s than wild), small fish such as sardines and herring, and omega-3 eggs (it will say so on the box.), and flaxseed oil (use two teaspoons of flax seed oil per day over your food, or swallow it straight followed by water.)

Lean QUALITY Protein. When I say quality, I mean range-fed beef and chicken (beef should be grass-fed as well), and wild fish. Farmed animal products contain many antibiotics and steroids that affect our metabolisms negatively. Grass- and range-fed animal ingest lignins and other important substances that directly benefit energy production. Other good sources of protein include beans, nuts, and eggs, as well as buffalo.

Quality Carbohydrates. Eating carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (the rate which they enter the blood stream and cause blood sugar to rise) are also important in weight loss.  These include all whole foods. If we just eat twinkies all day, we will have high spikes in blood sugar, and one similar refined substance as our source of energy. The requirements of our bodies are varied and complex, and having one or two processed sources of energy production cause our myriad of physiological processes to fall into a state of neglect.  Eating whole foods allow our bodies to be maintained in optimum condition and sustain good health.

Anti-inflammatory Foods. Inflammatory diseases, which include obesity, arteriolosclerosis, gout, some forms of arthritis and heart disease are common in our society. The solution? Fruits and vegetables.  Leafy greens are the best, e.g., collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and broccoli. IMPORTANT: Many people don’t like vegetables, often because they have been overcooked. When you overcook vegetables, you not only remove the flavors, but also the nutrients. Also, you don’t want to eat lots of salads because according to Chinese Medicine, cold, raw foods are much harder to digest, and will tax the digestive system. The ideal way to prepare vegetables is to lightly steam them for 5-10 minutes (depending on the vegetable) so they’re slightly crunchy or barely wilted. Green tea also has anti-inflammatory properties, and has also been shown to promote health in many ways, such as well as increasing the metabolism.

Detox Foods. Foods that have been proven to detoxify the liver, such as watercress, artichokes, and pomegranates are highly beneficial to digestion and overall health.

Water. Filtered water is best.  Bottled water may have been sitting on the shelf too long, and a quality water filter is much less expensive in the long run (and uses fewer plastic containers). Slight dehydration initiates the stomach’s craving for food. This process can become a vicious cycle when eating more food—especially spicy and fried foods—increases the dryness in the stomach, which increases the craving for food. This imbalance is common yet simple to cure. Stopping this eating pattern for a few weeks, and slowly experimenting with different food preparation habits—along with drinking plenty of water—can make an incredible difference in how we feel.

Noting Eating Before Going to Bed. Eats at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. After you eat, the body initiates growth to strengthen muscles and bones. But if we go to sleep after we eat, these hormones convert sugars from our food into fat for storage. This is a classic pattern of weight gain from stress. This is why it’s a good idea to take a short walk after dinner (and don’t eat ice cream afterward!).

Fermented Foods. Sorry, I don’t mean beer. Many cultures around the world have integrated these foods into their daily diet. Fermented foods replace the natural bacteria in our intestines allowing us to get more energy from our food. Examples of these foods would be: sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, and kimchee.

Multi-vitamin.  In general, our vitamins should come just from our food, but that’s very hard to do in today’s society. 92% of Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins, which weakens the body’s functioning, making one susceptible to disease.

Exercise. Exercise increases your metabolism and helps burn calories. You should do something to increase your heart rate such as running, swimming, bicycling, or walking. One of the best exercises is walking. When walking, though, you must do it briskly to increase your heart rate. The important thing with exercise is consistency, whether you walk for 20 minutes 3 times per week, or swim for an hour 5 times per week. Taking it easy and not straining yourself will make it more fun and easier to continue.

Relaxation. It’s important to deeply relax for at least 15 minutes per day. When I say relax I don’t mean watching TV or surfing the internet. I mean doing nothing except maybe listening to some soft music. This is important because in our stressful society, deep relaxation will reduce cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone, which essentially converts sugars to fat).

Acupuncture and Herbs. As we grow older our digestive system slows down, making it easier to gain weight. Acupuncture and herbs can strengthen our digestion so that we have more energy, and can metabolize foods better. Stress, as mentioned above, increases cortisol levels. Acupuncture directly treats stress, and can be counted as part of your deep relaxation time. Ear acupuncture works well in calming cravings for sweets (which usually indicates stress), and has been used successfully for the treatment of drug addiction.

In summary, diet and lifestyle are the most important factors in a weight loss program, and Chinese Medicine can support your transition to a healthier life and body.  As a holistic practitioner, I address all of these factors.

If you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at The Yellow Emperor (510) 227-4028. We look forward to helping you become a healthier, more vibrant you!

Grand Opening / Open House

You are cordially invited to visit our new community clinic on Saturday,
March 27 between 1 and 6 pm. Bring your aches, ailments and questions, or
just your curiosity. We would be delighted to address them all.

We will be serving refreshments and giving out free treatment cards to anyone who stops by.

See you there!