Community Needles

image credit: Toronox

Several years ago, a friend suggested that the healthcare system in the US would benefit from a little Chinese medicine, that ultimately the best thing for our healthcare system would be to integrate some of the practices of Chinese medicine like acupuncture and herbal remedies, because the goal of Chinese medicine is get the body into balance. He said that Western medicine is great at diagnosing and alleviating symptoms but ultimately avoids the root causes of our illnesses.

I haven’t noticed, yet, any clinics that have married Western and Eastern medicine, but Community Acupuncture Network (CAN) might create a tipping point for the popularity of acupuncture among former nonconverts.

They’re a nonprofit that treats folks all around the country, and in order to make the treatment accessible—costs for a good acupuncturist can run into the hundreds, making it near impossible for many folks to go as often as needed–CAN has made the cost incredibly affordable, giving a sliding scale option of $15-$40 per session. It should be noted here that in China people go to acupuncture treatment several times a week just to keep their chi or life force in balance.

One of the reasons CAN is committed to making sure acupuncture is affordable is to help build up the health and self-esteem of people who live in community. “The awareness of having choices creates a sense of freedom, a sense of personal power, and a foundation for self-esteem. The awareness of not having the kinds of choices other people have creates the opposite: feelings of confinement, helplessness, and a nagging suspicion that maybe you don’t deserve any more than you have. If you don’t deserve what other people have, it’s reasonable to assume you’re not worth as much as they are, maybe not worth much at all. Now imagine you are the friend, neighbor or the sister of the person above, who tells you about not being able to make an acupuncture appointment. You’re not interested in acupuncture, but when you hear this story, you feel depressed as well when you realize you couldn’t try it even if you wanted to. A sliding scale is good for the self-esteem of the whole community – no matter how many individuals actually use it – because it restores choice to people. And what’s good for community self-esteem is good for community health.”  (source: Acupunture Today)

Of course, because there’s a sliding scale, many more people come to CAN facilities than would otherwise go to see an acupuncturist. But the facilities, at least, the one in Berkeley, California, never feel crowded. The atmosphere is very calm, people who are being treated are relaxing on La-Z-Boys, most of them are asleep.There are also individual treatments available and Chinese herbs, for those who need them.

Acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest healing arts; it pre-dates recorded history. Before metallurgy, way before, needles were made of bone or stone and shaved thin in order to encourage chi to flow in balance for the patient. Western scientists, have, naturally, tried to discover exactly what makes acupuncture work. They’ve looked for the body’s meridians, which is how energy is said to flow through the body, and found nothing. Maybe what they should be looking for is the difference in patients lives.

Clearly, CAN gives folks a huge chance to deal with illnesses that Western medicine calls non-illness. Those may be things that a Western doctor just won’t or can’t deal with or acknowledge or they can be illnesses that are far too costly for patients to deal with on their regular health insurance (if, in fact, they have health insurance). What’s great about this painless choice is that there are no insurance claims, there are no limits to treatment, in fact, its fine to come in when you’re just feeling out of sorts or would like to maintain your health.

It’s also good to know that not all acupuncturist can do all things (all of the acupunturist at CAN are certified practitioners). Like Western doctors, many of them tend to be better at treating certain symptoms. At BAP, I worked with one doctor to help my digestive system and another who helped my painfully inflamed knees (according to Chinese medicine, both are related disorders, knee pain is connected to digestion issues).

The miracle about Chinese medicine is that you can, if the acupunturist is the right fit, feel better once you get up from the La-Z-Boy. For me, my knees ached less and I had fewer issues with my stomach. And thankfully, each time I went in, I could afford it.

Connect with Community Acupuncture Network to find an acupuncturist in your region.

The Berkeley Acupuncture Project Web site


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