Tag Archives: herbal 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.

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.

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!